Wednesday, 11 December 2013

Review - Uninhabited (2010 - Dir. Bill Bennett)

An uninhabited Pacific island surrounded by the Great Barrier Reef. A couple of naïve love birds making camp for a holiday of relaxation and scuba diving. A mysterious shack in the centre of the island. What could possibly go wrong?

The minimal ingredients and cheap production will draw comparisons to other ‘abandoned in the wilderness’ films such as Open Water and Frozen, but this is a far more coherent and sophisticated piece of film-making than the standard. It’s based on actual events and until around an hour into proceedings I still wasn’t sure what genre I was experiencing. It’s slow burning, beautifully shot and it’s probably best described as mysterious. It all unravels at a leisurely pace which lets the atmosphere percolate and develop to the point where the menace is dark and treacle thick, and essentially that’s what elevates it above and beyond every-day tales of uninhabited islands. Perhaps the fact that the director filmed it on location at a deserted Pacific island helped generate this sense of isolation and dread.

The two leads are adequate enough without setting the world on fire. They’re not especially irritating, but neither are they well fleshed out enough engender any sense of empathy in the viewer. Geraldine Hakewill (Beth) is the best of the pair with an understated and believable performance as the off duty marine biologist. Henry James (Harry) is less convincing in an Australian surf dude kind of way, with just the hint of Neighbours about his performance. If anything they’re worse together, when they’re either over the top lovey-dovey or gormlessly making stupid decisions.

It’s enjoyable enough, and pound for pound it’s way better than your average Hollywood blockbuster. There’s a definite story, a semi-believable situation and a certain sense of creepiness. With limited expectations it’s more fun than mowing the lawn, but less exciting than lower league football.

(I've watched this too... and completely hated it. The characters severely irritated me right from the beginning and Doccortex's statement that they gormlessly make stupid decisions is possibly the biggest understatement ever. You're on a completely uninhabited island with an emergency phone and phone number of a bloke with a boat. But ooh aye, there's some footprints that don't belong to you. And there's a creepy shack. What would you do? Exactly. But no. They don't even use the phone when someone starts sniffing round the washing on their line (that just so happens to consist of her undergarments). Complete idiots that deserved to die in frame one. I could have coped with watching the sea lap against the shore for an hour and a half, but these two feckless cretins... beyond belief. The biggest irony is that I saw this just after I'd seen this nifty short:

The only upside is that it's technically well made. But you can't polish a steaming pile of mustard coloured dog poop that looks suspiciously like it contains dead maggots. So I'll give it:

If you like this you could try:
Open Water, Frozen, Wolf Creek.


  1. more fun then mowing the lawn! yes! lol

    1. I'd have to disagree with Doccortex on that one. I'd rather have an horrendous lawnmower accident involving my foot, the rotor blades and a severed live cable that whips up and delivers 5 million volts to my eyeball than watch this again.

  2. The same 1/10 as Big Tits Zombie!! So harsh! Easily more fun than mowing the lawn.

    And when we lived in Barnsley they were always nicking the washing off the line and leaving mysterious footprints in the mud and not once did I reach for the emergency phone. And that's real life.

    1. Not harsh. Big Tits Zombie possibly had more going for it in that it had a vaguely likeable lead character. This has only got the technical side. 1/10 is perfectly fair.

      The difference with the Barnsley situation is that it's not supposed to be deserted (the town centre may be, but that's another matter). Anyone starts sniffing round my pants on an uninhabited island and it's emergency phone time. Admittedly there wouldn't have been much of a film if they had used it, but seeing as though there are some supernatural happenings why not get them to try the phone straight away but it doesn't work. There could have just been a creepy girl's voice on there or something. Mobile phones are the bane of the modern horror film so it's best to get them out of the way as soon as possible. Even with that change the characters were still too irritating to care about. Completely hated it.

  3. Hate is such a negative emotion Evil. You've just got to forgive and forget the little emergency phone issue and go with the flow. To be fair they don't actually know they're in a horror film and they are Australian. Just imagine that guy who made the Wicker Tree was director and then we'd be in 8/10 territory. And if you want to examine gormless character behaviour there's no better place to start than the afore-mentioned Wicker Tree episode anyway...

  4. Hated the boring story. Hated the stupid decision making. Really hated the characters. (Even ignoring the emergency phone issue I still wanted them both to die because they're so irritating.) Hate is actually quite fun. I love hating stuff: the amusing Orange adverts at the cinema, dancers, musicals, hummus, mobile phones, the word 'awesome', Dawn French, in fact, most things. What would I do with my time if I couldn't hate?

    As for The Wicker Tree, I was expecting it be really bad, it just couldn't get anywhere near the quality of The Wicker Man. And it doesn't. But I thought it was fun. A film from another time granted, but I think that's what makes me like it. Plus the characters don't really annoy me. (He is a cowboy after all.) I was initially a bit giddy giving it an 8 (relief at the fact I'd enjoyed it) but I've since downgraded it to a 7 after rewatching it. And I will watch it again. I love the bit where the Laddie gets captured, it's pretty disturbing stuff (it gives me the same feeling as the scene in Theatre of Blood where the bloke gets knifed through polythene sheeting). And the ending is pure Hammer. Fair enough, there is a bit of gormless decision making but there's other stuff to like. In Uninhabited the only good thing is the technical side, hence the 1/10 rating.

    Actually, that's made me think: can I come up with 7 things that I like about The Wicker Tree to justify the rating. Let's have a go:

    1. The Hammer/Amicus atmosphere.
    2. The Wicker Tree design
    3. Some of the music (not all)
    4. The death of the Laddie scene
    5. The shot of Beth stood against the burning Wicker Tree
    6. Donkey head
    7. The ending

    I know most people wouldn't agree about The Wicker Tree (or the above list of quality features) but I still like it.

    Maybe the best thing for people to do is watch Uninhabited for themselves and see what they think about this controversial issue. (Just so I don't have to watch it again...)