I was given the chance to check out a film made by brothers Amariah and Obin Olson called The Shadow Effect. I also managed to get an interview with one of the brothers, Amariah, to talk about the challenges and inspirations that existed in making this film.
This film had a very different and yet familiar feel to it. The plot revolves around a man named Gabriel, played by Cam Gigandet, who is plagued by very violent and very realistic nightmares every night. We as the audience see these nightmares in vivid detail, followed immediately by Gabriel hugging his toilet vomiting from the intensity of the nightmares. In these nightmares, a masked man is seen murdering politicians and business figures in office buildings and on expensive looking yachts.
Gabriel’s wife becomes very concerned with Gabriel’s worsening nights and fears for his sanity. The couple decides to enlist the help of Dr. Reese, played by Jonathan Rhys Meyers, to help Gabriel make something of these awful dreams. Once Dr. Reese is introduced into the equation the audience begins to realize that not only is he not a trustworthy character, Gabriel’s nightmares may be more than just dreams.
If I were to compare this film to something else I’ve seen it would have to be a cross between Source Code and Edge of Tomorrow. Both of those films involve a man who is thrust into a nightmarish scenario that he is forced to experience over and over again while trying to figure out what is happening. And although this is a low budget film, the Olson brothers used their storytelling methods to keep the film moving as opposed to films like Edge of Tomorrow that rely on more special effects and explosions.
After having time to digest the film, I had a few questions of my own. Director Amariah Olson was kind enough to speak with me over the phone to answer them. My first question was about the challenges involved in making a film like this one. Olson told me: “Our timeline was very crammed. We had so many locations in such a short timeframe. We had to get the crew to the area everyday and set up and then pack everyone back up and move on. It was also difficult because we had actors with their own schedules. Jonathan Rhys Meyers joined the cast a week into production so we were filming a movie not knowing what talent was involved yet.”
Being the big science fiction fan that I am, seeing that Michael Biehn was in this film excited me. For those who aren’t as familiar with his work, Biehn has been in such films as Aliens, The Terminator and The Abyss. So of course I had to ask Olson what it was like working with this film legend. “He was fantastic, we all love Michael Biehn. He had a great sense of humor on set. He’s had so many classic performances. When you give him the right dialogue and he has the ability to make a very memorable performance.”
Having two directors can be daunting for an actor when filming because there are two sets of eyes and two visions. Having two directors that are also brothers is even more daunting. I asked Olson about what it’s like working closely with his brother and what having family around him all the time means to him. Olson explained: “I really wouldn’t be making movies if I wasn’t working with my blood relatives. With all of the work that goes into a production and the high levels of risk involved everyday, having a core group of people that you can trust with your life and run ideas by is very important to me.”
The Shadow Effect is a very unique film that sucked me into its story. Movies are supposed to take the audience away from their life for a short time and transport them to a new world of excitement and wonder. Filmmakers who have that spark inside them to create these escapes from reality like the Olson brothers are what keep the film industry on their feet. The Shadow Effect is out now on DVD, Digital HD and On Demand.