Shallow Ground
Beset with guilt for failing to prevent a serial killer's latest homicide, small-town sheriff Jack Sheppard may get a chance at redemption when a nude, blood-drenched teen boy turns up at the station clutching a big knife.

Scott Hardie: “It sucked.”

My love of the Matrix films is no secret, but I have never been fond of Don Davis's bombastic score, which assaults the ears like a blanket of napalm. At the risk of sounding like an old man, tone it down already! I couldn't help but think of Davis while listening to Steve London's equally overachieving score for this low-budget horror indie. Every action, even the slightest twitch of a shoulder, is underscored with screeching violins and thunderous chords, as if he accidentally overbooked the orchestra and, aw shucks, he may as well use 'em. It's a distraction during the unevenly-paced film, which consists mostly of Steadicam shots that lurk in the woods watching the heroes from afar. It's a time-honored gimmick of the genre, but really, 65 minutes of it in a single film is enough.

Really, the only three things I can praise in this witless, ham-fisted excuse for entertainment are A) the creepy makeup on the villains and victims, B) the creepy cinematography during the psychic premonitions, and C) the extra-creepy discovery made by the hero when he wakes up chained to a chair in... well, does it matter? The rest of the movie is so infuriatingly edited (intercutting and leaving scenes just as the tensions mounts) and poorly acted (I'd call Tim Murphy a poor man's Viggo Mortensen but I don't want to compliment him) that it's not worth renting by anyone, anywhere, any time. It starts with an intriguing premise – naked teenager shows up covered in blood at a police station and won't talk – but insists on badly miscalculated attempts to create and maintain an air of dread, losing its good ideas in a morass of stupidity and minutes wasted at a time. Avoid it.

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