Review – For Those In Peril
A visceral tale of grief is presented in ‘For Those in Peril’, the debut film from writer/director, Paul Wright, which composites seafaring folklore against the raw emotions of losing a loved one.
In a small Scottish fishing community, Aaron (George MacKay) is the lone survivor of a boating accident that claimed the lives of five men including his older brother (Jordan Young). In the aftermath of the tragedy, Aaron is treated like an outcast and loses his grip on reality.
‘For Those in Peril’ is a film about the living dead. Aaron is alive but he is a ghost within his town and many of the residents, gripped by grief, cannot stand his presence. Unable to comprehend his existence, Aaron tries to figure out what happened and a local legend involving sea monster is the only logical explanation in his mind. Wright does an incredible job of visualising Aaron’s mindset, and uses various multimedia tools to beef up the story with details. Tiny pieces of information about life before and after the accident are presented through clips of local news reports, interviews with locals, phone conversations and home video footage. These elements are laced throughout the film expertly by Wright to give context to the situation as well as developing the characters both living and deceased. There is something awry with Aaron in the beginning of the film and his behaviour is assumed to be a by-product of trauma from the accident. Through the home video footage it becomes obvious that Aaron has always been a misfit and his older brother acted as a protector. Without a sibling as a guardian Aaron’s actions are startling and impulsive, but his heart is in the right place, and that’s where a bulk of the tragedy of Aaron’s character arc gets muscle from.
Aaron’s masculinity is frayed as well as his mind, and watching him crack is an intense experience thanks to a brilliant performance from MacKay. Watching the actor drift between boyish fantasy and the demands of embracing manhood to cope with the situation is distressing. Kate Dickie is excellent playing Aaron’s fragile mother who is struggling to keep a hold of what remains of her family unit. Young is great in flashbacks as Aaron’s aggressive but loving sibling.
The ocean plays an important part in the story and Wright makes its presence felt using the sounds of waves crashing to exemplify that the sea is always calling Aaron back to finish the job it started. The entire sound design of the film fits in with the organic soundscapes of the life aquatic aided by a haunting score by Erik Enocksson.
The only niggling part of ‘For Those In Peril’ are the moments of extreme aggression from the townsfolk. The backlash is expected, but it’s something so familiar in films that focus on small towns. It may be a reality of the situation but Wright builds good tension without having to resort to obvious hostility. Thank heavens Aaron didn’t have a dog because canines fair badly when little communities turn on an individual (see: ‘The Hunt’).
‘For Those In Peril’ is a raw first film from Wright, but it’s a film that looks and feels like it comes from a seasoned professional. A powerful story told by a bold new storyteller. Don’t miss the opportunity to witness Wright’s first power steps in into filmmaking.
The Popcorn Junkie