Sitges 2019 Review: THE SHED, Such Horrors in Such a Tiny Place
Stan has his share of problems. He is an orphan under the care of his abusive grandfather. The threat of landing back in juvie looms around him at every moment. He pines for Roxy, the girl who has found herself in with the cool kids now, out of his reach. Then Stan and his best friend Dommer also have to deal with bullies at school, the latter facing regular beatings from Marble, Pitt and Ozzy,
Because Stan's life does not already have its share of hardships he discovers a bloodthirsty creature hiding from the Sun in the shed in the backyard. After the first violent encounter with the creature Stan locks it in the shed. He'd call the cops but doesn’t want to get in more trouble. He wants to destroy it, but once Dommer finds out about it he wants to use it and get even with his tormentors.
If the crux of The Shed is not obvious from the previous paragraph Sabatella’s film serves as an allegory for bullied teens, pushed to the edge, who strike back at their tormentors with extreme violence. We don’t all have vampires trapped in our garden sheds. But somewhere, someone has access to guns. Quick link to Gus Van Sant’s high school shooting film, Elephant. Timothy Bottoms, who plays Stan’s grandfather in The Shed was also in Elephant, albeit as a far more concerned parental figure than this turn. More on this allegory in a moment.
What Sabatella does really well in The Shed is stretch the moments leading up to the horror. He doesn’t take these moments to the point of breaking or excruciating terror. Rather the beats are where they are to be expected. The music cues are on time. It is all just perfectly paced. The timing of his jump scares and terror moments are as good as anyones’ have been. To complement his pacing there is some well intended gore as a reward.
It is a perfectly sincere horror flick made in response to our troubling times. However. I do not know about it’s back end though, for a couple of reasons.
There is a moment late into the film where the story stumbles because of a lack of information. There is seemingly a gap in the narrative. If it is meant to serve as a twist it plays more like a “What? Wait a minute? When did this happen?” moment.
In his attempt to fulfill his allegory Sabatella has to complete this link, this desire to hold power over those that have oppressed us. Here, because of the absence of that lead-in information, we are moving on based only on presumption now. This 'wait, what' moment loses the real impact of the loss of self to the desire of power to have over others. It creates a vacuum of emotion where further empathy with a character that we should have had has now been denied. So when they say they are sorry to the end what real meaning does that have any more?
His allegory largely dealt with, how satisfactory you may find it, Sabatella rights the ship for the final confrontation and delivers further on well timed stretches of horror and decent gore. Small whiffs of humor can finally weave its way into the script now that the heaviness of bullying and its consequential terror have been dealt with. It may seem alarming to some to make a joke or two after such a heavy turn of events, perhaps it felt out of place. But like bullying, it should end somewhere and every story should have a strong finish to lift our spirits.
From here The Shed changes moods and ends as is expected of horror film with a bloodthirsty creature in it. With its share of blood spilled on the ground.
The Shed had its World Premiere at the Sitges Film Festival.
- Frank Sabatella
- Frank Sabatella
- Jay Jay Warren
- Cody Kostro
- Sofia Happonen
- Frank Whaley