Among the many movies with islands involved made over the years, things don’t really seem to end well for the characters. Take M. Night Shyamalan’s mystery thriller ‘Old’ for example, we find a mysterious beach on an island that sucks the youth and life out of people, then there is ‘Fantasy Island’ the home to some truly heinous nightmare or even ‘Lost’ which follows a group of travelers stranded in an island after their plane crashes. ‘Black Island’ now streaming on Netflix is described as a German chilling tale directed by Miguel Alexandre from a script, he co-wrote with Lisa Carline Hofer. The movie stars Philip Froissant, Hans Zischler, Alice Dwyer, and Mercedes Muller.
In the movie, Jonas played by Froissant is a teenage boy living on a gorgeous remote island in Germany called the North Sea with his grandfather Friedrich a role by Hans Zischler. But the two don’t get along at all and the old man takes his grandson in since there is no one else on the Island to take care of him. This is because Jonas is now an orphan who experienced immense tragedy after his parents and grandmother died tragically in separate accidents. He’s basically trying to pick up the pieces and move on with his life. Speaking of life, the lad has great dreams for his future. He aspires to be a writer and just like any other youngster, he spends his time riding his bike around the neighborhood with his friends including Nina embodied by Mercedes Muller who also serves as his love interest and helps him get through his traumatic situation.
However, another tragedy affecting the bloke happens. His German teacher is involved in an accident abroad and a mysterious substitute Helena Jung played by Alice Dwyer arrives to fill in. However, immediately after the stranger’s arrival, weird things start to happen. This young tutor takes some special interest in Jonas as she encourages him to explore his writing talents while effortlessly seducing him. As the teacher student duo grows closer Nina becomes extremely suspicious and tries to warn Jonas that things might not be as they seem with their beloved substitute. Jonas brushes off Nina’s allegations not knowing that Helena has a lethal agenda hiding behind her seemingly endearing aura which will change the lives of the people on the island forever.
The audience however knows that Helena is no saint as in the beginning of the movie, we see a woman being mauled to death by a dog while another watches hatefully as it happens. There are two more dead bodies beside the fresh corpse which turn out to be Jonas’s parents. Now the audience learns that Helena is indeed the villain with a bone to pick with the orphan’s family. These parts meant to be suspenseful are given out too early hence missing the whole mystery point.
Most of the performances are exhilarating to some extent however it’s crucial to note the masterful delivery by Mercedes Muller. Nina’s curiosity about the new strange tutor causes her to pay the price however her expressive eyes definitely take away the performance. She’s got that unique graceful, mesmerizing screen presence that gives out major Hollywood star vibes. Thinking of it now sort of reminds many of a young Marion Cotillard and if given the chance to break out she’ll definitely be one to be reckoned with.
When it comes to character developments, the audience is not given the bigger picture hence one has to struggle to figure out things which is pretty discouraging and tiring. For example, from the word go, it’s clear that Helena shouldn’t have passed all the background checks required in order to work in a school but no explanation whatsoever is offered as to why she got in any way. Nina tries to shed some light on this issue at some point sadly her storyline comes to an abrupt end before the audience’s interest is cultivated well enough to invest in the movie.
Though ‘Black Island’ has the makings of a fearlessly dark and depressing flick when it starts, it definitely falls short of the chills and thrills if any at all. There are great moments in the film that would have blown up if this movie was given enough time to cook through. Its attempts of trying to deliver a bone-chilling tale fall flat on its face. It’s definitely a perfect example of planting seeds one has no interest whatsoever in watching them sprout. It’s disappointing really considering the movie has great potential to bring in the wow factor sadly rather than capitalizing on its strong points ‘Black Island’ paves its way through explicit uncomfortable sex scenes accompanied by meaningless conversations.
This title is definitely slow, with no heart racing or adrenaline pumping situations to earn it a place among slow burn thrillers. In fact, by the time audiences learn the truth behind everything that’s been happening, the movie is almost over making the drama that ensues a little bit too rushed.
One thing is for sure though as this title features some really stunning locations and captures them with cinematography so well crafted that they can easily put a decorator’s paint chart to shame. The production quality is definitely high evident in the way it looks, the light shadows are perfectly balanced, the acting is quite okay, and the villain is creepy enough to keep the trick going. Froissart’s role as the confused Jonas is quite good and believable add that to the massive breathtaking landscapes, the various ranges of color used, and the end product is a visually appealing piece of art.
There is absolutely no doubt that there were very high expectations for ‘Black Island’ definitely from the exquisite setup and the storytelling magic, however, the presumed psychological thriller fails to impress in terms of content and leaves audiences dissatisfied. It simply becomes a flick showcasing the beautiful locations it takes place in and nothing more.