Reviewed by

Christopher Armstead

This little low bud horror / survival thriller ĎDark Islandí starts with some lady, a nurse I was thinking at the time, fleeing in a jungle from heaven only knows what. Soon we see that she is being pursued by some other dudes in lab coats who seem to be half chasing her and half running themselves. This is cool and all but after watching the movie I donít know if this scene has any real relevance to anything. It turns out thereís a smoke monster on this island possessing people and killing people. So why were they chasing this woman? I donít believe she was a possessed smoke monster and considering Janey found a gun and started shooting people I donít think they were possessed smoke monsters either. Ultimately it looks like they were chasing her because it was something to do, or maybe they wanted to help her someway. Who knows? I need clarity.

Anyway something has gone terribly wrong on this Mystery Island. To that end Mega Corp. has dispatched a highly trained team with specialized skills to find out the deal. Leading this team is Raymond (Zero Kazama) who is our kung fu enabled commando type badass, along with his right hand lady Rachel (Mary Christina Brown) who pretty much functions in the same capacity only with higher cheekbones and boobs. Acting as our medical liaison and possessing all around research knowledge skills is Dr. Sophie Miller (Victoria Floro), Some guy named Allen will be acting as our Information Systems guru and is in possession of all kinds of critical uplink type hacking skills, and finally, unrelated to the team but necessary because he has a boat to ferry them to the island is ship captain Will Cain (Jai Koutrae) who at one time was a soldier so he possesses some backup commando type badass skills which just may come in handy.

Once our heroes get to this island it is clear something ainít right, considering the dead oily birds stuck on stakes. Some of our group journey inland to check things out further which causes them to stumble upon one of their old colleagues who, admittedly, is acting weird. Then he turns into black smoke and tries to kill them. Not cool. Will has decided he needs to get off this Dark Island but somehow, someway his

ship has been sunk. Will has also figured out that some of these people heís ferrying about arenít completely on the up and up. It turns out that Mega Corp has designed some kind of intelligent biological weapon with Raymond and Rachel being part of the team that helped design this weapon. Heaven only knows why these scientists have kung fu and gun wrangling skills. Regardless, all they want to do is destroy the weapon because if it gets loose then everybody is in trouble.

Easier said than done because killing smoke that can possess folks does pose its challenges, though it does seem to be allergic to dead crows stuck on sticks. I think. Iím kind of shaky on this whole thing. Heck, even if they could stop the monster not everybody on this team is who we think they are. Seriously. Nobody. Except maybe the shipís captain but we donít trust him either.

I admire ĎDark Islandí on some level because this is a low budget science fiction based tale that has an interesting story to tell, at least at its core, is reasonably well acted by a cast that will be unknown to most, except to those folks like me who spend far too much of their lives watching low budget obscure movies, and itís a movie that directors Sam Gorski and Niko Pueringer have managed to integrate some pretty well done and realistic special effects into their movie despite what Iím sure was a meager budget.

But while all of that was indeed admirable it doesnít necessarily equate into ĎDark Islandí actually being a good movie. The problem with ĎDark Islandí at least in my opinion, is that the story just becomes way to convoluted and tended to over-think itself as we got deeper and deeper into this movie. The cheapest part of any movie is the actual story, considering words are free, but itís also the most important part. Like we pointed out earlier, the basis of the story, while not all that original, is still intriguing as we have an evil corporation making a biological weapon that most be stopped. Simple enough. Then the story gets all twisty on us, and what follows is SPOILER STUFF so by all means, donít read if you plan to watch. But we already know that Raymond and Rachel donít actually work for Mega Corp but used to. Turns out our Information guy is a spy for Mega Corp sent to stop Raymond from stopping the weapons destruction. Turns out that Doctor Girl is a spy for Mega Corp sent to stop the weapons destruction. Maybe Mega Corp shouldíve told the I.S. dude and the Doc that they are on the same team since the I.S. dude was going to shoot the Doc in the head considering she found a anecdote for the Black Smoke Possession which Iím pretty sure was real the reason she was sent there in the first place. So instead of sending all of these spies why didnít Mega Corp just send their own team of non-spies. You know, just tell Chuck from Accounting and Sue from Procurement to jump on a boat and check it out. Everything just got so twisty that the whole thing ended up in knots.

I often find that unless you have all of this stuffed exhaustively mapped out, more times than not the easiest way to tell a story is just to keep it simple. Monster trying to kill people, people trying to stop monster, and work your way inward from there. With some decent performances, some passable special effects and lots of running and screaming dying action, ĎDark Islandí had the potential to be pretty a decent survival flick but unfortunately got too clever for its own good.

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