Available on DVD today (October 8, 2013) is the psychological thriller from Image Entertainment – Shiver.
Shiver stars Danielle Harris who played young Jamie Lloyd from the Halloween movie series. It also stars John Jarrett, Casper Van Dien, Rae Dawn Chong and to my surprise, Valerie Harper.
Shiver is based on a novel by New York Times best selling author Brian Harper. Is was directed by Julian Richards.
If you look at the DVD cover (seen above) your first impression might be that this is a horror movie. That is what I initially thought it was. Shiver is not a horror movie but rather a psychological thriller about an obsessed serial killer.
The movie starts off with a murder at a diner called Cadillac Jacks. It introduces us to Franklin Rood – a middle aged man who comes across as being very shy and a bit of a loner. When he feels like he was rejected by a waitress for a movie date and laughed at by patrons he seeks revenge on the waitress.
Right away you can see that his mind is not “right”. The waitress didn’t flat out tell him “no”. So told him that she had other plans. And the people laughing in the diner were a group of friends hanging out – they were not laughing at Rood.
Prior to murdering the young waitress viewers can see how sick and twisted Rood truly is.
Franklin Rood starts to go on a killing spree, killing a lot of his victims in horrific ways including be-heading them. He also leaves a “calling card” of a small statue of a mythological creature called a Gryphon. A Gryphon has the has the body, tail and back legs of a lion but the head, wings and talons on the front feet as an eagle. This powerful creature is often thought of as the “king of beasts” and a protector of treasures and priceless possession.
Viewers are next introduced to Wendy Alden (Danielle Harris). She is a quiet, meek girl working in a dead-end job and dealing with an overpowering mother. She lives alone in her apartment.
One night after having dinner with her friend Wendy finds that she is not alone in her apartment. The Gryphon has found his way into her home and intends on killing her just like his countless other victims.
Was Wendy chosen randomly, or did the Gryphon seek her out?
Miraculously Wendy is able to escape. That is when she meets detectives Degato (Casper Van Dien) and Burdine (Rae Dawn Chong).
Knowing that the Gryphon would most likely try and find Wendy and finish her off, the Police have her spend the night with a friend under Police protection. Some how the Gryphon finds out where she is hiding out and comes to get her, killing everyone who stands in his way.
Wendy is able to escape again, but not for long. The Gryphon is so obsessed with her at this point that he is in love with her. He feels that she is his equal counterpart.
The Gryphon is able to capture Wendy and hide her in a house far from the big city. There Wendy gets a glimpse inside the mind if this sick, sadistic killer, especially when she sees the heads of some of his victims sitting in glass jars.
Will Wendy be able to escape the Gryphon before it’s too late? Will the detectives be able to find Wendy in time and put the Gryphon behind bars where he belongs? To find out you need to pick up a copy of Shiver, now available on DVD where most movies are sold.
As I mentioned earlier I did think this was a horror movie. Perhaps it is in some way, after all, trying to outwit and escape from a serial killer is pretty scary.
If you have seen any of the Halloween movies you know that it’s hard to keep a killer down for long. That is the case with the Gryphon. Just when you think he’s down he will surprise you. Thankfully Danielle Harris has experience trying to escape killers that seem to come back again and again.
The Gryphon is not like Michael Meyers. Michael Meyers is unreal where you can blow him to bits and he still bounces back to life and comes after you. The Gryphon is a real person who feels pain and can be killed – he’s just very persistent like Michael Meyers.
I felt that Danielle Harris’ character was a little “flat”. She lacked a “little something” in the film. I couldn’t really feel for her or connect with her.
John Jarrett who plays Franklin Rood/the Gryphon did an excellent job. He nailed it as a totally off his rocker nut case. He did play a socially awkward dork that you can tell was picked on a lot as a child. They do provide a flashback into his life where he was bullied. It does make you feel sorry for him but it doesn’t explain how he ended up a serial killer.
When he’s playing the lonely Franklin Rood, John Jarrett makes you feel sorry for him. Then in a moments notice he makes Rood out to be a sick, evil, crazy Gryphon. He’s really convincing with both sides of Rood/Gryphon. You don’t know what to believe. He’s a true Jekyll and Hyde and Jarrett does an amazing job with this character.
I was surprised to see Valerie Harper in the film. She seems like such a sweet lady in real life but in this film she was very mean which was hard to grasp. It’s hard to see her as a wicked mother.
The film does have some graphic imagery (after all, he’s a sick serial killer) and attempted rape (although there was no nudity during that scene). It might also be a bit too intense for those who are easily squeamish (after all, you’ll see decapitated bodies and heads floating around in jars).
Over all I was impressed. As far as serial killer movies goes, I’ll add the Gryphon to my list of totally creepy serial killers like George Harvey (The Lovely Bones), Jigsaw (Saw series), Buffalo Bill (Silence of the Lambs) and John Doe (Seven).
Here is the movie’s trailer for your entertainment.
*I received a free screener copy in order to do this review. There was no compensation. The opinions expressed are my own and not influenced in any way.