Shrooms

IF YOU want to know what the latest film from the team that brought you Man About Dog is about, then you need only listen carefully…

IF YOU want to know what the latest film from the team that brought you Man About Dog is about, then you need only listen carefully to what is said in the first 15 minutes.

A gang of American youths tell one another, as they make their way from an aeroplane, that they have all come to Ireland with the intension of ingesting magic mushrooms.

While they drive into the country, a posh bloke, played by Jack Huston, explains (I'm guessing here, because John Huston's grandson needs to be told to articulate better) the potential pleasures and dangers of their adventure. .

As I understand it, Jack is telling them that a particular mushroom decorated with an easily identifiable marking will turns its consumer into a lunatic and that, somewhere in these woods, a huddle of unfortunate orphans were once tortured by an insane cleric.

Got that? Troubled children. Killer mushroom. Mad monk. Unintelligible Huston. Now, let's get the film started.

The overabundance of tedious exposition in Pearse Elliott's script is but one of many encumbrances weighing down Paddy Breathnach's lumbering Irish horror film. The picture seems to have been constructed to a breathtakingly cynical blueprint that aims to acknowledge every recent genre of horror film bar - mercifully, one must say - torture porn. Fans of The Ring and other J-horror classics are offered a ghostly figure shot in fuzzy monochrome and some supposedly eerie business with animated hair. Those who still remember the Blair Witch fondly might find that the timber effigy and deserted orphanage offer nostalgic flavours of 1999.

Any baker will explain that if you just stir eggs, flour, fruit and sugar together you will not get anything that looks remotely like a fruit cake. You will, rather, end up with a disgusting mess that may eventually make you want to vomit. Similarly, it's not enough for a horror director just to throw various influences together. To thrive, the project must discover some identity of its own.

Breathnach, who showed great promise a decade ago with I Went Down, puts together some elegant compositions here, and Don Wycherely and Sean McGinley are very funny as mad backwoodsmen. But Shrooms - appropriately enough for a film in its genre - remains an ugly Frankenstein's Monster poorly constructed from other men's discarded organs.

Donald Clarke

Donald Clarke

Donald Clarke, a contributor to The Irish Times, is Chief Film Correspondent and a regular columnist

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