Whether you know it as “Bram Stoker’s Shadowbuilder,” “Shadowbuilder,” “Bram Stoker’s Shadow Builder,” or jut “Shadow Builder,” Jamie Dixon’s 1998 horror fantasy is an okay genre entry. While stumbling here and there in visual effects, the STV horror flick makes for a neat diversion with genre vets at the helm. Dixon’s horror fantasy is one of the last remnants of the video store/Pay Per View age, where horror was mostly relegated to trenches. I never gave it much of a chance when it was heavily promoted on cable back in 1998, but watching it now, it’s aged considerably well, garnering the old fashioned late night cable flavor I miss so much.
After an evil archbishop and his followers summon a demon to destroy the world, and end up summoning an evil demonic lord known as The Shadow Builder. Despite his best efforts, an ex priest known as Jacob Vassey hunts down the followers and fails to stop the incantation. Now with the shadow builder on the loose, Jacob travels to a small town to find young Chris, a boy with potential to be a saint. With the shadow builder infecting everyone around town and inspiring misdeeds, it sets its sights on Chris hoping to murder him. By doing so, he will be able to open a portal to hell and unleash pure evil. Jacob, teamed with Chris’s mother, hopes to stop the Shadow Builder and his powers before the world is doomed. It was two years to the millennium, everything was about doomsday.
For all its faults, “Shadowbuilder” is a darn solid horror entry that has a good time with its themes of religion, shadow demons and the like. Michael Rooker is very good as the film’s anti-hero who has rejected his religion and has to fight the demonic shadow beast that is highly repellant to light—however the more victims it ensnares the less vulnerable to light it becomes. Kevin Zegers in one of his very first roles, is good as young Chris, a courageous and rambunctious (of course) hero who does everything to fight the Shadowbuilder who hopes to lure him to the dark side. Tony Todd is also very good in a small role as the town’s eccentric drifter named Covey, who aides in fighting the demon in surprising ways.
“Shadowbuilder” is a fun supernatural tale with a very colorful demon. With the use of CGI, Jamie Dixon is able to build a pretty convincing and menacing super villain. While the monster itself kind of resembles a Power Rangers baddie at times, Dixon undercuts that with a lot of plays with its shadow powers and merciless grasp on its victims. There’s a fun gag involving a dog and its shadows that transform in to rottweilers, and a twist side plot involving a possessed man under the Shadow builder’s control. “Bram Stoker’s Shadowbuilder” might not click with everyone, but its charming low budget appeal, and cast of horror vets, thankfully amount to an entertaining horror flick.
The new release from the MVD Rewind Collection features “The Making of Bram Stoker’s Shadow Builder,” a half hour well made look at the creation of the movie, the background behind it and some very good interviews. “Shadow Builder – Visual Effects” is a thirteen minute more of the same interviews but with a detailed look at the film’s effects. “Shadow Builder – Kevin Zegers” is a five minute profile of the film’s (then) young star Kevin Zegers. There’s an audio commentary with director Jamie Dixon, and finally there’s the usual fold out mini-poster of the box art for the movie included in the keep case.