Sunday, 1 July 2012

The Shadow of Death (2012)


(Screener copy)

Written and Directed Gav Chuckie Steele (Deadbolt Films)

Stars: Jane West, Corinna Jane, Sophia Disgrace, Dan Bone, Charlie Bore, Daniel Carter-Hope, Stuart Dakers and John Brown


Today's the day the worms have their picnic.......

I was really pleased to get the chance to review The Shadow of Death, not just because it's totally my kind of horror movie, but also because it's a UK made effort. Communicating with writer and director Gav Chuckie Steele prior to watching the film gave me great insight into just how DIY this project was and also how much energy and passion went into it. So did it all pay off?

Well I am pleased to say I had a lot of fun watching The Shadow of Death. It plays out as a rather sly comedy slasher referencing a number of horror films including An American Werewolf in London, The Evil Dead and The Blair Witch Project.

The set up is ultra simple which is to be expected with this type of film, three girlfriends go out to the woods to score some weed and end up in the firing line of a vicious madman intent on wiping them off the face of the earth. Our luckless heroines, Deb (Corinna Jane) Jamie (Jane West) and Nancy (Sophia Disgrace) must band together to make it out of the woods in one piece, in order to escape the similar fate of a number of luckless locals. All the while this is transpiring we are follow the misadventures of a very, very odd young man who has decided that he is a policeman (he's not).

Firstly I have to say that I loved the dialogue between the main characters. All of the car journey conversations/arguments are well scripted and extremely well timed between the actors/actresses. There is a whole lot of comedy thrown in which effectively gives audiences buy-in to the characters despite two of them (Pot head 'Nancy' and rather douchey Dan played brilliantly by Daniel Carter-Hope) being fairly annoying! Further to this the acting from all of the cast was quite impressive. There was obviously a genuine level of passion from those involved in this project as it definitely comes across from the performances. Stand outs for me include aforementioned Dan, a complete tool but hilarious with it and Jane West as the geeky 'Jamie' who shows off some great acting chops, particularly when she is telling her story of the local murders haunting the area. Special mention must go to Dan Bone also who plays the deluded 'Super Special Officer Craven' a poor guy who truly believes he is a policeman, out to save the day. He has two of the best lines in the film "I found a head. Is it one of yours?" and "maybe even devil worshipping doggers" - overall he is just ridiculously fun to watch.

I also felt it important to highlight that the scene mentioned where Jamie relays her story to the others is creepy throughout. The story told by Deb beforehand, relating to a recurring nightmare, is really eerie and reminded me of all those urban legends people told you as a kid to scare the shit out of you (the killer upstairs while lonely girl babysits, Bloody Mary, etc etc). So while the film as a whole isnt scary, this section of it gave me a genuine chill.

The film itself is shot really well - there is nothing present in the fine editing and (fairly regular) off beat shots which scream 'LOW BUDGET!' I was really impressed throughout by the professional final product made on...well a LOW BUDGET!
Dan,Nancy,Jamie and Debra look on.jpg

There are some fantastic death scenes as already mentioned. An extremely limited budget can sometimes mean terrible practical effects such as weapons resembling butter knifes barely touching the victim to be and so on and so forth. Here there is no issue as the practical effects used are used to maximum effect, the second kill in is excellent and I have to say highly amusing. When the killings get a bit deeper in they become slightly more personal as by this point you have come to enjoy the key players so while the level of creativity is still there it...well...hurts that much more!

The Shadow of Death takes us right back to what made horror FUN in the 1980s. Wacky/offbeat characters, creative death sequences, amusing dialogue and a good pace which doesn't meander. Highly recommended - please support independent horror and check out the official web site here for further information.

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