Cult Movies

Review: Isabelle (2019)

Isabelle is a horror film by director Robert Heydon. The film stars Amanda Crew and Shazam’s own Adam Brody as the protagonist couple. The plot sees the couple move into a new home as the birth of their baby nears, but things take a supernaturally dark turn when their neighbour’s daughter returns from the dead to haunt the couple.

The performances were fine enough, and were easily the least offensive element of this film. The lead two are charming and believable enough as the high school sweethearts who settled for each other in their 20s. The neighbour Mrs Pelway is also fine, but there is not much to her performance apart from snippets of a possibly satanic past and an ascetic tinge to her regretful mother type. The haunting daughter Isabelle, after whom the film is named, is nothing to write home about. Apparently red eyes and a hospital gown are what passes for scary, and the actress really isn’t given much to work with. Her scenes consist almost entirely of her staring ominously at Larissa before vanishing in the blink of an eye.

Sometimes I find myself wistfully thinking how much I would enjoy being an actor in a low budget indie horror film because all I would have to do is stare at a camera intensely and get paid. The cinematography is fairly standard, nothing too experimental or interesting. The plot is my biggest gripe. The film is apparently inspired by Rosemary’s Baby and Poltergeist, because apparently indie filmmakers have no other horror films to draw inspiration from, and elements of each are semi-introduced before being forgotten about or pushed to the side. Brody’s character for some reason jumps immediately to thinking of possession when his wife tells him the neighbour kept staring at her, but is then reluctant to believe her supernatural experiences throughout the rest of the film.

There are hints of a satanic backstory to Isabelle, but these are never expanded upon and hang there rather awkwardly. There is a Priest character that appears several times at the outset of the film who, you would think, would play into the plot somewhat. He doesn’t though, and he sort of disappears halfway through.

The film is quite short and the climax of the film is disappointing and leads to a vague cop out of an ending. The entire film may have been saved from it’s tired genre tropes and dime a dozen plot if the ending had a little flair or style. Had the film been 20 minutes longer some of this may have been fixed, and what is a tired and cliched film may have turned out to be an enjoyable throwback to an era of horror long gone.

VERDICT: Ultimately, I would have to give this film a 5/10 for being boring, predictable and cliched. What irks me most however is the potential of this film and the way it was squandered. The production team behind this film is clearly good at their job, but the plot and characters needs significant work. The Director has some skills evidently, but I think this was a rushed and confused endeavour and he can definitely do better in the future.

ISABELLE will be available on Sky Store, iTunes and UK digital platforms from 30th September 2019.

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