A movie is a sum of it’s parts. Sometimes it can be slightly let down by shoddy make-up or poor continuity, sometimes afflicted with terrible editing or an intrusive, awkward score. The Uninhabited is brilliantly directed, features a tense, overbearing score and is genuinely scary at times… but… the acting is appalling. Significantly let down by an unbelievable “couple” in a central performance, The Uninhabited is a well-made failure.
The Great Barrier Reef is one of the largest coral reefs and one of the seven wonders of the natural world, or so the film tells us in some foreboding title slates. “There are more than 600 islands. This is one of them…
…Based on actual events.”
Yep, they did it: “Based on actual events”. By the time the credits roll you’ll be infuriated by this statement, but initially it’s intriguing, especially if you know the plot.
The plot? A happy Australian couple take a ten day vacation on a remote island somewhere on the barrier reef, only to discover this uninhabited island has another occupant… the ghost of a girl who died there nearly 100 years ago. At first they notice footprints in the sand and hear noises in the woods, but as the weird happenings increase in intensity, the couple quickly realise they need to escape the island or their dream holiday will turn into their deathbed…
The premise behind The Uninhabited is a solid one, with decent potential to scare, excite and disturb. Producer / Writer / Director Bill Bennett does a decent job all round, but is sadly afflicted by some dire acting. Maybe he should’ve cast it too?
So, the positive stuff? The direction and soundtrack is exceptional, propelling forwards an otherwise pedestrian story and lacing ordinary scenes with a sense of dread and foreboding. Bennett does superbly well with a limited idea, although his expertise in direction cannot cover all the film’s obvious flaws, mostly his writing and his cast.
Firstly, the characters themselves are infuriatingly moronic, with their decisions so entirely idiotic you will struggle to sympathise with them. Acting like the pre-credits fodder in your average slasher flick, they are devoid of personality and act like absolute dickheads; splitting up, disbelieving blatant facts, splitting up, entering scary huts in the middle of the night, splitting up, not keeping vital equipment on them at all times – the Satellite Phone should’ve been glued to their faces the moment something creepy happened! – Oh, and splitting up. It doesn’t help that the script is littered with brainless lines like; “I want to sleep in the open tonight. I want to be able to see what’s going on”. What? Whilst you’re ASLEEP?! The film is swimming with stupid.
Frustratingly, despite Bennett’s script needing some serious work, the actors themselves also fail to compel. Geraldine Hakewill and Henry James are so utterly unconvincing as a couple that they actually seem like strangers meeting in a supermarket, delivering awkward and stilted conversation. I did not believe them for a single second. This is a shame, considering Hakewill gives an honest performance throughout. James does not, however, and he is horribly unbelievable and unlikeable throughout. He needed a machete in the face in the first ten minutes… but sadly he lasts a lot longer.
The Uninhabited is also genuinely scary at times, with some disturbing moments and an excellent less-is-more policy from our resident ghost Coral, played with quiet and threatening grace by newcomer Tasia Zalar. It works the fear factor on a number of levels, but this is almost exclusively because of Bennett’s direction and Peter Miller’s haunting score.
The Uninhabited has a brilliant premise, is exceptionally well directed but horribly let down by poor acting and some shitty dialogue. It is an infuriating and disappointing watch.