Shredder 2003 Review
Directed by: Greg Huson
Starring: Scott Weinger, Lindsey Mckeon, Holly Towne
Blood looks great on sand and blood looks great on snow. Also, psycho killers look awesome in ski masks!
Shredder is one of the more recent ‘icy’ slashers that has taken the genre’s trappings to the ski-slopes in order to give us some frosty set-pieces. We’ve been here before of course in one of my favourite eighties cheeseballs, Iced from 1988. Other snowbound entries include Ghostkeeper, Satan’s Blade and I spent ages hunting this one out only to find that it’s not a slasher at all, but Demon Possessed is also set in sub-zero surroundings. After the 1996 Scream revolution, every genre piece to hit shelves was intent on mimicking Kevin Williamson’s satirical wit. The success of that feature meant that filmmakers were happy to just copy and paste those elements with no invention or creativity. That remained the general theme of things for a while in slasherland, but over the past three years, we have began to see more and more entries returning to the retro classics of the eighties for inspiration. Greg Huson’s Shredder came out over a decade ago and was definitely using Wes Craven’s slasher as its prototype for success. With a set-up so similar to the aforementioned Iced however, I was hopeful that we might get a new-age slasher with an old-age mentality…
A gang of snowboard ‘dudes’ and a couple of hotter than a solarium chicas head off to a secluded resort to do some shredding (snowboarding). Upon arrival they soon notice that the locals don’t take too kindly to them due to a fatal accident that occurred on the site sometime earlier and was blamed on a group of snow boarders. Before long a killer with a black mask and ski suit is stalking the slopes and killing off the posse in imaginative ways. Who could be behind the murders?
Unlike the majority of features that were released on this kind of budget during the early noughties, Shredder was shot on film and the visual benefits are obvious from the start. The colours are vivid and crisp and the white slopes were gleaming like luminous tinsel on my plasma. We jump straight in to the action with a sequence that I can only describe as ‘ski and slash’ and there’s an awesome decapitation that sets things off in audacious fashion. The copy that I own is the UK DVD and what is interesting to note is that it was given a less-stringent 15 rating. This quite surprised me, because it was my first example of BBFC leniency after their Gestapo-like crimes to the horror genre during the video nasty days. Shredder is quite a bloody picture and it’s nice to see that it wasn’t persecuted and therefore ruined.
We soon get to meet the characters of the story and this time around, they seem particularly clichéd. There’s the slutty girl (in fact we have two), a nerd who knows the rules (he says to the maniac that he can’t be killed because he’s a virgin etc), sensitive guy, obvious final girl and they even chuck in a European stud with a really bad accent. Was this in place of the token black dude? Well you’d have to ask the screenwriter. Scream’s modus operandi was to mock the overuse of repetitive trappings that had characterised the category since 1978. That was the genius of Kevin Williamson’s screenplay; – that was the gimmick. To make a movie that imitates a parody of genre imitations is somewhat missing the point. I didn’t particularly feel that we were in the hands of someone who had a true knowledge of the genre prior to 1996. There was a shower stalking sequence that I guess was a homage to Psycho, but I got the feeling that the whole movie was somewhat shallow.
It’s impossible for me to watch this without comparing it to Iced and there’s no doubting that Shredder boasts a much higher level of technical ability. It makes the most of its decent budget and we do actually get to see some killings on the slopes. It doesn’t come close to capturing the charm of the aforementioned flick though and that’s why it doesn’t reach the same cult status. Even the good guys here came across as conceited and there was no one to relate to or root for. Greg Huson has stated that he hadn’t previously seen Jeff Kwitny’s ski-bound slasher cheese-bucket (Iced) and so we can’t look for inspirations from that feature here. Well that’s a real shame, because his movie was crying out for a Carl-type character or hell, even a Jeanette.
Recently, I was invited to give a speech at a film festival in London in regards to the attraction of action movies. My point was that not every film has to have a moral to its story or a synopsis that makes you analyse yourself and the world around you for days after. Cinema is all about moods, and sometimes humans just want to escape reality and spend a couple of hours watching something that excites them without altering perceptions. We walk out after the final credits and leave it all behind us and get on with our lives. A quick snack of escapism is like a dose of vitamins for everyone, no matter where you are from. Shredder has a couple of ingenious killings, some cool gore, a fun score and a lightweight mystery that allows you to feel like a mastermind when you work it out in thirty minutes. Therefore as a timewaster, it is almost everything that you need it to be. Its only downfall is that it lacks any kind of charisma; and that my friends is equally as important.
I watched Shredder when it first came out ten years ago and enjoyed it a whole lot more. Did it catch me this time in a bad or tired mood? I hope not, I always try to evaluate things with an open mind. I want to state clearly that Shredder is a good effort that does the basics right. It’s just that it had the potential to be a lot better. There’s enough here for you to enjoy though, so I say still give it a shot.
Killer Guise: √√√√
Final Girl: √