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Magnolia presents
Shrooms (2007)

"I'm here like the rest of you. See Ireland. Do shrooms."
- Tara (Lindsey Haun)

Review By: Rich Rosell  
Published: April 24, 2008

Stars: Lindsey Haun, Jack Huston
Other Stars: Max Kasch, Maya Hazen, Alice Greczyn, Robert Hoffman, Don Wycherley, Sean McGinley
Director: Paddy Breathnach

MPAA Rating: Not Rated for (drug use, language, violence and sexual situations)
Run Time: 01h:24m:16s
Release Date: March 25, 2008
UPC: 876964001281
Genre: horror

Image Transfer
Audio Transfer
A- B+BB+ B

DVD Review

Shrooms is the story of a group of five American friends who travel to Ireland in order to hallucinate on mushrooms; naturally a whole slew of bad, bad stuff happens.

Cute Tara (Lindsey Haun) is the anchor for journey, because the group is supposed to hook up with her "friend" Jake (Jack Huston), who will act as the how-to-hallucinate tour guide for their trip-on-a-trip excursion. The six head deep into the bleak Irish woods, where in between schooling them on which mushrooms to pick, Jake spooks them with the horrific legends of the old Glengarrie House, the hooded Black Brother, and the burlap-bag-wearing Lonely Twin.

And of course all of Jake's warnings about avoiding the dangerous Death's Head fungi go unheard, as ingestion of this causes seizures and premonitions that make the other hallucinations seem mild by comparison. The twist here is that with all the mind-altering going on, we're not clear what's really happening, and what's just a figment of enhanced imaginations. The bodies soon start piling up, and the fuzzy line between reality and shroom trip becomes increasingly difficult to differentiate.

Director Paddy Breathnach works the weird, layered turns of Pearse Elliot's script for all they're worth, and I've filed these two under names on my imaginary list of who to watch for future work. They both seem to get it, whatever that is. This is the kind of dumb fun genre reinvention that has the balls to include a talking cow, and yet is still able to keep the nuances of the narrative so off-balance that the one-by-one deaths don't quite seem so much like the usual derivative expirations of secondary characters we've seen countless times before. Sure, we know who's going to die—and we expect it well before it happens—but it is the tripping on shrooms factor that makes whatever is shuffling in the leafy shadows a little more disturbing.

My expectations for films like this are generally low, and as much as I enjoy the genre when it works, I've seen just too much of the same old, same old. That's why when something moves and acts differently, I get a little geeky-excited. The resolution of whatever is killing the mushroom-eaters may madden some, but by that point in the film I probably would have been happy with anything just because the rest of the journey had been so dark and enjoyable. I really love it when an under-the-radar horror title steps up and makes a strong impression.

Rating for Style: A-
Rating for Substance: B+


Image Transfer

Aspect Ratio2.35:1 - Widescreen
Original Aspect Ratioyes

Image Transfer Review: I was pleasantly surprised to see Shrooms presented in 2.35:1 anamorphic widescreen. It's not a terribly bright transfer, as colors have been desaturated, giving everything a cold and metallic blue sheen. Black levels suffer a bit periodically, but overall the dark textures manage to balance the characters' hallucinations. No major compression issues are evident, aside from some very minor instances of edge enhancement.

Nice and gloomy.

Image Transfer Grade: B


Audio Transfer

 LanguageRemote Access
DS 2.0Englishyes
Dolby Digital

Audio Transfer Review: There are two strong audio choices available, in either Dolby Digital 2.0 or 5.1 surround. Step up to the preferred 5.1 and enjoy a more pronounced eerie, aggressive mix, punctuated by mood-enhancing rear channel cues and bursts of deep bass. This is the sort of audio mix that really gives a creepy film like this that extra punch, and ratchets up the viewing experience. Dialogue is always discernible, even when it's a talking cow.

Audio Transfer Grade: B+


Disc Extras

Full Motion menu with music
Scene Access with 20 cues and remote access
Subtitles/Captions in Spanish with remote access
4 Other Trailer(s) featuring The Life Before Her Eyes, The Signal, Outlaw, Quid Pro Quo
5 Deleted Scenes
2 Alternate Endings
1 Featurette(s)
1 Feature/Episode commentary by Paddy Breathnach, Paddy McDonald, Pearse Elliot
Packaging: Amaray
Picture Disc
1 Disc
1-Sided disc(s)
Layers: single

Extras Review: There's a brief arrangement of decent supplements, kicking off with a commentary from director Paddy Breathnach, producer Paddy McDonald, and, eventually, writer Pearse Elliot. Aside from being the only commentary I've heard with two people named Paddy, the flow of content explains how the story was shaped to keeps things ambiguous, the various Ireland locations, and points out some surprising green screen work. The energy level is a bit low, but the talk remains steady, fleshing out backgrounds and scenes that were meant to launch "different trajectories."

A set of five deleted scenes (05m:30s) are somewhat uneventful, but a block of six alternate scenes (10m:05s) give a new, longer look at a few key sequences. Best of all, however, are the pair of dark alternate endings (04m:24s), either of which would have been just as satisfying as what was eventually used. A brief blooper reel (:58s) is also included.

The disc is cut into 20 chapters, and includes optional subtitles in Spanish.

Extras Grade: B


Final Comments

Creepy and bizarre right on through to the end, Shrooms stays the course and melds premonitions, backwoods weirdos, legends, and a talking cow into one bloody good time.

Highly recommended.


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