I never really gave being a parent much thought…except for the year or two directly following my father’s unexpected death in his mid-fifties. As with many males before me, I felt the need to carry on my dad’s lineage, to produce a bloodline namesake for our rapidly diminishing family tree. That notion, thankfully, quickly passed as my romantic status remained unchanged. (Who wants to raise a kid alone?!?) But that kind of patriarchal methodology, while never mentioned outright, definitely inspires the reactionary DNA of Shady Grove, a horror feature co-written by & starring the talented Niki McElroy. The societies represented here, for both better and for (far, far) worse, definitely seek the antithesis of that testosterone driven narrative.
With both parties rattled by her recent affair with a woman, longtime couple Shauna (McElroy) and Mark (Todd Anthony) rent a quiet country cabin for the weekend in an isolated area. (First mistake, right?!?) Despite the over-the-top antics of their traveling companion, Eli (Juhahn Jones), the two try to tenderly navigate the newness of their rekindled relationship & the unexpected emotions brought on by Shauna’s surprise pregnancy. The mysterious smells emanating from a locked room in their vacation home soon take on a different meaning, though, when Eli disappears after a night of partying with two local women. The sheriff, authoritatively played by hearing impaired actress Becki Hayes, reads as concerned, but there appears to be little that she can do about the strange presences that are now seeming to stalk the very frightened couple. Thus, as the night wears on, it appears that one of them may not make it alive come morning while the other’s life may be irreversibly altered in a very deep seated way.
Ultimately emerging into something that resembles The Wicker Man mixed with more current fare like Vacancy & The Strangers, this well acted production is definitely a slow burn and a nice alternative to the neo-slasher route that many independent creators take. More importantly, the diversity displayed, onscreen and off, makes this a golden viewing experience and one that any woman living in this post #MeToo, nauseatingly right wing era can relate to on multiple levels.
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Until the next time, SWEET love and pink GRUE, Big Gay Horror Fan!