Dead Northern 2023 Review – Isaac

The daunting prospect of loss is one that is immune to none; it’s the lingering sense of doom over the injustice of life, the haunting conclusion that we all face. Yet, what if we could banish that dread and thrive in the comfort of blissful existence? This is precisely the colossal scope that Tariq Sayed’s debut feature film Issac considers. 

This must-see feature follows Nicholas (Johnny Vivash) and Sarah (Kathryn Louise), a couple plagued by the death of their child to a genetic disease. In the throes of misery, they join a clinical trial that produces perfectly healthy genetically modified infants. However, it is not long before their new son Issac begins to act increasingly erratic, leaving the couple no choice but to unearth the terrifying secret behind it all. 

Issac flourishes in its soul-tarnishing narrative that explores how far scientific innovation is willing to go to achieve greatness and how the cruel fates of turbulent nature may not be so inferior after all – akin to a Black Mirror episode, but on steroids! Within this same vein, Issac takes heed with its futuristic talons and dares to expand past archetypal sci-fi probings and entwines a brutal strain of reality against the fantastical backdrop. 

Sayed unravels the film in an inherently familiar but chilling environment, the British countryside, which is equipped with all the ominous scenery that woodland habitats innately emit. There is a fitting lack of eccentricity that would have otherwise over-embellished the impeccably written story; instead of soap opera dramatics, the naturally isolating forestry and closed cast act as engrossing prompts for the chaos to ensue. 

Furthering the stunningly nihilistic tonal palette and applaudable cinematography are the fantastic performances from Vivash and Louise, who both ignite the screen with passionate portrayals of parents pushed to the absolute limit. Additionally enriching the film are appearances from the likes of Catriona MacColl, who was a regular Lucio Fulci collaborator, with the actress featuring in classics such as The Beyond, City of the Living Dead, and The House by the Cemetery.

Isaac is a brilliant addition to the world of independent cinema, an ode to the vast capabilities that indie horror consistently offers. Sayed is a creator that should be on everyones ‘to-watch’ list, with the praiseworthy director currently developing more exciting projects to be unveiled in the future…

Check out the full festival programme and get your tickets here!!


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