The Shunned (2005): 2 out of 10: The movie starts off with a fairly graphic, exciting jolt. You will spend the next 70 minutes wondering if that was a trailer for a different film.
This is one of those first time micro-budget horror films shot on leftover film stock and a home movie camera and starring the director’s drinking buddies. Unlike most backyard horror, it has a couple of bright spots (The gore effects are competent and the old west setting is fresh.) But the problems easily outweigh the good.
First, the director does not understand how to pace a movie, rewrite a script to make it suspenseful, light a scene, mix sound or edit. I realize that film school is pricey, but really you need more than a High Definition camcorder and a Movie Making for Dummies book to create cinema other people might enjoy.
You can’t hear what most of the characters are saying. Adam Gaitan, who plays the Marshall, mumbles every line in a strange trancelike monotone. It is your job as director to tell him to speak clearly and turn up his damn mike.
The old west marshal by the way is an African American. (Insert Blazing Saddles reference here.) A fact that doesn’t become apparent until very late into The Shunned, yes that’s right the scenes are so badly lit you can’t tell the race of one of the principal characters. And stop with the fake grainy effects. Your film looks bad enough as it is, you don’t need to help it.
And one last note pacing. The Shunned has some of the longest scenes of two guys talking I have ever seen. Hey, it’s a movie show, don’t tell. One of the longest 70 minutes you may ever experience.