The Movie Waffler New Release Review [Shudder] - SHOOK | The Movie Waffler

New Release Review [Shudder] - SHOOK

shook review
A vacuous influencer endures a night of terror while babysitting her sister's dog.

Review by Eric Hillis

Directed by: Jennifer Harrington

Starring: Daisye Tutor, Emily Goss, Nicola Posener, Octavius J. Johnson, Stephanie Simbari, Grant Rosenmeyer

shook poster

America's largest union for the performing arts, SAG-AFTRA, recently made the decision to allow "influencers" to join their ranks. For those who don't know, an influencer is someone with a large social media following, who usually makes a living advertising products to their followers in a manner that suggests those products are simply an organic part of their daily lives. Of course, it's all a performance, as SAG-AFTRA's decision suggests. Look beyond the square frame of an Instagram post and you'll likely see someone struggling to pay their rent, yet who has managed to convince their followers that they're living an enviably glamorous life.

shook review

Director Jennifer Harrington expresses this duality with a simple edit in the opening sequence of her new horror movie, Shook. A group of beauty influencers, including our protagonist Mia (Daisye Tutor) are assembled on a red carpet receiving awards, with seemingly hordes of paparazzi snapping away. But when we cut to a wide shot we see that the scene has been staged in the rather unglamorous surrounds of a disused parking lot rather than some hip new venue.

As a two minute short, Shook would be effective in making its point if it ended on that revelation. But there's another 85 minutes or so left, in which the point is laboured and shoddily integrated into a social media riff on When a Stranger Calls.

shook review

When one of her fellow influencers is murdered, Mia decides to shun the party she was meant to attend and agrees to babysit her sister's dog Chico. As an unnecessarily upsetting montage illustrates, some sicko is murdering dogs in the vicinity, and Mia's sister, Nicole (Emily Goss), is worried her prize pooch might be the next victim. Stricken with the same fictional debilitating condition that claimed their mother, Nicole has preyed on Mia's guilt for neglecting their mom in her dying days (she was too busy influencing I guess). When Chico goes missing and Mia receives a series of increasingly creepy phone calls from Kellan (Grant Rosenmayer), the weirdo who lives across the street, so begins an evening of terror.

Shook has the spine of an intriguing idea, and it's refreshing to see a female horror protagonist who bucks the "final girl" trend of being a virginal goody two-shoes. Mia is, to put it mildly, a bit of a bitch. She's unlikeable from the off, and so Harrington and Tutor have set themselves a challenging task to get the viewer on Mia's side. It's something they never quite pull off, largely because the more revelations are presented to us, the more preposterous the whole scenario becomes. If you start pondering the logistics of the many spinning plates Mia's tormentor has set in motion, it just simply doesn't hold up - there's no way one person could have pulled this off unaided!

shook review

There's a moment in the climax where Mia livestreams her fight back against her attacker and we see a collage of faces watching from presumably around the world. Despite the action they're witnessing, they all appear completely disinterested. I assume it's meant to be a comment on how numb we've become to on screen violence, whether real or staged, but instead it plays like a reflection of how anyone watching Shook will be feeling by that point. Thanks to unconvincing plotting and characters we couldn't care less about, the movie loses our interest long before its climax.

 is on Shudder from February 18th.

2021 movie reviews