Elder Island – USA, 2016

‘Some men are so evil… even death rejects them.’

Elder Island is a 2016 survival horror film co-produced and directed by Darrin James from a screenplay co-written with Fabricio Cerioni. It stars Nate Scholz, Jamie Bernadette and Erica Overholt.

Elder Island. 1856. Peter Wiggentstein turned to the men of the five island families around him and warned, “Tell nothing of this,” as the men all looked at the body of their former Reverend – gunned down just outside his own home – and a decision was made. They secretly buried the body on Graves Island, and the reign of America’s first and only king ended; but for every end, there is always a new beginning, for an evil was born that night…

Review:

Elder Island is a plodding supernatural slasher in which a group of filmmakers arrive at an insular island community to shoot a documentary about ‘The Reverend’, only to find themselves endangered by the secretive locals and the mysterious, murderous thing in the woods.

What might have been a mildly interesting story of sophisticated townies versus sinister yokels who know more than they are letting on and a murderous force is essentially scuppered by a weak storyline, bad acting and derivative ideas. There’s nothing in Elder Island that you haven’t seen before – and haven’t seen done rather more effectively.

The pacing is all over the place, with scenes that should have dramatic impact being as flat as a pancake thanks to a sluggish score and actors who treat the discovery of a dead colleague with all the emotion of someone missing a bus. They are not helped by the fact that their characters are one-dimensional clichés and Darrin James’ direction, which seems rather non-committal. And any plot twists that the film might have won’t come as a surprise to anyone who has seem more than a few horror films (which I’m guessing is you, dear reader). The gore scenes are badly handled and the tension is non-existent.

James does somehow persuade his actresses to disrobe – always something unexpected in a film that is clearly so cheap that you doubt anyone was being paid for their participation – but that’s scant compensation. Things build to a climax that needs rather more lighting than is supplied and depends on us suddenly developing an affinity for a bunch of thinly drawn characters to work. A shame really, as there are ideas here – admittedly, all from other films – that ought to be be effective.

David Flint, HORRORPEDIA

Other reviews:

Elder Island isn’t a great movie and not frightening in the slightest but at 80 minutes in run-time it wasn’t a slog to get through either. The limited FX and makeup are totally serviceable and there are some ideas here as well a couple of redeemable performances, specifically the amiable Peavy.” Alan Kelly, Gruesome magazine

“…a piece of survival horror with a healthy amount of well-executed on-screen action and meanness, a very likeable or love-to-hateable cast of characters embodied by a very competent cast of actors…” Mike Haberfelner, Search My Trash

” …some of the audio in this picture is preposterous, with dialog being drowned out by the score (which by the way is really bad as well) and levels changing from scene to scene. Another issue is the amount of filler among the killer, at an hour and twenty minutes this thing should breeze right on by, but it doesn’t…” Daniel XIII, That’s Not Current

Main cast:

  • Nate Scholz – Grimm; Assignment: Unexplained; The Horror of Barnes Folly
  • Jamie Bernadette – The 6th Friend; All Girl’s Weekend; 4/20 Massacre; et al
  • Erica Overholt
  • Sean Peavy
  • Jordan Trovillion
  • Alora Catherine Smith
  • Danny Hicks
  • Melissa Anschutz
  • Timothy Patrick Quill
  • Michael Robert Brandon
  • Christopher Hohman
  • Jake Rotger
  • Darrin James
  • Johnny Flynn
  • Donavan Darius

Filming locations:

Beaver Island, Brighton, Ferndale, Livonia, Royal Oak, Michigan, USA

Image credits: Gruesome magazine

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