31 Days Of Hell: Shadows Fall (2016) - Reviewed

One of the most popular forms of the morality play involves a character making a deal with the devil.  As the legends tell us, he or she who strikes a deal with a unholy force often does so to gain great wealth or power, or some other selfish end, but without exception comes at a great cost.  History is full of such tales, from the writings of Faust up through early 20th century blues musician Robert Johnson, who legend has it sold his soul to play the blues.  Folklore and popular culture have and continue to advise us against such deals, with the upcoming horror film Shadows Fall being the latest example.

Shadows Fall, the debut feature from director Aditya Vishwanath, takes a unique approach to the old tale.  Distraught widow Senka (Dylan Quigg) makes such a deal, and predictably must face the horrifying consequences of doing so.  The film goes back and forth through time, showing how the decision has affected Senka’s life, slowly unfolding to its twisted conclusion.  All things considered the overall idea is an interesting one, but in attempting to execute it becomes a victim of its own limitations.

There are a lot of problems with Shadows Fall.  Independent productions like this one often have to make an important sacrifice or two, but the sacrifices here are ultimately difficult to overcome.  The performance, from Quigg on down, are uniformly stiff and wooden.  The decision to jump back and forth through time nearly nullifies the interesting ideas at the center of Shadows Fall, which doesn’t make it any easier to watch.  In fact, it’s hard to know what’s even going on throughout most of the movie.  Like so many problematic indie horror films, all it has is a compelling idea, which should be enough but ultimately never is.

The devil gave me these cool silver eyes

Shadows Fall wants to believe it’s much more than the poorly-acted, badly edited, disjointed mess that it is.  It wears its limitations on its sleeve, but unlike so many other indie horror films it offers little to overcome them.  This being Vishwanath’s debut some rookie mistakes are understandable, but apart from a promising (if frequently done) premise there’s not much in Shadows Fall to show much potential for growth.  No matter how much you dress it up or try to make it interesting, a good story alone does not necessarily make a good movie.  This, and not the morality tale, is the true lesson to be learned from Shadows Fall.

Learn your lesson and share this review.


-Mike Stec