My horror itch was scratched with this trio of films in various subgenres, so let’s get right into them.
NIGHT CALLER (2021)
I’m a fan of director Chad Ferrin and own several of his films on disc, including Exorcism at 60,000 Feet, Someone’s Knocking at the Door, and Easter Bunny, Kill! Kill!. What I like about him is that he always tries something different in terms of horror subgenres. Needless to say, after watching Night Caller on Prime, I immediately ordered the DVD.
A psychic phone worker gets a call from a creep and immediately starts having visions of him as he commits his crimes.
This psycho brutally stabs people and then scalps them while they’re still alive (although I don’t know how they can be).
With the help of her homebound father and her boss, played by Bai Ling of Dumplings (who even references dumplings in this movie), the psychic digs deeper into her visions to track down the killer, because the police aren’t buying her psychic powers.
The pacing, the editing, the lighting, the brutal kills, and the bizarre situations are a treat for lovers of classic giallos of the 70s and 80s, and the psycho killer with gender identity issues brought on by a fucked up parent is always a welcome throwback as well.
TELL ME A CREEPY STORY (2023)
This horror anthology is a simple collection of short films with no wraparound, but I did really like 3 out of the 4 stories. Here’s the breakdown:
1st story – a mother’s burden in life is raising a baby boy whose appetite grows more and more ravenous as he gets older. Gluttonous and gross visuals ensue, leading up to a good conclusion that is, however, most likely predictable for horror veterans.
2nd story – this is my favorite of the bunch. After the accidental death of his wife in a horrific way, a man panics and decides to bury her in his yard. Spooky atmosphere and horror deliver as her body parts become embedded in the vegetables he’s growing. Eek!
3rd story – an eerie home invasion flick with some layers, this one has a girl home alone at night calling a plumbing service and soon finding herself being terrorized by more than one man.
4th story – a couple living a rustic life is visited by a religious missionary, and that’s never a good thing in horror. This is more story than scary.
EVIL TAKES ROOT (2020)
Evil literally takes root in this heavy-handed, often convoluted film that blends folklore, witchcraft, possession, and religion to tell a tale about…a wood demon with glowing eyes!
As a father and daughter are dealing with the bizarre death of their matriarch, her ex-boyfriend, a paranormal investigator, comes to town, having received a message from her before her death. She had good taste in men, because both the husband and the ex are hot.
They’re even hotter when they do this together…
Anyway, the daughter has visions and dreams of the demon (too many, leading to excessive delusion and nightmare sequences), the investigator is harassed by numerous big butch men who think he should mind his own business, and on the sidelines, several religious leaders are obsessed with sin.
Like I said, there’s a bit too much going on. But the visual scenes of robed witches with black dogs in the woods definitely create a spooky tone, and even though much of the wood demon scenes rely on CGI, it’s still a compelling specter that delivers cheap scares.
And just when you think there isn’t enough already going on, the film ends with an exorcism! It’s all entertaining, but it is like there are at least three different stories being told at once that all could have had their own movies.