Dark Island (2011)
Starring Jai Koutrae, Zero Kazama, Mary Christina Brown, Rodney Wiseman, Victoria Floro
Directed by Sam Gorski and Niko Pueringer
You know you have too many movies in your collection when you’re sorting through a pile and come across a Thai import DVD of a low budget b-movie yet to be released in the United States that you bought months earlier. How do you forget about something like that? So I decided to sit down with my import DVD of Dark Island and give it a look. When it was over, I realized I had the right idea the first time around when I stashed it away unwatched and forgotten about.
Now tell me if any of this sounds familiar to you:
Characters stranded on a remote island.
Flashbacks showing us specific episodes in the lives of certain characters back on the mainland before ending up on this island designed to give them some backstory and give a reason why they make some of the decisions on the island they do.
Characters are terrorized on this island by a smoke monster.
Dark Island is not a total rip-off of “Lost”. The characters have come to the island willingly, on a mission for a corrupt corporation, in search of a research team that has gone missing. There’s nothing mystical about the island, the smoke monster owes its origins to a scientific experiment gone wrong either, and the ending doesn’t involve the characters seated together in a spirit realm waiting to go to heaven. The plot also borrows a few aspects from the Resident Evil flicks.
That said, considering its production values, if you showed someone Dark Island and told them it was a “Lost” mockbuster The Asylum made five years ago, I seriously doubt they would question you on it.
On the positive side, the makers of Dark Island have included something the makers of “Lost” left out that for whatever reason never fails to bring a smile to my face: gas guns. Don’t ask me to explain why I get a kick out of seeing guns that fire gas in action; I just do. The best sequence of the movie sees a man armed with a gas-spraying rifle fending off the whirling smoke monster surrounding him. It’s a cool action sequence. Too bad it only accounts for a few seconds of excitement amid 80 minutes of tedium.
Dark Island is boring. Very boring. The characters are bores, and the actors playing them don’t help with their uniformly wooden performances. The plot is a catalogue of tiresome clichés that doesn’t hold up to an ounce of scrutiny. Some characters aren’t who they appear to be and have differing agendas, leading to plot twists that would have been more effective if the events surrounding them weren’t such a poorly constructed crashing bore.
The snail’s pace is such that I was already feeling the urge to make use of the fast forward button within minutes after the opening titles appeared on the screen. The boat trip to the island is a solid four minutes of minimal dialogue and inaction that feels like it takes three times longer than it actually does. I frequently found myself watching very little take what felt like a very long time to play out.
Too bad, because even though there’s no denying it is derivative of “Lost”, that smoke monster is a visually thrilling entity when it’s on the screen chasing after people and evaporating them. If only it had more screen time. Cheaper, I suppose, to paint characters pale, have them drip black ooze, and run around with black contact lenses doing a zombie riff, infected by the contagion that will eventually transform them into predatory smoke. The make-up is fine and all; I just wanted more wanton smoke monster attacks and less zombie fu.
And more gas gunfights. You can never have enough gas gunfights.
1 out of 5