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Shadows Of The Dead (2004)

DVD Cover (First Look Home Entertainment)
Genres:
Horror, Psychological Drama, Zombie Film
Director:
Carl Lindbergh Carl Lindbergh
Starring:
Jonathan Flanigan Jonathan Flanigan
Beverly Hynds Beverly Hynds
Fred Dekom Fred Dekom
Jason Schwartz Jason Schwartz
Ryan Christopher Ryan Christopher

3.1 / 10 - Overall Rating

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Review by Chad
Added: April 15, 2005
John (Jonathan Flanigan) and Jennifer (Beverly Hynds) are a young couple who are headed to a cabin out in the woods for a weekend getaway. John decides to take a shortcut down a back road, and as any horror fan can tell you, that's never a very good idea, especially at night. The back road curse doesn't take too long to pop up here, as a tire on their vehicle blows out, leaving them stranded in the middle of nowhere thanks to Jennifer removing the tools from the trunk in order to make room for their belongings. The two plan to wait inside of their vehicle until either someone comes along to help or morning rolls around, at which point they'll walk somewhere to get help. As they're sitting inside the car trying to kill time, Jennifer notices what appears to be a human body laying off in the woods ahead of the vehicle. Being the nagging woman that she is, she orders John to go check it out, so off he goes to find out if this is indeed a body, and if it is, if the person needs help. Unfortunately for John, this is indeed a human body, and it is alive... well, undead would be a more fitting description. John receives a bite on the neck for his troubles and as the law of the undead states, he starts to turn into a zombie himself. After a few more zombies show up, our scared couple decides that it would be much wiser to run through the woods at night and risk getting lost than to just sit there and wait for the zombies to attack, so off they go. Luckily, they manage to make it to the cabin without encountering any more zombies, but here in the cabin, they face a larger problem... John is quickly turning into a zombie, and craves human flesh. When his craving becomes too much to handle, he attacks Jennifer and bites her on the neck as well, sealing her fate to live out the rest of her life as a member of the undead. The two must now face the reality of the disease... they must feast on the living in order to live, something that John has no problems with. Jennifer, on the other hand, would rather die herself than kill another human. The two must figure out a happy medium as the disease overtakes their bodies, but as the hunger for flesh grows, their minds start to slip...

First things first - if you're looking for a fast-paced zombie film, look elsewhere; you will not enjoy this one. If you're looking for lots of gore or lots of zombie action, again, look elsewhere. With the exception of the opening scene and two or three scenes near the end of the movie, everything revolves around John and Jennifer inside their cabin. There's no hordes of zombies clawing at the doors and windows, no Romero'ish gore-fests, and there's nothing much in the way of action (even John's encounter with a zombie takes place off-screen). This movie falls much more in the drama genre than horror, so if you rent this with the expectation of another zombie-fest, you'll be sorely disappointed.

However, the movie was pretty good as is in my opinion. The idea behind the storyline was certainly original, and while there were a few problems here and there, the overall film was decent enough. The main problem here was the fact that ninety percent of the movie revolved around John and Jennifer and how they handled their problems. Now, the problem here isn't that the movie is purely dialog-driven, as that's been done quite successfully before... the problem is that these two cast members weren't exactly high up in the quality acting department. Beverly Hynds is the better of the two, but even she isn't top-notch material (even considering that his is a low-budget offering). My biggest beef with the two is the lack of emotion from them, even prior to the zombie bites (after which it could be claimed that the absence of emotion was related to the zombie). Imagine sitting at the dinner table and asking your significant other to pass the ketchup... that's the exact tone of voice and amount of emotion that went into the lines "I no longer have a pulse" and "I think I'm dying." This problem is much more noticeable in the first half of the film, as the latter half deals less with direct dialog and more with voice-overs (done by the same actor who plays John, but with the voice-overs he actually sounds quite believable). The other two problems that I had with this film were both on a technical level: audio and video. For the most part, the audio is fine; however, there's enough scenes in which the cast (Beverly Hynds is the worst when it comes to this) mumbles or talks so damned low that you'll have to rewind to find out what she said. This could be overlooked, but considering that this is almost a purely dialog-driven movie, well... The video problem could have been the way that the director intended things to look, but if I were a betting man, my money would ride on it being a rookie mistake from this first-time director. Almost every scene is much too bright, looking as though there was a giant floodlight shining on the cast and surrounding area during the shooting. This was another problem that can be overlooked, but the movie would have been much more enjoyable had this problem been fixed prior to the release.

Overall, this is worth a rental if you're a fan of zombie films who wants something unique from the genre and know in advance that this is not going to be your typical hordes-of-zombies gorefest. The dialog from the two main cast members is the only thing you're going to see for the grand majority of the movie, and while it could have used some work, it was good enough to warrant a rental. 6/10.
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