Sydney Film Festival – For Those In Peril review

ForThoseInPeril

By Simon Miraudo
June 13, 2013

Grief strikes in your gut, and then lingers for a lifetime. It can dull, or grow exponentially. There’s no way of knowing how you’ll handle it, until you’re in the midst of it. It’s kind of like love’s awful cousin. And like love, it’s a tough thing to evoke on screen. Writer-director Paul Wright goes the more abstract route in his feature debut, For Those in Peril.

Aaron (George MacKay) is the lone survivor of a disastrous sea wreckage, and the anguished residents of his Scottish village make no secret of their resentment towards him. Blamed for the death of the other five crewmembers – including his brother, Michael (Jordan Young) – Aaron, in desperation, plots to save his fallen friends from the “sea devil” that has claimed them. Taking inspiration from a bedtime story once told by his mother (Kate Dickie), he literally takes to the sea to cut them free from the belly of the underwater beast.

As Aaron’s sanity slips, so too does the film’s, evidenced by the increasingly fractured and cacophonic pace. Wright crafts some genuinely upsetting imagery, and uses some old, grainy video footage of Aaron and Michael as boys to chilling effect. It’s an assured first feature, though an unremittingly grim one. That may be the price you pay for delving into the grimy depths of grief. This is like the kind of fevered hallucination someone with a dark past might experience in a sensory deprivation tank. There are no moments of lightness; no laughter. For Those In Peril is harrowing through and through.

And then, we arrive at the ending; an ambiguous one that will no doubt incite conversation. The last few shots are beautifully executed. A perfect finale to an imperfect film. As a deeply felt cinematic representation of grief, it’s a success. One you’d want to revisit, or even have remain in your memory? I’d say not.

3/5

Check out Simon Miraudo’s other reviews here.

For Those In Peril played the Sydney Film Festival.

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