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It's too bad that I end up writing an overall negative review for "Shiver", as I truly and honestly wanted to like it! I saw the film at a very small-scaled but charming Festival in my home country, and both director Julian Richards and writer/producer Robert D. Weinbach were present for the screening Yes, sadly it wasn't lead actress Danielle Harris who traveled to Belgium for a visit. Anyway, they are both very friendly gentlemen and truly proud of their accomplishment. They describe "Shiver" as the first a deeply disturbing serial killer thriller in a very long time and supposedly also one of the first to draw a profound and genuinely realistic portrait of the psychopath. Well, it's good that they're fond of their product, of course, but sadly all I watched was a dull, derivative and tremendously clichéd run-of-the-mill B-movie thriller. John Jarratt, who my girlfriend immediately recognized from his role in the sappy soap series "MacLeod's Daughters", is immediately introduced as the murderous madman Vinnie even before the opening credits appear on screen. So don't pay any attention to the other user comment around here claiming that the trailer reveals the identity of the killer You're meant to know right away. Vinnie savagely strangles with a steel wire because he had a traumatizing childhood. This gets illustrated trough a flashback in which we witness two bullies crushing little Vinnie's glasses. Now if such a vile act doesn't turn you into a relentless and misogynous serial killer, then what does? Vinnie leaves a big trail of bloody massacres behind in Oregon's Portland, and in spite of his rather rude and careless modus operandi, the dumb police inspector Casper Van Dien doesn't have a clue how to catch him. Then one night, Vinnie breaks into the apartment of cute single lady Wendy Alden. When she narrowly survives Vinnie's assault, he becomes obsessed with her and convinced that they belong together. What ensues is an incredibly tedious and predictable cat-and-mouse game, featuring all the clichés you can think of. Our killer literally pops up everywhere around Wendy, even in places where he couldn't possibly guess she is there, and "Shiver" quickly becomes ridiculous beyond proportions. Near the climax, Vinnie goes on a sickening blood rampage that is actually laughable instead of disturbing, and the final confrontation between him and Wendy is then again quite tame. Horror princess Danielle Harris ("Halloween", "Hatchet") gives a good performance and the make-up effects are pleasingly gross, but the film is far too weak in the scripting and executing departments.
Based on a novel of the same name, "Shiver" delivers only occasionally. The predictable, derivative screen story gains a little traction from performances, but not enough to keep it afloat. Among these are uneven performances by Danielle Harris (some of her scenes are quite good) as the wallflower office worker Wendy Alden, and John Jarrett as the serial killer Franklin Rood, who stalks her. (But don't expect anything close his creepy performance in "Wolf Creek"). Casper Van Dien and Rae Dawn Chong do quite well in their performances as the detectives on the loony's trail. The central problem is the script, which may not do justice to the novel: the main characters are flat and under-developed; the police and corrections officers are presented as incredibly incompetent. And the rationale behind the crimes is unexplored; evidently a single traumatic event in Rood's childhood drives him over the edge. The camera work is fine, and the editing sharp, though a little jagged. Taken on its own terms the jazz soundtrack is okay, but it seems to belong to another film.
In nearly every respect, Shiver is just another movie about just another demented serial killer. But a viewer who sticks with it, will see that the lead Woman in Peril played by Danielle Harris is far from the typical panicked screaming and annoying victim. Ms. Harris delivers an impressively nuanced performance in a movie that on most respects is totally lacking in nuance. True. Even with another actress in the lead role. Shiver's unpretentiousness would be refreshing (except for the very Carrie-esque final few scenes). But Danielle Harris' performance as an alternately tough, angry and frightened young Portlander is worth a watch purely on its own merits.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
Franklin Rood is a serial killer - RUDE....GET IT??
That's about the extent of the depth of this POS. John Jarratt is the most annoying serial killer ever. Half retarded and....half retarded. He's a serial killer because someone broke his glasses. Seriously. We know he's a "genius" because he knows Edgar Allen Poe. And he's smart enough to scream "NOT SO SMART NOW, ARE YOU?" after he kills the woman who misquoted The Raven.
Wendy is a gorgeous wallflower, too timid to ask for a raise, but magically becomes a tigress street-smart enough to slip a knife up her sleeve when she feels threatened and calm enough to continue to slip away when threatened.
Adding insult to injury are jazz standards that pound away on the soundtrack.
Most stalker movies you have some kind of kinship with the killer. This guy you just want dead. And not in a good way.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
Wendy Alden has a boring job, lack of self-esteem, and a love life that
she is reluctant to fully commit to. To make matters worse, a notorious
serial killer is killing off women in her area. Wendy encounters the
killer and manages to escape from a near-death experience. In order to
survive, Wendy is gonna have to outsmart the killer at any cost. I only
watched this because of Danielle Harris, I think the woman is immensely
talented, even when she is dealing with sub par scripts. There isn't
really anything overly original in this one, it's fairly derivative,
but it does what it can with the material it has. It has a bit of an
old school feel to it and isn't afraid to push boundaries. it also has
some decent psychology in it as well. I did think they could have
delved further into the serial killer's plight because he just seemed
like a typical killer with family issues growing up. While I will give
it credit for doing what it can with the material, it's too derivative
to be that effective. How many times have we seen a perverted serial
killer hack off beautiful women over the years? Its been done to death.
There are a couple of questionable plot holes as well. How did the
killer survive the car going off a cliff? It isn't fully explained. I
wondered how the police could be so incompetent at times. Poor camera
work at times is also an issue. Gore hounds should be at least content
with the amount of violence. We get a nasty slit throat, and an eye is
gouged out. Bloody corpses, gunshot wounds, and severed heads add to
the fun as well. The harshest part may have been the scene with the
pregnant woman, I thought that was effectively brutal. The acting is
decent. Danielle Harris is excellent as our heroine. It was nice to see
they didn't fully go the way of the damsel in distress. She is very
vulnerable, but the strong heroine you'd expect her to be as well. John
Jarrett ranges from hammy to good. There were times where I thought he
was outstanding with his work, others where he was too OTT. He was a
bit too whiny for me in all honesty at times. Casper Van Dien is OK. He
got this weird smirk on his face at the weirdest times. An underrated
favorite of mine, Rae Dawn Chong has a small part as well
I tried to be as fair as I could with this review. For what it is, I felt it did some good things. It can be suspenseful at times with some great acting (Harris especially) , but there is nothing that special about it. It's just another serial killer film that is carried by Danielle Harris. Harris fans and fans of the genre will find a few things to like about this one
Shiver tells the story of Wendy (Danielle Harris), a young woman who is
struggling with financial issues, has no time for dating, and has a
not-so-close relationship with her mother. When Wendy is targeted by a
killer known as The Gryphon (John Jarratt), she must use her smarts and
the strength she never knew she had in order to escape from becoming a
part of The Gryphon's "collection".
Shiver is a film that is slightly different for Scream Queen Danielle Harris. Instead of starring in a typical by-the-numbers slasher film, she's now the prime focus of a psychopath, as well as the prime focus of the viewer. Harris by far gives her strongest performance in this film. We watch as her character tries to stay calm in times of great terror, but when the time comes for her to fight, Harris plays it off with great strength and ease. Beside Harris we have John Jarratt, whom is well-known for his role as the psychotic killer in the film Wolf Creek. Jarratt is back again playing another psycho. While he definitely played his role well, he really didn't put as much effort into it as he did in Wolf Creek. But he does do a good job of trying to show both sides of his character's personality. He can go from calm one moment, but then completely creepy and crazy the next. As for the film itself, it isn't really anything to write home about. It keeps a person interested mostly because of the cat and mouse game between our protagonist and antagonist.
It's not one of the greatest films ever, nor is it a stand out film of it's kind, but it's at least worth checking out if one's ever interested. But the performances of Harris and Jarratt are what makes the film worth seeing, especially the strong performance by Harris.
My rating: 6/10
I was lucky enough to get to see this movie at a screening and I really don't want to say much about the movie because you need to see it yourself and be surprised. But it is very WELL worth your time to watch. Danielle Harris did an outstanding job with her role and the script was very well written. I was on the edge of my seat the whole time and there were a lot of things I was NOT expecting to happen. Overall I would give the movie a 10/10 because it was good. I'm a big supporter of Indie films and respect them so much and I think this has to be one of my favorite B movies along with Stakeland which Danielle also happens to be in oddly enough. So give the movie a watch you won't regret it!
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