Shiver Review

Shiver is a recent addition to the Spanish horror canon, currently enjoying quite a substantial hegemony, thanks to REC and its ilk. Plus, anything with the great Del Toro attached will gain my interest (he produces). I am not really sure that the title is entirely appropriate for the film – there is nothing chilly about it. Anyway, Shiver features a boy suffering from photosensitivity, Santi, who moves from a sunny city to escape the constant danger presented by the sun, to the shadow-covered valleys of northern Spain. Of course, the pretty village that is to be Santi and his mother’s new home is not quite the welcoming haven the small family had hoped for. Strange deaths and disappearances plague the community – something dark and dangerous haunts the surrounding land and lives amongst the trees.

Junio Valverde, as the the teen lead is pretty convincing, even if some of the dialogue (or is it the translation?) is rather lacking in subtlety. We are quickly convinced that Santi is more than a little maladjusted and disenfranchised; forced to live in darkness, constantly hooded, it is easy to see the reason a sort of kinship forms with the mysterious creature in the forest, even if he is initially more than a little reticent.

Not particularly blood soaked, but with a couple of knife-happy moments, the scares are more to do with the suspense and the chase. A highpoint has the boy putting his faith in that well-known childhood belief that if you are under the covers, the monsters can’t get you. There are some lovely hunt scenes through the wooded valleys, and some of it is beautiful, with a constant interplay between shadow and light; as you can imagine this is one of the overarching themes throughout the film. There are some interesting characters, pretty ordinary on the whole, but with enough hints at something vaguely secretive to sustain an interest in their movements.

The ‘monster’ in this case turns out to be much less intimidating than is generally suggested: a bit of an anti-climax in fact. There is a decent enough back-story, but it somehow isn’t quite horrific enough to persuade us that the outcome is reasonable. There is also a slight disappointment that some of the elements are almost totally unbelievable. The woods around the village would have to be absolutely vast to have consistently concealed the myriad of evils that they apparently do. Up until Santi arrives in town, there appears to be no disturbances, murders or missing animals at all, leading the authorities to assume that he is somehow involved. What, we are lead to ask, was the bitey little beasty living on for all this time?

Despite these faintly disappointing points, it is a pretty good film, with enough going on to keep up the interest, just enough blood to be entertaining and well-acted enough to keep me from rolling my eyes.

Hannah Turner

Share this!