Nobody told me Ireland has been knocking out some cracking little horror films over the last few years, but with DOROTHY (already reviewed on this site), GRABBERS (coming soon) and this I’m going to give Ireland its own category. Bought blind at the video shop the other day ISOLATION was far better than we were expecting and may just have created a whole new horror subgenre.
All is not well on a remote Irish farm where it never stops raining and the only ground surface seems to consist of mud of varying runny consistencies. Penniless farmer Dan (John Lynch, who’s excellent) has agreed to allow one of his cows to be used in a genetic experiment organised by the obviously villainous John (Marcel Iures). The cow is pregnant but it’s going to be a difficult birth. Vet Orla (Essie Davis) gets bitten by whatever is growing inside the cow during a routine examination, and when the calf is eventually born, after great difficulty, both it and the mother have to be put down. The calf is inexplicably found to also be pregnant, but with a number of mutant hybrid creatures that are presumably a by-product of the experiment. The mutant foetus things aren’t dead, however, and it turns out they have the potential to infect the rest of humankind. John orders the place quarantined and the search is on for the creatures.
I don’t know if there are any grim veterinary horror films out there but ISOLATION may well be the first, and very very good it is, too. The entire film is seriously dark and unpleasant, the characters all feel real, and the animal stuff made me wonder if the picture hadn’t been made by a bunch of vets who wanted to make a horror film. The nail gun they use to kill the calf and its mother looks like the kind of thing that’s probably used in real life, and the horrible gloomy surroundings just add to the sense of nihilism and hopelessness that doesn’t let up for the entire picture.
With all that going on you might think that the appearance of mutant cow foetuses might ruin it all, but not a bit of it. The creatures are barely shown, and when they are there’s not a pixel of CGI in the house - just horrible-looking puppets shown very briefly so as not to diminish their effect. If you need a description the only thing I can liken these weird, bony creatures to is the gun Jude Law makes out of his own teeth in EXISTENZ. In fact, probably the best way to describe ISOLATION is a Grim Irish Cronenberg Veterinarian Horror picture. I thought it was great and I can’t believe it isn’t better known. It’s on this site because it deserves a lot of love and attention and I hope this review helps it to get some. Much, much more Irish horror, please!