Review: ‘Isolation’

Novice writer-director Billy O'Brien brings a seriousness of purpose and a modicum of showmanship to the task of serving generic B-movie cheese in "Isolation," a moody horror opus about the fatal aftermath of DNA research at a remote Irish dairy farm. Irish-U.K. production is standard-issue homevid fodder.

Novice writer-director Billy O’Brien brings a seriousness of purpose and a modicum of showmanship to the task of serving generic B-movie cheese in “Isolation,” a moody horror opus about the fatal aftermath of DNA research at a remote Irish dairy farm. Handsomely shot pic is heavy on atmospherics and generates mild suspense. But despite O’Brien’s aggressive solemnity, formulaic plot abounds with inadvertent hilarity — auds won’t be able to resist wisecracks about mad cow disease — and the slimy killer creatures are far too reminiscent of similarly nasty parasites in other thrillers. Irish-U.K. production is standard-issue homevid fodder.

Cast standout John Lynch plays Dan Reilly, a financially-strapped farmer who reluctantly allows one of his last cows to serve as a guinea pig for DNA experiments. When the unfortunate cow goes into labor late one night, Dan gets two temporary squatters on his property (Ruth Negga, Sean Harris) to help with the delivery. Alas, the new calf contains parasites that quickly escape to cause all manner of bloody mischief. Two biotech company employees — Dan’s ex-girlfriend (Essie Davis) and a cold-blooded geneticist (Marcel Iures) — add to list of probable victims.

Isolation

U.K.-Ireland

Production

A Lions Gate Intl. presentation of a The Bureau Film Co. production in association with Blue Orange Films and Element Films. Produced by Ruth Kenley-Letts, Bertrand Faivre, Ed Guiney. Directed, written by Billy O'Brien.

Crew

Camera (color), Robbie Ryan; editor, Justinian Buckley; music, Adrian Johnston; production designer, Paul Inglis. Reviewed at Toronto Film Festival (Midnight Madness), Sept. 10, 2005. Running time: 95 MIN.

With

John Lynch, Essie David, Ruth Negga, Sean Harris, Marcel Iures.
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