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A clever and exciting supernatural horror-thriller,
This review is from: The Shrine [Blu-ray] (Blu-ray)
The Shrine knows what makes a good horror tick and works with it. Flawed characters? Got them: Aaron Ashmore ('Marcus') and Cindy Sampson ('Carmen') play a hard-headed photographer and a flint-edged determined reporter. He's bitter and angry, she's self-centred and recklessly ambitious. Need some disharmony? Got that: their relationship is thoroughly on the rocks as a result of her career slump. All any good horror needs then is the carrot to lead them into harm's way. We get that in the form of a mystery that Carmen thinks will bust her out of her career rut - people have been going missing and she thinks she knows where. Roping a naive intern into her scheme, she drags them to central Europe to an intensely remote rural village, and things start to get weird for the group...
The movie mines the same gold-vein as Hostel in having overconfident Americans stumbling around in a land where they don't know the customs or intentions of the locals, and it has a great atmosphere of distrust and suspicion even before they get to the central mystery.
While it's obvious they're going to get into trouble, the film's strength is in taking what you think you know and using it to tease and tantalise you. The horror scenes are squirm inducing, there's a lot of blood, but it's matched with atmosphere and chills. There's also a nice twist which you can see coming, but which is good enough regardless. With a great showdown style ending, easily the creepiest use of a statue since The Exorcist, and some well-utilised European bleakness, this is a gem among the 'scary Europeans' pretenders.