Monday, December 4, 2006

Shallow Ground (2004)

Shallow Ground had immense original story, great characters and an intriguing storyline. Unfortunately, it had too many plot holes and too many loose ends that ruined what is an otherwise great indie flick. It still may be worth a watch though, for its striking imagery, gory effects and fresh story.

In a remote town in the woods, everyone is packing up and moving out due to a dam being built, killing the tourist trade. One day, a stark naked teenage boy drenched in blood and holding a large hunting knife stumbles out of the woods and into the tiny sheriff's station. A year earlier, a brutal crime occurred that local sheriff Jack Sheppard could not prevent...a girl was brutally tortured and then disappeared. As Jack and his deputies Laura and Stuart try to figure out if and how the boy is linked to the crime and reports of dozens of missing persons, they discover that a supernatural force may be at work.

I really wanted to love this movie, and part of me does, but it left too many unanswered questions. It grabbed me right from the start, with our dear naked boy walking through the woods, covered head to toe in blood...from there it only got creepier as he entered the sheriff's custody, never speaking a word. After things start to reveal themselves and it looks to be getting good, we get a major curveball thrown at us. I don't want to give anything away, but this plot point really bothered me and left me scratching my head. What was up with the junkie coming after Stuart? Are we to believe that blood-drenched people are popping up all over the world? This part of the story seemed half-assed and completely underdeveloped. Instead of following this weak thread in the story, they should have completely focused on the bloody boy.

By the way, the boy does stay completely naked and completely covered in blood throughout the entire movie. He spills blood from his eyes, his ears, his mouth and even from underneath his toenails. This is some very creepy imagery, especially when the blood starts to take on a character all its own.

While the character of the boy was one of my favorite parts of the movie, I also have to mention the awesome effects they have...mutilated, decaying bodies, a woman's throat being fondled and ripped out, a fist going through someone's abdomen...they must have literally used gallons and gallons of blood! The high-quality gore is surprising for a film that cost only $72,000 to make...I just wish it hadn't been so far and in-between.

The rest of the film looks great and is very professionally done. Had I not watched the featurette on the making of the film, I never could have guessed it was an indie made for so little. The director, Sheldon Wilson, definitely has a great talent. He is also the writer for this film, and perhaps that is where he needs improvement. The script and writing were weak, especially the gaping plot holes and irrational actions of some of the characters.

This film was a very good effort, but had it just been a little more tighter, with less floundering storylines, it could have been great. All in all, I both love it and hate it. I love it for what it accomplished and how ambitious it was, but I hate it for all its floundering. If you want to see an original, well-made, serial-killer-with-a-supernatural-edge indie movie and can turn the other cheek to its flawed plot, go for it! For all its flaws, I have to admit that I still enjoyed it.

Order it on Amazon!

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