A taut reinvention of vampire lore, Shadowland opens in modern day North America, where construction workers uncover an old stone cross and what appears to be a wooden stake. They remove the stake from the ground, allowing Laura (Caitlin McIntosh), a slumbering vampire, to revive and rise from the earth. Beaten and weak, Laura is unable to speak, remember who she is, or even the fact that she is a vampire! As Laura attempts to make sense of the strange new world around her, she begins to remember not only an idyllic human life in 1897 but the handsome Lazarus (Carlos Antonio León), a mysterious lover who may not have had her best interests in mind. Soon Julian (Jason Contini), a world-weary vampire hunter employed by the church, begins tracking Laura, but as he closes in for the kill he learns that things are not what they seem. An ambitious, award-winning indie feature, Shadowland relies on character, tension, and a series of reveals to tell the tragic story of an anti-heroine.
It has been said time and time again, and it bears repeating every so often, that if you re a filmmaker working with a low budget, the best thing you can do is come up with inventive ideas. Ideas are free. It doesn't cost a dime to create an original and engaging story. This is something writer/director Wyatt Weed has taken to heart and achieved with his first feature film, Shadowland. Shadowland is among the best, original, vampire movies in recent memory. Told in non-linear fashion, it keeps the viewer enticed in its mysteries without ever force-feeding exposition or crossing over into boredom. The film is driven by plot and character, something Weed has no trouble in delivering ample amounts of. The film jumps back and forth between the modern world and a small community in the late 1800s. In the present day, a girl, Laura, awakens to find she has no memory of who she is or where she has come from. She also cannot speak. She soon discovers, however, that she is being chased by a man named Julian. Julian is a hunter sent out by the Catholic church to rid the world of vampires. Weed does an excellent job of hiding Laura s true self to us for much of the film. We simply do not know who she was prior to being buried, whether she was an evil vampire of lore or something far more human. There is so much depth to even some of the smaller roles in the film. A man working at an all-night diner who Laura comes across has as much depth as the leads, and that is an incredible level Weed achieves with his characters. What we believe about Laura s character switches sides numerous times throughout the course of the film. What s more, you care about her just as much as you do Julian, and, even though they are both on opposing sides, you understand where each of them are, why they make the choices they make. Also of note with Shadowland is the liberties Weed takes with the vampire mythology. Much like True Blood, we know very little about the vampires of this world. As the film progresses, more and more of their characteristics are revealed. The vampire in Shadowland is something Weed makes his own, keeping certain, familiar aspects and completely scuttling others off to the side. These vampire are playing on a much deeper level than most, and the mythologies Weed creates in Shadowland are a welcome surprise. Shadowland was filmed on a minuscule budget, but the film looks incredible. The scenes that take place in the 1800s are beautifully shot by cinematographer Nicholas Gartner. Some of these shots rival anything found in a film that costs $200 million. The makeup effects and visual effects are superb, as well. You can never tell where the film had to hold back on certain things, and that is a commendable ability in a low-budget filmmaker. Even a fight scene in an alleyway is shot particularly well and has some very clever and enjoyable choreography. Caitlin McIntosh, a former semifinalist in the Miss Teen USA Pageant making her debut here, is near faultless in her performance as Laura. She gives the character a deeper sense of mystery, but she allows herself to be likable, too. The same can be said for Carlos Léon as Lazarus, a stranger whom Laura falls in love with in the film s flashback scenes. He gives Lazarus the perfect amount of charm and darkness the character requires. Driven by its intricate story and beautifully developed characters, Shadowland is an inventive entry into the vampire sub-genre, something the film s big-budget siblings should take a cue from. Wyatt Weed has crafted a fabulous screenplay and his director s eye pulls the film s execution off with very little in the way of imperfections. It is highly original and a fresh return to the creativity that made the vampire film so popular to begin with. --We Are Movie Geeks
One potential difference between independent movies and big studio movies lies within the trailers. With a bigger movie you watch a trailer with a degree of cynicism, wondering if all the best bits have been condensed into that brief minute and a half. When a trailer for an independent looks good I think you have a little more hope for the rest of the movie. Having seen Shadowland s trailer I was filled with hope. It was an indie quite obviously but it looked good, well filmed with interesting shots and it had... something... I had hopes for the film and, I have to say, there is clearly something (good) going on in indie vampire film land because there are strong movies appearing and this is one of them. The film itself has a rather simple story but works for several reasons. With respect to the story it has a hint of a deeper philosophical discussion of good and evil though that is only explored between the lines really. However it is the pacing that makes it work so well. Weed interlaces scenes between the past and the present in such a way that he reveals the narrative masterfully and keeps the viewers interest piqued and opens up Laura's story wonderfully. It was also nice to see scenes from the past that looked as though they were in the past they really did transport the viewer back (though, as a matter of taste, I wasn t personally sure about Lazarus jacket!) The primary thing that made the film was the performance by Caitlin McIntosh. She had very little in the way of dialogue and portrayed her fear and confusion through non-verbal communication that worked really well. She really did carry the film through. Perhaps I wasn t as sure about her 19th century persona but only because her reborn performance was so well done. The other main performance is by Jason Contini as Julian. I have to say that, at first, I was unsure as to whether I was convinced by him as the hunter (who may or may not be on her side) but the character revelation at the end of the film made me realise that he had been playing the character as he should have been and any doubts were in my own preconceptions. That said, whilst we got a large amount of characterisation around Laura, I felt that we missed out on some around Julian and we could have done with more. The supporting actors all worked well and I rather enjoyed Dale D Moore as the somewhat lecherous 19th century pastor._ The final reason this worked was because it looked good. There was a good use of film, the lighting was properly done. It was clear that any budget they had was used to make the film work. It was nice, after endless camcorder calamities, to see an indie film that looked like a film (again this seems to be a mark of some of the newer, better indie vampire flicks). One thing they did do was use models rather than rely on CGI after all, CGI is unlikely to work without a big budget (Hell, even then it can fail). Thus the scene of Lazarus with wings was done using models and this offered a solid quality that CGI would never have given. Not everything worked that well, a SWAT thrown through a window looked a little false but it was a minor issue in a very good use of effects._ I really enjoyed this. When it came to the score I really had to think. To be honest I loved the direction they took the ending but I felt that perhaps the story could have been a little more in depth especially on the philosophical good vs evil side. That said, the way the whole film was cut together and paced worked so well I ended up settling on 7 out of 10. Well worth catching. The imdb page is here and the homepage, with trailer, is here. --Taliesin Meets The Vampire
In this horror film from horror director Wyatt Weed, Caitlin McIntosh stars as an amnesiac vampiress who doesn t know whether to run from or towards a bounty hunter dispatched by the Vatican who claims he can save her soul. --Independent Film Channel