That’s right! Another serial picture story! Oh, they’re all the rage these days, don’t you know? Why, if Hollywood’s version of America is any indication, one could easily come to the conclusion that these United States are just chocked full of serial killers waiting to rise up and strike out at defenseless women everywhere for their constant laughing at the size of men’s penises! For their snubbing us when we asked them out for a dinner and a movie! For their not being enough like our mothers! You name it, and no doubt some Hollywood suit envisioned men would kill for it. And that’s the basic problem with SHIVER – as much as I wanted to like it more than I did, it all feels like we’ve been here before.
(NOTE: The following review will contain minor spoilers necessary solely for the discussion of plot and characters. If you’re the kind of reader who prefers a review entirely spoiler-free, then I’d encourage you to skip down to the last three paragraphs for my final assessment. If, however, you’re accepting of a few modest hints at ‘things to come,’ then read on …)
The Gryphon (played like your typical deranged civil servant by John Jarratt) is fascinated with young, beautiful women, especially since one broke his heart by snubbing his request for a date twelve years ago. Since that time, he’s become so enamored with women that he’s taken to garroting off their heads and storing them in jars! However, things take a turn toward the matrimonial when he meets Wendy Allen (the lovely Danielle Harris), his potential next victim who surprisingly turns out to be his intellectual equal. Instead of killing her, he decides he wants to have her for his very own … and unless police detective Delgado (Casper Van Dien) can finally catch the guy, the Gryphon just might rule the day!
It’s hard to find much to say about SHIVER. Sadly, it’s an entirely forgettable affair. Oh, it entertains well enough while you’re watching it, but I suspect it’s the kind of thing that’ll enjoy a modest reputation on home video – I can already hear video store clerks recommending it in my mind’s eye to anyone who asks about a good thriller – and then it’ll end up being banished to the shelves where all of the other relatively untouched direct-to-DVD releases wait for rediscovery. There really aren’t all that many problems I could tick off; it’s just that it’s entirely drenched in equal parts mediocrity as it is blood. The performances? Just fine. The script? Just fine. The body count? Just fine. All of it is based on the book by Brian Harper … which I suspect is probably a ‘just fine’ read, too.
I will say that I haven’t seen that big a chin on Casper Van Dien since Bruce Campbell burst on to the scene. In the very least, I hope he was paid extra to swing that thing around.
SHIVER (2013) is produced by Bandersnatch FilmCo, Cyclone Productions, and Loaded Image Entertainment. DVD distribution is being handled through RLJ Entertainment. As for the technical specifications, the film looks and sounds mostly solid – there are a few scenes early in the picture wherein telephonic and cassette tape (???) dialogue is recorded, and it is a bit difficult to hear, as well as a few sequences where our serial killer whispers to the women before dispatching them. Also, I’d be remiss if I didn’t point out that SHIVER has enjoyed some modest acclaim from the festival circuit: Ms. Harris won Best Actress at the Eerie Horror Film Festival, and the film won Most Shocking at the Crypticon Film Festival as well as being nominated for Best Film at the Burbank International Film Festival. To my surprise, the disc comes with absolutely no special features, not even a theatrical trailer: that’s pretty rare in this day and age.
RECOMMENDED. Sorry to say but SHIVER didn’t make me shiver in the slightest. That isn’t to say it doesn’t deliver on its premise. It’s a perfectly adequate way to spend about 90 minutes exploring yet one more derivation on the popular serial killer premise. It’s far from perfect, but I’ve seen vastly less interesting thrillers as well. Don’t expect anything new, and you’re likely to feel the same as I.
In the interests of fairness, I’m pleased to disclose that the fine folks at Image Entertainment and RLJ Entertainment provided me with a DVD copy of SHIVER by request for the expressed purposes of completing this review.