DVD Review: Shiver

PrintE-mail Written by Julian White

When a horror film has a generic title like Shiver, it's often a sign that it lacks a clear identity of its own. Unfortunately, that's the case here. Ostracised by his peers because he suffers from severe photophobia, teenager Santi (Junio Valverde) and his mum Julia (Mar Sodupe) move to a mist-shrouded mountain village. Unfortunately, no sooner have they arrived than something nasty lurking in the forest starts picking off sheep and villagers.

Because he is pale-skinned and acts a bit like a vampire, suspicion falls on Santi. This is one of many ideas that the script toys with half-heartedly. It doesn't really work because it’s hard to believe that ignorance and superstition would take such a hold on a village than has access to broadband. The photophobia, made much of at the start, is all but forgotten by the second act. As for what is actually causing all those deaths, the explanation, when it comes, is far-fetched and about as scary as someone lunging at you with a chorizo.

There are borrowings aplenty from other movies. For a lot of the time, the village setting is perilously close to the sort of cheesy Middle European locales – all pointy gables and gurning locals – familiar from many a Hammer flick. The cinematography has the dank, mossy tonality of the Twilight films, and there is a perfunctory gesture towards teen romance when Santi takes up with local hottie Angela (Blanca Saurez). Valverde, with his doe eyes and high cheekbones, even looks a bit like Robert Pattinson's Spanish cousin.

The script, cobbled together by several hands, calls on everyone to behave in a random, reckless way, and throws up some odd loose ends (while Santi is hanging with Angela, Angela's dad is romancing Sant's mum – awkward!). The result is a draining of credibility and tension. Director Isidro Ortiz compensates with stylish atmospherics, but his technical competence only serves to raise your expectations, making the rather lame storyline even more of a letdown.

Having said that, there's some nice footage of vertiginous cliffs and swirling mist. Valverde does a very good job in the lead role, and teenage girls might warm to this movie because of him. Even so, there's something deeply wrong with a film that makes you wish you were watching Twilight.

Shiver is released on DVD in the UK October 17th

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