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Wide World of Horror: ‘Shadow’ – a joyless, almost sleep inducing experience.

Wide World of Horror: ‘Shadow’ – a joyless, almost sleep inducing experience.


Written by Giacomo Gensini, and Domenico & Federico Zampaglione
Directed by Federico Zampaglione
Italy, 2009

When a film ends and the audience walks out the doors of a movie theater, shuts off their TVs, or switches the channel, there’s a certain reaction that is expected. That reaction can be excitement, anger, derision, joy, and so forth and so on. The gist is that a movie should engender some sort of reaction from the audience. Shadow is the type of film that fails to elicit any type of reaction from the audience. It’s so poorly made that being derisive towards the film serves no point. The proceedings in the film are so bland that there’s nothing to get excited about. Shadow is stupid on a level that doesn’t even allow for anger from the viewer. When one walks away from Shadow no reaction should be present. Without any sort of reaction, what experience does that leave for the audience?

In the case of Shadow the experience of watching the film is a joyless, almost sleep inducing experience. It’s not even that Shadow is a boring film, it’s that it’s a film devoid of any sort of cinematic life. There’s no suspense, no danger, no terror, nothing for the viewer to latch on to and experience through the film itself. There’s a sense of, “Oh yeah, we have to hit that horror trope, then that one, and let’s make sure we don’t forget this one” when it comes to Shadow. Not even the one horror trope that usually riles up the majority of horror fans, the killing of the dog, can leave a mark in Shadow. There isn’t a single aspect of Shadow that feels original, or at the very least feels genuine. Because, as every cinephile should realize, originality in film is overrated. But, when a film cribs it should try to be genuine in its cribbing and do something interesting with what it is cribbing. Shadow presents standard horror tropes and proceeds to do absolutely nothing with those tropes other than present them as blandly as possible.


The only area where Shadow gets any sort of a positive mark is in the look and presence of Nuot Arquint as the villain of the piece, Mortis. Natural prosthetic’s are clearly at work in Mortis’ look, and they pay off quite nicely. The character, and the actor, don’t have much to work with in Shadow, but Mortis, or Signore Arquint if you will, makes the most of his time in front of the camera. The character of Mortis has a strong presence and it’s sad that he’s wasted in such a forgettable horror film.

Forgettable is the best word to describe Shadow, and obviously that’s never something one should be looking for in a horror film. A little meat, more than simple garnish, that’s not too much to ask for from a horror film. A bucket of tropes with a weak twist on the side, that’s all that Shadow brings to the dinner table. That makes for one less than filling meal, and time at the movies that feels like time wasted.

-Bill Thompson