A horror anthology triple feature

I marathoned two low budget indies and the latest installment of a well-known found footage franchise, so let’s get right to this trio.

OCTAGON (2021)

This is an anthology in which all the stories are essentially tied together by what might be the birth of a devil baby. I say “might” because there’s a lot going on here as the wraparound interweaves itself into the stories and the stories interweave into each other, leading to nothing ever being totally quite clear.

The wraparound has a guy in the woods telling his girlfriend he has the same dream every night of strangers crying, pleading, and running in circles.

1st story – a young pregnant woman gets a frightening visit in her bedroom at night that lays the groundwork for the stories to come, explaining to her why she can’t abort her baby. I was quickly turned off by the subject matter challenging a woman’s right to choose, and it’s worse after what transpired just as I’m working on this post.

2nd story – another tale about a woman wishing to kill her child in the womb, approached from a totally different angle. This movie is starting to feel like religious horror to me.

3rd story – I’m really not feeling these “scary” stories. This is a tale about a sleazy father sexually abusing his son using a monkey mask and a razor, and the son’s plot for revenge when he becomes an adult.

4th story – a mid-movie tie-together of the first three tales, this one has a woman holding a boy captive in her hunt for something evil that comes disguised as a boy.

5th story – a magician uses a deformed man monster as part of his act.

6th story – a female jogger is terrorized by an eye plucking psycho in the park.

7th story – a couple’s game involving campfire tales gets dark fast.

8th story – like the fourth story, this one begins to sum up all the stories, seems to bleed into the wraparound, returns to the story, then back to the wraparound…yeah. I really didn’t understand the overall point of the tie-in. Even so, a few of the stories were kind of creepy on their own.

THE BLACK BOOK (2021)

Ari Lehman, the original young drowning Jason in Friday the 13th, is the clerk at a bookstore in the wraparound. A man comes in and buys a particular book, but Ari warns him never to open it or read it. Lucky for us, the dude goes home and delves right in.

1st story – I felt like I was watching the opening scene of Michael Jackson’s “Thriller”. This short tale is in black and white and takes place in the 1950s. A couple is parked in their car in the woods and things get very hairy.

2nd story – this short is filled with excess just to get to its point. Three young girls sneak into an abandoned warehouse and witness a bunch of men torturing another man while demanding to know more about “the sorcerer”. It’s mostly torture, minimal plot.

3rd story – this is how not to do a backwoods horror story. A mother and her daughter move into a house, we get some uninspired atmosphere, and then the mother sees the daughter disappear into the woods. I rolled my eyes when the mom ran outside and encountered a “scary” redneck.

4th story – this tale has been done before. A dude gets dangerously drawn into a snuff website.

5th story – this is a short alien/zombie hybrid tale that doesn’t cover any new ground.

The wraparound conclusion story is kind of dumbfounding. Basically it’s the Candyman/Bloody Mary concept, but a) you have to say a sentence so long that it needs to be written on the mirror for anyone to get it right, and b) when you say the sentence into the mirror, you conjure a college professor.

No, I’m not kidding. I guess that could be terrifying if you’re afraid he’s going to teach your kid CRT or say gay, but to the rest of us, it’s as dull as sitting through a classroom lecture.

V/H/S 94 (2021)

The popular found footage anthology franchise is back. This time a SWAT team infiltrates a warehouse and finds dead cult members…and videos, of course. Roll the tape.

1st story – this is perhaps my favorite story in the bunch in terms of establishing atmosphere and delivering a few jump scares from hell. A reporter and her cameraman enter an underground tunnel in search of the local legend known as the rat man. EEK!

2nd story – more great atmosphere is established in this tale of a young woman hosting a wake all on her own at a funeral home at night during a thunderstorm. No one shows, the closed casket starts banging, the lights go out, and the truth of what happened to the body inside comes out. DOUBLE EEK!

3rd story – this feels like the longest story in the bunch. It also looks like a super gory first person shooter video game. Busting into a lab where a crazy scientist is fusing humans and machines, a military team quickly realizes one has gotten away.

4th story – an extremist “take back America” militia group plans to blow up a government building…using explosive vampire blood. But the vampire they have imprisoned gets loose in their compound and things gets nice and gory.

The wraparound conclusion about the fate of the SWAT team is the weakest part of the entire movie, especially compared to some of the wraparounds in previous installments.

About Daniel

I am the author of the horror anthologies CLOSET MONSTERS: ZOMBIED OUT AND TALES OF GOTHROTICA and HORNY DEVILS, and the horror novels COMBUSTION and NO PLACE FOR LITTLE ONES. I am also the founder of BOYS, BEARS & SCARES, a facebook page for gay male horror fans! Check it out and like it at www.facebook.com/BoysBearsandScares.
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