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Case Number 13296

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Shrooms

Magnolia Pictures // 2007 // 84 Minutes // Not Rated
Reviewed by Judge David Johnson // March 25th, 2008

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All Rise...

One time, when Judge David Johnson was doing mushrooms he had a vision of a talking lion. Of course by "doing mushrooms" he means "eating pizza with mushrooms," while watching The Chronicles of Narnia.

The Charge

Get ready to get wasted.

Opening Statement

If six stoners die in the forest and no one cares, is it worth making a movie about?

Facts of the Case

Six friends head to the woods of Ireland, intent on opening up new worlds of hallucinogenic bliss. Their Irish pal, Jake (Jack Huston), whispers promises of trips that none of them has ever yet experienced thanks to some exotic European mushrooms. And the teenaged daredevils are only too eager to go along for the ride.

Too bad Tara (Lindsey Haun) doesn't show up for Know Your Mushrooms 101 and takes a bite out of the Death's Head mushroom, a fungus renowned for its world-class ability to #$%& you up. She's immediately overtaken by nightmarish visions and startling glimpses into the future—a future that contains a whole lot of her friends dead and bleeding.

The Evidence

There's a fairly interesting concept at work here, and the death and screaming is executed with polished efficiency, but a contrived plot twist and a dearth of original death scenes keep Shrooms pretty much in the bargain bin of nameless slashers.

I dig the mushroom angle. The hallucinogenic gimmick gives the filmmakers an opportunity to create creepy-ass creatures and jump scares, and they do this to great success. When our heroine starts tripping out, she catches sight of a recurring creature in black, walking through the forest, knife in hand. Kudos to the creature design team for crafting a truly scary vision. The thing—CGI generated for longer shots, practically outfitted for close-ups—looks like an elderly lawn gnome after an acid bath. He/it wanders through the woods with a weird-looking stutter, not unlike the gait of those ghosts kids from movies like The Ring and The Grudge. Then it's a rapid-fire close-up of its gaunt, ugly face and that should be enough to get your blood pumping a bit. It was enough for me.

That's pretty much where the film peaks in the scares department. The killings are ho-hum, save for one guy who has his groin gnawed off by an unseen car passenger. A stabbing, a subdued axe attack, an off-screen throat cut, a strangling—that's what gore-hounds can look forward to, and it's not much.

Finally, there's the dependable Major Plot Twist at the end and, credit where credit's due, director Paddy Breathnach (awesome name!) reveals it cleverly. Is the actual twist clever enough to merit a recommendation. Nah, don't think so, mainly because—MILD SPOILER WARNING AHEAD—the twist falls into the same realism trap that similar genre films do. When you start actually thinking about what really happened and who was responsible, you'll likely come to the same conclusion I did—no way.

Solid disc all-around. A fine-looking 2.35:1 anamorphic widescreen transfer and a 5.1 Dolby Digital surround are supplemented by the usual catalog of bonuses: bloopers, deleted scenes, an alternate ending, and a feature commentary from the director. The highlight is the alternate ending, which is scarier and better than what made the final cut.

Closing Statement

Unfortunately, someone took the "fun" out of the "fungus."

The Verdict

Guilty.

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Scales of Justice

Video: 85
Audio: 85
Extras: 80
Acting: 60
Story: 70
Judgment: 62

Perp Profile

Studio: Magnolia Pictures
Video Formats:
• 2.35:1 Anamorphic
Audio Formats:
• Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround (English)
• Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo (English)
Subtitles:
• Spanish
Running Time: 84 Minutes
Release Year: 2007
MPAA Rating: Not Rated
Genre:
• Horror

Distinguishing Marks

• Feature Commentary
• Deleted Scenes
• Alternate Ending
• Bloopers

Accomplices

• IMDb








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