The Aisle Seat - Movie Reviews by Mike McGranaghan
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THE AISLE SEAT - by Mike McGranaghan


Dead Shadows

I don't know why, but a lot of really interesting horror movies come out of France these days. A recent example is Dead Shadows, now on Blu-Ray from Scream Factory. The film owes a debt of gratitude to Thom Eberhardt's 1984 cult classic Night of the Comet, and the influence of John Carpenter goes beyond the Escape from New York poster the hero has hanging on his wall. While not as good as either of those pictures, it's nonetheless a promising debut from director David Cholewa that manages to be generally entertaining.

Fabian Wolfrom plays Chris, a young man who suffers from a severe fear of the dark. That fear is put to the test when a strange comet passes over the earth. In its aftermath, some people begin to mutate into weird, violent creatures. Chris tries to escape from his apartment building. His sole support is a female artist named Claire (Blandine Marmigere) to whom he is attracted. The night wears on, with Chris dodging one horrific incident after another and keeping a secret that even he doesn't know he's got.

Cholewa very stylishly directs Dead Shadows, using lighting, camera angles, and editing to create an eerie atmosphere. There are excellent gore and creature effects throughout, the most striking example being a creature that's half topless woman and half gigantic spider. The story also has several genuinely shocking moments that indicate a willingness on the part of Cholewa and screenwriter Vincent Jule to not play things safe. A love and admiration for the horror genre also comes through in the work; this is a movie that enjoys trying to give the audience a jolt.

Where Dead Shadows fumbles a bit is in its lack of depth. Take off the beginning and end credit sequences and the movie is only about 65 minutes long. Obviously, this leaves precious little time for things like plot and character development. The relationship between Chris and Claire, in particular, could have been much more fully explored. When the story winds to its shocking conclusion, the impact is dulled because we simply don't have much investment in their connection. Still, for what it is a short, punchy burst of horror - Dead Shadows has some appeal for fans of fright flicks.

Scream Factory has put together some extras for the Blu-Ray release, starting with a half-hour interview with the director, who talks about the genesis of the project and how it all came together. There's also a special effects progression reel, as well as two very brief deleted scenes involving the creature creations. A teaser and trailer can be found here as well.

For more information on this title, please visit the Scream Factory website.

Dead Shadows is unrated, but contains graphic violence, some sexual content, and adult language. The running time is 1 hour and 15 minutes.

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