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Home > From the Shadows (2023): A Review

From the Shadows (2023): A Review

From the Shadows Main Image

A Genre Blending Horror

From the Shadows is a good genre effort. The film starts strong with an explosive setup right from the get-go. The movie’s mix of practical and visual effects are utilized to its strengths, and its writing is clever enough to delineate the history of the Hidden Wisdom cult, whose roots are based on real-world archeological findings. When Dr. Joseph Cawl and members of his Hidden Wisdom cult die in a mysterious fire, the survivors, a group of university students now called the “Hidden Wisdom Five,” contact paranormal expert and skeptic Dr. Amara Rowan to try and save themselves by telling their story. Unfortunately, what she discovers makes them the next target.

The Hidden Wisdom Cult 

Director Mike Sargent lures the audience into the story with breaking news reports that paint the details of the Hidden Wisdom cult. Its surviving members are seeking help and have been dubbed the Hidden Wisdom Five because of their infamous notoriety in the news as the last remaining members.

Eerie infomercials touting access to ancient power from the untapped potential of the human spirit are the cult’s message. Dr. Cawl’s (Bruce Davison) enigmatic and somewhat detached persona is front and center as he advertises his message against the greenscreen background of the cosmos. The film approaches the topic in a cheesy way on purpose, like the real infomercials in the middle of the night that blare ads at viewers who have long fallen asleep. 

From the Shadows echoes the found footage genre of horror through its use of vertical phone footage and video chat screens. Beginning with the tragic fire and explosion that sparks the news, the film eventually centers on the story of the Hidden Wisdom Five as the focal point. Through the use of lighting, viewers feel the looming danger as it creeps in. Dr. Amara’s room is the only location with some real color, the five’s rooms are all dimly lit by a white fluorescent light. Visually depicting their fates as hanging in the balance between the fading light and consuming darkness.

There are genuinely creepy parts when the darkness arrives to torment the characters. However, the choice to use practical blood and makeup for the kills and thrills elevates the horror. Blood is sparse, but when it is shown, It’s tastefully done in a way that really hits the audience hard in key moments.

From the Shadows Mid Image

Strong Story, Good Acting

The acting is good, and there is plenty of story to chew on, presented through subtle gestures and easter eggs by the actors, revealing more on a second viewing. Selena Anduze’s strong and professional composure as Dr. Amara Rowan, whose paranormal skepticism has propelled her career forward, leads her to an inside scoop on the story of the cult and its surviving members. Her cameraman, Peter (Jim Thalman), plays aloof comic relief against her more straightforward attitude as a renowned documentarian. The Hidden Wisdom cult’s few remaining members seek Amara’s professional help in hopes of saving themselves. 

The Hidden Wisdom Five are all written and acted diversely. Zoe (Briana Femia), Dr. Cawl’s assistant. Henry (Ian Whitt) a young man with anxiety. Denise (Ester Tania), a girl with mental health issues who joined because her friends did. Tina (Claire Mack), a girl who sought help because she was seeing shadow people, and Keith (Max Mackenzie), a loner suffering from sleep paralysis and night terrors. But why would any young person buy into an infomercial playing at 2 a.m.? Maybe because each of these characters never really fit into society, each of them are portrayed somewhat as outsiders. Their relatability is what makes them appealing. Bruce Davison plays an enigmatic and obsessed Dr. Cawl, an archeology professor turned cult leader. While Keith David delivers with his enthusiasm and emotional range as Dr. Lenard Bertram, Dr. Cawl’s associate. 

An Original Take On The Genre  

From the Shadows maintains its originality through having a thought-out story that is presented with all the tools of the trade. Different aspect ratios, found footage elements, video-chat screens, and mock news footage ground the film in reality, making the film that much more creepy. Although its tropes are overplayed, the craftsmanship shines through with a technical presentation of originality. 

From the Shadows is available to stream on VUDU now.

From the Shadows last image

From the Shadows (2023) Alt-House Productions Trailer

Source: Dead Talk Live

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Author at Dead Talk News | Posts

Omid Rad is a freelance writer, movie lover and overall geek.

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Matt Keyser is a recent graduate of Cal State Fullerton University with a bachelor's in Communications-Journalism. He is a freelance entertainment reporter with a focus on film and television. As a former senior programming coordinator for the Newport Beach Film Festival, Matt's experience with critiquing narratives and documentaries has helped showcase his passion for television and cinema through his writing.