As recently as 15 years ago, the very concept of a “social media influencer” would seem rather absurd, let alone a profession that people make a living from. But for many, there’s something artificial about it all. Shudder’s latest original, Shook takes a look at this idea through the lens of horror and suspense.
Right away, we discover that main character Mia’s (Daisye Tutor) life isn’t quite as glamorous as she lets on. Many of her “events” are in fact staged, and she’s been growing in internet popularity by merely pretending she already is. It’s a twist on the old adage, “fake it till you make it”, but it seems to be working for her.
All the while, a sadistic dog killer is on the loose, and even begins to claim human victims. Soon enough, Mia finds herself at the center of a deadly game that sees her perpetrator toying with her emotions, and forcing her to make difficult choices like which friends of hers will receive which horrific acts upon them.
Midway through the film, we get something of a “twist”, that just winds up not really mattering in the grand scheme of things. Ultimately, the fact that Mia is an “influencer” doesn’t play as much a role as one would think.
Without spoiling too much, the one behind everything isn’t some crazed or delusional fan. Really, her social media activity just provides a background for her character, but it doesn’t really drive the plot in any way.
In a lot of ways, the movie just felt like it didn’t go nearly as far as it could have. It features an opening kill that’s beautifully brutal and gory, setting it up to be a decent slasher, but then never really takes that next step.
It then goes for a tense surveillance/deadly game thriller that is also sort of stops halfway through. The final act does get stronger, but the previous 50 minutes don’t really set it up properly.
All that being said, it does deliver on some tension and gore. As previously mentioned, the opening kill is pretty creative and fun, there’s also a particularly hard to watch scene involving a common piece of sports equipment (trying not to spoil it).
Its incorporation of technology and split screens isn’t overused, and actually helps set the atmosphere. From a technical standpoint, it’s very well made, and the actors (particularly lead actress Daisye Tutor) do the best they can with what they have.
Ultimately, Shook is a valiant effort, and an interesting premise, that ties together elements of Would You Rather, Phone Booth, Scream, and Ratter. But its meandering, inconsistent plot prevent it from reaching its full potential. The result is a film that could be described as merely fine, when its premise and potential had room for greatness.
What did you think of Shook? Let us know in the comments!
Shook is premiering on Shudder on Thursday, February 18