Creepy horror has themes of murder and psychosis; language.
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A Lot or a Little?
The parents' guide to what's in this movie.
What Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that Caveat is a scary and unsettling horror, with some violence and occasional strong language. It features little to nothing by way of positive messages, nor role models, as the viewer is placed within a murky world, inhabited by very few characters. One character, Barret (Ben Caplan), is a manipulative, self-serving man who exploits vulnerable and unstable people. He uses things like grief, and memory loss against them. Isaac (Jonathan French) is hired by Barret to look after his niece, Olga (Leila Sykes), the "caveat" being that Isaac will be chained to her. Olga uses a crossbow, with arrows seen lodged in people's bodies and there is some bloodshed. There is a regular sighting of a corpse, which could frighten some viewers, along with a creepy rabbit toy. The film has supernatural tendencies and scary sequences, with intense production and sound design. There are references to a parent killing themselves, and the unraveling of a story that features a disturbing murder. The language is strong but very infrequent, with occasional use of the word "f--k." There is also an uncomfortable sequence when a man intimidates a younger, vulnerable woman.
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What's the Story?
CAVEAT is the story of a lone drifter, Isaac (Jonathan French), who suffers from partial memory loss. Isaac is asked by his old landlord, Barret (Ben Caplan), to undertake a seemingly easy job, of keeping his vulnerable niece, Olga (Leila Sykes), company for a few days. Isaac accepts, seeing it as easy money, until he realizes just how isolated he will be, and how confined his movements within the house are.
Is It Any Good?
This debut feature film from writer and director Damian Mc Carthy is a claustrophobic, harrowing, and unsettling horror. Thanks to a really impressive production design, Caveat makes for a creepy immersive experience. So much so you can almost smell the grimy house the story plays out in. The performances impress too, with French in particular turning in a strong display. His character, Isaac, is not just fighting against other characters seeking to bring him down, but his own inner demons, and French carries all of these complexities in an assured manner.
The character development is a little lacking though, and while Mc Carthy strives to be unique and stray away from genre conventions, it does fall into some familiar trappings as we reach the closing act. So while the movie thrives in its atmosphere, and the way it looks and feels, it does let itself down with a lackluster story. That said, this creepy, disquieting film is one that is good enough to recommend. Though unlikely to ever be one you'd want to sit through again. And the less said about the terrifying rag doll bunny playing the drums, the better. Not if you want to sleep tonight.
Talk to Your Kids About ...
Families can talk about Caveat's scary stuff. Which bits did you find most unsettling? How did the look and feel of the movie add to its creepy atmosphere? What's the appeal of scary movies?
Did you find the movie violent? How much is shown, and how much is suggested? Does exposure to violent media desensitize kids to violence?
How was psychosis and mental illness portrayed in the film? Was it sensitively handled? Why is it important to see such portrayals in movies, and why must such care be taken when they are shown on-screen?
Talk about the strong language used in the movie. Did the fact that it was infrequent make it more shocking when it occurred? What did it bring to the story? Was it necessary?
- On DVD or streaming: June 3, 2021
- Cast: Jonathan French, Ben Caplan, Leila Sykes
- Director: Damian McCarthy
- Studio: Shudder
- Genre: Horror
- Topics: Monsters, Ghosts, and Vampires
- Run time: 88 minutes
- MPAA rating: NR
- Last updated: February 25, 2023
Our Editors Recommend
Good but creepy; may be too intense for some.
Emotional slow-burn horror movie about families, dementia.
The Woman in Black
Macabre ghost story is slow but creepy enough for teens.
For kids who love scares
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