This horror movie from first-time director Damian Macarthy has been produced by the streaming channel Shudder and is about a drifter Isaac (Jonathan French) who has memory loss but is given the chance to earn some good cash by babysitting his landlord’s psychologically troubled niece in an isolated island mansion.
He at first agrees but then starts becoming suspicious when he finds out he has to be chained to a harness which limits the parts of the old house that he can access. The young girl Olga (Leila Sykes) insists that her uncle straps the caretaker into the harness, as the metal chain attached to it conveniently stops just short of her doorway. As the night progresses he then finds out that Olga’s father committed suicide in the basement and her “mad” mother disappeared from the premises shortly after. As nighttime draws in things start to become more and more strange as he finds out what really happened in that house.
Horror films in the modern era tend to rely a lot on jump scares and gore and have in most cases become predictable and not at all frightening. Caveat is a rare exception. It starts with a genuine feeling of unease and gets more and more creepy and claustrophobic as the film progresses. It is unsettling when the truth emerges and is inventive enough so you do not know which way it is going to turn. The images of a painting, a corpse, and a bug-eyed wind-up toy rabbit will stay with you and the climax will definitely terrify even the most jaded viewer.
For a first-time director, Damian Macartthy does a brilliant job with building the tension and has you guessing if something supernatural is involved or if it is all in the minds of the two people trapped. Production and sound design are all top-notch for such a low-budget feature and the performances are also excellent. The conclusion is a bit rushed and there are a few plot holes but overall you will be very satisfied to have sat through one of the better horror movies of the past few years and it again shows that tension and atmosphere can be a lot scarier than gory effects.
Thankfully this has been released on Blu-ray from Acorn Media in the UK and has a good but purposefully grimy transfer. Blacks are solid and as most of the film is at night in the dark you can see everything as clearly as intended. Audio has a very creepy 5.1 surround mix which serves it brilliantly if subtle in places. Extras are 2 audio commentaries by the producer and the director.
If you like scary horror movies then you should definitely check out Caveat.
FILM – 8 PICTURE – 8 AUDIO – 8 EXTRAS – 5