Shadows of the Dead – USA, 2016

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Shadows of the Dead is a 2016 American supernatural horror feature film directed by John William Ross (shorts: The Thing in the Apartment; The Stress), making his feature debut, from a screenplay co-written with Joe Chisana. The Cinetel Films production stars Kennedy Tucker, Brian Maierhofer, Thomas Miguel Ruff [as Tommy Ruff] and Taylor Jorgensen.

Wojciech Golczewski (Tonight She Comes; Beyond the Gates; We Are Still Here) provided the synth score.

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Review:

If you’re in high school and you’re planning on skipping prom so that you can go hang out at the “anti-prom” (which is being held in a creepy old cabin) and drink beer and smoke pot and maybe have unprotected sex … well, then you’re probably guaranteeing yourself a lot of great memories. But, even with that in mind, don’t do it at Shadow Creek.

Seriously, just the fact that it’s called Shadow Creek should be enough of a clue that you need to avoid the place. It’s always possible that Shadow Creek was named after the famed explorer, Jean LeShadow, but it’s even more likely that Shadow Creek is in some way haunted.

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And if you arrive at Shadow Creek and everyone is sitting around a campfire and telling a story about a murder that happened at Shadow Creek many, many years ago, that’s probably an indication that you should have just gone to the regular prom. I mean, you might not have as much as fun at the regular prom as you would at the anti-prom but at least you would be hanging out with the rich kids and you wouldn’t run the risk of getting brutally murdered.

However, if you stay at Shadow Creek even after the campfire ghost story, one thing that you must not do is get offended over something and then run off by yourself. And if you come across another cabin — especially if that cabin has a corpse in front of it, don’t go inside. Don’t go anywhere near it.

That’s the main lesson to be learned from Shadows of the Dead, which is an occasionally atmospheric, occasionally effective, and often rather silly horror film.

The movie opens up with the anti-prom at Shadow Creek and then goes on to follow several teenagers as their stalked by a shadowy monster. I have to admit that I was never quite sure what the shadow monster was exactly. (A lot of people on Twitter speculated that it was Lost‘s smoke monster.) The movie established that it could only attack people when they were alone and when they were in the dark. Apparently, after attacking, the monster would enter its victim’s body and stay there until it eventually decided to burst back out. As a result, we got a lot of scenes of people literally exploding. It got messy after a while.

But oddly, the Shadow Monster’s powers tended to change from scene to scene. Essentially, the monster could do whatever was needed to move a scene along. As well, the monster was pretty much invulnerable until the film needed to end, at which point it suddenly became vulnerable. There was no real consistency to this shadow monster but then again, Shadows of the Dead is not the type of film that demands consistency. The monster had its frightening moments and its ever-shifting powers led to some nicely surreal moments. Ultimately, your enjoyment of this film will depend on how seriously you take it. (Needless to say, taking it seriously in any way would be a mistake.)

That said, the most interesting thing about Shadows of the Dead was how much of it appeared to have been lifted from It Follows. Considering that the same can be said about The Crooked Man, it appears that It Follows has emerged as the new template for low-budget horror movies.

Lisa Marie Bowman, HORRORPEDIA – guest reviewer via Through the Shattered Lens

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Other reviews:

“Along with the original concept of the creature and it’s rather strong design, these here make for quite the overall impressive and enjoyable effort that has so much to like about this that it can hold itself up over its minor flaws here. The main issue here is the complete confusion over the origin of the main creature, who is said to be part of some strange curse of some kind yet nothing much else is given about this being and what it’s about.” Don Anelli, Letterboxd

“The special effects and makeup are functional but unremarkable. It gets straight into the action but at the sacrifice of character development. The monster’s powers are erratic and the hallucinations are indistinguishable from reality for the audience. This makes the story a wild mess.” Megalous Leigh, Letterboxd

Main cast:

  • Kennedy Tucker
  • Brian Maierhofer
  • Thomas Miguel Ruff [as Tommy Ruff]
  • Taylor Jorgensen
  • Lindsay Elston
  • Alexandria Paige
  • James Gaisford
  • Rene Michelle Aranda
  • Lisa Cole
  • Ronak Gandhi
  • Jude Lanston
  • Anna Steers
  • Ace Underhill

Release:

The film premiered on the Syfy channel on October 22, 2016, as part of their ’31 Days of Horror’ season.

Trivia:

This Shadows of the Dead should not be confused with the 2004 movie of the same name.

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