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You’ll have to roll with some changes in this Italian horror import, but ultimately, I think it’s worth it to do so. Shadow begins as a fairly standard-issue case of strangers run afoul of rural ruffians (fine, if you want to call them “hillbillies,” I won’t squawk), before shifting gears about halfway through into a nasty bit of torture porn, and finally revealing itself in a Twilight Zone-meets-Dalton Trumbo finale.

David (Jake Muxworthy), an American soldier recently returned from the front lines of Afghanistan, decides a bicycle trip through a remote patch of Eastern Europe will help him unwind. He meets a pretty fellow cyclist (Karin Testa) who invites him in to share her tent, and soon both are on the run from a pair of bloodthirsty poachers. (Ottaviano Blitch and Chris Coppola). But wait! There’s more! After a few skirmishes, David and the poachers find themselves the unwilling guests of the evil Mortis (Nuot Arquint), a bony, bald albino with a penchant for inflicting pain—which he does. And then there’s a twist ending that actually works for me.

What Shadow has going for it is devilishly effective tension escalation. Circumstances get increasingly grim without deteriorating into a pointless bloody mess, and Mortis has to be one of the creepiest kooks to come along in a long time. Some of you will not care for the conclusion, but I appreciated the “one last surprise” card being played. Rather than a rip-off, I consider it a rather creative solution. See for yourself. I doubt you’ll be disappointed, because this trip is a trip.

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