Life sure does suck for Stan. An orphaned teenager living with his abusive grandfather. He has to deal with school bullies and worse than that; the love of his life doesn’t love him. How can things get any worse? Oh, I know! How about a vampire taking residence in Stans backyard? But not everything is so bad. This could be a golden opportunity to turn things around.
The Shed is a 2019 film directed by Frank Sabatella and starring Jay Jay Warren, Cody Kostro and Sofia Happonen. It holds a rating of 65% on rotten tomatoes and can currently be streamed on Shudder. I was told to watch this movie a few times by fellow horror hounds and figured I would give it a try. I’ve always been a fan of vampire movies. That is, if the vampires aren’t glittering. This movie doesn’t do that and for that reason I give it a star.
The first thing is the horror element of the movie and this is unveiled right in the beginning. It opens with a man being chased through the woods. You all know what this is… a common introduction trope seen in countless horror films. You know how horror movies tend to have the “final girl” character. She’s the loan survivor that ends up battling the monster or killer. Well, there is also a “beginning boy” trope. This is always a man that either releases, becomes or instigates the horror element of the movie. It is our exposition that lets us know how serious shit is. But it’s mostly a dude and I for one believe this is sexist! Anyways, our “beginning boy” is eventually attacked and bitten by a vampire and instantly changes. This newly baptized vampire is taking shelter from the long reach of the morning sun and he finds refuge within a backyard shed and then obviously turns complete vampire. So that is the basic gist of this horror film. There’s a vampire in some kids shed, mix that in with a teen drama kind of plot and you have yourself The Shed.
Mixes and Fixes
Should you see this movie? Sure, why not. In the long run it is a fine flick that keeps you entertained. I have my gripes and those gripes are pretty big nitpicks that keep this from being a kick ass movie. I will get to them shortly, but first I will say what I like about the film. Right off the back, what Frank Sabatella does well is creating a good horror element and a well established characterization. The vampire is absolutely brutal and we are given some decent blood and guts that should satisfy any gore hound. I mean, it’s not up there with the likes of Hellraiser 2 or Dead Alive but it’s just fine. The tone of the film is decent and it works with the small farm town environment. I really did enjoy dramatic aspects and the acting of our conflicted teens. Especially the acting between Stan and his best friend Dommer. Their relationship feels sincere and believable and for me the high point of the movie is when that friendship is put at a severe strain.
Stan is a well played protagonist that delivers a successful “heroes journey” kind of roll. He’s down on his luck (which is an understatement) and through this journey he rises up to be a good hero. To be honest, I can’t help but feel this is in the vein of Little Shop of Horrors. Minus the Broadway musical and comedic prowess… The Shed is just an exact copy! You have Stan who is a direct descendent of Seymour Krelborn. Both are orphans now forcefully living with some manipulative asshole. They both have love interests from the local hot chick who is also dating the local abusive douche. They’re both blessed/cursed with this monster that wants to feed on humans that are in the way of our characters happiness.
But while the movie is fine and entertaining, I can’t help myself but notice glimmering problems. While the things I liked about this film are strong points that help the movie, they aren’t things that are taken advantage of to make the movie work. The teen drama and the vampire in the shed don’t work well together. Maybe “work well” isn’t the right word. Maybe “edify the other” is what I mean.
It feels like the movie doesn’t know what it wants to be and how to mesh the drama and the horror together. Generally I would say the vampire should be used to push the story along but The Shed doesn’t do that. In Little Shop of Horrors, Seymour finds Audrey 2 and it starts bringing Seymour out of his shitty life… but at a terrible cost of Seymours sanity and innocence. Audrey 2 is manipulative, smooth and terrorizing. The two have a relationship that makes the movie progress in a logical fashion. The Shed doesn’t make a relationship of the vampire and Stan. It’s there and everyone it kills is not from Stans doing. It’s always some douche walking into the shed and BOOM they get ripped to pieces. Those deaths don’t even seem to phase Stan like a normal person would. Stans gramps gets killed yet Stan still goes to school the next day. He doesn’t even try to understand the vampire and its motives. FUCKING DO SOMETHING! Build something between the two or else its as the same as me having a damn man eating alligator in my pool! I hate that! It’s boring and lazy writing.
Why the hell couldn’t they make it where Stan builds some sort of relationship (evil or good) with the vampire. Which then has positive or negative effects to how Stan functions? Isn’t that the entire point of this film? To be a message about problematic youth being influenced by outside sources? The idea that bullying is wrong and victims will eventually brake. Stan doesn’t brake. His friend Dommer does but Stan is our main character. They don’t even push an idea that Stan (goodness, youth, innocence) can triumph over evil regardless of the amount of bad shit that happens to them because Stan is never given a choice to choose. He’s never tempted or given an option to choose his destiny. Stans fate is boring and all done because the script needed blood and guts in certain points to brake the dramatic dialogue. How about some psychological shit where Stan is influenced and actually sacrifices someone. It maybe makes him feel good and does solve some issues? But then everything comes crashing down and Stan can’t escape. Nope that would be too much to ask for.
The Night Monster In A Shed At Night
Another problem I have with this movie is the vampire goes into the shed to escape daylight. Ok, that makes sense but why the shit would the vampire stick around? Stan doesn’t actually trap it in there until death number two so at any time this vampire could have gotten out. I guess the script didn’t want that to happen. That was an opportunity to make the vampire more than just mindless monster. Which is why a vampire is used in the first place!
Think of Dracula! What makes him different then let us say the gillman, frankenstein or the wolf man? He’s a monster with a plan! He deceits and manipulates. He’s scarier because he’s technically smarter or as smart as his victims. Which makes him the meanest of the mean! Whenever you use a vampire as your monster in a film, it HAS TO BE done right. They might as well should have made the creature in the shed a zombie. Some mindless feeding creature with no agenda. What wasted potential.
And that is probably the biggest problem I have with The Shed. It’s wasted potential to be something great. Not every movie can be mindless gore like Evil Dead or Dead Alive and be great regardless of how much they try. You have no clue how much it irks me when I see a movie with wasted potential. Anyways, I can’t go on. It isn’t the best of movies but not one I hate like Digging Up The Marrow.