Powered by Blogger.

Thursday, February 21, 2019

Review: The Isle

Director: Matthew Butler-Hart
Screenplay: Matthew Butler-Hart y Tori Butler-Hart
Year: 2019

The folk horror genre keeps moving at a steady pace in horror cinema. I have already written about the resurgence of folk horror in my review of the movie “Apostle” and how in recent years we have had some great movies that fall fully into this genre or that borrow elements from it. “The Isle”, while in my criteria is not a folk horror movie, is clear that if feeds from several aspects of this genre.

“The Isle” takes place in 1846 when a merchant ship gets wrecked and three survivors manage to get to a small island. In this island there are only four residents, all of them mysterious and avoid helping the sailors to reach the mainland. After investigating the island, they discover that every year around the same date a tragedy takes place in the sea, in which young men perish at the island. They slowly discover that the island is haunted by the ghost of a siren, which leads them to uncover the secrets of this island and to escape from it.

Since the beginning of “The Isle” it is explicit that one of its strong arguments will be the photography. Eilean Shona, the Scottish island where it was filmed, provides a spectacular backdrop that gives plenty of artistic value to the hots, as well as provides a mysterious aura to support the suspense of the central idea. In all scenes, they look to exalt the visuals and they manage to make this one of the most attractive aspects of the movie. When it comes to the story that will take place here, the result is completely the opposite. The screenwriters decided to go through a slow plot build-up, which never gets to have a fair reward for the viewer. Besides that, the events that take place during this construction do not manage to be uncomfortable or interesting enough, which makes this whole process to be boring. Only the photography and hope for something to happen are the only things able to keep the viewer's attention.

From the get-go, the story seemed interesting to me. The story starts without giving many details about what is going on the island and the viewer must follow the story of the three sailors to understand it. Once the datils of the plot start to be revealed, I was less and less interested in it. In the narrative process, they decide to take the path of the slow build-up, which puts a great burden on the screenplay and on the acting. While the acting is good and the characters are well defined, none of them managed to be sufficiently interesting to help to get involved in the plot, a problem of narrative and not of the cast. The group of actors formed by Conleth Hill (“Game of Thrones”), Alex Hassell (“Cold Mountain”), Tori Butler-Hart (“Two Down”), and Fisayo Akinade (“The Girl With All The Gifts”), among others, all have good performances and manage to portray convincing characters. The best part of the cast are the women, but they do not have much time on screen. Maybe this was done purposefully to support some ideas of the plot, but it feels that this talent is sub-utilized.

The main problems of these movies are mainly in the script and the directing decisions. In this story crafted by the marriage of Matthew y Tori Butler-Hart, the suspense is tried to be used as its best ally, and they manage to do so up to a certain point. Once the minutes start moving, the development is so slow that it manages to exasperate and the few things that happen to help move the story forward end up losing importance. In much of the movie they flirt with horror elements, but when the moment comes to make good use of them, besides some good well-placed jump scares, they do not satisfy. On top of that, some weird ideas are used while editing, as using retrospections in parts where it completely interrupts the flow of the plot, even when they do contribute to revealing important details of it.

“The Isle”, besides for the photography and acting, feels like getting stranded in a deserted island, where you have hopes for something to happen and change your destiny, but it never does. This is exactly what happens with the story, you are hoping for something to happen throughout its runtime and when something does happen it is not enough to save it. While they try to use suspense as an ally, it ends up playing against them, as dedicating so much time to the development of the plot, it moves way too slow and creates high expectations for the outcome, which end up not fulfilling. “The Isle” will definitively not be featured in the list of examples to praise folk horror or its elements.

No comments:

Post a Comment