North Circular Road full movie review - A slow mystery
I'm yet again happy to get to watch another independent Irish movie, thanks to our good buddy Michael Parle, who also co-produced this movie.
In the lead we see the great Patrick O'Donnell and a new face, Lorna Larkin. This new Irish ghost movie doesn't offer the scary kind of ghosts. It's not a horror movie with jump scares, nor is it quite as unique as "I Am a Ghost". What it is, however, is a slowly developing drama that focuses on a ghost mystery, which gets you involved in its lead woman and her search for the truth.
As many ghost stories, a couple moves into a new house. A large, gorgeous house. One that they'll be living in until they're six feet under, if things go as planned. But things are on a slippery slope when Janice cheats on Matthew, and she's going through a personal crisis due to her big mistake. Things go for the worse when it turns out that Janice and Matthew are now living in a house that is haunted by the ghosts of a couple, but only Janice is the one seeing them. Matthew's busy with his job, while Janice begins to get invested in the mystery of her new house. What separates the movie from the usual ghost stuff is the drama approach, that Janice isn't attacked by these ghosts, that they're not out to haunt her. What's happening in their new house is a vision of domestic abuse, and Janice decides she has to find out what once happened in the house. She finds that she can help more than she ever expected.
It sounds like most ghost movies, and I wouldn't say it's groundbreaking, but it is nice to not get the typical scare fare. For a movie which is quite traditional in its build-up, it's just fresh to be treated to something calmer. It's all about how Janice witnesses something horrible and wants to find the truth behind it - who were they, when did they live there? There is one point in the plot which fell for me, and that was most parts involving the medium. I understand anyone believing they are haunted by ghosts would seek out a medium (or at least in movies), but it felt more like they moved the story there because they had to, that it was expected, rather than actually making it an interesting part of the story. I'd rather see them just skip it, because I had a hard time enjoying the medium as a character even.
Besides that small bump in the road, this is a nice movie. It's not spectacular and perhaps you'll leave never to return to the movie again, but with that said I also find it hard to dislike it. Lorna Larkin gets us interested in the mystery and shows that she certainly has acting chops. Hell, she's even shining over Patrick O'Donnell in this movie, and that says a lot since we're big fans of him here. In this one, he plays the difficult husband - the non-believer, the naysayer. He's a good man, but one that's there to tell Lorna's character to get her crazy ideas out of her head. Lorna Larkin portrays Janice as someone both strong and vulnerable at the same time, and that makes a very realistic character.
"North Circular Road" offers a large mystery delivered slowly. There isn't a ton of effects, scares or that much oddity at all. It's a drama. It's a movie worth watching but not necessarily one you should spend a day trying to track down. If you cross paths with it, give it a shot. While it might have a fresh drama approach to the supernatural, it's not a movie that stands out a lot. It has good performances, namely from Lorna Larkin, and is a great start for director Donal Nugent, so I am psyched to see more from both of them after this - and continued great work from Patrick O'Donnell who convinced me to become a fan after "Tin Can Man" and "The Looking Glass".
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