Shed Movie Review
Written by Ilan Sheady
Written and directed by David Axe
2019, 62 minutes, Not Yet Rated
Released on 26th April 2019
300 years ago a humanoid parasite stowed away on a West African slave ship and has been surviving in the forests of South Carolina by wearing its human victims’ skins, hiding in plain sight until the disguise wears out and she has to find a new one.
This is the story that Mike, an elderly hermit, tells every year to whoever turns up to his infamous Halloween party.
It’s a goofy local legend that this Halloween will be revealed to be true.
This is the most coherent interpretation of Shed that I can possibly muster because the reality is that Shed has so many weird moments, decisions, ‘characters’, set pieces and dialogue that it consistently brings into question what writer, director, cinematographer and editor David Axe (The Theta Girl) is smoking.
Take our introduction to Mike (Mike Amason) for example; an elderly man singing songs about Halloween while dressed as Santa, surrounded by Christmas decorations. This instantly causes confusion as I had no idea if this is a Christmas party hosted by a madman or a Halloween party hosted by Santa. Santa then loads a shotgun and proceeds to his shed to put up a sign that reads ‘Keep Out’.
Only 6 minutes in and this is only the third hugely questionable sequence Axe has presented, made even more frustrating by the idea that this scene follows on from a voiceover of two girls graphically talking about their three-way sexual relationship with each other and their male partner. This voiceover is, for some reason, presented in all its vulgarity over footage of somebody mourning at a gravestone. It transpires that the guy at the gravestone has nothing to do with the verbalised relationship.
When Santa/Mike’s fancy dress party commences we see it populated by… people? The age of these party-goers is unclear as some act like they are 21 while most look like they are in their late 30s/early 40s. It’s made all the more confusing that they are attending a frat-style party hosted by an 80-year old Father Christmas.
Yes, horror has a long history of actors playing roles younger than their age, particularly when it comes to teenagers, however effort tends to be made to communicate that illusion and in the case of Shed, there is none.
Since we rarely get an introduction, a name allocation or background story I can only refer to attendees by the costumes they wear. These are: Inmate, Princess, Cheerleader, Nun, School Girl, Unicorn, Cat, Soldier, Fairy, Doctor, Gay Biker, Gay Non-biker and Caveman. Note that these aren’t Halloween tropes so there’s still no definitive answer to what event we are attending.
‘Inmate’ (Bradley J. Petit), who is also the mourner from the sexually-charged cemetery scene, and his on-again off-again girlfriend ‘Princess’ (Emilia Olga) leave the party to explore the off-limits shed. Inmate is the only character we know anything about, having learnt that his dad recently died of skin cancer, so it’s jarring to then have the rug pulled out from under you to see his blood erupt from the shed coating Princess in gore.
When Caley brings everyone to the shed to help investigate, Inmate emerges perfectly unharmed but Princess and Santa know the truth.
Beneath the surface of this body horror, Axe attempts to make an emotional and sympathetic story about love. Instead we have a seemingly unintentionally hilarious movie more in line with The Room (Tommy Wiseau) and Double Down (Neil Breen) that fumbles its way through any message it may attempt to make.
Rather than questioning what true love is, I laughed through terrible sex scenes, shower scenes, characters’ names changing twice in the same conversation, a brilliantly bad ‘disarming’ scene that makes absolutely no sense and by far the most laugh-out-loud final words of any movie ever filmed.
There is enough competency in production value to convince that Axe knows what he is doing. All of the external shots are ﬁlmed in almost complete darkness and while I feel this is down to a lack of lighting equipment it results in a truly scary environment where you can’t see further than your own nose. There are even some interesting and adventurous experiments in camera usage to keep moments fresh. Special effects are also pretty impressive. Creating full bodies of skin is time consuming and whatever technique the effects department used it is good enough to create the illusion and makes up for having the creature look like Darth Maul. In the introduction to the party there’s a very ambitious one cut sequence where a camera passes through a car window, past the driver and out the other side. The driver then emerges from the car and walks through the darkness to arrive at the party - all in one single take - only to be greeted with the greatest ‘botched high five’ caught on camera. Axe is being extremely ambitious but it doesn’t stop him or his crew of amateurs from making mistakes.
Unfortunately where Shed fails, ironically, is in not fleshing out characters. Personality is completely lacking and in a film about body swapping it should be the most essential aspect. Axe relies on voice dubbing to show that the creature is ‘wearing’ somebody else, rather than an actor’s performance, but given the level of acting talent on offer I very much doubt that would have fixed any issues, nor would improving the dreadful script.
As Shed approaches its conclusion, anyone teetering between deciding whether it’s a bad film or a good-bad film should be aware that Axe claims in the closing credits that it was made by an amateur cast for $25,000 during a hurricane and suffered from several cast and crew members quitting during production. Though it’s not expressed, I can’t help but feel that as a consequence we have been left with something that at times feels very improvised both in front and behind the camera.
You can’t help but respect that Shed was completed in the face of adversity and while that doesn’t improve the experience of watching, it does make each laugh very well earned.
There is a level of passion and enthusiasm that goes into completing Shed and it feels very evident. It was made despite a lack of acting talent, lighting equipment, camera equipment and common sense, but here we are discussing it and I look forward to seeing what Axe can achieve when the universe itself isn’t trying to stop production.
This page includes affiliate links where Horror DNA may receive a small commission at no extra cost to you.