After Isolation I wondered why aren’t more of Irish horror movies, the setting seems perfect for it: rainy days and gloomy nights, scattered farms in the middle of nowhere. Well, it would seem that the stars have aligned for this as we now have at least two good Irish horror movies: The Hallow and Grabbers. The Irish actors have always been very talented and had a unique charisma. They proved it in this movie, where there are only 7 actors and all of them gave their best, despite not being very famous or working on a big project. We have an opportunity to see young and skinny Micheletto (Sean Harris) along with Essie Davis of her Babadook fame.
If I had to describe you Isolation the best fit would be Alien meets The Thing. And it just so happens to be that these are my all-time favorites. Isolation on the other hand is a good movie, but definitely not a classic. It could be viewed as a demonstration of supreme suspense building because nowhere else have I seen such intense and gripping scenes that take place in a barn (Exorcism of Emily Rose just came to mind, but still). Another thing that I will take from this film is: don’t fuck with cows…
Dan, a farmer who lives in a remote part of Ireland, is having serious financial problems. Looking for a quick fix, he hooks up with Bovine Genetics. This benevolent sounding company that does experiments with cattle, especially cows. So he rents his farm to John, a scientist working for Bovine Genetics, not asking too many questions. It all seems perfectly benign and okay. Even the tests done by a local veterinarian Orla prove that there’s nothing wrong with the cows. That’s the way it always starts, everything is perfectly fine until it’s not, and when it’s not… At the same time, a young couple on the run parks their car and trailer at the entrance to Dan’s farm.
The calf delivery scene at the beginning of the movie was one of the best and creepiest scenes that I have seen in a while. That amount of suspense and anticipation while at the same time maintaining the reality of the situation is rarely accomplished and it’s a shame that we are not seeing more of Billy O’Brien’s (director and writer) movies. With a relatively small budget, the crew managed to create a science fiction film with good effects, but don’t expect wonders.
This is a B movie extravaganza, with an authentic atmosphere and setting. The newer generations might call them indie horrors, but I prefer the B term. And not because it is derogatory but exactly opposite, to me, it means that this is something with a heart and soul. Just look at the location where the movie takes place. A common farm that looks realistic as fuck, run-down, and used. Now add on top of that the element of horror and the entire farm becomes an eerily scary place. Like a lair of some demon…
Director: Billy O’Brien
Writer: Billy O’Brien
Cast: Essie Davis, Sean Harris, Marcel Iures, Crispin Letts, John Lynch, Ruth Negga, Stanley Townsend
Fun Facts: At Fantastic Fest in September 2006, Isolation received three awards at the festival. The horror jury awards for best picture and best director Billy O’Brien, and the second-place audience award behind Hatchet.