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First Look Pictures // R // June 26, 2007
List Price: $24.98 [Buy now and save at Amazon]

Review by Thomas Spurlin | posted June 29, 2007 | E-mail the Author
Isolation, an Irish horror monster flick from Billy O'Brien, adheres tightly to those similar creepy vibes that you get from looking into formaldehyde filled jars with freaking abominations picked within. It's a disturbingly gross film that masters in the art of spinal fluttering chills instead of mustering screams within you. This is a disgustingly creepy, scientifically surreal feature that'll give you the squirms like a bellyful of slugs.

The Film:

Something quite unusual is going down on Dan (John Lynch)'s marshy, crumbling cattle farm. Recently, this secluded land has become host to a bizarre biotechnology experiment that hasn't been fully revealed to its owner. Dan's aware that it has something to do with the manipulation of expedited growth genes within his livestock, but he's not completely certain of the extensive details. He gets bits and pieces from Orla, a veterinarian who helps to look after the stock, but receives little concrete information from the all-powerful doctor presiding over these testings.

After a few peculiar mishaps pop up around the farm, including some ghastly calf behavior, a keen and inquisitive eye gets turned towards the researchers and their motives. What unravels is something akin to a biological nightmare. These five vanquished people, including a young couple parked in their motor home at the entrance of the farm without much welcome from Dan, become host to a turning of the tables from the ghastly abomination lurking in the dark. Once this genetic anomaly shows its face, the slithering, brooding hell brewing underneath this farm begins to ravenously break loose.

Isolation works best at the moments when it tries to unnerve you with its grueling context. There's a peculiarly interesting level of biological build-up in the flick that would be a shame to unravel in discussion. It's not rocket science or anything, but purely interesting to unfurl on one's own accord. However, when this horror concoction is on its gross "game", it'll knock your socks off with that nice, stomach gurgling effect. Combined with a darkened, frosty atmosphere and a truly dilapidated sense of separation, the tension building grows to extraordinarily edgy lengths.

In large part, the scares work because of the impeccable assembly of the farm-grown menace. I'm not certain if I've ever been this impressed with the realism and tangibility within creature development. This effects crew deserves a sturdy slap on the back for Isolation. Each and every jagged line and shattered bone within these genetically finagled abominations appears so physical, yet so mangled, that when blended with the scientific substance underneath it's quite possible to fall into director O'Brien's web of belief.

In fact, O'Brien has assembled a horror film that holds a lot of merit, both within the engaging ideas and the capability to build a solitary atmosphere. The only place Isolation fails to impress is in the "enjoyment" department. While it's true that every hair of this flick is incredibly fleshed, from the acting to the costume and creature development, it doesn't offer a tremendous amount of satisfaction. Instead of watching this film and being excited to see the next turn of events, you're left with the fermenting, raw feeling of disgust, even in the rare down times. That's part of the sharp, affective atmosphere of Isolation, however. It's the director's intent to have a morose and disturbing flick; OBrien does so, but a film with such disturbance can be quite difficult to relish.

Don't dare let that deter you from Isolation, though. Every step of the way, this flick will pull on every single string of your horror loving bones until they collapse underneath the pressure. You'll feel wrangled within this farm, unable to leave until the credits roll. The pure fascination with the taut story and stringent atmosphere will keep your eyes fixated until the tremendous conclusion. If you're ready for a night of disturbance and melancholy scientific gratuity, then look into the pure virility within Isolation.

The DVD:

Isolation comes equipped from First Look Home Entertainment in a standard keepcase presentation with very average, uncharacteristic coverart.

The Video:

Isolation looks extremely good. Anamorphic, crisp, clean, and very pleasing on the eyes with its saturated palette, this is a dark, yet potently photographed film. The vacant color palette and angular cinematography with the obscure, yet pleasing, set design makes this presentation look fantastic. All of the color presentation, from the darkened blues and remnant greens to the cool, sickly pinks all flaunt furiously in this brooding image. First Look has done a great job with this visual treatment.

The Audio:

Presented in a rich, tense 5.1 aural treatment, Isolation sounds almost as good in quality as its visual partner. There are a lot of small, conspicuous sound effects in this flick, like small sounds of crawling and cattle effects. This Dolby track, though fairly front heavy, harnessed these effects nicely. Rear channel levels received some usage, but not quite as much as I'd like to hear. Vocal quality was quite crisp and audible. Though the LFE received next to no activity, as there was hardly anything revolving close to a lower frequency bombardment, everything sounded quite tangible. Subtitles are available in English and Spanish.

The Extras:

First and foremost, Billy O'Brien's interesting short film, The Tale of the Rat that Wrote, is presented on this disc. It's a very unique and splendidly shot blacka dn white work. Gauging by this and his full length Isolation, it's obvious O'Brien has a strong eye for making creatures seem very tangible.

Also included is a very lengthy span of Storyboards of numerous scenes from the film. There's a lot of interestingly illustrated material to go through here, as it spans numerous pages long.

Furthermore, a conceptual Creature Gallery is made available to peruse. Seeing the process of monster development across these sketches is very intriguing, although a lot of them hinge along the same ideal. There was a very straight forward idea at work here for the design, and I'm happy they focused on such a rich formula.

Rounding up the features is a set of Previews, including trailers for In a Dark Place, Screamers, The Breed, The Contract, and for Isolation itself.


Final Thoughts:

Unnerving and morose, Billy O'Brien's fiendish flick is difficult to stomach at times. However, Isolation harnesses such cinematic prowess and depth that it makes the darkness worthwhile to delve into. Don't expect much more from this flick than the brooding, disgusting depths of darkness lying in this farm, however. Combined with a mean aural and visual treatment, Isolation comes with a very meaty Recommendation.

Thomas Spurlin, Staff Reviewer -- DVDTalk Reviews | Personal Blog/Site
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