Black and Blue Horror Shorts Block
Bad Hair - This grotesque short would have been right at home in the "Squirm" shorts block of years past.
Hellevate - Short, sweet, and to-the-point, this great short takes place in an elevator that, in real life, was about to be demolished due to it being dangerous and unreliable. Love it.
O.I. - Some shorts are able to pull off a feature-length story into a handful of minutes. This is one such short, and it takes its brilliant concept and runs with it in a humorously macabre fashion.
Place - This haunted house satire is easily one of the best of the block. The humor is on-point and the jokes are executed to perfection.
The Procedure 2 - It's hard to follow up the gem that was the first, but Procedure 2 manages to still carry a similar humor with what feels like a little self-awareness at its sequel-ness.
Wild Love - This animated feature hilariously follows a mob of rodents that take revenge on a hiking couple, and it's as funny as you'd expect.
An anthology film where every story is based around horror tropes? What's not to love? This movie was teased last year at THS with one of the shorts that is contained within the film, and it made the feature length anthology look very promising in the humor department. And the film definitely delivers on that front.
The interconnecting story does a great job of not only continuing the trope satirizing, but also of moving us from short to short. Eventually we are left with a ridiculous continuation of this overarching tale in the finale that takes the trope conceptualization to Cabin in the Woods heights.
As is often the case, not all shorts are created equal within anthologies. With a plethora of directors, the vision and range are vast, so each will tackle their respective tropes in a different light that may appeal to a different audience. Black comedy gore tends to get me chuckling, so One Time in the Woods and The Night He Came Back Again! Part IV: The Final Kill (the title adds to the gag) were squarely in my wheelhouse for laughs.
Melted people, uber-strong serial killers and a horror field test on permanently killing a slasher icon all had me in stitches. Chris McInroy (One Time in the Woods) has a knack for black comedy and I would love to see him create a feature-length film using his unique talents.
The finale is a joy to behold, essentially working as a culmination of the tropes in the final act of a horror slasher. I believe that many of the tropes and jokes hit so well, and the film rewards vigilance throughout with easter eggs like a Freddy Krueger-like car and Alien-esque motion tracking map. Some tropes are used repeatedly where a handful from subgenres like haunted houses and the like aren't really touched on much. But the free reign given to the directors is bound to create some overlap as an expense to creative humor. At the end of the day, that single complaint is worth it for the finished product.
Horror Rating System
Horror Qualifier: 8/10 Horror Quality: 3/10
Film Quality: 5/10
Daniel Isn't Real
Daniel Isn't Real follows a young man, Luke, who brings back his childhood imaginary friend, Daniel, as Luke struggles to acclimate to college and his mother's mental illness. While Luke initially profits from Daniel's reemergence, Daniel's violent tendencies soon arise and Luke must find a way to rid himself of him for good.
It's tough...I've seen a lot of great films this weekend and we've got another day to go, but the more I think about it, the more I think Daniel Isn't Real might be my favorite of the festival. It has everything, except perhaps a lack of a break from its somber and tense atmosphere.
Patrick Schwarzenegger (son of Arnold) dominates the screen as Daniel, but equally impressive is the performance from Miles Robbins (son of Tim) as the troubled Luke. They both do such a fantastic job playing off of each other, further empowered by superbly crafted direction, cinematography and effects work.
As soon as the film was over I wanted to watch it again. I wanted to catch all the nuances of the characters' behaviors and the metaphors that sprinkle the vibrant, yet dark sets and scenes. There is so much to absorb that this film feels like it could potentially be rewarding with viewings beyond just the first.
This film doesn't imply heavy effects on the surface of its concept, but it surprisingly relies on a powerful mixture of practical and CG effects to make for disturbing and visceral moments that truly impact the film. It finds this balance between the ethereal and the tangible to blend into a coherent nightmare.
I'm very much looking forward to watching this film again, and soon, and I would recommend it to most horror fans for its performances, directing, and imagery.
Horror Rating System
Horror Qualifier: 9/10 Horror Quality: 8/10 Film Quality: 8/10
The Golden Glove
This film follows the true story of a German serial killer from the 1970s who murdered several women while frequenting a bar called the Golden Glove.
Filthy. Filthy is the best word to describe how you will feel walking out of this movie. Similar to films like Hereditary, Golden Glove leaves a residue on the viewer that is impressed through its relentless bombardment of destitution and life-crippling alcoholism. There may not be but a small handful of scenes in which a person somewhere in the shot isn't stumbling around drunk or in a staring-off drunken stupor. This instills an overwhelming feeling of hopelessness in the supporting cast. And I do mean overwhelming.
The stench of the film can be sensed through the screen, leaving one disgusted by much more than just the serial killer's behavior and murders, which are revolting all to themselves.
There is a humor installed through the characters that frequent the bar to break the tension, but it's hard to boast its efficacy because their raunchy and depressing atmosphere also piles on the despair.
It takes a while to get over this film with its relentless brutality and dejected demeanor in everyone's very presence. At times, there are elements that feel like Hell on earth, a complete lack of hope or joy. And it leaves you feeling that pain. So it's hard to not call it successful in its impression upon the audience.
Horror Rating System
Horror Qualifier: 6/10
Horror Quality: 7/10
Film Quality: 7/10