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Review Shock a.k.a. Schock a.k.a. Beyond the Door II (1977): A must-watch for sure!

genre: horror, giallo

Like Dario Argento and Lucio Fulci, Mario Bava (with help of son Lamberto Bava) likes to combine several subgenres within horror. Usually this often leads to unique and compelling films. Shock is no different. It's a blend of gothic horror and a giallo. However it's never clear enough what you are dealing with since you can't really trust the main character, Dora Baldini, played by Daria Nicolodi.

It eventually gets revealed why this is. Despite this, you can't help but root for her. Is Dora slowly descending further into madness? Or is she truly objected to terror never experienced before. The terror is mostly personified by her son, Marco (David Colin Jr.). He starts out as this cute little kid who loves his mother very much. However, soon he turns into an evil brat who constantly is pushing the boundaries and at one point even tries to kill her. Dora believes or feels that Marco is possessed by the ghost of his father. There are some scenes depicted where you, the viewer, could think the same. Until you find out that Dora had a major mental breakdown after the death of her husband, who apparently had committed suicide. How her current husband, Bruno Baldini, could think it was wise to move back to this house of tragedy, is beyond me. But here they are and trouble ensues.

I do have to hand it to Bava, that instead of going over the top all the time, the film remains pretty subtle throughout until the story demands for something to happen. And when it does, you will feel the terror and tension. In that regard, Shock, definitely, is effective. Although there is one flaw. Marco, or rather the kid actor who plays him. He is out of his depth to play a complex character like him. You can't blame him, of course. I would say that this kind of role is difficult for even experienced actors. Still, sometimes it did look like he was bored or had to look a certain way without realizing that he also should just play as if he were a normal child. It's quite essential for the audience to feel for him as well, since he basically is innocent. But you never feel this way, since he is a bad kid all the time. Still, at the same time, you also sense you can't really rely on what you are witnessing since some of it is seen through Dora's eyes. And the film does point out on occasion you can't really trust her. I would say that the film keeps you guessing until the very last scene. And that is a good thing! 

Thank god for Daria Nicolodi though. She is the one who gives one hell of a performance. She absolutely sells the terror she is experiencing. It's admirable how she remains to be immensely patient with her son's antics even after he has been very horrible to her. But when she does lose her composure, she is within her right to do so. Nobody deserves what she is experiencing. Even if there might be a good reason for the events that are happening. 

Shock might be subtle and slow, the overall viewing experience certainly is worth it. This film also demonstrates how to properly do a jump scare, in a pretty spectacular scene. A must-watch for sure!

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