A serviceable idea but with a flawed execution, The Isle is a supernatural horror that is well made, looks great and competently acted. However, it’s entertainment value comes in spurts and they’re short. Sadly, The Isle is just often a boring movie even if the eerie tone and mythology is attention grabbing.
Set in the mid-19th century, we’re introduced to three shipwrecked sailors lost at sea on a small boat. We have Oliver (Alex Hassell), Jim (Graham Butler) and Cailean (Fisayo Akinade). All hope seems to be lost until land is spied and they make their way to a small island off the Scottish coast.
They meet some of the locals who are all clearly hiding something in regards to the island. While not unfriendly per-se, they are less then keen about helping the men back to the mainland.
Seemingly once upon a time the island was a thriving community but bad times have fallen upon it. Now only Douglas (Conleth Hill), Fingal (Dickon Tyrell), Lanthe (Tori Butler-Hart) and Korrigan (Alex Wilton Regan) remain.
The two women seem scared and desperate to keep the sailors on the island. Jim in particular who bears an uncanny resemblance to a drowned local. What kind of curse has befallen The Isle? A dark event in its history that threatens to consume all who live on it.
A decent cast deliver these events well enough. Although the roundabout way we reach these moments is often annoying. However, that is to be expected in a horror that is trying to create tension.
Is The Isle scary? No, it isn’t but to be fair it isn’t really trying to be. Instead, the aim is clearly to weave a kind of mythological fairy tale that unsettles and drains rather then out and out scares. No complaints here, we’ll take a smart horror over a jump-scare horror any day of the week.
For atmosphere alone, The Isle thrives within a dream-like state thanks to an effective location and haunting sounds. The misty woods, the starry nights, the dangerous cliff edges…it’s a place that really captures the imagination.
It’s just a shame that the story itself, in particular its lacklustre ending, just doesn’t manage to hold the interest in the same way.