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Monday, September 23, 2019

Island Zero (2018)

I’ve been having a blast finding new movies to watch on Amazon Prime. There are some really interesting horror and sci-fi flicks that are popping up on the service. Island Zero is one of those that caught my eye.

Things kick off with a man and his dog hanging out on a sail boat. Oh shit movie you had better not do it! But they did go there and kill the dog. So already I’m pissed off and ready to hate Island Zero! After that opening we meet the residents of a small island off of the coast of Maine. They live off of fishing and catching lobsters. Seems like the economy is doing okay. But then one day the Ferry to the mainland doesn’t show up. The next day it doesn’t show up again. The landlines are dead and there isn’t any cell service either. Even the radios stop working. Anyone that ventures out on the ocean ends up disappearing with their boats found covered in blood.

What is happening? Well monsters are and if you think that staying off the water is a good plan the little bastards start crawling around killing everything and everyone they can find. How do our characters survive? Will they survive? That would be cheating, and a jerk move because in spite of the dogicide I’m going to recommend this one.

The filmmakers do some very clever things with Island Zero. The story is fairly tight and builds tension slowly. They keep revisiting to the increasingly anxious people returning to the dock for the ferry that will never return. They also focus on the isolation of the island by mentioning medicine running out and the food beginning to get scarce. They even start to run out of diesel when the power gets cut. People start to get cranky with each other and attempt to hoard supplies. It never goes over the top and is realistic about how people might treat each other in such a crisis.

They keep the creatures out of sight for most of the movie. This serves to build anticipation and doesn’t tip their hands too soon. Also, with a lower budget movie pulling off an effective monster can be difficult, so it is better to not give it much screen time. When they, yes there is more than one, on screen it is done with CGI. But that is okay since they come up with another clever idea of having the creatures be invisible to the naked eye. The survivors basically can only see them on a heat sensitive camera which hides the digital effects work. At least for the creatures. With the exception of a couple dead ones, which are rubber props, this is what we get. But again, that works fine.

The gore has a couple stellar post kill effects shots with bodies being found. We get a pile of guts that gets an autopsy and a lot of screen time. There is also a skeleton covered in some gooey bits that was fun. The onscreen kills are limited and sadly digital. They don’t look great but didn’t ruin the movie for me. Still there is one where an arm comes off that is really not good, and they linger on it for some reason. It would have been better with a quick cut and then the scenes that follow.

I do have a couple of complaints that took me out of the story and were annoying. First is you have fishermen on an island complaining that they can’t contact shore. People are getting nervous and still it takes them six days before anyone has the bright idea of “Hey I have a boat why don’t I got check out what is going on” occurs to them. The next is a spoiler so if you don’t like that sort of thing stop reading now! Okay you were warned. We have a character who has spent the entire movie worried about his daughter. Then he does something stupid that is certainly going to leave her alone because of his girlfriend getting killed. He gives up when he has a kid that needs him! That isn’t how the character was written or portrayed from the start so that was annoying. Plus, they killed the dog…

This is mostly a pretty good movie. It is without a doubt one of the better new monster movies that I’ve seen anyone try to make. I recommend checking Island Zero out, especially if you have Amazon Prime and can watch it for free.

© Copyright 2019 John Shatzer

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