As 'The Butcher Boy's Ma Brady or as a key player in 'The Clinic' and 'RAW', there's no denying the talent of actress Aisling O'Sullivan, the true depth of which is revealed in Carmel Winters' directorial debut, 'Snap'.

Here she plays public hate figure Sandra, an angry single mother who along with her teenage son, Stephen, endured a childhood of abuse, bitterness and violence - a history that continues to plague them both.

From the outset we see a mother and son who are worried about their father/grandfather respectively when he is hospitalised. Stephen's upset provides the eponymous snap, triggering a chain of horrific events that reveal the disturbing effect of his past. He abducts a toddler from a local park and when the media gets hold of the story, a witch-hunt ensues, culminating in Sandra being blamed for her son's crimes.

She is now the subject of a documentary where, despite her antagonism towards the filmmakers, she takes warped enjoyment from the attention and the opportunity to reflect on her past, which Winters cleverly and carefully unravels.

Part victims, part perpetrators, the skilfully written characters are as sympathetic as they are revolting, as sadistic as they are vulnerable.

Winters' plot constantly weaves and changes direction, leading to a number of dead ends and hinting at a number of others, in this cleverly paced psychological drama.

Walsh is superb, as usual, while Mick Lally's swansong sees him play a small but pivotal role as a drunken pawn who momentarily falls into Sandra's web before being crudely (r)ejected.

Winters makes superb use of a number of filming formats from CCTV to handheld camcorder to mobile phone to Red in a production which benefits from its €800k-odd budget. She also gets great performances from three acting newbies: teenager Murphy, two-year-old Duggan and Lucky, her dog.

Based in Ireland and shot in Cork, the universal appeal of 'Snap' has ensured that the film triumphed on the international film festival circuit and will undoubtedly enjoy the same success at home.

Taragh Loughrey-Grant