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Review: Bloodshed Deathbed’s “Shovel”

Shovel is a new, six minute short film from the gang at Bloodshed Deathbed Productions. It’s been extremely well received by some of the biggest cult icons in the horror genre, and hopefully it’s going to be made available to casual viewers soon. I was provided with a screener, though, and I have to say – Shovel is better than I expected. Sure, it’s independent, but it has a lot of heart and a lot of conflicting elements that mix together beautifully. The beginning of Shovel starts off in a whimsical way, almost peacefully, as a very young girl skips through fields and forests. Simultaneously, a weapon wielding psychopath, already drenched in blood, is wandering around the outskirts of a city butchering anyone he sees. It’s a poignant example of innocence and the monsters that wait to steal you away from the light, but is Shovel playing at something darker? A grindhouse horror short with experimental style, Shovel is written and produced by Doug Newville and directed by Ryan Policky. Aeona Cruz, Doug Newville, Rodney Tidwell, Isaac Archuleta, Ryan Policky, Benton Mckibben and SarAmanda Eldritch star.

Shovel features a soundtrack from rock-band Genessier. It’s a looming score that plays in the background that makes you feel uneasy from start to finish. Even when it’s shots of the girl happily playing outside, the theme follows, again playing with the notion that all is not what it seems. To me, the ending is slightly open to interpretation, as is most of the movie. The girl could be a member of the deranged killer’s family, or – as I saw it, Shovel can be summoned as a brutal savior for victims. The way I saw it, the random men being hacked-and-slashed could have molested the girl, and now they’re seeing their end via extremely violent vigilante justice. Either way, it’s a win win. The way the little girl (Aeona Cruz) is so unphased by the bloodshed, yeah, there’s something deeper here. With a short film like this, that’s so dependent on special effects, I’m happy to say that they’re pretty decent and don’t subtract from the overall quality of Shovel. I actually wish they were more twisted and sick, and not half off camera. That, perhaps, is my only complaint.

The rest of Shovel is pretty awesome. Again, definitely in the realm of independent horror, but nothing that’s going to make you say it’s bad. Because it’s not. And the way it was filmed, I could see it being some sort of precursor for a zombie flick, too. With the drone in the beginning and the way it ended (not giving that away!). There’s a lot of material to run with here. Shovel is more than a one-sided horror flick. I’m anxious to see what Bloodshed Deathbed Productions has to offer in the future, but Shovel is nothing short of a firm, hard digging look into brutal horror and the ying-and-yang of morality. Great job, solid movie. Final Score: 8 out of 10.

Written by Michael Therkelsen

(Senior Editor)