dead shack | peter ricq | phil ivanusic | davila leblanc | matthew nelson-mahood | lizzie boys | gabriel labelle | zombie | zombies | comedy | canada | lauren holly | donavon stinson | valerie tian | taylor st. pierre | bryan demore | raphael kepinski
Film: Dead Shack
Director: Peter Ricq
Writer: Phil Ivanusic, Davila LeBlanc and Peter Ricq
Starring: Matthew Nelson-Mahood, Lizzie Boys and Gabriel LaBelle
This was a film I had heard podcasts talking about and it seemed that most people were pretty divided on it. I can see that though when you are talking about horror/comedies, which this film is. I decided to check this out as I am trying to bring together as many horror films released in 2018 as I could. The official synopsis is while staying at a cabin in the woods during the weekend; three teenage kids discover their neighbor is up to something nefarious.
I will admit, I was going to use the synopsis on the Internet Movie Database, but it does spoil some things, so I decided to keep this one a little bit vaguer. I do think that what is happening in this film is a little bit obvious pretty early on, but I came in not completely realizing it until the film played out for me.
It begins with a guy trying to flee from a house that looks a bit rundown. We see someone come out of the house in full riot gear with a welder’s helmet on. The person removes it and is it Lauren Holly inside. She kills the person and brings them back into the house.
The film then shifts to a boy as he is leaving his house and walking in the rain. The houses all look the same around him and he is texting with his friend who is making jokes. The teen is Jason (Matthew Nelson-Mahood). He arrives at a rundown house where he is picked up in a mini-van. The driver is Roger (Donavon Stinson). He’s the father of Jason’s friend Colin (Gabriel LaBelle). Jason has a crush on Colin’s sister, Summer (Lizzie Boys), but he is timid and she is strong willed. Also with them is Lisa (Valerie Tian). She doesn’t seem as excited.
The group goes to a diner where they run into Holly with two ‘bro’ type guys. They are mean to Jason where Holly is nicer. It is also during this diner scene that we really see that Roger wants to toughen up Jason, but he is also a comedian.
They get out to the rundown cabin they are staying in. The teens decide to go explore the woods, even though Jason is a little freaked out by it. They stumble upon the house from the beginning and witness Holly drugging the two bros from earlier. She then drags them to a door where we see something come out of it and start to eat them.
Now if you’ve read any of my reviews when it comes to horror/comedies, I’m not the biggest fan unless it is done right. I heard some people not really caring for the comedy in this film, but I happened to really enjoy it. I thought that Roger was a hilarious combination of dad jokes and jokes that are little bit too inappropriate. He seems like that cool dad and now that his kids are teens, he isn’t holding back. He is also interesting in that he is a single father and he is dating. He does try to be too much of a friend to his kids, but this is a film so that really didn’t bother me. The comedy from Colin and Summer was also good. They are constantly messing with Jason, but due to him being timid, it hits him harder than it should. I don’t mind that, because it makes for some awkward situations that cracked me up.
To the horror aspect of the film, I thought the look of Holly’s character when she is in her riot gear was great. It is kind of freaky. It would have been better if we didn’t get the reveal that it was her a couple minutes into the film, but it doesn’t really hurt it either. I will tell you that this film has zombies in it. This isn’t really that big of a spoiler, as this is the first turning point of the film. It doesn’t get revealed fully at first, but fans of the genre will know pretty quickly. I thought they looked good and how they moved. It makes for some interesting aspects later in the film.
What I really liked about this one though is that it pulls no punches. I kind of wanted it to be more mean-spirited as it was, but it does have a gut check near the end that I liked. I do think it is paced really well. It doesn’t ramp up the horror as much as I would like as it keeps a light hearted tone throughout the whole film. It did keep my attention throughout. I thought the ending was good and it brings something full circle that is brought up earlier in the film.
Acting in the film I kind have already touched on, but I thought it was good. Nelson-Mahood is perfect as the timid hero of the film. He has a good character arch that I think is needed for a film like this. It does well to establish him and show the growth needed. Boys I thought was solid as the strong teen sister. She doesn’t take any crap and she is really the strongest which is established in the beginning. LaBelle is funny that he uses humor to cover things up. I thought he played the role well. Holly was good as the neighbor. Her reasoning for what she is doing I thought worked. It isn’t a new concept, but one that is explored a little farther than normal. Stinson is hilarious and probably my favorite character. His timing is great. Tian was fine and the rest of the cast round out the film well for what was needed.
The effects for the film I thought were good as well. The look of the zombies and the blood in the film were both solid. It does look to be mostly practical. There was some CGI for a gunshot and for some blood splatter. I’m not the biggest fan of going that route, but they didn’t do a lot of it. The film was also shot very well also.
Now with that said, I had fun with this film. It won’t be for everyone as the humor can be a little much and the horror isn’t ramped up as much as I would have liked. It has an interesting concept that we have seen before, but it does take a different look at it. The film moves a good pace and I thought the ending was fitting for what they were going for. Acting was something that was also good, I had no issues there and the effects were solid aside from some decent CGI. The score of the film really didn’t stand out, but it also didn’t hurt the film. I would say that overall this film is above average and if you like horror/comedies or zombie films, I would say give this a viewing to see if this is your type of film.
My Rating: 7 out of 10