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Isolation (2005)



On a remote Irish farm, five people become unwilling participants in an experiment that goes nightmarishly wrong.




Review

From writer / director Billy O'Brien (I Am Not a Serial Killer) comes a film with a small cast, set in isolation, with practical creature effects. Oh, the glory.

When a hard up farmer allows genetic experimentation on his herd, things go awry. Farmer Dan allows fertilization testing on his cows, which is clearly "under the counter" to start with, as vet, Orla demonstrates. With two on-the-run lovers living in a caravan on the property, when the calves come, the horror begins.

O'Brien doesn't hold back on the gore here. Animal horror may not be everyone's cup of tea, but that's what you're getting at the start of the film. It's mostly angry cows. True, that sounds rather silly, but O'Brien and his team know gore. And it's pretty ick. With the vet on side, the farmer, the young lovers, and finally the geneticist, it's time for the creature to make it appearance. And as bonkers as it sounds, killer cow fetuses are terrifying.




O'Brien manages to squeeze a surprising amount of tension from such an innocuous setting. The farm is dark and claustrophobic, there are water traps everywhere. The mood is tense. It's a very clever riff on the likes of  Alien, something it has clearly taken notes from. The direction is as solid as the writing. What could have been played off as b-movie fodder is taken seriously, and it really works.

Leading the cast is John Lynch (Black Death) as farmer, Dan, and Ruth Negga (World War Z) as Mary, one of the two lovers. The cast is rock solid throughout, but Negga is head and shoulders above.

It's a scary film, for sure, and played completely straight, works as horror movie. What most film makers could take from it, is that with the right attitude, tonal setting, and cast, something that on paper may seem to need a tongue in cheek, doesn't.

A wicked Friday night scare - and a must see.





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