Shiver (2008)

APRIL 29, 2009


It’s not often you see a movie that introduces the main character as a familiar horror movie monster and then forgets to actually work that into the rest of the movie, but that’s what Shiver (Spanish: Eskalofrío) does. Our lead has photophobia, which means he can’t go into the sun. But he also has sharp fangs, which as far as I know, is not a common side effect of his ailment. So I’m guessing he’s actually a vampire.

But that doesn’t matter, because neither his photophobia, his teeth, or (eventually) the character at all really have any bearing on the story. The disease is mainly an excuse for them to live in such a dreary locale, and partially explain why he's quiet and moody (besides for the fact that he's a teenager in a horror movie). The end of the film finds him lying on the floor doing nothing while the film's real villains battle. It’s sort of like when you watch five seasons of a TV show and notice how they gradually phase a character out of importance, albeit in a single 90 minute film. Granted, there’s nothing particularly interesting about the guy besides his ailment, but still, let him DO something in the finale, even as a reward for sticking around so long.

I also wonder if the folks who made The Haunting In Connecticut saw this before scripting their movie. It’s not the same genre, but it’s interesting how both films start off with an overworked mother and her sick son, fed up with dealing with medical issues, moving to a new town that will allow him to have a slightly easier time with it (in this case, the village get almost no sunlight). It stuck out because very few horror films feature a dynamic between a still attractive mother and a son in his late teens to begin with, let alone with all this medical nonsense. Hell, the two actors even resemble the ones in CT. Weird.

Anyway, it’s not that bad of a movie. I dug the subtle approach for the most part, and director Isidro Ortiz stages some effective sequences (particularly a “hunt” with the “hero” and his two friends early in the film). And the idea of blending genres is kind of cool, I actually had no idea how to label this one (a vampire investigates what he thinks is a monster, that turns out to be a feral child kept hidden by evil humans. What would YOU call it?). I just wish it all came together in a more cohesive way. Paying off even ONE of the horror angles would have been sufficient.

Back to the evil humans thing (spoilers ahead), it’s pretty weird how at the exact moment I wrote down “landlord” in my notes, he suddenly revealed himself as the villain. I had written it down because I liked how, for once, the kind landlord character didn’t disappear from the story once the family had settled into their house (like, I dunno, Haunting in Connecticut!). And this landlord was particularly kind, so I guess I should have seen it coming. Then again, we already had a vampire and a feral child, so I wasn’t really looking for any other plot elements.

Another issue is that far too much time is spent on a cop investigating the “hero” kid for the murders. We know perfectly well that he’s not the killer, because we saw a blurry shape thing kill the guy while the “hero” watched. We also have seen a few “monster POV” shots. So why waste screentime on something that we know isn’t the case? It’s just like Wolfen taking up 10-15 minutes with some nonsense about terrorists. If anything, the characters in a horror film should know more than the audience, not the other way around. Maybe if it was legitimately played as a mystery, it would be fine, but we know he’s innocent before he’s even officially accused by the cops. It’s like a red herring in reverse.

But I dunno, story issues aside, there was something about the movie I dug. It’s nice to see a Spanish horror flick that isn’t about ghosts for once (though given the kitchen sink attitude, I wouldn’t be surprised if there were some at one point), plus it’s well acted and features an interesting locale. A few more drafts of the script and this would be an outright gem, but as is it’s merely an acceptable way to kill 90 minutes and maybe learn some Spanish while you’re at it (Speaking of which - this is my 3rd foreign language film in a row. Tomorrow's better be in Ingles!).

What say you?


  1. Saw this back in October and really liked it. I agree, there were a lot of "red-herrings" but it really speaks to the quality of the directing that they didn't derail the movie completely. This wasnt one of the greatest of all time, but it was still damn good and those scenes in the woods were was the kid's best friend. We'll call him, "Larry" of the best comic-relief-in-a-horror-movie guys I've seen in a LONG time. It also used a lot of horror conventions from the 80's that seem to have been abandoned in american horror flicks.

  2. although i agree to most of the things you have said here, i simply liked the movie because first, it had a very dreamy locale ... i cant seem to stop thinking about it...the long road going down and up vanishing into the thick grove, the misty mountins overlooking the canopy, i kept longing for more and more shots of the scenic beauty....the next good thing? it had a sexy mom... i mean very sexy

  3. This was a great movie period. It's a foreign horror and not a slasher movie. It has a real story line and the suspense is out of this world. One od my favorite horror movies, perhaps even in my top 10 or 20 and I've seen hundreds, literally hundreds of horror movies.

  4. I'm with you on the cop investigating the kid for so long. I mean, imagine you're a cop, some kid dies in the woods with his throat ripped out. His friend who was there says, "he was attacked by some animal." Does you head immediately go to, "Well, this kid must be lying, HE must have ripped the victim's throat out! Look, he even has long canines!" No? Me either. And AFTER that, the kid says it was this particular girl; the cop refuses to believe him, so the kid does a google search (which in itself proves him right), then interviews one nun in town who tells him the girl is a vicious murderer. If the cop had taken two minutes to do this, we would have been all set.
    Despite this lapse in intelligence, I really liked the movie. Atmosphere was phenomenal and the little girl monster was super creepy. I hope I can sleep tonight...

  5. Okay I gave up reading this when you said the mother was attractive? Really? She looked like a meth addict at best and an anorexic zombie at worst. WTF is wrong with you man?


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