TIFF Report: Isolation Review

Associate Editor, News; Toronto, Canada (@Mack_SAnarchy)
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What is very likely the most seriously toned of the films in the Midnight Madness line-up this year Isolation stills envokes shrlls of fear and delight. And given its serious tone it should make it one of the more accessible films should it ever hit the domestic market. With plenty of gross out realism and horror to make you weak in the knees director Billy O'Brien keeps it all contained in a level and serious context which simply adds to the terror but doesn't cheapen it.

Set on a farm in rural Ireland genetic experiments are being performed on the livestock, advance reproduction genetics to be exact. Much to the chagrin of farmer, Dan, and verternarian, Orla, the experiments have gone on until something goes wrong with the experiments. Newborn calves are being born impregnated themselves - and one has escaped spreading the mutant cow virus throughout the rest of the herd and a couple humans.

Normally I would laugh at the premise of such a film. Mutant cows? Pish posh! But you know, it works. And works very well. But how?

The creature effects are good. The original creature [based on real-life mutation incidents] is sort of a skeletal cow slug from the brief glimpses we get of the creature. It's not terribly frightening to look at but because the success of the film is built on the suspense and atmosphere O'Brien establishes from the first frame that Isolation works as a horror picture. In fact the bloodiest scenes come from the most natural of all actions, birth. This isn't the splatter film that Evil Aliens was but it delivers more on the suspense scale and thus is more frightening.

There are some really good jump scenes in the film. Again, a result from the really well established tone. Even something as silly as a rope snapping created a couple shreaks. The third act starts makes this shift to take on an 'Alien' feel to it. That certainly was my impression as I watched the rain pour down amongst the farming equipment.

While the premise of the film won't appeal to everyone if they're looking for a splatter film Isolation certainy wins in the suspense/terror area. Properly marketed though it should enjoy minor success.

I am 3 for 3 with Midnight Madness shows. Another winner this year!

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Ryan RottenSeptember 11, 2005 11:39 PM

Great review for what sounds like a truly bizarre genre entry. I can't help but picture thematic shades of Mulcahy's Razorback. Am I wrong in this? Can't wait to check the film out myself. With this and Black Sheep, we may be seeing an evolution in the nature-run-amok sub-genre.

The High Monkey MonkSeptember 13, 2005 8:00 AM

This sounds like it would make a nice double-feature with PROPHECY (the mutant-bear flick not the crappy Miramax/Dimension franchise).

NorddethSeptember 14, 2005 12:56 AM

This movie was a real let down for me, and I think it was mainly due to seeing Evil ALiens the night before. Evil ALiens rocked my world and Isolation just didn't have enough to do the same.

While a good film, I felt there was alot of wasted potential, and with a premis that included mutant killer cows it rarely stepped outside of the box. It seemed by the numbers and everything that happened didn't really surprise me.

****SPOILER******

Once you grasped the idea that these people were infected already, it was like the movie was over, you stopped caring, especially with such a small cast. The protagonists were presented with an obstacle that you were pretty sure they couldnt overcome, and they didn't. And if you didnt see that final scene coming, well, you shouldnt be allowed to watch movies anymore....ohhhh SHES PREGNANT!?!?! OMG!!!!

nord

nittySeptember 14, 2005 2:26 AM

Ahhh The Prophecy such sweet memories.The scene where the mutant bear smacks the kid while he's stuck in his sleeping bag remains one of my favorite kills.
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CathalOctober 1, 2006 11:38 PM

What!?! This movie was full of gore!!!!
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