Shadowland is a locally made film by the multi-talented Wyatt Weed, who also act, writes edits produces and does special effects. This is Wyatt’s first time around on a feature film as a director and makes his mark in the horror genre, returning to the roots of the vampire film. Shadowland brings us back to the tone and theme of what made the 1931 Bela Lugosi version a classic. Wyatt chose to focus on the more traditional Gothic telling of the vampire lore with all the fixings.
The story of Shadowland begins in 1897 and is set in San Carlos. A local pasture must bring an end to a dangerously attractive blonde vampiress by means of a stake through her heart. From here, we are thrust into present day as a mysterious man is searching for something and a young woman crawls out of a hole on the grounds of an old cathedral being restored. The woman cannot speak and she is lost and confused as she wanders about the modern city with no recollection of her identity.
The young woman named Laura, played by former Miss Teen USA Pageant contestant Caitlin McIntosh, appears to be a dirty homeless woman as see seeks answers to who she is and slowly pieces together her former life. During her journey of rediscovery, Laura finds herself being tracked by Julian (Jason Contini), whose intentions are not entirely clear to her. We soon discover that Julian’s mission and his destiny don’t exactly align themselves to one another as Laura slowly returns to becoming her true self.
Shadowlands is a story with many layers, transcending time and connecting lives in the past and the present. The story has supernatural elements, romance, horror and some action and special effects that are very well done. The vampiress Laura displays her supernatural speed and strength through the magic of Weed’s special effects. There is one fight scene in particular between Julian and Lazarus (Carlos Leon) in an alley that is extremely well choreographed. The cinematography has a distinctly digital feel to it but the lighting is effective at creating the eeriness required and gives the locations a Gothic feel that wouldn’t exist otherwise. There is depth to the story of Shadowland despite it’s reliance on the tried-and-true themes of older vampire movies, including some enjoyable supporting characters.
I have to spend a little bit of time on the fact that the film was produced in my hometown. I love it when a feature film gets made in Saint Louis and I love to support the films and eagerly anticipate the day when more filmmakers choose to work in Saint Louis. As I watched Shadowland, I found myself familiar with the movie in a way those not from Saint Louis would be able. I probably recognized a good 90% of the locations and it made the experience that much more enjoyable. Granted, some may say this draws attention away from the story, but if that were the case, then there would always be a large group of people from anywhere a movie was shot that are “drawn out of the story”… I don’t buy it! Wyatt Weed does an excellent job of putting the many diverse locations and architecture of Saint Louis to incredibly effective use.