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By Steve Anderson | September 1, 2007

Okay, so we’ve all been here before. From the dim old days of Captain America all the way up to “28 Days Later”, we’ve been watching as various government programs try to genetically design the latest and greatest superhuman killing machines. Only occasionally does it actually work.

“Shadow Walkers” will be one more hashmark in the huge column labeled “Really Bad Ideas”. Yet another monstrously bloated government initiative (weighing out at eighty-eight billion dollars by the end), “Shadow Walkers” looks to turn people into ravenous snarling bloodthirsty superhuman beasties from hell.

At the same time, leave their brains intact enough to take orders from wildly weaker human beings. As though you needed me to tell you, Something Goes Wrong and the monsters are let out of their cages, tearing hell out of the research facility’s staff.

But of course, even the most thorough bloodthirsty hellmonsters will miss a few stragglers, so of course, the last remnants of the lab are working to get out alive and un-chewed-on.

Sure, it sounds familiar. Because it is. Let’s be honest–we all know the story of the government super soldier project that went horribly, horribly wrong. Marvel has one for every day that ends in “Y”. But when it’s done right–much the way “Shadow Walkers” was, it can still be an exciting and purely enjoyable experience. Much the way “Shadow Walkers” was.

Exposition is kept to a quiet minimum of necessary information, granted through brief, briskly paced flashbacks that show just enough data to keep you well-informed but not enough to distract from the plot. Better still, there are plenty of solidly done action moments and lots of suspense to keep you engaged throughout. Even the effects, though clearly low budget, are at worst a mixed bag. Latex masks are at least vaguely convincing, but the weapons effects aren’t all that great. On several occasions blood packs detonated before characters registered impact, when, especially with a shotgun, it should be the other way around at least, near simultaneous at best.

Sure, the whole thing looks and feels low-budget, shot in what looks like a factory after hours, but the shortcomings are sufficiently small that you almost don’t notice them. The whole thing is really rather good in the end.

The ending does a fair job of tying up the loose ends, and leaves just enough room for a sequel down the line, which I frankly don’t cringe at the thought of so I call it good enough.

The special features include English and Spanish subtitles, a making of featurette, and several trailers including “Shadow Walkers” and “The Descent”.

“Shadow Walkers” is unoriginal but fun, and that will make it an excellent bridge between the various summer blockbusters that you’re probably at least thinking about watching.

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