Island Zero, 2017.
Directed by Josh Gerritsen.
Starring Laila Robins, Adam Wade McLaughlin, Terri Reeves, Matthew Wilkas, and Elaine Landry.
A remote island off the coast of Maine, USA, finds itself cut off from the mainland when communications fail, and the ferry fails to appear. Then people start to disappear too, and the community realize that someone – or something – is hunting them down.
Providing a good amount of scares and unsettling tension, Island Zero is a well-paced and strongly developed low-budget horror. Making great use of its Maine location and local scenery, this homegrown film punches well above its weight to deliver a tense and smart thriller.
The fishing stocks of a remote island community have rapidly gone done and the residents are rightly concerned. When the ferry that brings their essential supplies from the mainland fails to show, the concern turns to panic. They soon discover that their communications to the outside world, radio, phone, and internet, have all been cut off. The discovery of a capsized fishing boat on their shores, with its owner turned into a bloody mess further heightens the fear.
The film investigates the story of Sam (Adam Wade McLaughlin), a marine biologist, who saw something similar happen in northern waters four years ago. As he gets closer to the mystery, he suspects something devious is going on. His partner Lucy (Terri Reeves) wants to get off the island as soon as possible, while his daughter Ellie (Elaine Landry) might provide the key with something she sees in her new hastily unwrapped Christmas present of an infrared video camera.
The film’s tired and emotional townsfolk also include visiting novelist Titus (Matthew Wilkas), a local waitress who takes a shine to him (Joanna Clarke), and an elderly couple who provide some much needed deadpan humor. When the bodies begin to pile up, Sam teams up with local doctor (Laila Robins) to try and figure out why and how these people are dying.
Drawing influence from films and literature focused on small town reactions to mysterious horror, the film recalls the work of Stephen King in some respects, as well as invoking the suspense of classic horror thrillers such as The Thing and The Fog. The film concentrates on the building up of the panic through the actor’s scenes, with a range of emotions given off. It manages to keep the story rolling along with good interplay and dialogue, some funny, some emotional, but all relevant to the story. When the gore does arrive, it’s all the more effective as it is not overdone and judiciously used.
Marking the directorial debut of Josh Gerritsen with the film’s story written by his mother Tess Gerritsen, Island Zero is well worth checking out if you like your thrillers chilly with a dash of classic b-movie paranoia.
Island Zero is available on VOD across the United States from May 15th.
Flickering Myth Rating – Film: ★ ★ ★ / Movie: ★ ★ ★ ★
Robert W Monk is a freelance journalist and film writer.