THE BLOCK ISLAND SOUND (2020) Reviews and overview

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The Block Island Sound is a 2020 American horror feature film about a strange force that is influencing residents and wildlife alike. Birds are dropping out of the sky. Some people have been dropping too, into inexplicable emotional collapse.

Written and directed by Kevin McManus and Matthew McManus (as The McManus Brothers), the movie stars Michaela McManus (The Village), Chris Sheffield, Neville Archambault (13 Cameras), Jim Cummings, Ryan O’Flanagan and Jeremy Holm.


Audry Lynch (Michaela McManus) returns home to Block Island only to discover her dad (Neville Archambault) is suffering from a series of blackouts and hallucinations. After a particularly stressful night, her father goes missing, leading Audry and her brother, Harry (Chris Sheffield), to search for answers. They’ll soon find out there is one ominous thread that ties everything together, putting their family in grave danger…


“Conspiracy theories, ecological disasters, family dramas and existential crises merge into a bold and murky vision. Beautifully filmed against an unnerving backdrop, there are good performances all round and the tension never dissipates. Mixing intrigue and aggravation, The Block Island Sound is a heady journey into unknown waters.” Backseat Mafia

“Like The Beach House, The Block Island Sound mines the region’s close association with the uncanny, wriggling mythology of HP Lovecraft. Wisely, the McManus brothers opt against any big, flamboyant creature effects; they understand that Lovecraft’s power lay in what he forced his readers to imagine. We never learn the exact source of the power commanding the Lynches to unspeakable acts…” Boston Hassle

The Block Island Sound is about the moves we are willing to make to sidestep harsh truths, to save our loved ones, and to ignore the consequences of uncomfortable realities. The film doesn’t get in the viewer’s face with its philosophizing. It’s there to peel at if the various conflicts speak to you. If they don’t, then interest is liable to get lost.” Culture Crypt

” …there’s an ongoing undercurrent of concern for the more physically vulnerable characters in a context where anybody might suddenly start losing control […] Though it never quite matches the scale of its ambitions, The Block Island Sound is an intriguing and resonant piece of work that will leave viewers keen to see more from this filmmaking team.” Eye for Film

“Regardless of how you want to interpret the film, or if you simply take it as a well-told mysterious story, The Block Island Sound is a haunting and also magical experience. Although there’s a sense of despair in the end there remains an air of possibility, too.” Father Son Holy Gore

The Block Island Sound may not offer the most original family drama, but that aspect is delivered in a compelling manner by a game cast. The film is heavy on eldritch atmosphere and unsettling puzzle pieces and should please viewers looking for more than jump scares and gore.” Ghastly Grinning

“The “Sound” in Block Island Sound has a double meaning. It is the body of water where bad things happen, but it also refers to the otherworldly noises that torment the victims, designed to burrow inside the ear by Shawn Duffy. It all looks grimly realistic and sounds quite distinctive, in an unsettling kind of way. Recommended for fans of maritime-themed horror…” J.B. Spins

” …this is quite reticent about its genre elements – though an oblique explanation comes along via a Nigel Kneale-like casually significant speech, as Audry tries to explain to her daughter what her job entails before any large-scale, irrefutable phenomena come along. The title refers to the stretch of water, but also the impressive soundscape of the film…” The Kim Newman Web Site

“It’s a great example of a slow burn sci-fi thriller with supernatural tendencies that only lets you in on its secret when it feels like it’s ready. The pay off isn’t gobsmacking shocking but overall, this is a solid entry for cinephiles looking for a reason to question the way humans study our Earth.” Mother of Movies

” …the story, while maintaining mystery, has a certain stumbling about with no big point to it all other than to get to the third act revelations, where the theories come home to roost […] That payoff makes this mixed-bag of a thriller worth your time, an interesting if not terribly compelling sea tale where all the answers can be found in the sound.” Movie Nation

“Paying attention to some of the more subtle passages of dialogue early in the film will serve you well in decoding the cleverly bookended conclusion. By refusing to lazily plunder the cinematic thrift store of shlocky gore and cheap jump scares, the McManus brothers have crafted a delicate study of sibling dynamics, mental surety and the seductive nature of conspiracist ideation.” The People’s Movies

” …once the big twist has been revealed in a spectacular coup de théâtre, the McManus’ screenplay reveals its cleverness by replaying in voiceover innocuous-seeming lines of dialogue from much earlier in the film that now take on a new expository power never intended by their speaker. This is a well-tuned, increasingly tense mystery that takes us on a hallucinatory, manipulative trip, and ultimately puts us in our place.” Projected Figures

The Block Island Sound is a well-constructed puzzle box of a movie, slowly feeding its audiences pieces of crucial information in ways that could easily pass undetected. When things come together, it’s a bit like the sky opens up and reveals its intentions to you, but you really should’ve seen it coming all along.” Screen Anarchy

“With the tiniest bit of editing, The Block Island Sound could be great. It’s spooky, atmospheric, terrifically acted, and just a tentacle away from being Lovecraftian in the best way. But it also talks down to its audience a bit, stating when it should be implying and dropping too many early hints that only undermine the mystery going forward.” Tilt

“Instead of a thriller, we get a drama about an unsympathetic jerk falling apart after the death of his father. And because he is so unsympathetic and downright unlikable, it makes watching this unpleasant. But not in the way a horror film should be […] The flurry of action in the last few minutes felt tacked on rather than an organic part of the plot.” Voices from the Balcony

“The moments of snappier horror are very unsettling because they are used sparingly. Exposition is held back – the film doesn’t speak all its truths – and it ends in a clever final moment. A well-realised, inventive piece of work, The Block Island Sound is a nicely handled piece of storytelling.” Warped Perspective

The Block Island Sound features some memorable atmospheric dread and a few standout creative sequences but it lacks enough bite as a horror film and feels uneven when it comes to the emotional arc of the dramatic moments.” We All Want Someone To Shout For

Choice dialogue:

Harry [Chris Sheffield]: “Yeah, I’ll see you at the next funeral.”


The Block Island Sound is now showing on Netflix.


Chris Sheffield … Harry
Michaela McManus … Audry
Neville Archambault … Tom
Ryan O’Flanagan … Paul
Matilda Lawler … Emily
Jim Cummings … Dale
Jeremy Holm … Kurt
Heidi Niedermeyer … Jen
Willie C. Carpenter … Chief Rogers
Matthew Lawler … Officer McGarry
PJ McCabe … Gerry
Robyn Payne … Doctor Koch
Rafay Rashid … Coroner
Neil Santoro … Steve
David Crossley … Ned
Kathy Oliverio … Mourner
Ryan Gould … Cashier
Matt Giacheri … Deli Clerk

Technical details:

99 minutes
Aspect ratio: 2.39:1

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