Sunday, September 19, 2021

Shadowtown: Movie Review

Over-done on style, under-delivered on premise.
Shadowtown opens with a good premise and a strong sense of style. Very indie in its presentation, Maya (Brittany Bristow) is a Canadian med student preparing for her residency interview. Then her mother calls her; her grandmother’s dead and she has inherited a house in Iceland which she has to travel to, clean out the house and sell it. Only problem, Maya didn’t know she had a grandmother, her mother had previously told her she had died decades ago.   2020

Directed by: Jon Einarsson Gustafsson,
and Karolina Lewicka

Screenplay by: Jon Einarsson Gustafsson,
and Karolina Lewicka

Starring: Brittany Bristow

Meanwhile in Iceland, we’re in the peak of the 2007 economic boom, and there’s a shady real estate developer desperate to get Maya’s signature and sell the house. Too desperate – Maya and all viewers are smart enough to know she should probably read the agreement first. And then, well, nothing really happens for most of the movie. There’s a lot of style but the greyish-blue tinge of everything in Iceland became a bit much.

The premise mostly remains as just that, an indication that interesting things will unfold eventually. But most people’s definition of “interesting” does not include the minimal developments in Maya’s story.

Maya takes her time going through old, dusty boxes in her grandmother’s house. Occasionally hears or sees weird things in the house (suggestions that there’s somebody else in the house). She meets a few locals most of whom end up adding very little to the story, and then there’s a handful of villains who obviously villains from the get-go.

The unfolding of Maya’s family’s mystery just isn’t very interesting or significant – “mystery” is a bit of a misnomer, however it was enough to keep me watching. The other story is this shady real estate developer trying to get his hands on Maya’s house. The interesting factor here is minimal because the ending is just so commonplace – it’s not big, mysterious, or particularly meaningful. The premise feels like it should have led to something bigger or more impactful.

I like that this has an Iceland-Canada cross-over. Two countries that don’t have a lot of history together and two countries that don’t have a very big film industry, but these filmmakers pulled off an Icelandic movie with Canadian indie financing and a connection between its Icelandic characters and Canadian character. Shadowtown over-does its style and under-delivers on its premise.