By Ali Moosavi.
The box office success of films such as Halloween, Friday the 13th, Nightmare on Elm Street, Saw, etc. and their endless sequels has popularized that dreaded word “franchise” in Hollywood. These films have also defined the slasher movie genre. A common denominator in all these films is the ever-increasing number of victims and the increasingly more elaborate and gruesome ways of dispensing with them. With the progress in special effects technology, each films seems to up the ante in CGI. Happily, recent films such as A Quiet Place (John Krasinski, 2018) and Hereditary (Ari Aster, 2018) have moved away from the slasher genre to the more traditional horror where the unseen is often more terrifying than graphically depicted gore and violence.
The Shed follows a well-worn Hollywood teenage movie template. A boy is bullied at school and an alien comes to his rescue and he transforms from the abused boy to a hero who ends up getting his dream girl into the bargain. The main difference here is that the “alien” is largely unseen. We are introduced to this creature at the start of the film where we see a man fleeing, unsuccessfully as it turns out, from something in the woods. The “thing” turns out to be a vampire and it takes shelter in a shed belonging to Ellis, an old man (played by Timothy Bottoms who was unforgettable 48 years ago in Peter Bogdanovich’s The Last Picture Show), who lives with his grandson Stan (Jay Jay Warren). Poor stan, who is bullied at school, doesn’t get much comfort at home either and is put down and abused by Stan. As can be predicted, all those who bully and abuse Stan, find their way into the shed where they are welcomed by the unfriendly vampire. Thankfully, we are spared the gory details and we can supplement the sound effects with our own imagination to picture the demise of these characters. The trouble is that after a while this whole scenario becomes quite predictable and rather repetitive. As a result, the tension is considerably reduced in the latter part of the film. The director, Frank Sabatella, who handles the horror quite effectively and efficiently, is let down by the Frank Sabatella the scriptwriter who fails to conjure up enough twists and turns in the story to maintain the interest till the end. However, he gives a lesson to any budding filmmaker as to how to make the most of a minimal budget to deliver shocks at a fraction of the cost of the aforementioned recent pacesetters of the genre such as A Quiet Place and Hereditary.
Ali Moosavi has worked in documentary television and has written for Film Magazine (Iran), Cine-Eye (London), and Film International (Sweden). He contributed to the second volume of the The Directory of World Cinema: Iran (Intellect, 2015).