MTI // 2007 // 90 Minutes // Rated R
Reviewed by Judge Brett Cullum // June 4th, 2010
Meet your connection to the afterlife.
The Shadow Within is a curious little foreign horror movie that feels creepy enough to work. The plot revolves around a young boy named Maurice (Laurence Belcher) and his mother who live alone in a large house in rural France during the early '40s. Things around them are troubling as the men have been recruited by the army, and many children are dying of diptheria. There's a pervasive air of loneliness and grief swirling around their village. A group of desperate mothers realize that Maurice is a special child who can communicate with a twin brother who died in childbirth. They are desperate to contact their deceased children, and seem to have found their medium. The problem is that Maurice reveals that the children don't want to be alone anymore either, and so they seek to be reunited with their moms in death. By using Maurice they have opened a gateway for the dead to come for the living.
The whole production is reminiscent of The Others, at least in tone and style, and I mean that as a sincere compliment. The kid gives a great performance, and the idea is certainly a creepy one that works to good effect. There's a palpable dread oozing out of every shot. What doesn't work is that the pacing is labored and sometimes the editing betrays the story by not making sense in the narrative thrust. Also there are a handful of pointless scenes with a doctor played by Beth Winslet (sister of Kate), which do nothing but add some nonsensical science to the supernatural story.
The DVD presentation is barebones, only offering the feature without any supplemental material. The transfer looks low-tech largely because the film itself was produced with a minuscule budget. Colors are nice, though, and things work out just fine with the five channel audio mix. It's a pity we don't get any interaction with the filmmakers -- seems there could be some interesting stories behind the production.
The Shadow Within works just fine for a spooky little film made on a tight budget. It has an odd feel simply because it doesn't aim to be as slick as modern American horror, and it is content to simply present a supernatural story on its own terms without much embellishment. The barebones DVD simply gives us a look at the film without anything more.
Guilty of having a "sixth" sense of spooky purpose.
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Scales of Justice
* 1.85:1 Anamorphic
* Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround (English)
Running Time: 90 Minutes
Release Year: 2007
MPAA Rating: Rated R