Shiver (Eskalofrío) is a Spanish horror film that has the benefit of terrific art direction provided by Pilar Revuelta - Oscar winner for Pan's Labyrinth. The fact that the storyline, acting, and cinematography don't suck is a plus as well.
Once again, foreign horror is kicking American ass.
Santi (Junio Valverdi of The Devil's Backbone fame) stars as a teen who has moved with his mother to a remote town in the mountains of Spain to try and get a new start.
You see, Santi has an unusual medical affliction. He is violently allergic to sunlight. The seclusion and darkness of living in the shadows of the mountains gives Santi the shortened daylight hours he is more able to function in. Yeah, I know what you're thinking...another damn vampire film.
Not so fast.
Around the same time Santi arrives, strange disappearances start to occur in the village. They quickly turn out to be murders, and eventually townsfolk - especially a group of bullies at Santi's school - start thinking it's Santi who is responsible. It's not completely a ridiculous notion, as for reasons unknown, Santi does appear to have rather enlongated canine teeth. This does not bode well for proclaiming his innocence.
When one of said bullies takes Santi and another friend into the woods to investigate something strange he has seen, one of the boys ends up dead and Santi the accused. Santi places a call to his friend from where he used to live, and the two of them take off into the woods to find out just what is going on.
Creeping with atmosphere and well-acted all around, Shiver is a unique entry in the "there's something in the dark woods" category of horror.
Poor Santi goes through alot to try to clear his name, and there are truly some tense moments - in particular one when he is attempting to get some sleep on his couch. His fear comes through loud and clear, and you are nearly as terrified as he is.
I can't say I was flabbergasted by the ending, as I had some ideas about what was going on that tended to be correct. But it was a breath of fresh air in an otherwise relatively half-baked year of horror.
Oh, and one more thing. Don't let the fact that this film is Spanish dissuade you from taking a look. It has English subtitles which you will promptly forget about. If you shelter yourself from foreign horror due to subtitling or voiceovers, you'll miss alot of what the world has to offer. Case in point, France's Ils, High Tension, Inside.....Norway's Cold Prey....and Spain's The Orphanage, [.Rec], The Devil's Backbone, and the aforementioned and exquisite Pan's Labyrinth.
And anyone worth their salt in the horror world has no doubt seen and appreciated the stellar Swedish masterpiece that is Let The Right One In.
So give it a try.