Shapeshifter (2005)

Rating: C-

Dir: Gregory Lemkin
Star: Jennifer Lee Wiggins, Ocean, Chris Facey, Vaz Andreas

After making Dead Men Walking, it seems The Asylum found themselves with a couple of days to kill on the same set, so opted to make another film in the location. It kinda feels like they used the same story too, except with “zombies” crossed out, and replaced by “demonic shape-changing Eastern European mafia enforcer”. In, presumably, very small letters. Heroine Ginny Lyndon (Wiggins) is on her first night of duty in a decrepit prison, when a new inmate starts behaving strangely – specifically, breaking out of his cell and munching on the intestines of anyone in range. With the jail in lockdown until morning, she must team up with the remaining prisoners and try to stay alive through the night.

Unfortunately, the desperate twisting necessary to keep the plot moving is far too obvious. Barely has Lyndon said that the shapeshifter is picking them off, one by one, than the next words out of her mouth are, basically, “Let’s split up!” – because that’s the only way this can work. There’s also a woeful ignorance about how gas chambers work, which was apparent even to me, and I’m from a country that never used them. Unlike Walking which had the gleeful, non-stop pace of a runaway roller-coaster, this shudders along jerkily, without hardly any significant developments after the first 30 minutes. While the beast is impressive, and some of the gore initially striking, it gradually diminishes in effect: one wonders if they might have been better off holding back both the monster and its damage until past the first five minutes. It grabs your attention, but is almost all downhill from there.