Popcorn Fall

Popcorn Pictures

Reviewing the best (and worst) of horror, sci-fi and fantasy since 2000

  • Andrew Smith

Shredder (2001)

"You can take the chairlift up... but you'll never come down"

Plot

A group of friends head to a remote and abandoned ski resort for a weekend of partying and snowboarding. The resort has a nasty history in which a little girl was accidentally killed by snow boarders breaking the resort rules. Unfortunately for the friends, someone mysterious dressed in black is now enforcing the resort rules - by slaying anyone breaking them.

 

A confusing throwback to the cheesy 80s slasher flicks, on one hand Shredder tries to recreate what made the slasher so popular in that era but without featuring the vital ingredients that made them so popular in the first place. It’s like a “look at me, I’m an 80s slasher” but it forgets the outright gore, the nudity and the overall level of violence that its predecessors had. One can only imagine how a story like that of Shredder would have properly faired twenty years earlier. But then on the other hand, Shredder is completely submerged into a post-Scream world where it tries to be humorous and knowledgeable but falls a bit flat on its face. Straddling the two approaches never allows Shredder to fully set its stall out in either camp - but it's far the better for it.



Shredder isn't great but it's not terrible either. It's just there or thereabouts when it comes to slashers. There are some decent moments in here but the film is too sloppy to make them work as a whole as far as production values go and is too content to stick to the slasher playbook. But let's look on the positive side first. The cinematography is great; the gorgeous white scenery, especially during some of the effective night scenes when the slope is lit up, is a nice contrast to the carnage it will witness. The film does a good job of hammering home the sense of isolation for the characters as these mountain peaks are remote and just as cold and dangerous as the masked killer. The various cabins and huts scattered around the resort seem like the perfect place to set a slasher as there are plenty of places to hide. Alas, Shredder never really utilises the setting as well as it could.


Shredder boasts some decent gore effects in places including the opening kill as one unlucky snowboarder happens to 'shred' down the mountain and into the path of some wire which has been deliberately strung in his path. For the most part, the kills are done using practical make-up effects and it's blatantly obvious in one of the kills towards the end that CGI has been used. It puts a bit of a damper on the effects team after they'd pulled out some inventive sequences (a ski pole in the eye seen via a camcorder being the pick of the lot). But you get the feeling that they were holding back on the gore and the explicit violence and this only managed to scrape a 15-rating in the UK upon its release, a sure-fire sign that things had been toned down. Whilst the odd gore scenes do pack punch, it is only because the rest of the film is so laid back and not because they’re actually shocking. Shredder keeps its tongue firmly in cheek for the majority of the film without bordering on parody or spoof. The running joke about one of the undiscovered dead bodies continually moving around the chairlift throughout the film is one such example.



The slasher's identity is never really in doubt despite the script attempting to throw red herrings our way. If you've seen a handful of slashers in the past, you'll be one up on the characters by the time the half-way stage has hit and you'll know who is underneath the mask. Keeping with tradition, the killer is shrouded inside a ski parka so as to hide their face until the big reveal. It’s hardly an intimidating costume and the killer doesn’t make for the most physical presence known on film. But the surrounding characters don’t cover themselves in glory either, featuring the traditional types like the slut and the comic relief guy - Shredder's script doesn't really give the actors much outside of one-note character traits to go off. Given that they are snowboarders as well, be prepared for plenty of “dudes” and “woahs” as they go snowboarder and skiing. Thankfully these sequences are mercifully short and the film quickly moves on to the more important matters like the kills instead of dwelling on stock footage of snowboarding.


Thankfully, Shredder is too pre-occupied with having fun to really care about such contrivances as a concrete plot or well-rounded characters. There is a certain energy and spark to proceedings; clearly everyone had a lot of fun making this from the cast who goof around a bit to the effects team who try to out-do their own creativity with the kills. It generates a lot of its own goodwill so audiences are more prepared to overlook the negatives whilst they're enjoying everything on screen. It's pacey and moves with plenty of purpose right up until the final third with the big reveal. By this point, you won't really care anymore as the good-natured carnage has already earned it's keep.

 

Final Verdict

Shredder is a nice throwback to the 80s slasher and one can’t help but wonder how much better the film would have been had it been released twenty years earlier. With a decent body count and a light-hearted tone throughout, Shredder is one of the better post-Scream slashers, definitely an unexpected gem amidst a tidal wave of clones and imitators in the late 90s-early 00s period.



 

Shredder


Director(s): Greg Huson


Writer(s): Craig Donald Carlson, Greg Huson


Actor(s): Scott Weinger, Linsdey McKeon, Juleah Weikel, Billy O'Sullivan, Holly Towne, Brad Hawkins, Peter Riggs,

Candace Moon


Duration: 86 mins