The Reel Review
Three sailors, lone survivors from a shipwreck in the year 1846, make their way to a remote island off the Scottish coast. There, after meeting the island’s four mysterious inhabitants and checking out several abandoned cottages, they get the feeling their new hosts don’t want them to leave, in this gothic mystery thriller.
Husband and wife writing duo Matthew and Tori Butler-Hart based their low budget film on Greek and Scottish folklore, incorporating the island’s remote, primitive setting and a haunting tune from Faroese folk singer Eivør to create an almost overwhelming sense of dread and melancholy. It works – the setting and production values are surprisingly well done for such a modestly-funded film.
If only their screenplay was as strong. Despite committed performances from co-writer Tori Butler-Hart who plays Lanthe, and Conleth Hill (who looks a lot different from his role of the bald Lord Varys in Game of Thrones) as her uncle, the stale story slogs along at a painfully tedious pace, like watching a really beautiful paint job take forever to dry. This is a starkly beautiful, lofty art film in dire need of faster pacing and editing. The ending does have a nice twist, however, if you happen to still be awake to see it.
• Matthew and Tori Butler-Hart got the idea for The Isle after visiting Scotland’s remote tidal island Eileen Shona, reportedly deserted in 1851 due to the potato famine. Eileen Shona’s current population is 2.
• The husband and wife duo worked with a lot of the same cast and crew in their 2015 film, Two Down.
• Faroese folk singer Eivør also sings in The Last Kingdom, a period BBC series about the birth of the British kingdom.