The haunting and powerful psychodrama "For Those in Peril" marks an auspicious feature debut for its visionary writer-director, Paul Wright.
Set in a remote fishing village in northeast Scotland, the film follows the aftermath of a strange boating accident in which four local men drowned. The lone survivor, Aaron (George MacKay), a sensitive young man who's already an outcast among the tougher townies, becomes something of a pariah simply because he lived. His foes' reasoning: Aaron could have saved the others but didn't.
If Aaron's guilt isn't crippling enough, it's compounded by the fact that his beloved older brother, Michael (Jordan Young), was one of the tragedy's fatalities. It's also devastating for Aaron's single, fishery worker mother (Kate Dickie), who nonetheless struggles to help Aaron move past the trauma.
Meanwhile, the mentally unraveling Aaron reaches out to Michael's kindly fianceé (Nichola Burley) for solace but is thwarted by her violent father (Michael Smiley).
Ultimately, Aaron's only viable coping mechanism is a staunch belief that Michael and his fellow victims are not dead — and that Aaron can find them. That's where the movie's deep spirituality, symbolism and emotional heft most stirringly intersect. It's all immeasurably aided by Wright's eclectic visual palette and inventive approach to narrative.
Fine performances (MacKay is a revelation), bristling tension, strong atmospherics and a wealth of superbly wrought, often heartbreaking scenes add up to make "Peril" a must-see for serious filmgoers.
"For Those in Peril."
No MPAA rating. In English with English subtitles.
Running time: 1 hour, 28 minutes.
At the Arena Cinema, Hollywood.