Movie Review: ‘Isolation’ Teaches Us Not to Screw With Mother Nature

31 Jan
2011

Isolation

Set on a remote Irish farm, Isolation (directed and written by Billy O’Brien) tells the horrific sci-fi tale of what happens when humans try to screw with Mother Nature for their benefit.

Farmer Dan Reilly (John Lynch) is allowing a scientist to inject his pregnant cow with special hormones as part of an experiment to create a more fertile bovine. Orla (Essie Davis), a veterinarian who works for John, comes in to check on the pregnant cow, shown graphically, as she sticks her hand inside the cow to check the fetus. Curiously, she gets bitten on the hand and already we know something is wrong.

A couple, Mary (Ruth Negga) and Jamie (Sean Harris), squat just outside the gates of Dan’s farm. We soon found out they are on the run, however the whys and wherefores have no bearing on the story whatsoever. After trying to kick them off the land, Dan has a heart and gives them some leeway and allows them till the next day to leave.

In the middle of the night the experimental cow goes into labor and the process is too much for Dan to handle alone. Upon the request of Dan, Jamie helps with the birth. We bear witness to the in-your-face-delivery with gelatinously graphic detail. From pulling out the calves legs, to the Dan swinging the calf over his head to get the animal to breathe after delivery. After they get the calf breathing, Dan realizes there is something wrong with the calf and shrieks as it bites him.

The pacing of the first half of Isolation is similar to Alfred Hitchcock’s The Birds, slow and methodic, whereas the horror of the unknown entices you. While you’re aware of the premise, you’re intrigued as to what will transpire next. Once Dan is bit, the gruesome reality of their dilemma snowballs full-speed ahead into a gruesome battle for survival.

During this battle, Isolation treads ever so lightly down the path to cliché-dom, however it never truly crosses over and remains a smart and engaging sci-fi horror movie. All characters were spot on in their performance. No witty dialogue breaks the suspenseful ice, which is key to keeping the intense drama constant. The setting is tense and moody, and the odd voyeuristic like camera angles bring you into the drama, as if you were a bystander watching everything unfold.

Isolation brings forth every moral and ethical thought you’ve ever had regarding the very real world application of genetic modification on animals and how we treat them for the sake of profit. Rent this film if you like serious scares and can appreciate an atypical horror movie. You won’t be disappointed.

Rating: 8/10 stars

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