I’ve had this movie on the Netflix Instant queue for a few weeks ago, and Rampaige was the one who kept wanting to watch it, saying how the cover freaked her out. I also think the description mentioned a demon, or it was suggested as a “supernatural thriller” or something, which we are suckers for. Every time I stumbled across it and pulled up the description, I couldn’t help but notice that Trevor Matthews, a.k.a. Jack Brooks: Monster Slayer himself, was in it, which I was glad to see since I didn’t know he was still acting. Not that he would stop acting or anything, just that I thought Jack Brooks was promising and wondered what he was involved in now. More research showed that Matthews was teaming up again with Jon Knautz on producing and writing duties, while Knautz was directing the picture. That was the same combo for Jack Brooks! I guess that meant my expectations were somewhere in the middle, since Jack Brooks set the bar just above a SyFy original movie.
Sorry guys, that’s not Bobby Drake from the X-Men movies. This is the twin who got to be in Veronica Mars, which makes him even cooler than the one who kissed Anna Paquin.
The film opens with a man being strapped to a table, a metal mask being placed over his head, and a guy in a robe using a fancy hammer to smash that mask into his face. That scene is immediately followed by a woman coming out of the shower. Yes! That woman is Carmen (Cindy Samson), an investigative reporter for DCypher magazine. Hahaha DCypher, that’s fucking stupid. She learns of a man who went missing in Europe, and for some reason decides to go over to Europe to investigate the disappearance, despite being instructed to investigate bees. While investigating the last place the man visited, she encounters weird townsfolk who seem to be hiding a secret and avoid talking to her. She’s there with her boyfriend, played by Aaron Ashmore, and an intern, played by Meghan Heffern, who go with her to investigate some weird fog in the woods. Both Carmen and the intern see a creepy statue (or “shrine”, if you will) in the fog, and then the three are apprehended by the townsfolk. The intern gets the same mask smashed into the face treatment that we saw in the beginning, but then Carmen and her boyfriend are able to escape and seek refuge in a nearby cottage. They aren’t able to hide there for long, as the people in charge of smashing masks into faces find them, only to realize that Carmen is turning into a scary demon monster. Apparently the only way to kill these demon monsters is by smashing their faces with these masks, and the townspeople were trying to protect humanity from these demons, as opposed to just being jerks. Go figure!
Couldn’t they have at least put a funny mustache on the mask? I think mustaches gaurd all demons from hurting people, right? Maybe I need to read the Bible more.
Even though I’ve only seen two films that have come from the Jack Brooks: Monster Slayer team, I think I can point out a few of the trends in their films. It seems as though they go with affordable actors who are able to memorize the script, while incorporating one person who is somewhat recognizable. Obviously having Robert Englund in their first film was far more recognizable than Aaron Ashmore, but still, it’s something. I don’t know what kind of cameras they shoot their movies on, but it seems more like TV quality than film quality, which I’m sure has something to do with budgetary reasons. I can’t quite put my finger on what it is about each scene that makes me think that, it just seems like everything has a soft enough focus that there’s no way it could have been shot on film or on a high quality digital camera. Despite the acting and direction not being that exceptional, this crew can succeed because of their story. Maybe it was because I was writing this movie off as being stereotypical by having a small European town with scary residents, but I didn’t see the twist coming until the very end. Again, maybe if someone was paying more attention to the story, and hadn’t already made up their mind on the quality of the film, might have known earlier than I did, but it was a fun enough twist for me. I think that had the budget for this movie been bigger it could have been more successful, but it is still showing promise of this creative team. Hopefully their next movie will have just as fun of a story but won’t attempt too much, or at least won’t attempt anything outside of their reach. I kept forgetting this movie was called The Shrine while watching it, which I think was a good thing, because I completely forgot that the shrine in the movie was important at all, so I recommend the same for you to enjoy it at maximum capacity. Oh yeah, and Trevor Matthews had this terrible haircut in the movie, which was maybe an attempt at being an authentic European?
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