The Isle – Peter Bradshaw, The Guardian

The Isle is a well-made, forcefully acted film from director Matthew Butler-Hart; he has co-written the screenplay with his partner Tori Butler-Hart – who also acts in the movie – and together they have created an intriguing work, modestly and intelligently conceived, a supernatural melodrama characterised by an eerie sort of restraint. There are hints of Shakespeare and classical and Scots mythology.

It is the mid-19th century and three sailors, Oliver (Alex Hassell), Jim (Graham Butler) and Cailean (Fisayo Akinade) are the only survivors of a terrible wreck. On their leaky lifeboat they have somehow made it over to a mysterious island off the Scottish coast, where the inhabitants clearly have terrible secrets and are strangely unhelpful when it comes to getting these men back to the mainland. They are Douglas (played by Conleth Hill, from Game of Thrones and Frank Skinner’s Blue Heaven) and Fingal (Dickon Tyrell); and there are two young women who are also stricken with dysfunction and fear – Lanthe (Tori Butler-Hart) and Korrigan (Alix Wilton Regan).

What is happening here? There are moments of hallucination and nightmare, but in some way the entire action of the movie could be seen as an extended bad dream.

Butler-Hart shows great craftsmanship in his efficient use of location – he could even have afforded to be brasher in the scary moments, but I appreciated his cool approach.This is the sort of British movie that I can imagine being made by Michael Reeves or Robin Hardy back in the 60s and 70s, drama that’s all about strong characterisation and heady atmosphere.

 

Two Down Reviews at Oxford International Film Festival 2016

The Oxford Times

"The Phoenix has got a jam packed line up of some incredible feature films, shorts, and music videos from across the globe, starting with one of the most prominent films to burst on to the indie circuit, an award winning feature, Two Down, directed by Matthew Butler and executively produced by Stephen Fry. The film follows the story of a suave Hitman (Alex Hassell), who after being injured during a hit, seeks protection from an unexpected ally.

 

The film delves into its incredible style right off the bat, showing reverence to its clear inspiration of the classic 70s espionage thriller genre. The writers, Mathew and Tori Hart have done an incredible job at blending slick dialogue with a well-crafted story.

 

The standouts of the movie include Conleth Hill as Harry Montague and Tori Hart, the co-writer, as the strong, yet fascinating Sophie Watson. The film has been praised all over the world after first premiering last summer.

 

Having only 12 days to shoot the film, the Director did an incredible job of capturing the obscure and clever screenplay with an unmistakable style and finesse. The film will be paired with a selection of short films premiering at the Phoenix, and will be followed by a Q&A session with the selected filmmakers."

The Oxford Mail - Joel Pickance

"Opening the festival is one of the most prestigious new indie films that the UK has to offer, the award winning feature, Two Down, directed by Matthew Butler with executive producer Stephen Fry. The film tells the story of a Hitman (Alex Hassell), who after being injured on the job takes refuge with some unlikely allies.

 

Two Down is an intelligent, quippy (in the best way possible), and incredibly well cast piece of cinema. Using the set of modern day London to pay homage to classic 70s espionage thrillers. This slick script, and well-crafted direction gives the film’s incredible actors everything they need in order to give stellar performances. Standouts include Game of Thrones’ own Conleth Hill and Tori Hart as the strong, intriguing Sophie Watson.

 

The low budget film was shot in just 12 days, which, after seeing the outcome, I found absolutely extraordinary. Many indie films are shot in a short space of time, but very rarely do they turn out impeccable as this. This obscure, clever, and incredibly quick-witted piece is a perfect choice to introduce the festival this summer. The film will be paired with a selection of short films premiering at the Phoenix, and will be followed by a Q and A session with the selected filmmakers."