Review by Sean Boelman
Although the vampire movie has provided some of the greatest classics of the horror genre, there has been a significant shortage of flicks using the monster in modern cinema. Although Frank Sabatella’s The Shed hardly seems worthy of even cult classic status, it’s plenty fun enough to be worth a late-night watch.
The film follows a high school student who discovers that a bloodthirsty vampire has taken refuge from the sun in his shed, attracting the attention of his bullied best-friend who is seeking revenge on his tormentors. With a script requiring few locations and is based largely on the unseen, this screams low-budget, but Sabatella’s handling of the material makes it entertaining.
The first two acts are pretty excellent, building suspense in a natural and exciting way with a few bursts of brutality to keep tantalizing the viewer. Unfortunately, the movie does fall apart heading into a finale that is rushed and anticlimactic, with a climax that runs opposite to everything that Sabatella has established for most of the narrative.
A majority of the film has a fun but campy action-horror vibe to it. It’s not particularly scary, and it’s definitely not a horror-comedy, but there’s enough of a tongue-in-cheek approach to the more melodramatic elements of the storyline that it’s consistently enjoyable in a campy B-movie sort of way.
The area in which the movie falls flat significantly is its character development. The protagonist is given a backstory as the troubled kid trying to redeem himself and stay on the good side of the law, a cliche that is so common that it has very little emotional impact. A forced romantic subplot doesn’t help very much either.
Admittedly, the acting is very over-the-top across the board, but it’s fitting given the schlocky nature of the film as a whole. The most recognizable face in the cast is probably character actress Siobhan Fallon Hogan, who plays the Sheriff character in a ridiculous but fun way. The rest of the cast is made up mostly of up-and-comers, some of whom show potential to do well in the genre.
Perhaps the most impressive aspect of this movie is its visual style. The effects in the film are creepy and reminiscent of old-school drive-in movies in the best way possible. And with the minimalistic but brilliant set design for the eponymous shed, shot in a way that makes it look intimidatingly massive, Sabatella creates a lot of suspense.
Even though the characters could have used a bit more work, The Shed is a lot more fun to watch than most other movies featuring bloodsucking antagonists. It’s some satisfyingly mindless popcorn horror.
The Shed streams on Shudder beginning August 27.