[Review] Low Tide (Fantasia): Father-and-Son Boat Trip Turns Terrifying in Irish Short Shocker

Director Ian Hunt Duffy, working from a screenplay by Darach McGarrigle, examines the mysterious, dark relationship between a father and his young son during a rite-of-passage boat excursion in the Irish horror short Low Tide. The result is an eerie, enigmatic effort that offers both visceral sequences as well as a sense of dread.

Dad (Steve Wall) and Jack (Luke Lally) set out on a fishing trip on a small boat. Dad tells his son about a legendary water monster that lurks beneath the waves, which Jack initially takes with a grain of salt. As their trip goes on, Dad begins showing malevolent intentions, and Jack finds himself at the mercy of his father, resulting in a life-changing experience.

Wall gives a terrific performance as a menacing man determined to keep up a generations-old family tradition. Somber and determined from the outset, his character steadily grows more alarming. Luke is also super as a young boy whose trust in his father turns into fear before going into a different direction. Both actors play their roles in naturalistic, understated manners, giving Low Tide a sense of realism that makes the proceedings feel even more shudder inducing.

Duffy keeps things on the mysterious side, and successfully builds concern over Jack’s well being while ramping up the suspense. There’s a sense of the fantastic at play, as well. Cinematographer Narayan Van Maele gorgeously presents shots of the water that are at times beautiful and breathtaking, and at other times ominous and disquieting. 

Thick with foreboding and with a sense of violence being just around every corner, Low Tide is a fine slice of both coming-of-age and familial inheritance horror. 

Low Tide screens at Fantasia 2019, taking place in Montreal from July 11-August 1.

4 out of 5 stars (4 / 5)

Joseph Perry
Joseph Perry fell in love with horror films as a preschooler when he first saw the Gill-Man swim across the TV screen in "The Creature from The Black Lagoon" and Mothra battle Godzilla in "Godzilla Vs. The Thing.” His education in fright fare continued with TV series such as "The Twilight Zone" and "Outer Limits," along with legendary northern California horror host Bob Wilkins’ "Creature Features." His love for silver age and golden age comic books, including horror titles from Gold Key, Dell, and Marvel started around age 5.

He is a contributing writer for the "Phantom of the Movies VideoScope" and “Drive-In Asylum” print magazines and the websites Horror Fuel, Diabolique Magazine, The Scariest Things, B&S About Movies, and When It Was Cool. He is a co-host of the "Uphill Both Ways" pop culture nostalgia podcast and also writes for its website. Joseph occasionally proudly co-writes articles with his son Cohen Perry, who is a film critic in his own right.

A former northern Californian and Oregonian, Joseph has been teaching, writing, and living in South Korea since 2008.