Isaac (Jonathan French) is a lone drifter before being approached by someone who offers him work. The job offers Isaac two hundred dollars per day over five days for a simple task. All he has to do is look after a psychologically troubled woman named Olga and keep her company in her home. Olga lives on her own in a house on an island, and visitors can only get there by travelling on a boat. Apart from Olga, the island is completely uninhabited and isolated. Isaac feels the job is too good to be true, and the work is easy, so he accepts.
Upon arriving at the home, Isaac is given more terms and rules for looking after Olga. He is never to get too close to her or her personal space, and never visit her bedroom (especially at night) as Olga has fears that someone is attempting to attack her. And the final rule is a must. Isaac must wear a human leash around his waist and chest connecting him to a large chain. While Isaac is locked up by the chain at the waist, he will still have the freedom to walk around the house except for in certain areas and selected rooms. At first, he is not impressed by the surprising new terms, but he feels he has no choice as he needs the money and, again, accepts.
With Isaac now alone with Olga, he begins to look around the home and starts to interact with her by having conversations, and the two learn more about each other. But it is not long until Isaac is filled with fear as he makes haunting discoveries inside the house.
The plot of Caveat is simple and basic, but honestly, I loved the film’s setup. In the opening scenes alone, I noticed the film had a tremendous audio track, which had me gripping my cinema chair just a little tighter without really understanding what was going on and why I was so concerned for characters I did not even know yet. Isaac is likeable as a character, even though he crazily accepts such a job for money. However, I still found myself liking him primarily because of how realistic and confident he was as a character.
For those who are not aware, Caveat has been completed by first time director Damian McCarthy. It has been completed on a small budget with a limited amount of actors and locations. Once again, these elements did not bother me because everything on screen made me feel impressed at what the filmmakers achieved. The film introduces many moments of mystery and suspense from start to finish, which is exciting and gripping.
While I have lots of praise for the film, I have a few concerns about the film’s plot and how it wraps up. Perhaps this is just me, but I found some of the reveals relating to the film’s mysteries were quite vague, leaving the answers up to the viewers to decide or perhaps, some questions you will never know the answer to. Some reveals are pleasing, but sadly, I had hoped for a better conclusion due to everything that was built up. This was a major disappointment for me, having enjoyed every detail the film delivered to start off with and the fun I was having with it as a horror movie.
Overall, Caveat delivers a big thumbs up on many elements as a horror movie. The atmosphere, performances, and horror aspects are fun to see, and I had a blast watching this movie. As a directional debut, I left feeling generally impressed! With so many enjoyable elements on the screen, I was saddened that a few mysteries within the plot ended up being vague or left me with unanswered questions. No matter, this is an applaud worthy debut, and I still had a fun time watching it. Caveat (2020) is Now Available on Shudder!