Caveat is the latest in a long line of horror films that seem to think ambiguity equals great horror cinema. It’s lazy storytelling that has contempt for its audience as well as its genre. You can have ambiguity, of course, but you need a story strong enough for it to work—but in the case of Caveat, ambiguity is used in lieu of an engaging story.
The plot is utterly moronic, and bafflingly unbelievable. A drifter with amnesia, Isaac, is hired by an acquaintance, Moe Barrett, to look after his niece. She becomes catatonic randomly. Isaac is asked to wear a harness that restricts him to certain parts of the house. On top of that, it’s all set in this house that is conveniently on a remote island in Ireland, a house that also has a basement. Isaac’s decision to agree to this job, even with his recent memory loss, is so stupid that you would think the filmmakers haven’t ever spent time with human beings. It literally makes no sense that anybody would agree to this. By contrast, look at film like Tusk: as outlandish as the scenario is, it’s thought out well enough that you buy how this podcaster ends up as a human walrus, and you actually care about the main character.
The house is obviously supernatural, and the film’s only highlight is this incredibly creepy toy rabbit that looks like something out of Jan Svankmajer’s Alice. The story doesn’t really go anywhere, and the conflict is supported so haphazardly that the ending—which is unsatisfying, to put it mildly—is a relief, because at least the film is finished. There is a story in the film about how somebody killed themselves with a crossbow. That has happened, but it’s so rare and moronic that it’s hard to take seriously. The crossbow comes into play later in the film. It’s a cool weapon and all, but really… that’s the best you can come up with? But then again, I’m the person who thought We Need to Talk About Kevin was stupid because it has a kid in America (where guns are of course legal and widely available) shooting up his school with a crossbow. Unless your film features a deer hunter, a superhero or a knight, maybe don’t give your character a crossbow, it’s just goofy.
Caveat didn’t do much for me, but it seems to have been divisive. I didn’t find the film interesting in the slightest, bar the toy rabbit, which is also on the Blu-Ray cover. The film commits the cardinal sin of horror filmmaking by being really boring. It ends up not doing much with its creepy, if unbelievable, premise. I’m sure the filmmakers will be doing better work in the future, but while they prepare for that, I would also advise them to invest in some lights: the film was too dark visually, even for a film set mainly in a basement.
The disc includes two commentary tracks, one from the director and the other from the producer, plus storyboards.