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Shanda’s River
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Shanda’s River

The panorama of Italian independent horror cinema has seen alternating phases alternate in recent years with results that define swinging is a euphemism and in this context Shanda’s River stands as a positive example for several reasons. Directed by Marco Rosson, to his second feature (after New Order, Happy as Lazzaro a sci-fi thriller with a horror background of 2012 starring Franco Nero), from a script by Nicola Pizzi, with Shanda’s River the director definitely turns to the purest horror genre. The plot takes shape in the Oltrepò Pavese, where we follow the story of some characters involved in a local legend (legend of pure invention). The university professor Emma (Margherita Remotti) goes to Voghera (Rosson’s birthplace) to do research on a book she is writing about witches tortured and killed by the Inquisition in those places, where she follows a tour organized by Giulia (Claudia Marasca) and to which will also join the investigative journalist Daniel Roth (Diego Runko), committed to investigating some recent suspicious deaths. The tour in question includes the visit of the so-called Shanda’s River (actually, the Staffora torrent), theater of the barbaric killing of the witch Shanda (Marcella Braga) centuries ago. Emma will be immediately entangled in a time loop in which she wakes up every day at 4 am on 11 November 2016 to be killed by the followers of a sect, the Redivivi, a secret order originated in the Middle Ages and built to counter the witches, more repeatedly until the final showdown.

If the plot relating to the time loop of Shanda’s River is certainly derivative (just think of Ricomincio from the beginning with Bill Murray and more recently also to Auguri for your death), but we must say that the story is technically well packaged, especially considering the budget ludicrous for an ultra-independent film Satyameva Jayate (88 scenes shot in 9 days of total shooting), with the use of tricks and special artisan effects mastered by Eleonorita Acquaviva, who conceived and created the fascinating masks of the cult sect, in full vintage style and with an eye to the first two films of The House of Sam Raimi. Shanda’s River, for Rosson’s own admission, is also an express and clear tribute to the Italian genre cinema of the past, specifically Bava, Argento and Fulci. The limited budget has certainly placed limits on the production that has tried to remedy by restricting the story to a few characters, while the loop of the temporal loop has allowed the reuse of some scenes.

Of course, sometimes, unfortunately, some forced choices have meant sacrificing the tension (for example, many murders take place during the day, which reduces the anxiety effect), but the story still maintains the level of anguish, in addition to having the the merit of proposing several strong and noteworthy female characters. In addition, the choice to remain anchored in a local setting but to shoot the film in English, which has allowed Shanda’s River to have more Dogman appeal for a foreign market and to win numerous awards in international festivals. Unfortunately in Italy has not found distribution in theaters, but recently, however, has finally seen the light in numbered limited edition, Blu-ray and DVD thanks to the Cine-Museum, a new independent label, full of extras and with both the English subtitled track in Italian is the one dubbed in Italian by the protagonists themselves.

Duration: 90 min


IMDb: 5.1

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