Eye For Film >> Movies >> Catcalls (2017) Film Review
Reviewed by: Andrew Robertson
A textbook example of economy of storytelling, a gazetteer of horror movie editing techniques, Catcalls is a gem of a short. Opening with a portrait of suburban exoticism, shot from behind a worn dashboard as the car and camera creeps past a group of lads in Hawaiian shirts sauntering banterously past the sickly-lit shop-front of the Oriental Kitchen, we've had a glimpse of the air freshener. Betty Page perhaps, cheesecake undoubtedly, the scent is vanilla. The driver's tastes less so.
Claiming to be 'based on a true story', Cat Calls undoubtedly has an origin story that would take longer to sketch than the implications it assembles from a few well judged ingredients. While it may well fail the Mull of Kintyre test it does pass the Bechdel, an achievement in any film but more so with such a small cast, in such a small scope. A handful of locations which all feel real, tiny details - a wedding band, a lie about a phone, even the presence of two televisions in a front room cramped around a piano - implying much.
Martin O'Sullivan's Paul is the driver who exposes himself to more danger than he realises. He's been in a mess of shorts, but I'd have to wade through notebooks to determine how many if any I'd seen him in before. There's a palpable weariness to him though, a sketchy solidity - never trust anyone who wears a polo shirt. The girls he asks for directions (Cesca Saunders, Edel Murphy) are in very early or début roles, and good - in performances that are supplemented by Vincent Lam's prosthetics and Raygun's VFX they give a lot to build on. There's one shot where particular movement trends into the uncanny valley, but it's forgiveable in context. Where cats seldom know they're acting, people have a harder time conveying authenticity. For all the stretching that 'true story' opening gets, Catcalls feels right.
Written and directed by Kate Dolan, it's a third short and shows an absolute grasp of genre features and a willingness to have fun with them. "What's wrong with you?" is a question asked within the film, but not one that could be asked of it. Even a costume choice or two that I felt a tad 'male gaze-y' has pay-off in the end, but that's to intellectualise a film that's visceral, nimble, and worth reflecting on.
Catcalls screened at the 2019 Glasgow Film Festival as part of the Final Girls programme.Reviewed on: 13 Mar 2019