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THE BLOCK ISLAND SOUND (2020)
Directed & written by Kevin McManus, Matthew McManus.
Starring Chris Sheffield, Michaela McManus, Neville Archambault, Ryan O’Flanagan, Matilda Lawler, Jim Cummings, Jeremy Holm, Heidi Niedermeyer, Willie C. Carpenter, Matthew Lawler, PJ McCabe, Robyn Payne
A bizarre series of events befall a family living in a small coastal town off of Brock Island, Rhode Island, when the patriarch Tom (13 CAMERAS’ Neville Archambault) goes missing at sea. Haunted by ghostly images and frequent blackouts, Tom’s son Harry (Chris Sheffield) and daughter Audry (Michaela McManus) try to put the clues together and decipher who or what is responsible for the death of tons of fish and birds around the island, along with their missing father.
Fans of slow burn horror are going to be the target audience for THE BLOCK ISLAND SOUND. This is definitely a film that takes its time, peppering in snippets of weirdness that eventually lead to some kind of answers, but even those offered are rather obtuse. THE BLOCK ISLAND SOUND definitely chooses to immerse the viewer in the sights and sounds of the mysterious events occurring and this immersion is quite thorough as you can almost smell the rot of the fish as you watch this authentic looking and feeling film. It definitely communicates the dismal life of a small fishing town, from the lonely bars to the water-logged boats. It’s this attention to detail that gives this film a charm that will entrance those who like the immersion into other cultures.
If that type of thing isn’t for you, then you’re going to have a tough slog through THE BLOCK ISLAND SOUND. There’s a lot of moping and drinking and family members hollering back and forth with one another. There’s a whole lot of drama going on that I found to be somewhat tedious despite the local colors. The film does manage to sprinkle in some intriguing moments of shock and nightmare. A lot of this has to do with the awesomeness that is Neville Archambault. This guy was made for horror and I hope he sticks with the genre. While Archambault’s character goes missing early on, his ghostly apparition appears to Tom throughout the story, haunting and manipulating him to lose his mind. There’s something primal and terrifying about Archambault’s gruff demeanor, even though he is given a lot more heart and soul in THE BLOCK ISLAND SOUND than we saw in his performances as the creepy voyeur in 13 and 14 CAMERAS.
The rest of the cast is strong as well, selling the high family drama going on. It managed to keep my attention all the way through. There’s definitely a BROTHERS MCMULLIN vibe going on with this troubled North Eastern family, but the film rotates between the drama and the paranormal pretty evenly. The ending doesn’t necessarily answer all questions, but it does culminate in a way that feels big, despite the meager budget. Never did I feel like filmmakers Kevin McManus and Matthew McManus overstretched their resources. THE BLOCK ISLAND SOUND is a small, but potent little paranormal encounter that doesn’t overstay its welcome and knows how to tell a story within its limits. Archambault’s mere presence elevates this one. And if you don’t mind some heavy doses of drama and atmosphere with your light supernatural yarns, you’ll find this one to be a memorable slice of a miserable, but fascinating culture.