Gemma Creagh medicates with Irish horror Double Blind

It’s really, really exciting to watch homegrown talent hone their skills and evolve; Double Blind sees DOP Narayan Van Maele, writer Darach McGarrigle and director Ian Hunt-Duffy team up again after collaborating on a successful run of multi-award winning short form projects. This feature is a natural and accomplished next step for everyone, and still holds up as an impressive piece of genre in its own right.

 In terms of writing and implementation, Ian and Darach deliver a strong, simple concept: “you sleep, you die”. This is underpinned with complex character dynamics and elevated by Narayan’s stunning visuals. Double Blind taps into a deeply ingrained zeitgeist, weaving themes of personal identity against suspicion towards “Big Pharma”. It’s a critique of capitalism while deconstructing the existential struggle of young adults facing a bleak future – and it’s entertaining as all hell. 

Millie Brady is Claire, a weary misanthrope with a fractured relationship with her mother. With nowhere else to go, she reluctantly joins a mysterious drug trial alongside an eclectic gang of misfits. The group are locked away in the clinical basement of Blackwood Pharmaceuticals. There, much to Claire’s frustration, she’s paired as a roommate with the overenthusiastic Alison, portrayed with charm by Abby Fitz. The research is led by the reserved Dr. Burke (Pollyanna McIntosh), and soon the gang start pacing the halls at night, unable to sleep. 

With the initial results in, the terms of the trial changes. The payment becomes a life changing sum of money but with one condition: the subjects can’t fall asleep. This comes as a surprise to Amir (Akshay Kumar), a medical student hoping to be hired by the company when the trial is over. He begins to suspect something is not quite above board and starts investigating. When the dosage is upped, and rest is a distant memory, the relationship between Claire and the group begins to fracture. With no wifi or phone coverage, they find themselves in lockdown. Can the group stay awake and alive until help comes?

Narayan’s striking cinematography and intense lighting design builds a powerful atmosphere to this film. He does a wonderful job working with Ian in constructing the externalised emotional journeys of the subjects as they traverse various states of consciousness. Pacing, editing and sound design all feed into a constant uptick in tension. This is teamed with impressive production design, key in creating the sterile and futuristic facility, and fully realised world beyond. The real life venue, it turns out, was a local Limerick spot repurposed. The bulk of the action was shot in Rathkeale in County Limerick, which functioned as the highly cinematic underground medical facility, complete with a lab and dorm rooms from a real pharma training ground, the University of Limerick. 

The film’s strong character arcs and well-developed tapestry of relationships allow for a palpable on screen chemistry across the ensemble. Every role of the group comes fully formed, playing on a trope, but then delivering something a bit more meaty as the action plays out, which is likely how Ian attracted such a high calibre of performer to his cast. McIntosh, known for her role in The Walking Dead, joins the impressive list of accomplished actors who’ve worked across Hollywood and big budget international shows. 

Paying homage to the classics of the genre but with a distinct and fresh feel, Double Blind is comparable in standard to any mid-budget studio horror. This well-executed piece of film offers an ideal cinematic experience, suitable for a rainy February evening or a Valentine’s Day date night. Rest assured – the high octane pacey scares ensure there’ll be no napping in your seat.

Double Blind is in cinemas from 9th February 2024.


Gemma Creagh is a writer, filmmaker and journalist. In 2014 she graduated with a First from NUIG’s MA Writing programme. Gemma’s play Spoiling Sunset was staged in Galway as part of the Jerome Hynes One Act Play series in 2014. Gemma was one of eight playwrights selected for AboutFACE’s 2021 Transatlantic Tales and is presently developing a play with the Axis Theatre and with the support of the Arts Council. She has been commissioned to submit a play by Voyeur Theatre to potentially be performed in Summer 2023 as part of the local arts festival. Gemma was the writer and co-producer of the five-part comedy Rental Boys for RTÉ’s Storyland. She has gone on to write, direct and produce shorts which screened at festivals around the world. She was commissioned to direct the short film, After You, by Filmbase and TBCT. Gemma has penned articles for magazines, industry websites and national newspapers, she’s the assistant editor for Film Ireland and she contributes reviews to RTE Radio One’s Arena on occasion.

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