Starring Laila Robins, Adam Wade McLaughlin, Teri Reeves, Matthew Wilkas
Written by Tess Gerritsen
Directed by Josh Gerritsen
Just when you think it might be safe to go back in the water, a new aquatic being is on the loose in Island Zero, written by Tess Gerristsen and directed by her husband Josh Gerritsen. Since the release of Jaws and with plenty of recent films about ravenous sharks like 47 Meters Down, Deep Blue Sea 2, and The Meg, audiences never seem to get tired of films about sea creatures that enjoy having humans for dinner.
Island Zero tells the tale of an isolated island off the coast of Maine where the local fishermen notice that all the fish have disappeared. Then the ferry the island relies on for supplies like food and gas stops showing up to take people to the mainland. The only person on the island who is excited about the lack of fish is resident marine biologist Sam (Adam Wade McLaughlin), who has been studying similar events in other coastal areas. His wife was lost at sea while hunting for a mysterious marine animal she believed might be responsible for the incidents. Before they realize what is happening a group is stranded on the island with dwindling supplies of food and water and soon whatever is apparently eating the fish decides it’s hungry for islanders.
With a Lovecraftian storyline and believable performances from relatable characters, I was genuinely invested in Island Zero and it had me hooked for about the first 45 minutes. With the exception of a few films like the The Ritual which had a phenomenal nightmarish creature that I haven’t stopped thinking about, I’m not the biggest fan of creature features in general, but the writing is so intriguing in Island Zero that I was hopeful. Other than a tentacle here and there snatching someone away in a bloody poof, the appearance of the watery predator is kept secret until almost the end of the movie. Sometimes it’s beneficial to reveal as little as possible and I soon began to realize that there was no hope for anyone on the island and they weren’t the only ones who were doomed.
After the first 45 minutes, a few plot twists and the big reveal of what exactly is eating everyone, the film makes a sharp U-turn into science fiction B movie territory and I was convinced my only escape would be to fling myself into the nearest body of water. It turns out the military knows about the creatures that are devouring the good residents of the island and not everyone can be trusted.
Besides a couple of interesting close up shots of the creatures near the end, they are only seen with a thermographic camera and the disappointing CGI effects coupled with the fact the military thinks they can communicate with these things borders on the absurd. Island Zero is reminiscent of films like Predator because the predators in this tale have the ability to manipulate light with their skin making them impossible to be seen with the naked eye. Unfortunately, these creatures aren’t nearly as cool looking and they aren’t hunting for trophies, they’re just hungry.
What began as a captivating story with impressive writing and character development is almost impossible to take seriously once the creature design and master plan are revealed. I’m showing my age, but I had Sea Monkeys as a child and believed they looked exactly like the pictures on the package after they hatched. Imagine my disappointment when I grew up and found out the truth. If you’re old enough to know what I’m talking about, you can understand my initial feelings of excitement transformed into despair while watching Island Zero from beginning to end.
Island Zero is being released on VOD nationwide by Freestyle Digital Media on May 15th.
Island Zero is almost kept afloat by an enticing storyline and strong performances, but ultimately sinks once the creature design and endgame are revealed.