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Tuesday, February 23, 2021

Review: Shook

Director: Jeniffer Harrington

Screenplay: Alesia Glidewell

Year: 2021

“Saw”, or more specifically, John Kramer has got to be the most important influencer in horror cinema. The number of movies with a lethal game as its core after James Wan and Leigh Wanell’s debut film is impressive. The volcanic rise in attention for social media influences has also found its way to horror films and combined with the original influencer John Kramer, leaving in its path the strange hybrid of influencers involved in lethal games, as we saw in “No Escape” and that now repeats in “Shook”, the new Shudder original movie. 

Mia is a social media influencer known for her work in make-up and fashion. As she takes care of her sister’s dog, she falls victim to a psychopath that kidnaps her friends and forces her to participate in a game where she must comply with dangerous requests and answer questions to preserve their lives. Now Mie must get to the bottom of this to uncover if it is real or just a bad taste practical joke. 

How writers Alesia Glidewell (“Look at Me”) and Jeniffer Harrington (“Housekeeping”) (this last one who also directs) set out the characters has the purpose of you hating them. The event that puts everything that happens in the movie into gear is conceived as an act of pure egoism by the protagonist Mia, interpreted by Daisye Tudor (“Guest House”). After a dog killer who has been wreaking havoc in the city kills an influencer ( a great scene, by the way), Mia accepts to take care of her sister’s dog while she travels under the pretext of keeping him safe, when she really does it for her own safety and to portray a good image to her followers. 

While Mia is in her sister’s house, which previously belonged to their mother until she recently died, we start to see her more human side, cut off from the fake one she shows on social media, and we start to care a little more for her. In her development, it helps that her friends are even more loathsome than her, which tells a lot about the sort of people we are dealing with here. All of this plays an important role in how the twists unfold and in keeping the mystery of if what’s happening is real or not. 

During the first act, the plot development resembles that of any other psychopath killer that evolves into a slasher. Once the first act concludes, the twists start coming, which gives the movie a new layer that captures the viewer’s attention. The twists keep regularly appearing, changing the movie’s scheme, maintaining a fluid rhythm, and alive the enigma of what is happening. The creative way in which the visuals are presented helps in this aspect. Particularly the text conversations and videos shared that find a way to appear on-screen projected on any convenient surface.

“Shook” might seem like a typical slasher of a serial killer that takes advantage of a group of people in a vulnerable position and punish them through a perverse game, but the twists and never being sure about if what is happening is real or not keeps it fresh. The unexpected turns are its best weapon, but the final one lacks gunpowder. The plot grabs you from the start and keeps you hooked with its slasher a la “Saw” style, combining physical and psychological torture with a moral topic and it even dares put some sporadic and effective dark humor.

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