The Terror Daves would like to welcome back our friend, Jason Schoolcraft, for his scintillating review of a brand new horror anthology you won’t want to miss!
I just watched The Dark Tapes, brought to the masses from Epic Pictures. Knowing that these are the same guys that have been knocking it out of the park with such great films as Tales of Halloween (loved it), Turbo Kid (wow, what a retro sci-fi masterpiece!), and V/H/S (awesome), I was very excited to see what next they had in store!
What’s described in the press junket accompanying this screener as “a genre-defying mixture of horror, sci-fi, myth, mystery and thrills told as four interlocking tales of one intelligent anthology full of ghosts, spirits, and creatures” is dead on folks. They didn’t oversell this film at all, save perhaps for the “interlocking” part. Regardless, the overall tone was steady throughout the film and the transition between tales was done very well.
Let me start by saying this is not your average found footage/POV film and I think it should stand as the genre’s new standard. The film begins with no explanation of who or why someone is viewing the footage nor why the first story is broken up amongst the others but somehow it all works. The first story is called To Catch a Demon and is woven throughout the remainder of the anthology. Directed by Vincent J. Guastini, this story initially resembles the majority of found footage films but, rest assured, you’ll be blown away at the conclusion! The best I can say without spoilers is that it reminded me of Altered States. My only criticism is that I feel they made a mistake showing the “demon” with so much clarity. I think found footage films work much better when there’s more left to the imagination and, in my opinion, that would have provided this story more impact.
The second story is called Hunters and Hunted. This tale begins with a couple moving into their beautiful new house only to discover there’s something terribly wrong with it. After unsuccessfully trying to work things through themselves, they turn to the paranormal community for assistance. Needless to say, help no sooner arrives when all hell breaks loose! Although on paper this may sound like your typical “Paranormal hunters trying to rid a house from ghosts,” let me assure you, it’s not! As with all these stories, the film doesn’t get stuck with one style of filming which keeps each story fresh and the viewer ever vigilant.
The third installment, Cam Girls, really stood out for me! Although the story is slow to reveal itself, it’s well worth the wait. The lead female, Emilia Ares Zoryan. is an actress whom I suspect we’ll be seeing much more of in the future. Not only is she nice to look at, her character is a rollercoaster of emotions! This story leans towards the erotic side but like the other tales will have you jumping out of your skin by its end!
The final installment is titled Amanda’s Revenge and, of the four stories, proved to be the film’s deepest. Amanda played superbly by Brittany Underwood, is attacked at a party by some no-gooders. She awakens the next day with no recollection of the night before, thus beginning a four-month journey of self-discovery. Then, FINALLY, she…well…you’ll just have to watch and see for yourself! Again, it is worth the ride and the ending will blow you away!
Although I said there wasn’t much “interlocking” with these stories, I will say the mixture of horror, myth, sci-fi, ghosts, and monsters all have one thing in common; scaring the hell out of you! The stories also all show strong performances from their casts along with great storytelling and deft directing/editing. It’s a super creepy, mind-bending paranormal ride with more pieces of the puzzle revealed as satisfied viewers go forth. This anthology should change the way found footage films will be told and take the genre to a much-needed, higher level. I hope I’ve inspired you to run out and see this film because it’s well worth it! MIND BLOWN 8/10 stars.