The debut feature from acclaimed Scottish short filmmaker Paul Wright was one of a tiny selection of British films selected for the 2013 Cannes Film Festival – it screened as part of Critics’ Week – and it’s not hard to see why. This is contemporary low-budget arthouse in extremis, all juddery editing, extreme close-ups, drifting choral music and hushed, Terrence Malick-esque voiceover. Twenty-one-year-old George MacKay is phenomenal as Aaron, the sole survivor of a fishing boat tragedy who has become a bad-luck omen for his fellow townsfolk. Isolated from his community and convinced that the men on the boat – including his brother – could still be alive, Aaron sinks into depression and psychosis.
As a portrait of encroaching mental illness, ‘For Those in Peril’ works superbly. Wright goes for sensory overload, incorporating diverse video techniques and a jarring, disorienting soundscape. But this becomes repetitive: there’s only so many times an audience will fall for the same manipulative editing tricks. Still, with fine performances and a rich sense of place, this is a promising start.