Bullet Points: The Shadow Effect
My good friend Chris the Brain is a massive Cam Gigandet fan. I don’t know if it’s because he really liked The O.C. or from Cam’s time working on the Twilight series but the Brain is such a huge fan that he practically begged me not to watch this movie so he could be the first to review it. So mostly out of spite, I took it upon myself to give The Shadow Effect an unbiased review. One not completely dripping with affection for the main star and a review that could be taken seriously by our readers. I’m a serious writer with values that I strongly adhere to. Now, without further ado, allow me to fill you in on the conspiracy-laden film that is The Shadow Effect.
Synopsis: Gabriel Howarth’s (Cam Gigandet) life is spinning out of control. His parents recently died and he has taken over their local diner. His nightmares are getting worse and he wakes up every morning and pukes his guts out. His doctor continues to prescribe him medication but it doesn’t seem to help with the feeling that the nightmares are things that really happened. And what makes it worse is that Gabriel may have actually done these things.
- Thriller Night: I would describe The Shadow Effect as more of a thriller than a straight up action movie. Don’t get me wrong, it has quite a few action scenes. The opening scene, for instance, gives us an opportunity to see an assassin repel down a wall and take out a sitting Governor surrounded by security. It would have looked really cool if it didn’t look so staged. I thought there was going to be some sort of time stopping gimmick because the assassination at the beginning was so unbelievable but it didn’t turn out to be the case.
- Meet Gabe: Not only is Gabe not a very tough name (unless you’re Sly Stallone in Cliffhanger), but running a little diner isn’t the most macho thing that a guy can do. There is nothing wrong with making an honest living cooking fried foods but I don’t expect many of my heroic action stars to be making grilled cheese sandwiches 3 hours before saving some lives. No matter what his name was, Cam Gigandet plays the small town Gabe with enough likability that even I couldn’t complain too much. He and his wife look way too attractive to be working in a café like that buy there is nothing unusual about the character. I think that is sort of the point, though.
- Dr. Creepy: We’re shown that Gabe is having nightmares of killing people and his wife sends him to meet Dr. Reese played by Jonathan Rhys Meyers. Myers is totally creepy in a ‘he can’t be a good guy’ way. There is absolutely no chance that Dr. Reese has Gabe’s best interest in mind from the moment he steps into the movie. His office looks like it was created in a 14 year old’s SIMS game and his accent makes me think he was smirking under his breath the entire time that he was actually getting paid for the role. I’ve heard that he was fun to watch in his short-lived Dracula series but I’ve never seen it. Maybe I’ll check it out one day.
- Welcome Back Biehn: I know that Michael Biehn has made a few movies over the last several years but I haven’t really seen him in anything since he did Planet Terror. I’ve been working on a Biehn-inspired article for a while and his role in this movie was the primary reason I decided to watch it in the first place. He plays Sheriff Hodge. The local nosey Sheriff who we understand pretty quickly has something to do with the mounting evidence that is not all what it seems. Biehn isn’t given too much to work with in the first two acts but gets some screen time in the final third of the film.
- Stop Brainwashing Me Bro: Movies like The Shadow Effect are harder to write about because they so clearly have a “twist” at some point in the movie. The twist here is spoiled in the first 15 minutes so I’m not worried about ruining the film for you. Gabriel eventually finds out that he is living in what I call a Truman Show-like world where he’s being bred and controlled so he can assassinate people when told to. If this movie had a mommy and a daddy they would be The Truman Show and The Recruit. If you enjoyed both of those movies then you will more than likely enjoy this one as well.
- Don’t Ruin My History: The worst thing about this movie is the small historical reference it tries to make with a real group of patriots that were mostly active in the late 18th century. I did not appreciate it and Chad and Evan Law should be ashamed of themselves for using it.
- Bring it All Home: The film tries to clear up all the conspiracy stuff and plot holes in the final twenty minutes. It also tries to sneak in a little more gun play. It probably would have done better to show more of the shooting and less of the chit-chat but it took so long for the questions to start to unravel that the film seemed to be in a hurry to clean it all up. It has one of those scenes where the villain just starts telling the hero (and the viewers) his entire plan, giving up way too much information instead of just keeping his mouth shut. I would like to say that the film gave us a solid and fulfilling ending but even after getting to watch Jonathan Rhys Meyers and Michael Biehn ham it up for a few more scenes, it still fell a bit flat for me at the end.
I hope that I won’t need to brainwash you to get you to read these bonus Bullet Points:
- Only an actor in a movie would not be content owning his own business and being married to a super hot chick like Brit Shaw. If those two things had been on the flyer for the brainwashing program they would have had about 30 million applicants.
- As Gabe starts to uncover what is happening to him, he all of a sudden learns that he can pretty much break anyone’s neck with ease. He uses this technique several more times by the conclusion of the film.
- I’m a little surprised this movie wasn’t titled “Re-Spawn”. The Shadow Effect does sound a little generic and non-specific.
- Gabe disposes of his tracking device at some point by putting it in a Styrofoam coffee cup and floating it down a river. A rather clever idea.
The Verdict: The Shadow Effect had plenty of good things in it to keep me entertained. I don’t know if I’ve ever seen Cam Gigandet in a movie before but I’ve pretty much pre-judged him because I don’t like his name. He was much better than I thought he would be and if I ever meet him I’ll ask for his forgiveness. It was good seeing Michael Biehn again and I’d like to say that he looked great but it’s obvious that the dude is looking a little aged. He needs to be on some sort of Western show where he can kick serious ass in a Clint Eastwood kind of way. I would recommend this movie to anyone who is looking for a slightly deeper movie than the type you’ll normally find on Syfy but one that won’t drive you crazy like an Inception. A good but not great flick.