The Shrine, Makeupalooza

The Shrine

The Shrine has earned my respect as a horror movie by relying heavily on makeup effects. Factoring out the Evil Dead remake, you don’t really see a lot of that, y’know? Sure, it looked cheesy, but that’s the fun of it! Retro-glamor with a dash of horrific mutilation and tides of blood. The premise of the movie is really neat, and the scares are viable whether you laugh or scream at goofy looking monster masks.

The ShrineCarmen is a journalist looking to find her next big scoop. She thinks she already has it; several disappearances of European tourists in the Polish village of Alvania. After acquiring a journal from one of the tourists and being haunted by his bloody-eyed visage in a dream, she decides that she’s going to Poland. Not without conscripting the aid of Sara the intern and Marcus the estranged boyfriend first, of course.

In Alvania, they find an enormous patch of dense, dark, unmoving fog, as described in Eric Taylor’s journal. The locals don’t take very kindly to the presence of strangers, and are quick to turn them away from the fog. Carmen notices that the fog is the only part of Alvania that the townsfolk are safeguarding, so naturally, it must be where the tourists are. The team sneaks over to the fog to investigate, and Carmen and Sara go on in. Marcus stays back, because fuck that noise. It’s spooky.

The ShrineIt’s all downhill from there. The townsfolk capture the lot and murder Sara with a ritual that involves hammering a mask with large iron spikes where the eyes would be into her head. The same masks had been seen earlier in a room full of corpses. Clearly the fog has some greater significance if it would incite such an occult reaction. On the brighter side of things, I was relieved to find that the Alvanians didn’t function as a one-dimensional antagonist force due to the snazzy twist near the climax. Horror movies don’t have a lot of room for fluid morality; you have to appreciate the little things. Anyway, we’re nearing spoiler territory, so I’m gonna have to cut this short.

Overall, I’d consider The Shrine a decent horror flick. It’s not radically original, but it has its own unique charm, particularly with the horror evoked by
the iron masks. That could just be personal preference talking, but faceless masks always seem to get under my skin.

The ShrineHorror Movie A Day thought The Shrine had a tactically boring startup with a scare-fest second half, and I’m inclined to agree. As far as pacing goes, setting your audience up with low expectations and then bringing out the big guns works wonders. That specifically may or may not have been planned, but it works all the same. Here’s the alt review for a more detailed look at The Shrine:

Silent Hill: Actually Pretty Loud

Silent HillPoint of shame, it’s a movie based off a video game, and I have not played the video game.  On the bright side, that means I have a neutral perspective on the movie, and can provide to you all the unbiased truths that a fan or dissident of the games could not. So, with that out of the way, let’s dissect the ashy corpse of Silent Hill! Yeah!

This particular movie has what I like to call a view threshold. Depending on how many times you’ve seen the movie, it can have one or many of several impacts. Silent Hill specifically has three thresholds. Creepy (I don’t care how jaded you are, those babies are scary shit, man), badass (Pyramid goddamned Head), and preachy. On average… I’d say the first two views are creepy, the next three are badass, and from then on out it becomes annoyingly preachy. I’ll give a little plot rundown so you can better understand me.

Rose is the blondie of the movie. She’s not a dimbulb, thank god, and she even manages to pull off a moment of utter badass. Her adopted daughter, Sharon, has strange dreams about a place called Silent Hill. This is a ghost town with a history stained by death from a disastrous fire. A car accident on the way there knocks the both of them out, and when consciousness returns, Rose finds herself alone. A police officer who had been tailing her wound up in the ashy realm with her, so they both of them are stuck finding the way out. The bad news is, every once so often, an alarm goes off that seems to plunge Silent Hill into a nightmare.

Silent HillI know this is all very abridged, but for the sake of my view threshold explanation and my issue with the movie’s preaching, here we go. Alessa is the darker side of Sharon, and a long time ago, Alessa was burned as a witch by a fanatical religious group based in Silent Hill. She survived, and her hatred allowed her to thrive, consuming her, the fanatics, and the whole of Silent Hill, burying it deeply within a place disconnected from the real world. Through faith, the fanatics kept the church a safe place from Alessa’s anger. But, as the viewer will see, things don’t go so well.

So, with that under your belt, I’ll explain the three thresholds. Threshold number one: creepy. First time in nightmare mode, things get really freaky. I actually quite like the visual effects implemented in this movie. Very good at evoking certain eerie emotions with very dark and complex visual aspects. However, as the nature of repetition goes, the scares lose their thrill twice in.

Second threshold, badassery. This is all on Pyramid Head and Rose’s exposition to the fanatics about the deluded depth of their devotion. Say that last part ten times fast? If and when you stop being creeped out by the ghostly pale nurse mannequins, the fist-sized beetles, and of course the wretched burnt up tweaked out babies, it all starts to look pretty awesome.

Silent HillFinally, what you’ve been waiting for since the beginning: The preachy part. Silent Hill’s got some serious anti-religious sentiment in there, I can tell you that much. Of course, to remain speculatively allegorical, the religious fanatics are made out to be excessive in all ways. Brainwashed, bloodthirsty, and without reason nor mercy. Rose plays the iconoclast that would save them from their delusion, and she does this by killing them all horribly. Alessa rode into the church through Rose’s body and exacted revenge on all the cultists by murdering them with barbed wire. Yeah, that’s all fine, but what bothers me the most is all the goddamned talking. They talk, talk, talk and talk. Preaching, shouting, so on, so forth. You can’t un-notice it. Good news is, it takes a few views to start noticing. Or, you’ll start seeing it right off the bat because of this review.

That’s that! As I said, the movie’s really shock and show. Not a lot to it. Doesn’t mean it’s a bad movie, by any means. So go out, get it, watch it, and remember the number one rule: lights off. Enjoy.