OSW Review | The Ecstasy Of Isabel Mann (2014)

The Ecstasy Of Isabel Mann (2014)

Cast/Crew: Irish-made horror written & directed by Jason Figgis, starring Nicole Bermingham.

Plot: Isabel Mann is a teenage girl that joins a group of vampires, her murderous actions making her reclusive and detached. The missing students prompts an investigation, with Isabel being the main suspect.

Thoughts on the film:
• As an Irish horror film, I really wanted to like it. Unfortunately I didn’t, for lots of reasons, all I can do is explain my position.
• Shot in 30fps, its feel like a cheap home movie rather than a film. Always 24fps.
• It’s also low budget so there’s just minor gore and blood.
• It took a long time watching to get interested in the story and forget I’m watching a film.
• The storyline follows Isabel’s friends and family, as the investigator narrows his search to Isabel, as well as Isabel’s withdrawn nature. I’m sure this trance was to show the devastating effects of her murdering/feasting on people but it comes across as a teen moping on her bed. Oh my God, someone throw a pie!
• Perhaps it’s not being used to seeing Irish people/accents on the screen, I kept noticing it here. However, I didn’t have this problem with Citadel two years ago.
• The acting is poor, especially between Isabel and her father. Maybe it’s the script but phrases seem forced and unnatural. “I’m feeling tired”. “Why so?”. Isabel asks to stay home as she’s not feeling well so she rubs the side of her face for the duration. I’d buy it if it was a kid trying to get out of going to school, but that wasn’t the case.
• The investigator is an abrasive arsehole, and even though I didn’t warm to him much, he’s the best thing about the film. He calls the children “shit heels”. It felt like this Irish lad was playing a stereotypical NY detective, forcing bureaucratic dialogue (eg cracking down on the principal and blasting court orders). It seemed very out of place – “Did you have Carnal knowledge of Isabel? Yes. Was she good?”. He does calmly explain to a teacher the seriousness and that he’s doing his job, so you could propose that it’s an act, although we don’t spend time with the ‘real’ guy, so I don’t buy it.
• Some lines were so hammy they got laughs from the crowd, but the film itself is serious. I think it would’ve fared much better as a comedy. It’s a simple story with not much information to it.
• It really could’ve used some tighter editing – many scenes drag (including sequences with slow pop songs), scenes linger on far after they’ve made their point. It’s cool that there’s some long one-take scenes despite the repetitive dialogue. (“The police are asking about you Isabel, I don’t know what to tell them, the police are asking about you” etc.). The Owen Hart school of promos!
• Isabel kills her friend (with one punch, presumably) and we’re supposed to care about this girl who left one long voicemail. Isabel crying over her lasts AN ICE AGE.
• It’s weird hearing someone on film mention Irish things like 6th class, Temple Bar and The Button Factory (which is literally around the corner from where this film was screened!). That was fun!
• The vampires feel like cannibals that prefer biting the neck. The story focuses on the investigation and Isabel, there’s no exposition of who they are, why they’re here etc. Vampire = wear black clothes, white facepaint and bite the neck. The explanation seems to be “it’s something that happened”. The finish makes the film seem like it’s the start of some big conspiracy/event, but we’re told so little it’s not mysterious, it means nothing, you know? Perhaps the writers know the cult/backstory but it’s not in the film, so that just makes it a bad film. All we know is that Isabel started hanging out with some girl that likes to cut herself, and one mustachio’d lad is the main vampire.
• Hilariously one of the cannibal vampires is a Irish teen boy with a wonderful puberty knacker ‘tache. YEEOW!
• There was to be a lot of friends of actresses in the audience. B-characters would get a huge ovation, as would names popping up in the credits.

Overall: I’ve listed out almost exclusively negatives and although it wasn’t a terrible film, it bored the arse off me. I really want to support Irish horror. I’ve tried to explain why I didn’t like almost everything about it. I’m certain they did the best they could but it’s lacking in many ways. Honestly, avoid.


Release Date
November 8, 2014