1 March 2014

DVD Review - For Those In Peril (2013)

Soda Pictures
Rating: 18
DVD Release Date:
3rd March 2014 (UK)
Paul Wright
George McKay, Nichola Burley, Katie Dickie, Michael Smiley
Buy: For Those In Peril [DVD]

British cinema has long since been known for its realist aesthetic with directors such as Ken Loach (Kes, Raining Stones, and Ladybird, Ladybird) and Mike Leigh (Life Is Sweet, Naked, and Secrets & Lies) working at the forefront of our national cinema within a social realist idiom. In more recent years, with Lynne Ramsay’s Ratcatcher and Andrea Arnold’s more recent Fish Tank springing to mind, the traditional realist mode as changed context and become more poetic in its form. And now we have Paul Wright, whose debut feature For Those in Peril uses local folklore to transcend the boundaries of realist cinema and imbue his story with a sense of magic.

The film concerns itself with the guilt and need for redemption that take their toll on Aaron (George Mackay), the lone survivor of a fishing accident that claimed the lives of several young men including his own brother. With the local townsfolk of the remote Scottish fishing community in which he resides either blaming him or resenting him for being the only one to return, and with his only solace coming from his mother (played by the excellent Kate Dickie) and his dead brother’s girlfriend Jane (Nichola Burley), Aaron retreats into his own world. With the conviction that his brother is still alive and after taking literally the fable his mother used to tell him as a child, he sets out to rescue his brother from the belly of the monster at the bottom of the sea.

My initial reaction when I watched the film was that the use of folklore to lift the film into the realms of magical realism was, as other critics have been eager to point out, a major misjudgement that diverts our attention away from the films compassionate and intense psychological core. But upon reflection the real problem isn’t anything to do with the films magical elements but more to do with the 18 certificate given to the film, because this film does work as a children’s fable, albeit a dark one, that should be made available for a younger audience. For while the film still has its problems, namely the credibility of the townsfolk’s resentment of Aaron, the film is an ambitious debut that deserves to sit alongside Lynne Ramsay’s Ratcatcher, Andrea Arnold’s Fish Tank, Clio Barnard’s The Selfish Giant, and Ken Loach’s Sweet Sixteen as a children’s film that has fallen foul of the BBFC’s rating system.


Shane James

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