Some young Americans fly all the way to Ireland so they can pick magic mushrooms and basically get off their face. But beware, there are other funky fungi in the woods that look similar but have far more serious side effects. Now, what could possibly go wrong?
Shrooms tries to do something original and interesting by blurring the line between hallucination and reality. It combines 'spooky supernatural', 'slasher' and psychological horror elements, with a bit of A Nightmare On Elm Street and Blair Witch imagery. But rather than creating something fresh and unique, it all feels a bit too familiar. And the big 'twist' reveal at the end is easy to guess within the first few minutes. (In fact, that's what I assumed was going on from the beginning.)
The Americans meet up with a guy who is possibly Irish (or Australian, or South African, or English, or whatever that accent is). He relates a creepy story round a cliche campfire, and tells them not to eat the poisonous, super-trippy, black-tipped mushrooms. There are scary-looking cliche hicks living out in the woods. And the youngsters' mobile phones are taken away to be safely stored out of reach, in a bag which was surprisingly not labelled 'Yet Another Cliche'.
There are so many things in this film that irritated me. I couldn't get beyond seeing the "Irish" guy as an actor performing in a film, rather than a character in a story. A stoner dude looks exactly like Jay from Jay & Silent Bob, so I couldn't take him seriously at all. The females are mostly bland and unlikeable. They don't think to bring tampons on their trip, yet they remember to bring hairdressing scissors. And they randomly chuck bitchy comments at each other without provocation, which becomes grating very quickly.
I'm not entirely sure why this film is set in Ireland. It seems to have little bearing on the plot, and most of the characters are American anyway. Surely other countries have hallucinogenic plants or animals. The imdb says this received Irish funding, and I wonder if that has something to do with it.
The score isn't bad. The photography is good, in fact it's very creepy and atmospheric at times. The final act is more tense than the rest of the movie, and uses a great location. And there are a couple of nice touches (the talking cow works a lot better than it sounds). But the combination of different filming styles and shots - which is meant to be disorientating and reflect the effect of the mushrooms - becomes confusing and messy. Combined with the unlikeable characters, and a sackful of well-worn horror tropes, I found it very hard to maintain my concentration and belief. It's a shame - there is definite promise in the cinematography. But it wasn't enough to save the film for me.