The Block Island Sound (2020)
Director (and writer): Kevin McManus & Matthew McManus
Cast: Chris Sheffield, Michaela McManus, Neville Archambault, Jim Cummings, Willie C. Carpenter, Jeremy Holm, Matilda Lawler, Trisha McManus Heidi Niedermeyer
Something terrifying is happening off the coast of Block Island. A strange force is thriving, influencing residents and wildlife alike. – IMDB
Set on the island south of Rhode Island called Block Island (which I knew nothing about prior to this movie), The Block Island Sound uses its setting, the small town community as well as the mystery of conspiracy theory, reality or another unknown reason as its basis. Its main draw is the unsettling suspense and horror behind each development and how the targeted characters, first the father followed by the male lead character Harry falls into this unknown state that sporadically has him doing things he doesn’t want to and shouldn’t do.
A lot of the unsettling and eerie nature comes from its music score and sound effects and background sounds blended with the scene. Starting from this radio static that sounds almost like growling meshing with the frequency. There are also these different types of droning sounds that can easily get under the skin. Let’s face it, directors and scripts that can build on the unknown and mystery and execute it well can make a movie a million times scarier just by the power of the viewer’s imagination and anticipation.
The Block Island Sound is a giant mystery that fluctuates between the different pieces of evidence and the various opinions of people on the island. Its a question of what is going on overall that constantly hangs in the air. Someone rambles on about government testing and conspiracy theory, another believes its just sleepwalking and then there’s the science and medical deduction of electromagnetic sensitivity. Its a choice of what will be believed by the viewers with the little pieces presented. Its always the unknown until the final act where things starts making a little more sense. While the mystery part might drag out maybe one scene too much of Harry’s situation as a part of this whole unknown, the end game and final act is completely worth the wait and is absolutely more than the sum of its parts. It circles back to a conversation at the beginning as the wrap-up that is done so clever.
With any movie like this, subtle and focusing a lot on the reactions and interactions of the characters involved, the cast and character design is a big part. Neville Archambault starts off as the dad and he starts off the movie already in an unsettling manner from what he does and just the look in his eyes. As it seems to transfer over to his son Harry (Chris Sheffield), its hard to not see a different way of how he derails from realizing something is wrong and trying to resist whatever is happening to him. And then, there’s the balancing role who is doesn’t understand what is going on as the “good sister” Audrey (Michaela McManus) that pulls out a decent role especially since her character creates a little contrast. However, if there was a character that brought the most convincing side of the whole equation (and I’m not usually someone who believes in this) is the character of Dale who starts talking about all the conspiracy theories he believes in and it starts right from the first act and throughout the film and each time being doubted in the film which makes you wonder whether its the deal here since that’s how movies usually go.
The Block Island Sound is a story that needs to be experienced and let the story reveal. The more I talk about it, the surprise of the viewing will be ruined. Its a case of knowing less before going in and letting yourself follow and figure it out on your own. Block Island is a great setting and the story itself was done pretty well with some very slight pacing issues in the middle. The unsettling feeling is fairly on point as well. This is a good science fiction horror mystery story.