dir. Larry Fessenden, Andrew Kasch, Dennie Gordon, Bobby Roe, Adam Brown & Kyle I. Kelly, Alix Austin & Keir Siewert, Zack Passero, Alexandra Nearly, and Christian Pasquariello
Similar to last year’s Host, this anthology of 9 short films was entirely conceived and shot during lockdown: however whilst Host’s events occurred as a consequence of sheltering in place, this collection (sort of) examines the reality of COVID-19. Here a global pandemic causes shutdowns, economic hardships, uneven food distribution, and social upheaval, however this virus mutates every 21 days: the result allows the various filmmakers to create a parallel reality to our own, and although themes and tone vary from short to short the pandemic remains the hub that connects them together.
As such this comes with a word of caution: in a time when so many people have experienced so much real-world loss these shorts can be incredibly upsetting, the film not offering as much escapism as other genre offerings can.
“Fever” gives us a look at what it might be like to experience the virus from the inside, despite our narrator taking his family away from New York City to a safe house upstate. “5G” follows a San Diego man placed under house arrest after committing the terrorist act of coughing on produce at a supermarket, only to receive messages through his ankle bracelet that confirm his notions about the dangers of 5G with dialog straight out of the QAnon handbook.
In “The Dread” a woman must deal with not only her husband’s passing but also a home invasion in the Hollywood Hills. “Pacific Northwest” shows a young sister and brother who have to take care of themselves after Mommy dies when Dada is away, and is a stand out of the collection.
“Meat Hands” is about a man in the Chicago suburbs doing his best despite being completely alone with dwindling supplies. Meanwhile “It’s Inside” takes us to a London flat, where a woman attempts to connect the dots of facts and conspiracy theories for her followers. “Gust” brings us back stateside to El Paso, where the last woman sticks to her daily routine with only the wind to keep her company.
“Homebodies” features an investigative journalist looking into the absence of one of Miami’s most prominent families. And final tale “Comfort Zone” follows a Berlin woman who wakes up in a shipping container with a branding on the back of her neck.
Though only time will tell for sure, Isolation has the makings of being a classic of our time, about the times.