Lorcan FinneganIreland93 minutes2016ColourEnglish
A land surveyor discovers a dark secret deep within a dense forest, in this eco-horror thriller from first-time Irish filmmaker Lorcan Finnegan.
Eric (Alan McKenna) is a land surveyor in the throes of a midlife crisis. His marriage is fractured and his son barely acknowledges him, so he's more than willing to get away from his family when a mysterious client sends him on a prolonged survey excursion in a dense forest. But deep in the woods, the comforting predictability of Eric's minimalist steel-and-concrete city life is replaced by Mother Nature's chaotic embrace — and by something more sinister and not altogether natural.
By the time his research assistant, Olivia (Niamh Algar), arrives at the remote cottage where he is staying, Eric has become disturbed and beguiled by the woodlands that surround him. Barely glimpsed silhouettes haunt him among the trees, but he is never able to catch up with them. Is someone toying with him and sabotaging his work, or is it all in his head? As he struggles to complete the survey, and to deal with sexual temptations that threaten to destroy his marriage for good, Eric is drawn further and further into a landscape that clearly harbours a dark secret the locals refuse to acknowledge. And as unnameable fears take root in his already-fragile mind, he sinks deeper into a mire of delusion from which there may be no escape.
An eco-terror version of Polanski's The Tenant, Lorcan Finnegan's feature debut depicts Ireland's woods as a verdant nightmare steeped in dread. McKenna's emotionally invested performance as the obsessively meticulous surveyor keeps the viewer off balance, and Finnegan uses creative optical tricks that seem to make the forest ominously breathe and expand as it absorbs the psyche of his protagonist. Be sure to pack a compass, for you will surely get lost in in this creepy, arboreal thriller.