Lacking in identity, clear direction, and effective scares/gore ‘Shrooms’ is by far the lesser of Paddy Breathnach’s two slasher entries unleashed last decade.
‘Shrooms’, a confusing hodgepodge of obvious influences culminating in a slasher which is neither one thing or another, and ultimately not very entertaining as a result.
The plot follows a group of American 20 somethings coming to Ireland for a special kind of ‘trip’ involving some camping, some sex – or at least discussions of – and most critically, the sampling of magic mushrooms. The group come together, I think they know one another through a church group or something, and meet their local guide who promises to look after them. After a brief instruction over which of the hallucinogenic fauna to munch and which not to, and of course all the cell phones stashed away the group set up camp and immediately seem to disregard any nuance of self-preservation. The lead character, well she immediately seeks out and eats a death-cap mushroom and starts tripping balls, the others start to fight, some don’t seem to want to even take drugs but thankfully all can be resolved by a good old campfire ghost story. No sooner has the story, reached its conclusion people start to die.
Out the gate, before this review starts to take a more critical turn I will say one thing, this film has some killer aesthetics. The forest location looks really lush, yet creepy at the same time. There are some excellent shots of panoramic vistas which have clearly been sought out and grades perfectly to show natural beauty combined with a true perspective of isolation. Its not just the outside environments which look great, later in the film a few characters enter a derelict mansion/hospital type thing which also just drips with atmosphere.
In terms of production value, this film actually looks the part, and the acting to, not bad overall; its not their fault their characters were written in to be complete muppets.
Upon reflection, rather than just rant at the films many short comings I think I will just state them briefly in two distinct paragraphs.
First off, the films own confusion over what sort of film it is. Wants to be J-Horror, but its not got any of the subtly or dread those films have (to be honest its not even close to the US remakes) and what we actually end up with is a poorly constructed, bloodless slasher. The plot is garbage, and its character’s, or more specifically their actions, are only there to try to funnel the plotline towards justifying its tenuous, well telegraphed ‘twist’ ending. A lack of a clear antagonist (again confused in an attempt to add continuity to its ending) doesn’t help to establish any sensible threat. For much of the film, choppy editing, and a dizzying mixture of premonition vs. reality style scenes, it seems the characters stupid decisions are what’s getting them killed, or is it the CGI spectre or the two hill-billy style countryfolk.
Any of the above would see the film fail overall, but the final nail in the coffin comes from the catastrophic failure for this film to offer any thing in terms of chills or scares. It is poor. Dodgy CGI, poorly executed jump scares and some seriously poor CGI choices. Everything ‘Shrooms’ presents is an inferior clone of films in circulation at the time. There is nothing (aside for some decent panorama) from which to promote this film with.
Hell, even the films boxart quote “Blair Witch on Acid” is complete bollocks. Nothing like it other than there are woods involved.
Overall, ‘Shrooms’ tries to hard to fit in it forgets itself in the process. Paddy Breathnach shows a capacity to make slickly produced films, but its squandered here.