Isolation (2005)

The low budget creature feature is a tough one. You can either go all out in the schlock horror direction (boobs, blood, and plastic looking monsters raped by bad CGI), or the understated, high tension, indie flick, that relies heavily on tantalising camera angles and how good your characterisation is. There are pitfalls with both of course, the former choice is the fact that schlock can be as stupid as you want it to be, but if we (me and my many personalities) aren’t laughing along with you, or at least feeling like we’re in on the joke that is your movie, then we aint buying, and with the latter choice, it’s the dangerous game of edgy camera shots vs. student film pretension – in other words, if you take your art too seriously, then there’s not a snowballs chance in hell that anyone else will agree with you.

Also if you take the ecological horror route, do it without a patronising air. No one wants a lecture on global warming with their decapitations – think The Host or Long Weekend (the original people) rather than An Inconvenient Truth (I consider this film horrifying in it‘s capacity to incite panic and create as many Hybrid driving, preachy douche bags as it did).

Isolation is the story of a financially desperate Irish farmer who allows his cows to be experimented on in return for a little monetary respite. Unfortunately, the shady scientist hasn’t been entirely forthright with the truth and the farm and it’s inhabitants end up being terrorised by toothy little bovine foetuses with a hunger for flesh.

This film sounds like a badly made schlock horror, but in reality is tense, realistic (suspension of belief around the killer cow theory notwithstanding), and extremely well acted for a film which slipped silently under the radar of most critics and fans. The use of surprisingly realistic animatronics instead of computer generated sillies, made the FX nothing short of astounding in a movie I was fully prepared to be non plussed by. Some scenes in particular are very close for comfort, especially for the meat eaters in the house, so animal lovers brace yourselves for some flinching, and possible guilt pangs next time you eat a steak. A little too heavy at times, I felt the film could have used a little light hearted humour, if only to break the unrelentingly oppressive atmosphere to an extent, after all, if you cant find the funny in bovine mutants, where can you find it?

Isolation nearly has it all – killer cows, Irish accents, animal autopsies, and yet lacks the dark humour that would have made this perfect cinema. That’s not to say that it isn’t a first class creature feature, because it’s one of the finest attempts I’ve seen at a classic in quite some time, while teaching us a valuable lesson.

Cows. Some day they will have their revenge, but when the Livestock Armageddon occurs, we need to be able to laugh about it.

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