Reel Reviews
Movie: Paranoia and Obsession on Full Display in “Alarm”
February 8, 2013
Rating: 2.5 out 5 stars

“Paranoia, paranoia, everybody’s coming to get me…” lamented the band Harvey Danger in their song "Flagpole Sitta" in 1998. Ten years later the Irish film “Alarm” was released and the fact that the above song was not used, not even in the credits, seems like such a missed opportunity as it so aptly describes the plot of the movie.

After surviving a home invasion, in the process losing her father, Molly (Ruth Bradley, “Flyboys” and “Primeval”) moves from the hustle and bustle of Dublin to the calm and quiet suburbs thinking that she will find safety and a piece of mind in her new home. She leaves behind her therapist and caretakers and reconnects with an old flame, Mal (Aidan Turner, UK’s “Being Human” and “The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey”), ready to start her new life.  

Molly is barely unpacked in her suburban utopia when it is broken into; this continues to be a trend forcing her to invest in an alarm. Off her prescribed medication and reliving old memories and fears, paranoia begins to grip her during the day and night. Clearly someone is out to get her, but who? Is it the prospective buyer she stole her house out from under by making a deal with their mutual smarmy realtor? Or maybe it is her recluse neighbors? Perhaps it is her surrogate parents who cannot seem to leave her alone? Or maybe she should be more wary of the man sleeping next to her?

Sold as a thriller “Alarm” tends to be far from thrilling most of the time. Although the pacing does move quickly, the thrills throughout the plot, and the plot itself, are all fairly obvious, as are the suspects of the break ins. The two main actors, Ruth Bradley and Aidan Turner, both do really well with their characters, especially given what they had to work with. Bradley’s complete paranoia is all encompassing and disturbing, while Turner’s obsession with keeping Bradley all to himself is divulged little by little as his own issues come to light. Bradley’s constant, sometimes random and overacted, crying does grow a bit tiresome and occasionally gives the audience a feeling of secondhand embarrassment.

One of the largest flaws of the movie is how it is filmed. Clearly a film about home invasion is going to have scenes that take place at night, but the filmmakers did not seem to take that into consideration; the majority of the scenes that are shot in the dark are almost impossible to see. This simple, should have known how this would end up looking, fact makes the viewing experience very frustrating. The ending of the film is odd and does not answer some of the fundamental questions that are raised throughout, leaving much to be desired.

“Alarm” is not rated and runs 105 minutes. It is available on Netflix Instant.