“There are no happy endings”
ISLAND ZERO is a new horror film from director Josh Gerritsen, written by Tess Gerritsen (“Rizzoli & Isles”, Adrift). It stars Adam Wade McLaughlin (“Vinyl”), Laila Robins (An Innocent Man), Teri Reeves (“Once Upon a Time ”), and Matthew Wilkas (New York Is Dead).
ISLAND ZERO is a bit of a harken back to good old creature feature films of yesterday. We follow the story of a lone island in Maine, cut off from the mainland. After the usual ferry ceases in coming around, bringing with it necessary supplies, mysterious signs point to someone, or something, taking the lives of the locals.
The finer points –
Conceptually, the film is intriguing. I have a soft spot for small casts, isolated places, and apex predators out to hunt them. Unfortunately, due to a fault here or there, the execution of this concept doesn’t live up to expectation. Overall, the film’s moving parts come together cohesively, but snags throughout leaving one feeling off put, and the plot a tad convoluted.
In my opinion, a small or ensemble cast requires strength in individual acting. The performances in this film leave something to be desired. Our lead actors are strong enough to carry the script, and majority of the time, entertaining to watch. The real takeaway in performance, however, is Laila Robins, by far. Every scene she takes part in, she is fantastic. She adds an air of sincerity, grace, and gravitas to a script that may or may not have had it equipped to begin with.
On the technical side, the direction is majority on point, and the cinematography is superb. The film has a color palette, it sticks with it, and genuinely adds a sense of isolation and dreariness to the film. The score is also one of its strongest tenants. Expertly written, never overdone, and a treat to listen to in the scenes where dialogue is sparse.
ISLAND ZERO really suffers in its convolution of plot, occasional awkward script writing, and the execution of its effects. The practical effects are, for the most part, solid. The creature design, however, leaves something to be desired. The unnecessary (or, perhaps budget wise, necessary?) use of CGI does a disservice to the film. If there were a way to rectify it, that would have been a place to start.
Independently speaking, the movie carries itself well. I’m split on most of its tenants – half good, half bad. If the film had made up its mind on where to compromise from the start, we could have had a pretty interesting, creature focused movie on our hands. Not a terrible way to spend your evening, but not enough material to write a sequel about.
If you find the opportunity to give ISLAND ZERO a watch, I wouldn’t tell you no; but, I would tell you to be aware – It certainly has its flaws, but just enough going for it to make for an interesting first viewing. ISLAND ZERO is now available to watch on VOD.