Last night I settled down to a viewing of independent British slasher, The Shadow of Death. A completely non-budget horror set in the English woodland following Debra (Corinna Jane) and her two housemates Nancy (Sophia Disgrace) and Jamie (Jane West) who have met up with friend Dan and ventured out in to the woods to pick up some weed. Little do they realise that there is a killer out there and their only hope of survival is a ‘local nutter’ who thinks he’s a policeman (Dan Bone).
Written, scored, produced and directed by Gav Chuckie Steel, Shadow is reminiscent of your late 70s and early 80s slashers. The film very much follows the formula laid down for us by the likes of Carpenter and Gav has done a fantastic job at creating a fun and gripping piece that whilst nodding to some of the greatest horrors of all time, manages to remain new and fresh.
The characters themselves are your archetypical horror victims and we even get a final girl, which always makes me happy. Being a low budget production made entirely in the cast and crew’s spare time, I wasn’t expecting much in the way of great acting, but I was pleasantly surprised. Nancy played by Sophia Disgrace, an alternative model and actress, was undoubtedly my favourite character and probably the main reason I enjoyed this film so much. Her deadpan comedic delivery (after all this is supposed to be a horredy) carried a lot of the scenes and gave the other actors a great tone to work with and to bounce off of.
The opening scene is quite simply fantastic. The long distance woodland shots accompanied by the almost bluegrass title music and obligatory kill had my attention from the off. The rest of the film is artistically shot in a very grind house style, though at points, some of the more extreme angles can be quite jarring. What I particularly like about this piece though, is the location. It is actually shot in Farnham, Surrey, which is not far from where myself and Horror Hothouse co-creator Luke hailed. A cabin in the woods is the perfect location and the minute details, such as the Blair Witch-esque stick crucifixes on the ceiling of the cabin, add a sense of quality to the production – this is clearly made by people that really have a passion for the genre.
I wasn’t cowering behind the sofa, but there were a few points where I felt really tense, such as during the re-enactment of Debra’s recurring nightmare – you should all know by now how much ghostly children give me the heebie-jeebies. If it’s not scares you’re after, then how about some gore? Shadow was a lot gorier that I had first bargained for and the death scenes are realistic and well presented, especially the opening kill. Hands up to FX man Mark Kelly who managed to bring some truly uncomfortable ends to the characters!
The film premiered at the Brit Flick Film Fest last month (May) and Deadbolt Films are now trying to get it screened in festivals and venues worldwide. This is by far the most enjoyable independent movie that I have had the pleasure of watching and definitely a movie that deserves to get off the ground – for more news and information, check out Shadow’s official site, Facebook and Twitter.
Teaser trailer –
Meet and greet the actors in this teaser documentary –