20th Oct2017

‘The Shadow Man’ DVD Review

by Nik Holman

Stars: Sarah Jurgens, Nick Baillie, Adam Tomlinson, Rebecca Amzallag, Celest Chong, Alison Louder, Manuela Casinha | Written by Adam Tomlinson | Directed by Joshua Fraiman

shadow-man-dvd

Rachel Darwin (Sarah Jurgens) is a young, mother-to-be, haunted by nightmares. When she wakes, looming over her is the shadowy image of a dark man with a brimmed hat. Her hotshot lawyer of a husband, Scott (Nick Baillie), doesn’t believe in any of that supernatural nonsense. It’s sleep paralysis. It’s stress. It’s hallucinations. Rachel seeks group therapy, but she’s too weird, even for them. But she’s not too weird for William (Adam Tomlinson), who knows exactly what she’s going through and is even weirder than her. What is the shadow man? Is he the manifestations of a confused and troubled woman? Or is he an extra-dimensional cattle rustler looking to fatten up and eat human souls?

First off, let’s get it out of the way, The Shadow Man (aka The Man In The Shadows) is great. It grabbed my attention from the opening scene. Tense music and horrific, desperate screams echo through a bleak operating room. After Rachel abruptly awakens from her nightmare, she beings frantically snapping pictures across the bedroom. What the heck is going on? We’re already in the middle of a story and something serious is going down…

The Shadow Man does a great job of keep the viewer engaged even between the “horror” scenes. The script by Adam Tomlinson is strong. The dialogue is witty. Rachel’s husband, Scott, is as charming as he is sleazy. It would be easy to portray an unfaithful defense attorney as an irredeemable villain, but instead we get a man with humor and style. One can see why Rachel fell for him and why he’s a good lawyer. Also, he genuinely loves his wife. He made a mistake, one Rachel hasn’t let go of, but he wants to do right by her. Love him or hate him, Scott isn’t a paint-by-numbers horror movie character, and that is refreshing.

Many moments in this film felt real. When Rachel first attends a group therapy, she tells her frightening story only to be met with blank stares. The session leader nods and says, “Thank you for sharing. Does anyone else care to share?” She just told them about otherworldly beings invading our dreams and nobody cares. But they wouldn’t care because Rachel sounds like a crazy person. I laughed out loud. The scene was funny, sad, and honest.

I would be remiss if I didn’t mention Adam Tomlinson in his role of William. Adam plays the crazy loner role with gusto but never feels corny or forced. William is clearly unhinged but he also happens to be right. The relationship that develops between William and Rachel is inevitable and oddly sweet. It’s a doomed relationship, we are after all, in a horror movie, but it was nice to see the loser get the girl.

But for all The Shadow Man praise, it isn’t a perfect film. While I applaud the movie for not becoming a Nightmare On Elm Street knock off, the third act is pretty much “horror movies 101″. Once we learn what the monster is and the duo tries to stop it, the film devolves into typical monster-of-the-week fare. The titular Shadow Man stalks our heroes from location to location, stabbing anyone that gets in its way. It could be Jason/Michael/Freddy and you would not notice the difference. In a lesser movie, the weak finale would probably have gone unnoticed. It’s unfortunate that a movie this well written and acted chose to settle. It isn’t a bad finale, just underwhelming.

I would easily recommend The Shadow Man to anyone looking for a good horror flick. It doesn’t rely on gore. It doesn’t need mindless jump scares. It’s a solid movie with good acting and good directing.

The Shadow Man comes to DVD in the UK on October 16th, courtesy of High Fliers

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