Static Mass Rating: 2/5
Soda Pictures 

Release date: April 22nd 2011
Certificate (UK): TBC
Running time: 90 mins

Director: Brek Taylor & Elizabeth Mitchell

Cast: Natalie Press, Colin Morgan, Janet McTeer

A few weeks ago I had the chance to see Island, a film based on the novel by Jane Rogers and directed by Brek Taylor & Elizabeth Mitchell. It’s an unusual and unsettling story, filmed on a remote Scottish island.

It tells of a young woman, Nikki Black (Natalie Press), who’s spent most of her life in foster care after being abandoned by her birth mother. Island
The only thing she’s managed to hold on to are fairy tales and she’s grown up incapable of love.

Nikki comes to focus her feelings of rage and need for revenge on her birth mother. After succeeding in tracing her whereabouts, she makes her way to the remote Hebridean Island where Phyllis (Janet McTeer) now lives as a recluse with her son Calum (Colin Morgan). Nikki doesn’t reveal she’s Phyllis’ daughter, but instead takes up lodgings under the pretence of being a student visiting the island as research for a project while she waits for the perfect moment to strike.


As time passes, Nikki warms to her brother. They tell each other stories, take long walks together and he confides in her about life on the island and how he longs to leave. Of course, Calum has no idea Nikki is his sister and grows fond of having a young woman around. Still, Nikki intends to carry out her murderous plan.

As a psychological drama, Island works very well. It maintains an atmosphere that’s menacing throughout, but at the same time treats the audience to spectacular views of and from the island, which, like Nikki, can be very cold, treacherous and unsafe if you’re unfamiliar with the terrain.


Yet there are some stumbling blocks. While the characters are certainly strong, their actions and motivations are never quite clear. We never truly understand what makes Nikki tick or what really happened during her childhood and Phyllis’ explanation for giving her up doesn’t have the strong impact it should have.

The film is hampered by long moments of showing us things but not telling us anything, adding to an already bleak landscape. Editing it down to around 30 minutes would have made Island a dark, compelling and powerful short film even if it shocking end is somewhat predictable.

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