Fantasia International Film Festival: The Block Island Sound (2020) reviewed by Jonathan Berk

It’s not uncommon to hear the buzz about a movie that you’d skipped as a film festival comes to an end. The Block Island Sound (2020) is one that as the Fantasia International Film Festival comes to its end, it began popping up in film circles. After watching it, it was clear that the buzz was well-deserved, and I’m glad I’d not slept on the rumblings. Kevin and Matthew McManus crafted a compelling sci-fi horror film featuring some solid performances.

Harry Lynch (Chris Sheffield) lives with his father, Tom (Neville Archambault), on Block Island. Something dangerous is lurking in the water, with proof coming in the form of the dead fish that are washing up onshore. Tom, too, has been affected – and keeps waking up on the boat not remembering how he got there in the first place. Tom’s daughter, Audry (Michaela McManus), arrives on the island, and it’s not long after that a thread connecting the odd occurrences is found. 

Sheffield was very impressive in his role as Harry. His character is going through so many things in this story, and he has to be happy, sad, angry, afraid, irritable, and lost at one point or another. It’s a lot to ask for any performance, but then to also have to make this character at the very least empathetic so the audience will root for him and invest enough care that the stakes matter is no simple feat. Sheffield is up for it and so are the directors. 

Another performance worth giving credit to was Audry’s daughter, Emily (Matilda Lawler). Child actors can often make or break a scene or entire movie, depending on how much screen time they get. Fortunately, Lawler is able to deliver a good performance with her time on screen. Not to take away from any of the other performances in the film, of course…none of them came across as bad – but these stood out. 

The story takes a few twists that work for the most part, but some things don’t totally add up. However, not every movie has to be life-altering. The Block Island Sound manages to be engaging from beginning to end, and the mystery that is laid out only helps to pull the audience in – even if it turns out to not be that mysterious after all. 

If you get a chance to check out this film and you’re a fan of the genres, it is worth a watch. There are some cool moments with some solid visual effects, tied in with good performances and an engaging story – all things that usually add up to a good experience. The Block Island Sound earns the Not Quite Golden, Ponyboy rating.

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