DON’T LEAVE HOME (director/writer: Michael Tully; cinematographer: Wyatt Garfield; editor: Zach Clark; music: Michael Montes; cast: Mark Lawrence (Conor Callahan), Anna Margaret Hollyman (Melanie Thomas), Lalor Roddy (Alistair Burke), Helena Bereen (Shelley), David McSavage (Padraig), Karrie Cox (Wendy); Runtime: 86; MPAA Rating: NR; producers: George M. Rush, Ryan Zacarias, Wally Hall, Jeffrey Allard, Tristan Orpan Lynch, Aoife O’Sullivan; Cranked Up Films; 2018)
“I’d give it an A for effort and C for execution.”Reviewed by Dennis Schwartz An arthouse horror pic written and directed by Michael Tully (“Ping Pong Summer”/”Septien”). The supernatural film has been compared to “Get Out,” but never reaches its build-up in suspense and deeply disappoints by not adequately resolving its central problem. I’d give it an A for effort and C for execution.In the prologue, an Irish priest, Alistaire Burke (Lalor Roddy), in 1986, is commissioned by a couple to paint their young daughter. In an idyllic forest setting accompanied by a statue of the Virgin Mary, the priest paints her while praying but suddenly the scene is bathed in a heavenly light, which is captured on canvas. The couple display it on their mantel. The next morning, the young girl cannot be found, and her image in the painting is gone.Thirty years later, the American artist Melanie (Anna Margaret Hollyman) prepares for an art exhibit on the many disappearances that have taken place in Ireland over the last century, with the above mentioned incident being the centerpiece. When her assistant prematurely leaks the exhibit to an art reviewer, it draws the attention of the priest Alistair Burke, who, while absolved of any wrongdoing, has still been supposedly guilt-ridden enough to voluntarily quit the priesthood and now lives in exile as a recluse in rural Ireland. Burke reaches out to Melanie via his assistant/housekeeper Shelley (Helena Bereen), and he flies the agreeable Melanie to Ireland to commission a piece for him. She agrees to keep it a secret contract, as Burke tells her he is trying to maintain his anonymity. During her stay with Burke the sinister dream logic of the narrative takes place in the foggy landscapes, in the host’s creepy cottage and among the frightful visions of hulking figures in cowls. When the suspicious Melanie, prepared to leave, is stuck there for one more night, at the request of Burke, we get some sense that the ex-priest is involved in some kind of nasty dealings of an otherworldly “collection” for wealthy European patrons. The film is rich in ideas about the connections between faith and art, but never enriches these ideas by fleshing things out. Instead it relies on too many cheap horror film tricks to score some scares for the genre fans. But it results in wooden performances, an untenable narrative and the deadening of an intriguing concept despite a lively final act.
REVIEWED ON 12/1/2018 GRADE: C+
Dennis Schwartz: “Ozus’ World Movie Reviews”
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