BITS 2018: Our Review of ‘Isabelle’

Posted in BITS 2018, Festival Coverage, Movies by - November 26, 2018
BITS 2018: Our Review of ‘Isabelle’

Larissa and Matt Kane are the perfect American couple. They’re young and attractive; he’s got some successful legal job where he talks about “drafting up the papers” a lot; they’ve moved into a beautiful new house in quiet suburbia; and to top it all off, they’re expecting a beautiful baby boy in just a number of weeks. Everything’s great, except for the fact that the neighbours are weird shut-ins and Larissa keeps sensing an evil presence in their new home, which probably has something to do with the ghostly-looking girl that keeps staring at her from the upstairs window next door.

From this fairly generic premise proceeds an even more generic parade of the same kind of horror movie tropes that you’ve seen in any number of haunted house/possession/evil child/pregnancy or general supernatural offerings. As Isabelle’s presence becomes more intrusive, she brings with her the usual grab bag of ghost tricks, including strange smells, sudden appearances and disappearances and, of course, that classic bathroom mirror jump-scare. This leads to a lot of frantic Internet searching about the history of the house next door, which includes your typical garden-variety satanic ritual abuse activity.

Isabelle is so by-the-numbers that it feels like the script was Xeroxed together (do people still Xerox, actually?) from a hundred other recent horror flicks, sapping any tension from the proceedings because it all just feels painfully familiar.

The one thing the film has going for it is Isabelle herself, who has a spooky appearance and, as played by Zoë Belkin, a disturbing and menacing aura. But there’s only so much she can do while stuck behind a window away from the main action and once the climax does hit, it’s a case of too-little-too-late. She needs a better movie to haunt.

This post was written by
After his childhood dream of playing for the Mighty Ducks fell through, Mark turned his focus to the glitz and glamour of the movies. He's covered the extensive Toronto film scene for online outlets and is a filmmaker himself, currently putting the final touches on a low-budget (okay, no-budget) short film to be released in the near future. You can also find him behind the counter as product manager of Toronto's venerable film institution, Bay Street Video.
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