The Shrine Jon Knautz

The Shrine Jon Knautz
After Jack Brooks: Monster Slayer, director Jon Knautz decided to boldly tackle a more serious horror film, rather than shoot another shtick-y horror comedy, which was expected of him, with supernatural thriller The Shrine. Unlike the director's mildly successful directorial debut, The Shrine is a far more vicious and ambitious beast despite the fact the film's budget is its greatest detriment. Like most horror films, The Shrine starts off by immediately foreshadowing the main character's fate, following Carmen (Cindy Sampson), a career-driven journalist desperate to crack a slew of missing persons cases in Poland for a story. In spite of the fact that she's been forbidden to cover this lead, she embarks upon a journey to Poland with on-again-off-again photographer boyfriend Marcus (Aaron Ashmore) and her assistant, Sarah. (Meghan Heffern), to investigate the disappearances in a small Polish village. Unfortunately, the trio eventually discovers that this village holds a dark secret and the locals will kill anybody who tries to uncover it. Although The Shrine aims to capture the essence and mood of The Wicker Man, it ultimately fails to engage the uninitiated horror film viewer due to its slowly paced plot and utter lack of character development between the leads. However, it is the film's last act where the director and actors' skills truly shine, with its ultimately chilling denouement. Fans of Jack Brooks will again appreciate Knautz's ability to shoot Troll 2-inspired villains and make them look menacing in his sophomore effort. They will also be grateful for the presence of producer/actor Trevor Matthews, who trades in Jack Brooks's plumber gear for bleach blonde hair and a thick Polish accent to play one of the film's sinister villains. The Shrine may be flawed and is certainly not a film that will be sought out by mainstream audiences, but it still manages to ostensibly showcase a promising horror director's skills behind the camera. (Mongrel Media)