Budgeted at a million euros, directed by Frederico Zampaglione, Italian psychological horror flick Shadow is the second film under this director’s belt. The film is not rated, but if it were made in the good ol’ USA, it would have been rated R due to its bizarre torture scenes and swearing. But that is not all this film is…read on.
David (Jake Muxworthy), an Iraqi war vet and passionate bicyclist, takes some time out and decides to bike ride through Europe. While riding through the picturesque mountainous forest called The Shadow in Italy, he stops for a rest at a tavern in the open wilderness. Inside he grabs a beer, eyes a pretty girl named Angeline (Karina Testa) reading her book and tips the owner well for his brew. In walks two British extras, Buck and Fred, (Ottaviano Blitch and Chris Coppola) from the original Mad Max movie and you know the harassment will start faster than you can say Mel.
Sure enough the Mad Max hunter twins cause a ruckus, however while shielding these two young patrons from further confrontation, the tavern owner thwarts the troublemakers from causing any harm, as they scuttle out the door.
That evening, while camping in the area known as the Pass of the Shadow, David loses his tent in the wind, but he is found by Angeline and shares her tent for the night. She tells him of a chilling story of rebels taking shelter in the village underground coal mine and soldiers attacked them. Women, children, the elderly, all taking refuge were burned alive. The mountain people told her if anyone goes near that part of the forest they never come out alive.
While biking, Angeline stops the hunter from killing deer by shouting out and scaring them away and it all goes downhill for them, for now the hunters now have a new animal to hunt and Angeline and David are forced up in the mountains where they believe they will be safe.
You might think you can figure out the premise of the rest of the story; somebody gets terrorized and it’s going be gruesome. You’re right, but there is a twist. We’ll get back to that in a minute.
A flashback of David in Iraq, sitting on a military vehicle on route to somewhere, gives the audience a hint of something that needs to register in our brains. This could be confusing for you considering the way David handles himself in the film. For a war veteran, David sure is wobbly and not very hip to his surroundings. Being a military man, he really should be more on point. But as you comn to realize there are reasons for everything in this move.
After playing cat and mouse for a while, Angeline goes missing and the two hunters and David get more than they bargained for when they fall prey to a killer up in the mountains named Mortis, played eerily perfect by Nuat Arquint. Arquint’s face is most disquieting physiognomy one shall see and it fits perfectly with the story. A notable scene that was filmed quite well, involves the malnourished Mortis on what seems to be a psychotropic high after licking a Bufo alvarius, a poisonous toad, which is more disturbing than Jame Gumb a.k.a. Buffalo Bill dancing to “Goodbye Horses” in the movie Silent of the Lambs.
Photos of starving boys at what resembles Auschwitz, anatomy diagrams, and huge black and white portraits of Stalin, Mao, and Hitler line this medieval laboratory slash dungeon of horrors. What does it all mean?
The tension and graphic atrocities you will endure are not for naught; this is not your typical psycho killer slasher film. Nuat Arquint’s character is a perfect symbol for the pain that is felt deeply at every turn and brilliantly executed in dream like nightmare scenes. I will say this much, you won’t understand everything you see till the very end. Trust me, it will surprise you.
Rated: 8/10 stars
Running time: 77 minutes
Trailer for Shadow: