When Frank and Jess turn up with a present for Molly, they get a bike out of a Rover 75. There is no way a full size bike would come out of a 5 seat saloon car without being taken apart, but the handlebars were not even folded. See more »
A nicely disturbing slice of suburban harassment and disassociation
By now, whether we've been to Ireland or not, we know from the cinema that the suburbs are adrift with identikit mcmansions. Cynical Irish dramatist Gerard Stembridge chooses this locale to place an intriguing parable of trauma and the disassociation and neurosis that results from it.
On the surface, "Alarm" looks like an almost banal mystery: Molly, having been the victim of a home invasion that resulted in her father's death, moves out to said suburbs to "get away" from the madness and regain her life. She throws herself into a ready-made relationship with an old school flame who she runs into at her housewarming. Almost immediately after occupying the chic new place, break-ins start occurring. Benign at first, then gradually becoming more aggressive, repetitive and sinister. They're not random, the cops surmise...there's something "personal" going on. A vendetta perhaps.
Quite possibly, considering Molly stole the house from another interested party at the eleventh hour, paying a premium to a slimy real estate broker who turns up beaten to a pulp days later. Or is it her new beau, who seems to appear and vanish at all the right moments? Or even the two elderly friends of her father, who took Molly in after her dad's murder, and now can't bear to see her go? All this is really secondary, however, to what Stembridge may be getting at: as much as Molly wants to start over, she seems trapped in a maze of neurosis and contradictions between what she wants and her idealistic picture of what she thinks she should want. She wants interaction with others on her own terms and then isolation and anonymity when it's not convenient. She's the perfect tenant for suburban zombie-ville but doesn't want to admit it.
Stembridge and Ruth Bradley and Aiden Turner (as Molly and her hunky Irish stallion Mal) do an effective job at ratcheting up the tension and offering a virtually hopeless situation: the alarm Molly eventually is backed into purchasing (she resists it a long while for the Reality and bad memories it symbolizes) becomes as much an instrument of torture as the break-ins themselves, an almost Pavlovian realization of her instability. The level of hysteria and helplessness in these sequences reminded me favorably of John Carpenter's strongly affecting TV suspenser "Someone's Watching Me" from 1978.
The ending to Alarm is going to irritate a vast majority of viewers who aren't looking at it in any other terms but a whodunit. The real puzzle Stembridge seems to be presenting here, though, is not Who Done It but What It Truly Implies About Us To Whom It's Been Done.
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