08th Feb2019

‘Island Zero: Directors Cut’ Review

by Alain Elliott

Stars: Laila Robins, Adam Wade McLaughlin, Teri Reeves, Matthew Wilkas, Elaine Landry, Anabel Graetz, Richard Sewell, Stephanie Atkinson, Joanna Clarke, Kelly McAndrew, Thomas Ian Campbell, Anna Gravél, Robin Jones | Written by Tess Gerritsen | Directed by Josh Gerritsen

[NOTE: Island Zero has been re-released to streaming platforms and DVD in a new “directors cut” following feedback from audiences regarding the original cold open. You can read more about the changes on author Tess Geritsen’s blog]

Island_Zero_Poster

Not the most imaginative of titles but that hasn’t stopped me watching many a movie and in particular a horror movie… So I was hoping Island Zero would be better than its title suggests.

Unsurprisingly Island Zero is set on a remote island. One in which a solitary ferry is the only route on and off of it. So when that ferry fails to turn up for several days in a row, the residents start to worry. And they soon worry even more when they realise something is killing them off.

Despite an opening scene that involves death and blood, this is much more of a slow burn of a horror movie. This can always be a good thing though when made the right way. I love a good genre movie that is character driven but then throws the violence and gore at you as well. Unfortunately Island Zero doesn’t get it one hundred percent right. In fact, it’s a little way off that one hundred percent.

The characters are fine but nothing else. They’re not particularly interesting, not quite stereotypical but just a bit boring – someone that works in a restaurant, a doctor, a writer, some fisherman – nothing of note. The acting is kind of similar in that it’s not bad or good, it’s just kind of there. It makes the film feel, at times, like a daytime made for TV movie, just with added horror. And with that added horror it almost lurks into ridiculous SyFy territory which would be okay if this didn’t play things completely straight.

That’s not to say all is bad here. The story and the writing are intriguing enough that I wanted to keep watching. The atmosphere was well created and I wanted to know where it was going and what was causing the panic on the island. Although I wouldn’t call the outcome disappointing, I think it was hurt by the low budget. Unfortunately it doesn’t look great when we start seeing death and the cause behind it. The special effects here needed to be good, it is a big part of the story but without more money, this was very hard to accomplish. It’s also a shame because the practical effects are actually pretty good. When certain body parts are seen and gore is involved, it all looked good.

Even though it’s a little over ninety minutes long, you feel like this could have been made a bit shorter. Certain scenes really wouldn’t have been missed and the slow burn still would have worked.

There is one strange thing about Island Zero. It actually belongs in my second favourite genre of movie – Christmas! This is strange because despite being set over Christmas and climaxing on Christmas Day, there seems to be very little reason for this. And apart from the odd Santa hat being worn it seems the island’s inhabitants are not really into Christmas. No decorations, trees,jumpers, music. Nothing! A major disappointment for me!

It’s perhaps not a surprise that this is director Josh Gerritsen’s first movie because it has its flaws but there’s enough here to say that he is one to keep an eye on in the future. With a slightly bigger budget his ideas will be much easier to create.

Island Zero is available in the new “Directors Cut” on iTunes and Amazon now; it is also the version available on DVD.

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