Director: Jamie Carswell
Starring: Todd Caryl, Nancy Gray, Eve Wylden
Rare Species Productions
‘Get Out of Your Head’
First-time film director Jamie Carswell weaves a psychological tale of guilt and madness with FM Andy. Andy (Todd Caryl), the ever-anxious and brooding main character, is still attempting to deal with a previous accident when the girl next door, Grace (Nancy Gray), complicates everything with her romantic advances. As Andy attempts to find solid footing while his mind continuously taunts every decision he makes, his FM radio begins to speak.
The film follows in the framework of other psychological chillers, such as Frailty, Jacob’s Ladder, or The Shining, by gradually building character development and back story through snippets of memory and a sense of permeating discomfort. Seemingly normal interactions are intensified by Andy’s unease, and, although his instability pokes through the harmless veneer, viewers are given a glimpse of things to come early in the story. However, due to solid writing and pacing, I found myself hoping for Andy to find a bit of clarity all the way to the bitter end.
Nancy Gray creates love interest Grace with equal parts innocence and playful seductress. This character fits well in Andy’s world, forcing him to deal with the concept of a new relationship all the while attempting to come to terms with his past. In contrast, the aforementioned FM radio plays out like an alter ego, mocking and provoking Andy similar to Norman Bates’ mother or Mr. Scratch from survival horror game Alan Wake, giving FM Andy’s uneventful world a much needed catalyst.
Adding to the mix is a competent sound score, switching from upbeat, radio friendly tunes to a much more sinister mix of creepy ambience. What makes the music work is its timing, not only during fitting scenes, but also in keeping in step with the flow of Andy’s unraveling. The voice acting from Robert Drogo as The Radio is also on par with the film, offering both comedic relief and smug interjection, and gives dimension to an otherwise limited tale.
As a final nod to other films in the subgenre, FM Andy does not rely on special effects to keep it afloat, but instead opts to use brief moments of practical gore or secondary means to impress the darker undercurrent upon its audience. Considering the psychological focus of the film, this works much better than full out brutality. Writer/director Jamie Carswell seems to be a fan of leaving more to the imagination, a respectful homage to thrillers from the 70’s and 80’s. One scene in particular was enough to illicit a grimace on this reviewer’s face, but was relevant to our poor Andy’s plight and only added to the already offbeat tale.
It is refreshing to see a film that wears its influences on its sleeve and still twists the familiar with a bit of creative expression. FM Andy does not tread where no one has gone before, but offers a new perspective on the inner workings of the human psyche. Both tragic and interesting, FM Andy is a fun and engaging addition to any collection.