Reviewed by: Dave Murray
What's it about
Eight good looking but dumb guys and gals wake up in an asylum like complex, wiped of their memories and clad only in grey undies and tank tops. Why are they there, why are they being hunted by a shifty slice-n-dice creature made of shadows, and what horrible secret is one of them hiding from the others?
Is it good movie?
Can someone kick me in the face to cure my boredom, and then explain to me why this movie had to be made? Considering the high calibre of talent involved (and I'm only being about half sarcastic), this should have at least been mildly entertaining, if very derivitive, horror flick. Besides, lack of emotional depth aside, even Jolene Blalock in skimpy undies and a tank top on an obviously cold set should have kept my interest at least a little bit. So what went wrong? Well my first guess would be quite an awful lot!
The story starts out the same as the vastly superior Canadian indie gem Cube, with people waking up trapped in a complex not knowing that the bleeding f&%k is going on. Everybody's memory has been erased, and slowly we're introduced to each main character and a few throwaway red ensigns. Blalock shows us that good looks will only get you so far, as I guess playing a vulcan on Enterprise has made it impossible for her to impart any sort of realistic emotion. James Marsters (who Buffy/Angel fans will recognize as the brooding vamp Spike, except this time with his real American accent) does a halfway decent job with the drivel of a script he had to work with, but even his performance comes off as flat and a little forced, which is a shame, because the dude does have acting chops. Maybe it's the material, but even horror icon Tony Todd has trouble here with what he was given! It's a sad day indeed when a great actor can't even make bad material any more watchable. We have forgettable characters, meaningless conflict and some hastily thrown together backstory, a predictable twist (I won't spoil it only to say yes, one of the characters is the doctor responsible for wiping everybody's memories and creating the shadow creature, bet you didn't see that coming!), and a ghost/spirit/creature that's almost as lame as the ghosts in the remake version of The Haunting. Not much to work with.
It's not a total waste, however. The above mentioned eye candy aside, the hospital/asylum is a great set, but sadly one we have probably seen about 143,972 times before in much better movies. I like that the doctor behind it all wiped the memories of some of his fellow staff when they found out about his experiment, and some of the kills (while being mostly bloodless and boring) were kind of cool (I loved how the shadow creature had these whip like tendrils that sliced through people, and made jullienne fries!). The whole scene of finding the brain-wiping machine and seeing that it was used only eight times....but there are nine people! That was kinda cool. But on the whole, there wasn't much to hold my attention, and honestly about half way through I stopped caring what was going on. That really is a bad sign. I tried to find some redeeming things about this movie, but I came up short, especially after the weak ass ending (which was kind of funny in a lame kitten sort of way).
Let's hope Marsters gets offered some better material in the future, cause I for one would love to see what he can do with a better script and more room to play around(a Spike TV series, maybe...possibly...). I've seen the beautiful poor Ms. Blalock in much better things, it's too bad her reactions in this flick made me think I wasn't the only one who needed a kick in the face. Too bad indeed.
Video / Audio
Video: Anamorphic Widescreen - 1.78:1.
Audio: English (Dolby Digital 5.1), English (Dolby Digital 2.0 Surround) and Enclish closed captioning.
Not much to write about here folks. We have a forgettable Audio Commentary from director Michael Winnick and the Cinematographer, and finally two short featurettes: A short collection of Director and Cast Comments, which amount to the usual obligatory "look mom, we made a great movie" kind of interviews, and a Making Of short that, while showing some more of the great scenery and set pieces, fails to inspire or add anything to the movie.
Short on story and acting but heavy on shitty effects, Shadow Puppets is a movie I just can't recommend to anyone without a good book to read to pass the time. While the sets were nifty and the durection kind of stylish, the poor script dragged this mother down deeper than a luscious Barry White chorus. You've been warned, avoid this one. While it may be worth it in the .99 cent bin as a novelty based on who's in it, anyone who takes the time and effort to order this one or sit through the whole thing is going to be sorely dissapointed. Marsters is better than this, and Tony Todd, well, he needs to start picking some better scripts, cause this one hurts!