A local farmer flees for his life through the woods, shotgun in hand. His pursuer? An ancient evil clad in rubbery prosthetics who wants to suck on his neck like a Capri Sun. Once bitten, the farmer finds his skin burning in the sun and takes refuge in a ramshackle shed. Smouldering teen Stan (Jay Jay Warren) is orphaned, with a home life dominated by his abusive grandfather and a school populated by violent bullies. When his shed becomes a makeshift cage for a supernatural killing machine, could it be the solution to his problems?
The Shed is part angsty teen melodrama and part popcorn horror flick, and these two modes don’t always sit together especially well. The stabs at social commentary are always undercut by the cartoonish genre tropes. It’s difficult to make the main character’s issues at school feel grounded and realistic when his tormentors are stock 1980s high school bullies (complete with sleeveless plaid shirts). It’s also hard to connect with characters whose decisions are so consistently baffling – why don’t they just burn down the shed? Why pause during a vampire hunt to reminisce over photographs in a dark room with your back to the door?
The over-reliance on clichés and storytelling shortcuts goes beyond standard horror movie jankiness. Stan’s grandfather is a ranting pensioner who may as well start every sentence with ‘back in my day’, while his love interest (Sofia Happonen) seems to exist purely to reward Stan for overcoming evil. Relief comes in the form of his best friend (Cody Kostro), whose rage at the bullies who victimise him has a ring of truth to it. However, his character arc is underdeveloped, leaving some of his later actions feeling unrealistically abrupt.
It is only in the third act that all of these tensions are satisfactorily resolved, and that resolution comes in the form of explosively gory effects. When the film eschews the teen drama in favour of schlock and awe, it really finds its feet. When our characters tool up to take on the vampire menace, the result is an immensely entertaining denouement. The muddled decision-making is still a factor, but with the stakes heightened (and sharpened!), they now add opportunities for action rather than undercutting the story.
The Shed hints that it’s a coming-of-age drama about teens finding their place in a world of suspicious adults and sadistic bullies. In reality, it’s not – but there’s a really fun horror film in here if only its protagonist spent less time moping around and more time mowing down the undead.