Review: 'Shadow'


As Shadow begins, we're introduced to a normal young man who is fresh out of the war, and more than happy to trek across the rugged wilderness on his beloved bicycle. As is likely to happen in films best described as "horror / thrillers," our hero bumps into a sleazy pair of backwoods slobs who quickly decide they want him dead. The poor kid then hightails it deeper into the wilderness, somehow bumps into a pretty woman who is camping all by herself. Those two then (somehow) run afoul of the two greasy jerks from earlier, and then we're looking at a wilderness/chase thriller that's pretty darn predictable.

Hold that thought.

Everything I just described about Federico Zampaglione's Shadow is a pretty dreary slog. The main character isn't all that compelling, the girl isn't all that diverting, the scumbags are more obnoxious than they are intimidating -- and then a completely different movie breaks out.

Here's where it gets a little less predictable, but no more un-stupid.

The movie you've been watching runs smack dab into the middle half of a horror flick from a few years back called Creep. That's to say that our four(ish) characters are, out of nowhere, snatched up by a crazy-looking maniac who chains them down in a bizarrely well-appointed torture chamber. There's all sorts of kinfe-stabby, flesh-melty, crazy-gory violence afoot, but it takes the viewer a little while to keep up with the schizophrenic channel switch. It's like Deliverance turns into Hostel halfway through -- only not nearly as good as either of those films.

Sophomore feature from Italian pop singer Federico Zampaglione, Shadow may come from the land that spawned Argento, Bava, Deodato,and Fulci, but this kid only seems to borrow the surface stuff. There's next to nothing beneath the skin of the flick, the characters are paper-thin and grating, and there's a third-act semi-twist that seems tacked on just to have the flick make 79 minutes before the credits rolled.

For all its silliness (like when the guy and girl, virtually strangers, get overtly romantic just a few moments after being shot at by lunatics) and familiarity. Seriously, the torture-obsessed nutcase looks JUST like the one in Creep, only that movie took place in a subway and therefore made a little bit of sense, whereas this movie takes place in a forest and makes virtually none. Mr. Zampaglione might not want to quit his day job just yet (apparently his songs are quite popular with the Italian kids), but it seems that there are a few small dashes of legitimate homage here and there. Lord knows we could use another great Italian horror film (or six) right about now, but this one's no more than a mildly colorful time-waster, at best.