When a worker goes missing from an underground bunker and the police can’t make head nor tail of it, a team of paranormal investigators are called in to see what they can find. They plan to spend 3 days in the bunker, but when things start to get spooky they realise that may not be possible.
The Cradle of Shadows is a very typical supernatural spook-fest, which is easy on the frights and heavy on the annoying characters. Far too much of the film is spent following various people wander aimlessly down dark corridors with little more than a torch to arm themselves with. It becomes increasingly frustrating to watch these characters investigate the paranormal goings-on, because they are completely devoid of any intelligence in the area. The only electronic gear they have is a few hand-held cameras, a laptop and a little box that detects movement – it’s careful not to pick-up any of their movements though, very smart. Feelings of slight suspense are created when the little box starts beeping, but by the third time this method is used, feelings of suspense are replaced with pure frustration. There is not a layer of creativity; from the Japanese horror-inspired ghost girl to the mutated, zombie-esque humans lurking in the shadows, The Cradle of Shadows borrows from every supernatural film it can think of and presents an uninspiring borefest. The film meanders down its ghostly path at a painfully slow pace as it desperately tries to drill up some sort of tension. No amount of silence, coupled with loud bangs can make this film remotely scary or atmospheric. The setting itself is very scary and a lot more fun could have been had with it, but sadly, we are given cheap, cheesy frights which help render this film as unforgettable.
To add a layer of romance to this dull tale there is the trivial addition of a side story involving the professor Ben and his student Sarah. They are caught canoodling in the bunker, but then spend the rest of the film getting on each other’s nerves; producing an entirely different sort of friction. Their love-hate relationship is not even mildly interesting and becomes just another example of how poor, tiresome and dreary this film is. The rest of the characters are a two-dimensional and exasperating group; they have zero charisma and typically, make awful decisions, refuse to listen to one another and have permanent looks of “I didn’t sign up for this, shit” looks on their faces. You are paranormal investigators, you did sign up for this.
The explanation we receive for the mysterious vanishings is yawn-inducing and unrefreshing, truly cementing The Cradle of Shadows as one of the most tedious horror films I’ve ever seen. The best part of the film is its end, and not just because it’s over. The final chase scene is the most interested I’ve been in the film for the entire runtime. After being subjected to 80 minutes of mediocrity, I realise I have, somehow, vested a certain amount of interest in whether they manage to escape their gloomy, underground hell. I won’t ruin the film for you by giving the ending away, but there’s a fair twist at the end which I didn’t see coming. However, when the credits rolled I was left feeling cheated and let down by this very average ghost story.
Words: Jessy Williams