Review by Sean Boelman
The World Premiere of Sung Kang’s directorial debut Shaky Shivers was a last-minute addition to the Overlook Film Festival lineup, but it soon became one of the hottest-ticket screenings this year. While this send-up of ‘80s monster movies is certainly charming, its flaws keep it from being anything more than just amusing.
The film follows two best friends who find themselves entangled in a series of supernatural escapades when they are trapped in an abandoned camp with a book of spells as their only weapon. It’s the type of silly, throwback horror movie that is best enjoyed if you don’t put too much thought into it because it is very random and full of logical fallacies.
Indeed, the almost scatterbrained nature of the script ends up working against it. While there are probably an equal amount of cringe-worthy and genuinely hilarious moments, the fact that the film makes so many drastic jumps causes the film to feel far longer than it actually is.
The film does earn merit for not taking itself too seriously, which is more than can be said about a lot of retro movies that are clearly made mostly for the sake of nostalgia. It’s all done with a cheeky sense of humor, and it’s certainly all the better for it since it wants you to be laughing at the ridiculousness with it, not at it.
Thay also fully go for it in terms of using prosthetics and special effects, which is nice to see in a film of this caliber. Of course, there wasn’t a huge budget, and so most of it looks rather goofy. But for the most part, that is exactly the tone it is going for. The exception is a practical werewolf transformation that is legitimately fantastic.
A lot of the movie hinges on the relationship between the two lead characters, and it works thanks to the exceptional chemistry between the two leads. Individually, their delivery can be a bit wooden and their jokes feel entirely forced. However, when they bounce off of one another it is great.
There definitely could have been some more substance to the two leads. Although their arcs are likable enough, and there is a moderately compelling theme here about treating others with respect, it’s no different than the many morality tales that have dominated the genre for years.
Shaky Shivers isn’t a slam dunk, but it’s charming enough to be worth genre fans’ time. A couple moments will make you laugh out loud, but it’s mostly just alright.
Shaky Shivers debuted at the 2022 Overlook Film Festival, which ran June 2-5.