Shadowland review – hopelessly inept Highlands horror

The antics of an evil creature on the loose in an abandoned military base are stymied by impenetrable storytelling

Not to be confused with Shadowlands, the 1993 drama featuring a heartbroken CS Lewis, or Shadowland, a documentary about a knife-maker, or any number of films called Shadowland. Even without seeing them, you can be assured that this particular Shadowland is, at least in terms of production values, the worst. Almost thrillingly inept, writer-director Simon Kay’s amateurish horror feature would be more amusing to criticise if only it weren’t so lacking in any signs of talent, from the impenetrable storytelling that jumps around chronologically, to the clueless editing, to the cinematography that looks as if it was done on an early smartphone. And the acting? Peerlessly inexpressive, unconvincing, dreary.

In a supposedly ancient Scottish forest (the kind of ancient forest where all the trees are growing equally spaced in straight lines), there’s an abandoned military research base where an ill-defined, barely seen evil creature is running around killing anyone who wanders into its path. An American ambassador (David E Grimes), his wife and two grown-up kids, are being accompanied by a cadre of soldiers when – wouldn’t you know it? – a kidnapping goes wrong. The survivors run into a strange-looking old man (Tony Greengrass) who is revealed to be, I think, the same person we see in flashback as a younger man (Gordon Houston) arriving at the base to work on some experiment.

It’s hard to be sure because nothing makes any sense. This really looks like the result of something written on the back of a beer mat and made over a drunken weekend in someone’s uncle’s garden.

• Shadowland is released on digital platforms on 1 March.


Leslie Felperin

The GuardianTramp

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