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February 06, 2019

Reviews: ‘St. Agatha’ sports a psycho nun; ‘The Isle’ offers location, location, location; yet another ‘Amityville’; plus the MMA noir of ‘A Violent Man

Noel Murray, Los Angeles Times

Some of horror’s most memorable movies happened because the filmmakers had access to a great location: like a shopping mall or an abandoned hospital. In the case of Matthew and Tori Butler-Hart’s supernatural thriller “The Isle,” it was the remote Scottish island of Eilean Shona.

Co-written and co-produced by the married Butler-Harts — and directed by Matthew — “The Isle” follows the plight of three mid-19th century shipwrecked sailors, who make their way to a tiny island, cloaked in mist. There they meet the four residents: the gregarious Fingal (Dickon Tyrrell), the standoffish Douglas (Conleth Hill), his niece Lanthe (Tori Butler-Hart), and the roving madwoman, Korrigan (Alex Wilton Regan).

The three seamen (played by Alex Hassell, Graham Butler and Fisayo Akinade) quickly realize the islanders won’t make it easy for them to leave. There are no boats to ferry them home; and a mysterious wailing appears whenever they even think about escaping.

“The Isle” isn’t especially scary. It’s more of an adventure/mystery, as the heroes keep pressing their hosts — at the risk of their own lives — for more information about where they are, and about what happened to the people who used to lived there.

But the picture’s a pleasure to watch throughout, largely because of Eilean Shona. The Butler-Harts built their story around the place, and don’t squander any of the spectacular scenery. This island looks like something from a dark fairy tale — so that’s exactly what the filmmakers have made.

‘The Isle’

Not rated

Running time: 1 hour, 36 minutes

Playing: Starts Feb. 8, Laemmle Glendale, Glendale; also on VOD