Shiver (Eskalofrio) (2008)
(15) Running time: 91 minutes
Director: Isidro Ortiz
Writers: Hirnan Migoya, Alejandro Hernandez, Jose Gamo, Isidro Ortiz
Starring: Junio Valverde, Francesc Orella, Mar Sodupe
Reviewed by: Matt Wavish, official HCF critic
Spain is having a great few years with their horror output of late, we’ve had (Rec), (Rec) 2, Pan’s Labyrinth and The Orphanage as the most notably successful, with smaller titles like Hierro and Atrocious keeping the quality high. Shiver, or Eskalofrio to use its proper title, sneakily came out with barely a mention, and so the marketing chaps decided to slap the “from the producer of” tag on the sleeve. When that tag also mentions the films Pan’s Labyrinth and The Orphanage, people are going to take note, but should they have? It’s a yes and no answer, for Shiver is actually quite good in places, but does not compare, not even close, to the films mentioned on the DVD sleeve. So I guess my first words of wisdom are do not go into this expecting another Spanish classic horror, and without too much expectation, you may actually like it.
Santiago (Valverde) or “Santi” as he is called in the film, suffers from an extreme case of photophobia, any contact with sunlight and he will have problems. His illness is getting worse, and so his Mother decides they should move away to somewhere rural, quiet and where Santi will easily be able to avoid sunlight. They head north to a quiet village surrounded by stunning countryside, and with the villagers all knowing everyone’s business, it is not long before the new strange young boy in town is noticed. With pale skin, dark glasses, a hoodie and bizarre vampire like teeth, poor Santi sticks out like a sore thumb. He has nightmares every night, and is a troubled lad, but it would seem trouble has found him as strange and violent murders begin to happen in the surrounding woods. Locals are found savagely attacked, usually with their Achilles heel slice open and their throats ripped out. Santi, with his strange appearance, is looked upon as a suspect, and after finding a body in the woods and getting blood all over himself, it does not look good as the local copper finds him.
Picked on a school, Santi befriends a young girl, and the pair along with another lad decide to figure out the mystery of who, or what is murdering locals and their sheep. So begins a mystery into just what is hunting in the woods, and so far the set up and premise are very good. The pace, a little slow in places, serves the story well and allows you to be drawn in to the story and the beautiful setting. However, an early twist in the tale reveals too much too soon, and sadly the reveal also makes things ever so slightly laughable. A real shame as the film was doing so well, and unfortunately further twists in the tale only damage what good has been done even more. The pace does quicken come the end, but all the mystery, shocks and suspense is gone for good and I, in all honesty, lost interest. Some violent scenes, and an almost edge of your seat chase through the woods at night did get my interest back, but sadly again it was all ruined by a victim who dies in such a way I wasn’t sure if the film had suddenly switched to comedy.
There is some good stuff here, but there is just too much going on and too many plot twists to really have an impact. It’s like they wanted to get every ounce of horror ingredients into one short film, and it becomes messy. A real shame, and a missed opportunity, but still the first half is very impressive.