Among the Shadows
There are films that make you go “wait, how did they do that?” There are films that make you go “wait, did they just do that?” Lindsay Lohan’s new low-budget werewolf film is one of those rare and dreadful films that make you go “Waaawaaaaaawaaaaaaa!%&%&&%###~!??”
It is mesmerizingly awful. It feels like picking through the aftermath of a gas explosion in your head. It is, almost by its own admission, what Brexit feels like – yes, ever since the #KETTERING debacle, Lohan has not been able to stay off the subject.
So incoherent is this film that I may feel the need to make the occasional random aside, like this.
But let’s try and pick up the pieces. This is to be something of a forensic review. At some point in time, 2015 I assume from IMDB, this film was just your average werewolf detective B movie. Private eye and lycanthrope Kristy Wolfe (just don’t), is hired by the president’s wife (Lohan) to find the campaign manager’s killer, following the clues all the way to the top. Was it all about oil? No! Was it an inside job? No! Was it the pack of rabid werewolves that keep savaging women’s jogging groups in the park? No! It was – no, you’ll have to watch it yourself.
Lohan usually mentions the president in the past tense, which is confusing given he is alive for most of the film. “It’s what my husband would have wanted…” But I suppose it’s fine given that SPOILER ALERT!!! she is the killer. Maybe she just got a bit overexcited?
At some point the decision was taken to set the film in Brussels, presumably because of funding, or all the actors having different accents, or no other city wanting them. That president I mentioned? He’s the head of a European Federation that has arisen from the wreckage of the EU left by Brexit in 2019 and Frexit in 2020 – an element I imagine was tacked on post-referendum. He’s also a werewolf, I think. Oh, Lindsay’s a vampire by the way. But most of the people in this film are werewolves, if werewolves are curly-haired men with stubble and glowing eyes. I think the vampires are angry with the werewolves for having all the power, which is why SPOILER ALERT!!! Lindsay did it. Anyway, there’s a presidential election set for December 25. This is peculiar, because we see no trappings of Christmas anywhere. Not a shred of tinsel or a frosted windowpane. Which, you know, adds to the pervasive dream-like quality, the sense of Brechtian Verfremdung, and the feeling that someone, somewhere, has made a colossal fuckup.
Establishing shots of other European cities – Moscow, Budapest – are inserted without explanation throughout.
Then Lohan arrived on location. Or did she… It appears that she is largely taking sitting-down roles these days: apart from a beautiful five-minute sequence where she torridly tries to find the detective in a very small cemetery, most of her scenes in Among the Shadows are filmed on green screen. And incompetently. There’s a bit where she talks to the detective opposite her but they are both standing in front of the same backdrop. In the same scene she hands something to the detective but it’s clearly not her hand that we see in the reverse shot. Oh, the confusion sown by Lohan’s stunt doubles! For one thing, they have completely different hair and sunglasses. They have to spend their time on camera looking away from the camera. Everyone’s telepathic in this (keep up!) so there is a lot of voiceover – but Lohan’s head-voice is only sometimes voiced by Lohan. Indeed, so short is the film of Lindsay material, it has used footage obviously of her getting ready to shoot to stand for her character preparing for a TV interview.
The film has a habit of creating and killing new characters with no warning. A previously unheard-of policeman called “Alabaster Blazine” is reported blown up near the end. Everyone is sad. But who was he?
It is clear that this film probably had some Lindsay issues. However, there is plenty wrong with it that she had no control over, and given she is the only reason you would watch it, and that she appears to have managed to turn a boring, slapdash B-picture into an artisanal clusterfuck, I can only praise her contribution to the movie. But anyway, moving on: who wrote this script? (Mark Morgan, that’s who.) It’s one of those ones where people talk in portentous clichés-of-the-genre – “There must be a leak inside the department!” – without us ever knowing where the department or who the leak. Two sex scenes occur with no warning and without us even knowing who some of the participants are (shades of Caligula). And there’s this whole bit where the detective (Charlotte Beckett) goes to Rome to get a potion from an underwear model (Dominik Madani, if you’re interested) so that Lindsay can’t read her mind, but it turns out Lindsay can read her mind just only at weekends or something, and has been SPOILER ALERT!!! planning the whole thing from the get-go, which nobody suspected, despite the fact that she was reading their minds.
Oh, and why does nobody ever have silver bullets on them? Come on guys, get organised!
The grading is absolutely hideous: sometimes the film is drenched in blue, other times it is almost in black and white with little flecks of orange. It actually quite perfectly manages to capture the ugliness of the Belgian capital at night (don’t write in). I found it quite evocative. I have only spent about 16 hours in Brussels in my life. I have not seen any of its sights; I was on a Eurolines bus that broke down there and was put up til morning in the Hotel Manhattan, one of those hotels where suited, bureaucratic-looking men hang shadily about the corridors. Among the Shadows accidentally manages to capture this side of Brussels quite well, with its artificial lighting and hideous offices. It has all the jumbled intensity, the repetitive ugliness, of an unimaginative MEP’s nightmare.
is this what you fear, Nigel Farage?