Amen Island (2011) AKA Unhappy Birthday
Birthdays are hard aren’t they? What do you get for that special person in your life after so many years together?
Rick (David Paisley) has a surprise lined up for his girlfriend Sadie (Christina de Vallee) for celebrating her birthday as soon as they reach their secret destination. You see Sadie was adopted and has no idea who her real family are, but Rick has been online and discovered that Sadie has a sister who lives out on Amen Island. It’s a remote place that is only connected to the English mainland at low tide.
Picking up Rick’s best mate Jonny (Jonathan Keane) on the way they are soon on their way across the causeway to meet Sadie’s long-lost sister Corinne (Jill Riddiford). Now Amen Island is a bit of a strange place: the locals wear hoodies all the time, grow all their own food to avoid contamination from the outside world, are very religious, don’t like strangers, swearing, extra marital sex or gays and there are no working telephones. So maybe Sadie’s birthday surprise wasn’t such a great idea after all, especially when you consider that Sadie thinks Rick is infertile and is now secretly pregnant by Jonny, who is secretly shagging Rick. The islanders don’t like secrets either, but hey what can possibly happen before low tide tomorrow?
Amen Island is a creepily claustrophobic slice of British folk-horror that has been likened to The Wicker Man (1973 the good version not that Nick Cage tripe), although in Amen Island it is some kind of sinister Christian cult rather than happy pagans that are up to no good. It’s nicely acted by the four main cast members with Sadie, Rick and Jonny’s love triangle seeming highly plausible and Jill Riddiford is extremely creepy as the supposedly naive islander who clearly knows far more than she is letting on, while the hooded up islanders are pretty scary too. Its’s beautifully photographed utilising the tidal causeway at Lindisfarne on the Northumbrian coast as one location and has a suitably atmospheric folky musical score by Lin Sangster.
Dark, sinister and ultimately horrific I give Amen Island a 555/666.
Amen Island is out now on DVD from Peccadillo Pictures in the UK price £7.99