First time feature writer and directors Jon Einarsson Gustafsson and Karolina Lewicka certainly prove their writing and directing chops with Shadowtown. They show this potential even if the movie itself certainly is lacking that knockout blow. The groundwork is all present, and the direction is engaging and captivating, along with the performance(s) as well. However, it just is missing that final swing it needs to excel it to be something more interesting and engaging. It is creepy, it lingers its creepiness throughout the running time. But it never capitalizes on how creepy and disturbing the film really can truly become.
The film mainly focuses on Maya (Brittany Bristow), a Canadian med student ready to take on her residency. That’s until she receives a puzzling phone call from her mother telling her that her grandmother has passed. However, the reason it is puzzling is because Maya was lead to believe her grandmother passed years ago. To make things even weirder and more interesting, her grandmother has left her house in Iceland to Maya. And now Maya is tasked with cleaning out the house and selling it. Upon arriving at the house, a developer meets Maya and pressures her into signing the paper work. After all, they’re in the midst of an economic boom. They want the land as soon as possible before Maya starts to second guess it. And they want to stop her from possibly keeping the house for herself.
As things continue to escalate, things start to get creepy and weird. While Maya knows she is alone in the house, things start to move around and she stars questioning her safety. As she tries to uncover what happened to her unknowing grandmother, things start to unfold and make her death seem more mysterious than initially led on and Maya believes that everything happening to her, now the sole owner of this house in Iceland, puts a giant target on her back.
While the film itself never manages to fully find its footing and land a finishing blow, Brittany Bristow manages to captivate the audience and ensures that they’re constantly trying to piece together what is going on. However, she is not alone on this adventure, as she has a supporting cast consisting of Kolbeinn Arnbjornsson, John Rhys-Davies, and Edda Bjorgvinsdottir who all bring their own extra elements to the film to help elevate not only Brittany Bristow but the entirety of Shadowtown as well. While Shadowtown boasts a well-rounded leading performance, its heart beat is a sheer murmur instead of a consistent beat.