Plot twists are something everyone is all too familiar with...
...When used correctly, they have us (me) shouting “no way, dude!”. When used incorrectly, they have us groaning “no way… dude…”. When overused, they leave us in a strange state of mind, somewhere between ‘confusion’ and ‘maybe I should make a sandwich’. Is there another level of overuse, where the plot twist eventually twists so intensely, that it completely undoes itself, and we’re left without a twist at all? I don’t know about that, but I do know Shook had me considering it…
Shook from writer/director Jennifer Harrington (story by Alesia Glidewell) sees us on the whatever-is-a-step-down from red carpet, with a few smoking hot models. Flashing lights, photographs, pouty faces, a cute little dog, and also, all of this is taking place on a set piece located in a very sketchy back alley, because why not just use someone’s apartment. Recovering from a loose doggy bladder incident on her dress, one of the models heads to an equally-sketchy bathroom to clean up. She conveniently removes her heels and is promptly jabbed with one of them through the lower jaw and killed instantly, because, as we all know; fashion models exclusively have an artery located in their lower jaw.
Reeling from this horrid murder, main character, Mia (Daisye Tutor), with the highest number of followers on a social media site, decides to kind of separate herself from her group of friends, Jade (Stephanie Simbari) and Lani (Nicola Posener), and her boyfriend, Santi (Octavius J. Johnson), in order to take care of her sister, Nicole’s (Emily Goss) dog, Chico (uncredited). Her friends are saddened Mia isn’t staying with them and drinking tequila and her sister, Nicole, is heading out of town to be tested for a genetic disease which claimed the life of her and Mia’s mother.
From a direction/production perspective, Shook has a decent idea of using real-time shots, interspersed with live stream video calls, texts, and phone calls. Though it’s an idea at most as the film gets laser-focused on its apparent top quality: twists. There are so many, you’d need to be drinking a Twisted Tea, listening to Sam Cooke’s “Twisting (the night away)”, while watching an M Night Shyamalan marathon to compete. Coupled with a soundtrack that sounds curiously like something from an old Final Fantasy game, things become downright confusing. Shook gets caught up with trying too hard to be extremely serious, and elements like tension building are attempted, but the onslaught of twists detract from achieving anything malleable. The plot structure in general is afflicted with ADHD; if it was able to properly organize and build itself instead of losing focus, it just might have a stronger pull on the audience.
There’s little to salvage here other than some interesting direction, where the various text messages are projected onto the screen as Mia runs around in a panic, so we can “see what she’s seeing”. Unfortunately, it’s very out of character and doesn’t sit well with the over emphasized tone. The film never fully embraces a cheesy, B-movie vibe and gets too caught up in trying to surprise the audience. The overall structure becomes less Scream and more like a giraffe on PCP going on a feeding frenzy.
Shook is confused, with it’s very few strengths never fully realized, and so many plot twists it just becomes tangled.
Shook will premiere and debut exclusively to Shudder on February 18th in the US, Canada, UK, Ireland, Australia, and New Zealand, as well as via the Shudder offering within the AMC+ bundle where available.
By Zach Gorecki
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