4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
THICKEN YOUR COFFEE, SIR?,
This review is from: Shallow Ground [DVD]  [Region 1] [US Import] [NTSC] (DVD)
SHALLOW GROUND will surprise you.
It has all the hallmarks of a typical serial killer film, mixed with all the earmarks of a supernatural thriller - both of which are then framed by your standard FRIDAY THE 13TH set up and pay off, and if memory serves - a little seen 80's horror film called HAPPY BIRTHDAY TO ME (if you've seen the film, when you reach the payoff in SHALLOW GROUND - you'll know exactly what I'm talking about - it's a welcome return). SHALLOW GROUND should not work because it really is all over the map, yet the story does drive directly from start to finish with one focus. It's not this focus that is the problem, it's just all the trappings that we've come to expect, and directors and writers think they need to provide, that slows the film down.
SHALLOW GROUNND opens with a solid, effective, and creepy credit sequence that builds both a mystery and a head of steam right up until when the actual movie starts - and then it stops dead. Really, if you love to watch a guy pack and unpack a jeep, then this films first few minuets are for you! But, luckily the film does manage to ditch the boxes and dive headlong into the story. The films divided focus between the "serial killer" track and the "supernatural" track plays favorites with the supernatural end, leaving the serial killer side of the film in the dust. There are simply too many empty spaces and scenes that run a few frames too long. There are also a number of scenes with no dialouge which leaves the door open for music and sound effects to fill the void. The trouble is, despite being just fine, they are often over the top and are there to, at best, mislead the viewer, and at worst, telegraph exactly what's about to happen. But when it comes to the supernatural side of the story - it really opens up. You'll be hard pressed to find too much that you haven't seen before, but SHALLOW GROUND does have its moments that are inventive and original (the fingerprint scene is a stand out) - and it's here that the movie really shines. The direction actually kicks up a notch, the perfomances seem more alive and vibrant, and while there is a large amount of gore and blood (oh, dude - A LOT of blood) it's never so over the top as to simply be just a covering to hide plot holes or kill time. Blood is so vital in SHALLOW GROUND, it's actually a character. It has personality and purpose. Also, either by choice, or by luck - the film takes a chance and leaves you with both an ending, a mystery (the supernatural side is never explained), and a "what next?" epilogue - which may leave some feeling cheated, while others may want to know more.
Commentary is included in the deal and while solid and knowledgeable, it gets stuck in a rut of explaining shots, camerawork, music, sets, lighting and locations - it's tech heavy. It's informative, but tends to grind.
Overall, SHALLOW GROUND was a surprise. Better than the promise of the box art or the quotes found on it (how or why this film is compared to 28 DAYS LATER is lost on me - neither film has anything to do with the other).
Finally I have to give props to ROCKY MARQUETTE - who plays our blood soaked mystery boy. It takes a lot of dedication to not only appear nude from the opening credits to the closing roll in a film, but to also be painted head to toe in red for it as well. There really should be some kind of award...