Directed by John Williams [Other horror films: The Mothertown (2014), The Slayers (2015), Crispy’s Curse (2017)]
I’m not unsympathetic toward the plight of found footage movies. Personally, I feel it’s an issue of oversaturation that makes it hard to really stand out. But there are certain pet peeves I have when it comes to this style of movie-making, and There’s Something in the Shadows pretty much check marks everyone.
First of all, I quote:
“On the 16th of September 2020, amatuer Paranormal investigation team ‘Theres Something in the shadows’ set off to the Scottish highlands to record the third episode of the popular YouTube series. / After a couple of unusual live social media feeds from the group leader Jon Farmer, concerns were raised. This would be the last time any of the group members would be seen alive. / In early December, several cameras were found by a Group of hikers. Despite not being able to contact any of the group, the footage was considered to be a hoax. The group have not been heard of since that last live broadcast.”
Putting aside some confusing grammar choices (‘the group have’, really?), I probably don’t have to point out that this isn’t true. I don’t know why those who make found footage films insist on these inserts. We know it’s fake. Just start the damn movie. I certainly understand how saying things like ‘the police don’t know what to make of the video’ and ‘this was uploaded to the deep web’ might make people feel there’s additional nuance, but it never did much for me, and personally, it comes across as silly.
Related, late in the movie, the police are contacted, and presumably sent out to look for these lost individuals. Certainly the GPS location they were given was wrong, but it strikes me as odd that the search was apparently given up so quickly, and it took a group of hikers two months later to find the footage (but no blood, I guess, which I also find odd).
I also shouldn’t need to point this out, but I will: nothing supernatural has ever been demonstrated scientifically before. No ghosts, no extraterrestrial beings on earth, no Bigfoot, no sasquatch, no God, no demons, no miracles, nothing. I’ve never seen a show along the lines of Ghost Hunters, but I can imagine it’s the closet thing there is to what Hell would theoretically feel like.
There are many things said in this film that are problematic, and I’ll point out a few, because I’m just in that type of mood.
A character suggests that, after hearing an odd whooping, a Bigfoot may be near (he also suggests perhaps it’s the spirits replying to an earlier action). When asked, “Bigfoot?”, he replies, “Yeah, what else could it be?”
I present to you a logical fallacy. Until such evidence is presented that the whooping is indeed caused by Bigfoot, you cannot presume that the whooping is caused by Bigfoot. Once you have that evidence, then you are welcome to your truth claim.
It’s also said later that if skeptics saw a video of aliens landing and chasing the crew around, they wouldn’t believe it, instead insisting it’s something like CGI or puppets. Certainly I would hope so – no one should believe anything by simply seeing a video – and yet, this seems to be presented by this individual negatively. He also says that until skeptics “see it with their own eyes”, they’ll go on not believing.
As a skeptic, that’s not true. If I saw something with my own eyes that I couldn’t explain, I wouldn’t immediately think “Hey, that’s a supernatural event.” I would think “Hey, that’s unexplained, I wonder what that was.” It should also be said that personal experience wouldn’t be enough, as it could be a hallucination or a trip or something along those lines. What I would need is scientific evidence, and then I would be able to accept that evidence, should it be credible.
I’m taking way too long on this. My point is that shows like what There’s Something in the Shadow are mimicking are beyond ridiculous. Is it possible one of those shows could find evidence of ghosts? Sure, if they’re conducted scientifically, it’s possible. Of course, if they could be demonstrated, they wouldn’t be supernatural, but that’s just semantics, I suppose.
When it comes to this actual movie, things don’t really pick up until the final ten minutes. Sure, we hear what could be footsteps outside of someone’s tent. We hear what could be whooping. We hear what could be screaming. Someone goes missing, but as they’ve done so before during previous episode filming (as stated by the characters), that’s nothing immediately relevant either. But things do pick up toward the end.
It’s because of that fact that I didn’t absolutely despise the film. Look at a movie like Wolfwood – it’s another British found footage film, but in that case, it was way too bogged down when it came to a convoluted story. In this movie’s case, while the story isn’t good, at least it keeps things simple. It’s boring a lot of the time, and I don’t buy the chemistry between the actors (unlike The Land of Blue Lakes), but at least it doesn’t try to be more than it is.
To be honest, I don’t even like harping on this film. It has a beautiful setting at times, being filmed in the United Kingdom (and though the credits don’t say, I imagine this was indeed filmed in Scotland, where the movie takes place), but I can’t stand the characters, their complete lack of scientific mindset (the main character stated that he’d been possessed almost 50 times, and was a self-professed cryptozoologist – yeah, like I can get behind this guy), and even the ending, though it was marginally more entertaining, didn’t really do much at all for me.
Maybe people who enjoy found footage as a whole will get more out of There’s Something in the Shadows than I did. I think there are fantastic found footage films (Hell House LLC, Ghostwatch, hell, even The Blair Witch Project), but this one just didn’t cut it at all for me.