Tuesday, 25 September 2012

The Shadow of Death Review

Horror – Starring Dan Bone, Daniel Carter-Hope, Corinna Jane, Sophia Disgrace, Jane West, John Brown. Written/Directed by Gav Chuckie Steel (2012)

Nancy has run out of weed. Desperate to score, she calls ex-boyfriend Dan. Dan doesn’t have any but knows a man who does, Marley. Only Marley is spending the day ‘Just getting back to nature, mon’ at Devils Jump, way out in the English countryside. Nancy and her flatmates Jamie and Debra head off into the woods with Dan in search of drugs, instead they find a wannabe policeman and a righteous killer.

Corinna Jane as Debra
This slasher comedy, inspired by Evil Dead, Bad Taste and Friday The 13th was written, shot, directed, edited and scored by the man behind Deadbolt Films, Gav Chuckie Steel. With virtually no budget – unbelievably estimated at £250 – and Gav holding down a full time night job, looking after his children by day, and to top it all, no film school knowledge, other than a life long passion for horror movies and film making, The Shadow of Death is a little miracle.

Described by Gav as ‘A horror film by a horror fan’ and shot on a Panasonic SD60 camcorder, what started as a few friends getting together at the weekend, turned into a much bigger project, and marks Gav Chuckie Steel as something of an inspiration. ‘Please don’t talk about making a film,’ says Gav in the end credits of the movie, ‘MAKE A FILM! I did it by reading books and watching films.’ Gav’s determination and drive are clear to see throughout the 81 minute movie.

Dan Bone as Craven
The Shadow of Death is a classic killer-in-the-woods tale, reminiscent of 2006’s The Tripper and 2007’s Shrooms, but with diverse and quirky characters that provide a comedy slant and individuality. A continuous shot at the beginning of the film introduces the main characters by showing the contents of the girls’ coffee table, giving an immediate insight into their personalities before we see them. There is Nancy (Sophia Disgrace), the stoner, with her skinning up paraphernalia, Jamie (Jane West), the nerd, fixing computer components, and Debra (Corinna Jane), the mediator, cradling a coffee mug. For me, the lovable idiot ex-boyfriend, Dan (Daniel Carter-Hope), and the deluded Chuck Norris wannabe Super-Special-Officer-Craven (Dan Bone) are the stars of the movie – the latter reminding me of a cross between Nick Frost in 1999’s and 2001’s TV series Spaced and Justin Lee Collins – both adding just the right amount of humour and eccentricity.

Friends Dan, Nancy, Debra and Jamie lost in the woods
For the most part, The Shadow of Death is convincingly acted, though a couple of the characters are less than endearing, making them a little hard to care for at times. But as they overcome their differences during the movie, they do become more likeable. Corinna Jane, as Debra, rises up to take the lead female role, giving an increasingly strong performance.

The original soundtrack comprises of a folky inspired score that captures the beauty and serenity of the woods, while the edge-of-your-seat gory moments are complemented by a dramatically and intensely rising score. Exciting and eerie, The Shadow of Death is well written and, considering that the low budget indie was made for less than a lot of people spend on their annual holiday, the production values are fantastic. Influences from Quentin Tarantino, Robert Rodriguez and Peter Jackson give the movie a grindhouse feel.

Jane West as Jamie and Sophie Disgrace as Nancy
Mark Kelly’s special effects are amazing, especially considering the overall budget, and are suitably gruesome. Victims are despatched in some highly original, bloody and inventive ways. Drug dealer, Marley, has a particularly impressive death, involving a bong, that will make your eyes water.

The narrative did confuse me in places, and I’m unconvinced that the group would have stayed so long in a shack that the Blair Witch would have been at home in – with its crosses made from twigs hanging from the ceiling, and books on the occult etc – but this could just be me, and any slight flaws are down to lack of money and inexperience, and do not detract from what is, overall, a highly impressive film. Gav Chuckie Steel is a talented film maker and someone to be admired and supported, and I am looking forward to Deadbolt’s next project, a zombie film that has already been scripted.

One tip … don’t forget to stay after the end credits have rolled for a final taste of grotesque humour!

Rating 4 out of 5

By Lisa Richardson

The Shadow of Death gets it's premier in Farnham on Wednesday 31st October, for tickets follow the link:- http://www.wegottickets.com/event/185537

You can also follow The Shadow of Death at the following locations:-

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