Director - J.S. Wilson
Stars: James Zimbardi, Skylar Caleb, Jean Smart
Charred Remains Reviews
"Are you one of them?"
My Redbox find this week Awaken the Shadowman directed by J.S. Wilson and starring Jean Smart was snatched up quickly by my horror loving hand. I'm a little on the fence with my feelings toward the story as I was expecting more and came away with less, however I enjoyed certain elements of the film.
The story is about a missing Californian mother and the reuniting of estranged brothers Jay (Skylar Caleb) and Adam Morris (James Zimbardi). The brothers come together in hopes of finding their mother Evette (Jean Smart). What Adam finds is more questions than answers and is led on a creepy trail of odd behavior and brainwashed oddities.
Adam brings his wife Beth (Emily Somers) and young daughter Emma to his brother Jay and sister-in-law Christy's (Andrea Hunt) home and are greeted by several members of their mother's bereavement group. One of the members a woman named Glenda (Casey Kramer) claims to be Evette's best friend. She offers her help to the boys.
Another member leaves his mark upon introduction to Adam, young Lawrence, He appears innocent but his demeanor is off to Adam. Others come forward for introductions and their interest seems more attuned to Adam's young daughter Emma.
With each moment of this film the direction is one of crumbs for Adam and the viewer. Beth's first night in Jay's house shows a strange sleep-walking segment that leads to a glimpse of the Shadow Man. However, my first indication that something was off rested solely with Emma and her fussiness. The viewer will notice her crying around certain people and definitely while in the foreign presence of the Shadowman. Children are sensitive to things and she is clearly disturbed by her uncle's home and friends. I didn't need the sleepwalking mom clue, but it adds to the mystery building surrounding Evette's disappearance and the events of a fire that affected everyone in the Gateway Bereavement Group.
The longer I watched this film more subtle and not so subtle clues are dropped as to the true nature of what's going on. Instead of being a show-less-tells of story, the viewer gets more telling and filling in the blanks with a fail of showing. I like a good mystery, but this one was too easy to figure out and before the middle of the film; I had it nailed down to what was going on and at the big gathering at the end...I was correct and little disappointed.
When you hear characters drop key word like "sacrifice" and you have a group of seemingly brainwashed followers it's not hard to put two and two together and get a cult. Their leader has a strong resemblance to another young red haired cult character "Malachi" from "Children of the Corn" which is one of my favorite Stephen King films. In this film and much like "Children of the Corn" this young leader Lawrence (Raam Weinfield) oozes with creepy charm and quickly gets under the viewer's skin. My problem with Lawrence there wasn't enough of him in the scenes, but when he was in them...made my skin crawl. He was one creepy dude.
Another character emerged to warn Adam of the nature of Lawrence and in the woods later she shares her thoughts on the Gateway group and Lawrence that sent Adam racing back to her brother's looking for his wife and most importantly his daughter. What he finds set the ending for the mystery and showed this viewer that Jean Smart plays crazy very well. I would recommend this film, but I'll give you fair warning the acting is less than stellar in certain actors, but in the moments that Jean Smart is visible she gives a convincing show with a loving dose of crazy.
As for the other actors, JamesZimbardi I recognized from a couple of soap operas and his acting was above par, but the others came across as wooden, hollow and forgettable.
Fans of cult type movies may enjoy Awaken the Shadowman...I did. The film alludes to what's going to happen and when the "sacrifice" happens there is no blood. It's rare to watch a horror themed film without bloody scenes. There's a scene where the charred remains of someone is sitting on the floor like a memorial, but one does not see the melting of the body. Fans who like gory bloody scenes will most likely not enjoy this film.
Fans of mediocre mysteries...you might enjoy following the clues. I would be interested to hear your thoughts on the film should you take up the case of Awakening the Shadowman.
Check out more info on the Facebook page for the film.
Check out more trailers from Gravitas Ventures on youtube.
Key words: #cult #horror #gravitasventures #sacrifice