THE SHED (2019) Reviews and overview

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‘Don’t go there.’
The Shed is a 2019 American supernatural horror film about a teenager that discovers a murderous creature inside his family’s tool shed.

Written and directed by Frank Sabatella (Blood Night: The Legend of Mary Hatchet), the A Bigger Boat production stars Jay Jay Warren (Day of Reckoning), Cody Kostro (short: The American Werewolves), Sofia Happonen, Frank Whaley (All That We Destroy; Cold Moon; Red Dragon) and Timothy Bottoms (Parasomnia; Uncle Sam; The Fantasist; et al).

The Shed was produced by Peter Block (Saw franchise; House At the End of the Street); Cory Neal (Frozen; Hatchet series) and Mike Mendez (director of Don’t Kill It; Lavalantula; Big Ass Spider!)

As an orphan living with his abusive grandfather, life sucks for seventeen-year-old Stan (Jay Jay Warren). But he’s got it better than his best friend Dommer (Cody Kostro) who he regularly has to defend against the school bullies. And now their best friend Roxy (Sofia Happonen), Stan’s secret crush, has fallen in with the supposedly “cool crowd” who harass them daily.

However, these “monsters” in Stan’s daily world are nothing compared to the monsters of Stan’s nightmare coming to life. When Stan finds a murderous creature of the night has taken refuge in his family’s backyard tool shed – and killed his grandfather – he can’t go to the cops who’ll likely put him in foster care.

While Stan tries to battle the demon alone, Dommer thinks it’s the solution to their bully problems, if only they can lure the bullies to the Shed. Sometimes monsters turn regular folks into heroes, and sometimes they just turn them into different monsters…

With The Shed Frank Sabatella has crafted an engaging teen drama about the trauma of unrelenting bullying and being an outsider in a small town, mixing this with an old-fashioned monster movie that allows the viewer to ponder how far concepts of loyalty and revenge can be taken. In some ways, although it’s an obviously fatal physical threat, the creature in the titular shed also represents the opportunity for Stan to escape from his troubles.

Some viewers may wish there was less of Stan’s daily school struggles and teen angst and more vampire action in the first half, however, this section allows Sabatella to create characters we can relate to, care about (even if we don’t agree with their choices and actions) and also sets up the bloodsoaked finale. There are also some nicely presented comedic situations amidst the growing tension.

Despite an over-reliance on it-was-only-a-nightmare fake scare tropes and some slightly misjudged moments when Stan and Roxy finally face off against the Nosferatu-like vampire, The Shed is an entertaining and generally impressive twist on a sub-genre that has lost much of its bite in recent times. Curiously, Stan gains his knowledge of vampire lore from a movie showing on TV that is actually an over-dubbed version of Roger Corman’s The Terror (1963), which features no vampires!

A tad overlong, The Shed would have benefitted from being more focused but this is a minor quibble. Elsewhere, Sam Ewing (The Walking Dead; Victor Crowley) contributes a subtle soundtrack score that helps build tension and suspense along the way, such as when Stan frantically races home from school to prevent the bumbling lady sheriff investigating a possible murder scene. With strong performances from the mostly young cast, The Shed is worth a visit.

Adrian J Smith, MOVIES and MANIA

Other reviews:
“Bullying is a tough subject to handle. The Shed does an admirable job […] Masquerading as a vampire movie, but really one about how to deal with real-life terror, the premise is one of the most original in years. It is so strong, it makes up for the early faults. Unfortunately, a surprising change of tone fails the movie in the end.” Adventures in Poor Taste

” …a wonderfully disturbing blend of monster movie with dark teenage drama. It’s well made, well acted, and provides a satisfyingly creepy, fun, and bloody payoff.” Arrow in the Head

The Shed is a film that has its fair share of rough patches, but the idea behind it is so good and it has such a powerful message that its weaknesses are easier to forgive. The performances and filmmaking show their greener independent nature a few times, but it’s never enough to completely pull you out of the movie.” Bloody Disgusting

“Make no mistake, the film is surprisingly dark, often dead serious, and has no fear about high stakes consequences for characters who dare to dirty themselves with dastardly deeds. But a casual charm emerges from unusually down-to-earth fiction that makes The Shed endearing without being cutesy or comedic.” Culture Crypt

“Frank Sabatella’s simple but effective little film has serious points to make about the real misery many young people live with, and captures the experience of high school outsiders well […] Although the horror tropes here are familiar ones, The Shed is well put together and, unlike many films of its ilk, actually has something to say. ” Eye for Film

“The slight wobble towards the end aside, The Shed has plenty to offer genre fans. There are plenty of parallels to Deadgirl in terms of style and tone, but The Shed is much more palatable. It also scores big points for making vampires monsters again.” The Hollywood News

“Sabatella sure has some storytelling chops and is able to reflect the pressures and strain of growing up but unfortunately The Shed lacks bite in the scare department despite a strong first-half showing.” Horror Cult Films

 …one of the best vampire movies in the last three years – and the real magic behind that is the fact that it was shot mostly during the day […]The Shed also plays out like a teen drama/coming of age story all wrapped up in a box of unexpected twists, character de-evolution and equal measures of suspense and gratification.” Horror Society

The Shed is a film that takes elements utilised in tons of other movies before but presents them in a way that feels very entertaining and new. Despite a few flaws, it will be an enjoyable ride for any horror fan who’s looking for spooky and gory entertainment.” Horror World & Reviews

” …Frank Sabatella’s directorial debut plays its subject matter straight and is all the better for it, culminating in a vampire-filled climax reminiscent of a Bob Kelljan Count Yorga or Blacula movie from the 1970s. […] The Shed is all rather pleasingly retro, paying homage to its antecedents while being an entertaining low budget picture in its own right. Not bad at all.” House of Mortal Cinema

“For those that can relate to the situation at hand, looking for escapism in cinema, this one won’t teach you that revenge is the only avenue. While The Shed wasn’t nearly as fun as I thought it would be, this is a film I’d be more comfortable with showing young teens. Sometimes the easy route of having a bully killing monster trapped in a shed isn’t the only way to go.” Mother of Movies

“What Sabatella does really well in The Shed is stretch the moments leading up to the horror. He doesn’t take these moments to the point of breaking or excruciating terror. Rather the beats are where they are to be expected. The music cues are on time […] It is a perfectly sincere horror flick made in response to our troubling times. However. I do not know about its back end though…” Screen Anarchy

“The tonally confused homage to Stephen King’s Salem’s Lot and Joel Schumacher’s Lost Boys makes the unfortunate mistake of taking itself too seriously. A mistake both of those films successfully avoided. What’s left, is classic B-movie material—albeit with much production values. There’s still an entertaining film to be found here, full of 80s creature-feature nostalgia.” UK Film Review

The Shed has been shown at festivals such as Grimmfest, Sitges and the Brooklyn Horror Film festival.

RLJE Films released the movie in the USA theatrically and on VOD and Digital HD on November 15th 2019.

Blu-ray and DVD releases are scheduled for January 7, 2020.

“We are thrilled to be working with Peter Block and Cory Neal on their latest horror film, The Shed,” said Mark Ward, Chief Acquisitions Officer of RLJE Films. “We know audiences are going to love the story, and the way the movie calls to mind everyone’s favourite genre films from their youth, while clearly being in today’s world.”

“I’m very excited for audiences to see the film! I grew up on movies like this and wanted to make a fun, scary movie while still bring a unique idea to the table,” said writer/director Frank Sabatella. “We took themes of alienated youth and neglect, wrapped them within a central horror concept, and we’re lucky to get a cast of great new talent and recognizable faces to bring depth and personality to the characters. I think that – plus some great scares – is what makes The Shed so unique and surprising.”

“We always respond to story ideas that beg the question ‘what if?’ Maybe its kids stuck on a ski lift, or two guys chained up in a dingy bathroom, or scuba divers abandoned in the middle of the ocean,” said producers Peter Block and Cory Neal. “This time it was watching the news and seeing another senseless school shooting by a bullied teen and we wondered what if he didn’t have his Dad’s AR-15, but rather… and that’s The Shed. RLJE Films is all about finding hidden gems and bringing them to audiences and when we told them what we were doing, and then showed them the results, they were super aggressive. We’re thrilled.”

Cast and characters:

  • Jay Jay Warren … Stan
  • Cody Kostro … Dommer
  • Sofia Happonen … Roxy
  • Frank Whaley … Bane
  • Timothy Bottoms … Ellis
  • Siobhan Fallon Hogan … Sheriff Dorney
  • Chris Petrovski … Marble
  • Francisco Burgos … Pitt
  • Uly Schlesinger … Ozzy
  • Mu-Shaka Benson … Deputy Haiser
  • Drew Moore … Mr Deere
  • Caroline Duncan … Kathleen
  • Sal Rendino … Robert
  • Damian Norfleet … Ancient Vampire

Technical details:
1 hour 37 minutes
Aspect ratio: 2.35:1

NB. Not to be confused with David Axe’s Shed (2019) or Shed of the Dead (2019).

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