DVD Release: March 6, 2012
Director: Dave McCabe
Review by James Klein
Shot entirely in Ireland, this extremely low budget thriller isn’t half bad. After watching numerous indie films as of lately and not being impressed whatsoever, Shackled seems to stand out from the others. While the film fares much better than most shot on video indie films, I can’t say that Shackled is an entirely good movie. In fact, I was kind of confused as to what was going on.
The film opens with a dead body on the beach (with a strange bullet hole that was done off some crappy old computer – the bullet hole actually moves a little!) At the funeral, many family members are in mourning but its the dead man’s sister and best friend who seem to be confused and angry as to what happened to their brother/friend. The movie plays out like a murder mystery but it was hard for me to figure out what relation certain characters have with one another. I assume the sister was a foster child but was her brother really her blood relative or was he a foster brother as well? Was that her real mother in an insane asylum? Who are these other family members that are trying to kill the sister and best friend? And what is up with that Eyes Wide Shut type cult?
As I kept asking these questions, not a whole lot is taking place. Each character jumps around to certain locations trying to figure out clues but none of it is really interesting. At 82 minutes long, Shackled starts to drag at about the 50 minute mark. I kept thinking that this could have made for an interesting short film and that the film makers could have pulled something off that would have been more entertaining to watch. And why do these low budget movies skimp on the nudity? There is a really bad G rated love scene that serves no purpose unless you have a back fetish.
What I did like about Shackled was the performances. It was nice to see an indie film with actors who are over the age of 25. The performances are decent and many of them have great screen presence. The actor who plays the best friend Michael did make me chuckle quite a bit because he is constantly touching the main actress in every scene. It’s obvious this guy really liked his co-worker! I liked the fact that there are numerous locations in the film. Although most of the dialog and pretty much the plot seemed to bore me, I did enjoy the fact that characters weren’t standing around in just one room, talking away. I liked seeing the many different Irish landscapes. It gave the film a certain dignity, which is much different than most low budget thrillers. Even the small gun fight during the climax came across as professional looking, almost like aHollywood film (I wish I could say the same for the laughably bad burning building effect). Even the music was done well and worked for this type of genre film. Kudos to director Dave McCabe for making a technically decent low budget thriller. If only he had a tighter screenplay to work with.
I would be curious to see what other works McCabe does in the future as well as some of the actors. I can’t say Shackled is worth owning but film students looking at low budget indie films could do a lot worse.