Exhausted from the demands of his abilities as a healer, Diego lives in isolation on a small island in his native Puerto Rico. However, his quiet life is disrupted when Hilary, a documentary filmmaker, arrives to continue her project on migration and identity. Intrigued by Diego’s mystery and the local gossip about him, she tries to get closer to him. He allows her into his life, but as the two become attracted to each other, Hilary discovers Diego’s “gift” also comes with a curse, an uncontrollably violent one that brings painful consequences and changes to both of their lives.
Billed as a psychological-horror art house film, In The Shadow is the first feature from Blue Paper Film Works and Nicole Elmer, producer and director out of Austin, Texas. Shot on the RED ONE camera in Puerto Rico and Texas, the film is beautifully done with supernatural elements and some truly fascinating dream-like and nightmarish shots but for all that, I wouldn’t consider this a psychological horror film. It fits the art house bill but I’d count it more in the relationship drama category with a bit of a Lynchian twist.
While Diego’s abilities as a healer certainly come into play, they aren’t the focus of the film but rather the consequences of his healing powers on himself and others becomes the focus. He actually only heals a couple of people throughout the film and the rest is simply the beginning of his relationship with Hilary and the end of his relationship with another woman. Hilary is an alcoholic going through a divorce while Diego is a healer who sees murderous hallucinations (or foreshadowing?) who may or may not have lost his daughter when she was young (there were a few flashback-like scenes that didn’t fully make sense to me but I think his daughter drowned but she may also have been brought back to life by Danny Trejo in a sweet yet small cameo).
Hilary and Diego both seem to be self-destructive at heart and their relationship does nothing to make either of them better and ends with a consequence that may actually be a plus, at least in Hilary’s case. Michelle Keffer was fabulous as Hilary and could best be compared to Maggie Gyllenhaal in both looks and acting ability. Jorge Sermini holds his own as the tragic hero, Diego.
While definitely not anything I’d consider close to horror, In The Shadows is a good film and interesting premise that stands out in a world of cookie cutter films. To learn more about the movie, you can visit their website or their fan page on Facebook.