Wednesday, 13 July 2016

Fear Island - film review

Fear Island is a 2009 thriller film which mixes some familiar plot elements with a structure slightly suggestive of The Usual Suspects. It really isn't in the same league as the more famous film, and some of the reviews I've read on the internet are very negative. But for me, it's a perfectly watchable movie, short and pacy enough to maintain interest.

We start off with a young woman, Jenna (played by Haylie Duff) emerging as the only survivor from a group of six people who had gone on a party break on a seemingly idyllic island. A grumpy detective treats her as the prime suspect, but a female doctor appointed to the case by the D.A. takes a more sympathetic view, as Jenna recounts what has happened in instalments, as her memory comes back to her.

In other words, this is a flashback story, and as many writing guides make clear, flashbacks are tricky devices to handle. On the whole, I thought the screenplay managed the switches between past and present pretty well. I came up with a theory about the case after only five minutes, but happily it proved wide of the mark, and although one of the main plot twists was predictable, another one - although by no means original - was neatly handled.

The cast isn't exactly star-studded, and I didn't think they managed to engage the viewer's emotions as well as would have been desirable. Films such as In Fear and Eden Lake do this much better, in my opinion. It always helps if one can identify closely with the plight of characters who are being terrorised, and I didn't feel that level of empathy here. But the plot passed muster, and it's not by any means a bad example of this type of film. Overall, I'm glad I watched it.

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