The Shadow Man DVD Review
Written by Giuseppe Infante
DVD released by Sony Pictures Home Entertainment
Directed by Joshua Fraiman
Written by Adam Tomlinson
2017, 89 minutes, Rated R
DVD released on October 31st, 2017
Rebecca Amzallag as Sally
Nick Baillie as Scott
Sarah Jurgens as Rachael
Adam Tomlinson as William
The Shadow Man opens with a woman, Rachel, screaming while strapped to hospital stretcher. Covered in sweat and grime in a dimly lit room, a shadowy figure of a man in a fedora removes what looks like an aborted or deformed fetus. Then Rachel wakes up and we meet Scott, her newlywed husband. The couple undergoes stressors, mostly stemming from Scott’s one-time affair, but also Rachel having nightmares of the Hat Man (who she learns about with a quick Google search). From here, we meet William, a creepy dude who knows a thing or two about the supernatural and paranormal, and follow Rachel through her journey to prove she is not losing her sanity.
I’m going to outright say it, The Hat Man looks exactly like a cardboard cut-out of Freddy Krueger’s silhouette. There is no other way to describe the apparition, and it overshadows (no pun intended... or is it?) the predictive and weak story, which I guess in this case is a good thing. The Shadow Man is a looks pretty, but it falls flat in a noble attempt to execute a film about the trendy Creepypasta phenomenon.
On the back cover of The Shadow Man DVD, it says, “Based on the infamous shadow man legend...” and in a Q&A in 2015, Adam Tomlinson claimed an experience where he saw The Hat Man was the catalyst to writing the script. Unfortunately, I bet the story sounded a lot better in retrospective; like when sharing it with others like a campfire tale (á la Are You Afraid of the Dark). Trying to use the “True Story” cliché to help heighten the scare factor (which doesn’t exist here) usually gets eye rolls nowadays. Also, there is no actual backstory on the Hat Man other than a Google search leading to a YouTube video and William’s limited knowledge on the topic. This leaves viewers wanting to know more; and if the filmmakers not providing anything insightful, why even watch when one can do their own Google search.
The viewers are also left with an unsuccessful portrayal of paper-thin characters. As Rachel, Sarah Jurgens cannot help this film. It’s not her fault for the anticlimactic script; but it was her choice to take this role. The on-screen relationship between Rachel and Scott, played by Nick Baillie, is dreadfully painful to watch. Scott relentlessly tries to convince Sarah that her visions are stemming from his affair, trying to take the psychological approach. But she isn’t having his disbelief, and eventually abuse, as evidenced by her own infidelity. Also, writer Adam Tomlinson plays the role of William with a facial expression of constipation. His greasy, doe-eyed look doesn’t come off as creepy— rather, corny.
With not enough backstory about The Hat Man or shadow people in general, in addition to a below average script and poor acting, the film feels defeated. With only so many characters and plot angles to work with, the predictably factor is too easy here as well. But you can sense the filmmakers sought out to make a movie that doesn’t look cheap, and that is a success—although that cannot grab the final product from the bottom part of the rating scale. There is a sense of dread, but it is not from the film’s onscreen atmosphere; it’s the scene in the viewer’s living room.
Video and Audio:
The DVD is dark during many dimly lit scenes, but this stems partially from a filtered lens on the camera. For a DVD, when watched in a Blu-ray player, the upconvert promotes the image quality to near high definition.
The audio for the film is crisp, which is crucial for The Shadow Man, due to a song from the score playing throughout in correlation to being a dialogue heavy script.
An audio commentary from director Joshua Fraiman, writer Adam Tomlinson, and executive producer Andrew Cymek is insightful and adds depth to the characters and story at hand, along with an inside scoop on their creative process.
Another feature includes some deleted scenes.