Shadowland - Horror

The conventional wisdom about low-budget films is that even if the execution is bad, the ideas might still be good. See, execution costs money, and ideas are free. Of course, it's most often the case that both are bad. But if only one is good, you'd think it would be the ideas. Wyatt Weed's Shadowland is unconventional in that respect. It actually looks quite good for a film that was clearly made on a shoestring, but it has a fatal dearth of ideas moving the story forward. Even the acting is decent, which is not a guarantee, given that the lead (Caitlin McIntosh) was once a contestant in the Miss Teen USA Pageant. Too bad it's not in service of much of a script. From the moment Laura (McIntosh) unearths herself outside a church in the midst of renovation, Shadowland proves itself capable of greater technical feats than we would expect from a film made by unknowns. Unfortunately, Laura's adaptation to life above ground doesn't go anywhere. She presents an abstract danger to those with whom she comes in contact, and there's one foot chase where she demonstrates an inhuman ability to evade her captors, but beyond that, Shadowland is just a succession of scenes looking for a point. The film ends with an obligatory climax involving the priest (Jason Contini) who's been pegged to track her down. However, since stakes haven't been established about Laura's capabilities, nor why she needs to be found, the scene is utterly without dramatic weight. Shadowland's best moments involve imagining how an undead creature -- one with enough savvy to realize she has to blend in -- would go about trying to procure the appropriate clothing, etc. Tellingly, these scenes have nothing to do with the presumptive goal of trying to scare us. ~ Derek Armstrong, Rovi