Monday, October 12, 2009

30 Days of Fright - 11: Shrooms

Why aren't there more horror movies set in Ireland? With the scenery and historic locations and wealth of folklore it seems odd that the nearest thing to an Irish horror movie is Tom Cruise's "Far and Away". That said, there's no decent Irish Sci-Fi either, or homegrown television come to think of it, so it's basically a miracle that every few years an absolute gem of an Irish movie comes along. Alas, as for last nights film...

Shrooms (2007) tells of a group of five american teens who travel to Ireland to meet a college friend. The friend, Jake, takes them out into the woods in order to score some magic mushrooms. Jake's a bit of a storyteller and first tells a tale of dogging - people having sex in cars and inviting strangers to join in.

The next story he tells is about the dreaded Deathcap mushroom, that only comes into season every now and then and is (coincidentally) in season now. He explains that the Deathcap gives anyone who consumes it the gift of premonition, if you survive the eating of the mushroom in the first place, in most cases it's leathal. One of the gang, a young, blond, and attractive girl called Tara, eats of the evil little fungi and is just snatched from the jaws of death by Jake.

Later that night, around the campfire, Jake tells another story of a mad monk who ran a home for wayward boys and who used to torture and even kill the children in the home, until, after having killed one of a set of twins, the other decided to poison the monk with a stash of Deathcap mushrooms. The plan, in the story, backfired as the mushrooms unleashed all the violence the monk was capable of and set him off on a major killing spree. Now, the monk and the only other survivor from the home, a feral child, haunt the woods.

One of the group takes a big pile of mushrooms and then heads out into the woods, well and truly out of his bin. The next day, and in various states of conciousness as a result of drinking mushroom tea, the rest of the group head out into the woods in search of their missing friend and promptly get lost and picked off by some unseen murdering force, all the while Tara, as a result of her brush with the Deathcap mushroom is seeing premonitions of their demises and ultimately sees more than she ever could have imagined in even her worst drug induced nightmares.

Monks on Shrooms - adds a whole new dimension to "High Clergy"

So let's dispense with the obvious. Shrooms is about teenage drug abuse and the users of the mushrooms come to sticky ends, but the movie is not about moralising over drug use. Instead, the mushrooms initially add an angle to the film that is not unlike A Nightmare On Elm Street, in that after taking the mushrooms and tripping, no one is able to tell what's real and what's not. This is disconcerting at first, but the trippy visuals soon become tiring and once you see the background shimmer in a certain way you know somethings going to happen, it's just another cue, like when the music gets quiet right before the baddie shows up.

Unfortunately, the point about the trippy visuals just about sums up Shrooms. It's a pedestrian horror movie with a few jumpy moments but nothing to recommend it after the first half hour of American kids running around stoned off their gimp in the woods up in Monaghan. Like too many recent movies the makers of Shrooms seemd to think that quantity was more important than quality and threw in too many possible villians as well as 'overdosing' on the same visual tricks over and over again.

That said, it was nice to see a movie set and filmed in Ireland on the list, even if most of the people in it were American.

One Thumb Up and One Thumb Down for Shrooms.

For an insight into the world of bad ass mushrooms:

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