The Shed (2019) has a great concept, teased at by the trailer, but never quite manages to make full use of it.
Stan (Jay Jay Warren) is a seventeen year old orphan, living with his nasty, abusive grandfather. Other than his tragic backstory he seems a fairly normal teenager. He has a girl he fancies, (Roxy, played by Sofia Happonen), a best friend who is a bit of an arsehole (Dommer, played by Cody Kostro) and a trio of bullies to contend with. For some reason though, everyone appears to be out to get him. The cops are looking for an excuse to put him away, the teachers are looking for an excuse to either expel him or get the cops involved, and his grandfather loathes and physically beats him, and it’s never really clear why. The story tells us that he’s been in trouble with the law before, presumably for acting out after being orphaned, but again it’s never really explained what he did or why everyone seems determined to bury him rather than support him. Moving on…
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Outside the grandfather’s house is a shed, and one day a vampire takes up residence in it. The film doesn’t tease out this reveal at all, the audience clearly gets to see what it is and why it’s in there in the opening minutes. The trailer teases at the film then becoming something of a revenge movie, with the bullied Stan and his friend Dommer (Pronounced Dahmer) using the vampire to get their own back. This is not how things play out; instead the film becomes something of a confused mess with Stan trying to cover up the vampire’s existence for fear of the police getting involved and him somehow being blamed for all this.
The vampire effects are nicely done, the makeup a callback to the nastier sorts of vampires seen in Near Dark, The Lost Boys, From Dusk Till Dawn and the like. These aren’t suave, charismatic seducers, these are monsters out to feast on hapless humans, and tearing throats out is the one thing they live for. In this the movie succeeds, making the vampire feel like something to be afraid of. There’s no sparkly skin or rippling muscles on display here, just blood, guts and dismembered body parts.
But it’s difficult to really care. There’s a lot of telling going on here, and not a lot of showing. The film has a really strong opening, the initial sequence an absolute attention grabber, but from there on it slips into mundanity. Yes, I really did just describe a film about a vampire in a shed as being mundane. The best friend is an asshole it’s impossible to relate to, the grandfather is just horrid, the teachers, the cops, everyone is out to get Stan. Stan himself is far too passive for too much of the movie to let us relate to him. There’s no real insight into his character beyond “my parents are dead, woe is me” and while that’s more character development than some characters in horror movies get, it’s simply not enough here when so much of the film is directly focused on him.
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There’s some good horror fodder here, some good jumpscares, action and practical effects, let down by an overreliance on cheap dream sequences for scares and a plot that ultimately doesn’t do justice to its core concept. Is it a bad film? No, far from it. But it’s not one that’s likely to linger long in the mind. It also has a last minute attempt at a “gotcha” that simply shouldn’t have been there and adds nothing whatsoever to either the denoument or the story as a whole. One to catch on your streaming service of choice, certainly, but not worth going out of your way to find it.
The Shed is out on Digital HD on May 11th from Signature Entertainment.