'Caught': Film Review

Another reason to stay away from the moors.

A married couple is threatened by demonic home invaders in Jamie Patterson's sci-fi horror film.

As An American Werewolf in London so vividly demonstrated, nothing good happens on the English moors. It's a lesson that the central characters of Jamie Patterson's imaginatively creepy horror film would have done well to learn, except if they had we wouldn't have the ingeniously creepy Caught.

The 1972-set story concerns Andrew (Ruben Crow) and Julie (Mickey Sumner, Frances Ha), married journalists — he's a writer, she's a photographer — who live with their young son and infant daughter in a well appointed Sussex house they've inherited from her parents. When first seen, Andrew is on the phone trying to convince his London editor that there's a story in the unexplained military operations going on near their home.

"The last time anyone invaded here was 1066," Andrew points out to his apparently reluctant editor.

The phone conversation is followed by a knock on the door, and that's when things begin to get seriously weird. Waiting outside are an oddly formal, fancily-dressed couple, the man looking like a stiffer, British version of Pee Wee Herman. Assuming that they're Jehovah's Witnesses or representatives from some other religious cult, Andrew tells the strangers that he and his wife are not interested. But when the couple, who introduce themselves as Mr. Blair (Cian Barry) and Mrs. Blair (April Pearson), inform him that they'd merely like to ask him a few questions, Andrew's journalistic curiosity is piqued and he lets them in the house.

That Andrew's acquiescence is ill-advised becomes quickly apparent. The strangers begin to act in an increasingly strange manner. Mr. Blair repeatedly inquires as to when the couple's son Toby (Aaron Davis) will be arriving home from school. And Mrs. Blair, well, she turns positively feral. And then she starts spewing viscous liquids out of her mouth and physically decomposing.

When a friendly mailman (Dave Mounfield) stops by on his morning rounds, Julie tries to slip him a note telling him to call the police. But anyone who's ever seen a horror film can guess that he's likely to meet a gruesome end.

The problem with the screenplay written by Dave Allsop and Alex Francis is that the story doesn't go anywhere particularly interesting once its premise has been established. The home-invading strangers become more and more menacing and demonic, but not before there's been too much aimless chatter in the process. And while it's admirable that the film never provides any easily digestible answers as to who or what exactly the Blairs are, its restraint eventually feels more coy than intriguing.

Nonetheless, Caught delivers plenty of terrifying moments, thanks to the highly committed performances by the central quartet, the superb makeup effects and the perfectly calibrated air of mounting claustrophobic tension provided by the director. If the film ultimately lacks the narrative focus necessary to make it stick in your waking memory, its shocking images may well haunt your nightmares.

Production: Gael Films, Dandelion Productions, Castleview Films
Distributor: Cinedigm
Cast: Mickey Summer, April Pearson, Cian Barry, Ruben Crow, Dave Mountfield, Aaron Davis, Regan Brown
Director: Jamie Patterson
Screenwriters: Dave Allsop, Alex Francis
Producers: Christina O'Shea-Daly, Jeremy Davis, Alex Francis
Executive producers: Robert Halmi Jr., Jim Reeve
Director of photography: Paul O'Callaghan
Production designer: Will Hooper
Editor: Dave Fricker
Composer: Moritz Schmittat
Costume designer: Grace Snell

85 min.