Movie Review-Dead Shack Was Dead On
I had a few hours to kill tonight(pun intended) and had heard great things about a new zombie flick on Shudder. I was not disappointed. This was a great time y’all. Shudder’s exclusive Dead Shack is an out and out brohamshake of a movie. Director Peter Ricq delivers a humorous sucker punch to the groin. It is a hilarious good time from start to finish. If you haven’t signed up for Shudder yet, now is the perfect time. Our readers get an full month free trial! Just click here and use the code SIGNAL. This movie alone is well worth the first months subscription! It is equal parts raunchy teen comedy and zombie gorefest. What a great way to spend a Saturday night. The premise is predictable but there is a interesting take on the whole killer zombies angle.
On a weekend getaway at a rundown cottage in the woods, a 14 year old teen, his crude best friend, and his best friend’s fearless over sister will have to grow up, work together, and save their hard partying parents from their predatory cabin neighbor intent on feeding them all to her undead family.
The film is shot with a variety of techniques and angles including long shots and aerial photos that look very much like drone footage. The tired setting of the isolated cabin in the woods works well here as this is clearly not a ground breaking genre film but an enjoyable escape to zombieland. The woods are sufficiently creepy and tilted camera angles and wide shots help drive the tension. There is one particularly clever shot when our family arrives at the cabin. The barely running, not planet safe mini van’s exhaust provides a nice fog effect to the creepy cabin and atmospheric music. It’s a smart use of given effects for use as a visual cue.
Lauren Holly is great as a twisted matriarch and sexy cougar. Her brand of gravel voiced snark is ideal for this deranged Mama. Father of the Year Candidate Roger, played ruthlessly by Donavon Stinson is so spot on as the “best friend” type of parent who is neglectful to the extreme. His wannabe father/friend shines so bright because of the relentless drunken hilarity he gives. He teeters constantly between being a drunken buffoon and a well-intentioned Dad, provided it does’t cut into his drinking time. Our heroes, the kids played by Lizzie Boy as Summer, Gabriel LaBelle playing Colin and Mathew Nelson-Mahood as Jason are just attractive enough without being distracting. Summer and Colin portray the withering indulgent stares anyone with teenagers can relate to perfectly. Colin stays at an eleven on the ADD energy meter the entire movie and seems incapable of ramping it down even when alone. At one point he actually makes jokes about his urine stream instead of running. The phrase “ropey and frothy” was never so funny. Jason is the sweet powerless child who has not been nurtured but rather beat down and belittled by his father. They at first glance are stale characters but their performance is actually genius in it’s coarseness. In particular baby faced Nelson-Mahood is great. This is a movie made for the Stranger Things crowd. We want the innocent kids to be bad ass and save the day. These actors deliver that realistic insufferable innocent nature teens have without devolving into sachrine sweetness or repugnant conceit.SLXLM
The dialogue is laugh out loud funny. It’s so dumb it comes full circle to intelligent again. Lines like “It’s 2017 Summer, everyone knows what everything means.” and my personal favorite from Roger, “A man can tell how manly a man is by how powerful his power five is.” That is comedic gold folks! The whole movie is rife with this sort of dialogue and it really enhances the appeal of these characters and the story as a whole.
The gore despite being small budget is abundant and pulpy. Heads bashed in and buckets of blood are found galore. The gory scenes are gross and effective in their simplicity. This is a film where Ricq in no way backs down from a sledge hammer to the skull. It’s bloody, messy, ridiculous and full of fun, if you like your zombies tenderized that is. With plenty of gooey, brainy bits and spurting carnage Dead Shack delivers full on horror movie effects without sacrificing the hilarity. The effects are not played for humor but rather as a perfect crescendo to the absurd soundtrack. It’s an ideal melding of comic horror effects and situational horror. SLXLM
The films strongest suit is it’s ability to not take itself too seriously and rather wallow in it’s absurdity. Mercilessly meta and sarcastic this movie dares you not to laugh. Even the most hard headed academic will have no choice but to full belly laugh in several places. Resplendent with cleverly quipping teens and adults seriously lacking in basic parenting skills, hints of Scream and Dawson’s Creek creep in throughout the movie(cue….”I don’t wanna wait for our lives to be over….”). With cheeky foreshadowing such as Colin referring to the house as the murder cabin and the never fading ketchup stain I was whisked away to to this dangerous place all the while knowing I shouldn’t go. At one point we have an honest to God gearing up for battle montage scene. It’s straight out of Karate Kid. I thought I heard “Cause Your The Best Around” playing in the background. Our zombie handler Mom gears up herself in some sort of bizarre welders mask, leather cosplay get up that someone should either wear at Planet Comic-Con next year or perhaps at the opening of the next Fifty Shades of Grey movie.
Dead Shack is a raucous good time and well worth the quick hour and a half it lasted. If this is what I can expect with Shudder exclusives this new streaming service is on it’s way to becoming a horror streaming juggernaut. Have you seen this movie yet? What did you think of it? What other movies like this are out there now? Let us know on Twitter or Facebook or chat with us and start the convo going.
As the Television Editor for Signal Horizon, I love watching and writing about genre tv. I grew up with old school slashers, but my real passion is television and all things weird and ambiguous. When I not watching and writing about my favorite movies and series, I’m introducing my family to the wonderful world of sci-fi, fantasy, and horror. My only regret there is not enough time in the day to watch everything.