Shepherd Review: Tested Atmosphere, Popular Thriller Problem

New Scottish Horror Drama Shepherd suffers from a classic case of Dead Wife Syndrome, a narrative illness in which the protagonist’s desire/feeling of guilt for their deceased spouse causes the plot to play out in a certain way. easy to guess, easy to guess. The main symptom of this common ailment is flashbacks where the dead wife looks over her shoulder at the camera as sunlight messes her hairline in an unconsciously evocative way. In Shepherdflashback to that standard issue occurs as the wife is strolling on a frigid Scottish beach in a tartan dress and leather jacket, blissfully unaware of the grisly death that awaits her there. far sea.

That’s not the only box on the DWS checklist Shepherd so does the tick. It also features a conspicuously placed ultrasound photograph showing her pregnant at the time of her death. And one main character regularly experiences terrifying nightmares about her funeral. And the untold secrets of the circumstances of her death. All existing symptoms: ShepherdHis diagnosis is indisputable.

Is it possible for a movie to overcome Dead Wife Syndrome – take Changeling, the 1980s haunted house classic begins with George C. Scott going to a secluded mansion to mourn his wife and daughter. But Shepherd not unique enough to beat the condition. Discovery of witchesTom Hughes stars as Eric Black, a grieving husband who takes on a solitary job tending sheep on a remote island off the west coast of Scotland. When the movie begins, Eric’s wife and unborn child are already dead, so he can’t be forced to kill them. Besides, comparable to Stephen King The Shining starts right off with the introduction of a milky-eyed captain played by Kate Dickie, the British character actor. Witch and was recently discovered in Green Knight and Northerner.

It’s never entirely clear whether Dickie’s character is real, in the flesh, or a ruthless manifestation of Eric’s tormented conscience. Either way, after serving as Charon on Eric’s personal boat to Hades, she tortures him with mocking phone calls to increase his speed. Bright-style drops rapidly to isolated madness. (The entire movie, from Eric’s arrival on the island to the resolution of the story, takes place in about a week.) Aside from Dickie’s menacing voice, Eric’s only companion for most of the film. is his dog Baxter, who earns this filming the trigger warning for the obsessive animal lover type And then there’s the lighthouse, which squeals like a junk-selling robot and is stuffed with ominous assortments.

There is a large amount of offensive images in Shepherd, not all of which involve animals. Eric also engages in some self-harm, and is a cold, wind-blown ghost of his literal death throughout the film. The actual events of Shepherd mostly phantasmagorical: Upon arriving on the island, Eric explores his treacherous surroundings, has nightmares about his late wife Rachel (Gaia Weiss), and stays up all night jumping into the dark. That’s about it, except for the scene where he finds a dusty diary and opens a page that reads, “She’s a witch! Here she is!” (That topic was lost almost immediately, but it struck a strange tone.)

A vista from the Shepherd, with a Grim Reaper character wearing a black cloak amid twisted black trees against a backdrop of a verdant field

Image: Saban Films

The idea of ​​a movie about a haunted house at sea is intriguing, and writer-director Russell Owen really has a knack for creating eerie atmospheres. This pairs perfectly with cinematographer Richard Stoddard’s appreciation of the film’s windy, desolate locations, which he captures with a more dynamic range of colors than one might expect from those thick clouds, wet rocks and dry grass. All in all, there’s some eye-catching color work going on in this movie, which combined with the backgrounds look so lifelike that it’s hard to tell if they’re a pre-made location or setting. for the movie. They are attacking in some way.

These factors make up a number of the film’s low-budget constraints, such as the rudimentary rear view and unique make-up effects. But for Shepherd To really get past its creaking and clichés, it will need to come up with images that are more resonant and creative than Owen is able to create here. Slaughtered sheep, green-skinned dead, Death: the symbolism in this movie comes from a dark, desperate place, but also a familiar, much-anticipated place. Combined with the undulating effects right on the surface of the script – Lighthouse is another big one – Shepherd more like a jump rope exercise in period horror movies about grief than a truly chilling example.

Shepherd premieres in theaters May 6 and will be available to rent or buy digitally on May 10.

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