SHROOMS. 2007. WRITTEN BY PEARSE ELLIOTT. PRODUCED BY ROBERT WALPOLE AND PADDY MCDONALD. DIRECTED BY PADDY BREATHNACH. STARRING LINDSEY HAUN AND JACK HUSTON. REVIEW BY SANDRA HARRIS. ©
‘Whatever you do, guys, don’t touch the mushrooms with the black nipple on top, they’re the death’s head fungi and they’ll f**k you up badly. They might even kill you.’ Or words to that effect.
So says Jake, apparently the world’s greatest living expert on magic mushrooms, to his American friends who’ve come to the Emerald Isle to get as high as kites on the indigenous plants. So what’s the first thing Tara, the lead girl, goes and does?
She goes and falls head-first into a patch of these deadly mushrooms and swallows one whole. Cue some of the trippiest hallucinations you’ll ever have seen in a horror film. I was quite impressed by them.
The six young people, Jake, Tara, Bluto, Holly, Troy and Lisa are all camped deep in the spookiest woods since the ones in THE BLAIR WITCH PROJECT. Jake, their Irish friend who sounds English ’cause he went to school in Blighty, is giving ’em a crash course in getting off their faces on ‘shrooms.’
I honestly didn’t know that people would come from across the Atlantic Ocean to drink a brew of obnoxious-sounding ‘tea’ made from these plants. You surely do learn something new every day.
Once the gang have all started ‘tripping,’ things start to get scary really fast. Tara’s hallucinations are the worst, because she’s the Einstein who decided to chow down on the death’s head fungi. She’s getting premonitions too, just like Jake had told them all might happen if they swallowed the bad guys.
She’s ‘tripping’ really badly and her premonitions all involve the deaths of her chums. Their horribly premature, screaming deaths, as well, I might add, not their peaceful happy deaths at home in their own cosy beds when they’re in their eighties. They wish. Will these awful premonitions turn out to be true? Either way, this is one ‘trip’ that Tara and her friends will most definitely live to regret…
Jake’s ghost story (or is it a true story…?) about the nearby abandoned Childrens’ Home and the dreadful acts of abuse that happened there is terrifying and sounds like it could have easily happened. (Given what we now know about the clergy in Ireland…! Enough said.) Jake himself, in real-life the grandson of John Huston, is incredibly sexy and his gorgeous English accent would melt the drawers off a nun, swear to God.
The American kids are frightened to death of his story, though, especially the girls, and when the characters from his tale of blood, guts and gore start popping up around the woods and in their freaky-ass hallucinations, they’re even less impressed.
They’re running around madly trying to get away from the evil apparitions but all they seem to be doing is getting closer and closer to the source of all the trouble, the Glengarriff Childrens’ Home…
The woods are fantastically scary and the old abandoned kids’ home is bloody terrifying. I love that kind of thing. If I were a bloke and given to bursts of coarseness, I might even say that I had a ‘hard-on’ for it. Abandoned buildings and spooky, overgrown gardens really melt my butter, haha. They’re just so fascinating to look at in films or in books, however dangerous they might be to explore in real life.
The best scenes of the whole film take place inside the kids’ home and also in the tumbledown shack belonging to the local halfwitted hillbillies. The two woodsmen, both familiar faces on Irish television, do an excellent job of scaring the living s***e out of poor Holly with their inbred facial expressions and talk of bestiality. Well done, Don Wycherley and Sean McGinley. Brilliant performances from the pair of ye.
Mind you, being Irish myself I take issue unreservedly with Irish shack-dwellers being portrayed as slack-jawed, dribbling yokels who are more at home up the back passage of a pig or a sheep than anywhere else. We Irish outgrew that kind of deviant shenanigans yonks ago, thank you very much. Mind you, I’m not including my Second-Cousins-Twice-Removed, Paudgie and Sheamie, in that assessment.
Everyone knows that Paudgie (pronounced Paw-jee) hasn’t been the same since he got Little Paudgie stuck in the novelty pencil sharpener he got for Christmas that time and as for Sheamie (pronounced Shay-mee), well, his problems with chickens have been well-documented. Less said the better, right? A nod’s as good as a wink and all that jazz.
By the way, ‘dogging’ seems to me to be an exceptionally dodgy way to get your rocks off and Bluto the jock chatting to a cow in the middle of the night is quite humorous. I don’t know what it is about cows but they do look funny, don’t they? Funny in a nice way, and intelligent too, as if they might well just open their mouths and start making wise or witty observations about this or that.
SHROOMS is a terrifically good scary watch. It actually turned out to be a far better film than I was expecting it to be. Do yourself a favour and give it the once-over. And If You Go Down To The Woods Today (see what I did there?), give the old mushrooms a miss, yeah? They’re much tastier (and safer) fried with a nice big side of bacon.