Monday 11 May 2020

The Shed (USA 2020: Dir Frank Sabatella)

When a vampire captures and bites latest victim Bane (Frank Whaley), somewhere in the farmlands of the Midwest, he fails to see dawn's approaching rays and crumbles to dust. Newly vamped Bane meanwhile, fearing the same fate, hides in a handy nearby shed.

The shed belongs to embittered veteran Ellis (Timothy Bottoms at his meanest best) who lives in a rundown house with his grandson, orphaned Stan (Jay Jay Warren), who has a history of juvenile detentions and a really bad relationship with grandpa. At school his best friend Dommer (Cody Kostro) - pronounced Dahmer - gets an almost daily licking from class thug Marble (Chris Petrovski) and Stan's interventions in these assaults are pointing the way to school suspension. His problems are exacerbated by his one time girlfriend Roxy (Sofia Happonen), who still harbours feelings for Stan, now running with the bad boys.

Stan hears noises within the shed, and initially thinks it occupied by a crackhead. But when Ellis's guard dog ends up beheaded after gaining access to the outbuilding, swiftly followed by Ellis himself, Stan is torn between phoning the authorities and seeing the vampire's attack as the solution to his problems: so he seals the shed and gets on with his life.

Of course in a small town disappearances get noticed fairly quickly, and it's not long before the law shows up in the shape of good ol' girl Sheriff Dorney (Siobhan Fallon Hogan) who feels benevolent towards Stan, recognising that his temper is a direct result of his upbringing. But when she too starts snooping around the shed, looking for Ellis, the trouble really starts.

Bane wakes up in The Shed (2020)
I was half expecting the credits of The Shed to announce that Sabatella's movie was based on a Stephen King short story, so familiar is the setup here (it's not though): Midwest USA blue collar cast; mean older parent; flawed authority figures; horror elements introduced into a small town setup. Nearly all the characters in the movie are angry for one reason or another and, while they can't wait to leave the sleepy town in Pilgrim Hill county, for the duration of the movie they remain trapped within its confines. The unspecified time setting of the piece - although it gives off a decidedly 1980s vibe - adds to this. These are young people forced to grow up very quickly but who, deep down, remain little more than children, as likely to crumble as they are to show aggression. As such The Shed has more emotional clout than you'd expect in a vampire-trapped-in-a-shed story - and is a far different beast to last year's home counties horror comedy Shed of the Dead with much of the film's interest stemming from how Stan and Dommer interact with a being very rarely glimpsed, except under wraps, and gently smoking when its limbs are exposed to sunlight (a nice nod to the similarly located 1987 vamp flick Near Dark).

In fact there's no humour in The Shed to leaven the rather downbeat goings on (outside of the rather bizarre setup), and the explosive last reel, which falls back on the familiar - the cast tooling up to protect themselves, boy gets girl, and a humans vs vampires standoff - almost comes as a relief. I like this movie a lot. It's simply done, effective and with solid performances from the cast. Good work!

The Shed is out on Digital HD from Signature Entertainment on Monday 11th May 2020.

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