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John’s Horror Corner: Isolation (2005), an Irish farmhouse horror about monster cow fetuses and a genetic experiment-gone-wrong.

February 21, 2020

MY CALL: This is a really great gore-slathered creature feature which, above all, is even written and directed and acted impressively as well. Strongly recommended to fans of gory creature features. MORE MOVIES LIKE Isolation: For more Irish horror movies check out Leprechaun Origins (2014), Leprechaun 2 (1994), Leprechaun (1993), Rawhead Rex (1986), Grabbers (2012), Cherry Tree (2015), Holidays (2016; St. Patrick’s Day segment), The Hallow (2015) and Hole in the Ground (2019). And for more remote mutating monster movies, go for Black Sheep (2006), Splinter (2008), Blood Glacier (2013), Harbinger Down (2015) and Life (2017).

I don’t know how many films have ever produced major scenes out of animal husbandry, but this movie begins with over 20 minutes dedicated to the rather graphic obstetric treatment (of a cow) and subsequent birth scene (of a calf). And dare I say, it was kind of intense watching our farmer (John Lynch; Black Death, Hardware) and veterinarian (Essie Davis; The Babadook) at work. There are liquid sloshing drippy sounds and birthing goop and an afterbirth-slick calf. The farmer actually gets his hand gorily mangled in the process (I won’t say how, you’ll have to watch). And right after all this, we roll into a moderately intense scene with the newborn calf and mother cow, and then a rather disgusting “post-partem” examination. This movie is off to a bold start! LOL

Reminiscent of a gore-slathered chestburster (Alien), slimy squirming mutant fetuses dissected from the mother cow’s body during an autopsy prove to be more viable than the veterinarian had estimated. Two nearby mobile-home squatters Jamie (Sean Harris; Deliver Us from Evil, Prometheus) and Mary (Ruth Negga; Preacher, World War Z) get pulled into the plot as early as the birth of the inordinately large calf, a product of large offspring syndrome, a genetic abnormality caused by a genetic experiment led by a shady scientist (Marcel Iures; The Cave) to produce beef and dairy more efficiently. And there’s the ‘farm macabre’ basis for your horror movie!

Conceptually, this wanders deep into the territory of The Thing (1982) with sociological fears of ‘the other’, infectious potential, the need to prevent its spread to civilization and gloppety-gook mutant gore. I was quite pleased with the creature effects and chunky blood’n’guts quality. We see the creature in numerous scenes and in different aspects and life stages as it scampers around the farm and matures a la Alien (1979).

Writer and director Billy O’Brien (The Hybrid, I Am Not a Serial Killer) delivers engaging pacing, decent photography and a solid cast. The writing is smooth and things stay interesting and tense throughout this dark and very messy, deliciously gross gorefest. Without a dull moment, this makes for an excellent popcorn fright night flick.

This movie is actually pretty good! Not only that, it’s quite credibly delivered (given its premise), which isn’t to be expected of a film with such abundant monster and gore scenes. Whether you enjoy jumpy creature features or gore-oozing flicks, this comes highly recommended!

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