29 December 2011

Movies: The Shrine

The Shrine (2010) http://www.imdb.com/title/tt1341710/

Supernatural Horror Mystery

Carmen, a writer, ignores her editor's orders and travels to Poland to investigate multiple disappearances of tourists involving a small village called Alvania. She brings along Sara, her intern, and her photographer boyfriend-on-the-rocks Marcus.  They discover a very tight-lipped group that chases them out of the village. But they also notice a crazy column of fog that sits unmoving in the middle of the woods.  Carmen and Sara both walk into the fog and discover a mysterious demonic statue in the middle. As Marcus tries to talk the girls into returning to the car and getting out of there the villagers chase them all down.

Stars Cindy Sampson as Carmen. I don't think I've seen anything she's been in, but folks who watched the TV series "Supernatural" probably would. Meghan Heffern plays Sara. I haven't seen most of anything she's been in either. She was in "Chloe" but it's been long enough since I've seen it I don't recognize her from that either. Aaron Ashmore plays Marcus. You'll recognize him even if you've never seen anything he's been in (Warehouse 13 for example). His twin brother Shawn was Bobby Drake/Iceman in the first three X-Men films. Heck I get the two confused all the time, I gotta use IMDB to sort it out. 

Sure there's some production issues in the film, less-than-stellar acting by some of the cast, and overall it looks rather small budget. To my ears the spoken Polish sounds like the actors learned their lines phonetically, but I'm not experienced in how spoken Polish sounds so what do I know?

But the weaknesses are made up for by the story and the rest of the production.
For me the story seems a lot "fresher" than most of the recent supernatural films that have been released in the past few years, and approached more intelligently. What is nice is they give you hints about the mystery to where you can figure the twist out before it happens. A lot more showing than telling takes place, which keeps us as viewers more involved in the film.

They didn't use much CGI, perhaps due to budget, but I think that actually works to this film's advantage by letting our imaginations do the work. The "less is more" factor held true in this case. Some may complain there's no subtitles for the Polish spoken, but I think that works to the film's advantage too. By keeping us in the dark about what is said it adds to the feeling of isolation. Heck I don't even know if the Polish spoken really translates or not. It doesn't matter. 
I really appreciate the effort they put into the film. So yes, even though there are some weaknesses, the remaining strengths make up for it.

If you're in the market for a better-than average supernatural mystery thriller I recommend this one. It was a nice surprise because it turned out much better than anticipated.

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