When I received the press release for the film Island Zero, which is about a remote island off the coast of Maine, who residents become stuck on the island after the local ferry doesn’t show up, I immediately thought this was something Stephen King would have written. No, this isn’t some long-lost story from King, but the film does have the vibe of the Master of the Macabre running through it. Island Zero is in fact written by Tess Gerritsen (author of the Rizzoli & Isles series) and directed by her son Josh Gerritsen.
The premise for Island Zero is simple enough, which is a good thing as the budget for the film is moderately low. An island off the coast of Maine is experiencing something rather strange. Most of the sealife have ended up disappearing, and Marine Biologist Sam (Adam Wade McLaughlin) fears it could potentially be the migration of a new predator species, killing off the sea life. Meanwhile, the local ferry never shows up, stranding several people on the island, one of them being the village doctor, Maggie, played by actress Laila Robins (Homeland, Planes, Trains & Automobiles).
As the days pass, the generator is running low on gas, the food supply is dwindling, and people start dying, but not from starvation, unless starvation strips the flesh off your bones. The ferry may not have arrived, but something else has shown up in its place, something deadly.
Island Zero instantly grabs you with its isolated setting, capitalising on that Stephen King feeling I mentioned above. The mist filled sets, the New England accents (thanks to the film using lots of local talent), and a horror story shrouded in mystery. There is plenty of good stuff in Island Zero that a lot of people are going to enjoy. The movie does have a few limitations, which is most likely a result of the lower budget. The filmmakers have kept the appearance of the creatures in the film to a minimum. Because of this, there are moments where people are just sitting around, not doing much. Finally, when the film does get around to revealing the creatures, you can’t help feeling a bit disappointed by the special effects work.
As I mentioned above, the film uses lots of local talent to fill in some of the lesser roles, and yes, it is pretty noticeable that most of them are not actors. It can be a bit cringe-worthy at times, but I would be lying if I said the genuine New England accents didn’t win me over, poorish acting and all.
Island Zero starts off strong but peters out a bit when it takes too long to reveal the creatures. The film clocks in at 99 minutes and with those meandering moments mentioned early, if the editor spent a bit of time trimming those unnecessary scenes, we would have had a leaner, meaner film on our hands. Nevertheless, the film still has loads of potential, given the limited budget. Not everyone is going to love the movie, as some will be disgruntled over the stretches of nothingness, but if you give this Maine produced film a chance, I think you’ll find something to like. I wonder if Stephen King has seen it…
Island Zero is being released on VOD nationwide by Freestyle Releasing on May 15th.