The Isle (2018)

The Isle, by London outfit Fizz and Ginger, was written by company founders Tori and Matthew Butler-Hart. Tori plays a major role and Matthew directs. The film is a British production and we watched it on Google Play.

If you’re in the mood for supernatural drama, you could do a lot worse than looking here. The Isle begins in the 19th Century, when three sailors—played by Alex Hassell, Graham Butler and Fisayo Akinadein—reach a misty Scottish island on a lifeboat. The only inhabitants are a pair of middle-aged men, an adult niece, and a sort of wandering madwoman.

It’s chillingly obvious that the sailors won’t be allowed to leave. The friendliest native does a good job of changing the subject whenever they raise it, repeatedly kicking it to the long grass. It soon becomes clear that the locals share a secret, and a spooky one at that.

The slow reveal is the meat of the film, and it’s done very well. The horror is quite restrained, but if you take it as a supernatural mystery, it’s a great example of the genre. The film is beautifully shot and acted, and the casting of a co-producer isn’t a vanity move (quite the opposite—Tori Butler-Hart is brilliant as the niece). There’s plenty of atmosphere, intrigue and unease, and the mystery is compelling throughout. The resolution makes sense and is satisfying.

In terms of scares, I’d say it’s the film equivalent of curling up in bed with a classic ghost story, and closing the book when you’re done with a shiver and a smile. If you want the film equivalent of screaming yourself hoarse on a ghost train (and, as a horror fan, you probably sometimes do) then this might not hit the spot—but it’s just a case of matching the movie to the mood. The production values are very high, and the island itself is a superb location for a shoot (note for trivia fans: it’s called “Eilean Shona” and was the holiday home of Peter Pan author J. M. Barrie). I liked it a lot and would watch it again with friends.

All in all, this is a solid, well-executed, gorgeous-looking ghost story. I look forward to more from Fizz and Ginger and gladly recommend The Isle.

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