Connect with us

Movie Reviews

The Shrine



Released: 2010

Directed By: John Knautz

Starring: Cindy Sampson, Aaron Ashmore

Certificate: 18

Reviewed By: Ryan Gelley

John Knautz, writer/director of 2007′s hilarious & fun Jack Brooks Monster Slayer, got serious with his latest film, The Shrine.  At least, he tried.  The Shrine is the latest of many recent horror films to feature an isolated village full of seemingly deranged, dangerous cultists/political extremists/cannibals who welcome visiting city-folk by capturing and tormenting them.  The Texas Chainsaw Massacre and The Wicker Man are perhaps the most famous of these, and French films Calvaire and Frontier(s) the most notorious.  Just this week I watched Hammer Films’ Wake Wood, one of the best movies I’ve seen this year, and it featured, you guessed it, “an isolated village full of seemingly deranged, dangerous cultists/political extremists/cannibals”.  With so much of this subgenre’s ground tread already by talented filmmakers, Knautz had his work cut out for him in making an enjoyable film. The results are mixed.

Two young female journalists and Aaron Ashmore ignore their boss’ demands to “drop the case”, and resolve to investigate the disappearance of a local boy.  It leads them to the aforementioned town-o-weirdos in Poland, and the unpleasantries begin.  I can’t really say much about the later plot points, as spoilers would actually spoil the movie.  The thing I like most about The Shrine is it’s unpredictability, which I will avoid destroying for you.  It begins, as I have noted, quite similarly to Wicker Man and TCM, but by the end of the film, it has morphed into another kind of horror movie entirely.  But I’m not telling which kind.

The acting, especially that of Meghan Heffern, is not great. Ashmore and Trevor Matthews are serviceable, but there are some distractingly poor performances in The Shrine.  This is not a deal-breaker for me.  As a fan of The Room and Plan 9, I’ve learned to forgive bad acting if I’m given something else worth watching.

The Shrine, in my estimation, has just enough good to make the bad worth enduring… – Aaron Ashmore’s character makes surprisingly sound, rational decisions in the face of terrifying craziness.  Of course, protagonists in horror movies can’t hear the creepy score like we can, and therefore are not as afraid.  Ashmore seemed like he’d seen the flick before, and was uncommonly cautious.  I almost felt like I could safely root for him.

The villagers speak Polish, there are no subtitles provided, and none are needed. The viewer is never completely sure what the villagers are talking about, but this confusion forces us to attempt to understand the characters’ intent through context and gestures.  I thought it added great tension to parts of The Shrine, as I tried to figure out what the villagers would do next.

According to multiple online reviews by Polish-speaking fans, the Polish in the film is hilarious, inappropriate, and wrong. The film was not meant to be seen by Polish audiences, I guess. Yes, I am claiming this makes The Shrine better.  I like strange & stupid stuff.

There is haunted fog, a statue cries blood, and Hey! someone left the Evil Dead-style demon-prosthetic-making-machine on overnight…!

The Shine is a deeply flawed horror movie that is almost redeemed by its unpredictability.  I moderately enjoyed it.  Horror diehards should give it a chance, but all others should pass.

Just For You