Shadowland Review

Shadowland Movie Review from
Shadowland (2010) Movie Review by Mike Pickle

How do you make a quality vampire film with good character development, good atmosphere and a great story with very little money? I don't know. Maybe you should ask Director Wyatt Weed because this is precisely what he has done with the highly entertaining Shadowland. It's Gothic in the true sense of the word. Both a throwback to the romanticism of old vampire films and a modern take on the sub-genre that flows from scene to scene drawing the viewer further in with each carefully crafted reveal.

The film opens in 1897 where a beautiful female vampire is chased down and brutally staked. In Present day a stone cross and wooden stake are unearthed at the construction site of a church undergoing remodeling. That night, during a storm, a woman crawls out of the ground where the cross was found. She wanders the streets cold and covered in mud with no recollection of who she is. As the story unfolds we see that she is indeed the vampire we saw being staked in the beginning. She's being tracked down by both a vicious vampire and an emotionally conflicted vampire hunter employed by the church. We learn more about the mysterious woman's past as she slowly regains her memory. Turns out things aren't what they seem. For the sake of all the great reveals that make this film a rich viewing experience I won't give away any more than that, but I will tell you that watching this woman struggle to survive and rediscover her identity, the men zeroing in on her and the bumbling cops hot on her trail makes for an intriguing film that grabs you in the beginning and never disappoints.

When I enjoy a film as much as I did this one I run the risk of over-praising it because it's not for everyone. It is obviously low budget and not all horror fans will appreciate the slow build and character development. The cover art hints that it will be more of the cheesy, gory violence that a lot of fans are used to seeing from modern vampire films. We do get some well choreographed violence and good special effects, but what Shadowland offers is much more.

The vampire Laura, played by former Miss Teen USA semi-finalist Caitlin McIntosh, doesn't have many lines, but she doesn't need them. Her presence commands your attention. All of the character's yearning, curiosity, wonder and finally viciousness are all evident on her face and movements without needing to say much. The dashing young vampire hunter Julian, played by Jason Contini, shows depth and conflict as well. Some particularly engaging scenes between him and the church representative assigned to him add a very interesting dimension to his back story. The church urges him to remember that vampires have a soul and deserve a chance at redemption, whereas Julian, being on the front lines and facing their aggression first hand, insists that killing them is necessary to his survival. Last, but not least, is the smoldering, mysterious vampire Lazerus played by Venezuelan actor Carlos Antonio Leon. He provides another multidimensional character that we're not used to in films like this. Is he a soulless killer or a man in search of his true love that was torn away from him centuries ago? He also provides us one of the film's most exciting fight scenes with Julian in a small alley (not to mention a nifty unveiling of vampire wings). Besides the leads there are multiple smaller characters that help drive the movie along and make you forget that you're watching a low budget independent film. Another unsung character that brings a lot to the film is the location. St. Charles, Missouri brings not only a visually striking element, but a surprisingly convincing portrayal of the late 1800's that they might not have achieved so well otherwise on such a meager budget.

Writer / Director Wyatt Weed has shown that he can not only bring a fresh vision to the often done Vampire sub-genre, but he can provide a very cohesive story and a highly impressive use of flashbacks at just the right moment for optimal effect. Apparently the vampire theme is the last element he added to the story so I can't wait to see what else he comes up with.

Find the DVD Online here.

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