The Shrine (2010 Supernatural Horror, Canadian). Starring Aaron Ashmore and Cindy Sampson. Directed by Jon Knautz.

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Summary: Tourists go missing in Europe? NOOOO! Let's investigate. Natives with knives and bad attitudes? Who would've thunk it? What's this? There's something more...oh, tell...

BLOT: (14 Jun 2012 - 12:06:41 AM)

The Shrine (2010 Supernatural Horror, Canadian). Starring Aaron Ashmore and Cindy Sampson. Directed by Jon Knautz.

the gist. When Carmen (Cindy Sampson) wants to investigate a missing local who went backpacking in Europe, she is told no, forcing her to sneak off to the last location mentioned in the guy's journal. She brings along her photographer boyfriend—Aaron Ashmore's Marcus—and her intern/friend Sara (Meghan Heffern) along for her make-it-or-break-it chance: if she flubs this she is going to be in more trouble than her job is worth. Landing in Poland, they seek out a tiny, mostly unknown village. Getting a major dose of stink-eye from the native, they ignore all warnings and probe deeper (naturally, any horror movie where people told not to go into the house decide not to go into the house is going to be awfully short), only to find that a journal entry about a strange dark fog was not an exaggeration. And in the fog is a statue with a secret. As the natives chase them with intent to bodily harm; that secret takes its toll, and things are worse than they appear.

one paragraph review. This movie's rope-a-dope is its biggest triumph: it makes you think you are watching a second rate Hostel rip-off but tosses a hefty dose of something else into the mix. That is kind of a spoiler, but one for your benefit, because I wager that many catching this on Netflix [etc] might interpret it as merely middling and bail before it has time to get into its own. However, make note that "its own" shows up around the 1 hour mark (and this movie is only about 80 minutes long). Sure, there is a well done creepy statue in the woods, and there is some nice "What's that strange dark fog that doesn't move?" moments, but there is also a lot of personal drama that flies wide of the mark, and some so-well-hashed-they're-worn scenes as European villagers are shown as poor and engaging in strange 19th century barbaric oddities while a feuding couple go off on a surreptitious assignment (so secretive that only half of said couple know it's even a secret). While you can't fastforward to the 45-minute mark without losing some bits, that's a shame, because this baby needs some polishing (pun...maybe intended) and some major retooling on the front end to help prop up and awesome-sauce the back end. The actual climax, though, is kind of fun and an appreciated twist, with the "native tongue" [i.e., somewhat poorly spoken Polish as performed by Canadian actors] hiding wide chunks of the dialogue being a brave and interesting choice and the overall refusal to wrap it all up being the movie's strongest point. Overall, not worth more than a Meh but as enjoyable as a "meh" can be..

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