Solo (2013)

When Solo opens, we find Gillian (Annie Clark) receiving counselling off a psychotherapist. We learn straight away that she had a predilection for self-harming, but that her new job should hopefully provide her with the focus to turn her life around. This new role is as a camp counsellor, a position that one of her friends seems to have fast-tracked her into by using her influence within the crew. There is however one thing that Annie isn’t aware of, and that’s the initiation that every new counsellor must endure – two nights alone on a remote island!

It turns out that Gillian is going to be the last new employee forced to go through this induction process, as the land that encompasses the island has now been sold off to a developer. As a veteran of the camp discusses this with her he confides that he’ll miss the place – “I learned a lot about myself during time spent here”. As Gillian beds down for her first night on the island her inexperience is plain to see as she leafs through instructions on setting the tent up, while camp fire proves a difficulty but one she eventually succeeds at. She is equipped with some contact to the outside world in the form of a radio, but she soon finds out is to be used in emergencies only.

A short while into her stay she meets Ray (Kash) a passer-by on his boat who makes acquaintance with her and also offers some first aid to bandage a cut that she picked up whilst swimming. At first she’s reluctant to engage with him, but he seems jovial enough so they chat and eventually he makes his way off the island. All of this appears to put Gillian’s mind at ease until darkness falls, when a fractured sleep begins to awaken her mental fragility and paranoia comes to the fore in what could be a very long 48 hours.

This Canadian horror movie has got A LOT to recommend about it. It’s short, it’s economical with its storyline and it created a brilliant lead female character in Gillian who actually defies horror logic repeatedly and staggeringly makes sensible decisions! From the first minute it’s well on its way to establishing who Gillian is, and it only takes ten minutes to land Gillian alone on the island. It breezes along at a pace with characters sparse, and those that are featured in the movie are well fleshed out with aspects of their personality and history patiently worked into the narrative.

Simplicity really is the key for Solo and it’s the key to its success. Of course, there will be an element of fans who discard the feature as one where “nothing happens” or as one guy on IMDb stated “it’s just a chubby girl on cliché island”. If you want the opposite of that though you’re welcome to it – some high pitched blonde with pneumatic tits running in slow motion just to highlight her cleavage. It’s horror of the lowest common denominator. I don’t want that. With this feature Isaac Cravit has at least crafted something original, and while it’s not going to knock you out your chair with ingenious plot twists, it will give you 79 minutes of well written, well shot psychological horror.

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