Lorcan Finnegan makes his directorial feature film debut with Without Name, a haunting picture about nature, paranoia and isolation starring Alan McKenna as Eric, Niamh Algar as Olivia and James Browne as Gus.
Eric, a land surveyor, is sent to a remote and mysterious forest in Ireland. Far from a routine affair, he is soon plagued by sinister forces within the forest that stretch the limits of his mental state and force him to rethink everything.
On the face of it, hinting at an incomprehensible terror within nature is an enticing premise. And the film certainly takes its time trying to build up a foreboding and uneasy atmosphere. Exposition is (in comparison to other horror movies) relatively scarce and Finnegan employs anxiety-inducing sounds in an attempt to drive home the hostility and apprehension in the background. The more obvious tropes of the horror genre are purposefully subverted and Without Name utilises lengthy shots of the forest to create an apt murky and unwelcoming environment. Quite refreshingly, Finnegan opts for a subtle approach to directing. The movie is not content to force feed answers, and questions regarding the sentience of nature are left open for interpretation. Interestingly, to circumvent the lack of dialogue between Eric, Oliver and Gus, the film heavily relies on body language between the actors to set the tone rather than vocalisations.
However laudable these subversions might be as a cinematic and storytelling tool, Without Name fails to deliver credible substitutions in their place. Despite the picture focusing so heavily on the corruption of Eric’s psyche, his characterisation is flat and does not give the audience much reason to be invested in him as he succumbs to paranoia. Finnegan aims to portray a dreamlike environment for the story to unfurl in, but more often than not, this veers into being meandering and monotonous in a film that is only 90 minutes long. Awkwardly slotted in are philosophical musings on ownership of land and capitalism, which ultimately end up feeling wafer thin and disengage from the thematic elements they aim to support.
Without Name is inherently an introspective abstract movie and not necessarily subject to the same yardsticks as more mainstream films. For a first feature, it has some merit in its unique approach to deriving horror from isolation and contemplation. Unfortunately, despite promising elements Without Name never finds its footing or establishes a firm character.
Without Name does not have a UK release date yet.
Watch the trailer for Without Name here: