27th Aug2021

Frightfest 2021: ‘Isolation’ Review

by Alain Elliott

Stars: Larry Fessenden, Marieh Delfino, Dennie Gordon, Damien Gerard, Sunny Roe | Directed by Alix Austin, Adam R. Brown, Larry Fessenden, Dennie Gordon, Andrew Kasch, Kyle I. Kelley, Alexandra Neary, Christian Pasquariello, Zach Passero, Bobby Roe, ​​Keir Siewert

It will come as no surprise to anyone that there is, and will be more coming, a host of movies, especially horror movies, that have been made centered around the pandemic. The bigger budgeted titles wont be out until next year I’m sure but there’s a whole lot of lower budgeted titles that are releasing as soon as they can. Isolation is one of those films that has been made during the pandemic and during the time of self-isolation and social distancing. Unfortunately any movie like this is going to be compared to the excellent Host and almost definitely come up short.

Isolation does have nine attempts at making things good though because this is one of my favourites, an anthology horror movie. Each short is unsurprisingly set during the pandemic or something loosely connected to it, while being set in a different part of the world (wee see the city’s name as the title each time). A couple of shorts talk about conspiracy theories, some cover illness, others look at big news stories, on the face of things it sounds quite a varied group of shorts but it doesn’t quite work out that way. Maybe it’s because we’ve been bombarded with pandemic news stories for the last two years or because many of the stories had to set themselves in small locations but despite varied ideas, a lot of this feels quite samey. We see empty streets and the insides of peoples homes a lot.

But there are some highlights here. The short set in Seattle talks about a world way because the virus is effecting adults much more than children, some children are ending up living on their own and fending for themselves. The young actors clearly aren’t great but I enjoyed the idea and how it played out until it went into very generic horror.
While the Berlin short was one of the more intriguing. Set in a big container and creating lots of questions (some without answers but it worked), it was simple but well acted and well shot.

By far my favourite short though was London. Director and lead actor Alix Austin shows what happens when conspiracy theories get out of hand. This felt like the most horror-filled of all the movies, obviously helped by an abundance of blood. It was also teh only short that really got my heart going, it felt frantic and exciting. I will be checking out what Austin does in the future.

It’s often the case with anthology horror movies that you get a very mixed bag in terms of quality and Isolation is no different. I don’t expect this will be the last similarly-themed anthology I will see this year and I doubt it will be the best either. There is some entertainment to be had from four or five of these shorts so it’s just about worth checking out. It does show that horror directors will find a way to make movies, whatever is going on in the world.

Isolation screened today, August 27th, as part of this years Arrow Video Frightfest.

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