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Movie Review: 'The Shuroo Process' Can't Decide What Movie to Be

by Sean Patrick 3 days ago in movie

Wasting a solid lead performance by Fiona Dourif is the most glaring of several failures in The Shuroo Process.

The Shuroo Process cannot decide what kind of movie it wants to be. The film stars Fiona Dourif as Parker Schaefer, an infamously fearless magazine writer who has finally gone off the rails. As we join the story, Parker has returned from what we can fairly assume was a binge. Parker is a fast talking mess and it doesn’t take long for her husband, who we only meet this one time, to clock her as drunk and high. He’s leaving, as we can see he’s all packed, and he’s taking the kids that are implied but never seen.

Instead of waiting for her husband to leave however, Parker throws herself out of the house and goes to stay with a friend. Parker has a red carpet event on this night and given the state that she’s already in, it’s no surprise that it goes horribly wrong. When Parker accepts her award she’s falling down drunk and rambling about conspiracy theories. The speech ends with Parker face down on the stage, her dress nearly over her head and her butt on display to the world. All of this is played with distinctly arch, comic tone.

Parker's meltdown is a big enough deal that it goes viral on gossip websites and Parker is subsequently fired from the magazine that she co-founded and was the star of. With her life in shambles, Parker’s best friend suggests that she seek out this guy she saw on social media, a guru named Shuroo. The Shuroo Project is a retreat for addicts and those in need of various forms of extreme therapy. Parker needs to detox but she’s also skeptical of the whole enterprise and senses a potential story behind the social media influencer/guru.

Guru Shuroo (Donal Brophy) is an Englishman who has grown a large social media following by being handsome and sounding like he knows what he’s talking about. He claims to have been to India and was trained there in ancient secrets and techniques that he uses t0 help people solve their problems. He’s especially adept at sizing people up, cold reading his guests before they even introduce themselves, a classic tactic of a con-man, or televangelist.

Nevertheless, Parker finds herself drawn to Guru Shuroo especially when his tactics appear to help other people at the retreat. That said, trusting Guru Shuroo requires Parker to ignore several very large and very bright red flags. These include his very close relationship with one of the guests of the retreat, something that is supposed to be forbidden, and his relationship with a strange man who emerges from the forest and whom we see bartending at a nearby bar despite the retreat supposedly being closed to all outsiders.

The arc of The Shuroo Process centers on whether or not Parker can get clean despite the whole Shuroo Process seemingly being revealed as a potential scam. Fiona Dourif is more than capable of carrying out this arc but she’s let down by the inconsistent tone of The Shuroo Process. Writer-director Emrhys Cooper, who also co-stars as one of the retreat attendees, can’t decide whether he’s making a satire of influencer hucksters promising enlightenment or a serious drama about traumatized people in recovery from addiction.

While Dourif appears capable of pulling off either tone, she’s shuttled from one idea to the next and the whole movie stumbles along with her. Donal Brophy’s performance is oddly flat as if he doesn’t know whether to lay on the cheese of being a con-man guru or if he’s supposed to be a legit guru who happens to have real life problems that he’s trying to keep hidden. The Guru Shuroo character is the least consistent character in the movie and that’s a shame because he’s also essential to whatever the movie is trying to be.

The ending seems to indicate an intentionally mixed bag approach that I found thoroughly unconvincing. Characters seem to find an enlightened recovery despite everything while one character appears to receive a thorough comeuppance that is seemingly undermined in the final moments leaving every possible plot thread nearly unresolved. It’s rare that a movie hedges almost every bet it makes but The Shuroo Project manages that, playing it safe and leaving each of the many story threads at play unsatisfyingly unresolved.

I don’t think The Shuroo Project is a terrible movie, it’s just a deeply flawed and unsatisfying movie. Fiona Dourif, daughter of acting legend, Brad Dourif, who also cameos in The Shuroo Project, though not with his daughter, appears quite capable of carrying a feature film. Much like her character actor father, Fiona has an offbeat, eclectic quality that makes her very fun to watch. There is an air of unpredictability about Fiona Dourif that I really enjoyed. It’s yet another flaw of The Shuroo Project that the movie fails to tap that quality for either comedy or drama.

The Shuroo Process will be released in limited theatrical release engagements, as well as for on-demand rental, on November 24th, 2021.

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Sean Patrick

Hello, my name is Sean Patrick He/Him, and I am a film critic and podcast host for Everyone's a Critic Movie Review Podcast. I am a voting member of the Broadcast Film Critics Association, the group behind the annual Critics Choice Awards.

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