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Beginning with his 1994 debut Before the Rain—a film that, with its interconnecting intercontinental narratives, can be thanked for providing blueprints for all of those Syriana‘s and Babel‘s—Macedonian director Milcho Manchevski has tenuously juggled historical inquiries of his Balkan homeland with a strained, lugubrious lyricism. Ever since his breakthrough his questionable auteur calling cards—gratuitous nudity, restless editing, endless establishing shots of local color—have become ends in of themselves and now far outweigh investigations of national identity and political violence, issues that seemed suspiciously like pretenses in the first place. Now with Shadows, the follow-up to 2001’s ridiculous cowboys-against-the-Turks fairy tale Dust, Manchevski has entered the world of the middlebrow horror movie: no guts and blood or high-concept genre revisions here, just a plodding, obvious ghost story with a featherweight moral lesson attached to lend it a whiff of importance and establish thematic links to the rest of his work. It’s a feeble exercise that only further cements the director’s increasing irrelevance—indeed, readers will likely have already asked, “Milcho who?”

Click here to read the rest of Michael Joshua Rowin’s review of Shadows.

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