The Shrine

Foreigners are evil… or at least that’s what horror movies want you to think. How many films have their been about Europeans travelling to the United States only to be sacrificed to an ancient God or tortured for the entertainment of the extremely wealthy? After Hostel (2005) hit theatres there was a stream of “vacation-gone-wrong” films that were released to ride the hype of the torture centered creation by Eli Roth. Turista (2006), The Ruins (2008) and of course, the Hostel sequels (yes, there are now 2 of them) are just a few examples of films where the villains, the monsters and the psychopaths are all from another country. Poor unsuspecting American youth travels to to a sunny or historical location to get a break from their daily struggles (or first world problems) only to become the helpless victims to bloodthirsty locals.

SYNOPSIS

Original Movie Poster

Hard hitting journalist, Carmen, is given a big ole slice of humble pie when her editor drops her down to cover the must mundane and inane of news after he suspects she has been using her time to follow stories that lack credibility and evidence. Ignoring the warnings that she would get fired if she persists and risking her relationship with her photographer boyfriend, she travels to the Polish town of Alvania where it seems that many visitors have gone missing. What she finds there is a shrine amidst a suspicious fog and a small population of folk who instantly warn her to leave and when she doesn’t, she learns of the curse and deaths that surround it. Is it a demon worshipping cult who sacrifice trespassers to their dark Lord? Or perhaps those killed are necessary to keep the beast at bay and protect the residents of the tiny little town?

THOUGHTS

This is a Canadian horror movie. Yay! This is a bad Canadian horror movie. Boo. Okay, maybe it wasn’t bad – but it certainly wasn’t very good.

The writer relied very heavily on a static and predictable story, which I’ve mentioned above. Americans come to a small town to explore and become the lambs for the slaughter. He tried his best to add a new spin on things with the addition of a twist near the end, but it wasn’t enough and really only confused the purpose of the film. I don’t want to give too much away for anyone who might actually stream this after reading my review, but there’s suddenly a demon possession element that’s thrown into the mix that derails the entire story.

American Pig-Dogs

The characters were consistent, but shallow – and while all of the actors have some experience (mostly in television), they didn’t add anything to their roles, leaving their deaths or escapes hollow.

There wasn’t one person that I actually wanted to see survive, which is usually a mistake when it comes to the genre. Was it the flat script or poor direction? Maybe it was a paycheck movie, but I know that the two leads were capable of more. Yes, I’m looking at you Aaron Ashmore (Smallville, Veronica Mars) and Cindy Sampson (Supernatural). For shame.

Stars!

The gore was mostly minimal until the victims were strung up to the altar, getting a mask hammered to their face and spikes driven into their eyes, though the direction hides the majority of the gruesomeness that would come from such a sadistic act.

With the demon possession, there are images of contorted and monstrous faces on those who have been taken over by the devilish creature, but the rubber mask and prosthetics worn by the cast look cheap and like something that was rejected from a Resident Evil movie. With a million and a half dollar budge, you would think that more thought and care would go into the scare factor.

VERDICT

It lacked depth and meaning. Not every horror movie needs to be some grand reflection of society or life as a whole, but it should have a purpose. Whether it’s to scare us, make us laugh or throw up – it’s important that when we walk away from it, we still think about it later on. This one is completely forgettable.

Netflix Rating: ***
My Rating: **

FRIGHTENING FACTS

-Aaron is the brother of Shawn Ashmore – who played Iceman in the X-Men films.

-The movie, while set in a fictional Polish town, was actually filmed in Ontario, Canada.

-Director, Jon Knautz also directed the cult classic, Jack Brooks: Monster Slayer. He also wrote both scripts.

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