This conspiracy-laden mess sees a beautiful couple, Gabe & Brinn Howarth (Cam Gigandet and Brit Shaw) - the owners of a small down diner - suffering in the grips of Gabe's seizure-inducing dreams, which blur the lines between reality and fantasy.
In his dreams, the mild-mannered Gabe is a hitman who murders everyone he encounters. Enter psychiatrist Dr Reece (Jonathan Rhys Meyers), a leading expert in the study of waking dreams, who treats Gabe (barely saying 'hello' before prescribing handfuls of medication) and tries to put a stop to the nightmares.
To nobody's surprise Gabe begins recognising the faces from his visions as those of real people being murdered in the newspapers and it isn't long before Gabe suspects that dreams are actually reality.... Or not. Cue local law enforcement, Sheriff Hodge (a grisly Michael Beihn), who steps in to investigate, and just like everyone else in the film, may or may not have an inkling as to what's going on.
THE SHADOW EFFECT is the third feature from brothers Obin and Amariah Olson and it is a ham-fisted concoction, peppered with shonky CGI and uninspired direction that takes cues from a dozen other better films. This is surprising considering that the writers, Chad and Evan Law (minor powerhouses in the DTV actioneer realm), have a CV littered with quality scripts that belie their budgets.
THE SHADOW EFFECT is the weakest chink in their armour. It's is a mixed bag of hackneyed concepts and lacklustre acting, leaving the viewer with a minimally engaging 90-minutes of nonsense and sense that we've seen it all before. Indeed, the film steals from just about similarly themed title, not least of all THE MANCHURIAN CANDIDATE, THE BOURNE IDENTITY and SOURCE CODE. And believe me it surely lacks the flair, conviction and originality of them all.
In fact, it's a film so self-aware and rigid that almost every move made by anyone on screen is forced and contrived. The big-boys of the cast, Meyers and Beihn do what they can with a limited scope. Beihn can do this kind of stuff in his sleep, but it's Meyers that surprise the most, not because his face is plastered all over the poster (though his screen time amounts to about 6-minutes), but because the good-will he amassed from a half-way decent performance on TVs VIKINGS, ROOTS and THE TUDORS is squandered on one throw-away role that does him no favours.
Shame. There's nothing wrong with a derivative story, but couple it with a DOA production and it's a recipe for failure. Thank God, then, for Michael Beihn.