Irish horror? They're not two words that you often hear together. Admittedly Shrooms, Paddy Breathnach's thoroughly enjoyable shocker, features a mostly American cast and is pretty standard teens-in-the-forest slasher fare, but the Irish setting gives it all a slightly gothic edge that works rather well.

As the name suggests, the tale revolves around the hallucinatory 'joys' of illicit substances, in this instance a particularly potent strain of mushroom that grows around a nicely creepy forest / lake where local boy Jake (Huston) is entertaining his American girlfriend Tara (Haun) and her (straight out of teen central-casting) college mates. The purpose of the trip — pun entirely intended — is to sample the best hallucinatory fungi the country has to offer but the outcome — after Jake has revealed the nasty local legends of mad monks and abused children — is something very different. Someone, or something, is attacking the group one by one...

So far, so predictable but Breathnach manages to break things up with a couple of genuine surprises. Having been doing this reviewing lark for, er, several years, I've sat through a lot of horror movies and, like anyone who's seen a few, you can generally guess when the 'shocks' are going to kick in. The sense of anticipation, the music, the 'rhythm' of the genre... they're all clues that undermine the thrills. Not so here. Breathnach plays around with the conventions and the result is a film that, on at least three occasions made me jump like a bastard. And that's three more times than most such films manage. Ultimately, Shrooms probably doesn't quite shake off the constraints of the genre or its formulaic structure, but it's an enjoyably spooky experience while it lasts.

Official Site
Shrooms at IMDb

Neil Davey is a freelance writer who specialises in things you can do sitting down, such as travelling, eating, drinking, watching films, interviewing famous people and playing video games. (And catching the occasional salmon.) Neil is the author of two Bluffer's Guides (Chocolate, and Food, both of which make lovely presents, ahem), and, along with Stuart O'Connor, is a co-founder of Screenjabber. Neil also writes / has written for The Guardian, The Daily Telegraph, Square Mile, Delicious Magazine, Sainsbury's Magazine, Foodism, Escapism, Hello! and Square Meal.

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