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Total Count: 11


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User Ratings: 2,814
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Movie Info

An experiment in bovine genetic modification goes horrifically wrong in writer/director Billy O'Brien's debut feature, Isolation. John Lynch stars as Dan a cattle farmer on the remote Irish countryside, whose ex, Orla (Essie Davis of the Matrix films), a veterinarian, has convinced him to take part in a profit-driven experiment on his cows, run by John (Marcel Iures), an officious scientist who seems very concerned with maintaining secrecy. Orla is conducting a routine check on a pregnant cow, and her hand is inside the animal, checking the unborn calf, when something bites at her. John is called to the farm, and reassures them that the safety checks were all okay. He's more concerned with the presence of a caravan just outside the farm. The caravan is occupied by Jamie (Sean Harris of 24 Hour Party People) and Mary (Ruth Negga of Breakfast on Pluto), a desperate young couple who are apparently hiding out from something. That night, after Orla and John have left, Dan hears his cow wailing. Dan's phone is out, so he reluctantly turns to Jamie for help. After a protracted and painful delivery, Orla turns up, and decides to "shut it all down." She kills the mother and the calf. Examining the calf, she realizes that it was born pregnant, and the "severely malformed" fetuses have distinctly un-cowlike exoskeletons. Unfortunately for all involved, one of the offspring survives, and when John finally shows up, he suggests that the farm be quarantined, as there may be a danger of "infection." Isolation was shown by the Film Society of Lincoln Center as part of the 2006 Film Comment Selects series.


Critic Reviews for Isolation

All Critics (11) | Top Critics (1) | Fresh (7) | Rotten (4)

  • Novice writer-director Billy O'Brien brings a seriousness of purpose and a modicum of showmanship to the task of serving generic B-movie cheese in Isolation

    Oct 20, 2005

    Joe Leydon

    Top Critic
  • Working from a rather inauspicious premise ... writer-director Billy O'Brien conjures a remarkable genre achievement: a somber, sad, and absolutely convincing film that is also genuinely terrifying.

    Jul 11, 2008 | Full Review…
  • Isolation is a claustrophobic, increasingly icky chiller that is just as horrifying for its underlying ideas as for the more visceral shocks that it presents on screen.

    Jun 13, 2007 | Rating: 4.5/5 | Full Review…
  • Taking itself far too seriously and nearly devoid of suspense, Isolation gets kudos for a nice try... but I can't recommend it.

    Oct 13, 2006
  • Fans of good old-fashioned creature features should be very pleased...

    Aug 5, 2006 | Rating: 7/10 | Full Review…
  • Isolation is a great film that shifts effortlessly from brooding and dramatic darkness to edge of your seat action.

    Jul 19, 2006 | Rating: 4/5 | Full Review…

Audience Reviews for Isolation

  • Mar 14, 2015
    Where Isolation differs from the following year's Black Sheep is that the latter knew how ridiculous killer farm animals would make for a horror film. Isolation didn't seem to have that figured out, so you spend your time laughing AT it rather than WITH it.
    Gimly M Super Reviewer
  • Dec 19, 2013
    Like Alien on errrr.... transgenic killer cows? It's not actually the cows that are the killers, which would turn into a very silly movie, but "something else". Fun but takes itself too seriously with such a wacky premise even for b-horror standards. Meks excellent use of it's very small budget, with slick cinematography, convincing enough effects, well acted through and through and featuring some truly repulsive sightings.
    Francisco G Super Reviewer
  • Oct 26, 2011
    7.2/10 Few modern horror movies are made equal; some are bad, some are good, and some are even great. I'm slightly more forgiving than most when it comes to criticism regarding the films of this fine, often fascinating genre; which is why I am able to bring myself to enjoy certain horror films that others might not like whatsoever. One such example is "Isolation"; a film that surprised me with its effectiveness and atmosphere. It's a ridiculous movie, but it has a good idea going for it, it wants to please genre fans; and it will. It puts us in a situation where we need to either accept it for what it is or get out. An Irish import "creature feature" that was releases straight-to-DVD in the United States, the film is not one that has great characters, a great plot, or any sort of greatness whatsoever; but it works. It's so simple too: Several people are trapped for a few days and a few nights in a farmhouse when an experiment with cows goes horribly wrong. In the beginning, we see the farmer attempting to pull a baby cow from its mother's womb; only to encounter much trouble along the way. Eventually, he is able to get it out; but almost immediately, he must kill it in fear that it is sick and mutated. The baby has been born with peculiar fangs, which it uses for biting. After it's put down, the cattle's corpse is inspected via autopsy for signs of birth defects and the like. Those observing get more than they bargained for, as within the body are several unborn fetus; and almost all of them escape and are set free onto the farm. The babies grow fast, and end up mutant cow zombies in the end. From then on out, the characters just need to worry about survival whilst these small, fast, and hungry little devils prowl the area silently and conveniently so. I like B-movies. What's classic in this genre is classic; and we must make new movies like this all-the-same. A few filmmakers are actually quite good at making B-monster movies; Billy O'Brian (the director of "Isolation") included. My guess is that he got inspired and wanted to make a traditional, old-fashioned, cheesy horror flick; stylish and scary, and one that makes plenty a mess. I appreciated it for what it was; and yes, I even enjoyed myself. This is entertainment, plain and simple. I can't say it's anything more, but I did appreciate the good amount of craft that went into it. Will everyone enjoy it? No, it's far too simple and lacking in depth for that. But what it doesn't lack is ambition, wit, and genuine thrills. By the half time, I had successfully succumbed to its absurdity. Another thing; what does the title "Isolation" imply? With a film attached to such a title, you've got to expect claustrophobia, and if that's what you want, well, then you've got it. There are some shockingly tense moments here; skillfully executed, masterfully shot, and therefore kind of brilliant. Few directors these days are as skilled and talented as Mr. O'Brian, who should most definitely go on to make bigger, better movies than this one. He's one of those filmmakers that caught a good break with his debut; which isn't too little and at the same time, not too small for my tastes. He has made a horrorshow that could make even the most cynical of genuinely grouchy bastards happy yet again. And I mean that. "Isolation" delivers the goods - according to formula and the expected clichés, yes - but it delivers nonetheless, and that's enough to impress me. While many B-movie-homages fail, this one's a sure winner; and I shall support it in any way possible. My final verdict: for horror fans, it's a must-see; I thought it was a pretty fun movie. For non-horror-fans; I just...I don't know. It's not a great horror film, so perhaps there are other, better movies that you could be watching, but if you want a time waster that can be observed to the point where it becomes a (gasp) GOOD MOVIE, then here's one to check out. "Isolation", among other things, deserves an audience and more recognition. And with a bit of luck, it shall get exactly what it deserves.
    Ryan M Super Reviewer
  • Oct 02, 2011
    It was a little slow-paced...and pretty boring at times. But it had awesome acting, and some pretty disgusting\disturbing scenes! Overall, I enjoyed it, and it brought some pretty good intensity.
    Jacob P Super Reviewer

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