Despite having interesting lore to play with as it makes it clear from the beginning that the story is based around the mythology of sirens – women who lure men out at sea with their songs to kill them – the film never reaches its full potential. My favourite thing about it is the beautiful yet eerie setting, but as a whole most of the elements are bland. I never found myself particularly caring about the characters so none of the performances stood out (Lanthe played by co-writer Tori Butler-Hart was probably the best if I had to choose though), and as a result I wasn’t invested in seeing how it ended. When it did end, however, it was even more anti-climactic than expected. Most of the time it seemed like not an awful lot was happening, so the writing is one of its biggest problems. It’s more like an early draft rather than being the best it can be.
As I previously mentioned, the film is set during the Victorian era. However, other than when the main trio are at sea in the opening scene, it never really feels like it is. The costume design and dialogue (especially the costumes) don’t exactly scream period drama – Conleth Hill’s costume really comes to mind when I think about this issue as it looks so contemporary. I often found myself forgetting when it is supposed to be set, which took me even more out of the film.
Although I’ve been pretty negative about ‘The Isle’, I will give credit to it for doing something good with the female characters. They are placed in the roles of villain and victims as they are possessed – this comes through even more when the explanation behind everything is revealed in flashbacks and it’s understandable why the spirit doing the possessing is so angry. Furthermore, I enjoyed that when the men arrive on the isle at the beginning of the film the women are excited that perhaps they can help them escape their curse, when in fact this idea gets subverted.
Overall, while there’s a few good elements to the film, it wasn’t enough to keep me invested and it was a struggle to make it through to the end. Whilst I’m not usually a fan of period dramas which ‘The Isle’ partly is, the supernatural aspect still didn’t add enough entertainment. The writing and plot are the biggest problems, and if it had been stronger it would have made its other shortcomings a lot more tolerable. However, the location couldn’t have been a better choice, and does add an eerie atmosphere while also being beautiful in contrast. This film is one for the people who like slow-burners, so if you’re a fan of those I hope you watch this and get more out of it than I could.