FrightFest 2009: Shadow review

Labelled by some as the renaissance of Italian horror (Argento's been on the slide for a good 20 years), Federico Zampaglione's Shadow, though flawed, proved Friday's film of the day.

The tale of an American soldier returning from the war in Iraq to go mountain biking in Europe, it blends everything you've seen before - survivalist horror set in the wilderness, torture porn, surreal fairytale flourishes - into a mad, malevolent mix that somehow, at times, feels potently fresh.

Zampaglione is an Italian rock star who here makes his horror debut. A fan and friend of Argento's (who apparently loves the film), he's learnt much already, Shadow powered by swirling cameras, pounding, propulsive music and leaps in logic that will leave viewers scratching their heads or shuddering in fear. Often both.

The climax, too, clashes the brilliant and the bonkers. It is sure to be soundly rejected by the rational part of your brain... but horror isn't about the rational. It's about those dark crevices deep in the psyche, those impenetrable Shadows.

The renaissance of Italian horror? Not quite, but we can begin to hope.

Editor-at-Large, Total Film

Jamie Graham is the Editor-at-Large of Total Film magazine. You'll likely find them around these parts reviewing the biggest films on the planet and speaking to some of the biggest stars in the business – that's just what Jamie does. Jamie has also written for outlets like SFX and the Sunday Times Culture, and appeared on podcasts exploring the wondrous worlds of occult and horror.