HORROR DVD/BLU-RAY REVIEWS

Search by title # A B C D E F G H I J K L M N O P Q R S T U V W X Y Z
THE SHADOW WITHIN
Download Movie
Reviewed by: Pat Torfe

Directed by: Silvana Zancolo

Starring:
Hayley J. Williams
Laurence Belcher
Bonny Ambrose
Rod Hallett

Movie:  
star star star star
Extras:  
star star star
Overall:  
star star star star
What's it about
In a lonely rural French village that has been ravaged by diphtheria, Marie Dumont hasn't gotten over the death of her son Jacques at his birth, even though Jacques' twin brother Maurice survived. Maurice has always had a special relationship with his dead twin that frustrates his mother, who behaves coldly towards him, wishing that Jacques had been the one to survive. A quartet of mothers grieving for their children, lead by Madame Armand, convince Marie that Maurice's contact with Jacques will allow him to serve as a medium to contact the town's other lost children. But when one of the mothers turns up dead, it dawns on the rest that Jacques and the other children want to be reunited with their loved ones, albeit on the other side.

Is it good movie?
Being treated to the likes of ORPHAN and THE CHILDREN a while back was a delightfully terrifying time, since it's not often I get creeped out/impressed by kids acting in horror films. Now here's THE SHADOW WITHIN, which has snagged a couple of awards along the international film festival circuit, as well as garnering praise for Laurence Belcher's acting. Being that I'm skeptical of most child actors, I had to find out if the kid could act for myself. Oh yeah, and if the film was any good.

Even before the acting, I have to say that director Silvana Zancolo and cinematographer Pier Luigi Santi have crafted a hauntingly beautiful film. Stuff like an empty swing swaying mysteriously in Maurice's yard, bleak shots of snow on the ground and light being cast through a church's stained-glass window create some truly striking stuff, while at the same time give the impression of the town having been decimated by disease, leaving a dwindling populace. Throw in Paulo Marzocchi's score to accentuate the tension and unease, and you have one reason why the film garnered attention.

Now onto the acting, where Laurence Belcher (Maurice) isn't the only one that impresses. Hayley J. Williams (Marie) does a wonderful job of projecting the protective mother vibe, as well as showing grief and the pain of losing a child. Bonny Ambrose turns in a creepy performance as Madame Armand, who reminded me of Polly Holliday's Mrs. Deagle in some ways (not the over-the-top stuff, though). And, of course, Belcher delivers a great performance as a troubled young boy being tormented by his dead twin. Yeah, that sounds sort of corny, but really the 'because you're dead!' moment really earns the pathos.

On the other side of things, the film is confusing in terms of where the film takes place. Let's see, the film was shot in Italy, but set in France and cast with English actors playing rural French villagers with English accents. Makes perfect sense, doesn't it? The film also feels a little too predictable at times, and the possession scenes feel silly (which doesn't help when the CGI is pretty flimsy to begin with).

Once the lights are turned on, THE SHADOW WITHIN is a creepy little film that's carried by some strong acting and beautiful cinematography. There are moments where the film genuinely scores, and others where the CGI and the setting take you out of it. Regardless, after having sat through some films where you wanted to reach into the TV and backhand some of the kids yourself, THE SHADOW WITHIN is a refresher.

Video / Audio
The Extras
Last Call
A great little indie ghost flick that emphasizes the visuals and acting over some 'meh' CG. Laurence Belcher is a treat to watch, and here's hoping for more from this kid in the future.

ARROW IN THE HEAD'S RATING SYSTEM
star star star star I'D BUTCHER MY FAMILY TO SEE THIS AGAIN
star star star HANG ME BUT I DUG IT A LOT
star star AN OK WAY TO KILL TWO HOURS
star JUST SLING AN ARROW IN MY HEAD AND LET ME DIE IN PEACE

Mistress Of The Week

More
Dusku, Eliza