Shrooms (2007) poster

Shrooms (2007)


Ireland/UK/Denmark. 2007.


Director – Paddy Breathnach, Screenplay – Pearse Elliott, Producers – Paddy McDonald & Robert Walpole, Photography – Nanu Segal, Music – Dario Marianelli, Visual Effects Supervisor – Alexander Marthin, Special Effects – Team FX, Makeup Effects/Prosthetics – Creature Effects, Production Design – Mark Geraghty. Production Company – Ingenious Film Partners/Bord Scannan Na hEireann (The Irish Film Board)/Nordisk Films A-S Film Produktion/The Northern Ireland Film and Television Commission/Nepenthe Film/Treasure Entertainment/Potboiler Productions.


Lindsay Haun (Tara), Jake Huston (Jake), Mas Kasch (Troy), Maya Hazen (Lisa), Alice Greczyn (Holly), Bob Hoffman (Bluto), Don Wycherley (Ernie), Sean McGinley (Bernie)


Tara joins a group of friends on a trip from the USA to Ireland. She is attracted to their guide Jake who has promised to take all of them on a search for magic mushrooms. They set up camp in the woods and begin searching. Tara finds and tries one of the mushrooms but goes into convulsions. Jake explains that it is a rare variety that looks almost identical to the one they are looking for. Tara comes around but then starts to have premonitions of the rest of the group being killed. The next morning they cannot be sure if Tara is still tripping. As dead bodies of others in the group begin to turn up, it is unclear if they are being killed by in-bred people that live in the woods or if this relates to the nearby Glengariff House where an extremist religious order tortured and killed children.

Shrooms was the sixth film from Irish director Paddy Breathnach. Breathnach had previously directed the likes of Ailsa (1994), The Long Way Home (1995), I Went Down (1997), Blow Dry (2001) and Man About Dog (2004) and subsequently Viva (2015) and Rosie (2018). All of these are non-genre works that switch between comedy and drama. Breathnach’s one other horror film was the subsequent Freakdog (2008).

Shrooms feels a weird film to try and get into. Not weird in the sense that anything particularly outlandish or strange occurs but weird in the sense that it is a film that never clues you in to what it is about. We have a group of young people – most of whom are American actors – come to Ireland on a search for magic mushrooms. (Do people actually take international tours for such purpose, or is this something invented by the film?)

Lindsay Haun in Shrooms (2007)
Lindsay Haun faces drug hallucination and a mysterious killer in the woods

We then have the group camped out in the Woods, wandering around, partying and searching for drugs. Lindsay Haun eats one of the wrong shrooms and has a bad trip after which it appears that she has Clairvoyant visions of others among the group being killed. At this point, you are wondering whether you are in for something like the tripped-out psychedelics of Ben Wheatley’s subsequent A Field in England (2013). In a classic Backwoods Brutality touch, there are also imbecilic and apparently in-bred hicks living in the woods. That and a sinister Cult known for torturing and killing children.

The great frustration of the film is that it has various cast members being killed off but refuses to ever put its finger on what is going on. It is the frustration of a film where you spend most of the running time trying to get a handle on what is happening. The script dallies with various explanations but never lets any of them play out. To the film’s credit, it does bring everything together in a decent Conceptual Reversal Twist, where we realise that much of what has been going on is misdirection. It still doesn’t make for a particularly good film though.

Trailer here

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