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February 15, 2008


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Paddy Breathnach - 2006
Magnet Releasing 35mm Film

My only time seeing a film previously by Paddy Breathnach was Blow Dry a fun little romp about hair stylists in love and in competition. Shrooms is a fun little romp as well, but also creepy and unnerving as times, as it should be. To the casual observer, this may be yet another kids lost in the woods horror tale that gained a modicum of critical respect with The Blair Witch Project. Shrooms may not be totally original either, but Breathnach and writer Pearse Elliott know enough to flash just enough of their smarts, and let the conventions of the genre do the rest of the work.

I am sort of surprised no one seems to have thought of the film's basic premise, which could have been suggested by Roger Corman's The Trip. Five friends from college join a fellow student, Jake, from Ireland on a tour of his native patch. The six are to spend the weekend in a heavily wooded area famous for its hallucinogenic mushrooms. Jake warns the others not to ingest a mushroom with a black bump, noting that if it doesn't kill you, it causes extreme hallucinations that cannot be distinguished from reality. It's the shy little blonde, Tara, who stumbles upon the deadly mushrooms and eats one of the potent fungi. When not having brief seizures, Tara has violent visions. The six are fueled by the drugs, local legends, and growing mistrust of each other.

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There is one giggle of a mention of Carlos Castaneda, but no one is seeking enlightenment here. The kids are sketched in just enough to tell one from the other. What Shrooms primarily offers is visceral thrills, slipping enough between dreams and reality to keep the viewer on edge. Breathnach doesn't dwell on the gore, and the ghosts and other creatures are seen just briefly enough to be unsettling. Running at under ninety minutes, the film doesn't waste time with unneeded exposition, and concludes with and ending that, while not entirely surprising, brings that madness to a satisfying conclusion. Shrooms may not be an entirely cautionary tale about drugs, but at least the filmmakers are no dopes.

Posted by peter at February 15, 2008 06:59 AM


that bitch got some crazy ass lookin eyes !-- the one with the blond hair !

Posted by: amanda at February 19, 2009 11:09 AM