17 January 2019 | kensai-5
No entertainment here!
I just wanted to leave a fair warning for people who are curious enough about "Isle of the Dead" to browse this section of IMDb. The rating and many of the reviews apply an impression of the movie being mediocre.
I'm not sure if maybe people nowadays have a distorted understanding of the term "mediocre"? I usually use it to describe something being average, right in the center between "good" and "bad", not having features that justify becoming positively excited about, but also not in a region to evoke anger or similarly negative feelings.
There isn't anything that I could imagine to happen that would make an averagely intelligent person use the term "mediocre" after seeing this movie. Even the makeup, which might pass as average in a competently lit production, is degraded by the director's absence of talent and skill. With, let's say, a "mediocre" amount of perception and experience with movies, it isn't difficult to notice when, where and how to use the lighting available in the sets of this production, to an effect that might efficiently utilize mood, atmosphere and suspense. Like most incapable directors nowadays, Nick Lyon decided to leave these aspects to the sound design, with the idea that you can get an audience to react with tension when loud noise is constantly wearing down their nerves.
As a consequence, instead of having zombies that unnerve due to subtle movement discrepancies, giving the observer a growing feeling that something is wrong with that person, standing unstably in the dim light, you get screaming, fidgeting clown-zombies that pound their chests and cheer on the stronger leader-zombies, as they all macho-jerk through brightly lit tunnels, clearly exposing their rubber masks and unevenly painted faces.
The action almost solely consists of shootouts with zombies appearing suddenly and silently out of nowhere, giving this amazing contrast of them behaving as impeccable ninjas until a *camera* (that is to say "the movie audience") has sight of them, which immediately turns them into screaming berserkers, regardless of whether a living human is anywhere near them or not. The remaining 20% of the action are ambitious but inappropriate melee fights, where soldiers decide to not use their ample time to shoot zombies but brawl them until they fall to the ground, a good distance away, and THEN open fire at them.
Sarcasm aside, I might give the movie credit for at least decently ambitious melee combat. Sadly, it's getting lost on the dumb situations it is being used in. Just like any element of a movie, it won't cause excitement if it doesn't have a believable purpose and if nothing relatable is at stake.
Like most Asylum movies, Isle of the Dead doesn't have an actual story. Their usual filmmaking process is to acquire a couple of sets that can serve as a location for a shallow plagiarization idea and slap a quickly improvised script on top, that rudimentarily ties the places and events together. The sets for this movie are "jungle", "abandoned factory site" and "abandoned science lab". The script clumsily touches on the usual subjects connected to the zombie genre, without caring about logic or coherence. Regardless of that, the movie isn't shy to fill a sizable amount of its run time with dialog, that after a while becomes painful to listen to.
My recommendation is to avoid this movie and try something less conventional, like "The Girl with all the Gifts" (2016) or something smarter, like "Wyrmwood: Road of the Dead" (2014) (the movie, not the TV series).