Edinburgh International Film Festival

Shiver (Eskalofrío) (2008)

Starring: Junio Valverde, Blanca Suárez, Jimmy Barnatán, Mar Sodupe

Directed by: Isidro Ortiz

Rating: 1 2 3 and a half

Junio Valverde as Santi in Shiver

Poor Santi (Junio Valverde). As if being a teenager weren't bad enough, the poor angst-ridden soul is photophobic, and, with his ghostly pallor, vampiric fangs and extreme sensitivity to sunlight, the butt of jokes and bullying across his school. So, while in most rural gothic horror movies it's the kids who baulk at the idea of swapping the big city for a remote place in the middle of nowhere, here it's Santi's mum who needs convincing, while her son can't wait to be gone.

At first, the village they pick seems ideal: nestled deep in a valley amongst the mountains of Northern Spain, it barely gets any sunlight at all. But something feral and scary is lurking in the dense forest that surrounds the village, and it's eating sheep – and people. And because its attacks coincide with Santi's arrival, it's the new weird kid on the block who gets the blame.

In many ways, Shiver is an extremely straightforward horror film by numbers, mixing the small town fears of Deliverance (or even Frankenstein) with the growing pains of American Werewolf in London, with shades of The Lost Boys as Santi and friends try to convince the grown ups that there's something monstrous out there, and embark on a cack-handed expedition to find out what. But the film also has something poignant to say about outsiders and isolation, prejudice and supposition, distilled through the likeable character of Santi, and, although it isn't terribly scary, it builds up a creepy atmosphere effectively, particularly when Santi finds himself trapped in his huge, spooky rented home, alone with the monster…

If you're a big fan of the Guillermo del Toro school of wistful, melancholic, ghostly Spanish horror then you may be disappointed by Shiver, but there's still a lot to like about this nicely shot, well-crafted little movie. And parents, always remember: when your kids ask you if you can move to the country, just say no.

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