26th Jul2015

‘Dead Shadows’ Review

by Phil Wheat

Stars: Fabian Wolfrom, Gilles Barret, Laurie Cholewa, Margaux Devy, Sylvain Dubois, John Fallon, Blandine Marmigère, Caterina Perazzi, Norbert Ferrer, Franck Penaud, Christophe Perez, Lisette Pires, Baya Rehaz | Written by Vincent Julé | Directed by David Cholewa


Whilst the likes of Inside, Martyrs, High Tension et al., have pushed the boundaries of the horror genre with their mix of brutality and gore, there still hasn’t been anything – at least from the French – that is as batshit insane as Dead Shadows. The closest I’ve seen to this movie – at least in terms of the crazy over-the-top monster-movie gore and grue – has mostly hailed from the Far East, and been animated. Yes, imagine the craziest Japanese anime you’ve ever seen, and I’m including the madness of hentai movies in that generalisation, make it live-action, and that is essentially have Dead Shadows

Chris is a young man whose parents were brutally killed 11 years ago, on the same day that Haley’s Comet could be seen from earth. Tonight, a new comet is set to appear and everyone in his building are getting ready for a party to celebrate the event. There’s even an apocalypse theory going around. As the night falls, Chris starts to discover that people are acting strange – and it seems to somehow be connected to the comet. People are becoming disoriented and violent and it doesn’t take long before they start mutating into something from beyond this world. In a fight for survival, Chris has to try to escape from his building with the help from some other tenants – but will they make it out alive?

Alien invasion movies are ten-a-penny these days so it takes something special to make one such film stand out. Thankfully Dead Shadows goes with hentai-esque tentacle monsters as it “villains” so its bound to stand out! The film starts out innocently enough, Chris sees some strange behaviour from people in a store near his work and then on the walk home, but the action soon spirals into the kind of insanity reserved for the craziest of horror movies – you know this is going to one insane film when a guy fucks a girl to death with his tentacle monster penis! And that’s just the start of the gore-filled terror that awaits.

So I mentioned tentacle monsters, right? Well Dead Shadows is not just limited to tentacle-based terror, there’s also mutants, human/arachnid hybrid’s (who are topless – if that’s your thing?), faceless zombies, Society-style melted humans and, it turns out, a hero who’s not as emo as it seems [I will say no more for fear of spoilers]. Of course it’s not just the Japanese that have had an influence on director David Cholewa, there are obvious shades of the [REC] franchise here and 28 Days/Weeks Later… Yet whilst the film clearly wears its influences on its sleeve, it never feels like anything other than a love-letter to those have have inspired it.

If I did have any qualms with Dead Shadows, it’s the abrupt sequel-setting-up ending and the all-too-brief running time (without credits the film is just shy of 70 minutes). For once, I actually wanted a direct-to-DVD horror flick to keep going! That’s how much I enjoyed this film – even after the credits rolled I was aching for more tentacle-based monster action. Hopefully Cholewa and co. get to continue the craziness of this film with a sequel, especially given the final shot of the film which promises destruction on a Godzilla-like scale.

If you like your horror on the crazy side (and if you love a good tentacle monster like me) then Dead Shadows is an unmissable treat. The film is released on DVD on July 27th, courtesy of Bulldog Distribution.

**** 4/5


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