Saturday, September 25, 2010

Shiver -- AKA Eskalofrio (2008)

Fear 3/5
Gore 4/5
Entertainment 3/5
Creepiness 3/5

Shiver is a Spanish film, produced by some of the folks that had a hand in Pan's Labyrinth. And it shows. Some really jaw dropping cinematography is captured, courtesy of a dark and gloomy Spanish countryside. It also serves to heighten the fear and tension as our story unfolds. A unique story overall to be sure, but there's just something about the handling of the end that leaves a little less to be desired.

The film begins with a young boy who has a sunlight sensitive skin disease. The doctor tells his mother that its only a matter of time before the disease gets worse, to the point where he won't be able to be in any amount of sunlight whatsoever. Along with a growing larger by the day set of canines (which hints as to what the boy may be becoming), the doctor recommends that the family relocates to the Spanish countryside where the days are shorter and the sky remains darker awhile longer. At first the mother is reluctant, afterall, she has a steady editors job and is unsure whether similar type of work can be found in such a tiny town. But with the prospect of losing her son superceding things, they pack up their belongings and head out.

Almost from the get-go, weird goings on take place in and around their new home: a farmers livestock comes under attack; our light sensitive boy has nightmares of a naked young girl, covered in mud and eliciting animal-like growls and displaying her own set of jagged teeth. At the start of his new school year, the boy quickly makes friends. He attempts to win their acceptance by going into the woods, the scene of the animal killings and the disappearance of a few other townsfolk. One of the kids falls victim to the terror lying within and because he's at the scene, immediately he becomes prime suspect numero uno.

Despite his innocence, he wins the affection of a girl who's father just happens to be the local sheriff. Another night out leads him straight into the path of the angry farmer who also falls victim to the same terror within the forest. And again, the boy becomes guilty by association. But his friends, the girl especially, don't believe him to be the perpetrator. We find, instead, that his dreams are actually reality and there really is an animal-like girl who's responsible for the brutal killings.

As the film nears its end, we come to find out how this girl came to be: a family on excursion in Africa comes across a feral girl. A girl literally raised in the wild. They bring her back to the Spanish countryside and try to raise her normally. But a traumatic event involving the brutal massace of her family at the hands of a violent villager sets her off and she immediately goes into survival, animal instinct mode.

In addition, our skin deteriorating boy and feral girl come face to face and with a Frankstein-like monster mob of villagers on their tail, a sort of touching moment occurs as the girl kind of takes to the boy. It sort of insinuates that she knows what he is and that there is a kinship between them both. The film ends rather abruptly as the kids fend off the attack and the sheriff stops the mob from killing them both. The girl is thrown into an asylum and we (as the closing music kicks in) assume that she gets out heading back into the dark forest.

Overall, a solid film with a lot of interesting ideas going on. But by film's end, you are kind of left scratching your head with regards to the resolution. Not bad, not great, just kind of 'meh'. The brutal killing scenes and gore is probably worth the price of admission alone for you gore hounds out there.

Cortez the Killer


Jonny Metro said...

I was quite impressed with this film when I first saw it, and I thought that there were definite subtle strokes of genius sprinkled throughout its running time. While it's not quite a horror film, it still goes to show that genre films can still be beautiful.

Glad I wasn't the one who who enjoyed it.

My review (if you're interested)


Strange Kid said...

This seems like a really interesting film, J. I thought perhaps at first that this was just a Spanish remake of Cronenberg's film, but it would seem that I was way off.

You gotta hate those abrupt endings, but from everything you've said it definitely seems like good rental material. Thanks!

Cortez The Killer said...

@Jonny, there were some subtle strokes of genius for sure. And at times, it kind of reminded me of Let the Right One In. Great write-up.

@Strange Kid, its definitely worth a rental. Lots of good heebie jeebie moments.

christine said...

I think like we had similar feelings about this film. While I enjoyed it and was entertained while watching, it had very little impact. Like I don't feel the need to ever watch it again.
Great write up!

Geof said...

Never heard if it before but sounds interesting enough. And I liked Pan's so maybe this should be worth a looky-look by me. Nice one, JC.

Matt-suzaka said...

I wasn't so hot on this one, and I thought it was mostly due to it being confused as to what it wanted to be. It had moments that worked, and the setting is absolutely gorgeous, but even some of the technical aspects were a little lost too.

I don't think your review is all that far off from my thoughts...I didn't hate it, but I was disappointed, especially since I thought it was going so well after the first twenty or so minutes.

Cortez The Killer said...

@Christine, thanks! Its definitely low on the re-watch factor and that has a lot to do with the ending.

@Geof, for sure, check it out.

@Matt, yup, I oftentimes felt that way too. Like it didn't know what it wanted to be and then when it did make a focus towards the end, it just didn't have that 'punch' that it needed to.

Chris Hallock said...

Rather surprised this got such a high gore rating. Totally unexpected.

One of those "on the list" movies for me, but maybe I'll bump it up for an October view.