Three sailors who survive their ship sinking arrive on a small island, only to discover it has secrets of its own…
I first heard of this film when the director, whom I follow on Twitter put out word about The Isle and the screenings. I mention this, almost like a disclosure. I don’t want people who read this review to think I’m giving it a positive one, because I have interacted with the director on Twitter, but also during the Q&A after the film screening.
No, I’m giving the film a positive review because I really enjoyed it.
Shot on a low budget this period set supernatural Gothic film has much to recommend it. It’s written by Matthew and Tori Butler-Hart, with Matthew Butler-Hart directing the film. It’s not a film that relies on jump scares, like most horror films tend to do these days, though it does have a couple of good ones, instead builds an uneasy atmosphere around the mystery at its heart. The mystery right at the heart of the story, may be one we’ve seen before, but as written the film goes off in interesting directions. It does borrow from ancient myths, which you may see coming before it is revealed, but as I’ve said before, films don’t always have to be truly original to be good, so long as the story is well told, with characters you care for.
And The Isle has those. The characters are interesting and you do care about what happens to them, as the film heads towards it’s haunting and quietly devastating ending.
The script is brought to life by a small, but very good cast. Alex Hassell plays the lead, Oliver, a survivor of the wreck who begins to delve into the mystery on the Isle. Conleth Hill (perhaps best known for playing Lord Varys on Game Of Thrones) plays an islander along with Dickon Tyrrell, who try to hide the secrets of the Isle. Tori Butler-Hart and Alix Wilton Regan the women on the Isle, who are haunted by the secrets. Emma King plays the spirit that haunts the Isle. Fisayo Akinade and Graham Butler play the other survivors of the wreck. While there are other characters, the film is really about the above and they are all very good indeed.
Despite the low budget, the production design, the sound of the film and the cinematography are all first rate, with a very good, haunting score from Tom Kane.
I do enjoy period set horror tales. While this may not be as terrifying as some, it is still creepy and haunting. I was quite taken with it.
It’s currently on a limited cinema run, but even if you have to wait until it turns up on DVD or a streaming service, I would certainly recommend checking it out.
Rating: **** out of 5