Director: Billy O’Brien
IMDB Link: http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0446719/
Isolation is one of those horror films that sounds almost silly in its description, but turns out to be rather good in execution. The basic premise of the film is that a poor Irish farmer has agreed to allow a scientist to experiment on his cows, and the experiments go horribly awry. While that might sound like the beginning of a bad “werecow” story, it’s actually closer to Alien than Black Sheep.
The movie has a lot of gross out scenes, but they’re actually played well, and a number of the early scenes are typical farm related activities, like birthing a calf, which is quite disgusting for those who have never seen it. Later on the movie kicks into more gore, but it never overwhelms the story. I will say that if you are an animal lover, this film is not for you.
There are no real subplots. There’s the hint of a failed relationship between the bull-headed farmer and the vet, but it’s not really given a chance to grow. There’s also the two young people who are apparently on the run from the girl’s brothers, though that subplot also is never really explored. It’s too bad, as that could have made for a good addition to the story, which otherwise is extremely linear. Another plot point is that the creature can infect humans, but other than the farmer getting sick at one point, this is pretty much disappointingly dropped.
The movie makes good use of implying where the creature is instead of showing it, though you really never get a good look at it. The primary tension in the movie is from the isolation of the farm (hence the name) and the need to keep the creatures from spreading, and the farm is messy, muddy, dark and dreary; just the sort of setting you want for a monster flick. None of the usual monster movie conceits are used: no one grabs a conveniently placed axe, no one uses a farm implement to fight the monster, or suddenly knows how to make a bomb from fertilizer. The movie keeps the setting realistic, which helps keep the watcher engaged.
Isolation isn’t a great film. It’s got flaws, mostly involving the missed opportunities with the subplots. But it’s still a film worth a watch on a rainy night, especially if you’re an urban dweller who’s never been exposed to a farm setting.