Emma (Margherita Remotti) is a scientist from America specialicing in
(actual) witch hunts and their relation to feminism and female supression
who has just come across the Italian witch Shanda (Marcella Braga), who
back in the times of the inquisition was actually a herb woman who got
blamed (and branded a witch and killed) for the very epidemic she tried to
fight. Now Emma is up for taking a tour to all the places in Shanda's
legend with local guide Giulia (Claudia Marasca), and they're accompanied
by a journalist with a predilection for the uncanny, Daniel (Diego Runco).
And on the way to what's dubbed "Shanda's River", their car
breaks down and they are approached by a couple of masked man - and
brutally killed ... and then Emma wakes up in her hotel room, and it was
all just a dream - only she again goes on the tour with the same people,
the car stops at the exact same spot, and the party is killed again by
masked men ... and Emma wakes up again!
Not really all that surprisingly, Emma decides to skip the tour the
third time round, but a masked man then enters her room and brutally kills
her. Soon Emma has to realize whatever she does, she will get killed
before the end of the day to wake up again in the morning. She soon
researches the story a bit closer, and learns the one person who can
probably help her is Daniel, who stays at the same hotel, only a couple of
rooms down the hallway. That said, it's of course hard to convince him
what Emma's living through, and when she has succeeded, she doesn't
exactly like what he tells her to do to end the curse ...
Now of course, in premise and structure, Shanda's River is more
than a little reminiscent of that comedy favourite Groundhog Day,
no matter how you turn things ... but that said, the movie still manages
to tell a very interesting story with its fair share of violence for the
average horror fan and plenty of unusual plottwists for those who dig
deeper. And it manages to create a mythology that makes the "reliving
the same day"-premise feasible in its own logic. And add a
directorial effort with an emphasis on atmosphere and tension and a
relatable cast, and you've got yourself pretty good genre entertainment.