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March 25, 2012

Movie Review: The Shrine (2010)

Supernatural movies can be hit or miss. We can all suspend disbelief enough to get into the idea that spirits surround us, and for many people, that isn't a huge stretch. It's interesting to think that good and evil apparitions may be here at all times. The tough part is making it scary. The Shrine tries to do that, I think, but it just sort of, I don't know. It's just sort of there.

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Here's the story. An overzealous reporter decides to investigate a missing American in Poland without her bosses knowledge, and we learn why that's a very bad idea. Not only that, but she takes an intern and her photographer boyfriend with on the excursion. The intern is aware that they are working against the editor's wishes, but the boyfriend doesn't know until they get there. For the rest of the film, he provides the only voice of reason.

We start to get into familiar movie territory here. Strange people show up in a small town with their fancy e-lec-tronics and such. Small town people stare at them. Strangers are self-entitled and have a "What the hell is their problem?" attitude that isn't appreciated. If I understood Polish, I'm sure I would have heard the townspeople saying things like, "You ain't from 'round here," or "Why don't you go back hwerrr ye' came from," or maybe even, "Yer kind ain't welcome 'round these parts." Typical cliche movie stuff, especially for this kind of film. After they discover a fog in the woods, the ladies veer in to find a creepy demon statue, and all hell somewhat breaks loose.

I will say this. I grew up in Chicago, and I heard a lot of Polish being spoken. I know about three words myself, so I couldn't translate the film for you. I will say that it at least sounded authentic. That was one great thing about the movie. Another is the fact that nothing was subtitled. That not only puts the non-Polish speaking viewer in the same position of the lead characters, it also would have given the ending away about four minutes into their visit to this small town.

The big problem I had here was the constant feeling that the main characters were just standing around when they could have escaped the village many times. There were many moments when I thought, "They could just... " They never did. Run here. Hit him with this thing there. It was just aggravating. I don't think I'm alone in putting myself in the shoes of the characters when I watch something. It's fair to ask yourself what you would do, and I never got the right answer. It was almost like they had no urgency in getting away from the mess they were in.

When I got to the end of the movie and learned what the deal was with this town, I realized I had wasted an afternoon. That was it? That was the big secret? It's really very disappointing, and it never gets legs from the start. You'll want to skip this one, unless you're really into the supernatural stuff. The movie looks beautiful, and it's acted fairly well, but it just doesn't fly, not for me.

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