Written & Directed by Frank Sabatella
Stars: Jay Jay Warren, Cody Kostro, and Sofia Happonen
Vampire films are a slippery slope. Somewhere between Anne Rice’s beautiful Louis and Lestat, and sparkly vampires like Edward Cullen, vampires have risen up out of the shadows and added an air of romanticized beauty to their preternatural afterlife. Frank Sabatella’s new film, ‘The Shed’, drives a stake through the pretty vampires and takes us back to basics with the horrific, guttural vampires of old.
‘The Shed’ has a great concept; a couple of bullied kids find a literal monster in a shed and walk a slippery slope into weaponizing it. Stan (Jay Jay Warren), is the down on his luck teenager being abused by an abusive grandfather, a kid we wouldn’t blame if he did choose to pull the revenge trigger with his newly-found monster. Dommer (Cody Kostro) on the other hand, Stan’s best friend, grows increasingly frustrated and bitter with daily incidents with local bullies. Dommer is the wild card in this scenario.
Sabatella is great at making you feel sympathy for Stand and Sommer, despite their toxic relationship and destructive teenager lifestyle. It’s only when someone does die at the hands of the vampire, that the possibility for paybacks really start to surface. When Dommer learns what Stan is keeping locked up in the shed, the dynamics shift to much darker tones.
Horror movies are notoriously awful at going for all blood and guts and skipping on commentary by and large. ‘The Shed’ does an amazing job of reminding us how awful bullying is, even to the extreme point of kids bringing guns to school. I loved that Stan literally treats the thing in the shed like a gun. He could choose to unload it at anytime, yet he struggles with keeping it barricaded 24/7. He knows in the wrong hands, it’s fury will be devastating.
The vampire itself is kept hidden in the shadows for the most part, and I think that was a functionally effective choice from Sabatella. When the thing does show its fangs, it’s old and raw and primitive. Tom Cruise could not make this thing sexy. I’m a big fan of less being more sometimes in horror, and this is a perfect example.
‘The Shed’ is a gritty look at troubled friendships, the inherit trauma of family, and the terrible things kids are facing at school today. The film rises above it’s own ideas sometimes and delivers a raw, powerful blow to the senses, something very much lacking for other Fall releases. The best part of the film besides the overall premise, is the trying relationship between Stan and Dommer, and the choices they make.
‘The Shed’ is in theaters and Digital VOD 11/15.