“Once you find it, they won’t let you leave.”
My Rating: 4/5 Stars
A rookie reporter and her two friends travel to a town in Poland to investigate several missing American people, but instead they end up kidnapped by a group of dangerous cultists after unknowingly unleashing a demonic force from a statue in the woods.
After running out of things I actually wanted to watch on Netflix, I settled for The Shrine with low expectations. When I read the description of the film I really didn’t think the concept sounded new or fresh, and I also figured the story line would be fairly straight forward and simple. A couple cliche reporters, weird locals, a cult, missing people, blah blah blah. Seent it.
And then it happened… No one likes to admit this, but… I was wrong.
Once the group makes it to Poland they realize they’re not welcome in the town where all the disappearances have happened. After some verbal and physical push from the weird local “church” members, they drive off, only to discretely make their way back into town through the woods. It’s here where they find a section of the woods that is engulfed in a dense fog.
Of course, Sara goes into the fog with no hesitation. There HAS to be one dipsh*t in the group, doesn’t there? After waiting some time for Sara to return, Carmen decides to go inside to find her while Carmen’s boyfriend, Marcus, waits outside the fog… Because he’s not a dumbass.
This is when Carmen comes into contact with a huge (and beautiful) demonic statue. She starts walking around the statue to take a photo when she looks up and notices the statue’s neck has turned and it it’s now facing her, spilling blood from it’s eyes, and whispering only something that Carmen can hear.
The local church members soon realize that the girls have found the statue, so they kidnap the three of them, and (spoilers start here) Sara gets f*ckin’ brutally killed in a ritual involving a huge stone cross, bloodletting, demonic visions, and a metal mask with massive spikes that get plunged right into her eyeholes. UH, AWESUMMM, YES PLS.
Carmen and Marcus get away… but things go from bad to worse when Carmen becomes possessed by the demon she unleashed in the woods. And lemme tell you, this part is F*CKING FANTASTIC!
The Shrine certainly features a possession done right, which I can’t really say about a lot of films from the past decade. As someone who doesn’t tend to be afraid of much, there were moments of Carmen’s possession that physically gave me chills.
From the makeup, to the sounds, to the movements and acting, I was tremendously pleased with how scary the demon was without ever getting cheesy. In all seriousness, there were a few times I had a hard time looking at Carmen in her possessed form without needing to check over my shoulder and make sure there wasn’t some weird sh*t happening behind me.
Although there are times where the movie uses some CGI (boo!) and some obvious green screen, the practical effects were beautifully done, gory enough, and chilling as sh*t!
Something else I really enjoyed about The Shrine was you have a hard time deciding who the “bad guys” and “good guys” are as the movie progresses. As the storyline changes, so do your feelings about the characters.
There are parts of this film that are in Polish and no subtitles are provided. For some, I can see how this may be irritating. For me, I felt like this left a lot up to my imagination, (which is usually way cooler than whatever is happening anyway,) and I didn’t mind it at all.
However, after doing a bit of research I realized that the movie doesn’t actually have any Polish in it at all! The actors just yelled a bunch of gibberish that sounded like Polish instead of learning the language… In all fairness, I could see how that may bother some people. However, personally, I didn’t care. It was believable enough to me that I would’ve never realized this myself if I hadn’t looked it up.