North Circular Road tells the story of Janice (Lorna Larkin) and her husband Matthew (Patrick O’Donnell) who move into a new home on the titular street. Janice is a successful weather forecaster who is still feeling guilty about having an affair with her boss (the splendidly slimy Conor Marren). Janice, unhappily being forced to work from home starts to see a ghostly couple in their home. They seem to be from a past life. Increasingly troubled by the goings on she starts to investigate. As these things usually go, things are not what they seem. Is Janice losing it, perhaps drinking too much and feeling guilty about past transgressions? Or did something sinister happen in the house she has come to love?”
Janice sees an advertisement for a psychic on the TV (perhaps the ’women are available to chat all over Ireland’ ads were on a break). She goes to see the psychic called Mary (a wonderfully droll Orla McGovern) who senses that something is not quite right as I imagine all psychics do. So Janice sets out to try and prove that the people she sees are not in her head (cue a historical records montage in the records office). She also has to contend with a work suspension that was constructed by her creepy boss.
North Circular Road is a curious film. There is plenty here in an individual sense to recommend it. The camera work, particularly for a low budget feature is excellent indeed. Some vivid crane shots show an ambition that is hard to fault. Likewise the acting is good across the board, with the ever dependable Patrick O’Donnell (Tin Can Man) a standout. The script is decent with some quite funny lines peppered throughout.
So why doesn’t all of this mesh? The trouble here is that North Circular Road doesn’t know what it wants to be. It starts off like it is going to be a horror film. The set up is straight out of that genres rulebook. Somewhere along the way it becomes a drama, a little bit of a comedy and a supernatural thriller. This means that we are constantly wondering what kind if film this is. And when we look at the individual good points mentioned above this is the problem: they feel like they belong in their own film. The funny lines in the script mentioned earlier are a case in point: work well on their own but they are totally at odds to the aesthetics and feel of the film as a whole. It is not clear what story the director should be telling so it muddies the waters and the story is lost in the confused narrative. There is also an unfortunate 15 minute coda at the end of the film that really does not work at all. It brings in another genre which is not welcome at that point. Two minutes could wrap the story up.
All this being said this is a film that is not without merit. There is some very good potential in here. There is enough here to make me want to see what scriptwriter and director Donal Nugent will do next.