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Fear Island

D: Michael Storey / 95m

Cast: Aaron Ashmore, Haylie Duff, Lucy Hale, Kyle Schmid, Anne Marie DeLuise, Martin Cummins, Jacob Blair, Jessica Harmon, Jim Thorburn

Told in flashback by the lone survivor of a group of teens spending one last summer vacation together, and who find themselves at the mercy of a killer, Fear Island is a mystery/thriller/horror movie that tries to throw in more twists than a Chubby Checker dance competition.  When Jenna (Duff) is found covered in blood and clutching a knife she is immediately arrested by Detective Armory (Cummins).  Before he can bully a confession from her, police psychologist Dr Chalice (DeLuise) takes charge, and slowly, Jenna – who has very little memory of what took place – begins to tell the story of what happened on the island.

As Jenna recalls the events that led to the deaths of her friends, it looks at first as if there is a killer on the island with them, but then it appears that the killer may be one of the group – but who?  A further mystery unfolds surrounding the death of another girl the year before – were the friends involved, and are they being targeted because of it?  And is Jenna telling the truth about what happened, or is she warping the story to avoid incriminating herself?

Fear Island - scene

There’s a moment during Fear Island when one of the characters goes in search of her dog – alone – in the woods – by herself.  As this hoary old device is trotted out for the four billionth time, the full extent of the movie’s reliance on horror cliches becomes all too apparent.  As well as the brooding member of the group who is the initial suspect, through to the ripped devil-may-care lothario who cares only about himself, Fear Island allows itself the merest nod to adequate characterisation, throws in a few red herrings, and tries to make its mystery more difficult to unravel than it actually is.  The scenes with Jenna, Dr Chalice and Detective Armory are risible, and as a result, Duff struggles to maintain any continuity of tone or emotional distress.  The rest of the cast fare equally as badly, with only Ashmore providing a performance that keeps itself a few notches above adequate.

The island location is underused, and any sense of terror is undermined by director Storey’s inability to create tension or increasing dread.  The script is largely to blame, but the execution is so ham-fisted it just makes matters worse.  The action is often poorly framed and the editing seems intent on removing all tension or thrills from the murder sequences.  By the movie’s end, it’s as much a relief for the audience as it must have been for the cast and crew when filming was completed.

Rating: 3/10 – an underwhelming combination of I Know What You Did Last Summer and The Usual Suspects, Fear Island fails to generate any excitement at any stage of the proceedings; one for single location murder mystery enthusiasts only.

Originally posted on thedullwoodexperiment website.