I’m sure many of us grew up watching the creature features of the 50’s on TV. For a lot of us, it was our introduction to the genre and what got us hooked on it. And while those films may seen incredibly corny now, they’re still an influence on more modern films. Whether amped up with more modern doses of blood and nudity such as PIRANHA 3D or more straightforward homages like ISLAND ZERO.
Along the East Coast of the US fish and other marine creatures are vanishing. Marine biologist Sam(Adam Wade McLaughlin) has a theory that he’s followed to a remote island off the coast of Maine, a move that’s taken a toll on his family. His girlfriend Lucy (Teri Reeves) is leaving to go back to civilization. His daughter thinks that’s a good idea.
The ferry fails to show up and phone and internet connections to the mainland suddenly go down. Other boats that head for the mainland fail to arrive, leaving the island cut off. Boats turn up minus their crew, then islanders go missing. Sam must team up with local doctor Maggie (Laila Robins) to find out the cause. Something is out there in the ocean, but what is it? And are the creatures the only thing they have to worry about?
Filmed entirely on the Maine coast using local actors, accents and all, the filming of ISLAND ZERO also harkens back to the regional productions that played the drive-in chains of the 50s. It’s a family production, written by novelist Tess Gerritsen (she writes the “Rizzoli & Isles” books) and directed by her son Josh Gerritsen.
ISLAND ZERO is a slow burn of a film. It keeps the menace off-screen for most of the film while it builds up suspense bit by bit until the final act. Then it unleashes a few twists along with its creatures for a suitably tense finale. The formula has been tweaked a bit. For example, humanity’s messing with nature is still the root cause of the problem, but now it’s via global warming, not atomic testing.
For those who don’t mind a lack of heavy gore and fancy effects ISLAND ZERO is an enjoyable watch. ISLAND ZERO hits VOD nationwide on May 15th from Freestyle Digital Media.