Sometimes the most tense and scary films aren’t horror films per se, but ones that we can imagine ourselves in, even with settings we aren’t familiar with and lifestyles we don’t understand. This is definitely the case with The Shadow of Violence, a dark, violent crime thriller set in rural Ireland that follows a crime family’s enforcer, a former boxer with a fiery temper, who is asked to kill for the first time, which sets off a series of events that puts him, his ex, and their child in serious danger with some ruthless people.
The reviews across the board have been fantastic with Cosmo Jarvis, Barry Keoghan, and Ned Dennehy all getting well-deserved praise, but the standout here has been Niamh Algar, the Irish actress who has been making a name for herself since Into the Dark hit the festival circuit here and has since become a streaming staple, following it up with Without Name, “The Virtues,” and now the Ridley Scott-produced “Raised By Wolves.”
Calling in from the UK where she now lives where she’s happy to be back to work and “filming under COVID guidelines,” Algar recalls working on the film, which is known as Calm With Horses overseas from new powerhouse director Nick Rowland.
Here’s more from Algar:
AMFM Magazine: This movie is striking and really stuck with us. What kind of feedback have you been getting from people? I’m sure it’s been fantastic.
Niamh Algar: Yeah, definitely. It went down really great in the UK and Ireland and peoples’ reactions have been really positive. I’m really glad. I watched it for the first time at the Toronto Film Festival, so that was the first time I got to see it with an audience and it was incredible to see it with an international audience for a film that is about a very specific place in rural Ireland but the way it translated was really wonderful. We premiered it in Dublin a couple of months later and then at the London Film Festival and across the board it’s really got a wonderful reception, so I’m really interested to see how it goes in the US and how it translates there.
AMFM: Even though we only get to see it on the small screen here, it still an impact, but now most films will have to, right?
NA: Yeah, well, I think with a film like this, more audiences are going to see it because it doesn’t have to compete against massive big blockbuster films and it’s quite tough in cinemas for independent films so it’s really great that the feedback has been so positive so far in the UK so that will help in the US. Video on demand has really opened a lot of doors for a lot of independent filmmakers.
AMFM: I’m sure you have great memories from the set, but when did you realize this one was going to be special?
NA: I think it was one of the first scenes I shot with Cosmo Jarvis with the equestrian center taking Jack for the day. Me and Cosmo got to go toe to toe with a quite strong emotional scene, so we previously had done a lot of rehearsal, so we got to trust one another so we knew how far we could push each other emotionally in a safe way on set. That was the first day and from there I knew what way the film was going to go and what vision the director had from then on. He had a very clear vision from the get-go, but that really set the bar of what kind of film we were making and the heart of the film. It is this crime drama but at the center of it is this strong core heartbeat of the film that Nick did an incredible job to maintain.
AMFM: Besides the crime thriller aspect, the themes of fatherhood, family, and loyalty seem to be the real core of the story.
NA: Yeah, when I met with Nick at first, he sent me some material and films to watch like The Place Beyond the Pines and Drive, which take the non-typical characters and lead them to the forefront. This is the story about a guy that in any other film would be killed off in the first act. He’s the heavy for the mob but he’s the central, which I had never seen done before.
AMFM: The young actor that played Jack did a great job, but is he nonverbal like his character?
NA: Kiljan [Moroney] was 5 when we shot it and he was definitely not nonverbal. He was the chattiest little lad you’ve ever run across. Myself and Cosmo spent a lot of time with him hanging out in the rehearsal space. We improvised a lot of scenes and that gave him room to play with the dialogue but it’s so well articulated what he does with the role.
AMFM: You’re the emotional heartbeat of the story as many critics have pointed out, but your character is so much different than you are in real life. What headspace do you have to get into to slip into roles like this?
NA: You take what is the most important thing to her, which is her son and everything around the film is centered around that and it was really refreshing that it was a role where she never lost sight of caring and maintaining that integrity. She was a woman that was coming back from being flawed and you see flickers of her fighting against that past but yes, it was definitely a rewarding role to research beforehand. When someone threatens your bond, I think there’s an instinctual reaction that would occur.
AMFM: You’ve had a very cool career so far and I know young actors are now looking up to you. What advice would you give them?
NA: Don’t take yourself too seriously. And a piece of advice that an actor called Michael Smiley gave me on a film – he said, “Commit and embrace – and that’s committing to your choices and embracing the changes that will occur along the way” and I think that’s very relevant, especially now.
AMFM: We always ask people their Hail Mary Moment, the moment in their life or career where they have to go for it and it worked out for them. What do you suppose that was for you?
NA: Moving from Dublin to London. I gave myself a couple of months to find something and I booked a TV show that I was excited about and that was “The Virtues.” That was a moment. London is a massive city and every borough is different. I love it.
AMFM: You said that you’re filming again but what’s next that we can see you in?
NA: The Ridley Scott TV series [“Raised By Wolves”] is coming out over the next couple of months and it will be on HBO Max, so that’s exciting.
AMFM: Have you learned anything from Ridley? He’s full of wisdom.
NA: Yeah, go with your gut but know that you haven’t figured it out yet.
AMFM: What was the first movie you saw that made you want to do this when you were a kid?
NA: I don’t know if it was when I was a kid, but I was a teen and definitely too young to see it, but Monster with Charlize Theron. Her performance blew me away.
AMFM: What was that journey like getting out of Ireland and into everything we see now? It seems like a great place you could have just stayed since you were doing well there.
NA: There’s a huge pool of talent coming out of Ireland right now. Saorise Ronan has been flying the flag for a long time since she was a kid. Ireland is an incredible place for filmmakers to shoot. Ridley Scott was there. But I wanted to explore characters that were outside of Ireland and there were filmmakers that I wanted to work with in the UK and my agent is in the UK so it made sense to move there. But we shot Calm With Horses back in Ireland so it’s not a huge stretch. But it’s such a nomadic industry, you never stick to one place and that’s what I love about it. You can land in another location and call that home for a while.