Brendan Muldowney is talking about his debut feature film ‘Savage’. It’s out today (September 17th) and if there’s any justice in the world the film will get the great word of mouth it deserves. After that if there’s a bit more justice leftover Brendan Muldowney will go on to have a stellar career in film because half an hour with the man is enough to confirm that he’s one of the good guys.
As is the way with succesful low-budget films, ‘Savage’ has been getting all it’s good press for months prior to securing a distribution deal. It’s now time for the greater public to see this dark, claustrophobic portrayal of a man coming to terms, or not coming to terms as it happens, with a vicious assault.
The film will draw comparison with many ‘revenge’ film and director Muldowney is happy to cite plenty of them himself when it comes to describing how the film came about.
“Even as a teenager I would have watched some awful crap like ‘The Exterminator’ or even ‘Death Wish’ which is pretty right wing nonsense but quite enjoyable.” He says “But of course you’d see films like ‘Taxi Driver’, ‘Straw Dogs’ and more art house things, ‘A Short Film About Killing’, Gasper Noé’s films which were wild..”.
It’s Gasper Noé’s shocking ‘Irréversible’ that will probably be cited most frequently in reviews of the movie although Muldowney believes that Noe’s first feature ‘I Stand Alone’ had a more marked influence on his work.
The vicious nature of the assault on ‘Savage’s protagonist Paul Graynor (played by Darren Healy) will provoke a reaction from anyone who watches it. But what are the director’s politics when it comes to crime? Is he a right-wing ‘throw away the key’ type? Or a bleeding heart liberal who thinks that the criminal had a tough childhood?
“My personal politics don’t have a place in the film, I think thats important. Maybe in real life you have to come down and make decisions like that and I think everyone does, but I think in films you’re allowed some leeway,” Muldowney says.
“I’ve noticed people coming out of the film with opposing points of view…I can see both sides myself, at times I want to see this guy [Paul Gaynor] explode, I want it to happen, ah fuck he didn’t get the guy, I can feel that. But I can also feel oh God this is fuckin’ terrible, stop, don’t do that.”
That considered approach pays dividends on screen. At some points in ‘Savage’ you’ll find yourself lusting for blood while at others you’ll just wish we could all just get along. It’s an intelligent way of dealing with a complex issue and leaves the audience to make up their own mind on the rights and wrongs within the story.
So, given the darkness of ‘Savage’, will Muldowney, and his production partner Conor Barry, be looking for some lighter material with their next project? Well if you consider necrophilia a barrel of laughs then yes. (note: if you consider necrophilia a barrel of laughs you may need help) “It’s book written by the guy who wrote the novelisations of Oldboy and The Grudge, and the production company approached us which was nice, they said ‘we thought of you guys, because it’s about necrophilia’.” he laughs.
They have already been working on this project for three years and are hoping to begin shooting next May which illustrates the gruelling nature of making a film outside the relative comfort of Hollywood. But you sense Brendan Muldowney wouldn’t have it any other way. He has a genuine love for film, illustrated by the five minute answer I get from him on his influences followed by a sincere apology that he hasn’t given a definitive list of films he likes.
It’s always difficult for a low budget Irish film to gain traction in the age of the blockbuster but whoever watches it, and hopefully that’ll be a lot of people, will never forget the experience. There promises to be many more unforgetable films in the future with Brendan Muldowney’s name attached to them, just make sure you see ‘Savage’ first though.
By Kev Donnellan