Review: I vädurens skugga

From the cold Northern region of Sweden comes this no-budget independent film made by the “famous” Daniel Lehmussaari, whose name always pops up when speaking of Swedish underground horrors.

In this 45 minute movie, director Daniel Lehmussaari tells the story of a masked murderer who kills people who have gone though surgery at the local hospital. The police is clueless, and the murders continue.

The plot of I vädurens skugga (meaning In the shadow of the ram) is rather simple, but it is a plot that allows for many genre clichés to be included, and I think that was part of the purpose of this movie. Sitting somewhere between traditional slasher movie and splatter fest, I vädurens skugga offers many gory moments, dead ends and twists that make up for amateurish acting and poor cinematography. The end twist is also rather cleverly disguised, in a way not even major motion pictures are able to accomplish these days. Along the way you’re also treated to a police procedural murder mystery; one could describe the film as a giallo (violent Italian crime movies) and not be too far off.

No doubt is this a very low budget movie made by a group of friends, even though Lehmussaari shows both ambition and skills in this film, so don’t expect something like Insane or Psalm 21, which actually had budgets. In fact, the movie is technically speaking quite badly stitched together on most accounts (lightning, colours, music) but like the original Nail gun massacre (to name a US counterpart) I vädurens skugga ends up being so bad that it is good. At least so bad it’s ha-ha funny if you have a taste for this kind of movie. However, it’s not all bad; the brutal killing of a handicapped man in a wheelchair is about as politically incorrect you can get in the very politically correct Sweden. In fact, every victim in this movie are not your typical slasher victim, so that’s at least one thing that sets this movie apart. Its short playing time of 45 minutes is also an advantage, as the relatively complete plot is played out in a high tempo. Some people will complain that the movie does not have any nudity or sex in it, but I assure you, you will not want any nude scenes with the actors involved here!

There are also things we can learn from watching this film; fat old guys run faster than fit young guys – the police in Northern Sweden does most of their investigation in the coffee room – if you shoot small young women the bullet will not pass through her to hit the guy squeezed up against her on the other side. And, if you want amusement from the end credits, try to see how many fakes names you can spot.

In many ways, the film is a true cult classic, in every meaning of the term. It will never be shown on TV or in cinemas to a wide audience, and will probably remain in the cult circuit forever. I vädurens skugga is both entertaining and rare in it’s own way for fans of no-budget horror.

I vädurens skugga comes as a double bill (with English subtitles) with The Grief on DVD from darkdisc.com

Rated 3 of 10 on technical terms, except the gore which is 7 of 10, and a 6 of 10 for artistic efforts.

Directed by Daniel Lehmussari.

Sweden, 2003.

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