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What is it about little islands off the coast of Maine? They just seem to breed scary stories, and Island Zero, the new film from director Josh Gerritsen is the latest in a long and distinguished line.

Something is wrong in the small fishing village where the film is set. The fish have vanished and the lobster traps are coming up empty.

No one knows why, and at first they consider it just an off season, if you will. But when people begin to disappear into the night, mutilated corpses begin washing up on shore, and a silent predator seems to move among them, the villagers soon begin to realize that going broke is the least of their worries.

Gerritsen assembled a talented cast for his directorial debut mixing studio actors with local actors and crew, the film radiates authenticity as the residents of the island and the interloping visitors struggle to find common ground.

Laila Robins plays Maggie, the village’s seasonal doctor who left the military when she could no longer stomach the violence, with quiet confidence. This is a woman who knows how to handle herself in the most intense of situations, whether that situation is squaring off with chattering Ruth (played to the hilt by Anabel Graetz) in her office or taking aim at the vicious creatures who are hunting them.

Laila Robins as Maggie in Island Zero

Then there’s Adam Wade McLaughlin who plays a scientist named Sam who studies sudden extinction scenarios and who believes an apex predator of some sort is behind not only the disappearance of sea life but also the attacks on the humans on the island. Sam lost his first wife at sea, and McLaughlin brings every ounce of emotional turmoil he can muster to the role.

Also of note is Matthew Wilkas in the role of Titus, a visiting novelist whose motives, of course, may not be as simple as writing a new bestseller. Wilkas is deliciously ambiguous in the role, never giving away one hint about his identity off-island that he doesn’t mean to.

Now, this is a creature feature, after all, and it would be remiss not to bring up the brilliance of their mechanics or the way in which Gerritsen and his crew deftly bring them to life, but that is all I’ll say about that. It’s best to experience Island Zero un-spoiled by too much information in that area. Just know that they are frighteningly efficient killers and some of the most unique we’ve seen in quite some time.

Cinematographer Mark Farney skillfully makes you feel the cold in every wintry blue and white and dread in the deep shadows created by firelight.

As a whole, Island Zero works because on a basic level, it is a story about people. Certainly there are monsters and enough gore to satiate the appetite of gorehound viewers, but as with every story of its kind, the island can be saved only when islander and outsider learn to work together.

That’s why these stories are so effective, and Gerritsen ultimately proves that he has what it takes to tell this kind of story which bodes well for whatever his next project may be.

Island Zero will be available on VOD on May 15, 2018. Check out the trailer below!