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The Independent Critic

Mark Agar, Andy Yule, Siobhan Aislinn, Gary Swaine, Ger Boland
Pauric Brennan
Mark Hampton, Pauric Brennan
90 Mins.

 Movie Review: Am Fear Liath 
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The world of the Bigfoot legend serves as the foundation for Pauric Brennan's indie film Am Fear Liath - The Grey Man, a 90-minute thriller/horror that takes a leap from the legend and dives deep into obsession, human nature, and the nature that surrounds us. 

Filmed in Laois, Ireland, Am Fear Liath is set in a mystical wood where whispers of a Bigfoot-like legend swirl. Locals are enthralled, an opportunity for an ambitious entrepreneur the likes of Fred (Mark Agar) to build a biz off of the subsequent Bigfoot tourism. However, even more frightening than a possible Bigfoot is Reinhold (Andy Yule), a relentless debt collector after Fred and, if Fred doesn't pay up, his iconic Bigfoot tour van. 

Am Fear Liath possesses a deceptively light tone, Phil McClean's original music giving the film a center vibrance amidst a narrative, co-penned by Brennan with Mark Hampton, that spirals into something more serious than you expect it to be. Agar's Fred is the centerpiece performance here, never quite what we believe him to be and yet also never someone we completely dismiss. We meet him as he's guiding a couple of Bigfoot devs, Marty (Siobhan Aislinn) and Ger (Ger Boland), on a search that is convincing both for revealing Fred's ineptitude and his ability to sell himself completely anyway. 

Once Reinhold is on the scene, the film's lightness gets pierced by dark as Fred, joined by trusted companion Paddy (Gary Swayne), works to figure a way out of this entire mess. If there could be a Bigfoot-themed Agatha Christie mystery, this ought to be it. 

Brennan's cast is fully onboard here and quite capable of selling, much like Fred, what is really a rather simple narrative that becomes a wee bit more complex as the story unfolds and as we begin to see just how one's seemingly innocent obsession can go wildly awry. 

Working with a modest budget, Brennan accomplishes quite a bit here for what is a rather ambitious motion picture. The film's thrills never quite come across with the pace and intensity really needed to sell them, though one has to be impressed with the cast's ability to really lean into it anyway. In addition to Agar's fine work, Siobhan Aislinn is an absolute gem as Marty, Ger Boland convinces as Ger, and Gary Swayne is served up his moments to shine as well. Andy Yule is a bit of a scene-stealer as Reinhold, amplifying his unpredictable darkness and secret agendas. 

It would be hard to make Ireland look back, however, Shea Kelly's lensing captures both the beauty of the setting and the spiraling nature of an increasingly out of control obsession. While the film's action sequences would seem to fall short of the desired impact, that's an inherent risk when shooting an ambitious film on a modest production budget. Kelly accomplishes some really great things here. 

Am Fear Liath never quite becomes the film I'd hoped it would be, however, this intriguing little indie is still definitely worth a view with a unique storyline and a talented ensemble cast keeping us engaged throughout. 

Written by Richard Propes
The Independent Critic