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Isolation (2005)

DVD Cover (First Look Home Entertainment)
Genres:
Creature Film, Horror, Natural Horror
Director:
Billy O'Brien Billy O'Brien
Starring:
Essie Davis Essie Davis
Sean Harris Sean Harris
Marcel Iures Marcel Iures
Crispin Letts Crispin Letts
John Lynch John Lynch

5.6 / 10 - Overall Rating

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Review by Chad
Added: July 02, 2007
Isolation is a film that has managed to divide the horror community into almost equal factions, as when it first started making the festival rounds, the feedback on it was overwhelmingly positive. Then, something happened - who knows, maybe the stars realigned or something - and the feedback took a turn for the worse, with most reviewers claiming the film to be too slow, too dull, and too uninspired to amount to anything. Now, with it finally winding up on DVD, I decided to find out which faction I belonged to... and I'm definitely going to have to go with the former.

The storyline for this one takes place on a small farm in rural Ireland where a scientist is doing some sort of genetic experiments on the cows in an effort to produce more fertile calves. The ones doing the actual grunt work here - farm-owner Dan (John Lynch) and veterinarian Orla (Essie Davis) - aren't too happy about the ethical ramifications of this, but money has been tight lately and the scientist has promised them hefty checks for their participation, so it doesn't take a genius to figure out that they eventually go along with his plans. What they don't count on is their prized test subject giving birth to a vicious calf that is already pregnant... with six mutant, hellspawned things. Five of these little bastards wind up stillborn, but the sixth manages to escape and wreak all sorts of havoc on this farm, spreading a deadly infection to everyone and every animal that it comes in contact with. Aiding Dan and Orla in the battle is a pair of vagabonds - Jamie (Sean Harris) and Mary (Ruth Negga) - who may or may not be criminals, but will it be enough to contain this threat?

Before I even start with this one, there's something that I really should point out for those of you who may have heard a little something about this release. Most of the press for this film describes it as a "killer cow" movie, and I've even read claims that it's about "zombie cows." Both of these things couldn't be further from the truth. Yes, the story takes place on a farm, and yes, the cows do play host to the vicious little buggers that cause the mayhem, but to say that the cows were the main emphasis of the film would be akin to saying that the humans were the main killers in Alien; after all, those face-huggers infected the humans, so naturally, the film is all about the humans, right? That makes zero sense, and it's the same sort of thing with this whole cow nonsense.

The comparison to Alien is doubly true when one sees how this storyline plays out. This is not a fast-paced thriller that relies on a heavy body count (though there are some) and plenty of gore (of which there is enough); instead, this film relies on building the tension by keeping the monster in the shadows and out of sight until the closing scenes of the film. It's the fear of the unknown that works best for most when it comes to horror, I've found, and this trick is handled excellently here. While this decision may not appease those of you looking for lots of gore and a monster that devours someone in every other scene, the grown-ups in the audience will likely enjoy the methodical pacing and the genuine character development.

Now, with all that said, I did have a gripe with some of the pacing towards the end of the film. Once we're down to the time-tested "last remaining survivors who set out to defeat this thing once and for all", the film starts to bog down a bit and crawls just a little too slow for my liking. The final battle runs for about twenty minutes (at least, it felt that way - I admittedly didn't watch the clock), but I think that it could have been much more effective had about five minutes been trimmed off. There's only so much crawling and running from the beast that one can watch before it starts to get a little repetitive, and some better editing could have made this a classic.

It's still a great film, don't get me wrong. I highly recommend it to fans of plot-based horror that relies on atmosphere more than body counts, but a little experience on the part of relative newcomer Billy O'Brien could have changed this from a "recommended viewing" into a "must-see classic." 7/10.
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Kari Byron's Sex Cyborg #1: Kari Byron's Sex Cyborg - added 07/14/2008, 01:14 AM
Yeah, like said, this certainly is a film that could have inched itself a little bit further and became a classic, especially if the editing was tighter.
8.4/10
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