Shaky Shivers is a horror-comedy that’s neither scary nor funny. Had it worked on either count, it might have been passable. Failing on both, however, is disastrous. The movie only runs 78 minutes minus end credits, yet it feels like hours. Allegedly inspired by ‘80s fright flicks, this directorial debut from Fast & Furious actor Sung Kang can’t even pay proper homage to its inspirations. Those ‘80s pictures – even many of the bad ones – at least had a sense of imagination.
The story, such as it is, revolves around best friends Lucy (Brooke Markham) and Karen (VyVy Nguyen). They work together at an ice cream shop where the former is bitten by a weird female customer, causing her to believe she will turn into a werewolf during the full moon. The women drive out to the middle of nowhere so that Lucy can handcuff herself to the steering wheel and Karen can shoot her with a silver bullet when the transformation occurs. (Well, a bullet covered in silver nail polish, at least.) Their plan goes awry thanks to a goofy coworker, a zombie, Bigfoot, and other factors.
That might sound like a recipe for fun, but Shaky Shivers is excessively talky. Most scenes consist of Lucy and Karen bickering or expressing astonishment at their situation. The “jokes” their discussions are built around get repeated again and again, guaranteeing that any comedic value they might possess is sucked dry quickly. Paper thin characterization doesn’t help matters. Neither of our heroines is more than a one-note shrieking machine, despite the game efforts of the actresses portraying them.
When creatures do show up, they look like people in masks purchased from Spirit Halloween. The effect is not impressive. That could have been played for laughs, if Kang understood how to structure a visual joke, which he does not. In several other spots, the potential exists for physical humor, and every time, that potential is killed by inept staging and an inability to find the right tone.
Shaky Shivers is named for an ice cream concoction Karen invents that looks like feces in a cup. That’s really tells you everything you need to know about where the movie’s head is at. A better use of time would be seeing some of the outrageous ‘80s films whose vibe it fails to emulate. I recommend Lifeforce, The Howling, Chopping Mall, and The Return of the Living Dead.
out of four
Shaky Shivers is unrated, but contains strong language and bloody violence. The running time is 1 hour and 22 minutes.