Jason (Matthew Nelson-Mahood) is about to meet up with his best pal Colin (Gabriel LaBelle) and his family for a weekend getaway. He has a crush on Colin’s older sister Summer (Lizzie Boys), she finds him cute but maybe a bit too young. The three teenagers are stuck with sibling’s father Roger (Donavon Stinson) and his girlfriend Lisa (Valerie Tian). The adults are more like the teenagers, they can’t wait to start their partying. They’ve rented an old, rundown cabin in the woods and the kids are ready to get out and explore the surrounding area. They find another nearby home and grow extremely nosey as to who lives there and what they’re doing. The neighbor (Lauren Holly) comes home with a couple of party dudes and the kids can’t wait to peak in the windows to see the shenanigans. What they see wasn’t what they were expecting, the nightmare is just about to begin. The only thing they can do is grow up and do whatever they can to fight back.
Director Peter Ricq has crafted a film which is highly entertaining for 80% of the picture but quickly begins to fall apart as it progresses. It doesn’t actually fall apart, it just begins to feel a bit forced, and less funny as it nears the finale. Fantasia 2017 was the launching point for this Canadian-lensed horror comedy and I can see why it was chosen. It’s just as the film moves along, the film loses some of its charm. The kids are all solid in their roles but you will quickly come to realize they’re really not that likable. The gore effects were all very well executed with some neat gags you may have never seen before. Lauren Holly is always a pleasure to watch and she seems to really enjoy being the bad girl for a change. Donavon Stinson is hysterical as the drunken father. He always has something smart to say and when his character is absent from the film, he’s greatly missed.
The film is paced very well and it’s really entertaining. It’s just that there’s something off, something missing. If I had to put my finger on it, DEAD SHACK is lacking heart and heart goes a long way. If I must clarify my statement, I would compare the film to STRANGER THINGS. The show had similar themes but it also had heart which helped to immerse the viewer into their world, help them to care about the characters and what happens to them. In DEAD SHACK, you don’t have the same sort of investment. There’s a lot right about the movie but the few things done wrong, lends to rendering the film a bit forgettable.