Dead Shack, Movie Review Screened at FilmQuest Film Festival 2017
Dead Shack is a horror/comedy/young adult (YA) movie with the tropes you’ve come to expect. It takes place in a cabin in the woods and there are zombies. There is the smart aleck younger brother. There are teenagers who save the day, and along the way they deal with some of their own teenager problems. There is humor which would push it to a PG level, and there is language, which would take it to an R rating. These elements combined to present a solid story, but none of them stood out to grab me.
That is because, Dead Shack is a YA horror film. The expected layers of a YA story are present. There are teenagers who, because of their familial situations, are socially struggling. They encounter a situation they bring to the adults. The adults don’t believe the outlandish story, and then are unable to do anything about the problem. With a little luck and ingenuity, the youth come up with a plan bringing them through the experience. By the end the teens are changed, presumably for the better.
The Characters and Acting Are Solid
Each character in Dead Shack was their own person and the portrayals of the characters were enjoyable because personalities didn’t break. Fitting into the YA setup is the tough sister, Summer (Lizzie Boys), her smart aleck brother, Colin (Gabriel La Belle), and his friend Jason (Matthew Nelson-Mahood) who allows himself to be pushed around and likes Summer. The three are on a camping trip to a cabin in the woods by the sibling’s dad (Donavon Stinson) along with his latest girlfriend (Valerie Tian). The kids go exploring and see the neighbor (Lauren Holly) feeding her family, who happen to be zombies.
The Plot is Young Adult
In a horror film I expect to see characters get killed. Some of them you want to see get it, while others are rooted for to make it through to the end. After the initial introduction to are main characters I was fairly confident of who was going to make it through and who wasn’t. And those expectations were met.
I found the plot to be predictable because it fit into the YA format. I talked with others who were in the screening and they had different thoughts about the predictability of Dead Shack. They felt there were unexpected turns that kept them guessing till the end. The main point of enjoyment for them was the teenagers solving the situation.
The humor in the movie goes along with the genre. There are some funny situations and the commentary from Colin is a typical teenage boy who has few restraints.
Dead Shack also has some heart to it. Even with the dysfunctionality of the family, they are still family and they are going to do what needs to be done. This theme was carried through from beginning to end giving the movie coherence.
Dead Shack is a good movie for spending some time with. There is nothing overly gross or disturbing. A couple of scenes come close—it is still a horror movie—there is some flesh eating and hammer bashing.
The YA format in books and movies is strong right now and Dead Shack is a solid representation of the genre.
I saw Dead Shack at FilmQuest 2017 in Provo, Utah. It is currently on the film festival circuit.
Dead Shack was shot and made in Canada.
Director: Peter Ricq
Writers: Phil Ivanusic, and Peter Ricq
Length: 82 Minutes
I give it a score of 3 out of 5, a solid movie