10th Jul2020

‘Peripheral’ Review

by Alain Elliott

Stars: Hannah Arteton, Rosie Day, Tom Conti, Jenny Seagrove, Elliot James Langridge, Connor Byrne, Belinda Stewart-Wilson | Written by Dan Schaffer | Directed by Paul Hyett

Paul Hyett’s debut movie The Seasoning House blew me away. With its hard-hitting story and an incredible performance from Rosie Day, It was one of my favourite films of 2013. He followed it up with something completely different, the highly entertaining werewolf movie set on a train Howl, so I was now very much looking forward to checking out Peripheral (I have somehow missed his third movie The Convent, so I’ll be watching that soon).

Peripheral is once again, completely different from the directors other movies. This time more sci-fi but still entering into body horror territory. We follow Bobbi Johnson whose debut novel has become a huge hit but also sparked riots across England. Now struggling with her second novel, a stalker and trying to stay off drugs, her publishing company give her a new computer and editing software that seems to become more and more sinister.

Very much feeling like an episode of Black Mirror, Peripheral twists and turns to create a real mindf*ck of a movie. Even showing clear influences from the likes of David Cronenberg but in a modern setting. It also feels like it couldn’t be made at any other time except for the last few years. There’s riots on the streets, people feel that the world is against and technology might be taking over. It’s also a very claustrophobic movie. Bobbi does leave the house occasionally but for much of the film she is in dark rooms, losing her sanity little by little but still having to stay in the house and finish the book. In these times of lockdown, I’m sure plenty of people can relate. Bobbi Johnson is also very close to Boris Johnson, that can’t be coincidence surely?

Hannah Arteton (sister of Gemma) is great in the lead as we see her slowly lose her mind. There’s plenty of scenes where you’ll be thinking WTF and not sure exactly what is going on. It might even take a few more views to really understand everything but it’ll make for an interesting watch on each viewing. Rosie Day is once again really enjoyable, this time in a small role, as is the highly experienced Tom Conti.

It’s no surprise that Paul Hyett’s background is in a make-up effects because everything in his previous movies and here, looks fantastic. From the occasional moment of gore to the futuristic computer system to the black goo that appears again and again. He makes his films look like they have a much higher budget than they actually do. Though perhaps Peripheral would have been suited to a TV episode because at times it feels like the idea is stretched too far and some scenes are there for little reason other than fill time.

The writer, Dan Schaffer (The Scribbler) also wrote the criminally under-seen zombie movie Doghouse (definitely one of Danny Dyer’s best), so I will definitely be keeping an eye on anything he does in the future.

Peripheral shows that Paul Hyett is a truly versatile director. From revenge thriller to werewolf movie to 17th century horror to sci-fi body horror is quite a selection; and I hope he does something completely fresh for his next movie.

*** 3/5

Peripheral will be released in the UK on August 3rd, courtesy of Blue Finch Films.


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