While the end of Awards Season marks an exodus of big-name pictures from our screens, it also clears programming space for smaller, low-budget movies: independent is back.
Catch Me Daddy (2014, dir. Daniel Wolfe) slots neatly into this category. Set on the wild and lonely Yorkshire Moors, the Wolfe brothers’ debut feature is a tightly coiled revenge thriller. Laila, (Sameena Jabeen Ahmed) a young Pakistani woman on the run from her family is forced to flee for her life when her estranged brother and a band of thugs come-a-knocking.
Wolfe ratchets the tension up to an almost unbearable level which is sustained throughout the film. Drawing on the natural conflict between two colliding communities, the lack of exposition purposefully disorientates the viewer. Indeed, Wolfe invites us to pick sides between the two groups of men, challenging us to determine which are good and which are bad before exposing the moral bankruptcy of both.
Our empathy lies firmly with Laila. Ahmed’s performance earned her the British Independent Film Award for Most Promising Newcomer last year and it’s easy to see why. The mumblecore style suits her energy perfectly and Laila feels like a real person when the supporting cast occasionally fall into mob-like cliché.
This stripped back performance style works in juxtaposition with Wolfe’s more stylised images. Heavy with the dense fog of the Yorkshire Moors and laden with the deepest black of night, each shot feels carefully framed and considered. Laila is a beautiful, colourful butterfly against drab masculine surroundings and draws the viewer’s eyes to her as a point of brightness.
An unrelentingly dark film, Catch Me Daddy has no qualms about portraying violence on screen. Stripped back in its brutality, this is not a thriller where the characters clobber at each other for hours in an elaborately choreographed dance; people get hurt and people die without ceremony. Indeed the unexpected nature of death punctuating the feature augments the tension, leaving the viewer fearful of who will be bumped off next.
A ruthless portrayal of the breakdown of family relationships, Catch Me Daddy explores perceptions of honour and the complete lack of it in reality. Shocking from beginning to end, Wolfe couldn’t have picked a more darkly appropriate title.
Catch Me Daddy is on at Phoenix until Thu 19 March.