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!