• Name: Shook
• Year: 2021
• Country: USA
• Director: Jennifer Harrington
• Main cast: Daisye Tutor, Stephanie Simbari, Nicola Posener, Emily Goss, Octavius J. Johnson
• Runtime: 88 minutes
• Production company: The Squid Farm
At first, Shook (2021) could look like another movie about the rivalries of internet celebrities, the new fashion icons who become superstars and live their online luxurious lives for the amusement of their thousands of followers. Being a product so ephemeral and superficial as this, one can only imagine all the dirty tricks, backstabbings, and lies those Social Media Stars do to get the sponsoring that can allow them to live in their virtual stardom for at least one more week. Because this is a new era, baby! Today’s hot news becomes ancient anecdotes in a few days if the clicks and likes flow stop.
Yes, indeed, Jennifer Harrington, the writer and director of the movie, is making her little statement dissing that artificial world of fake smiles and appealing friendships. But, soon, the movie turns into a sinister cat-and-mouse game where something more at stake than daily trending topics. And here is when the movie shows its real face.
Along the entire running time, the protagonist Mia gets involved in a rollercoaster of mutilations, torture, and sadistic games that can easily recall the killing tests induced by Jigsaw in the Saw saga. Only this time the interaction with the killer and the killings, the victims and the butchers, is through smartphones and the computer. Slaughtering 2.0, perhaps? And, something I have been wondering through the whole movie, that phone won’t run out of battery?
Despite that, Shook (2021) is not a gory movie, so don’t expect rivers of blood. It is more about the game, the surprises, and how friendships can shake when a few bucks are in sake. That little make-up Social Media star Mia has no clue what the hell is going on. As neither knows the audience. Is it real? Is this all a joke? Or are people really getting killed in that big house? So fear and suspense walk holding hands until the final answer is revealed.
Although the filmmakers tried to imprint big tension and intensity in the story and the images, with that delicious 1980s retro synthesizer music and the sincere performance of the main star of the show Daisye Tutor, Shook (2021) has the feeling of a low-budget newby movie. The filmmakers try to cover the budget and quality limitations with an abuse of the face camera close-ups and an over-use of the computer and smartphone screenings. Still, the story and the development of the action, which is the key in a movie of this kind, are fluid and it keeps the watching entertaining from the start until its end. Everybody put lots of passion into the project, and that’s something one can see on the screen.
Shook (2021) won’t become a milestone in the genre, and many people will find it forgettable. But that doesn’t mean it is not an entertaining watch and attractive addition to the Shudder catalog. It definitely is a step forward as a filmmaker for the writer and director Jennifer Harrington.
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