When soldier David (Jake Muxworthy) takes a well-earned holiday, having just returned from a tour in Iraq; he follows a good friends advice and heads for an area known as The Shadow in Eastern Europe. A keen cyclist David has almost total freedom of the area. Stopping off at a small café he meets fellow traveler Angeline (Karina Testa) who is also visiting The Shadow on her bike.
After a fight with a couple of hunters, the two set off separately only to later be joined together when strong winds cause David to lose his tent. Now travelling together the couple get to truly enjoy there holiday, that is until they run into the hunters again. Just prior to them meeting up again Angeline tells David of a strange part of the valley where all the villagers were slaughtered in a fire, and now nobody dares enter that area. And sure enough, while being chased by the hunters the quartet crosses that boundary.
The prime reason why I love Shadow so much is because you never quite know where its going, part Deliverance, part Blair With Project, then heavily on the likes of the Saw and Hostel movies; Shadow swings you round in so many different directions that you never quite get to catch up before the movies story seems to have morphed into something else.
Shadow has a real ambiance about it Zampaglione really knows how to frame and deliver a story to the audience. From its opening, a scene of real beauty to suck you in, to an airy feeling of vast space, before restricting you and making you feel almost claustrophobic the director takes you on a whirlwind adventure that few other directors would have the guts to take you on.
Shadow is not all perfect please don’t get me wrong, it leaves a lot of questions unanswered, but leads you in such a way that perhaps maybe it does not really matter.
What Shadow does most of all is put Italy back on the map when it comes to horror filmmaking. For years the Italian horror industry has been in decline, with Dario Argento seemingly being the only quality force, but even he has past his prime, his movies being very similar. Zampaglione delivers a fantastic new bloodline to the Italian horror legacy, and hopefully will continue to deliver such high quality scares.
The special effects in the movie are just great, there is an amazing scene in which one of the characters has their eyelid removed and you are then forced to look at them eyelid free for the immediate future.
The movies best asset of all however is actor Nuot Arquint, who on first appearances (as the camera pans his hands and legs) you could easily believe to be a woman. This actor I just plain scary to look at, when he’s angry its scary, when he’s smiling its all the more horrific. I predict a bright but scary future for this as yet unknown actor.
The other performers do well Muxworthy a regular US TV actor delivers a convincing lead, while Testa best known from the movie Frontiers gives an edgy, your never quite sure performance as the love interest. While you sympathise with Hunter Buck played by Chris Coppola, you wish his colleague Fred (Ottaviano Blitch) only the worst as he is possibly one of the most unlikeable characters in a movie for some time.
Shadow is a beautiful looking movie, it has a very 70’s inspired soundtrack that gives it a heightened edge, but the chief thing is it does what its meant to do, its horrific, enchanting and keeps you firmly pinned to the edge of your seat until the very end. This truly is one to watch if you are a lover of horror.