Hello Meat Sacks.
Today on Wasted Wednesdays, we got a little recent Canadian horror flick you can currently find on Netflix. It’s called The Shrine (2010) and it’s worth a look. It’s low-budget, independent, and like most horror on our favorite little streaming service, it’s best with a bunch of liquor in your system. Read on for why…
–Should I watch this?
Conditionally yes. You gotta be patient cuz it doesn’t take off till the third act. But it’s worth the wait.
-Should I get wasted to watch this?
It can’t hurt. The first two thirds of this movie will go down a whole lot better if you got some sweet nectar in your gullet. I took a couple weeks off the sauce because reasons, and so I watched this straight. And I can tell I’d have liked it far more if I’d been a bit snookered.
–Are there titties?
There’s a flash of side-boob about 5 minutes in, and then a rapey blue-balls scene that makes you think you’re going to uncomfortably watch some crying girl nudity…but no. Apparently, the budget went to the climax of the movie, not to your climax into a dirty sweat sock on your couch.
It’s another “fear the foreigners” type movie. Dumb American reporter Carmen (Cindy Sampson, looking bored for most of the movie) takes her photographer boyfriend and a young intern on a trip to Poland to investigate an American backpackers mysterious disappearance. They wind up in the Polish equivalent of an Amish-like hicksville, and then weird things and angry villagers happen. Oh those crazy, religious, backwards-ass foreign villagers! All pretty predictable for 80% of the movie. But, and this is a big but, there’s a swerve in the third act that saves this movie and takes it from being a snooze-fest to being a pretty solid flick. Ol’ Uncle Frank went from doing a good impression of an old couch cushion to bolt upright in about one minute thirty seconds. They must have spent most of what meager budget they had on this part of the movie, and it’s needed and appreciated.
The rest of the movie ranges between some genuinely creepy stuff, and uncomfortably bad. The dialogue is like George Lucas on Ambien in some scenes, and some of the actors are pretty obviously not from Poland, but instead seem like they’re from the local Canadian repertory theatre troupe. The accents are pretty terrible (except the one guy who I think might actually have been Polish), and the villagers’ outfits look like they were sown together by someone’s grandma who’d only ever heard of Poland in her daytime soaps.
Particularly egregious in the accent-rape is Trevor Matthews, (of “Jack Brooks: Monster Hunter” fame), who never met a sideways glance or common activity he couldn’t overact. Dude looks about as Polish as Keanu Reeves in a sweater, and for some reason he runs in this movie like the bad CG manimals in the Brando version of “Island of Dr. Moreau”. But, he produced the movie, so he gets to be Captain Nepotism all he damn well wants I guess. Also, people talk in Polish without subtitles for far too long, and it goes from being pleasantly obtuse to frustratingly exclusionary real quick.
But all that ends up being the kind of thing we shrug off in this genre of movie anyway. We dont expect Academy Award performances or Weta-level special effects. We just want to get that cold finger of surprise and shock to tickle our proverbial buttholes at least a couple times, and on that score, the movie delivers. There’s a pretty solid crucifixion-style scene, some decent looking rubbery monsters, some solid in-camera no frills jump-scares, and some flat out brutality that redeems this little number by the end of its running time. Im desperately trying not to spoil, as the surprise was what really brought me around by the end, but there are certain things you can do in a horror movie to make me squeal with 13 year-old girl-type joy, and this movie did a couple of them.
I don’t want to seem like I’m crapping on this movie too much, because there is some good effects work, solid camera shots, and even some good acting to be had. Aaron Ashmore (Jimmy Olsen from Smallville) is a standout, surprisingly giving a great performance with nothing to work with, even when ironically surrounded by actors who seem stuck in a CW network acting style. Vieslav Krystyan is solid as the creepy head church guy, even if I never understood a word he said. In truth, none of the main actors are outright terrible, and a few have some excellent scenes. Even Matthews is redeemed by the end of the movie (unless he’s speaking in English), and a lot of the gripes I thought I had get thrown out the window when the turds hit the jet engine in the third act.
Dull for the first half but comes back strong by the end. A little liquid refreshment will help get you through the rough exposition and setup, and will prime you for the gonzo finish. It was made for not-much money, and though it shows through most of the runtime, all the money they had is up on screen and then some by the credits.
ATTENTION DEFICIT DRUNK CORNER:
You should probably cop a buzz to plow through the first half, so here’s a little game for you inebriates. Drink every time you hear a bad Polish accent speaking English. Drink every time you see awful leather gauntlets or a cross. Drink when a character does something totally, frustratingly (even for a horror movie) illogical. Finish your drink if they do something logical (hit him with the shovel, dude! YES!!). Drink whenever a character says another character’s name. And finally, drink to GORE.
UNCLE FRANKS SPLATTER SCORE:
-3.5 out of 5 weird Polish demons
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Categories: Wasted Wednesday