Fairytales and Folklore in Without Name [ADIFF 2017]
Directed By: Lorcan Finnegan Starring: Alan McKenna, Niamh Algar, James Browne Running Time: 93 minutes
Without Name is the first feature length film from Lorcan Finnegan and writer Garret Shanley, the same team behind the short Foxes. The film celebrates ancient Irish folklore, returning it to its dark roots of mischievous fairy folk. The use of this mythology suits the eco-horror themes perfectly. We all know to steer clear of fairy rings and where the wrong places to be after dark are out in the country side. Without Name plays well on Irish superstitions.
The story follows a troubled land surveyor, Eric, sent on a secret assignment to measure an ancient forest for a developer. As he learns more about the strange patch of land he soon finds himself losing grip on reality, alone in a remote house. We learn from Gus, an interesting local, that the forest was dubbed ‘Gan Ainm’, or Without Name, due to its mystical and uneasy nature. Gus is a welcome character, giving us both levity and lessons in folklore, such as turning your coat inside out to escape the clutches of the fairy folk. He also offers the argument that no land is private property as it isn’t up to us who owns land. The story walks the line between the absurdity of some of our tales and the very real places and situations from which those stories were woven. We see land under threat from this mysterious developer and how it may, or may not, be reacting. Stories all come from some truth. It is this idea that keeps us on Eric’s side for the majority of the film, believing that all he sees is real. That is a great mark of a movie using psychological horror themes, to keep the audience switching between questioning and believing.
Without Name goes to show just how much you can do with a small budget. The film was made with roughly €350,000 after being chosen from a programme with over 500 filmmakers vying for two funding spots. Finnegan spoke following the film and explained how all effects were done practically and on camera. There was also some heavy editing towards the climax of the film, and if you are in any way photosensitive then be wary seeing the film in cinemas. The strobe lighting is intense and unrelenting but quite necessary for the story. It builds a sense of uneasiness and danger just when it is needed. This technique allows us to feel as confused and shocked by the events as Eric. Without Name is a mixed bag of drama, comedy, horror and fantasy. There is also the added bonus of a drug fuelled mushroom trip through the woods which was wonderfully shot and edited – a far cry from Shrooms. This scene tied together the fantastical and the mundane really well. We even see Eric mixing a special earthy brew from the mysterious notebook he finds in the house.
During the screening’s Q&A, I asked Finnegan about his future plans and he said that horror is certainly going to be a continuing theme in his upcoming features. His next project will lean more towards sci-fi than fantasy as this film did. Without Name has also been picked up by a distributor and will be getting a release this coming April. I recommend you all go see it and support Irish film making.(4 / 5)