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The Shrine [DVD]
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After a young backpacker goes missing, a group of journalists link his disappearance to a remote village called Alvaina. Upon further investigation, the journalists discover that Alvaina has a history of bizarre cult activity revolving around human sacrifice. Hell bent on discovering the truth, they travel to the small village, but quickly find themselves pursued by a mysterious group set on killing them. Forced into the gruesome reality of true survival horror, the journalist's soon discover that Alvaina hides a much darker secret than they could ever imagine.
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So two reporters, Carmen & Sara start looking into a missing persons case that takes them to Poland (against their bosses wishes) along with Carmen's photographer boyfriend. When they get to the small farming town they see a patch of incredibly thick fog rising above the treeline which the missing person also saw. Naturally Carmen and Sara take a look inside the fog and all goes downhill from there. Unfortunately I did manage to figure out the twist to this film but it is a good twist none the less. The only criticism I can make about this movie is that the Polish are portrayed as living in some sort of time warp of the 1950's, as a half polish woman I would like to clarify that even in rural Poland we do have modern amenities and fashion thank you.
The story and atmosphere are great in this film and while they could've done with better actors the story and tension make up for it. I thoroughly enjoyed this movie, I definitely recommend it.
I need to say that this is not a bad horror film - it is competently produced, directed and acted. But there is absolutely nothing here that sets the film out over the plethora of other supernatural horror films that you can buy. It's all very predictable and although there is a lot of blood and gore, there's precious little in the way of real scares or development of tension to keep the viewer interested.
Moving on to the disk, this is one of those horror films that you can actually buy on Blu-ray. The picture is generally clear with that bright and glossy digital look. The beginning is subject to quite a bit of haloing and other minor nasties, but this settles down after the opening scenes. The film is shot with very muted colour - assumedly to convey a sense of hopelessness for the people of the town. Interestingly, the disk has two lossless audio tracks; a PCM 2.0 and DTS-HD MA 5.1. I chose the DTS version which was very good with lots of use of the surround channels helping create a creepy atmosphere in the outdoor scenes.
But overall this is a fairly ordinary production which isn't likely to stay on your mind for very long.
They arrive in a rural backwater where a strange cloud hangs over the local forest, and a strangely-garbed group of priests hold sway. Believing that the strong, aggressive warnings by locals to stay away after they show around photos of the latest missing person indicate complicity in the disappearances, they venture towards the fog-shrouded forest, where the girls stumble across a gargoyle-like statue with a hideous grin (reminded me a bit of an evil version of the statue in The Keeper Of Traken).
After they emerge from the forest, nothing is quite the same - and now the locals are determined that they are most definitely not leaving.
This is a very old-school style horror, back to an era of weird cults and curses and the problems that outsiders bring to backwaters guarding terrible secrets.
The acting is reasonable, but it's the story and the overall atmosphere that I enjoyed the most about this film. It has something of films like Rawhead Rex about it, and if you enjoy that genre, you will probably enjoy this.
Blu-ray has good picture quality (Arrow films release)
No special features which is a shame.
Region B, 81mins, 2010.
Comes in a nice slim case like USA releases!
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