Netflixable? The locals hear something awful in “The Block Island Sound”

Something’s made the old fisherman sleepwalk. He stares off into space, blacks out, forgets where he’s been or why he took his boat out in the middle of the night.

Is he drinking? Has mental illness taken him? Is it the windmills recently-installed offshore?

Or is that low growl he hears at sea, sometimes even at home, the sign something more sinister is out there in “The Block Island Sound?”

This properly creepy if somewhat aimless creature feature from the McManus Brothers is built to get under your skin and up your nose. That nice air of mystery smells salty in this case. We get a whiff of the fish kills, the briny grime of a fishing town where something new is “out there,” something strange is “going on.”

It’s the sort of movie where the local hero, Harry (Chris Sheffield) spends a lot of time trying to explain himself and their increasingly “unstable” fisherman-dad (Neville Archambault) to his EPA/fish-and-wildlife researcher sister (Michaela McManus). But we’ve picked up from an early scene that the conspiracy nut (Jim Cummings) might have a theory or two closer to the mark.

“You should talk to Dale. He knows what’s going on.”

“It’s not just here. It’s all over…”

Fisherman Tom (Archambault, of “13 Cameras”) woke up on his boat after one blackout to a wheelhouse in shambles, and an empty dog collar. He doesn’t know what happened and doesn’t discuss what he does know.

When daughter Aubry (McManus) shows up, Harry insists “He’s fine,” even though he’s had a few panicked searches for Dad after “episodes” like this.

But the last incident turns up an empty boat. Tom is gone. A tearless funeral and collation reveal to us that Harry’s starting to show the same symptoms. Aubry and his other mainland-living sister (Heidi Niedermeyer) are furious after Harry winds up in jail. It’s not drinking, he keeps insisting.

“We’re not all crazy here, you know.”

But when you’re seeing your dead Dad’s corpse everywhere (Archambault could be the new Sig Haig, a crazy-eyed horror mainstay), maybe you’re overselling the sanity thing. Harry’s due for a brain scan and a Trump style “cognitive” test. Overdue.

Kevin and Matthew McManus (“Funeral Kings”) give us a movie with a fairly distinct sense of place, but seriously lacking in “local color.” No accents, no real “old salts,” for instance.

They underutilize their experienced actress sister Michaela, by casting her in the Richard Dreyfuss role in this “Jaws” and not giving her scenes to show off expertise. They’re more interested in finding another conspiracy-minded crank, this one with first-hand knowledge of what father Tom and now son Harry are going through.

And the story, while maintaining mystery, has a certain stumbling about with no big point to it all other than to get to the third act revelations, where the theories come home to roost.

“It’s probably the government doing this s–t, anyway. It’s all connected.”

Their most heavily-used effect is that growling sound that makes the film’s title a pun. But the visuals they trot out for the third act, especially the finale, are real eye-poppers.

That payoff makes this mixed-bag of a thriller worth your time, an interesting if not terribly compelling sea tale where all the answers can be found in the sound.

MPA Rating: TV-MA, smoking, profanity

Cast: Chris Sheffield, Michaela McManus, Neville Archambault, Jim Cummings and Willie C. Carpenter

Credits: Scripted and directed by Kevin McManus and Matthew McManus. A Netflix release.

Running time: 1:39

About Roger Moore

Movie Critic, formerly with McClatchy-Tribune News Service, Orlando Sentinel, published in Spin Magazine, The World and now published here, Orlando Magazine, Autoweek Magazine
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