Shallow Ground Review
Written by: The Dude
Shallow Ground is a film that doesn't, although it starts well enough. At a local police station in an out of the way town the officers are packing up camp, for this is their last day before shipping out. Out of nowhere, a young man covered in blood shows up, not saying a word. The deputies manage to restrain him and they call in the head sheriff, a guy named Jack who has a vague accent that could be Irish or Scottish.
Jack has been beating himself up over the past year because a killer has been running loose in the woods. he managed to find one of his victims still alive, but he left her to pursue what he thought was the killer, despite his promise mere seconds before that he wasn't going to leave her. Literally, he says "I'm not gonna leave you" then instantly takes off. I don't know about you, but if I have a reasonably attractive naked girl who has been traumatized by a sadistic madman, I'm not gonna go chasing after the first noise I hear in the bushes.
Anyway, he's racked with guilt over this (as is alluded to in his dream sequence, but thankfully not spoken aloud at any given point in the film). He gets called in to question the bloody boy. Did this blood covered boy kill all these people in the woods? Or is there something more sinister and supernatural afoot?
To be honest, I stopped caring. Seriously, about 20 minutes in, my mind started wandering. And for those who have read my brilliant movie ideas, you know that my mind wandering can be a dangerous thing. Although this time, my mind started going to rather tame, and boring subjects. Things like how much I miss pizza that's actually good, the dream I had the previous night and what it could mean (it did involve pizza, so maybe there's a recurring theme here), how many more days I can go without doing laundry, thinking about what book I should read after I'm finished with my current one, wondering which episode of The Simpsons was on later, and if I had seen it too many times before to care. Random boring things. Anything other than this guy wandering through the woods, and people doing stupid things.
It's not an incompetent or incoherent movie, thank goodness. It actually does make some modicum of sense. For the most part. (I'm still confused by some things regarding the ending). It's merely mediocre. The acting isn't great, but it's not horrible. The story is kind of cool, but it's full of holes and a lot of character economy.
The film does boast some really good blood effects, at least. The blood covered kid controls the blood, and if someone mortal touches the blood, it can momentarily possess them and show them atrocities of crimes. But the traveling blood on the floor changing directions was pretty neat. (There's also a pretty gruesome bus accident hitting somebody, which would have been more fantastic had I not seen that horrific bit of roadkill in The Devil's Rejects last week). That's gotta count for something in this day and age. And it seems most of the effects are practically done, which is better than CG for a movie like this. Last thing I needed was a CGI demon wreaking havoc in the woods that all the people would "act" terrified of. (Like the previews of upcoming movies from the same company that were on the DVD). And for as disgusting as it was, the group of decomposing bodies at the dinner table was well done.
I'm going to get into some spoiler territory here, because it's the only way to talk about the movie in as thoughtful a manner as I get. If you REALLY want to see this movie, and want to go in completely spoiler free not knowing anything and letting the movie take you for a ride (which I do recommend for all movies, really) then I suggest you stop reading until you've seen it. Know that I wasn't all that impressed, and that my search for good pizza in LA intensified.
Ok, you gone yet?
So, the premise of the flick is that the dead are returning to seek justice for being wrongly killed. The boy covered in blood is a composite of all the killer's victims (this is shown in a clever way, by one of the deputies piecing together the pictures of all the missing victims in a collage. It would be more clever if he didn't just suddenly realize it and get every piece instantly. But whatever, at least he didn't realize what the boy was doing). I'm pretty sure he came to the police station to show the cops who had done this, so they realize who the actual killer was, but I'm not too clear on that one. Because, logically, if the avenging spirit was just looking for who had done this, he wouldn't have bothered to stop at the cops at all. He'd just go off and kill the perpetrator of the crime. Maybe I missed something here, maybe it was one of those moments where I drifted off.
So we have that little bit. next up, we have a city detective named Russell who is the father of the female deputy. He's in the city, and somehow knows what's going on, because the same thing is happening in his city with a returned drug dealer killing a cop involved in his murder. The only thing is, nobody's explaining this to anyone, and the cop comes to the country to make sure his daughter is safe, and he explains the whole damn thing to the male deputy, who's about to be served some undead justice. How does this guy know what's going on? I buy most explanations in movies, so long as there is a logical way of explaining how we find them out. (Whether or not they're plausible or a good idea at all is a whole other matter). But I just couldn't buy this cop coming in from the city, and knowing everything that's happening.
This brings me to the ending. So, the male deputy gets what was coming to him, and he's out of the picture. The main cop Jack finds out who the real killer in the woods is, and confrontation ensues. Bloody boy seeks his revenge and comes out the winner. Knowing his work is done, he goes off into the woods again, only to be stopped at the very last second by ANOTHER BLOODY CREATURE who proceeds to rip his heart out. What I want to know is, who the hell is this? You can have a shock ending like this, if we know what the hell is going on. (Think the end of Carrie, or even Big Trouble in Little China). But I didn't know who the hell this other creature is supposed to be. If it's the spirit of the killer, why is she seeking justice when the wrong has been righted? If it's the cop, he should be seeking revenge on the ghoul that killed HIM, not the bloody boy. If it's something else entirely, why introduce it in the last 5 seconds?!?!? (At least the ripping out of the heart was cool).
Anyway, I wouldn't recommend this movie. i would recommend it over OTHER movies of the genre (Like I would definitely recommend this over Malevolence) but there are better films out there. Like I said, not horrible, not incompetent. But not all that great.