Onus Movie Review
Written by Ryan Holloway
Released by Left Films
Directed by George Clarke
Written by Anthony Boyle and George Clarke
2016, 98 minutes, Rated 15 (UK)
DVD released on 26th December 2016
Robert Render as Mr. Andrews
Anthony Boyle as Keiran Flynn
Kenny Thompson as Hunter
Made on a budget of £500, Onus is a thriller that can never break free from its low-budget constraints. Keiran Flynn (Anthony Boyle) wakes up below a cliff, bloodied, with a gun taped to his hand and chained to a man lying beside him. As they try to piece together what is going on it starts a story of many twists and turns.
Getting a film made is an achievement in itself and sometimes a low budget yields fantastic and unexpected results. Onus, however, is not one of those films. With no visual effects to speak of and a stripped back production, the emphasis is on the script and the performances and although every effort is made by the young Anthony Boyle to act his socks off, there is no hiding that the acting chops just aren’t there with a script that sounds like it was written in 10 minutes... in a cab on the way to the shoot.
Shortly after Keiran awakes he discovers that he is chained to Mr Andrews (Robert Render) his old science teacher that he has also been having counseling with. They both have guns taped securely into their hands and soon find a note that tells them that one of them must die before nightfall. Although some attempt is made to break the chain, our victims soon discover that they are being watched as more notes appear.
In order for the notes to appear, Keiran and Mr Andrews have to do things like ‘get some sleep’ despite it being the middle of the day; surely adrenalin is running through their bodies like no one's business? It’s so absurdly convoluted that you can never really identify with their plight.
The pair exchange various semi-amusing bits of banter while trying to find ways out of the situation, mostly involving Mr Andrews telling Keiran to kill him, as he’s older and Keiran has his whole life ahead of him. They soon drop this idea and soldier on, as do we.
As we discover who has orchestrated these events the film then goes off at a tangent and almost becomes a totally different story but this sick game of two halves can’t quite connect.
Suffice to say, the first act doesn’t end well for young Keiran and the rest of the film sees his mum, Joan (Vivian Jamison) trying to discover the truth behind what happened.
When the story switches, the acting also takes a nose-dive and the film slows into a convoluted mess.
It's riveting stuff as we watch Joan quote Marilyn Monroe while walking round a garden centre and drive through country lanes following Mr Andrews around their tiny town like Miss Marple, but with none of the charm or wit... or skills.
The climax of the film does very little to justify its existence and although bringing a film to the screen is admirable, the onus must be on the filmmakers to create something worth shooting in the first place.