★★★★ out of ★★★★★
Two friends find themselves at odds when a vampire holes up on one of the boy’s properties. Social issues meet bloodsucking in this impressive outing.
Directed by Frank Sabatella
The Shed is a nifty fear-fare outing that addresses such topics as bullying, abuse, and abandonment, balancing its drama quite well with its horror elements. While its characters and some of its concepts may feel familiar at times, the film overall is a satisfying chiller led by an impressive cast.
Stan (Jay Jay Warren) is a high schooler who is regularly bullied, along with his friend Dommer (Cody Kostro), by Marble (Chris Petrovski) and his lackeys. Stan’s longtime friend and crush Roxy (Sofia Happonen) is also harrassed by the bullies after hooking up with Marble.
As the film begins, a man is chased through the forest by a vampire, and after being bitten, he hides in the titular structure, which happens to be on Stan’s grandfather’s property. The elderly man is abusive to the teen, who lives with him. When Stan discovers what is in the shed and what it can do, he tries to stop his skeptical grandfather from going inside, but to no avail. When he shares the secret with Dommer, all Dommer can think of is revenge on the bullies, no matter how hard Stan tries to make him understand why it is wrong.
Sabatella goes for atmosphere and character study with The Shed, rather than merely for jump scares and gore, although there are certainly bloody set pieces and severed body parts aplenty. He pays careful attention and respect to honor time-tested cinematic tradition on how vampires can be killed.
Although some characters are written and played somewhat broadly — including the town sheriff and the bullies — the main trio of Stan, Dommer, and Roxy are more fully fleshed out. Stan and Roxy have been hurt by life circumstances, but remain optimistic despite, or perhaps because of, what they have endured. Dommer, on the other hand, is driven by the desire to put a permanent end to the bullies that mercilessly torment him. Warren, Kostro, and Happonen bring their characters to life wonderfully, with Kostro getting the chance to stretch out in a different direction than the other two, and obviously having a ball doing so.
Fright-fare–wise, there’s not a lot new on offer in The Shed, but Sabatella manages to make dark trips inside the shed along with a set piece inside a larger structure feel fresh, providing effective nail-biting moments of suspense. The film is an intelligent blend of teen drama and vampire lore, with an obvious affection for 1980s monster movies.
The Shed is in theaters, and available on digital and On Demand, from RLJE Films beginning November 15.