The Shuroo Process | Cinematic threat

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For any authorized, warm, restorative therapy, there is the reverse; a self-help guru who seeks to prey on the gullible. Famous, the Hare Krishna in the 1970s was such a predator. In director Emrhys Cooper’s The Shuroo process, we come across another paradigmatic example of such a bottom-feeder, Guru Shuroo, better known as Irish villain Declan Costigan (Donal Brophy). Guru Shuroo came to himself after a car accident 20 years ago when he started again after a 2 week coma. At least, that’s the story he tells his future therapy subjects.

Parker Schafer (Fiona Dourif) is a self-centered coke demon who is both nervous and emotionally damaged. Until recently, Schafer was employed as a reporter and personality for Rogue magazine, a clear stand-in for The voice of the village. Now she finds herself unemployed after a particularly noisy and debauched event where she dishonored herself and the magazine. Having hit rock bottom, she turns to Guru Shuroo for help.

He implements radically unconventional and dangerous methods of therapy, as many terrible events and details of life are brought to light. Here we see our therapy candidates undergoing rituals such as throwing away a treasured memento representing past trauma, meditating while practicing the Lamaze Breathing Technique, and experiencing illicit spiritual journeys fueled by mescaline obtained in less than legal ways. This film is as funny as it is scandalous.

“…experience illicit spiritual journeys powered by mescaline… ”

The Shuroo process serves as a formidable acting showcase for co-writer Donal Brophy and Emrhys Cooper, who plays D’arcy, another person in therapy. Brophy digs his role with a lot of bravado and aplomb. He puts all of his considerable energies into portraying the less than noble guru, and that ties the whole narrative together quite effectively. In fact, every actor who appears on screen, even for a brief stint (like Brad Dourif and Eric Roberts), all do an incredible job.

By far the most striking scene is the journey of the group spirit. While a licensed and certified therapist would likely have done such an action in an environment he could completely control, Guru Shuroo initiates him into the woods near the cabin. Everyone wanders, eventually all end up in the local bar. The wild and unbalanced debauchery on display is certainly not therapeutic by anyone’s yardstick. Yet it is terribly funny and deliciously wacky. I found it very delicious in a deeply sinful way.

Guru Shuroo is a lavish feast of questionable morals and criminal intelligence. Scattered throughout the therapy weekend, Parker stumbles over small, intrusive exchanges in which she discovers the depths of Shuroo’s depravity and his sketchy behavior. Parker learns of his identity theft, frozen bank accounts, and hijacked transactions with a local drug supplier. As such, Shuroo’s full portrayal is that of a bastard, which leads to some fascinating scenes throughout.

Ultimately, a showcase of acting and storytelling comes down to the strength of storytelling and performance. The Shuroo process provides us with wonderful examples of both. Look for it as soon as you can.


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