Directed by: Eoin Macken
Starring: Karl Argue, Kellie Blaise, Siobhan Cullen, Emmet Scanlan
Filled to bursting with atmosphere that chills to the core, this brutal exploration of mankind and supernatural nasties succeeds for the near entirety of its 90 minute running time. There’s only a slight sag, thanks to a less than exciting, unique or worthy ending, and the beginning is a slow affair to get through, but the central third is a joy. A grotesque, horrifying joy.
The plot has five girls readying for a night out to celebrate Corina’s 21st birthday. For some unknown reason, other than to set up a horror location, they embark to have a party and get drunk in an abandoned warehouse. The girls - Cara, Sienna, Sian, Louise and Corina - meet up with the latter’s boyfriend, but that night out spirit soon evaporates when intruders of varying kinds leave the six trapped in a nightmare.
Like Cloverfield, this film is pretty much solely found footage-like movie making. A hand held camera is the documenter of a lot of the action, and makes up the story start point as a guy wanting to pawn a ring gets some money and this video camera in return. The shakiness never bothers me but I could see how it may with others possibly. I like it in this first point style, as it immerses you further into the world of the characters, and, wow, do you ever get freaked out thanks to this tactic. Seeing what they see through blurry or rushing frenetic camera movement builds tension, along with pace, and you can’t help but get wrapped up in a resemblance of the panic they feel.
It’s a brutal and quite uncomfortable film a lot of the time, and I must say there are a few moments where it gets hard to keep watching, just for the sheer explicitness of the plot, but life and human actions are sometimes that horrendous, so it just shines a camera light on that seedy side of us. The party getting interrupted by some frankly, very looming and frightening men in the warehouse is unnerving from the outset and it just escalates in terms of violence and shock. One scene for example, doesn’t cut for about 15 minutes, and in that time, these three vagrants torture, piss about, kill and rape. No edits really leave you shaken by the sequence and it feels so real down to everyone’s performance, the dingy location and the uneasy nature of what occurs.
When you think the suspense or bone chilling worries can’t build any higher, a new feature comes into play and hideous forces make their mark in the ruined building. A creature flick genre now steps into the fray and a clicking, bloodied menace begins hunting everyone. The rubbled confines of the foundations are beyond claustrophobic, and work very well in building that stalker horror vibe. It’s a film that utilises the horror of humanity, and then inhumanity, by bringing in this scary thing; it works even more thanks to the sound throughout the picture.
The Brilliant Things have struck a gold pot in stirring up a hair raising score to match the dank and involving action on screen. A lot of the sound mixing is very effective in harmonizing screeches, camera sounds, baby wails, clicks and the music itself. It all rises to create a cacophony of sinister dread. I must say, thanks to the sound work, I jumped at least twice; once just thanks to the heightened volume of a camera noise. It may be manipulation, but not forced jump scares, like many other horrors around now, so I can overlook that little dip in actual horror.
The ending is a huge let down though, and sadly taints what comes before. The guy who watches the footage on the camera makes a stupendously pathetic decision near the last part of the film, and from then on you feel like the creators are at a lack as to how to wrap up this story. The very ending comes across as striving to be funny or clever in being unexpected, but it feels horrendously lazy.
On the whole though, this film succeeds in being out there for violence, grotesque human behaviour, terror of what goes bump in the night, and first person filming. A perfect setting, with naturalistic acting, lets this film survive that over filled garbage bin of horror tries. Brutal and immersive, this is one to watch with hunched shoulders and the lights on.
By Troy Balmayer