Review by Craig Draheim
Writer/Director: Frank Sabatella
Starring: Jay Jay Warren, Cody Kostro, Sofia Happonen
Remember Tim Burton’s Batman? It was fun and the world felt like a hyper-stylized comic book. Then Christopher Nolan’s “serious” interpretation came along, attempting to put Batman in the real world. Now imagine someone sitting around going, “I wanna make a gritty version of Fright Night.” That’s what Frank Sabatella’s The Shed feels like it’s trying to accomplish. So, does it work?
The Shed is about a troubled teenager, Stan (Jay Jay Warren), who is from the wrong side of tracks and just going through the motions until he turns 18, which everyone assumes he’ll end up in jail. He spends most of his time ditching class with his friend, Dommer (Cody Kostro), hating the world and wishing they could get back at all the horrible people in their life. Then his life is changed when a vampire ends up in Stan’s work shed to escape the sun, presenting him and Dommer with an uneasy conundrum. Do they use this monster to free themselves of their tormentors or face near-certain death trying to stop it?
This is one of those concepts that lends itself to be a great low budget movie. Allowing for building of tension without the need to show a lot and character depth through moral dilemma. The opening promises potential, especially in representation of the shed. Proof of Sabatella’s skill is in the fact that he makes an old, rusted shed a character of its own. Unfortunately, that shed is given more authentic character-arc and depth than most of the non-inanimate cast. That’s not for lack of trying. The movie is filled with moments to hear these characters’ struggles like an episode of Dawson’s Creek. These teenagers feel like they were written by an adult, because at 30 I still don’t have the emotional understanding that they do. I can get over teenagers sounding like mature adults or walking stereotypes (which there are), if the movie is engaging, but it wasn’t for me.
It was unable to avoid the obstacle that plagues many ultra-low budget movies… What to create with a limited budget? Yes, a low budget should not limit your creativity, but it may alter how you tell that story. If you took at the concept of two bullied teens that are one degree away from being the kids from Columbine, put a vampire in their shed, strip away the pointless love interest, and make it 80 minutes… That’s terrifying. Instead there’s a struggle between going for a personal story that fits to making a standard vampire tale with the obligatory “suit up” scene and having characters become grizzled vampire slayers. So, as it’s transitioning to this vampire slayer flick, you end up with something that feels incredibly tame. It’s not a good sign if you find yourself rooting for the vampire to provide at least one unexpected element.
I can go on by pointing out the strange quirks that borderline plot questions, but I feel no one wants to read my ramblings on was I a weird teenager for NOT sleeping in my clothes every night, utilization of too many “it was just a dream” scares, or if you know it’s killed by sunlight, why take the wood pieces off to expose the sun into the structure? And so on.
In the end it was a fine movie that’ll be a great showcase for all involved. However, any reflection the audience will have after watching it will be all the different ways it could’ve been more effective.
2 out of 5