Shadow Hours

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Shadow Hours

"I've seen things that make Dante's Inferno look like Winnie The Pooh," scowls Mephistophelian writer Peter Weller as he leads recovering addict Balthazar Getty through the Los Angeles netherworld in Shadow Hours. A loathsome, cable-ready thriller that somehow found its way into the dramatic competition at Sundance, the film plumbs the depths of underground excess, desperately pawing for the bottom. But hasn't it already been reached? Even with Lydia Lunch as a "creative consultant," Shadow Hours isn't so much a journey into the unknown as it is an increasingly lurid and unpleasant tour through the known. Weller starts Getty off easy, taking him first to a big-money strip club (where virtually all deals are made in the movies these days) before quickly heading to more extreme destinations. But after Fight Club, is anyone shocked by covert, dimly lit fisticuffs? Or Russian roulette (The Deer Hunter)? Or Nazi iconography (American History X)? Or bondage and fishhooks (Dee Snider's StrangeLand)? First-time writer-director Isaac H. Eaton manufactures some domestic conflict between Getty and pregnant wife Rebecca Gayheart, and tacks on a vile subplot about a rash of neighborhood slayings. But the film's cold, black heart is Getty's allegorical struggle with temptation, which becomes so obvious that Weller all but hovers over his shoulder in a red latex suit with horns and a pitchfork. It's hard to fathom the point of Shadow Hours—is it Faustian or merely Reznorian?—or, for that matter, what might have drawn such capable weirdoes as Weller, Peter Greene, Brad Dourif, and Frederic Forrest to the sordid material. In any case, Eaton might have found it easier to expose the cultural cesspool had he not spent so much time splashing around in it.

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