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June 19, 2014

Movie Review: In the Shadow (2011)

Directed by Nicole Elmer

Movie review by Greg Goodsell

Shy and retiring, Diego (Jorge Sermini) works as a busboy on the Caribbean island. Diego has a good deal just beneath the surface; he’s able to revive the dead back into the world of the living. Diego was given this miraculous incantation from a local hermit (played by Machete himself, Danny Trejo) after Diego’s daughter drowned while swimming. Diego keeps his special powers under wraps, only reluctantly resurrecting loved ones among the island’s poor. His efforts take a great psychological toll on him, and a mysterious, dark figure begins to haunt his waking hours. In the meantime, brassy, self-confident documentary filmmaker Hilary (Michelle Keffer) discovers Diego’s special powers and begins to obsessively stalk him. Eventually, they fall in love and begin a torrid affair. Hilary returns to her estranged husband back in the United States – Diego confronts his past, and the film ends on an unexpectedly optimistic note.

While there a jump scares and shock cuts aplenty, In the Shadow is definitely not your run-of-the-mill horror flick. While its story is a bit threadbare and cliché, the film takes pains to disassociate itself from those with similar premises. While the film’s story is similar to Zeder (1983, aka Revenge of the Dead) and Pet Sematary (1989), also about reanimating loved ones and the consequences they cause, In the Shadow keeps the most logical part of its story – i.e., what happens to the people once they are resurrected? – under close wraps until the very end. In the Shadow is not about zombies, but about dealing with life choices.

While there is frisson to be had here, In the Shadow will disappoint those in search of gore. The sunny, tropical setting, shown off to spectacular advantage by the cinematography by Michael Morlan serves the story well. Extended scenes of the tropical paradise settings are sure to satisfy any armchair traveler. The love scenes between Keffer and Sermini is likewise steamy and erotic. In spite of its slightly morbid storyline, the casual viewer will find many things to enjoy about the film.

It must be said that the male lead, Sermini is not a terrific actor. His line readings are awkward and stiff, leading to lots of unintentional chuckles. Keffer, the sassy female lead fares much better, especially in an ambiguous scene where she seems to be making a confession to an especially chilling crime.

In the Shadow
can be recommended as being the only horror feature in memory where the shock conclusion offers a note of redemption in lieu of the usual, cheap final scare.   

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