Thursday, September 29, 2011

Shadow (2009)

I wonder how Richard Connell would have felt that "The Most Dangerous Game" ended up becoming a template for so many horror films. From the Ozploitation classic "Turkey Shoot" to WWE Film's preachy misfire "The Condemned", the subject of man hunting man is one that's too easy not to pass up for some. Well, Federico Zampaglione, an Italian pop star, has taken on this subject too with "Shadow", which could have used more "Dangerous Game" and a lot less of what some like to call "torture porn."

Iraq war soldier David (Jake Muxworthy) sets off to Europe to get some biking done, when he meets a cute girl named Angeline (Karina Testa.) Unfortunately, they end up running into troublesome hunters Buck (Chris Coppola) and Fred (Ottaviano Blitch), who end up being the least of his problems, because a man named Mortis (Nuot Arquint) has some murderous and torture happy designs on David and the hunters.

I will say this much about "Shadow": the cinematography and outdoors locations look great. Now that I've said nice things, I'll get on with the many, many bad things. For starters, none of this is scary, suspenseful or interesting. The whole thing feels like the kind of bad torture flicks that plagued video stores in the late 2000's, with one-note characters, poor acting and a terrible pacing. The villain is also lame, looking more like a refugee from a bad music video than somebody who belongs in a horror movie. The rock score by Andrea Moscianese is as bland as they come, and never sounds appropriate or menacing.

Then there's the conclusion, which offers a terrible twist ending that also serves as a rather misguided commentary on the horrors of war. Look, I'm about as anti-war as the next guy, but the twist offered here makes no sense in the context of the film, and feels like your usual axe-grinding. If you are going to make some political commentary, at least add it when it feels necessary. Here it's just a terrible conclusion to an already bad movie.

If you are hoping for a return to the glory days of Italian horror, then "Shadow" will just leave you angry. If you are the type of person who likes the "Saw" movies-you'll probably hate this too, and find it to be incredibly pointless.

Rating: 1.5/10

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