GRIMMFEST 2019: The Shed – movie review

The Shed. Image credit: Courtesy of Grimmfest

I’ve been granted press accreditation for the 11th Grimmfest, the Manchester’s International Festival of Fantastic Film. So, I had the opportunity to watch and review a bunch of upcoming horror movies. This is my review of The Shed (USA, Frank Sabatella, horror).

The Shed. Image credit, courtesy of Grimmfest
The Shed. Image credit: Courtesy of Grimmfest

With a childhood built on 80’s horror films, Sabatella describes The Shed as a horrific tale of dread wrapped in a dark teen drama exploring themes of neglect, abandonment, abuse and the terrifying results when these societal ills go unchecked. Although, in this case, I advise you to discover the story for yourself, here’s a brief plot summary of the movie: Stan (Jay Jay Warren), a high school student with a sad past, is bullied at school and ignored by the girl he loves. One day, he finds out that a malevolent creature has taken refuge inside the shed in the garden: as Stan tries to find a way to fight the entity, most of the people around him get involved in a game that will likely have dreadful consequences.

Continue reading and check my final grade below… 

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The Shed opens very effectively, with a series of well-executed scenes that play with the viewer’s expectations, build up the tension, develop the main character and offer a glimpse at some blood and gore that is scattered throughout the film. From the opening scene, it’s clear how much passion and effort the director put into this project: The Shed is very well directed in terms of visuals, with the camera work taking central stage. This movie is very creative in its presentation, which is especially due to an above par cinematography and the shooting techniques that provide a distinctive style using dolly shots, 360° orbit cams and wide angles.

The variety in presenting the story is implemented by characters that, while mostly cliched, are interesting and likeable (or unlikeable, depending on how they were written). Although The Shed utilises high school dramatic situation as a background, the story never feels stale because the visuals are captivating, the dialogue is mostly well-written and the interactions feel natural. It’s fair to give credit to the actors as well: the largely unknown cast members have a strong chemistry with each other and play off one another in a rather realistic way; the onscreen presence of seasoned character-actors like Frank Whaley and Siobhan Fallon Hogan gives a certain energy to the film that makes it all the more entertaining.

Even though The Shed borrows elements from a certain sub-genre of horror from the 80s, with even the main character looking like Anton Yelchin from a popular remake of one of those movies, this film manages to feel fresh in the way the horror element is displayed. The Shed combines violence and gore (which are never played for shock value nor come off as disturbing) with more traditional scare tactics. This is a movie that heavily relies on jump-scares but, since it doesn’t manipulate them through post-production tricks, they feel earned and, thus, more effective than your typical, sub-par horror flick.

Despite the lack of post-production noises, which is a strong positive, the sound-design in The Shed is rather poorly done. The biggest issue with it centres around the overuse of the crescendo violin: you can easily find this stock sound effect on YouTube and, once you notice it, you’ll realise how inappropriately it is utilised in so many sub-par horror movies. Here, however, the crescendo violin is audible in every single spooky sequence, with distracting results.

Speaking of clichés, The Shed also relies on silly and unnatural character decisions to propel the story. Most of the times, Stan and the other protagonists act smart, but there are a couple of instances where they make truly horrible decisions. Although I think the characters are mostly interesting and genuine, the bullies are depicted in a rather over-the-top way, which can take you out of the experience from time to time.

Due to the importance of daylight in the movie, I also thought that a couple of continuity errors related to that were a bit distracting, but this is more of a nit-pick than a genuine complaint.

The Shed is a film that takes elements utilised in tons of other movies before, but presents them in a way that feels very entertaining and new. Despite a few flaws, it will be an enjoyable ride for any horror fan who’s looking for spooky and gory entertainment.

The Shed                                            6/10

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