Cults, devil worship, and demon summoning remain a staple in the horror genre. But to my dismay, I find few films that can use those elements properly to tell the scariest tale. John Knautz however managed to break out of the box and offer us a peak into The Shrine with this satanic and mystic story lurking in a remote village in Poland.
A desperate journalist, on the decline in her career after a controversial story, Carmen (Cindy Sampson) picks up the story of an American backpacker going missing in Poland. Something to her seems off and she quickly connects it to several other missing persons in the same area. Her boss refuses to approve her claims but she pursues it anyway. She’s accompanied by a younger intern Sara (Meghan Heffern) and her boyfriend Marcus (Aaron Ashmore) thousands of miles across the world to a place where no one will know they’re there. Just as described in the backpacker’s journal, the village is filled with hostile locals and a mysterious grey fog looming over the tree line. But as we already know, sticking your nose into private matters will only get it cut off. And so, when the trio began to uncover a religious group that is apparently murdering these people for some ceremony, they themselves become the victims.
Despite the almost predictable and straightforward beginning to The Shrine, the lack of knowledge about this “cult” proves to be intentionally when the plot thickens. I will admit I was at a low point until the second half of the film kicked the door down. Liking a dream morphing into a nightmare, well placed demon faces and detail unraveling made me grateful I stuck it out. The performances were descent for the film but it was really the story that shined. Because of the foreign setting, the natives obviously didn’t speak English, so that made dialogue in the scenes a bit unique. We’ve all watched a movie where there aren’t always subtitles, so that way we can relate to the characters in the situation who can’t translate either. But there became a point in The Shrine where I was really dying to know what the heck everyone was talking about! Especially at the end.
In conclusion, Savage Score stabs a 3.5 out of 5. The Shrine housed enough monsters to keep us away. Unfortunately for the characters there will always be a concerned or curious victim who will find their way into this doom. Gore Score pops a 7 out of 10. Sacrifices almost require a good amount of blood-letting so this was to be expected. Things got especially messy at the end. For a new twist on an old classic, chant a prayer for The Shrine.