Shrooms had a lot of promise. Warm receptions at some film festivals, a crazy good “double-image” poster/box art, and a plot that seemed to be poised to both poke fun at the standard horror formula, and create opportunities a-plenty to “screw” with the audience.
And I came in with hope that, with all that momentum, I would find a very enjoyable experience waiting for me once I hit play. The dangers of optimism.
The idea I found really enticing when learning of this movie was that while our characters were on Shrooms, we the audience might not be able to differentiate between what’s a horrible hallucination, and what is a terrible reality. Unfortunately, I never felt this way, and the movie seems happy to hold my hand, blatantly pointing out what’s real and what’s not, thus removing a crucial gimmick that could of turned this into a good flick, even if the trick would only work on the first viewing.
Even without cashing in on the “head-screw” trickery, Shrooms still tries to claw it’s way out of the sub par fair we as horror fans see all too much of. Some of the acting and the personalities were trite, but still well handled. Jack Huston and Lindsey Haun get top billing, and for good reason. They are easily out-performing the entire cast throughout the picture. I’m fine with this though, having TWO descent actors surrounding by a servicable cast is what these movies are all about. Most of the time we only get one, so i found this to be a treat. Haun and Huston do what they can to flesh out the roles, but unfortunately, there’s just not much they can do to liven up their two-dimensional on-screen persona’s.
The pacing was truly the straw that winds up breaking the camels back though. Inconsistency is abound as the movie rockets you through some pieces, while coming down to a snails pace at others. Worse is when it shoots you through parts that could have been better if more attention and care had been taking, and it slowed down a little bit. Case in point, is some of the stalk and kill bits would have been more effective, but as they stand, they feel rushed. I’m all about getting to the payoff, but the thing about a payoff is, there’s gotta be a proper build to it to create excitement.
Speaking of the payoffs, the kills we also pretty lackluster. I never once saw something I felt was inventive, and I feel if your not going to be inventive about your kills, then you need to execute on par, or better than your comtemparies have. If you want to stab somebody, there’s needs to be something better or slightly different about your particular stabbing sequence in order to make it stand out and memorable. Horror fans are good at remembering memorable sequences, especially their beloved “kills”, and if you kills fail to impress, folks are bound to take notice.
So why did this film get so much love? Well, the way it looked was very slick, and very colorful. I’ve mentioned before that atmosphere can be a key to success in horror, and Shrooms understood this for almost the whole film. The production is sexy, for lack of a better term, and when things look, they can make everything else easier to digest. After all, film truly is a visual feast, first and foremost. Silent films work, proving that sound isn’t nearly as important as what your eyes are scanning over.
Finally, the plot was just there. It would’ve been more forgivable is they employed the “head-screw” gimmick, but they don’t. Its nothing we haven’t seen before, which in itself isn’t a death wish for a movie, but we’ve all seen it done better. Just like I said earlier about being as good or better than whats come before you, the plot simply feels content to be a reason for events to happen, instead of being a fueling force driving characters, however thin, into harrowing situations, places, and events.
Shrooms just never took off for me, I felt like I was constantly waiting for things to get better, and they never did. The acting and atmosphere all kept me interested enough to see things through to the end, but when I got there, I was upset about the fact the ride hadn’t been more enjoyable. I can’t find myself recommending this to you, unless you really need to see every slasher out there.
Who knows, maybe I need to be tripping to full enjoy Shrooms.