Fantasia Film Festival 2020: The Block Island Sound

A quiet beach town becomes the site of unexplained animal deaths in the thousands, and one family learns they are at the heart of the mystery in The Block Island Sound.

Harry (Chris Sheffield) and his father (Neville Archambault) live together on Block Island. When Harry’s father starts to zone out, leading to jaunts on the water without any memory of doing so, Harry worries. His sister Audry (Michaela McManus) comes home with her daughter to investigate tons of dead fish washing ashore and learns about her father’s strange behavior. After their father disappears one night, the small community searches for him, but their worst fears are realized when he washes ashore, bruised and lifeless with no definitive indication of how he died. Harry is distraught, and his naturally belligerent behavior amps up after his father’s death, along with the same symptoms of sleepwalking and zoning out, but this time, he’s seeing his dead father. As Harry spirals, his family and friends try to help him before he goes off the deep end.

The Block Island Sound takes you to unexpected places. Written and directed by Kevin and Matthew McManus, this film about family dysfunction illustrates the lack of control when someone is experiencing grief. Throw in the threat of a mysterious affliction that only gets worse, and you have a compelling horror movie that becomes increasingly terrifying as the story pulls you in. Sheffield’s performance was incredible as he loses control and is at the mercy of something that sounds like a giant man-eating beast. Michaela McManus plays Harry’s sister exceptionally well, perhaps because she is the real-life sister to the directors. She mentioned they all made films together as children during the Q and A. My favorite moments came from Archambault, who appears in the eeriest way throughout the movie. His expressions of terror and rage sears into your mind. There’s also a great cameo by Jeremy Holm, from The Ranger and a House of Cards regular, and look out for the charmingly loony Dale played by Jim Cummings.

This review will stay spoiler-free and short, but I will say that the final scenes tie up the film nicely and leave you looking over your shoulder. Check out this creative seaside horror on Tuesday, Sep 1, at 11:10 p.m. Get your tickets here.

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