The Shade is the type of horror film that makes you stand up and take notice of a filmmaker; Tyler Chipman’s debut is outstanding. It grips you as you witness the nightmarish struggle of mental illness. One of the horror’s of the year
A malevolent entity that once plagued his older brother is now tormenting Ryan. Already hurting from the tragic loss of their patriarch, the grieving Beckman family must fight like hell to discover the root of this corrosive evil and put an end to a cycle of suffering.
Films that focus on mental illness always have to tread a careful line, one where they have to remain respectful but also have a meaning towards the existence of itself in portraying the issue. With The Shade, filmmaker Tyler Chipman goes one step further; he wants to show us the darkness and pain that the Beckmans are going through. The darkness that surrounds the family, the struggles they are going through. You know when a filmmaker is on top of their topic when we have scenes such as when Ryan is explaining to his councillor the woman or entity he keeps seeing. His fears and thoughts are not tossed to the side. Everything is taken with immediate attention as his councillor tries to help him figure out why he is seeing what he is seeing. You can only be impressed with the level of detail and care that he has poured into his script.
By giving a shape and image to the darkness and fear that consumes those who are suffering, Chipman allows us to understand their struggles. They could be having a conversation on a staircase with their brother, and there it is, waiting underneath the kitchen table. These issues are always not always present, but they are around, lurking in your mind. At the back of your brain, just waiting to take advantage of a weak moment within you. Or even worse when you do not expect it. So, having this figure announce itself in the manner that it does to Ryan is utterly terrifying. He now fully knows what has been haunting his mind for this time. It isn’t just the dark hooded figure anymore; it is becoming more clear, more overwhelming.
Chris Galust deserves some recognition for the work he puts in here as the tormented Ryan. This is far from an easy role; you can see how he has thrown himself into it. He keeps a cool control of his character that you can only appreciate, so when he does begin to lose control of himself emotionally, you feel so much for him. He is struggling, and those around them, in their own ways, cannot help him, so life he inevitably begins to push those closest away. It’s a natural occurrence for those who have mental illness. You want to isolate yourself as you think it is better for you and more so for them. He, like Chipman, has quite a bright future ahead of him.
With The Shade, Tyler Chipman will soon be a name on many lips. He has made a film that honestly feels important. We haven’t seen many broach the topic of mental illness in this manner before and do so as accomplished as he has here. You are riveted to Ryan’s journey here, and you will struggle to find a film where you are so heavily hoping for a positive outcome on a character. He appears to have that deft touch to build tension that has you simultaneously shifting to the edge of your seat and squirming.
Also, he opts not to provide us with those over-the-top jump scares that are so common in modern horrors. Instead, he opts for the visual scares to affect his audience. He wants to haunt us more than scare us out of our seats. He wants to put us in Ryan’s shoes and not offer anything cheap. So, when we get those lingering shots, they work so much better.
That final shot is defiant and powerful; Ryan is taking a grip on his situation and is ready and, most importantly, willing to fight it, to not be afraid of it. Of course, he has to for his brother, but he knows he also has a life to live. Rather brilliantly, Chipman knows he can’t deliver us an ending tied into a neat little bow; no, that would be disrespectful to those who suffer from mental illnesses. This is a battle that isn’t just won quickly and kicked to the side; it’s a long fight, but one that can be won, and that is what Chipman wants to get across with The Shade, just because friends or family members fall down a route and subsequently succumb to their illness, doesn’t mean every situation has to go that way.
A terrific film with some quite impressive performances across the board, The Shade is going to linger with you, much like Relic did. Chipman has delivered a standout horror film in his directorial debut.
The Shade will have it’s world premiere at The Brooklyn Horror Film Festival which runs from October 12th – 19th. For more information click here.
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