Shiver (Spanish: Eskalofrío), 2008.
Directed by Isidro Ortiz.
Starring Junio Valverde, Mar Soupe and Blanca Suarez.
Santi has a serious case of photophobia, to improve his health him and his mother are forced to move to a shadowed village in the Spanish mountains but not all is quite right about their new hometown.
In case you hadn’t gathered by now, Shiver is a Spanish horror film. My experience of Spanish horror is somewhat limited, but I expected more from this movie.
The film opens with Santi, the titular character, running across an open space which is lit heavily by the sun. As he runs, his skin begins to sore, and as he is about to reach his destination, he bursts into flame. Quite an opening, huh? Shame it’s just a dream sequence then. Dream sequences are used several times in Shiver, and they are a technique which I personally cannot stand. So to start the movie this way was a bitter disappointment at the offset.
We quickly discover that Santi is allergic to sunlight, but we also find out his front teeth are growing to look like fangs. Groan, not another vampire movie! Well, it isn’t quite – or at least it’s not presented as one other than the touches of Santi’s appearance and health. It’s odd to toy with such an idea, but not expand upon it. Anyway – Santi is bullied at school, and so when his doctor tells him and his mother to move somewhere with less sunlight, it’s hardly a bother for him to uproot. His mother is initially sceptical, but soon warms to the idea for her son’s safety.
As soon as they move to the isolated village, all does not seem right. The mother receives some odd advice from a local, and Santi hears bumps in the night. Soon livestock end up being gutted, and a couple of murders occur – both of which Santi has been around to witness the aftermath – i.e. the corpses with their throats ripped out. Naturally, the townsfolk are suspicious of him but not all is as it seems.
The problem with Shiver for the most part is that it throws in some odd twists and turns, some of which do not seem feasible. Of course, I’m not expecting realism here, but I am expecting a sense of the believable in terms of captivating me as the viewer, but I’m left wondering why things are happening, rather than your typical horror response of “Oh no, that person is about to die!” or other such phrases which run through your mind when there’s some sort of creature on the loose. Seeing as I’ve given a fair bit of the film away already, it hardly seems fair to dwell on this without revealing a mass of the plot.
Having only watched the film last night, it’s almost entirely forgettable. It has some interesting plot points, and at times I was admittedly a little creeped out, for example when the ‘creature’ (not giving too much away here…) is in Santi’s house, but from early on the film has some embarrassing directorial flaws which include flicking from one shot, to a completely irrelevant shot, which I can only assume is meant to be ‘artistic’.
Shiver, really should have taken some more guidance from Pan’s Labyrinth, seeing as the artistic director of Shiver also worked on that film. Sure, the two films are completely different in almost all aspects, but a fantastical element to Shiver could have made it a more pleasurable watch. Failing that just a tidier, more engaging storyline would have clinched the deal and made this an enjoyable horror, as opposed to one that gathers a response that is little more than ‘meh’.
Shiver is released on DVD on October 17th.
Movie Review Archive