Archive for March 16, 2008

‘Shrooms’

Posted in Cartoon news on March 16, 2008 by funofmovie

Horror. Starring Lindsey Haun, Jack Huston, Max Kasch, Maya Hazen, Alice Greczyn and Rob Hoffman. Directed by Paddy Breathnach. (Not rated. 84 minutes. At the Lumiere.) For maybe 10 minutes, the novelty of watching an Irish slasher film – one in which the victims are college kids tripping on psychedelics – may hold your attention. But as it meanders on, Paddy Breathnach’s “Shrooms” turns into a pedestrian slice ‘n’ dice feature highlighted by some visual effects designed to mime the experience of ingesting magic mushrooms.

The story involves the usual obnoxious group of young cliches – a jock, a wholesome cheerleader type, a wannabe martial artist, etc. – who, despite the setting in the misty Irish countryside, are Americans. They’ve traveled to the Emerald Isle to visit Jake (Jack Huston, son of actor-writer Tony Huston and grandson of John Huston), who’s told them that Ireland has the world’s finest magic mushrooms.

The Americans are led by Tara (Lindsey Haun), who met Jake on an earlier vacation and has a crush on him.

Naturally, the woodsy area chosen for the group’s druggy foray is one with a scary history, recounted by Jake over a campfire. It seems that nearby was the site of a boys detention center notorious for abysmal treatment of its residents, a place that spawned tales of torture and killings, allegedly at the hands of one Black Brother, a hooded figure who may still haunt the countryside.

Also upping the scare ante are a pair of drooling morons who have retreated from civilization in a big way.

Before the kids start tripping – and dying – Jake offers one piece of advice: Don’t eat the Death’s Head mushrooms. Infatuated Tara almost immediately ignores this wisdom, with very unpleasant consequences.

Strange events start happening. Objects begin to quiver and throb. The kids think they see things in the woods and begin bickering.

Is this actually happening? Or is it all hallucinations?

And who really cares?

In fairness, director Breathnach and writer Pearse Elliott offer a couple of touches – including an inspired bit of silliness involving a talking animal – that suggest they have some perspective on this well-worn material. And Breathnach isn’t simply a hack: In 1997 he made a pretty good indie picture called “I Went Down,” an Irish gangster comedy with Brendan Gleeson in the cast. But that’s a world away from this half-baked effort.

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