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Home > The Block Island Sound (2020): A Review

The Block Island Sound (2020): A Review

The Block Island Sound

Haunting Proof That Less is More

The Block Island Sound doesn’t grip us with multiple jump scares or ghostly CGI. Instead, it flows as a slow crescendo, taking its time to unravel the threatening conflict the main character faces. With dark and eerie cinematography and fleeting scenes, the Netflix mystery-thriller reminds us of multiple films we’ve seen in the past but none like this one altogether. With The Block Island Sound, we see elements from classics such as The Shining and War of The Worlds, all while juggling a Bermuda Triangle-like background throughout its story. 

The 2020 sci-fi film focuses on Harry (Chris Sheffield), whose father Tom (Neville Archambault) begins acting bizarrely amid a streak of strange occurrences off of Block Island. Harry and his sister, Audry (Michaela McManus) l still have a tense sibling relationship following the death of their mother. Soon, as the unexplained environmental behavior encroaches upon Harry, we are left constantly guessing what is really going on here — even at the end. 

Written and directed by family duo Kevin and Matthew McManus, The Block Island Sound will haunt you in your sleep. The horror penetrates its creepy undertone into viewers’ minds, as they’re left dazed and confused after watching the flat-out odd events unfold before them. The movie trusts its audience to figure out the message along the way, leaving it up to their own interpretation as well. Giving away the answers and explaining them thoroughly is exactly what some viewers want, but the small McManus production challenges the audience by casting its wide net out to sea and letting viewers try to keep up with its pace. 

Strong Guessing Game 

From the beginning, we’re left asking what the hell may have seemingly possessed Tom. As we watch his erratic behavior reach a breaking point, we also witness Harry struggle with his own demons. His distance from his immediate family perhaps leads to his eventual predicament. 

Once he somehow falls under the influence of the invisible dark force that damages his father, the Netflix thriller nudges the audience to keep questioning their theories. Is this a possession? Was Harry poisoned by something? Did he inherit a supernatural decaying illness? 

It’s difficult to decipher what the truth is here, but in this case, it’s not a hindrance; this is a strongpoint. There’s nothing more frightening than a bottomless abyss, and it’s almost like we’re falling alongside Harry into this realm of mystery. From his visions (or possible hallucinations) to his conscience, Harry’s uncontrollable spiraling is the result of one thing that is only unveiled at the end. 

The Block Island Sound

Cinematic Mixtures 

Original ideas are difficult to create. So, in Hollywood, we’ve seen countless films borrow and attempt to reinvent storylines by incorporating an old narrative while injecting a unique new twist into it. 

The Block Island Sound may not directly cite anything as its inspiration, but viewers can’t help but notice the similarities. 

Harry’s personal and uber creepy decline reminds us of Jack Torrence’s (Jack Nicholson) gradual breakdown in The Shining. Like Jack, Harry has had some traumatic events affect him. And now, he meets his ultimate match with s force that he may not be able to handle.

Through its other-worldly clues, we’re also reminded of War of The Worlds’ battle with those invading Earth’s skies. The only difference here is that we’re drowning with the conflict off the coast of Block Island. 

Since we’re dealing with an apparent at-sea nightmare, the audience also can’t help but think about the legend of the infamous Bermuda Triangle. While there have been several films inspired by the story, the general history of the triangle is enough to haunt anyone whenever they go for a swim in the ocean. 

The Art of Limits 

When a film is either a low-budget production or a high-end project with limited assets, it must pass the test in wowing its audience with barely any movie magic.

High-budget horror franchises or sci-fi actions are under a serious pressure to meet the demands of a studio by impressing its viewers. With The Block Island Sound, however, the McManus team had more free reign in experimenting with new ideas. 

The thriller involves three main locations in the same region: Harry’s house, the shoreline, and a boat. Being that they didn’t work with much, the actors had to nail their individual performances by honing in on their raw emotions. It’s not an easy task, and it’s an added pressure on a cast to meet this high expectation. 

Nevertheless, The Block Island Sound utilizes each set location to its advantage by letting the actors take up as much space as possible in limited places to shoot scenes. For example: the car scene when Harry hallucinates. The vision is detrimental for him, and is enough to slowly lead him over the edge to his potential downfall. 

Of course, another prime moment is between Harry, Audry and her daughter, Emily (Matilda Lawler). It’s such an intense, high stakes scene in which the cast had to sell the urgency to the audience solely through their performances — not an over abundance of CGI-added terror or large set pieces for dramatic effect. 

Overall, The Block Island Sound doesn’t cater to those who want all the guts, glamor, and gore of horror movies. It rather delivers a unique viewpoint of out-of-this-world forces and the effect on the chosen victim —  psychological terror meets science fiction, in other words.

The Block Island Sound

The Block Island Sound (2020) Official Trailer

Source: Dead Talk Live

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Elisabeth joined Dead Talk News in 2022 and loves movies and TV! After working for various sites, including Screen Rant and Showbiz Cheat Sheet, Elisabeth joined DTN to critique and review various movies, from horror flicks to Disney live-actions.