For some reason I’ve been interested in watching The Shrine since I first saw it on Netflix about a year ago now. I have no idea why. It didn’t look or sound special and the reviews I saw for it were middling at best. Yet for some reason I knew that one day I would sit and watch it, and today was that day.
The Shrine is your typical “oh shit we’re in this small weird town and these people are fuckin’ nuts” kind of movie. This time the small town in question is in Poland and our three protagonists are there searching for a missing kid. Well really they’re there so our unlikable main girl and her friend can get a good news story, having manipulated the dude into coming along as a photographer. Upon arrival they are immediately told to leave by the locals, but this being a horror movie they of course decide to sneak around and see what’s up, despite the opposition from the main guy, the consistent voice of reason. They find this unmoving fog outside the town; enter it because of course that’s what a rational person would do, and then all hell breaks loose. Kinda. Some reasonably exciting things happen, how about that?
The Shrine doesn’t really pick up until the latter half. Before then it’s the standard stupid decision making by our protagonists and foreigners yelling at people in a language they can’t understand. It’s another in a long line of horror movies that makes a compelling argument for not leaving your house ever. Why bother traveling anywhere when there’s a 90% chance you’re going to be sacrificed or tortured? But then staying home just leads to a Strangers type situation, so nope sorry, you’re never safe from a horror movie happening no matter where you are. Anyway once the characters have ventured into the mysterious fog and the cult starts to play a bigger role, things start to become at least a little more intriguing.
I have to admit, there are a handful of tense scenes in this movie. The sequences that take place in the fog are effective because, well fuck fog. Fog is creepy all the time because there is never not something evil in there. Fact. There’s also a scene late in the film inside a dark house where you hear some real bad shit going down off camera that I felt was well done. The back end of the movie may not be terribly original, but it’s done well enough that it held my interest and made up for much of the meandering of the former half.
My absolute favourite part of The Shrine however is the ending, which I am now a mere sentence away from completely spoiling so if you ever think you may check this movie out (and there are certainly worse things you could do) then dear god stop reading right now before it’s too late and The Shrine is ruined for you forever!
In a novel twist it turns out the townsfolk aren’t insane murderers at all, but are actually the good guys. The reason they want these people gone is because once you enter the fog, you are cursed and become a demon. These villagers then have to sacrifice you otherwise you’re going to go insane and start murdering innocent people. This is why they have to murder the two girls who ventured into the fog. They don’t want to, and are not psyched about doing it, but it has to be done.The main guy doesn’t go in the fog, so they tell him what was going on, and then give him a ride out of there, having no issues with him whatsoever. I kept waiting for the twist where he had to die too but nope, never happened. He got to leave and now has to figure out how he’s going to explain to the people back home that the two girls he left with didn’t come back with him without resorting to “cultists drove these spike masks into their faces man, you know how it goes.”
Now that I’ve spoiled the ending I suppose there is no real reason that you need to watch The Shrine but I was surprised at it’s decency. It does follow the usual horror movie tropes but it keeps thing moving at a decent pace and managed to surprise me, which is getting rarer and rarer these days. So good on you movie!