Review: The Shrine (18) / Director: Jon Knautz / Screenplay: Jon Knautz / Starring: Aaron Ashmore, Cindy Sampson, Meghan Heffern / Release Date: Out Now
The Shrine is a jumble of horror film clichés deficient in decent scares. I think the point of this film was for Director Jon Knautz to showcase his horror knowledge rather than make a good horror film. It’s not homage and it appears to be taking itself seriously; this is its downfall. Knautz could have subtly made fun of the Hostel style set-up of his film but going in straight faced simply provides generic fare. It lifts itself visually with creative makeup and an ominous looking statue, but is severely lacking in atmosphere and suspense.
Three American journalist types follow up a lead on a missing person case and make their way to Poland, Alvania, (filmed in Canada) to investigate the disappearance of a teenager. Carmen (Cindy Sampson) is the headstrong female who breaks the rules to follow up this lead and goes on the trip without her boss’ consent. She tricks her boyfriend, Marcus (Aaron Ashmore) into coming along to photograph any evidence and he acts as the voice of reason. They are joined by, the intern, Sara (Meghan Heffern) who acts as an easy kill. We know what kind of trouble the trio are heading into as the fate of said missing teenager is revealed in the first few minutes of the film.
The title suggests a religious theme and the village the group visit is full of threatening locals and men dressed in strange monk like attire. There is also a creepy child named Lidia who is fathered by a brutal and foreboding father who tells the tourists not to go into the woods. It’s all very familiar and not very mysterious. Carmen is determined to find out what the village is hiding and in doing so she enters a fog (by herself) that shrouds a strange statue. When Carmen doesn’t return, Sara splits up from Marcus to find her. Both women come face to face with the demon like statue setting up the tale and giving a reason to question the locals’ strange behaviour. Knautz adds a twist to the film in an attempt to liven things but by this point you may have either switched off or given up caring.
The Shrine trawls through the horror movie sub-genre without much thought resulting in an insipid concoction. Ending with a lazy explanation from a local that is groan inducing makes it all the more worse. Entirely average horror, that is just about watchable at its short running time of 85 minutes, but don’t go out of your way.