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The Shadow Effect Review

May 2, 2017 | Posted by Bryan Kristopowitz
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The Shadow Effect Review  

The Shadow Effect Review

Cam Gigandet– Gabriel Howarth
Michael Biehn– Sheriff Hodges
Jonathan Rhys Meyers– Reese
Brit Shaw– Brinn Howarth
Michael Aaron Milligan– Jesse McGraw
William Marl McCullough– Deputy Wallace
Mark Ashworth– Jack

Directed by Obin Olson and Amariah Olson
Screenplay by Chad Law, Evan Law, and Tony Feole, with George Abbott Clark

Distributed by Momentum Pictures and Archstone Distribution

Not Rated
Runtime– 94 minutes


The Shadow Effect, directed by Obin and Amariah Olson and available on DVD starting May 2nd, is one of those low budget/high concept action movies that works more than it doesn’t. It starts out as a weird beard action flick with a big mystery at the center of its story (just what the hell is going on with the main character?) and eventually becomes a kind of sci fi horror story. And, again, it kind of works.

The movie stars Cam Gigandet as Gabriel Howarth, a young diner owner in a small town who has tremendous nightmares. In fact, these nightmares, where Gabriel sees himself killing scores of people and doing absolutely terrible things, tend to result in Gabriel waking up in the morning and puking his guts out. Gabriel tries to deal with the nightmares and their aftermath as best he can, but the whole process is starting to get to him. Why does he keep having these nightmares? Why does he feel the need to barf every morning? Gabriel goes to see a therapist, a man named Reese (John Rhys Meyers), to get some help. Reese asks Gabriel some questions, guesses that he’s seriously stressed about something, and gives him a prescription to help him calm down and sleep better.

Now, we, the audience, know that Gabriel is involved in something incredibly weird and real, and that it probably isn’t a dream. We see Gabriel, or a guy who really looks like Gabriel, act as a badass assassin, killing various politicians and “important” public figures. Gabriel, in assassin mode, is basically unstoppable, destroying damn near everything in his path. So why can’t Gabriel remember these assassin segments from his life? What the hell is going on?

Gabriel attempts to investigate, on his own, what’s going on. He starts asking questions, he starts doing research at the local public library, tries to piece together what he remembers about his nightmares. Gabriel also tries to get Reese to explain more about what he may know regarding his condition. Gabriel suspects, very early on, that Reese isn’t being completely honest with him. But why? What is there to hide? Just what the hell is going on?

Gabriel eventually figures out that his nightmares have something to do with a specific song, a sort of soft alternative rock thing that, when he hears it in total, causes him to shake uncontrollably. After hearing a portion of the song and somehow figuring out that if he doesn’t hear the whole thing he can keep the shakes and the “nightmares” from happening, Gabriel discovers that there’s something much larger at work. Much, much larger.

The best part about The Shadow Effect is how the big mystery at the center of the story is revealed. You know that Gabriel is being manipulated in some way, but you’re not quite sure how he’s being manipulated. And after seeing several sequences where it looks like Gabriel should be dead afterwards and somehow he’s still alive, you wonder what, exactly, is going on. What’s the deal with the smoke grenade, or just the grenade, that he pulls the pin on after every completed mission? Why does he keep throwing up in that toilet every morning? And why doesn’t his wife, Brinn (Britt Shaw), know anything? And what’s Reese’s deal? And what the hell does the local sheriff, played by Michael Biehn, have to do with anything? I won’t say what, exactly, is going on in The Shadow Effect, but it’s something you sure as heck don’t expect to see. I know I didn’t think the story would turn out the way it turns out. I will say, though, that the big mystery at the center of the story has nothing to do with nightmares and what is actually happening is very, very real. Well, it’s real to the people in the movie. It isn’t real in the real world.

I’m also a fan of the way Gigandet’s Gabriel reacts to what he discovers as the story goes on. He never panics, he accepts what’s going on, but he can’t believe that anyone would allow it to happen in the first place. Why would the people involved get involved at all? It’s insane.

The flick’s action scenes are generally well staged and exciting. There are several gun battles that will have you on the edge of your seat, especially the opening sequence that’s one of the most audacious opening sequences in recent low budget action movie history. There’s also a nifty car chase, and a wicked “uncontrolled fall down a hill” sequence that will make you wince.

Now, what about the movie doesn’t completely work? First, you’re never quite sure where or when you are. It seems like the movie takes place in a northwestern state, like Washington or Oregon, but there’s a chance that it actually takes place somewhere in the Midwest or the southeast somewhere. At the same time, we never know how much time actually elapses between Gabriel finishing an assassin mission and him waking up with his face in his thunder mug. Is it really “the next day” or is it a week later? A month?

Second, the big reason for what’s happening to Gabriel is murky at best. Why would the consortium at the center of the story need someone like Gabriel to carry out what it wants to do? And, heck, why is the consortium doing what it’s doing in the first place? There’s mention of some potential larger scheme at work but the movie never really gets into it. It’s just something that the consortium is engaged in. That’s ultimately unsatisfying. I don’t need everything explained here, but it would be nice to know why some hidden, secret entity would spend hundreds of millions of dollars to make someone think he’s an assassin.

And third, wouldn’t killing major politicians result in government agents and investigators, not to mention major media outfits, looking into what the hell is going on? One of the dead politicians is a goddamn presidential hopeful. Someone would try to look into what happened to him (his neck is broken after his entire security detail is destroyed by Gabriel). So where are those people? Why isn’t there more concern regarding that? Seems weird.

The performances are all quite good. Cam Gigandet as Gabriel is both a badass killer and a concerned regular guy trying to figure out what the hell is going on with him. He’s lethal as hell in the action scenes, and watchable in the questioning scenes. He also has good chemistry with Brit Shaw, who plays his wife Brinn. You believe they’re a couple, that they’re struggling with their diner business, and that they would do anything for one another. Gigandet could have quite the career as a low budget action star if he wanted to follow that path. He has a black belt in krav maga according to imdb, so he is a martial artist of sorts. It could work out.

John Rhys Meyers is excellent as the mysterious therapist Reese. You don’t quite know what his real deal is, what he’s hiding, and you’ll likely be appalled by what his big scheme is in the end. I was actually kind of surprised at how much he was in the movie. I figured he would be in maybe three scenes and not have anything to do with the plot. Holy hooey, Reese is a big part of the movie.

And the great Michael Biehn ups his own personal sleaze factor as Sheriff Hodge. You know something is off with the guy as soon as you see him, but you’re not quite sure what it is. And when you find out what the heck Hodge is all about you desperately want to see something bad happen to him. He’s that kind of character. And I think I speak for the entire world when I say the scene where he smashes a fly on the counter of Gabriel’s diner is absolutely disgusting. How much goddamn blood can there be in a fly?

The ending implies that there’s more story to tell. I think it would be interesting to see how, exactly, the story continues, especially with the same characters who manage to survive the end of the movie. Where would they go? What would they do with what they know? If The Shadow Effect does well enough, maybe we’ll find out one day.


The Shadow Effect is worth checking out. It’s a bit strange, yes, but it has enough good stuff in it to warrant a recommendation. So, again, check it out. It’s on DVD starting May 2nd.

See The Shadow Effect. See it, see it, see it.

So what do we have here?

Dead bodies: At least 20.

Explosions: Several, big and small.

Nudity?: Yes. It isn’t all that appealing. Well, maybe it is. I guess it depends on where you’re coming from.

Doobage: A gleaming cityscape, chopper arrival, a silenced handgun, repelling, multiple point blank shots to the head, a wicked neck snap, attempted SWAT team assault, exploding floor, a guy throwing up in his toilet, a bullet hole in the windshield, people making pancakes and hamburgers, a bloody fly, broccoli cutting, multiple flashbacks that aren’t flashbacks, a boat, a hidden gun, people talking about going to the Congo in order to “make a difference,” a serious beat down, attempted knife attack, leg stabbing, water death, more toilet throwing up, a total lack of seat belts, public library hooey, subway hooey, death by train, cop killing, more throwing up, serious wall punching, multiple arguments, a hidden camera hand washing, pill dumping, a potentially messed up dishwasher, a freak out, a severed finger, even more throwing up, door breaking, some serious impromptu sex, pillow talk, record player breaking, more pill dumping, a lock with a hidden fingerprint scanner inside, a sweet sniper rifle, long distance exploding head, a car chase with car combat, hill rolling, branch removal, a very gross wound, hot wiring, more neck snapping, machine gun hooey, truck stealing, tire destruction, gut punch, a graphic head shot, chair bondage, eye torture, electric shock therapy with eye moistening, choke out, even more neck snapping, a room full of computers, a messed up program, another graphic headshot, axe hooey, cell phone hooey, off screen clothes stealing, a series of explosions, and the prospect of a sequel.

Kim Richards?: None.

Gratuitous: Knocking out a janitor for no reason, throwing up, a talk show on TV in the background, Michael Biehn, talk of religion and philosophy, John Rhys Meyers, talk of “waking dreams,” homeless people, a cop eating a donut, surveillance, driving and looking at a folder at the same time, a jogging politician, green laser sights, an empty Styrofoam cup, a CGI bullet wound, and the prospect of a sequel.

Best lines: “Christ, I could use a stiff drink and some Sports Center right now,” “Jesus, baby, are you okay?,” “The bitch thought I wasn’t good enough!,” “I got a knife in my hand. Don’t tease me,” “Beer’s nice and cold,” “Jack? Why did you have to become a politician?,” “Something’s fucking wrong with me! I don’t know what to do,” “Everything’s white. Comforting. Precisely,” “I don’t make suggestions. I ask questions,” “Please! I have a…,” “Do not… fucking… touch me!,” “Jack Kenneth. What?,” “What the hell is going on out there?,” “Enjoy your donut,” “Who do you work for?,” “What the fuck is the matter with you?,” “I can’t bring myself to admit that it is all just a dream,” “Are you still having violent thoughts?,” “I’m having another violent dream, doctor,” “Just put the gun down. You’re acting fucking insane!,” “You’re hurting me! I don’t care! I don’t care!,’ “Jesus! What the fuck took you so long?,” “Stop struggling. I’m trying to help you,” “You motherfucker,” “Where are we? This is where you were born, Gabriel,” “I’m sorry, Gabriel,” “Are the hunter or the scientist here?,” “Gabriel, remember who you are,” and “Darling, are you feeling sick again?’

The final score: review Good
The 411
The Shadow Effect is a high concept/low budget action flick that, for the most part, works. The big reveal at the end of the movie as to what the heck is really going on is something I didn’t see coming. It isn’t perfect, but the movie does have some good performances in it, and some decent action. It’s worth checking out. So track it down from wherever it is you buy DVD’s from. See it.