Isolation Billy O'Brien

Isolation is The Thing on a farm. Dan, a proud Irishman, lets a research firm experiment on his stock for a promised cash payment. Trouble starts when one of his cattle gives birth to a deformed animal. Orla, a research assistant, dissects it to discover more creatures inside. They're small, squid-like abominations with sharp teeth and external skeletons. Most are destroyed, but one gets away to wreak havoc on the farm, its inhabitants and the animals. There are some glaring marks against this film. The mad-as-a-hatter scientist has a few over-the-top reactions that seem more like melodrama than justified anger. The creature, when it makes an appearance, looks like a rabid shrimp. And the high-pitched music seems more appropriate for SCTV than a theatrical release. But the remainder is pretty solid. John Lynch is believable as a troubled man who needs cash to save his farm. Ruth Negga and Sean Harris give great supporting performances as a couple squatting near Dan's land, running from their family troubles. The real star is the farm; it's creepy in an intelligent, atmospheric way that makes it just as scary during the day as it is at night. The colour scheme is hypnotising, especially at the end when our hero emerges with a blood-spattered face against a snowy backdrop. The movie could have ended there, but instead chose a tacked-on ending we've all seen a million times before. Unfortunately, it'll be the final nail in Isolation's longevity coffin. (Frog/The Bureau/Element)