Frightfest Glasgow: A Cloud So High (2022)

Director: Christopher Lee Parson

Running Time: 101 Minutes

Certification: 18

Starring: John Savage, Aaron Perilo, Jessica Lundy, Darin Heames, Hemky Madera, Michelle Lee, Denise Dowse, John Cothran

For his feature-length debut, writer/director Christopher Lee Parson sets his tale in the fictional location of Schooner, CA. A dark cloud hangs over this town which once dealt in fluff stories, only for the arrival of Paul Sarling (Aaron Perilo) to dramatically change that. Those events are depicted alongside documentary interviews, as residents coping with the aftermath dance around something horrific.

It all begins when Paul returns from the military to live with his disgraced ex-cop father, Gene (John Savage). There's a tense atmosphere between the men rooted in a difficult history, something which leaves Paul's unseen brother to question why he'd return. Things grow worse when Paul's activities evolve from petty theft and ransacking to murder.

A 22-year-old war veteran grappling with traumatic events, what Parson has crafted dives into the character's fracturing mind through stylish edits and an unnerving score, together capturing how foreboding and alien this situation feels. The measured pacing may test ones patience, although Perilo's performance remains engrossing throughout it all.

He's somebody that needs help, although that's hampered by his intense father who responds insultingly when Paul tries opening up and attempts to move away. When his support system is deaf to clear struggles, it's no wonder Paul imagines therapy sessions rather than actually attending them. His method of coping becomes terrorizing citizens by breaking into their homes. Invading other peoples lives becomes his destructive way of feeling comfortable in his own skin once more, the ramifications of which are felt by the town residents.

In a story where women are prominent parts of the story, it's a shame they feel sidelined throughout. One part tries addressing this, although it feels hollow when the film falls into those exact same traps. Despite this, what's been crafted is an interesting story about two people haunted by their past, and the destructive outcomes from not properly addressing these issues.

A Cloud So High played at Frightfest Glasgow