Directed by: Federico Zampaglione
Written by: Domenico Zampaglione, Federico Zampaglione, Giacomo Gensini
Starring: Chris Coppola, Jake Muxworthy, Karina Testa, Nuot Arquint, Ottaviano Blitch
Directed by Federico Zampaglione
Starring Jake Muxworthy, Karina Testa, Nuot Arquint, Chris Coppola and Ottaviano Blitch
Jake Muxworthy plays David, a young Iraqi war veteran who has a passion for mountain biking. His hobbie leads him to a unnamed country in Europe with beautiful woodland and mountain scenery. Whilst having a beer in the local hut bar, he meets a young woman (Karina Testa) who’s being harassed by two hunters. David stands up to the bullies and the young woman flees.
Whilst riding his bike through the sprawling landscape, he decides to pitch up camp for the night, but ends up loosing his tent. Luck is at hand when he bumps into the mysterious girl who lets him stay in her tent. She introduces herself as Angeline and is also there for a mountain biking break. She questions him on how he knew about the location, known as the Shadow, and he informs her his best mate told him all about it. She then starts to tell him how part of the Shadow is haunted with ghosts of dead rebels who were mercilessly killed in the dead of night and that anyone who dare venture into the part will never return. This doesn’t bother the two as they continue to ride together the following morning. Gazing over the stunning scenery, they spot some deer grazing and Angeline spots the bothersome hunters in the bushes, taking aim. She alerts the deer who flee, and both her and David decide to escape as quickly as possible when the hunters turn the gun on them.
Cue a chase scene between a land rover and two cyclists for about 10 mins, until finally they all end up in the spooky part of the Shadow, where each of them are systematically attacked and abducted. David and the hunters awake strapped to individual metal bed slabs and are tortured by a frog-licking, skeleton of a man named Mortis, who has a fondness for wars, terror attacks and dictators, including a certain George ‘Dubya’ Bush.
From here on, the film slips downhill and before we know it it’s the end, which is clearly inspired by Jacob’s Ladder. The mountain biking woodland scenes are stunning, and you’ll find yourself captivated by the beauty of the sport and awe-inspiring natural surroundings the characters ride through. It’s no surprise to learn that director Federico is a keen cyclist with the attention to detail he invests in on the cycling sections of the film. The first half of the film is gripping and I cannot fault, with the viewer an engaged spectator to the events that unfold. Howeever, as soon as we get into the Saw/Hostel territory, it feels out of character and indeed feels like another film has been spliced into the one we’re watching. This is very disappointing as the director, Federico Zampaglione, crafted such a brilliant opener that was full of promise, only for the film not to deliver when it needed it most. I would have liked for the horrifying final third to have remained in the woods and maintained its running theme rather than change tack and opt for something different. The cast in Shadow are likable and put on a good performance to allow the viewer to invest in them. Nuot Arquint, who plays the Nazi loving sadist, is one spooky guy but he never speaks and his character lacks depth, which is a real disappointment come to the final scenes.