May 20, 2019 Isabelle (Movie Review)
Imagine having a new house, new job, and a first child weeks away. It sounds like a situation where life could not be more perfect… but evil has a way of changing everything. That in mind, Director/Producer Robert Heydon (The Journey Home 2014, The Crescent 2017) and Writer Donald Martin (Toto 2015, Milton’s Secret 2016) teamed up for Isabelle, a Thriller full of paranoia and evil.
In theaters and On Demand Friday, May 24th through Vertical Entertainment, the film stars Amanda Crew (The Haunting in Connecticut 2009, Silicon Valley 2014) and Adam Brody (The O.C. series, Curfew 2019) as the unwitting, young couple at the center of it all. Larissa (Crew) and Matt (Brody) are beginning a new stage of their lives with a new, big, beautiful house in the perfect neighborhood to raise their son to arrive, Colton. Their picturesque new life has a dark hitch, though. Larissa meets their neighbor, Ann Pelway (Shelia McCarthy: The Day After Tomorrow 2004, The Umbrella Academy series) and immediately gets weird vibes. To make matters worse, Ann has a daughter, Isabelle (Zoe Belkin: The Latest Buzz 2007, Darken 2017), who mutely sits in an upstairs window just staring at Larissa at all times of the day.
Complications with Larissa’s pregnancy soon follows, her mentality changes, and she feels an evil presence is now trying to take over her life. Matt thinks she is just losing her mind and being paranoid, but the evil continues to taunt and chase Larissa. No matter what anyone says, she knows that it wants to overtake her and become her. Is she strong enough to fight back and keep herself? Or will she succumb and be lost to Matt and this world forever? In the end, will any of it even matter?
In vain of such classic films such as 1968’s Rosemary’s Baby and 1973’s The Exorcist, the most unsettling part of Isabelle is Belkin’s portrayal of the character. Though she never speaks a word, just looking at her is chilling. She exists in gray scale and there is no noticeable life present in her. Her vacant stare burns through the screen and into your soul, making her the perfect vision of evil.
Then there is Crew’s Larissa, a tragic example of the lows and highs of motherhood. Having a child should be a joyous occasion, but with the growth of the baby in the mother’s womb, a woman becomes susceptible to both physical and emotional changes. It makes perfect sense that this would be the time that any evil presence lurking near would become jealous, because evil hates happy people.
Which leads us to the dynamic between Larissa and Brody’s Matt, one that is quite curious. They have obviously been together for a very long time, but the couple does not make any sense. This is not the fault of the actors themselves, but of the characters written. The pair seem so disconnected from each other. Matt refuses to listen to his wife as she tries to tell him she feels something is wrong – evil lurking in the shadows. In a way, the couple’s disconnect does make sense as every person processes traumatic life events differently. Still, it is frustrating and difficult to root for the couple to overcome the fight against the entity and to see Matt as a true prize.
Through everything, there is an overriding theme to Isabelle about the will to live. The spiritual healer, Pedro Salazar (Michael Miranda: Suits 2011, Georgetown 2019), urges Larissa to fight and to continue to choose life. There is the idea that through Larissa’s grief and depression she no longer appreciates the life she has, thus opening a door for the evil presence to take over. Unfortunately, if there is an evil presence around this gives them an invitation to try and take over, and evil always wants to be a part of this world.
Overall, 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 gives Isabelle 3 out of 5 stars.