Uninhabited (UK DVD)
Directed by Bill Bennett
Distributed by G2 Pictures
Harry and Beth are a deeply-in-love young couple looking for an idyllic, out of the ordinary, holiday retreat. Their perfect getaway comes in the form of a supposedly uninhabited island on the Great Barrier Reef, which the couple take off to for ten days of sun, sand and relaxation. What starts off well soon becomes a nightmare when they learn that the island is home to the ghost of a murdered young woman who doesn’t take kindly to the presence of men on her turf. As the spooky events begin to escalate, Harry and Beth also run afoul of a pair of ruthless shark poachers whom they mistakenly accuse of being responsible for the ghostly acts of harassment.
If there’s anything striking about Uninhabited, it’s got to be the location. The island that plays home to the ghostly events is simply beautiful, surrounded by crystal waters and clear blue skies, and director Bennett knows exactly how to shoot it. Ultimately, though, this isn’t a travel agent’s video brochure – it’s a horror film so does it succeed as one? Unfortunately, no.
First off, while the lead players are both perfectly capable actors and easily manage a realistic chemistry, their characters are unlikable idiots who walk blindly into their fates through sheer stupidity and poor choices. With the discovery that someone has been filming them in their sleep with their own camera, Hakewill’s Beth is desperate to call for their charter boat and leave immediately. Instead, her beau enthusiastically argues that they should simply track down the person doing it and “make it a game”. Seriously. Cue a tonal shift of eye-rolling magnitude as the next sequence sees the pair of them apply camouflage face paint and leap around the forest like two 9-year-olds playing Rambo.
It would seem that said face paint also causes some kind of hormonal issue in Harry as he then proceeds to get aggressive and accusatory with the non-English speaking (and already demonstrably dangerous) poachers, in the process making the cardinal sin of letting his mouth write cheques that his ass most certainly can’t cash. His buffoonery is boundless, and around this point you’re more likely to just be wishing for the pair of them to hurry up and get offed and have the whole affair over with.
This leads to the second issue with Uninhabited: the pacing. While the few creepy events are well handled in terms of spine-chilling delivery, and the first act is rife with ominous views from the beach and a palpable sense of dread, it soon begins to feel very drawn out. By the time the third act kicks in, you’d be forgiven for feeling that your patience is being sorely tested. Still, Bennett’s impressive directorial eye and the promise of revelations regarding the mystery behind the angry spirit are likely to keep you holding on until the end. The problem is, said revelations are abrupt and all too brief, and the appearance of the murderous ghost so anticlimactic, that the effort of sticking through the preceding rampant idiocy isn’t rewarded at all.
The final moments offer an (admittedly somewhat pleasing) old-school approach a la the classic literary ghost story, but both these moments and the high quality score as the final shot of the island leaves our screens only help cement Uninhabited as a mediocre film that believes it’s much more chilling than it really is.
G2 Pictures’ review copy of the film came as a time-coded screener so it’s impossible to comment on the visual and audio quality of the final product for certain. However, Bennett’s eye for visuals is excellent, and the location really is a standout so even on a basic screener the film looked great. I’d expect the retail release to be more than acceptable. Similarly, the screener contained no special features; however, the retail edition appears to be bare bones.
2 1/2 out of 5
0 out of 5