“I’ve always loved fables and parables,” says Lorcan Finnegan. “Stories that entertain but carry a message or warning. I grew up on faery stories, ghost stories and reading Greek and Roman mythology, and being Irish, I’m genetically drawn towards the liminal, twilight world.”
Finnegan caused a stir on the genre circuit in 2016 with the psychedelic woodlands horror Without Name, in which a land surveyor is driven insane by something otherworldly in the forests outside Dublin. “It did well at festivals,” Finnegan recalls, “but it mostly receded back into the twilight from whence it came. Some people are discovering it on Amazon or iTunes and are digging it, but that’s enough for me. It’s a hidden gem. Career-wise, it had a bit of profile by premiering in the Vanguard section at TIFF and getting decent critical reaction, which helped financing and casting of Vivarium.”
Premiering in Critics’ Week, Vivarium is another brush with the otherworldly, starring Jesse Eisenberg and Imogen Poots as a couple who encounter strange happenings in a mysterious housing development. Says Finnegan, “It’s a dark, twisted, surreal story about the kind of life many are tricked into living and trapped within. Imogen and Jesse are brilliant in it.”
Although he studied graphic design before moving into motion graphics, Finnegan has enjoyed a parallel life as a filmmaker since his teens. “My dad bought a little Sony camcorder and I made a college project called Boy Walker,” he says, “which was a fake trailer for an over-the-top Elves and the Shoemaker story. It was my first time shooting and editing something and I loved it.” After graduating, Finnegan made “lots of sketch comedy with my friends, shooting and editing and ‘acting,’” before meeting producer Brunella Cocchiglia, with whom he collaborated on the 2007 shorts Defaced, Changes and 2012’s Foxes.
“Weirdly enough I was on a walk with my dad and Brunella in Massey Woods, one of the locations where we shot Without Name, when I got the news about Cannes. It was surreal,” he laughs, “and it still is.”