Stop me if you’ve heard this one. A couple moves into an upstate New York neighborhood. They are likable, with the future ahead looking bright. Meet Matt and his wife, Larissa. They are expecting their first baby in a few weeks. They have a seemingly perfect future ahead, but then, tragedy shatters their world. This is how ISABELLE begins. A conventional and familiar approach that descends them into the darkness.
The new film by Director Rob Heydon seems all-too-familiar at first but quickly cements itself as a well-crafted thriller. Reminiscent of classic thrillers such as Rosemary’s Baby and The Changeling, there are all the elements. A creepy neighbor, a Priest, a tragedy, and at the center of it, Isabelle – a scowling, and jealous seemingly wheel-chair bound girl that spies on Larissa from the upstairs window of her two-story home. She is always there, lurking and envious of the next-door life on display.
The film builds upon these simple devices, and with the addition of a life-after-death experience and some glowing red eyes seems like something you have seen before. But, is that bad? Amid the shockers and jump scare mandates of the current horror thrillers, ISABELLE delivers an old-fashioned quality, which in itself is refreshing. What elevates this movie is the excellent performances of all of the cast, particularly Larissa, played by Amanda Crew (Age of Adaline, The Haunting in Connecticut). Her grief and decent into paranoia are at the heart of ISABELLE.
The only disappointment in the film is the missed opportunity of some of the supporting performers that round out the cast. Larissa’s Sister (Shanice Banton), Matt’s Dad (Booth Savage), a concerned Father Lopez (Dayo Ade), and an expert voice of exposition (David Tompa) are all standouts, and you want their involvement to take you down the story threads they bring. Unfortunately, they are moments that would have been worth exploring. You want more from their involvement in the story. Regardless, the result is a satisfying 80 minutes. A fine and effectively creepy score by Mark Korven is a stand out as well.
While it may not be heralded as some of its predecessors, ISABELLE turns out to be a good, spooky evening of storytelling. Spend an evening with ISABELLE when the film arrives in theateres and VOD May 24, 2019.
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