Directed by: David Cholewa
Starring: Fabian Wolfrom, Blandine Marmigère, Caterina Perazzi,
On the eve of a comet passing close to the Earth, a young computer engineer called Chris finally meets his cute neighbour, Claire, who invites him to an "end of the world" party - as there is a lot of speculation about what sort of effect the comet might have on the planet. While he's at the party, Chris witnesses some decidedly other worldly activity and in a panic leaves. However, with the help of another neighbour, Chris realises he must go back for Claire before alien organisms take over...
Before I get into the review, I need to point out that the DVD automatically selects the English dubbed version, but thankfully there is the option to watch the film in French with English subtitles. Personally I prefer to watch with subs, so this was a welcome option for me.
Dead Shadows is a very entertaining alien invasion/horror movie, however its a bit uneven at times.
Our "hero" is Chris, a young computer engineer who works a help-desk from his own apartment. Thanks to the prologue we know that, as a child, Chris witnessed his father murdering his mother shortly after a meteorite passes overhead. Chris suffers from a rare disease which affects him if he spends too long in the dark.
The film spends a long time setting things up - showing us how messed up Chris's neighbourhood is. He almost gets mugged in an alley, accosted by strange wino in the off-licence, etc. He also meets the lovely Claire, an artistic free spirit who's just thrown out her cheating boyfriend. During this time we get to see that strange things are already afoot, with people's moods suddenly changing and infections starting to manifest.
I'd hazard a guess that the makers of Dead Shadows are fans of the extreme sex and horror anime from Japan, as when things start to get gory, they do so with gusto. The scene with the party girl is something even a jaded horror fan will enjoy. There is a nice mix of practical fx and CGI throughout, and I particularly liked the face-melting makeup fx.
There are a couple of issues with the film. Firstly, Chris isn't a particularly strong protagonist. His first instinct when witnessing the horror at the party is to run, and he acts on it, leaving Claire to God knows what fate. It's a long time after that he realises and heads back to see if she's still alive. The second problem is the script which makes sudden narrative jumps. For example: Chris is attacked by the street muggers in his apartment and somehow he kills them all. Shortly after Chris goes from being a timid mouse to a badass with no real explanation how or why he's suddenly able to expertly wield a pair of baseball bats.
Luckily the film's visuals help to paper over any narrative shortfalls. One standout moment sees an exhausted Chris being cared for by a creature that has the head and torso of a beautiful naked woman, and the legs of a spider/crab (i was once again put in mind of an anime influence here, in particular the classic Wicked City).
At times the film is a muddle, narratively, leaving out a lot of background but it is a lot of gory fun all the same. Dead Shadows earns a lot of kudos for pushing the body horror elements of its story.
7 out of 10 (MikeOutWest)