Monday, January 13, 2020

The Shed – review

Director: Frank Sabatella

Release date: 2019

Contains spoilers

Whilst a film getting everything very wrong is painful it can be more frustrating to watch a film that does some things very well and yet manages to get other things very wrong. A film that manages to include issues that prevent it from being a classic, and this is the problem with the Shed.

A vampire in the garden shed was a conceit I could live with, though its inability to escape was somewhat problematic, however the film’s biggest problem lay in characters who managed to act in ways that just wasn’t credible. And yet there was some good acting, a decent layer of yarn and a pretty good vampire.

the ancient vampire
The film starts with Bane (Frank Whaley), a local farmer, going through the woods, clutching a gun and apparently bleeding at the neck. Stalking him is a vampire (Damian Norfleet) who gets him, the gun having been dropped, and bites him. The vampire holds his head back, in a creature of the night pose, unfortunately the sun rises and the vampire burns. Bane’s hand is touched by the sunlight and smoulders. He runs through the woods and sees a shed out in the open. Covering himself he makes a break for it and gets inside.

Stan and his grandfather
Stan (Jay Jay Warren, Fred 2: Night of the Living Fred) is woken by his mother, though the room he is in seems decorated a little too young for the teenager. She has made breakfast and so, even though it is Saturday, she expects him to get up. He goes downstairs, where she and his dad’s loved up antics cause him to declare them gross and his dad suggests a father/son trip. Suddenly the scene shifts, she looks eaten away by disease, his dad kills himself. Stan awakens, an orphan looked after by his grandfather (Timothy Bottoms).

Stan and the Sheriff
When I say ‘looked after’, I mean that in a loose sense. His grandfather is abusive (and we hear later a drunk). Out of the house, he rides his bike but is distracted by local bully Marble (Chris Petrovski, All Cheerleaders Die), and manages to hit the truck belonging to local Sheriff, Dorney (Siobhan Fallon Hogan. Also Fred 2: Night of the Living Fred & What we do in the Shadows). This is where we get the pluses and minuses of the film in one scene, with Dorney being an excellently drawn character but her companion Deputy Dave (Mu-Shaka Benson) being a cipher to allow exposition about Stan (and the fact that he has been in juvie and is expected to become/remain a bad apple as he turns 18) and not used further – even though it is certain he would be involved later if the film followed the storyline logic it should.

Roxy an Stan
Anyway, back at home he has reason to go in the shed and finds teeth expunged from the vampire’s mouth before being lunged at. He manages to get out, sends his dog in – which is killed. His grandfather then goes in and is killed and Stan locks the shed up, eventually boarding the windows also. He is about to call the authorities but his conditional release from juvie looms large and he doesn’t. That reaction I could handle. However the reactions later often seem silly, including the reaction of his best friend, Dommer (Cody Kostro), and the girl he fancies, Roxy (Sofia Happonen). Not that there is anything wrong with their performances, it is the narrative that often seems unrealistic.

breaking through the door
If one thinks too hard the fact that the vampire doesn’t get out overnight seems strange too. Whilst I can accept that it would stay hidden from the sun, once the sun went down; he is in a shed with tools (one expects) and it isn’t going to have the strength of a stone prison. Indeed, it manages to smash through the wood of the door at one point, trying to get to Stan on the other side, creating a hole that has to be patched – why it couldn’t rip the place apart after the sun had set was beyond me.

Cody Kostro as Dommer
Then again there is a reading of this that the vampire is metaphorical – representing rage, anger or teenage angst, perhaps. Indeed the vampire could represent loss of control, and that fits in with the Stan character well – it is Dommer who is bullied but whilst Stan intervenes, he has never given over to violence as a solution (until later in the film that is). The shed, metaphorically, is where his rage hides – whilst he tries to take the slings and arrows of Marble and his grandfather.

the shed
It is nice to be able to get a deeper reading of a fairly standard horror flick. The primary actors keep this going along nicely and it is actually a pleasure to follow Stan’s journey. But the decisions made by characters ring untrue (as mentioned) and the premise is a better metaphor than actual scenario. That said this was a fair enough watch that I rather enjoyed but had they tweaked the motivations, had they used characters like Deputy Dave as characters rather than ciphers and had there been either a shorter timeline (ie taking place over a day) or a reason for the vampire’s inability to escape the shed and we might have had a classic. 6 out of 10, however, for a blooming good effort generally.

The imdb page is here.

On DVD @ Amazon US

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