The Isle is a stale melodrama
The Isle has wonderful scenery but a boring, unimaginative plot. The Isle is a 2018 movie about some shipwrecked sailors who get stranded on a strange island, filled with curious supernatural elements. These elements have divided the inhabitants of the island and made them afraid of a Strange Haunting ™. It’s marketed as a mythological Sirens Attack ™ movie sorta like The Lighthouse, but is only half as good as Stir of Echoes. Maybe. They don’t even have Kevin Bacon to help them out. The Sirens Attack promise develops into a mundane murder mystery, which needed Peter Cushing or something to hold my interest, because the plot is so dang boring. It’s very predictable and silly, so as a result, you’ll find this movie in the free category on most of your video-on-demand services.
They fail to fulfill the promise. The picture opens on three sailors in a lifeboat, who have survived the sinking of their ship, and they luckily spot an island in the distance so that feels like the beginning of a good, tense drama. I was interested in how they were going to use the Sirens as the men came into shore, but how it develops left me really disappointed. There’s no Sirens attacking anybody. It’s not even really a mythological movie or a Siren’s Attack movie. The Siren (singular) turns out to be a vengeful woman who haunts the island, and loves the fog machine. There’s not much there to be scared of in this horror movie, so it ends up playing as a simple ghost story instead, and when something interesting does pop up, those things only feel like silly melodrama.
The three sailors notice some of the strange island habits, and don’t do much about it until they become victims of the Murder Siren ™. She’s out to kill all men and they can’t escape. There’s really not much depth to the story beyond that, and the so-called twists are really obvious and drag out too long. The main twist is uncovered when someone reads a book. Inventive.
The Isle has a lot of strengths but the weakass plot holds them back. The gorgeous Scottish landscape seems to be the top thing this movie has going for it, and I’d probably be fine if they panned the scenery a lot more. Then again, making this story slower is not a good idea. Problem is, the trailer and some of the advertisements for this movie promised Sirens and we get only a ghost of a woman out to take her revenge on the town, or whatever. She’s not really a siren even though she sorta has an echo-ey voice and loves mist. That’s about all the siren crap you’ll get. They use some of the typical things sirens do but it doesn’t help the movie.
The tropes are all over the place. One character is rushing around trying to find something then trips and falls right onto the one thing he was looking for, which is pretty stupid writing, if you ask me. The movie employs every stupid ghost-story trope in the book, even jump-scares, and the favorite line, “Hey, we should split up, we’ll cover more ground that way.” If that’s not a trope, I don’t know what is.
Overall, this movie is terrible. It’s free on-demand for a reason. The cast does a fine job with the crap they have but the acting is so melodramatic that it feels like a soap opera or something. There seems to be an allusion to Greek myth in there somewhere, but it doesn’t add much to the plot. The film also feels really small despite being on a lush island, which is never really showcased, because most of the scenes are in little houses or on the water surrounded by mist from the fog machine. The movie really doesn’t feel like anything fresh or original which is maybe my biggest complaint. There’s not really any allegory or gore or tension or cool horror kills. The fog machine is their way of creating tension and that’s lazy. They don’t explore the Murder Siren’s impact on the townspeople, beyond the fact that all four of them are weird, and the sailors become just more victims.