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Shiver (DVD)

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Shiver (DVD)Starring Danielle Harris, Casper Van Dien, John Jarratt

Directed by Julian Richards

Distributed by Image Entertainment


Shiver, directed by Julian Richards and adapted for the screen by Robert Weinbach from Brian Harper’s novel of the same name, is a film that provokes a lot of feelings. Confusion. Vitriol. Disdain. A little more confusion. Then finally relief once the credits roll ninety long and insufferable minutes after you first hit play.

The film follows Wendy Alden, a secretary in Portland whose life is hampered by a low-paying job as a secretary, an overbearing and unsupportive mother, and an extreme lack of self-confidence. The city of Portland has been rocked by a serial killer known as The Gryphon, a seemingly kindly and charismatic old man who uses a garrote to incapacitate and eventually decapitate his victims. After returning home from dinner one night, she is attacked, but ultimately escapes, throwing Wendy into a dangerous game of cat-and-mouse. Meanwhile, detectives Sebastian Delgado and Mavis Burdine step up their efforts to catch the killer before he catches up to Wendy.

The best part of Shiver is undoubtedly the CGI blood, which is so bad it looks like it was ripped straight from a cartoon. The scenes are few and far between, but for a movie that was made for $4 million dollars and features the remarkable acting talent of Casper Van Dien and Danielle Harris, you would think a modicum of effort would go into some halfway decent gore effects. Hell, for a movie about a guy who collects the heads of his victims, the movie is surprisingly tame. Given its uninspired story, a little gore and practical effects could have gone a long way in making it something worth watching.

I only say it’s the best part because it provided me with the most amount of enjoyment, however mired in Schadenfreude it may have been. The rest of the film is a mess of poor acting and dialogue, janky and confusing editing, and the most boring serial killer ever seen on film. As Franklin Rood, aka The Gryphon, John Jarratt speaks in whispers, threatening his victims with death unless they repeat affirmations to him as he drags a taut wire around their neck. It’s only until someone finally escapes does his modus operandi change, going from outright murder to a weird sense of lust. He reminds me of the uncle everyone loves until it’s revealed that he kept an underage sex dungeon in his basement and masturbated with steel wool. Genre darling Danielle Harris and Casper “Johnny Rico” Van Dien pull out barely passable performances, due mostly to a lazy script and absurdly shallow and uninteresting characters.

Shiver is just bad. It’s a chore to sit through, and is more befitting a three-part police procedural on basic cable than a feature film. Worst of all, it’s lazy, and I can’t think of a worse way to describe an indie horror film.

Special Features

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