The Shrine (2010)
Two female journalists and a photographer travel to Europe to investigate a series of mysterious disappearances, only to find themselves embroiled in a struggle against a kind of evil they never expected.
After a young American backpacker goes missing in Europe, a group of journalists link his disappearance to a remote village in Poland. They travel there hoping to get the story, but as they unravel the secrets behind this mysterious village, they are suddenly pursued by hostile locals. Unable to escape, they soon become the next victims of ritualistic human sacrifice. Forced into the gruesome reality of true survival horror, the journalists soon discover that this village hides a much darker secret than they could ever imagine.
- The film starts with a man tied to a ceremonial table. Another man then kills him by smashing his head with a sledgehammer.
A journalist, Carmen (Cindy Sampson), is having problems with her relationship with her boyfriend, Marcus (Aaron Ashmore) who is a photographer. Marcus says that although both of them are busy with their respective work, Carmen never seems to stop thinking about it and tends to ignore him.
Carmen asks her boss to allow her to to investigate the disappearances of several tourists in the fictional Polish village of Alvania (the letter v is not part of the modern Polish alphabet). The last person to go missing was Eric Taylor (Ben Lewis), the man killed at the beginning of the film. She also mentions that the luggages of all the missing tourists end up being found all around Eastern Europe. Her boss isn't interested in another missing persons case, saying that people go missing all the time and does not give her permission to go. Instead, he would rather have her investigate why a farmer's bees go missing.
Carmen and her intern Sara (Meghan Heffern) visit Eric's mother, Laura. Laura tells them that she has tried to get the help of both the Polish and the American Police. However, they are unwilling to help her. Carmen asks Laura if Eric's luggage has been returned to her. Laura says that it has and Carmen borrows Eric's journal.
Later in her home while reading Eric's journal, she sees a vision of Eric who has bloody eyes and tells her "leave me alone". But this is revealed to be just a dream. Carmen, wanting to mend her relationship with Marcus as well as her job, urges him to come with her and Sara to Alvania. Upon reaching Alvania, they find the village people to be secretive, unfriendly and unwelcoming, just as described in the last entry in Eric's journal. Although English is taught in the villages' school, not all the villagers know how to speak it.
They find a man (named Henryk) butchering a pig and a girl (named Lidia) picking flowers and approach her. They show her a picture of Eric and ask if she has seen him. The girl is hesitant to answer and before she even can, Henryk (presumably her father) calls to her and sends her off. Carmen, Sara and Marcus explore the village. They notice that the villagers treat their religious leaders like royalty. They then spot a strange dense area of fog which seems to be concentrated only in one portion of the forest, also mentioned in Eric's notes. They are threatened by Henryk and the villagers and told to leave the village when they attempt to move toward the fog.
Leaving the village initially, Carmen tells Marcus that they should go back and investigate the fog. Marcus disagrees and insist that they leave. But Carmen manages to convince Marcus to return. They leave their car and walk into the forest where they eventually find the area with the fog. Marcus takes pictures of the fog. Carmen, Sara and Marcus find it strange that the fog seems to never move and is quite dense, therefore preventing Marcus from taking pictures of anything inside the fog.
Sara enters the fog and disappears into it. Carmen and Marcus wait for Sara to return but after awhile, they lose their patience. Marcus insist that they leave but they can't leave Sara behind. Carmen enters the fog to find Sara. Moments after she enters the fog, Sara somehow gets out and is found by Marcus. Sara appears to be a little scared and unfocused. Carmen seems to have gotten lose in the fog and comes across a statue of a demon holding a heart. Carmen takes a picture of it. As she moves to the side of the statue in order to take another picture, the statue seems to have turned its head to face Carmen. The statue's eyes bleed and the 'heart' in its hand start to beat. This frightens Carmen. As she backs away from the statue, she find herself out of the fog and is found by Marcus and Sara. Sara and Carmen talk about seeing the statue, both a bit disoriented, also having heard strange whispering voices.
As they make their way back to their car, they come arcoss Lidia who claims to know the whereabouts of Eric and takes them to a hidden sacrificial tomb, where they discover the bodies of people (including Eric) whom the village people have executed. Each body has a metal mask deeply embedded on its face, making it look as though the villagers are cultists and are practicing some kind of ritual black magic on the tourists who come to Alvania. Marcus, Sara and Carmen notice that Lidia is gone and finds the door to the tomb jammed.
Luckily, Marcus is able to open it but they are suddenly surrounded by the villagers. They struggle to escape but one of the villagers knocks out Carmen. Henryk shoots Sara's leg with a crossbow. The villagers knock her out with chloroform but not before she sees the one of the villagers' face turn into a demon. Marcus runs into the forest and is being chased by Henryk. Henryk catches up with him. Marcus fights Henryk but the latter gains the upper hand and knocks him out with chloroform.
As they wake up, they see Henryk talking to Lidia. Lidia walks off and the villagers bring them back to the entrance of the sacrificial tomb where the head of the village's church, Arkadiusz, decides to sacrifice both Sara and Carmen. Sara and Carmen are taken inside the sacrificial tomb while Marcus is led away by two villagers and is forced to dig a grave at gunpoint. After one of them leaves, Marcus uses the shovel to disarm the remaining villager with the gun and knock him unconscious. He takes the gun and runs off to rescue Sara and Carmen.
At the sacrificial tomb, Cultists strip Carmen and Sara and don them with ceremonial gowns. Henryk puts on the Cultists' robes. The Cultists place Sara on the same ceremonial table where Eric was killed while Carmen is placed in a prison cell. The Cultists secure her arms, legs and head. They then deeply lacerate her arms and sever her Achilles' tendons. While this is being done to her, she sees the faces of the Cultists and Arkadiusz turn into demons. The same mask they found on the corpses is placed over Sara's head. It has two spikes inside of it which are meant to pierce Sara's eyes and embed the mask on her face. Arkadiusz takes a sledgehammer and uses it to embed the mask on Sara, executing her in the process.
One of the Cultists looks at Carmen and she sees that the Cultist's face become that of a demon as well. They bring her out to be sacrificed but Marcus rescues her. He locks the Cultists in the tomb and he and Carmen make their escape.
They enter a villager's house to steal the keys to a truck. Marcus sees a woman, Emilia, and her son, Dariusz, in the kitchen. The woman calls for her husband, Aleks, but is unable to do anything since Marcus still has the gun. Marcus asks them for the keys to the truck but they can't understand English. When they see Carmen, Emilia expresses fear and panic. Marcus takes the family to their living room and ties up the couple.
While Marcus tries to get them to give him the keys, Carmen starts to experience voices. She sees the objects in the room shake. She sees Daruisz turn into a demon and gaze at her. She sees Emilia and Aleks untie themselves and crawl on the floor and as demons. Marcus turns around to Carmen and he too becomes a demon. But in truth, all of them are still humanEmilia and Aleks are still tied up and none of them are even looking at her.
Carmen goes to another room where she continues to see and hear things. Dariusz, who understands and speaks English, leads Marcus back to the kitchen and gives him the truck keys. Not wanting to risk Dariusz going out and call for help, Marcus also ties him up. The boy begs for Marcus to let them go and warns him that Carmen is evil since she has seen the statue. However, Marcus ignores him. Carmen is then possessed by a demon while she is alone in the room and lets out a very loud shriek. The Cultists, who have gotten free and are looking for Carmen, hear the shriek and are alerted of Carmen's location.
Marcus hears Carmen calling out to him. He enters the room she went inside through a door from the kitchen. As he enters the room, another door leading back to the living room closes. Marcus hears Aleks and Emilia scream in fear and pain, followed by footsteps going to the kitchen. Marcus then hears Dariusz screaming. As he looks out from the door, he sees the boy being dragged on the floor. The door then closed before he could go out and Dariusz's screaming stops. The door leading to the living room slowly opens. He goes to the living room and finds the entire family brutally killed. A possessed Carmen then jumps on him and pins him on the floor. Just as she is about to kill Marcus, she is confronted by the Cultists. She kills several of them. Arkadiusz fights back with prayers and holy water. He calls for the mask but the Cultist holding the mask is stunned in fear, giving the possessed Carmen the opportunity to impale Arkadiusz. Carmen turns her attention back to Marcus.
Before Arkadiusz dies, he passes on his duties to Henryk. Henryk chants prayers while splashing Carmen with holy water. Henryk stabs Carmen. The prayers weaken her, allowing Henryk to slowly set on her on the floor. Two more Cultists help. They impale Carmen's hands and pin her to the floor, making sure she does not get back up. Henryk calls for the mask and this time, the Cultist holding the mask complies. They position the mask over Carmen's face while Henryk readies the sledgehammer. However Carmen stills struggles and the mask can't be properly placed over her eyes.
Marcus now realizes what is going on and understands why it was necessary to kill Sara and Carmen. Sara and Carmen saw the statue which is why the villagers decided to kill them but not Marcus. The Cultists weren't Cultists and they weren't sacrificing anyone. They were trying to prevent demonic possessions from taking place. Knowing this, Marcus helps out Henryk and the others. He holds Carmen's head still. With the mask now in place, Henryk readies the sledgehammer to embed the mask. Carmen returns to normal and asks Marcus for help but Marcus knows it is just a trick. Henryk sends the sledgehammer down and embeds the mask on Carmen, killing her.
Marcus then looks at Henryk and the remaining men, wondering what will happen to him since he knows too much. One of the villagers asks Henryk on what they will do with Marcus. In the end, Marcus is set free by the villagers. Henryk offers to have one of the village's men take him to where he needs to go. Marcus looks over to the forest where the fog is seen. Not really knowing what is really inside the fog, he asks Henryk about it. He is told that the fog and the statue are a curse left long ago to the village that cannot be undone. The devillish statue is shown once more and the screen goes black.