When a movie like SHOOK shows up, it’s easy to immediately roll one’s eyes at the premise. It’s 2021. The world is still trying to survive a pandemic, and here is another low-budget offering utilizing the dangers of social media. Last year, we got the excellent Covid-19 set Host, but it was a rare successful offering. Every week, we seem to hear of another pandemic set thriller going into production. Social media thrillers are another sub-genre looking to take advantage of social distancing. Fortunately, writer/director Jennifer Harrington elevates this premise by focusing primarily on our final girl and her ability to survive a night of terror.
Mia (Daisye Tutor) is a social media star, envy to all her friends due to her large following and make-up endorsements. There is a dog killer on the loose, but his latest victim survives at the cost of the owner receiving a high heel through her jaw. This leaves Mia shook or at least wants to appear empathetic to her followers. She cancels a routine live stream and decides to watch her sister’s dog instead. Of course, Mia announces this to the world much to the dismay of her social media peers who were counting on her to appear in their feeds that night. Her relationship with her sister is noticeably distant and has some repercussions since the recent death of their mother.
Her night of watching her friends’ feeds and ignoring the dog, Chico, is interrupted by a series of calls. The neighbor across the street, Kellan, is rumored to be a weirdo whose parents are pedophiles. He sends Mia friend requests and manages to obtain her phone number, initially claiming that his dog ran off and wants to know if she saw it. His questions feel off and soon turn deadly as he begins a play a game with killer consequences, Scream style.
Harrington knows the field she’s playing in with SHOOK. The majority of the movie takes place in one house and Mia makes sure to cover every inch of this budget. Her interactions are mainly through texts and video messages, allowing some creative space for tension and some creepy sound design. Each character provides their own voiceovers for the corresponding texts and sometimes even appear whispering into Mia’s ears. Minimal lighting helps set the eerie tone, but loses that tension once SHOOK takes a turn during the second half.
One’s take on this movie highly depends if one is to actually believe the final reveal. Motives are always tricky in horror and this one was a bit hard to swallow as well as how the plan was executed. The actresses give their best, but these characters are just downright awful human beings. While Mia is the closest to being someone to root for, SHOOK ultimately explores how ugly social media can be and that Mia has some really shitty friends.
SHOOK is far from a perfect movie, but it managed to keep me hooked for 90 minutes on a cold night. It is now available to view exclusively on Shudder.