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Cinema/TV, Film Notes

FrightFest review – Isaac

FrightFest review – Isaac

A low-key, intense, disturbing essay in Frankensteinian mad science from writer-director Tariq Sayed – which doesn’t go the expected route.  Having lost a child to a genetic disorder, Nicholas and Sarah Reeves (Johnny Vivash and Kathryn Louise) are willing to sign up for an experimental fertility program run by a food corporation who are looking to get in the baby business.

The film opens with Nick a wreck, the child’s room boarded up, Sarah in the wind, the apple orchard torn up for mulch (to be replaced by GM saplings) and an imminent visit from GEO boffin Dr Greta Abner (Catriona MacColl) to inspect a ‘product’ which is plainly not performing up to expectations – for a gruesomely plausible reason explained by retired local physician Dr Guria (Bosco Hogan).  Flashbacks establish how Nick has coped – not well, but with determination – with things going wrong, suspecting that his corporate sponsors are responsible for the extensive woes of his family and farm.  He’s not wrong, but Vivash plays him as a complicated monomaniac torn up by his own guilt too – setting up an unexpected punchline when Dr Abner finally understands the consequences of what’s up with the always-offscreen Isaac.  Sayed keeps the title character hidden, which gives him an It’s Alive aura of menace and focuses the drama on Nicholas’ agonies.

Set in an isolated farm, with extraneous characters rigorously excluded, the film has a a classical, crisp look in its detached studies of barren landscape and a cosy home turned into a trap.  Vivash follows up his strong work in Walking Against the Rain and carries the whole film – nice to see MacColl, from a couple of key 1980s Lucio Fulci films, and Bosco Hogan, Jonathan Harker to Louis Jourdan’s Count Dracula, again.

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