Eye For Film >> Movies >> The Shed (2019) Film Review
Reviewed by: Jennie Kermode
Sometimes the best way to cope with getting a rough deal in life is to remind oneself that other people survive worse. Stan (Jay Jay Warren) may be on probation and living with his abusive grandfather, with people trying to run him off the road for a laugh as he cycles to school, but at least he's not getting mercilessly bullied like his best friend Dommer (Cody Kostro), and neither of them is as badly off as the guy who was out in the woods the previous night. Bitten by something which then burned to a crisp in the sunlight, subsequently realising that the sun has started to affect him the same way, that guy has taken refuge in Stan's shed and undergone a bizarre transformation. By the time Stan finds him, little that was human remains - and the deadly threat he poses turns the teenagers' world upside down.
Frank Sabatella's simple but effective little film has serious points to make about the real misery many young people live with, and captures the experience of high school outsiders well. The performances are all solid, with nice work from Sofia Happonen as Roxy, a girl who likes Stan as much as he likes her but doesn't need his protection in the way he thinks. As for the monster, it's no-holds-barred nasty. Mostly unseen, which almost always works to a film's advantage, lurking in the darkness and waiting for someone to venture too close. The violence is quick and bloody, effective as much because the way the characters respond to it as because of what we see.
Not to be confused with the decidedly lacklustre Shed Of The Dead, which came out earlier this year, Sabatella's film makes its central location surprisingly effective. It's just big enough for the shadows within to conceal hidden threats, especially when one's eyes have become used to the brightness outside, yet small enough to make an effective prison, chained shut at night and guarded by the sun during the day, with its inhabitant growing more and more frustrated. The horror implicit in this balances out some of the more far-fetched elements of the story, such as Stan's reliance on vampire films to tell him how to deal with such creatures, an approach that will naturally make viewers think of Fright Night though this film isn't played for laughs.
A lack of comedy doesn't mean a lack of self awareness or style. The Shed is handsomely shot and the initial chase sequence will get your adrenaline pumping before the main story begins. It's weaker towards the end when its character-based drama gives way to something more formulaic and there's room for a bit of unintended laughter at our heroes' attempt to hole up in a house still less well fortified that the one in Shaun Of The Dead (seriously, what is the point of boarding up all your windows Night Of The Living Dead-style if you're going to leave a plate glass door completely uncovered?) but some genre fans will enjoy the more traditional scares in this sequence. The lighting and costume work demonstrates that Sabatella knows his sources well.
Although the horror tropes here are familiar ones, The Shed is well put together and, unlike many films of its ilk, actually has something to say. There's a solidity at its core that will endear it to fans and see it linger in the memory.Reviewed on: 05 Oct 2019