As a sucker for a good horror anthology, so far I’m having a pretty damned fine Halloween season; flicks like the recent A Christmas Horror Story and Tales of Halloween have definitely delivered on the fun-time anthology goodness that classic flicks like Creepshow and Tales From The Crypt are full of. These films all deliver the goods in terms of horror, but instead of being “scary” per se, they focus more on the good times aspect of the horror film, giving you something to chuckle with as your nerves are jangled and your senses assaulted…but what about an anthology that focused on the “horror” aspect? One that left out the black humor and the tongue-in-cheek “heh-heh-heh” of the Crypt Keeper and instead shed a flickering light on situations of real, unadulterated horror?
Fresh off of the two recent flicks I mention above, I settled in to watch The Horror Network, Volume 1 with some excitement — good things, like bad, often come in threes, and I was hoping that I would have a rollicking good time with yet another collection of five horror tales…though the film is from back in 2013, it recently became available on DVD, distributed by Wild Eye Releasing.
I’m just going to touch briefly on each of the chapters; trying to write about the film as a whole entity resulted in several pages of tangential conversation (which means I found the film damned interesting, but didn’t want to bore you poor folks to tears), so I went back to the drawing board and came up with what follows:
3:00 AM — A young woman, alone in an isolated farmhouse, finds her sleep interrupted, things not as they should be…and that perhaps, she’s not as alone as she would think. It may sound cliché and hokey, but I have to say, this segment, with it’s outstanding composition and use of sound and shadow to build suspense, was pretty damned scary. The atmosphere was tense and kinetic, and it’s definitely a good way to start this collection…but only to lull you into a false sense of security.
Edward — A man visits his therapist, dealing with mommy issues, apathy — and one feels he just might be teetering on the brink of schizophrenia. As the session plays out, however, the analyst finds himself in a strange and dangerous world of madness. Again, it may sound old hat, but the acting in this one (from Nick Frangione and Artem Mishin) brings this spooky little story up to higher levels…dig deep into psychosis, folks.
The Quiet — A bullied girl who is hearing impaired steps off her bus from school and into a world of terror. Who is the man in the spooky van, and why is he following her? A descent into paranoid terror where her handicap ironically amplifies the terror, this one has a twist ending that will leave you guessing.
Merry Little Christmas — Three people around the Yuletide season deal with issues that go far beyond typical family squabbles. The evil of spousal abuse and the blackness that can fill a human soul are highlighted in a beautifully-shot yet highly disturbing chapter — even I cringed at the brutal horror and palpable despair a time or two, and I’m pretty jaded. Spanish with English subtitles, you won’t need to worry about the language barrier; this one gets its point across very viscerally.
The Deviant One — A snapshot of the life of a highly psychotic individual, showcasing his deviance, yet painting a frightening portrait of just how much dark madness can hide in the guise of the normal.
Culled from over 200 short films by creators Douglas Conner and Brian Dorton, these five that comprise the anthology range from what could be called the basic “alone in the house” story to a harrowing look into the psychological impact of and emotional destruction caused by familial abuse. Each has its own flavor, all well-directed and acted, but despite their differences in style and presentation, they fit together as a whole into a tapestry of dread that will leave you feeling gut-punched. This anthology didn’t come to show us a good time, it came to hold up a mirror to certain societal woes and show us what real horror is…and for that, I consider it a worthy addition to the list of horror anthologies worth watching — just be damned sure that you’re wanting to see a mature, unflinching, and genuinely shocking glimpse into the all-too-real horrors all around us.
Now that you Fellow Fans are forewarned, I recommend checking it out.
And that’s my two.
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