I can’t really say there’s any tale in any of these “anthologies” that I’ll remember a few months from now, and only one of the movies is your traditional anthology setup. Here’s a breakdown of each film.
SCARY TALES (2014)
I’m beginning with this indie film that follows the traditional anthology format, and actually has a sequel, which I blogged about here a while back. But that’s no Creepshow 2, and this is no Creepshow. The stories just fall flat and don’t deliver anything in the way of chills and thrills.
However, I was liking the wraparound, in which four friends gather at a cabin for a high school reunion, make references to mullets, acid wash jeans, the band Winger, CDs, and cassettes, and participate in some gay banter. And then they start telling scary tales….
1st story – A pretty crazy dude is fired from his job at a factory, and then a demon in the woods teaches him a lesson for being a remorseless bully.
2nd story – A young woman and her cousin are on the run after something awful happens to her abusive stepfather. As fate would have it, they end up running into some occult trouble in a house in the woods.
3rd story – After a game of poker, the losers kill the winner, so he comes back from the dead for payback.
4th story – Some kid wants to make it to the other side of an infamous railroad bridge that no one has ever successfully crossed, but even attempting it has deadly consequences.
The wraparound becomes the final story, and while the concept is fun and involves a werewolf, the hairy beast’s transformation is quickly just implied before the credits role. Yawn.
PARANOIA TAPES (2015)
This is an anthology of sorts in which we are bombarded by seemingly unrelated found footage clips, some of them more interesting than others.
The fact that there’s a “wraparound” scenario – a guy watching a bunch of videotapes he finds after his father goes missing – makes it seem like this is all going to tie in together at the end. I think it might have, but if so, I didn’t get it.
Aside from notable horror references – a guy in a creepy mask with a Negan Lucille bat recites the Freddy Krueger rhyme, a chick mixes up The Grudge with The Ring when talking about watching the wraparound guy’s videotapes, some guys in the woods have a run-in with a Slender Man type character – most of the clips involve people killing people they know.
I’m sure it all somehow comes together at the end, but I was just too busy looking for a distraction, any distraction, to completely follow it. However, these boys temporarily got my attention.
THE VOID (2016)
This movie brings together a bunch of short films as one anthology, so each story has a title card at the beginning and closes with end credits.
Many of these tales aren’t so much horror as they are fantastical, just plain artsy, or virtually impossible to understand, so I was rarely transfixed. Some of the stories even run less than a minute long.
One story notably begins with a gay guy talking about the suicide of his boyfriend at the urging of anonymous trolls on a suicide Website, another is a quirky tale of a high school girl using the occult to get revenge on her bitchy peers.
But my favorite, which is the kind of short you would find on YouTube and get a chuckle from, is a comic tale of a little boy’s encounter with a ghost in his house. If only the other tales had been this much fun….