The Shed Movie Review

Written by Stuart D. Monroe

Released by RLJE Films

the shed large

Written and directed by Frank Sabatella
2019, 98 minutes, Not Rated
Released on November 15th, 2019

Jay Jay Warren as Stan
Cody Kostro as Dommer
Sofia Happonen as Roxy
Frank Whaley as Bane
Timothy Bottoms as Ellis
Siobhan Fallon Hogan as Sheriff Dorney
Chris Petrovski as Marble
Francisco Burgos as Pitt
Uly Schlesinger as Ozzy

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With a history that goes back to the 1920s, vampire films can be a daunting genre to sink your teeth into. There are a myriad number of ways to go with your bloodsuckers – romantic and classic like Dracula, ugly and bloodthirsty like 30 Days of Night, elegant and homoerotic like Anne Rice’s mythology that begins with Interview With the Vampire, or maybe something that’s vampiric but not even a bloodsucker like Christine. You could argue that the vampire is THE archetype monster in horror, and you’d have a lot to back up that argument with.

As much as I love Lestat and company, my favorite kind of vampire story is the one that takes place firmly in the modern day with full realism. Taking out the Gothic element lends a flavor to the proceedings that just tickles my pickle. Steeping the story in relatable elements makes the horror more impactful and allows for more depth in any underlying message. It seems that writer/director Frank Sabatella (Blood Night: The Legend of Mary Hatchet) read my mind, because The Shed is right in my wheelhouse.

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Stan (Jay Jay Warren; Bosch) has a pretty shitty life. Both his parents are dead, and he lives with his abusive grandfather in a ramshackle old farmhouse on the edge of a dead-end small town. His best (and seemingly only) friend, Dommer (Cody Kostro; Collective: Unconscious), is constantly bullied by the three local toughs: bad boy Marble (Chris Petrovski; Madam Secretary); jokester Pitt (Francisco Burgos; Power); and tagalong Ozzy (Uly Schlesinger; The Sinner). The love of his life, Roxy (Sofia Happonen), even ditched him for the bad boy before being used up and ditched herself. High school is hard enough without all that stress, complicated by a recent stretch in juvenile detention. One day, Stan makes a shocking discovery – there’s a bloodthirsty vampire living in the shed behind his house! Before you can even find the garlic, it has eaten both his dog and his grandfather. Once poor, downtrodden Dommer discovers Stan’s secret, events spiral out of control and the temptation to use the vampire as a tool for revenge becomes almost unbearable for at least one of them. What is one to do when the answer to your problems is locked in your shed, hiding from the sunlight? You know what they say about being careful what you wish for…

Right out of the gate, The Shed does something altogether lovely: it shows you the origin of the Shed Vampire, Bane (Frank Whaley; Pulp Fiction, Cold Moon), then leaves him alone for a good twenty-ish minutes to allow you to get to know the main characters and their problems. I can’t express how important that is to the tone of this particular story and the pace at which it’s told. You need to care about these characters for the moral conundrum to have any weight. When you combine that smart move with a talented, young cast whose abilities belie looks straight out of a CW network casting office you get a film that makes the suspension of disbelief natural and smooth. This is NOT your typical teen movie, folks.

The vampires themselves are a nasty sight, a smooth hybrid of Kurt Barlow from Salem’s Lot and Marlow from 30 Days of Night (with a hint of Fright Night flavor in the eyes). It’s a great look that isn’t overshown until the last stages of the film, allowing for a build of tension and shock value. The gore is ample and well-executed. There’s no shying away from things like decapitation and animal dismemberment.

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There are a couple of minor logic issues (like boarding all the windows but not boarding the front door glass or the lack of any police follow-up in the finale), but that aforementioned suspension of disbelief is so effective that it won’t be a problem unless you’re one of those true sticklers. Just roll with it – the payoff is worth the minor issues.

There’s a definite statement being made as well. It’s one that we’re seeing more and more in the day and age we live in now – a strong anti-bullying message. The confrontation between Stan and Dommer in the final act and Dommer’s rant/monologue is powerful and expertly delivered. We’ve all seen over and over again that when you push someone around for long enough, they’ll push back hard. When you push someone around who has access to a trapped vampire that can be used as a weapon, then you have indeed fucked up very badly and will probably get what’s coming to you. It’s another example of horror used as a sounding board about the ills of society to great effect.

The Shed is a film that will have some staying power for later years and won’t feel either dated or nostalgic; the relationships are the focus. It’s a dark film that keeps a relevance about it in a subgenre that isn’t always easy to get right. It’s also an unapologetically gory vampire film that pays homage to those that came before with just enough humor and savvy to carve its own place in the mythology of the nosferatu.

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Movie: 2.5 Star Rating Cover

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Stuart D. Monroe
Staff Reviewer
Stuart D. Monroe is a man of many faces – father, husband, movie reviewer, published author of short horror, unsuccessful screenwriter (for now), rabid Clemson Tiger, Southern gentleman, and one hell of a model American who goes by the handle "Big Daddy Stu" or "Sir". He's also highly disturbed and wears that fact like a badge of honor. He is a lover of all things horror with a particular taste for the fare of the Italians and the British. He sometimes gets aroused watching the hardcore stuff, but doesn't bother worrying about whether he was a serial killer in a past life as worrying is for the weak. He was raised in the video stores of the '80s and '90s. The movie theater is his cathedral. He worships H.P. Lovecraft, Stephen King, and Clive Barker. When he writes, he listens obsessively to either classical music or the works of Goblin to stimulate the neural pathways. His favorite movie is Dawn of the Dead. His favorite book is IT. His favorite TV show is LOST.
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