July 21, 2011

VOD Review: The Shrine (2011)

"Who knew Poland could be creepy?"

http://www.imdb.com/title/tt1341710/ Sub-Genre- Supernatural
Cast Members of Note
Aaron "The Other" Ashmore, Cindy Sampson, Meghan Heffern, and a bunch of people pretending to be Polish.

The Shrine is yet another story about an over-ambitious woman getting herself and her friends into a shitload of creepy trouble (e.g. The Tunnel, Blair Witch, etc...) Carmen is a journalist who is tired of writing stories about bees. When her boss sends her on a trip to write yet another scathing expose' on bees, she instead takes off for Poland, to search for a missing backpacker. Of course she can't just go alone, so she brings along her trusty intern sidekick and her photographer boyfriend.

"Come on guys, nothing could possibly go wrong if we go down here!"
The missing backpacker was last seen near a creepy little town in the remote countryside of rural Poland (which looks a lot like Canada), and so Carmen decides to snoop around. It's not long before they meet a creepy kid and her blood-covered dad, who shoo them off with angry Polish curses. Carmen has to get her story though, and she refuses to leave well enough alone, so she begins snooping around even more. When the investigative trio finds an odd swirl of fog in the middle of the woods, they figure, "hey, let's see what's in the middle of this!" That turns out to be a great idea.

Completely normal. Completely natural. Nothing odd about this at all.
And what exactly is in the thick depths of the absolutely unnatural fog? A statue of a Demon, that's what. A creepy f'ing statue that bleeds. It's interesting to note that the statue bears a certain similarity to another creepy Demon statue we've all come to know and love... what was it called... oh yeah, Pazuzu!

"Wait a minute... you... you want a hug?"
So now they have angry Polish Villagers, a Demonic statue, a creepy kid, and a haunted fog bank after them, which pretty much means they're screwed. What is going on in this crazy Polish town? What was with that fog? Why are the kids in these movies always so creepy?* Far be it from me to spoil it for you, but suffice it to say that when the answers are revealed, they find out what happened to the missing backpacker.

*because kids are creepy in general, that's why.

Yeah. Shit gets crazy, and this is where we end up.
I can hardly believe that this movie was made by the same people responsible for Jack Brooks: Monster Slayer. That movie was one of our Do Not Want's last year, and The Shrine is something we very much Do Want. So to recap, Jack Brooks sucked, this didn't. Now that we've cleared that up...

Aside from our Downright Horrendous gripe below, The Shrine was enjoyable from start to finish, although the first half was a lot slower that the latter half. It wasn't "bad slow," but it's only fair to note that the set-up and build took a little while. Once the movie kicked into high gear though, it was engrossing and even induced nail-biting at times.

Best of all, it was creepy; Jon Knautz did here what I'm always begging Horror directors to do, and that's use subtlety to scare me, not jump scares and music cues. His approach worked very well. If Knautz keeps this kind of thing up, he might just be one of the genre's most important directors in a few years.

The look, the feel, the acting; all solid. It's just a great story. The twists and turns that the movie takes were solid and not cringe inducing (for a change), and the ending was actually an ending. No cliffhangers. No lame ambiguity. It came to a climax, had a bit of resolution, and it ended. That was all really nice to experience for a change.

Where are the subtitles? I need to know what they're saying! *The subtitles for the Polish-Language parts were left our on purpose, so as to add to the reality and ambiguity of it all. Dicks.

We don't even know what he's screaming!

For the love of Christ, here are another bunch of characters that make the worst decisions in the world. Boss tells you to go investigate bees in Kansas? Nah, go to Poland to search for a missing backpacker. Get caught poking around in the Polish forest by angry locals One covered in blood) who tell you to leave? Turn the car around and keep snooping. See an unearthly looking fog? Explore it. And when the creepy kid takes you to an underground bunker in the forest, by all means, trust her. Find coffins in the bunker? Don't run like hell and enjoy the rest of your life, open them. See what's inside! Bah!

They can't even use a mirror properly!
The Shrine is no slouch when it comes to the bloody bits. There's some nasty eye violence, sacrifice, a mass murder home invasion... not overboard, but definitely sufficient.

Also, don't forget about the eye violence.
We get a tiny bit of side-boob and a few shots of naked and wet girls, though the good bits are all covered up.

Tits or GTFO!
Don't fuck with Polish Priests. Also, it's always the woman's fault.

Sometimes, it's a Demon's fault.
This movie surprised the hell out of us and we couldn't help but love it. Aside from the all-too-common "characters doing the dumbest things at the worst possible times" messiness, there wasn't much to not like about The Shrine; it looks good, it's creepy, the actors nail it, and and the ending was pretty awesome.

In the U.S., if you have Comcast, Cox, Time Warner, Cablevision or Bright House, it's on VOD now, and you should make this one your next rental


The Shrine is available now on DVD.


Meghan Heffern in this.


  1. I've always been of the opinion that great horror movies could be done in the East European country side. You don't need actors, just shots of ugly old people staring at you, saying nothing. The few American movies that do show villages show them as these idilic places where the sun shines, the road is good and there are young stud like butchers around. The truth, at least here in Romania, is that villages are full of older people and little children, as the young adults have left for the towns, the roads are rarely paved and you would be hard pressed to like the muddy cow smelling "main roads" in some of them. I assure you, make one romantic movie in one of these places and it will win horror film awards.

  2. Watched it. Was disappointed. How can you grade this an A? It's a cliché from start to end.

  3. Siderite, we just liked it a lot. Cliche for sure, but effective and interesting.

    And I swear I've said it over and over again... the European countryside is creepy!

    Creepy or not, I think Romania would be a cool place to visit. Vampires and all, you know :)~

  4. If you do come, make sure you let me know. You will be disappointed, there are no more vampires, though. Romanians ate them all.

  5. Watched it, loved it! Thanks and keep up the good work. Cheers from Estonia.

  6. Cheers to you, Liz!

    Estonia huh? I was just listening to a song the other day that mentioned Estonia...

    "I'm from land called secret Estonia,
    and nobody knows where it's at!"

    Don't ask :)~

  7. The review nails it (even more than the masks). But what's behind the curse? Will the dead stay dead? And why don't the villagers find safer housing? Do I scent a sequel here?

  8. We really loved the hell out of this one, and we hope more people get to see it. IT definitely deserves some love.

    As for a sequel... we'd be all for it. We need those answers too.

  9. I watched this one a while ago, I speak Polish so I understood the Polish parts despite lack of subtitles. I just remember thinking it was awesome that a movie I liked had people speaking Polish, lol. I should revisit it and write up translations.

    1. I wish someone would translate the parts. I am surprised someone hasn't already.

  10. this movie made me wish I spoke Polish! It was still cool despite my language barrier though :)

  11. I just watched this movie expecting to be awful, what a surprise. Really enjoyed it :)

  12. It really was a pleasant surprise, wasn't it?