Shady Grove (2022) Review

Spoiler-free so you can read before you watch

Shady Grove (2022) Review

Horrorific content by christina on January 25th, 2023 | Movie Review | Cult, Tourist, Cabin in the Woods, Thriller, Police, Party, B-Horror, Black Horror

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It's about a couple expecting a child and a friend who travel to a rural location in America to enjoy a relaxing retreat and must deal with the disturbing rituals of the local community.

Shady Grove was directed by Dale Resteghini and stars Niki McElroyTodd AnthonyJuhahn JonesVictoria Baldesarra, and Becki Hayes.

Shady Grove (2022) Review

The atmosphere around a rural community that practices disturbing, violent rituals is suffocating. The sense of isolation only amplifies the fear of what is to come for those who remain. A tight-knit population with deeply embedded values leaves little room for outsiders and nonconformity. Such a community serves as the setting for 2022 movie Shady Grove.

One of the things you will notice about Shady Grove is that the performances could be better. Niki McElroy plays the pregnant Shaina, and Juhahn Jones, who plays her friend Eli, seems to act in entirely different styles. In addition, she appears to have little chemistry with her partner Mark, even during their (discreetly shot) shower sex scene. However, as the story unfolds, this seems more like a deliberate choice than a flaw. Shaina is on a very different path from her two companions - one they are unaware of.

It might not be because of the pregnancy, either. There are signs that she was slowly moving away from Mark before she was aware of it. Though Mark pretended to be understanding about an incident that occurred during that time, he is now suspicious of her, and his prejudice is playing a part in that. Although a young couple, they are having difficulties in their relationship and have decided to take a short break in a rental lodge out in the country to try and work things out. Eli, unaware of their relationship troubles, accompanies them on their trip.

Eli recently broke up with his girlfriend via text message, citing his lifestyle as incompatible with a relationship. However, he appears to have no trouble moving on, quickly flirting with locals and inviting them to party. They're all enjoying a campfire but don't know that there's a masked person in the woods shooting arrows at people. Thanks to a prequel, viewers know this and see that it's not the best place for campfire hijinks.

This film's secrets primarily come from what we don't see happening, which creates an atmosphere of suspense and unease. The film uses folk horror elements, which commonly refer to horror stories based on ancient traditions and practices. In this film, one alarming ritualistic practice seems unrealistically brutal. Likely, this practice was only recently invented to control and unify the small community featured in the movie. This is the US; aside from our protagonists, everyone else is white. In addition to the tension between the film's urban and rural worlds, the disconnect between the two is amplified. This only increases the stress until it culminates in violence, erasing any lightheartedness that may have been present earlier.

Worth Watching? 

Shady Grove is a low-budget horror movie that delivers enough gore to please sure fans of the genre. Its premise is dubious in a modern setting for many reasons, even in a country with a shockingly low homicide detection rate. However, director Dale Resteghini makes it work well enough to entertain for an hour and a half. Many viewers will enjoy its reversal of stereotypes. You may be pleasantly surprised if you don't set your expectations too high.

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