Emma (Maite Lanata) lives on an isolated farm with her father Gato (Guillermo Zapata) and they don’t have any way of communicating with the outside world. Curious about the mother that abandoned her, Emma discovers a mobile phone and after turning it on, she accidentally reveals her family’s location. Hours later, Emma runs away forcing Gato and his friend Sombra (Danny Trejo) to find her before she falls victim to a cult that needs her to carry out a bloody ritual.
‘Shadow of the Cat’ is a quirky Argentinian film from director José María Cicala that mixes comedy, horror and fantasy elements. It’s definitely one of the wackier films on this year’s Arrow Video FrightFest line-up and it’s not going to be one for everyone. The set-up for the film plays out nicely enough as Emma makes a bid for freedom to see the world outside of the family home she’s always known, but once she’s out into the big wide world, the plot doesn’t really hang together very well.
As Emma falls into the clutches of the cult, who almost captured her father 17 years earlier, the film feels divided into two narratives – that of Emma and the cult, and that of Gato and Sombra’s attempt to rescue her. Those didn’t gel all that well together and instead the film just opts for weirdness in place of a coherent or cohesive story. It’s a shame because the build up promised something more than what is eventually delivered. The film is also hampered by flashbacks, which take up too much screen time as we learn about Gato’s past and Emma’s mother. Those just felt overly exposition heavy and held up the story that’s unfolding in the present day.
While Danny Trejo may be the big draw here, he’s not actually in the film all that much. The majority of the screentime is taken up by Maita Lanata as Emma and Guillermo Zapata as Gato. They make for a believable father and daughter, and you do believe their strained relationship, but there isn’t enough character development for either of them to really shine.
‘Shadow of the Cat’ sadly didn’t quite hit the mark for me. While the premise was solid enough, the pacing of the film was too choppy and the narrative interrupted by too many flashback moments. We never truly get under the skin of the characters so it’s hard to really care about what’s happening to them. ‘Shadow of the Cat’ looks great and the cast does a solid job but the plot could have done with being a little more focussed.
Cast: Danny Trejo, Guillermo Zapata, Peter O’Brien, Maite Lanata Director: José María Cicala Certificate: 18 Duration: 87 mins Released by: Shock House