Dir: Colm McCarthy
Star: Niall Bruton, Hanna Stanbridge, Kate Dickie, James Nesbitt

Fergal (Bruton) and his mother Mary (Dickie) are perpetually on the move, trying to escape...something. Their latest stop is a housing estate in Edinburgh, where Mary vows no more running. She reckons without their next-door neighbour Petronella (Stanbridge), who takes a steadily-growing shine to the new arrival, despite - or, quite possibly, because of - his differences from the local boys. As a greater threat, there is also Cathal (Nesbitt), who has been tasked by those from whom the family ran away, to hunt down and kill Fergal, using a mix of dark arts and a considerably directer approach. Not that Mary is without talents of her own, possessing her own skills which make Cathal's task harder (and also prove keep other threats at . But will it be enough to keep him at bay, and what is responsible for the recent spate of gruesome deaths which has started in the estate since both they and Cathal arrived in town?

In some ways, this plays a bit like a male version of Ginger Snaps, with Fergal tormented by feelings he doesn't understand and can't control - though his mother is a much more pro-active and aware influence! I also enjoyed the use of Scotland as a backdrop, though I think subtitles will probably be required for most people outside the area [there were a few lines even I couldn't quite make out, from some of the localest of locals, shall we say]. There is also a nice sense of a lot more going on than is actually revealed, such as the need for Cathal and his assistant to get formal permission from the Edinburgh laird, before proceeding with the hunt: and when he changes his mind, due to the ensuing carnage, that's when things get really messy.

The monster, when we finally get to see it, is a bit of a mixed bag: there are some shots where it looks really cool, yet others where it's completely plasticky. The same is true of the movie overall. There are some moments which are great, such as those which depict Mary's steely resolve to go to any lengths to protect her child, or Cathal's equal determination to kill him. Yet others don't ring true, like the Petronella/Fergal romance, which springs out of nowhere in unconvincing style. The balance, however, is solidly tilted towards the positive, with nicely-crafted atmosphere that also packs a highly-acceptable wallop.

[May 2011]

Stay off the Scottish moors...
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