Shrooms (2007)

Directed By: Paddy Breathnach
Written By: Pearse Elliot
Starring: Jack Huston
  Maya Hazen
  Alice Greczyn
  Lindsay Haun

Shrooms is a bad trip. Meandering, poorly scripted and bafflingly stupid in places, it is certainly watchable but it’s terribly constructed. Perhaps a handful of psilocybin would make this better, but that’s not an advocation of Shrooms. This is silly and clichéd – avoid.

Shrooms begins well. The setup is simple – a group of friends take a trip to Ireland for two reasons: “See Ireland, do shrooms”. At least they have their priorities straight. Sadly, however, the part of Ireland they see is an airport, a camper van and some woods. But the shrooms they certainly win on. Venturing into a special section of forest, led by local-lad Jake (Jack Huston), they’re told about the amazing hallucinogenic qualities of the mushrooms that grow there.

The group of six set about picking mushrooms for their big “shroom out” the next day, and Jack tells a tale about a now derelict school of correction for young boys. Apparently, one night a child in a sackcloth-hood killed everyone whilst they slept. His body was never found, and neither was that of a feral dog-boy and the maniac ruler of the school. Do their ghosts still haunt the woods? Probably.

The group are also warned about the Death Head mushroom, which only grows every few seasons. Eating one could lead to a number of reactions – it could internally destroy you, nuclear-reactioning your organs. Or alternatively, according to the ancient druids, it could cause shape-shifting, extreme ferocity and premonitions. Tara (Lindsey Haun) foolishly takes one before anyone could warn her… leading to violent fits and a convenient precognitive ability!

Settling into their little camp, the six begin to have the best shrooming experience of their lives, but something goes horrible wrong. Moronic Bluto goes missing with the car keys and mobile phones, and they soon realise something is lurking in the woods around them. Something evil. Or is it? Could they be hallucinating?! Who cares!

Despite some effective moments, Shrooms fails to produce many genuine scares. This is perhaps because you understand it “could” all be hallucinations and that Tara’s fortuitous shroom-induced future-sight might stop it happening anyway. It’s tiresome stuff and you simply fail to care.

Shrooms is a bit too bonkers in places, with some needlessly long build-up scenes, and it sags incredibly after Bluto’s disappearance. It feels like the scriptwriter died halfway through and someone else took over – someone who loves a cliché and a ferocious lack of subtlety.

In the first thirty minutes we’re given some interesting and believable characters, with some excellent dialogue and genuinely amusing moments… but then this all vanishes the moment the tension crank is nudged. Characters you originally cared for become frustrating and annoying, their decisions wildly idiotic and their ability to effectively communicate seemingly dissolved. For some reason “meet at the house because there’s a road nearby” is interpreted as “walk into a massive abandoned school and get lost”. It’s an idiotic and frustrating miscommunication, although it does provide some of the more genuine scares of the movie.

The dumb decisions aside, Shrooms also has too much happening – there are Irish rednecks, a sack-headed child, a feral dog-boy, a mad monk and a lot of insane hallucinations – it’s too much to handle at times, and you feel anything could occur. And it does. But despite all that, the ending is so face-slappingly obvious you wonder why you bothered traipsing there.

Shrooms: never a great idea. It might seem fun or risky or thrilling, but it’s not. If drugs are bad, then Shrooms is heart-explodingly, arse-rapingly, brain-meltingly terrible. This reviewer of course means the film. Don’t take Shrooms, boys and girls. At least not out of the DVD box…

Shrooms is not trippy, it’s not fun, it’s just disappointing and feels like you’ve eaten a Death Cap mushroom instead of a magic one. [That’s enough mushroom puns now] Basically, this film is shiitake. [Stop it!]

Rating: ★★★★½☆☆☆☆☆

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