"If you go down to the woods today, you're sure of a big surprise.
If you go down to the woods today, you'd better avoid his scythe.
For ev'ry knob that ever there was, will gather there for certain, because
Today's the day the slackers take their last breath.
Ev'ry one who can't afford drugs is sure of a treat today.
There's lots of marvellous 'shrooms to eat, and idiot games to play
Between the trees the black monk hides and they'll run and scream before they die
'Cause that's the way the slackers have their throats cut.
If you decide to watch Shrooms today, you'd better get steaming drunk
To tolerate the whiny kids and the one who looks like Kirsten Dunst.
For ev'ry one you see onscreen you really hope their death is obscene, because
They are simply there to get chopped up."
Apologies to the original author, but I wanted to have more fun writing about Shrooms than I had watching it. It is an average kids-partying-in-the-wild-who-end-up-slaughtered-for-their-vices flick, like many, many bodycount movies before it. Watching it will make you yawn when you see the obligatory road accident as a signifier that things aren't as idyllic as they seem moment, you will despair at the stereotypical characters including the loudmouth American jock, the bookish one, the bitchy one and the nerdy one. And if you buy the trick ending, then I happen to have a business opportunity or two that you should look at involving Nigerian bank accounts. Shrooms is slight, a bit stupid, and difficult to enjoy soberly or as a discerning adult.
If you can lower your standards by the use of substances or the force of will then I suppose you might find some solid shock moments and some well timed scares. You may even enjoy the talking cow hallucination. To do this though, you will have to ignore some ropey editing and filming of the predictable interchanges between the annoying bunch of friends who don't have enough nouse to buy their own drugs and take to intoxication on the cheap. You will ignore the fact that the one sensible male character who is meant to be Irish clearly isn't, and you will skim over the fact that the rest of the Irish characters enjoy congress with farmyard friends in between bouts of manic twitching. No playing to stereotypes there then.
If you are not particularly versed in horror cinema, then Shrooms is solid and shortish entertainment. It doesn't pretend to be deep, the violence is relatively toned down and the cliché bank is clearly empty after this withdrawal of obvious characters, old set ups and imitations of scares done much better in other films. I suppose my basic problem is that the movie doesn't try hard enough to be bad or good and merely ends up mediocre. Watched alongside some of the subtler chillers of recent years, this is disappointing and superficial, and, compared against the darker more visceral horrors coming from France, this is bloodless and too inoffensive to really provoke a proper response.
Shrooms, unlike my efforts at song, is merely ok.
Sony's Blu-ray release of the film uses a wapping 60% of a single layer region free disc. It does also come with a decent haul of extras, so I have to report that the file size of the main feature is a mere 10.9GB. This is a shortish film but don't be surprised if there is not a great deal of difference between the quality of this disc and the SD version. For a hi-def transfer it does not look too bad, but it seems very dark even given the film-maker's intentions to make a chiller. The image is always sharp but detail is not exceptional, and occasionally parts of the image look as if they are layers rather than a whole frame. The transfer has very minor grain, colours are deliberately muted, but contrast is not quite as well calibrated as I would like. On the plus side, edge enhancement is as good as I have seen in a long while.
The audio comes in 5.1 and stereo options and a lot of the film's atmosphere is created by atonal noises added to the film's score rather than the ambiance of the forest and the old monastery. In the surround track this means that voices and effects are mainly localised in the sound mix at the front whilst the score makes extensive use of the side and rear. Occasionally, heightened foley effects use the surround range more intensively but the surround mix is really a convenient boosting of the stereo rather than something more elaborate or impressive. Both mixes are clear and easy to decipher, and they are supported by hard of hearing English subs.
The commentary track features the producer, writer and director talking through the film and explaining the particular reason for the inclusion of some scenes and how they tried to shoot using natural light. They are earnest folk and clearly have worked hard on this project; the commentary ends rather abruptly but fans of the film may get some mileage out of it. The Behind The Scenes featurette is footage of the location shoot and reveals how some of the effects shots are done. Interviews feature the director discussing the move from comedy to horror, the producers discussing wanting to make a character based film, and the same questions asked to each cast member about their part, filming in Ireland and the re-emergence of horror. The cast are not engaging conversationalists and all of the interviews are mercifully short as the same answers are trotted out again and again - at least three people say "these things go in cycles" when asked about the horror genre's popularity.
Deleted and alternate scenes are included in about 20 minutes worth of extra footage and the alternate endings actually seem preferable to the one that is in the film to my mind. The trailer completes the extra features, and they are accessed from a rather well designed and fun menu of animated mushrooms caught in moonlight.
By no means remarkable or great, Shrooms is an intoxicated rental or a purchase for an addict of bodycount flicks. The Blu-ray transfer is ok, but not stellar.