Written and Directed by Simon Kay
Out now on digital
A group of private security guards are ambushed whilst escorting an ambassador and his family to an event in rural Scotland and are forced to survive the night and protect their client. But what lurks in the darkness at this former military testing ground deep in the Scottish woodlands?
SHADOWLAND is a low-budget action horror thriller by first time writer and director, Simon Kay.
Amelia Eve (The Haunting of Bly Manor) stars as Elaine, one of the security personal, alongside Jason Harvey (She-Wolf of the Woods) as the animated Mickey and Ben Keenan as cool as a cucumber, Cam. Recruiting and leading the team, Cam is forced to protect the ambassador and his family at all costs but not knowing the motive behind their attack puts him at unease. Not only that, when the security force find themselves seeking refuge in a bunker, they discover there’s more to be worried about in the dark than a group of armed robbers.
Blending horror and thriller together, SHADOWLAND‘s mash of genres struggles to find its feet with its meandering pace and reliance on flashbacks to tell its sci-fi-esque horror subplot. With this part of the storyline focusing mainly on the exploits of a mysterious man named Kane, it feels like SHADOWLAND has lifted parts of popular videogame Alan Wake, especially with Kane covered in lights a la Lamp Lady, who always appeared to me as a skit on Log Lady from David Lynch’s hit cult TV series, Twin Peaks.
The performances seen in the film are a mixed bag, which isn’t surprising given the low budget nature of the movie. Harvey, Eve and Keenan are the strongest of the lineup but the script lacks substance for any of the cast to really dig deep into their characters. Even the creepy, supernatural antagonist of the plot isn’t as developed as it could be and feels rushed in that that the so-called fear we should feel on behalf of the characters is pretty much non-existent.
SHADOWLAND tries to punch upwards by coming across bigger than it is but unfortunately it doesn’t have the substance to back it up, leaving a rather hollow story that drags more than it entertains. There’s flickers of interesting plot ideas here and there but it feels too underdeveloped for it to make much sense. Maybe this would have better with a shorter running time to condense and compact the story, but I would’ve still liked to have seen more focus on the sci-fi and monster elements to build up the threat element for our protagonists to face off against.