Shadow / L'Ombra (2009)

4.0 out of 5

Italian rock star Federico Zampaglione follows up his 2007 comedy Nero bifamiliare with an effective horror movie in his country's grand tradition. An Iraq war veteran trail-biking in some unspecified European mountains known only as 'The Shadow', and a French girl he meets along the way, run afoul of two dementedly macho hunters, who relentlessly pursue them into the forest. But deep, deep inside said forest, all four end up falling into the clutches of something far, far worse.

Shadow does start to stray into 'torture porn' territory, but thankfully stops short of giving the whole narrative over to such grotty tedium. Zampaglione cranks up the suspense, never letting up for a minute, and the gore is on the whole subservient to that aim. Marco Bassano's cinematography is stunning and the analogue soundtrack from Zampaglione and specially-formed combo The Alvarius is fantastic. But the most memorable aspect of Shadow must surely be the remarkable performance from one Nuot Arquint, who with a couple more roles like this could easily wind up being the new Reggie Nalder.

An international cast leads to some very awkward dialogue delivery at times, but the decision to film in English is an understandable one. Some may have a problem with the ending.

Maurizio Merli header graphic courtesy of Paddy O'Neill of Foxyfide Graphics