Isabelle – Canada | USA, 2018 – reviews

‘You’re mine’

Isabelle – formerly The Wanting – is a 2018 Canadian-American supernatural horror feature film directed by Robert Heydon from a screenplay by Donald Martin. The movie stars Amanda Crew, (Tone-Deaf; Freaks; The Haunting in Connecticut), Adam Brody (Ready or Not; Yoga Hosers), Zoë Belkin (Carrie) and Sheila McCarthy.

Plot:

An all-American couple dream of starting a family is shattered after they move into a seemingly perfect New England neighbourhood. Once settled, they soon descend into the depths of terror as they struggle to survive a genuine threat from a dark presence that appears to want to end their very lives…

Release:

Isabelle was released on VOD  in the USA on May 24, 2019.

Kew Media released Isabelle on UK digital platforms from 30th September 2019.

Reviews [click links to read more]:

Isabelle is a thrilling possession film that proves evil can invade during the lowest points of life. A decently entertaining film, although featuring an ending that might disappoint…” Cryptic Rock

“A slightly sapped color palette paints an appropriately overcast atmosphere. Echoing piano keys on the sparse score perform their part to cautiously establish eeriness. “Isabelle” gets a good deal of the way there as a mildly moody psychological thriller, but slows to a skip when it settles for spinning its wheels.” Culture Crypt

” …the film lapses too easily into cliché, suggesting a lack of confidence in its central vision – before we even get to the glowing red eyes that are pure kitsch. Pregnancy loss is obviously a highly emotive subject for some viewers so there’s no denying that this film packs a punch – it just doesn’t land it as well as it might.” Eye for Film

“Director Heydon gets the isolating psychological trauma ramped up early with the final segments truly showing Larissa’s level of the jeopardy. However, the sections linking the initial shock and final standoff don’t cover any new ground that would put the film near the top of the list in the crowded psychological horror genre.” Flick Hunter

Isabelle is an absolute misfire on so many levels, with perhaps the exception of Crew herself, who manages to ground the absurdity of the film with enough realism that you feel sorry for her whilst it all starts going incredibly bad for her […] If you were looking for a film that tackled the same issues that Isabelle wants to, then you’re better throwing your money at Brandon Christensen’s Still/Born or Jennifer Kent’s The Babadook.” HNN

“Quickly paced and based on a novel, and creepy, idea, the film fritters away its potential by delivering only a modicum of horror and compounding that disappointment with some creaky performances. Isabelle could gain some traction at genre-specific festivals and on streaming from horror completists, but it’s too average to stand out and the scares are too few and far between…” The Hollywood Reporter

“Its (literal) demonization of a disabled character is in poor taste, and the exposition is executed in a heavy-handed fashion, with two different characters Googling the Satanic abuse backstory of the neighbours. Wrapping up with about four different endings can’t disguise the fact that none of them are particularly good.” Horrorscreams Videovault

” …the ending is decidedly underwhelming and likely to induce more groans than gasps. With that said, this remains a watchable little chiller that gets a pass thanks to an efficiently delivered set of scares and a pair of likeable performances.” Nerdly

“The only disappointment in the film is the missed opportunity of some of the supporting performers that round out the cast. {…] You want more from their involvement in the story. Regardless, the result is a satisfying 80 minutes. A fine and effectively creepy score by Mark Korven is a stand out as well.” Nightmarish Conjurings

“I enjoyed Isabelle, although it will only be a one time watch for me. It could have been longer, more developed and offered something different to the subgenre.  However, the performances, including  Zoë Belkin, are worth a watch.” Pop Horror

” …what’s good is really well done, but the first three-quarters of the movie feels very split. Approaching horror themes through the lens of pregnancy, miscarriage, and near-death experiences is a fantastic and not often explored area, but working in another side of things takes focus away and feels out of place until close to the end.” Sordid Cinema

” …Isabelle has little or nothing new to offer […] Credit goes to Mark Korven’s generic score of discordant strings and swelling reverberations for helping to make these tired devices work, although the ending is pretty much a total bust, undoing what few horrors have come before. A shame.” Variety

“The film runs 80 minutes but pulls in subplots about mental illness in Larissa’s family, marital issues between her and Matt, Isabelle’s health issues, etc. There are so many story threads stuffed into the film none of them get developed. Everything just floats around, with nothing becoming compelling.” Voices from the Balcony

Background:

A long-time fan of scary movies, Donald Martin’s screenplay is his homage to Rosemary’s Baby and The Exorcist, two classic films that loomed large in his imagination while he was growing up: “Rosemary’s Baby isn’t a story about Satan. It’s about a marriage. The Exorcist isn’t a story about a possession. It’s about a mother and a daughter. These stories are firmly rooted in reality,” Donald said.

Similarly, Isabelle is about a couple. “It’s a story that, initially, is about a woman’s depression after losing a baby and her husband’s inability to grasp the full emotional implications of their son being stillborn,” explains Martin. “The husband was always the person who said, “Everything’s going to be alright. Everything’s going to be alright.” But, suddenly, this couple finds themselves in a scenario where the husband can’t say that anymore.”

Producer/director Rob Heydon made his decision to join the team based on the strength of the script. “I just couldn’t stop reading it. I kept turning the pages, wanting to find out what happens next. Donald Martin mastered the twists, the turns and the surprises. I was in.”

Cast and characters:

  • Amanda Crew … Larissa Kane – Tone-Deaf; Freaks; The Haunting in Connecticut
  • Adam Brody … Matt Kane – Ready or Not; Yoga Hosers; Regression; Jennifer’s Body; The Ring
  • Zoë Belkin … Isabelle Pelway
  • Sheila McCarthy … Ann Pelway
  • Booth Savage …Clifford Kane
  • Michael Miranda … Pedro Salazar
  • Dayo Ade … Father Lopez
  • David Tompa … Doctor Karl Neidorf
  • Zoe Doyle… Doctor Phoebe Chan
  • Shanice Banton … Carol Murphy
  • Krista Bridges … Jessica

Filming locations:

Hamilton, Ontario, Canada (George Street)
Albany, New York
Saratoga Springs, New York

Production companies:

  • Lazarus Effects
  • Out of the Blue…
  • Entertainment
  • Rob Heydon Productions
  • The Wanting Film

Related:

Still/Born – Canada, 2017

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