Dead Shack is a 2017 Canadian Horror/ Comedy film directed by Peter Ricq, who also cowrote along side Phil Ivannusic and Devilla LeBlanc ( yes those names are Canadian AF). Dead Shack stars Lizzie Boys (Summer), Matthew Nelson-Mahood (Jason) and Gabriel LaBelle (Colin). Other notable actors include Lauren Holly (Neighbor Lady) of Dumb and Dumber fame, Valerie Tian (Lisa) of Juno fame and Donavon Stinson (Roger/Dad). To put it bluntly, this might be one of the best Zombedies to come out in quite a while, without a doubt its certainly one of the better North American Zombie releases in the last few years. If you wanna just bow out now and go watch it, then by all means, fulfill those desires, but if you have a few minutes to kill, then here’s my review of the 2017 Canadian Horror Dead Shack.
Dead Shack tells the story of Roger, a lazy and mildly alcoholic father of two, who books a cabin deep in the Canadian wilderness for a family getaway. Along for the retreat is his daughter Summer, son Colin, girlfriend Lisa and Colin’s bestfriend Jason. Soon after arriving at the cabin, the three kids set out to explore the woods and eventually come upon another cabin. Unfortunately for them, this cabin is owned by an armor wearing, shotgun wielding, housewife from hell, with a small horde of chained linked zombies. The horde is made up of her deceased family and even after death, a mother’s work is never done and her family has to eat, their favorite/only meal being unsuspecting men the mother lures home. Once the kids are made aware of their new Neighbors nefarious dinner plans, they flee in fear, but not before the woman catches a glimpse of the curious children and decides to add a few new meals to her grocery list. After returning home and coming to the conclusion that their intoxicated parentals will be of no use, the kids decide to suit up and bring the battle to the zombie mother’s doorstep, lest they become the main course themselves.
Good: To start out the movie is beautiful, the film was made somewhat cheap, but you can barely tell. It looks like the type of movie you might see in theatres, with a budget triple the size. It takes place during the winter and some of the shots in the wilderness are absolutely gorgeous, the lighting in the cabins are perfect, the aerial shots are great. For this to be Peter Ricq’s directorial debut is truly amazing. The music is done by a group called Humans, they use this great synth sound through out that immediately caught my attention and harkens back to the great Horror films of the 80s. For the most part the score is amazing. The dialog and most importantly the chemistry between the family is great. Roger, the dad, legitimately had me laughing out loud more than a few times. The zombie design is nice too, Peter Ricq definitely knew when to keep the zombies hidden in the shadows and that less is more. We don’t have to see close ups of the zombies. The zombies are dumb (as they should be), they have momentary explosions of speed, but are slow moving for the most part. The gore is great, no shortage of blood or dismemberment.
Bad: So as stated above the score by Humans was great…for the most part, but there were times towards the end, where the music just didn’t work. Like what we were seeing on screen was bad ass and I fill like we should have a bad ass track playing, but instead there is this somber synth score going on, it just didn’t fit imo. Other times it seemed like no music at all would have been better and the synth sound kind of takes away from the tension. The movie was made cheap and I’m not entirely sure if it was intentional or not, but there are few scenes towards the end where they are firing a shotgun and its clearly hitting vehicles but its not making any penetration damage to the cars, its not a big deal it just kinda bothered me. Also there is a scene at the beginning where a guy gets killed in the backseat of a car but the horn keeps blowing like they are hitting it, but it would have been impossible to hit it…idk it was kinda silly. Honestly those are all minor, though one problem I had was the pacing. There was a handful of times, where it seemed like scenes were starting to early or something, like the timing was just slightly off or a few times where the camera stays on a scene for just a little too long after a line was delivered. There were a few other times where it seemed like the actors were either trying to remember their lines or they were adlibbing possibly, it just seemed a little off. It is possible this may have been done intentional though in an effort to slow down the pace. It was a little weird for me though.
Gore: We get a few CG gore effects with this one, but its hidden nicely and complimented by mostly practical effects. We had a small cast and only got 9 dead bodies, but they gave us gore hounds plenty to work with.
- 6 Zombies
- 2 Creepy zombie kids
- 3 Head explosions
- Multiple stabbings and Ax Strikes
- Zombie Feasting
- Shotgun barrel Impalement
- Fire Poker Impalement
- Severed Limbs and
- 1 Sledgehammer to the head (Gallagher Style)
Final Thoughts: Dead Shack is a zombie film that has become rare nowadays. A zombie film that was clearly made by fans of the genre and not just a studio cash grab. It brings us back to films like Return of the Living Dead 2 and Monster Squad. It gives us a beautifully shot film with great and funny dialog. We don’t get bogged down with exposition or a needless explanation of where the zombies came from. We just get a really fun Zombie film and I for one wouldn’t mind seeing where our surviving heroes go from here.
Also the film was funded on Kickstarter. The Creators put out a proof of concept short to help promote the film. It starred everyone’s favorite “kid on a bike, battling the forces of evil” Fin Wolfhard of Stranger Things and It. Fin was not in the final cut and Gabrielle LaBelle was a nice replacement, but we still got this short here of the original. Check it Out.