Skip to content

John’s Horror Corner: The Shrine (2010), a different story told in a very different way

May 24, 2013

MY CALL:  An effective low budget horror telling a different story with some less utilized, effective methods.  IF YOU LIKE THIS WATCH:  This movie reminded me of Dagon (2001), which was also a pleasant surprise.

I chose to watch this movie thinking “Man, it’s been a while since I deliberately watched a movie that I knew would be awful.”  Then I learned who was behind it.  Director Jon Knautz brought us Jack Brooks Monster Slayer (2007) which, by the way, was a surprisingly fun horror comedy with a humble budget tactfully utilized.  So now I had reason to be optimistic.  Then I saw some surprisingly positive reviews on Amazon…now I’m really intrigued.  How have I–The Horror Czar and founder of John’s Horror Corner–never heard of this until both Netflix and Amazon “suggested” it?

Carmen (Cindy Sampson; Supernatural, Being Human) is a journalist investigating the disappearance of an American tourist in Poland–evidently this tourist is one of many to disappear near a small village.  She is joined by her photographer boyfriend Marcus (Aaron Ashmore; Warehouse 13, Lost Girl, Smallville) and Carmen’s colleague Sara (Meghan Heffern; The Fog [the 2005 remake], Chloe).

When they arrive to the strange, time forgotten village they are met by the most inhospitable people.  In fact, the locals are quite hostile!  Amid a mix of fear and anger the locals manage to shoe off the Americans.  Deciding to ignore some obvious warning signs, our journalists venture into the nearby woods in which an other-worldly fog surrounds a shrine.  It’s a statue of a demon…and it is CREEPY.

The strangeness of this story accelerates when our investigators are captured by the locals, who speak Polish (without subtitles) and force the Americans to “participate” in a creepy, brutal ritual.  As the movie progresses, we learn more about what these people are trying to accomplish with this ritual.

A lot of the dialogue in this movie is in Polish, but isn’t subtitled for the audience.  This is an interesting approach on the director’s part.  Many movies will have a scene or two in which we’re meant to be as nervous as the protagonist over what it is their captors might be saying.  But, in this film, this persists.  This keeps the nature of their rituals all the more mysterious.  This storytelling strategy (or secretive strategy) is what clearly separates this film from so many others.  I, for one, rather appreciated that the director considered his audience to be capable of following this story without holding our hand via subtitles.  After all, we’d never feel the Americans’ terror of “not” knowing what they’re saying when we “do know” what their intentions are.  We don’t need our hands held.

The blood work and gore was effective with some nasty, brutal scenes.  But the latex-based make-up work was very disappointing; far too ambitious for too small a budget and too little talent.  Thankfully, the scenes were well-composed enough to defend themselves against this technical flaw.

The best word to describe this low budget horror release would have to be effective.  Most horror actually fails to deliver any sense of horror beyond a few jump-scares or some too-gross-to-look moments or torture-porn-esque limb-sawing tactics.  This movie succeeded at being truly creepy and mysterious.  There may be better films out there aiming to accomplish the same goals, but probably not with such a low budget.

26 Comments leave one →
  1. November 26, 2013 3:14 pm

    Nice review, I’ll look out for this. I hadn’t heard of it before.

    • johnleavengood permalink
      November 26, 2013 3:59 pm

      It’s on Netflix now. I just checked.

  2. Tim permalink
    November 26, 2013 10:10 pm

    I, too, found this movie to be surprisingly good and appreciated the creepiness of being in a hostile foreign land without knowing the language being added to the main horror storyline.

    • John Leavengood permalink
      October 23, 2015 8:30 am

      I don’t feel like the language barrier has been used to quite such a degree before.

  3. October 22, 2015 12:17 pm

    I’m glad you liked this one as well. I really enjoyed the tale and thought it was a great surprise.

    • John Leavengood permalink
      October 23, 2015 8:31 am

      Oh, yeah. I recall thinking the statue in the woods was dumb…expecting it would animate or something like that. Then the story progressed and I was wowed and harrowed.

  4. October 26, 2015 11:10 am

    hay my nane muaiad elameen i am adiracter ililke .. this . i vere like hororr moves


  1. John’s Horror Corner [INDEX] | Movies, Films & Flix
  2. The Day (2011), when big risks, low budgets and strong female leads produce greatness! | Movies, Films & Flix
  3. John’s Horror Corner: Shadow People (2012), a finely and tactfully crafted indie film that came out of nowhere! | Movies, Films & Flix
  4. John’s Horror Corner: Order of the Ram (2013), a short film hiding a great idea | Movies, Films & Flix
  5. John’s Horror Corner: Nothing Left to Fear (2013), a mediocre religious horror story about a small town with a dark secret. | Movies, Films & Flix
  6. John’s Horror Corner: In the Mouth of Madness (1994), not a Lovecraft story, but clearly made for fans of Cthulhu mythos. | Movies, Films & Flix
  7. John’s Horror Corner: Baskin (2015), a disturbed, disorienting and gory Turkish terror about cults and Hell. | Movies, Films & Flix
  8. John’s Horror Corner: The Dunwich Horror (1970), an early Lovecraftian adaptation about a dark family secret and a tentacle monster. | Movies, Films & Flix
  9. John’s Horror Corner: Hereditary (2018), an emotionally heavy family therapy session and séance gone wrong. | Movies, Films & Flix
  10. John’s Horror Corner: The Unnamable (1988), a Lovecraftian version of Night of the Demons (1988). | Movies, Films & Flix
  11. John’s Horror Corner: Apostle (2018), an inspired “folk horror” Netflix original about a remote pagan cult. | Movies, Films & Flix
  12. John’s Horror Corner: The Unnamable 2: The Statement of Randolph Carter (1992), the revenge of the bare-boobed Lovecraft demon. | Movies, Films & Flix
  13. John’s Horror Corner: The Golem (2018), the intersection of kids in horror, folk horror and Jewish folklore. | Movies, Films & Flix
  14. John’s Horror Corner: Hagazussa (2017), a gorgeously shot German folk horror and a REALLY odd witch movie. | Movies, Films & Flix
  15. John’s Horror Corner: Midsommar (2019), Ari Aster’s emotionally heavy folk horror about a mysterious festival in Sweden. | Movies, Films & Flix
  16. John’s Horror Corner: Necronomicon: Book of the Dead (1993), a Lovecraftian horror anthology loaded with disgusting gore and slimy tentacle monsters. | Movies, Films & Flix
  17. John’s Horror Corner: Cthulhu Mansion (1992), a haunted house B-movie capturing none of the magic of H. P. Lovecraft. | Movies, Films & Flix
  18. John’s Horror Corner: Color Out of Space (2019), manic Nic Cage meets the alluring madness of HP Lovecraft (done well for a change). | Movies, Films & Flix

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: