In the next backyard party from the Krasinskis and the Zombies, be on the lookout for the Butler-Harts.
With The Isle, Tori and Matthew are the latest couple to cut into the horror genre with matrimonial slices like the creators of A Quiet Place (read Matthew Goudreau’s review here) or The Devil’s Rejects; she as a principal cast member and he the person directing her. The duo may have more bragging rights, though, since they are also credited as the mythological-inspired chiller’s writers, producers, casting directors and foley artists.
In a way, the Butler-Harts were reprising their roles in Two Down, or their previous feature film released in 2015. On that note, it was an electrician in that production who helped the Harts found the isle for their Isle — because his family has one. As Tori recalled:
“We were a bit like, ‘OK… who owns an island?’ We were expecting something quite small (“In the middle of a lake,” Matthew added), then we turned up and it’s a full-on island that we ended up filming on! It turned out that that family is Richard Branson’s sister’s, who owns the island. They’ve always wanted people to go and film something up there. It’s absolutely beautiful.”
On Two Down’s full IMDb page there is a lighting technician named Louis Devereux. Do a two-and-two with Tori’s story and — gasp — this person is one of Vanessa Branson’s children and — another gasp — this tract is the Kate Winslet-approved Eilean Shona.
Matthew also agreed that the property has the scenic factor, which viewers will too when they see different shades and terrains both clash and caress into each other to a fittingly dreamy effect on screen. As to whether it was a cooperative crew member? Kind of, he said:
“We were up there for months — there’s virtually no Wi-Fi, no television, and all the cast and crew stayed in a big house together. Quite a creepy big house so it definitely helps with the spirit of the film. I’ve always really loved films from the ‘60s and ‘70s, so for the tenser scenes we wanted to have this slow creepiness so it gets into your bones rather than just jump scares. But, to be honest with you, it was not easy on that end either! Suddenly a feature which was meant to be there would vanish and so a lot of the time we’d rethink things with the cast and crew and replan things.”
Then there was the weather, which the duo said can be breezy one moment and gale-force winds the next. Believe in the supernatural, folks.
That said, in crafting the story, Tori and Matthew looked at the real and would use it to conceive scenes. The dangers of monthslong seafaring — maybe Mother Nature, maybe the fantastical yarns that Neptune authored (Tom Kane’s yearning soundtrack has a Celtic song, performed by Faroese singer Eivør, about a wife waiting for her sailor husband’s return). The film is set in 1846, one year after the Great Famine began (Eilean Shona’s residents had to leave the island due to a potato blight). Around this time, women would be regarded as lunatics, and admitted to asylums, for deviating from (men-made) norms.
Tori also hinted at the latter through her impassioned performance as Lanthe Innis, one of the island’s remaining residents:
“I wanted to create a role that spoke more on a horror level, about how women were treated at that time in the Victorian period. And actually the fragility of women at that time when they quite often had a lot of say and control within the household, but had to remain subservient to the men around them. I think Lanthe is a fascinating character in that she is clearly under a fear of not only this haunting, but also of her uncle (Douglas, played by “Game of Thrones”’s Conleth Hill) as well.”
But she said there was amazing strength to be found in the character as well. Matthew echoed the thought.
The Isle is about three shipwreck survivors (Graham Butler, Alex Hassell and Fisayo Akinade) discovering the truths about the island they manage to row toward, one of them being a force that wouldn’t let anyone leave.
It is currently in limited release and on VOD. The trailer is viewable below.