Directed by: J.S. Wilson
Cast: James Zimbardi, Skyler Caleb, Jean Smart
I’m a fan of filmmakers who think big. We often find that those filmmakers who think big, can’t pull the funds together to properly realize their vision. It happens all the time, and it has happened yet again, as J.S. Wilson’s, Awaken the Shadowman is a bit too big for its britches… even with the whole skinny jean thing plaguing society.
Now, acknowledging that Awaken the Shadowman is grand in scope and slim on dollar signs, it’s relevant that I point out a fair number of pros and cons.
First, the pros: We have a big ambitious story that involves a number of characters who vary in regard to how mysterious, or even creepy they are. A few of the performers portraying these characters do very well with their duties. And, the big reveal, and the looming presence in the film are, while far from original, entertaining enough to get a pass. These are decent qualities… and hell, the movie even has Jean Smart in it, so, apparently, she didn’t walk off that cliff a decade ago like I’d figured.
As for the cons, this one suffers from moments of ugly CGI, and a number of the performers themselves come across as a bit too wooden to impress. The aesthetic quality of the flick could use some improving, as well. I’m not much of a tech-wizard, but someone either needs a new camera, a new lens, or some wonderful new post-production tricks. Awaken the Shadowman is a cheap looking film, and that’s probably its most glaring weakness. Well, that and the insistence to treat viewers like handicapped apes, blaring the “scare music” in advance of and during every last scare in the film. The sad thing is, there are a handful of scenes that would’ve probably been creepy as all hell if someone had been smart enough to do away with some of that grating score.
We’ve all seen the haunted house idea put to work countless times. And we’ve all seen the satanic cult angle countless times. As it just so happens, we’ve also seen both ideas merged plenty of times, as well. And that’s what this film is, it’s two very distinct sub-genres mashed together as one. But to the credit of writers Skyler Caleb, Woodrow Wilson Hancock III and James Zimbardi, there’s a lot of effort made to give the film a slightly nonconforming feel, as though there’s always some minor thread of the film that consistently operates against the grain. There are a few examples that stand out, but both will inevitably ruin a fair scare, so I’ll refrain. But if you find yourself thinking, there’s something just a little bit different about this one, know that you’re not alone.
I’ll certainly give Awaken the Shadowman a recommendation. There are a number of obstacles to overcome, but I’ll give this advice that may help the viewing experience just a hair: Expect rough around the edges ambition. That’s exactly what Awaken the Shadowman delivers.