The Movie Waffler First Look Review - FROM THE SHADOWS | The Movie Waffler

First Look Review - FROM THE SHADOWS

From the Shadows review
Five survivors of a cult find themselves targeted by a killer.

Review by Sue Finn

Directed by: Mike Sargent

Starring: Bruce Davison, Keith David, Selena Anduze

From the Shadows poster

Opening with a man complaining directly to camera about how "evil" women are, it's well satisfying to see him get his comeuppance, but the point of the scene is never explained, or even who that random guy was.

Behind him a large fire explodes and releases some sort of "hooded demon" with glowing eyes to dispense said comeuppance.

As the opening credits roll, we are treated to an information dump letting us know all about the cult "Hidden Wisdom" and their base at the mansion of Dr Cawl (X-Men's Bruce Davison - who's been slumming it since his earlier successes), which we saw go up in flames in that opening scene.

Apparently the cult was dabbling in neuro-behavioral science and harnessing mind power blah blah blah.

From the Shadows review

Not all of the Hidden Wisdom followers died in the blast, and the survivors are now considered killers, a fact gleefully announced to camera by the news reporter ensuring the audience has all the facts before beginning the film proper.

We are introduced to renowned skeptic Dr Amara Rowan (Selena Anduze), who has connections and has managed to set up Skype interviews with the five survivors to "set the record straight." She has hired a tech guy to help her put it all together before she settles down to interview them.

Almost the entire film consists of this Skype/Zoom call with the five survivors discussing the Hidden Wisdom cult, though it's sprinkled with adverts featuring Davison - only ever seen in adverts and flashback hidden footage, never in the actual body of the film; he never interacts with the actual main characters.

Keith David (The Thing) plays the mysterious Dr Bertram, who disappeared before the fire – dead or just left town? The cult members just aren't sure, only that the two figureheads of Cawl and Bertram had a falling out and things went downhill from there.

With time running out, and an eye-glowing demon after them, the cult members will have to use the powers of their mind to survive the night.

From the Shadows review

As directed by Mike Sargent, there's a lot wrong with this movie.

Firstly, the script by Sargent, Ian Holt and Michael Kuciak is tiresome. Alpha waves, neural imbalances, V-tech images, "manifestations of the darkest parts of themselves" etc. - it's a whole lot of neo-scientific buzz words and pseudo intelligent mumbo jumbo.

The characters are mostly cyphers - the smart one, the scared one, the nerd one, the rebel one etc. and they fail to develop personalities beyond these cliches. Their relationships to each other are left unexplored and the lack of chemistry between them is exacerbated by the lack of in-person interaction.

The set design is flat and uninspired, and the sound design makes everything seem muffled and strangely echoey, like you're watching it from another room.

From the Shadows review

There is a memorable scene of a talking throat wound (yes, that's correct!), but that's the only thing that really made an impression. I wish it had featured more absurd and unsettling moments like that one.

The effects aren't bad, the music is serviceable and Anduze's performance is good. In fact, all the cast try hard; they really work to imbue each line with importance with varying degrees of success, especially poor Briana Femia as Zoe, who is saddled with the most portentous and silly dialogue, but this script and its dull talking-heads setting, is a lemon.

Boring, word-salad-heavy, flat, self-important and never once believable.

This should have stayed in the shadows.

From the Shadows is in US cinemas from September 22nd. A UK/ROI release has yet to be announced.
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