Shook, the latest Original offering from Shudder attempts to examine the vacuous nature that Social Media harbours from reality.
Writer, director Jennifer Harrington has a difficult task to pull her audience in by projecting her lead character Mia (Daisye Tutor) as a social media star, who has turned her back on her ailing mother in pursuit of recognition and fame.
The cost of which would come back to haunt her.
By painting Mia in such a dark light from the get go however, the audience struggle to connect with her and feel for her plight. In many ways, this same mould is what turned me off another social media horror film, Unfriended, where all of these characters were instantly likeable.
So as much as Harrington puts Mia through the wringer, we’re always going to struggle with caring for her.
The majority of the film centres around Mia’s family home, where she has come to look after her sister’s dog. Her sister, Nicole (Emily Goss) has flown to San Francisco for medical tests, for a crippling disease that her mother died from. At first the audience are completely unaware of the prank as Mia hooks into her various social platforms, ironically feeling isolated from the world despite being connected in the cyberworld.
To use yet another couple of films as referential points, there are elements of Scream and When A Stranger Calls when Mia receives a telephone call from the mysterious Kellan across the road and with it, our primary suspect looms large.
Slowly it is revealed that the sinister phone calls and threats to the dog and her “social” friends was just a prank, which is where we the audience are then meant to feel sorry for Mia, subjected to bullying tactics for the sake of money and online recognition. The twist then hits when someone has turned the prank on them all and begins to subject Mia to a torturous game of choice.
Here, Harrington really labours the point further about how neglectful Mia was towards her mother during her time of need, marking this as a personal vendetta and once again subjects our protagonist onto the pile of the damned.
And when our reveal occurs, Shook falls so swiftly and easily into predictable territory that we’re beyond caring about the outcome.
It feels like a slow start for horror streaming platform Shudder, with the painfully slow A Nightmare Wakes and now the lack of originality in Shook, this year doesn’t seem to have been able to shift out of second gear.
Shook is a middle of the road fair which fails to ignite anything beyond the flatline of a thriller, straining to find a resemblance of a pulse.
- Saul Muerte