“Something lurks off the coast of Block Island, silently influencing the behavior of fisherman, Tom Lynch. After suffering a series of violent outbursts, he unknowingly puts his family in grave danger.”

Directors: Kevin McManus, Matthew McManus
Writers: Kevin McManus, Matthew McManus
Staring: Chris Sheffield, Michaela McManus, Neville Archambault, Ryan O’Flanagan
Release Date: March 11, 2021
IMDB

The Block Island Sound (2020) had been in my Netflix queue for a while. It was just sitting on my watchlist waiting for me to click on it and consume it. I finally relented to its calling and pressed play.

And that is it. I don’t really remember much of anything else.

The Block Island Sound is a perfectly fine thriller. It is a smaller budget movie that has a neat setting, fairly well executed premise, and a mix of compelling and underwhelming acting/characters. It is probably a streaming companies perfect bottom line. The movie is interesting enough to keep the viewer locked to the screen, but the movie itself was cheap to make and filled in a new content quota for a random weekend.

The story starts with Harry (Chris Sheffield) living at home with his father Tom (Neville Archambault), though their relationship is a bit strained. Harry has been taking care of his father because Tom has been behaving strange; i.e. sleep walking a lot, taking the boat out and not remembering it, leaving food out everywhere. Harry’s patience is getting wained, and it is put more to the test when his sister Audry (Michaela McManus) returns to the Island for work.

Audry and her boss Paul (Ryan O’Flanagan) and daughter Emily (Matilda Lawler) are on the island because there are mass amounts of fish and other animals dying randomly on the beach shores. No one seems to have answers, and Audry and Paul are looking for the problem and possible solutions.

The Block Island Sound starts to turn the curve towards crazy when Tom disappears and the same strange afflictions that cursed his father now begin happening to Harry. Now the disgruntled son has to live through the blackouts and strange urges while his close family is in harms way. Harry’s sister and all those around him get covered in the shade of danger and it’s only time before the rain begins pouring.

Neville Archambault as Tom being all creepy

The opening 30 minutes to The Block Island Sound is the best part of the movie. Setting the mood of the town, the family and the mystery is conceived well and put to screen properly by writers and directors Kevin McManus and Matthew McManus. This is when we don’t know anything and all we see is the aftermath of what Tom is doing. It has a very clever air of mystery

The story starts out focused on Harry and his reaction to his father’s disappearance and sudden symptoms of craziness. The Block Island Sound skews the story’s viewpoint over the final act towards Audry who ends up reacting to Harry’s behaviors. She goes out looking for answers to solve the mystery that is afflicting. her sibling, but the answers she gets are not clear or concise.

The best acting performance of the show is Michaela McManus. When there are emotional scenes or moments meant to induce cringe, her performance is the least “eeeek oh no” of the major parts. She has experience on TV, and this is the second time that she has worked with Chris Sheffield, who plays Harry. Both had a part in the NBC show Aquarius. Neither one of these actors have a massive amount of experience making movies compared to TV. Of everything they have have done recently, I only somewhat enjoyed Into The Grizzly Maze (2015) which Michaela took part in.

For the record, Into The Grizzly Maze is not a particularly well-made movie, but it is entertaining for the type of beast movie it is. Worth a watch if you want to shut your brain off.

The duo of Kevin McManus and Matthew McManus worked together directing and writing The Block Island Sound. It was a follow up to Funeral Kings (2012) and American Vandal, which they earned a Primetime Emmy nomination for. Their first movie Funeral Kings is about a pair of alter boys who play hooky after serving a ton of funerals; a funny, unique idea so major credit to them. The Block Island Sound has some of the dark undertones of death, but is a step into a different vibe. Credit to the McManus brothers for not sticking to just one style when getting their career started.

Matilda Lawler as Emily

If you turn on The Block Island Sound and see a familiar young face that you recognize from HBO Max, just know that you are not taking crazy pills. This horror movie was the first acting performance for Matilda Lawler, who just a year later has the part of young Kirsten in Station Eleven. Lawler was the highlight of that show along side her major screen time partner Himesh Patel. She does not jump off the screen entirely in The Block Island Sound, but she has the crucial child actor trait of seeming like you belong. Lawler isn’t the best, but she isn’t the worst performer in the movie. She isn’t ask to do much, but she hangs in their at the table rather than getting sent home early.

The Block Island Sound‘s best assets are its mood and setting. Dark, dreary, dreadful and depressing. Maybe it says something about me, but I love it. The story starts off very strong but starts to become less interesting as the answers (as mirky as they are) start to become illuminated. Safe to say you won’t be guessing what the climax of the movie is. The Block Island Sound is a movie for those that really loved something like Shutter Island (2010) but understand its a lesser quality.

STANKO RATING: C (2.5/5)


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