Shallow Ground


Reviewed by: Martin Gray

It's the last day of the precinct house and the cops come under seige from evil forces. No, it's not Assault On Precinct 13, but Shallow Ground. For criminals, read mysterious teenager covered in blood. For edge-of-the-seat drama, read really dumb horror.

Things get off to a decent start with shots of the kid, naked and dripping blood, wandering through backwoods in the direction of the sheriff's office. There could be a nice little mystery here, one with supernatural undertones. Instead, the kid shows up, is handcuffed in an interview room, and starts dripping blood.

Occasionally he seems to suck it back up. Spiders crawl up him. Trails of blood wind like tendrils through the building. Warnings appear on walls and doors written in - stop me if this has bored you before - blood. It's corny, derivative stuff, but it 's still early days, the film could yet surprise us.

Oh look, here's the mystery now - the sheriff's girl went missing a year ago and the sheriff's been dreaming of her in the forest, naked and strung up and knifed. An old biddy lost her hubby and daughter in an accident while building the dam that's the reason everyone is clearing out of town. A hunter is driving around in the Mystery Machine, leering. Someone called their daughter Darby. We see a mysterious figure wandering through the trees (well, a hoodie, actually, slap an ASBO on the bum) as the soundtrack gives us whispers and gasps and music that's far scarier than anything happening in the film.

Dear me, people are being abducted and murdered with a hunting knife. Naked Boy has a rather intriguing connection to many missing folk. There's another Bloody Kid in the big city and it may be happening all over the world.

Whatever 'it' is. That's the big problem with this movie - it trundles along giving us flashbacks, slayings, creepy events, suspenseful moments with no pay-off, but refuses to give us the big picture. I don't need to be spoonfed, but writer director Sheldon Wilson seems unwilling, or unable, to give us the one thing a horror movie needs: the nature of the threat. We never know what's at stake for the characters, none of whom works as a sympathetic point of view protaganist.

One cop may have killed his girlfriend, another is shifty, the third in lazy and whiny. Who cares if they get killed, or have their uniforms ruined by blood or whatever the big risk to them is? Send them all to the forest and swing 'em from the trees, for all I care. They're all too stupid to live anyway, acting in ways that serve the director's needs but don't resemble what anyone would do in real life.

Honest, all I want is one old voodoo lady to explain the parameters of the spooky threat.

The only really intriguing question in this movie is: why does Jack the Sheriff suddenly turn Oirish? Is that the silent teen's true power - is he going to turn folk into leprachauns?

Reviewed on: 29 Jul 2005
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Bloody kids!
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Director: Sheldon Wilson

Writer: Sheldon Wilson

Starring: Timothy J Murphy, Stan Kirsch, Lindsey Stoddart, Rocky Marquette, Patricia McCormack

Year: 2004

Runtime: 97 minutes

BBFC: 18 - Age Restricted

Country: US


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