An Average Movie-Goer’s Review
Spoilers! If you don’t want spoilers – check out the Spoiler-Free post
I love horror movies and if I’m going to watch them anyway, why not write an entertaining/funny review from the POV of an average movie-goer and not a professional critic.
Today we’re looking at the 2021’s Devil’s Island
After inheriting her grandparent’s home on a small island, Samantha discovers they may be something evil trying to scare her away.
Is Devil’s Island Scary?
No, there are a few tense scenes but overall Devil’s Island is not scary nor does it have any gore. You won’t leave Devil’s Island scared of anything unless you recently moved to a new island and don’t lock your doors at night.
Devil’s Island Full Plot Summary:
The film opens with some text informing us that according to the Pawnee creation myth, the wolf was the first creature to experience death. There’s no follow-up to this or any other text so… okay?
We open on the Thousand Islands archipelago in New York where Sheriff Thompson (played by Cliff Yates) is driving his speedboat around during a storm. As he drives by one of the islands with only a house on it, I presume he spots something fishy since he decides to check in on the residents.
There, he discovers the owners are dead. We don’t see their bodies but Sheriff Thompson gives a shocked look, covers his nose because of the smell, and we hear the buzzing of a lot of flies. That’s the trifecta when it comes to confirming deaths in PG-13 movies.
Three years later we meet our main character Samantha (played by Elaine Alexander) arriving at the archipelago. We quickly learn her grandparents were the residents Sheriff Thompson discovered three years and they have left her their house. They must have really loved her.
Also, the director really wants you to know that Samantha is going to have a hard time fitting in with the peaceful residents of the 1,000 islands. They “subtly” hint at this by showing Samantha blasting some rock music and wearing a Led Zepplin shirt.
At the pier Samantha meets with the aloof appearing Michael (played by Kristjan Sokoli) who was sent to pick her up and take her to her new island. Her grandparents also owned the small island the house is on and also gave that to her. Samantha must be an only child.
As they arrive on Samantha’s new island, she notices Michael has a gun in his boat that I’m pretty sure is nicknamed “Chekhov”. After Michael ensures water and electricity are running in the house, he gives Sam a quick rundown of how to use her boat and bluntly refers to her as a tourist.
That afternoon, Samantha unpacks her things and finds a red tin box in one of the drawers. Looking through it, she finds pictures of her grandparents and a picture of herself as a child on the island. She then takes the best two (I guess) and places them on her refrigerator. Terrifyingly, she opens the fridge to discover… it’s empty!
We next see Samantha wandering around the island looking for a signal on her phone. Finally getting one, she calls her dad but gets his voicemail and leaves a message suggesting he visit. And now it’s time to fix that empty fridge problem.
After picking up some groceries on a nearby island, Samantha heads back to her boat where a past-his-prime surfer bro is waiting. The man introduces himself as Mort (played by Pete Berwick), says he’s a boat repairman, and offers his services in case she ever runs into boat problems. Interestingly he seems to already know what island Samantha is on and mentions there are no secrets on the islands.
Heading back to her island, Samantha spots a woman watching her on another nearby island.
That night the sounds of something banging wakes Samantha up. Worried about a possible intruder, she cautiously makes her way to the kitchen and grabs a knife. And that’s how you know she’s the protagonist because side characters never grab a weapon to check out some weird noises.
Outside Samantha realizes it was just the unlocked door of the shed being blown open and closed by the wind. As she heads back inside she spots someone on a boat just hanging out in the distance. Meanwhile, we, the audience, spot someone wandering around inside the home behind Samantha.
Samantha points her flashlight at the person on the boat and they point their light back at her. Seems friendly. The lurker turns off their light and sails off.
After that weird shit, Samantha heads back inside still worried, and goes straight to her room. The following morning she randomly looks at an old photo album and a necklace with a wolf pendant falls out. Pretty convenient she just happens to pick out the only photo album with a secret inside.
Sheriff Thompson then just happens to pay the island a surprise visit. To be fair he did find some dead people on that island the last time someone lived there so I can’t blame him for randomly stopping by.
We learn Samantha’s grandparents lived on the island for 65 years and that Samantha had only been there twice… and they gave her a whole-ass island?! Her grandparents didn’t have friends? At some point, in the past, Samantha’s dad had a falling out with the family and moved to Las Vegas with Samantha so she didn’t know much about her grandparents.
This is all glossed over and instead, Samantha tells Thompson about the weird person on the boat the night before. Thompson suggests it was just someone night fishing or a drunk boater and implies the islands are safe except for the random bingo game scrape. Thompson then gets a call on his radio about some roughhousing teenagers and leaves.
Later, Samantha gets out of the shower and finds Michael waiting outside her house who claims he was just checking on her. The two proceed to have an awkward conversation that ends with Michael saying he’ll be around if she needs him… and that’s the most uncomfortable way to make someone feel safe… unless you’re Batman.
A few hours later, Samantha walks over to the only spot on the small island where she can get a phone signal and calls her dad. Unfortunately, he doesn’t pick up but immediately after hanging up, she gets a message from an unknown number that reads “We’re watching you.”
Freaked out Samantha does… nothing and goes back to her home. That night while reading, Samantha hears a boat approaching the island and goes out to investigate. About 100 feet from the island she spots the same stranger watching her from a boat. Though she calls out to them, the person just turns off their light and drives off.
Thinking the weird stuff is over, Samantha learns the hard way that it’s not when she turns around and spots someone in a cloak roaming around her house.
Grabbing an oar from her boat, Samantha searches her home. I can only assume her intruder is afraid of wood because as soon as she enters, she hears a speedboat driving off in the distance.
The next morning, while making some coffee, Samantha notices Michael’s boat floating near her island but doesn’t notice a picture on her fridge missing. After calling out to Michael but not getting a response, Samantha swims out to the boat and finds it empty.
For her hard efforts, she does decide to take his gun though and that seems fair. Further showing she’s a smart protagonist, Samantha keeps the gun above water by tying it to a life vest for her swim back.
Arriving on the pier, she spots a box at the end of it that was totally not there before. Inside she finds a bunch of worms and the picture that was missing on her fridge.
After confirming it’s the same picture that she had on her fridge, Samantha rushes to the spot on the island with cell service and calls the police. Hard cut to Thompson not entirely believing Samantha’s story especially since the box has since disappeared.
When she mentions she saw a shadow in her home the night before, Thompson suggests it’s just someone playing a prank on her. He then comes off slightly aggressive saying that the residents don’t like change and that maybe Samantha rubbed someone the wrong way.
As for Michael’s random boat, Thompson thinks that Micheal went diving and the boat broke free from the anchor. Before he leaves, Thompson advises Samantha to not upset any of the locals. We’ve never seen Samantha talk to anyone besides Michael and Mort and all she does is read at night, who is she pissing off?
Later Samantha heads to a nearby island to do some grocery shopping and sees a random woman just staring at her.
While driving back to her island, Samantha’s boat runs out of gas and she’s forced to paddle to a nearby island. Turns out it’s that same island she passed by at the start of the movie where that woman was watching her from a distance.
As she ties her boat to the pier, Samantha spots the same woman watching her and asks for help but the woman just walks into the forest. Samantha follows her but quickly loses track of her. From behind we see a hand reach out to Samantha and as it grabs her shoulder we see it belongs to Mort.
Samantha screams as she takes a fighting stance and Mort is shocked she reacted that way despite him approaching her from behind without even saying, “Hey it’s me, Mort.” Samantha tells him about her boat troubles and the woman she saw in the forest.
Mort says there is no woman in the forest DUN DUN DUNNN… just kidding, he says that’s Ms. Hunter who is mute and doesn’t like visitors. I feel like that doesn’t explain why she ignored Samantha’s cries for help though.
As Mort refills Samantha’s gas, Samantha suggests someone siphoned it since she had just refilled it 2 hours prior. Mort changes the subject and tells her to get home before the meat he presumes she bought goes bad but Samantha clarifies she’s a vegetarian. Completely shocked by this information, he asks if she likes a rabbit and she playfully entertains the comment.
The next morning Samantha wakes up, randomly grabs that wolf pendant she found earlier, and throws it into the ocean. Did I miss a scene or something? It appears as if there was a scene cut since we see Samantha waking up and we cut to her walking into the house to grab the pendant. What happened in between?
After throwing the pendant, Samantha spots another box sitting on her pier. Inside she finds a dead rabbit covered in dirt.
We cut to Thompson on the island holding the box telling Samantha that it was probably just some teens playing a prank. We have not seen a single teen on any of these damn islands, I don’t think there’s anyone under the age of 40 in this movie besides Samantha.
Once again downplaying the severity of the freaky shit going on, Thompson says he’ll ask around and see if anyone else has received a weird box. Before he leaves, Samantha notices the belt clip on his key chain is in the shape of a wolf.
This would be a much more shocking reveal if we had any reason to fear the wolf stuff.
Later, Samantha has called Mort to check on her boat but it was just a ruse so she could question him about the rabbit. See, she thinks that Mort was behind the rabbit box since he mentioned rabbits to her yesterday. Mort denies this and is honestly pretty convincing.
Samantha asks why the residents want her gone and Mort says he doesn’t know anything about that. She then asks what the wolf is all about which is a weird and random question. She’s only seen the Sheriff with a wolf belt clip and a pendant at her grandparent’s home. Why is that weird?
Mort avoids the question and starts talking loudly about her engine being fixed as he walks toward her. Getting real close, he whispers that he’s not allowed to talk about it and instead, she should meet him at 2 pm on another island to learn the truth. So, he’s going to die.
That night Samantha hears another boat approaching her island and walks out with the gun in hand. Turns out it’s just Mrs. Hunter paying her a visit and dropping off a cake.
Writing on notes, Mrs. Hunter tells Samantha she’s in danger and some dangerous people known as wolves will come to reclaim the island. Samantha refuses to leave and while her back is turned Mrs. Hunter hightails it out of there.
Meanwhile, Mort arrives on an island and calls out to Mrs. Hunter. As he wanders around looking for her he sees someone watching him from a distance. Turning around, he’s attacked by someone in a wolf mask.
The next morning while making some coffee Samantha notices something on the fridge or in the picture of her grandparents on the fridge and starts frantically looking for something. I’m being vague here because the movie doesn’t tell you what she’s looking for or even hint at what she’s looking for. It’s just a really weird scene.
Eventually, Samantha gives up and sits down near the cake Mrs. Hunter left. She then notices a picture in the cake of several wolf cult members at a ritual spot that happens to be on her own island.
Not knowing Mort is dead Samantha goes to meet with him and after wandering around spots a house with a wolf mask out front. Freaked out she runs back to her boat and drives off. Back at her island, there’s another box on her pier but instead of opening it, she kicks it into the water.
It’s Home Alone time. We get a quick montage of Samantha buying some supplies, cutting some bells off a wreath, stringing together some mousetraps, and attaching several hooks onto a wire.
That night, while Samantha sleeps we see someone arriving at her island with a hammer in hand. Entering the house, the stranger hits one of the wires which pulls on the bells above Samatha’s bed, waking her up.
As the stranger looks for her, Samantha appears behind him with a gun and he’s revealed to be Michael. Samantha demands he gets on the ground and slides the hammer to her. She then says the sheriff is on his way but, as he slides the hammer, Michael says the sheriff isn’t coming.
Samantha takes a step closer which happens to include her stepping on a rug. Michael pulls the rug out from under her causing her to fall and drop the gun. Quickly Michael gets up and grabs Samantha’s leg but she’s grabbed the hammer and jams it, claw side, into his knee. Michael screams in pain and hobbles out of the house as Samantha grabs the gun.
Although he dives into the water and emerges on another part of the island, Samantha easily finds him because it’s hard to quietly remove a hammer from your knee. Samantha asks Michael why he tried to kill her but he responds by lunging at her with the hammer completely forgetting she has a gun.
Samantha shoots Michael several times, killing him. The next day Sheriff Thompson tells Samantha they found a shrine dedicated to her at Michael’s house. He then implies that she should move back to Vegas because of what happened.
Samantha asks if he’s ever been to Vegas and says she’ll stay right where she is. This clearly angers Thompson, the implication being that he, or the wolf cult he’s a part of, sent Michael to kill her and if he failed, it would at least cause her to move away.
A month later, Samantha is enjoying life on the island and we see a random resident even say hi to her as she leaves the grocery store. One night as she sits by a fire, Samantha takes down a wolf flag, no explanation on how it got there or if she put it up, and throws it into the fire.
We cut to another night where we see the bells going off above Samantha’s bed and she readies a gun to kill an intruder. The title card then appears and we’re reminded that this movie had nothing to do with the devil.
The film ends as the sun rises and we see Samantha covered in someone else’s blood enjoying a cup of coffee. Here, the movie is implying that Samantha now does this frequently, has no intention of moving, and will kill any wolf cult members that try to drive her away.
Devil’s Island Spoiler Review:
Devil’s Island is okay but bordering on bad. It could have actually been a lot better but the story isn’t well-told. The acting is good for the most part, although there are definitely a few acting choices where you question the choices for example some of Mort’s more animated movements. Dialogue is fine and the premise is interesting but how the story plays out for the last half of the film is what ruins the film overall.
The movie leaves you with so many unanswered questions that you’ll feel like you’re watching the first episode of a mini-series and if that were the case, then this wouldn’t be all that bad. The good news is that the film is pretty short, it’s just 75 minutes but I also feel that if the movie was just 15 minutes longer it could have explained some of what the hell was going on.
By the end you still don’t know what caused Samantha to ask about the wolves, you have no idea what she was frantically looking for in one scene, you don’t know why her father refuses to talk to her, and you don’t know the extent of the Wolf Cult’s influence. Also, the title makes no sense, no one refers to the island as Devil’s Island at any point of the movie and there’s no implication of devil stuff.
It’s a shame because the movie does do a good job of giving you answers to other questions by letting you figure them out instead of force-feeding them. For example, Sheriff Thompson’s involvement is a blink-and-you-‘ll-miss-it scene until the end when it’s more apparent that he’s involved.
Overall I don’t recommend watching Devil’s Island unless you’re really bored and won’t be paying too much attention. I say this because the movie is okay but if you’re looking for a tightly told story with closure, this ain’t it.
Stuff to Ignore
Metacritic – No Page