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Another Hole In The Head 2010: Shadow

By  · Published on July 17th, 2010

The seventh annual Another Hole In the Head Film Festival is currently running in San Francisco from July 8th through the 29th. It’s a genre fest featuring domestic and international horror, sci-fi, and exploitation films, and it just may be the first and last chance to see some of these on the big-screen. There are thirty-two films at the fest this year, and we’re trying to see and cover as many as possible. (And by we I mean me…)

Shadow – directed by Federico Zampaglione, Italy; upcoming screenings 7/19 7pm, 7/23 5pm

Synopsis: A soldier finishes his tour of duty in Iraq and heads to the Alps to decompress with some mountain biking. A chance encounter with a beautiful woman in a cafe brings the wrath of two local hunters onto their heads, and soon the couple is being chased through the woods by murderous men with rifles. But the hunters and their prey quickly realize there’s something even more evil than drunken, euro-trash rednecks. There’s a fifth player in this game, and his toys include scalpels, acids, and tables suitable for autopsies.

Check out our review after the jump…

Review: Quick, what’s the last Italian horror film that really impressed you? Odds are you thought of something by Mario (or Lamberto) Bava, Lucio Fulci, Michele Soavi, or Dario Argento. And if that’s the case then odds are the specific movie is over twenty years old. (Yes, I know Argento is still making movies, but let’s be serious here.) Italy was at one time the reigning king of international horror films, but Argento aside I can’t even think of an Italian horror film from the past decade or more. If Shadow is any indication though, that dearth may be at an end. Federico Zampaglione, lead singer of the Italian pop band Tiromancino, has pulled a Rob Zombie and set out to direct a horror film, and he succeeds pretty well. His debut misses much in the way of originality, but it makes up for it with style, energy, and competence… before making a major misstep with a misguided and poorly constructed finale.

Zampaglione’s film works for the most part for a few reasons, and the two most obvious are the beautiful cinematography and the very cool retro score by Andrea Moscianese. It moves from some stunning outdoor scenery to the cramped and twisted domain of a killer with ease, and it looks great in both environments. The action scenes, particularly a chase between a pickup truck and the two mountain bikers, is well shot and exciting. Interior scenes with the killer are sufficiently creepy thanks to both the set design and the gaunt madman played by a gaunt Nuos Arquint. Moscianese’s score is a not-so-subtle homage to some Argento classics and the memorable sounds of Goblin, and it works fantastically well to keep the adrenaline and interest flowing. The script doesn’t offer much time for characterization, but the pace keeps you from noticing most of the time.

But like all good things, Italian or otherwise, the movie has to come to an end. And this is where the film takes a frustrating turn towards complete and utter merda. Zampaglione takes his film, his characters, and his audience someplace completely unjustified by everything that came before. Until the final few minutes the movie exists as a solid riff on a somewhat unoriginal premise but one with a mildly fresh take on the material. We’ve seen it before, but it works here thanks to quality details present in the cinematography, musical score, and on-screen action. If the movie had gone in a different direction at the end this could have been a fairly impressive debut, but as it stands it’s an interesting attempt from a film-maker who will hopefully do better the next time he gets behind a camera.

Check out the complete festival schedule here.

And check out the rest of our festival coverage here.

Rob Hunter has been writing for Film School Rejects since before you were born, which is weird seeing as he's so damn young. He's our Chief Film Critic and Associate Editor and lists 'Broadcast News' as his favorite film of all time. Feel free to say hi if you see him on Twitter @FakeRobHunter.