Halloween Horrors 50 for 31: Death in the Shadows

October 6, 2012 at 4:59 pm Leave a comment

Maybe I should rename this Mikey D’s Horror World Tour.  My first three selections from the Pure Terror box set have all been foreign films. We started with Death Warmed Up from New Zealand. Then we went to Italy for The House by the Cemetery. Now I’m going to the Neatherlands for Death in the Shadows.

I had seen this movie before and didn’t even know it. Death in the Shadows is a pretty nondescript title so who could blame me. It’s in another Mill Creek box set I own of 100 Action movies. It took me a few minutes to realize that I had seen this movie which should speak to the quality of this film.  It also really says something about me that I own two copies of Death in the Shadows and have seen it twice.

There will be spoilers here. So if you’re the kind of person who loves Dutch murder mysteries, here is my quick review. Death in the Shadows left no real impression on me. Even after two viewings, I really can’t say there was anything special about this movie that would make me recommend it. Not that it was a bad movie, although the lighting can be poor in this movie, particularly at the end. It’s a long, drawn out murder mystery. Other movies have done it better. There is a lot of nudity but I don’t know if that is a selling point this day in age. Death in the Shadows isn’t good enough to be watchable or bad enough to be laughable. Yet it doesn’t register on the Road House movie rating scale. I would only recommend it if you are researching movies to learn the structure of a very basic murder mystery.

We start off the movie with an older woman getting run over twice by a car. She  was very nervous while waiting for the bus. It’s pretty clear this was more than just an accident. But who done it and why? From there we meet Valerie, who is watching her boyfriend play Space Invaders, how cool is that! She stays up late watching for Mom to come home but she doesn’t. Valerie learns her Mom has died, run over by a car. The detective investigating the case informs Valerie that her Mom isn’t really her Mom. The autopsy revealed she had never had children. Valerie never knew her Father, who died when she was young. She has no other family that we know of. The detective also suspects this was a murder.

Val begins poking around, trying to find out who her parents really were and why her Mom was killed. All she really finds are more questions through her investigation. She finds the address for a garage but the garage owner becomes belligerent and chases her off. Mom was close with the Neighbor Lady but she knows few details about Mom’s life. Ria, I believe was her name so it will be for purposes of this review. Mom didn’t have many close friends. The detective has to do some digging to find out she had a brother that has vanished off the face of the Earth years ago. A lawyer used to employ her Mom part time but he claims to know nothing and offers to help however he can. Val decides to take a break from worrying to meet up with her boyfriend when she nearly gets run over by the same car that killed her mom. Val gets very scared. She doesn’t want to stay at home anymore. The detective also learns Mom didn’t get her money from a widow pension like she claimed. So where did she get her money? Her boyfriend leaves with his parents for a vacation so she can’t lean on him.

From here, it becomes a very different movie. Valerie starts staying in a youth hostile on the shade side of….Amsterdam I presume. She can’t sleep with all the comings and goings in the hostile. She meets with a friend of hers, a punk rock chick, who suggests she just gets into drugs and tunes out all of the problems in her life. This seems out of place at  the first viewing but on the second viewing, I got why this scene is here. This part of the movie is a character study of Valerie. She is trying to figure out what she is going to do now. She tries to run from her problems. She is struggling to figure out who is really is and she is given the option to just forget about it and slip through the cracks. She really does try to just move on but she can’t. She also sees Ria working at a peep show doing freaky lesbian stuff, making her question how her mom made her money. Now she has to know the truth about why her Mom died. And really, now she wants to know who her Mom was also well as knowing who Valerie is.

She goes back home and picks up the investigation again. A photo leads her to searching graveyards for the truth. A priest leads her to finding her Mom’s brother. Finding him reveals more of the puzzle. Valerie was really the daughter of a couple of her Mom’s friends. They all went into business together, it went south, they died, and she apparently adopted Valerie. The brother has more info for her but he will tell her later on. Problem is, later on he gets murdered.

This all leads to the stirring conclusion. Val goes home and the killer is in the house. Ria shows up in time to distract the killer. The lights go out when Val crosses some wires and trips the  breaker. Through the struggle with the killer, they manage to electrocute him. The killer gets reveal to be….. unrecognizable. I watched this movie twice and the money shot of the killer is completely unrecognizable.  The lighting in the scene is poor and its hard to identify who this is. Only on the second viewing did I pick up who it was from the last scene where the detective and Valerie discuss who the killer is. You have to pay close attention though because the dialogue is written in such a clunky fashion, it’s hard to tell who they are talking about. It really doesn’t help that we only say the killer twice in the movie for brief periods of time. Should I reveal who done it here? NAH. Watch the movie for yourself.

It’s a who done it where you may not know in the end who done it due to poor lighting and writing. It is otherwise a satisfying movie. It’s a small, character driven piece.  Valerie is likable. The mystery unfolds as a mystery should. Why do I have a problem with this movie? I don’t really. It just doesn’t strike me as anything special.  It wasn’t a hard movie to watch. Death in the Shadows goes down really easy. The dubbing is well done, for the most part. The movie is merely watchable.  It’s not bad but I can’t really call it a good movie. I would recommend watching it if you feel in the mood for a Dutch murder mystery but I wouldn’t say track it down.

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Entry filed under: Horror.

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