Isolation 119 is a low budget indie horror with high aspirations.
The project is a first time outing for writer, director and star Kevin Baker who puts many to shame where effort and perseverance are concerned.
Whilst staying at this brother’s place, Jack has a few nasty experiences including a visit from a ruthless loanshark. He’s given a limited time to repay one his brother’s debts, but focussing on doing so isn’t easy as he is soon haunted by nightmarish apparitions in the house.
After some investigating, he realises that a demon is also on his case and wants him dead (preferably by suicide) and a masked spectre-like messenger soon gives him a deadly ultimatum.
With his life in danger and time against him, Jack must battle insanity and paid thugs to have any chance of survival.
The first thing that strikes you about Isolation 119 is that it is an incredibly small production. A small team and a small budget.
Apart from the fact that it’s set on location in Thailand, it’s obvious that this small scale has led to it lacking in some key areas. These are equipment (lighting and sound), cast – all of which are clearly amateur – and the story/script which is messy and at times, confusing.
It’s plain to see that this is a first time, full length production for Kevin and sadly first time productions are rarely (if ever) any good.
That’s not to say that the passion isn’t there though.
Isolation 119 does have some good qualities. The general idea isn’t the worst, and with a little more thought and some professional assistance with writing the path of the story could have been made more clear. This too would have allowed the director to focus more on what he’s trying to convey rather than getting too distracted by scenes that look nice but have no relevance to the story. Instead, too much time is spent filming certain actions or subjects (like local wildlife), which may look nice or have been shot in a creative way but just aren’t needed.
And it’s the distractions such as these that make the film confusing.
There are also odd moments of comedy thrown in, which also don’t make sense to the predominantly dark story, and the music in the title scenes (which are used to introduce characters) is peculiar and mis-judged.
It would seem that the actors are all first timers too. Which is a shame. Kevin, who plays out main character Jack is wooden and doesn’t manage to convey the terror and frustration that a man in his situation would be feeling.
And it’s perhaps this ‘do it all yourself’ approach that has allowed for the film to wander from its promising path. It’s hard to be objective and take full directorial control of a film if you are the main character in it.
I realise that it’s not cheap or easy to find good talent and take it to Thailand for production, but this is perhaps where one of the biggest problems lies. Location seems to have been more of a priority than finding the right team to make this idea come alive. You can find an abundance of capable, aspiring actors and actresses online for little cost in the UK. Unless it’s essential that your story is filmed in another part of the world, you’re far better off doing it for less cost and to a higher standard over here.
In this cirumstance, casting someone else as Jack would have allowed Kevin focus fully on directing.
Isolation 119 is a labour of love and it’s great that aspiring film makers are devoting their time to creating full length independent horror films. But it’s a shame when all of that investment in equipment and time is let down by corner cutting elsewhere.
No doubt Isolation 119 will have been a great learning experience for Kevin Baker to build upon. It’s an ‘A’ for effort but some way short of that in terms of being a good horror film.