Director: Paddy Breathnach
Year of release: 2006/2007
Country of origin: Ireland
Running time: 88 minutes
DVD/Blu ray: Both
Tagline: "Get ready to get wasted".
Casting the spotlight on the slasher genre
Story: Five American’s fly over to Ireland to visit an old college friend who has arranged to take them out into the woods to sample some hallucinogenic mushrooms which are reputed to deliver a memorable trip. Before the tasting properly begins the host regales the group with the telling of a ghost story about the sinister past of an abandoned young offenders institute. Situated nearby the site was the scene of a bloody massacre years before. The story leaves everyone on edge which is made worse when it’s discovered that one of the group has ingested a dangerous mushroom that is said to have all sorts of unpleasant side effects including premonitions. Only adding to the bother is the disappearance of another member of the group whom some of the others to go out searching only to run into trouble themselves.
All the while Tara, she who swallowed the potent mushroom suffers bizarre visions of her friends being killed by figures described in the previously told ghost story. As sinister forces close in the survivors try and escape the woods with their lives.
Good points: *The characters are a real strong point in this I thought with special mention going to Jake whom I really liked. His early scenes in particular I found to be among the best bits of the film. He was good throughout though and never less than watchable. The martial arts fan Troy was also entertaining and I enjoyed the bickering between Lisa and Holly. Bluto is effective as well as the jerk of the group and Bernie and Ernie though cliched throw up memories of the villains from something like Just Before Dawn. The worst of the bunch is probably Tara as she’s more nondescript than the others but even she’s inoffensive enough. As a whole the group interact with each other especially well in the early stages when they are altogether and before the sinister events start to occur. Even later on however the cast remain one of the better ingredients.
*Visually the film looks the part with cinematography which is pleasing to the eye and I’d say it’s been well directed. It looked slick and stylish with some interesting aerial camera shots mixed in here and there.
*The ghost story surrounding the home for troubled young people told around the camp fire is creepy and is well told by narrator Jake. It’s a very atmospheric portion of the film I thought. As good as it was I do feel that it set up too many potential bad guys as it mentions three in total (black brother, mistreated twin and the kid found with the dogs) but it’s still an engaging yarn.
*Not relevant to the film itself but still worth a mention is that I’m a big fan of the cover art. I really think it’s a great design and perhaps among my favourite slasher covers.
Bad Points: *It’s somewhat unclear what’s supposed to be happening as the film goes on with there being a few parts where I wasn’t sure exactly what happened. Spoilers: For example when Bluto is killed in the car I couldn’t tell what happened to him. Later when Holly is hiding in the bathroom of Ernie and Bernie’s place there is some sort of commotion going on in the other room which supposedly is the wolf child somehow breaking out of captivity but the way it’s shot/edited together came across as confusing to me.
It doesn’t help that the whole hallucinating angle muddies the waters as well as you can never be totally sure what’s really happening and what’s imagined. Some might like this gimmick and admittedly it’s a neat idea on paper. The reality of it for me though was that too much of it isn’t clear enough and as a result it breaks down into a bit of a mess.
Worse than being unclear thought is that it actually becomes boring to watch I thought the longer it went on. Though you’d think it would become more exciting once the deaths start to occur in this case I thought it was the opposite. Once entering this phase and after the actual mushrooms of the title start coming properly into play I felt it went downhill fast and became a chore to finish.
*The deaths are all terrible with there not being even a half decent one in the entire film. Blood and gore is also very thin on the ground. This contributes to it all coming across as a bit boring as far from injecting any excitement they’re all just meh and underwhelming. It was one of those films for me when very shortly after watching it I couldn’t really recall specifically how most of the characters had died.
*As I alluded to previously I liked the ghost story but it put forth too many villains none of whom I thought either looked very good or were very convincing. I for one would have much preferred a more traditional single slasher figure as opposed to these poor looking skinny ghost like creatures that we end up with. It’s supposed to be a mix of slasher and psychological Asian style horror but I thought it would have worked better without the more complex supernatural stuff as I thought this mostly fell flat. I’m biased of course with this being a slasher site so others may enjoy this side of things much more than I did.
Verdict: After getting off to an enjoyable start I was feeling quite positive and optimistic towards this in the first third with the characters interacting and bouncing off each other to good effect. It was picturesque and atmospheric as well. I didn’t think this was maintained though and it all started to fall apart the further it went on with the wheels well and truly having come off by the end. It was too hard to tell exactly what was going on at times and it felt like it was trying too hard to be artsy and cerebral and not succeeding at all. Instead as it wore on I largely found it dull and laboured and I don’t think it would be too harsh to say that it mutates into nothing more than a load of old rubbish.
Bodycount (contains major spoilers):
Note: The list below may not be entirely accurate as my review notes weren’t very clear. If I watch it again I’ll update this part should it need changing.
1)Bluto: Killed with an axe.
2)One of the inbred twins: Purportedly taken by the wolf man.
3)Holly: Supposedly killed by wild man. Body later found in the lake.
4)Lisa: Killed by axe in the lake.
5)Jake: Killed while resting injured leg.
6)Paramedic: Killed by Tara (possibly with scissors).
Review added on the 2nd of June 2020.