Friday, April 18, 2008

Shrooms: Movie Review #8

Shrooms (2006)
For some reason I am always attracted to horror movies that only have 1 copy on the shelf at Blockbuster. Having heard that Shrooms was like The Blair Witch Project on acid, I had to be the one to rent the only copy of this. Of course there was one on the shelf - who in their right mind would rent this?

The movie is and hour and a half with 5 friends in the woods on magic mushrooms, having violent hallucinations that include a hooded figure walking through the foggy forest, talking cows, brutal murders, and huge slimy piles of frog semen. That alone should be enough to make you want to see this film.

The intro visuals are superb, as is the camera work, which sets a great tone for the psychedelic elements of the picture. The characters are believeable, which is usually a great challenge with people pretending to be high on camera. Paddy Breathnach (director) does an outstanding job of blurring the lines between reality and hallucination, and you find yourself questioning if what you're seeing is real, in turn making you a character in the film as well.

Unlike most horror movies where the killer is defined, and we know who the masked man with the butcher knife is, the killer in Shrooms always seems like an illusion. A campfire horror story reveals some of the story line, about a hospital in the woods where children were massacred by a black order of religious brothers. Otherwise we are left to assume the hooded figure is this same murderer, but are never entirely sure. All of the horror is a foreshadowing - and we see the events unfold before they actually happen, but when they do occur, they are just as frightening as the hallucination. This is an incredible feat on the part of the director. We get scared by the same thing twice. TRIPPY!

All of the scares are quick, using modern camera tactics like The Ring did and leaving alot to the imagination, but they are still effective with very little gore. The entire film relies on the psychological side of horror, leaving the audience to feel like they too are on drugs, which is in turn a hell of a lot scarier than a few people getting hunted down in the woods. After all, hasn't that been done a million times before?

It's always refreshing to see someone take the common horror film elements and tweak them into something totally new and different. That is what Breathnach has accomplished here. Unfortunately, some of the typical genre elements are missing, the most notable being gratuitous nudity. Otherwise the film has it all - drugs, blood, spooky forest, creepy old hospital, axes as murder weapons, and my personal favorite - two backwoods Irish hillbilly forest dwellers that drool all over themselves and eat roadkill for dinner. A fun film indeed, but may not have the same effect for someone who has never dabbled with the magic fungus!

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