Dir: Michael J. Bassett
Star: Toby Kebbell, Karly Greene, Ben McKay, Sean Pertwee

When one of their room-mates commits suicide, the rest of the dormitory at Moorgate Youth Custody Center are taken camping to a deserted island as a 'character-building' exercise. They're a motley crew, under warden Jed (Pertwee): killers, sociopaths and malcontents all, though ill-adapted to life under canvas. Especially when it soon becomes clear that the island is nowhere near as deserted as it should be - and that one of the other inhabitants not only holds a very serious grudge against the inmates, they have the necessary skills and equipment to make them pay for their past crimes. It's a straighforward enough concept, but is executed with plenty of energy and some style, leaving it a pleasant surprise. A key element is perhaps that the story doesn't bother trying to conceal the who or why, preferring to concentrate on the what: termination by steel trap, fire and hungry canine, to mention just a few, some of which certainly are enthusiastic enough for their purpose here.

There's definitely an element of Lord of the Flies to this, as the group disintegrates from within, as much as due to the implacable threat from outside, and survival becomes a question of abandoning all pretense at civilized behaviour, since it's clear the foe has no such compulsions. Callum (Kebbell) is the one in the group who adapts most readily to this, going from the quiet type who just wants to do his time without bothering anyone, to...well, let's just say it's an interesting character arc, albeit one that would likely bring him into conflict with PETA. The film manages to avoid the usual pitfalls of absolute predictability, with the deaths proving to be surprises far more often than most in the genre. Pertwee heads a solid cast with his usual effective gruffness, and the film is a decent, entertaining and appropriately British take on the wilderness survival genre.

[December 2008]

Isle be damned
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