Island Zero (2018)

We’ve got one of those all time classic set ups:  a tiny island off the Maine coast suddenly finds itself cut off from the rest of the world:  the ferry doesn’t show up, they can’t reach anyone on the radio and the phones aren’t working.

And, of course, as this is your standard model horror film, we know that before long, people are going to start dying.  For some time now, the catch has been dwindling and now there hardly seem to be any fish left out in the once plentiful fishing banks.

Then the fishermen start disappearing, and then something starts killing the people on the island…

For all that the basic set up is such a classic (read “familiar”) one, I am impressed by the ideas behind it  — the mysterious creatures aren’t just random monsters, but they come with an intriguing science fictional background that explains not just what they are, but why they’ve arrived on this island.

However, there’s more at work here than a bunch of monsters, and we learn that there is something else at work on the island, something that explains just why they have been cut off so thoroughly from the rest of the world.

Admittedly, this if a familiar element in SF film as has been around since at least a certain Ridley Scott movie, but there is a clever and well thought out story behind it, and the character involved behaves with an impressive degree of ruthlessness.

Curiously, this one was written by suspense novelist Tess Gerritsen, creator of Rizzoli & Isles (who just wrote a suspense novel about an isolated Maine Island!) and was directed by her son Josh.  He’s seems to have done a reasonably good job, even though this is his first filmmaking credit on IMDB, and the movie features a reasonably good performances from a cast who, aside from the four leads, were all local actors.

It is an obvious cheat that the creatures are invisible, thus saving them a lot of creature effects, but it’s handled quite well and the model of the dead monster is convincing enough.  I’m not sure I buy how the invisibility works (although, yes, it is familiar from another well known SF movie), but it isn’t too ridiculous, and they have the sense to limit it it to scenes where the light isn’t good, and the effect would have a better chance of working.

This is a reasonably tense and suspenseful film in a modest sort of way.  And maybe that sums up the film best — it isn’t one of the greatest SF films ever made, or one of the best horror films, but it is a well made little creature film which does a good job of offering a few thrills and chills.  It even offers a fairly clever set of ideas, a nasty race of creatures (which, come to think of it, does somewhat resemble those from a story by a famous horror author) and some beautiful Maine scenery.

So we’ll file this one under the heading of “pretty decent film.”  It isn’t a classic, it isn’t one of those films you’ll remember forever, but it isn’t terrible or poorly made, either.  It is competent and entertaining and good enough for your spooky movie night,.

Which, if we were honest, is rare enough.

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