Directed: by Jon Knautz
Starring: Aaron Ashmore, Cindy Sampson, Trevor Matthews
I really wish someone (not named Joss Whedon) would write a good horror movie.
The Shrine tells the story of newspaper reporter Carmen (Cindy Sampson). She stumbles across a case where a local backpacker has gone missing in Europe and wants to pursue the lead. So along with her assistant Sara (Meghan Heffern) and her photographer boyfriend Marcus (Aaron Ashmore) she sets off for Poland on an unapproved trip to find the truth. Once there they find a small rustic town with a mysterious fog hanging over a certain part of the forest. Then for the next hour the writer and director rips off The Exorcist, The Village, The Gate, Evil Dead and too many other movies to name here.
There are so many problems with this movie I just don’t know where to start. First off, when they get to the town almost no one speaks English but we never get subtitles for what is being said. In and of itself this isn’t a problem but late in the movie there is a good chunk of the dialogue that is in Polish (I’m assuming) and it is a bit hard to figure out what is going on. Also there is a scene when the three leads walk into the forest and find the fog. The two females both walk into the fog and reemerge with stunned looks. It is eventually revealed that they both saw the same statue and we are to assume that just the sight of this statue leaves them speechless. May be, however both actresses play this as flat as a pancake and their blank stares do not reflect awe as much as dead behind the eyes. The only thing worse is the explanation for the fog covered shrine, “It’s our curse.” The end.
I used to love horror movies. When I was a kid there were plenty of low budget horror movies that held my fascination. Then everyone decided they could write one and many, many small studios popped up allowing said movies to be made. And I’m glad that the technology is available and affordable so that some real innovation can happen outside of the studio system but that also lends to a lot of would be Wes Cravens trying to film their “vision.” Most of these movies are poorly written and acted but somehow they got distribution.
The Shrine falls into this category. But unlike the B-movies from the past this movie just doesn’t have any of the true horror or any other emotion to drive it along. Too often it relies on gore or thread bare horror movie clichés as substitutes for real horror. The Shrine is not alone in this as most of today’s movies depend on the audience to have a memory cache of horror movie tropes already implanted in their minds so that the “homage” or callback to an older movie will justify lazy writing (they didn’t even give the three leads last names). Don’t get me wrong, there are some good horror movies being made these days but by in large most of them fall well short of the mark. The Shrine is no exception.
16:9 aspect ratio and standard definition is so so. I’ve seen far worse but in these days of blu-ray and HD televisions watching a standard definition disc is like trying to listen to an old cassette copy of Led Zeppelin IV after the onset of CD.
The Dolby Digital stereo leave a lot to be desired. The sound mixing is low and sometimes the dialogue is almost impossible to understand.
The Packaging and Special Features
This is really a bare bones release, standard clamshell packaging and no real special features. Commentary, Behind-the scenes footage and the original theatrical trailer are all that is offered here. And none of these are worth the time to view.
I really do long for some original ideas in the horror genre. If you want to see a fresh take go see Cabin in the Woods. If you want to see a stale, under acted movie that was shelved for two years watch The Shrine. But don’t say I didn’t warn you.
Overall (Not an Average) 3/10
The Movie 3/10
The Video 4/10
The Audio 2/10
The Packaging and Special Features 2/10
Overall (Not an Average) 3/10