Is there any genre as gleefully self-referential as horror?
Is there any genre as gleefully self-referential as horror? While others nod in the direction of self-awareness, horror – especially lo-fi horror – has taken to flying its used underwear from a flagpole, flaunting what otherwise would be damned as a sheer lack of originality.
At first glance, Shrooms is no different, as it sets out like a pubescent meticulously planning an evening of masturbatory delights. American teens (jock, virgin, bitch, stoner, etc) go camping in the country armed with psychotropic mushrooms, only to encounter an abandoned orphanage, a scary myth, feral locals and something in the woods. But rather than being agonisingly clichéd, Shrooms is genuinely, horribly, fuck-me scary.
That’s thanks in part to its exceptional use of location. Filmed in Ireland (and backed by Irish cash), Shrooms is a literal and metaphorical trip, as well as a model of narrative confusion. When chief protagonist, Tara (Lindsey Haun), starts to see into the future and talk to the dead, the film soon becomes a disturbing mesh of blurred reality and disjointed time line that effectively conjures the hallucinogenic nightmare of its characters.
The brilliantly realised evil in the woods, the disposability of the characters, and a memorable comedy moment involving a talking cow all give Shrooms an air of superlative quality. However, it is seriously let down by a final twist that is so obvious it can only be explained as a knowingly lame money shot to sate those horror-sexuals who are fans of self-abuse.
Another teen schlock-horror.
Scary, trippy and disturbing, although let down by that ending.
An accomplished genre movie.