Isolation as a title is quite misleading, Isolation as a film is downright bizarre. If I told you the film was essentially a similar scenario as the classic ‘Alien’ but instead of a xenomorphic organism popping out of stomachs it was a malformed cow foetus would you think I was taking the piss?
Well, if I were you I would, but, not only is the film not meant to be silly, it actually keeps the atmosphere dark and moody throughout.
Let me elaborate a little more on the plot.
A farm in deepest dark Ireland has a naughty secret; an honest but hard up farmer has signed up his cow herd for a little genetic experiment. Obviously it goes wrong, the experimental calf was born pregnant, but not with burger meat, with mutant cows whose skeletons rather grossly happen to be on the outside of their bodies. Once they are born they seek new hosts in which to grow (kind of like Alien), a life cycle which must be contained before more and more cows are infected.
Whilst the plot sounds really stupid it is amazing how serious, and convincing I might add, it’s portrayed. The use of good actors and a couple of hard-hitting gore moments really helps keep the film both tense and absorbing meaning that, in all fairness, you don’t really have the time to think about taking the piss.
The film is obviously shot on a real working farm which, when coupled with the use of real animals, gives the movie a genuine feel. The fact that most of it is filmed at night, in the rain, and under floodlight, adds to the atmosphere. It’s not pants shitting, but all the above keeps the tension whilst a good use of sound and shadows provide the film with some good jump scares.
This is all good stuff, but by far the best part of the movie is the creature effects.
I got to admit once the film got going I honestly thought, zombie cow! I had visions of the whole film loosing it’s atmosphere as the humans are harassed by a dodgy looking puppet– those of you who have seen the Irish zombie film ‘Dead Meat’ will know what I mean! However, thankfully, despite the non-ominous nature of a calf, the creature effects are both gross and quite disturbing. The abnormal nature of the foetuses means that some look like little spiky slug type things whilst the bigger ones look like serpentine cows; both look equally disgusting. There’s plenty of blood throughout the film too, and whilst there is not a lot of gore, some scenes, particularly the ones involving the cow deaths, are quite brutal.
The only real problem that I have with ‘Isolation’ is that towards the end of the film some of the dialog does get a little cheesy and a bit exaggerated. I mean, could nine or so malformed cow foetuses really pose a global threat? I think at this stage the writers were taking it a little too seriously and it did all get a little too dramatic for my taste.
However, despite this little bit of knit picking, ‘Isolation’ does provide us with an original and genuinely tense 90 minutes. Despite the slightly contrived plot, the decision to keep it serious and subtle means that all but the most close-minded will be able to stomach it. Probably wouldn’t watch this movie if I were a vegetarian though!