Starring Michaela McManus, Chris Sheffield, Neville Archambault
Written by Kevin McManus, Matthew McManus
Directed by Kevin McManus, Matthew McManus
Written and directed by The McManus Brothers, Kevin and Matthew McManus, who are known for TV shows like Cobra Kai (2019) and movies like 13 Cameras (2015), The Block Island Sound follows The Lynch family as they deal with lingering grief and new frightening events. Boasting an excellent cast that includes Michaela McManus (The Village) as Audry Lynch, Chris Sheffield (The Stanford Prison Experiment) as her brother Harry, and Neville Archambault (13 Cameras) as their father, The Block Island Sound is a genre-bending mystery that blends elements of horror, fantasy, and Sci-Fi to tell the story. The film also stars Jim Cummings and Jeremy Holm and is produced by Andrew Van den Houten (The Ranger) and Ashleigh Snead. The Block Island Sound will have its World Premiere at Fantasia International Film Festival on August 28th.
Following the death of his mother, Harry Lynch (Sheffield) lives with his father, Thomas (Archambault), in the oceanside town of Block Island, which is only accessible by ferry. His sister Audry (McManus) is a marine biologist and is called to Block Island to study why the fish are dying, so she, her daughter Emily (Matilda Lawler), and her co-worker Paul (Ryan O’Flanagan) come to stay with Harry and her father. Harry doesn’t tell Audry that their father has been having strange episodes and blackouts that cause him to unknowingly go out on the boat alone. The episodes seem to mostly occur at night, and it seems as though Thomas is listening intently to something that only he can hear. In addition to Thomas’ blackouts, large amounts of dead fish keep washing up on the beach.
All the strange events on Block Island are causing Harry’s friend Dale (Jim Cummings), who is into conspiracy theories, to speculate on what is going on. Harry dismisses Dale’s ramblings about government experiments and paranormal activity and instead believes his father is suffering from dementia or mental illness. When Thomas suddenly disappears, Harry goes diving to look for him and experiences a blackout causing him to wake up confused on the boat with no memory of what happened after he dived into the water. After Thomas turns up dead on the beach, Harry starts to wonder if he too, is losing his mind. He begins seeing his dead father everywhere he goes and hearing an indescribable sound as the blackouts continue. By the time Audry realizes something is wrong with Harry, it might be too late and the only person who can help her might be a stranger named Kurt (Jeremy Holm).
The Block Island Sound features some great performances, especially from Chris Sheffield as the tortured, grieving son Harry. There aren’t a lot of scares or gory effects in this film, but the sound design is excellent and adds a constant creepy undertone to the story. It seems like the blackouts and hearing the sound have something to do with being in or on the water, so one might think this is a story about an unknown sea creature, or maybe mental illness runs in the Lynch family. There are a few questions remaining after the big reveal, but that doesn’t take away from how entertaining this film is or diminish from how expertly it presents grief.
With The Block Island Sound, The McManus Brothers impressively present the portrait of a grieving family, who question whether they are experiencing supernatural events or mental illness. The film skillfully creates an ongoing sense of uneasiness and grim visuals ramp up the feeling of terror the story invokes. Notable performances from Sheffield as Harry as he attempts to deal with the anguish he’s feeling, and an almost unrecognizable Jim Cummings as his conspiracy theorist friend Dale whose hyperactive demeanor and chain smoking make him feel relatable, and McManus as the distraught Audry round out a strong cast. The film’s believable characters discovering that something sinister might be causing them to blackout and behave strangely, while wondering if they are afflicted with mental illness, coupled with the gruesome imagery presented in an extremely well-written story make The Block Island Sound quite a compelling horror movie.
The Block Island Sound realistically presents the terror of a family torn apart by grief and haunted by madness.