Shook follows a social media influencer who comes under attack from a mysterious person while dog-sitting for her sister.
Innately different but apparently flawed, Shook is about right down the middle of potential and execution. The acting is average, the plot is disheveled, but the directing is well conceived. The visualizations and treatments are well structured throughout, but they are sadly wasted amidst a plot that was more concerned with having as many twists as possible than making the twists reasonable. The jagged imbalance leaves Shook as an enjoyable, unique experience, but one that inevitably falls short.
It has become the new thing in movies to find stylistic ways to convey text messages without just showing the screen over someone's shoulder. Shook takes this one step further by not only showing the messages in a floating graphic placed pleasantly off-center like a mental wellness drug commercial, but it also simultaneously manifests the protagonist's fears from said messages in the form of shadows and faces. This visualization was by far my favorite highlight of the film, as it showed a deft skill at properly staging a scene and seamlessly integrating her mind's eye with reality without breaking reality itself to the point of conveying some kind of psychosis.
The story keeps you guessing, but it has you so off-kilter on what's actually happening, you forget that a majority of the film makes no sense. Sure, it makes sense in a progression-of-plot sort of way, but it doesn't make sense in some semblance of reality that it claims to exist in. Movies tend to lose my interest when twists are dependent on a character's behavior to fill plot holes. As in, a character knew another character would react in a very specific way in order to keep the plot moving. This is why half of the Saw sequels are garbage. An ordinary villain that behaves like a supervillain psychic is off-putting for me.
The conclusion is irritatingly weird. After about halfway through, the film starts this sharp incline along a senseless path and it refuses to decelerate right through to the credits. The film continues to try and one-up itself in the crazy department to the point that it goes from being interesting to weird to laughable right to frustrating. It's not a complete waste. The plot manages to make sense, it just disconnects too far from reality that it's hard not to call them plot holes. They aren't in the technical sense, but these moments certainly disconnect you from embracing the plot.
The film's potential lies in the opportunity the lead actress Daisye Tutor and director Jennifer Harrington have to build on their careers. I could easily see this film as a springboard for Harrington to launch an effective horror career (though it's not officially her first feature film) in the vein of Mike Flanagan and Absentia. You could see Flanagan's skill in framing and stretching a budget, and I see that in Harrington too. Her visualizations on screen we masterfully crafted to give a unique perspective on the symbolism of social media inherent in the script. What could be fully realized from the plot was because of her. I'm excited to see what else she can bring, with perhaps a tighter script and a slightly increased budget.
Horror Rating System
Horror Qualifier: 8/10
Horror Quality: 5/10
Film Quality: 5/10