Eureka! I got at least some horror satisfaction out of each of these three during my latest marathon of films from my Prime list. Let’s dive into them.
Cutie Aaron Wolf co-writes, directs, and stars in this little indie creature feature. It definitely takes a while to get going, but once the horror action hits (about an hour in) it’s a tight monster movie production.
The plot is just a bit clunky, and the film seems to be going for a bit of a horror comedy vibe, but that just didn’t really click for me. Aaron is helping his father close the family business because they’re being evicted. There’ a tar pit across the street, and a homeless man outside the gates will tell scary stories about the history of the pit for a quarter.
While the main characters indulge in mostly fluff dialogue at the office, there are death scenes sprinkled throughout of random people (mostly construction workers) being killed by tar that comes up from the ground, making this feel like it’s going to be a modernized take on The Blob.
But once the lights go out in the office at night while the main characters are packing up, the creature feature fun begins, and they are hunted down by a tar monster! Yay!
There’s lots of darkness and bouncing flashlight beams, but we get to see plenty of tar monster and there are some gooey kills. Plus, Tiffany Shepis is one of the main characters for a change instead of just getting a two-minute cameo as she usually does these days.
THE SOURCE OF SHADOWS (2020)
As far as obscure anthologies on Prime go, The Source of Shadows manages to consist mostly of tales that appear to have higher production value than the usual indies. However, the budget limitations become apparent more in the lack of visual horror stimulation; much of the fear here is implied. And in most cases, it feels like the whole story is just set up for a zinger ending, which tends to lessen the sting.
There’s also no wraparound. This is simply a series of short films assembled together, but there does seem to be a good sense of commonality between them, and they feel like they all belong in the same film. Here’s a breakdown of the ten tales:
1st story – a blind boy’s mother leaves him tied to a rope to keep him from going into the woods because…there’s something out there.
2nd story – very brief and fun twist on the stalker peeping girl in house tale.
3rd story – a man in a cabin fears something creeping around outside in this short but eerily effective tale.
4th story – a man stranded in the middle of the ocean on a boat is being haunted.
5th story – a young woman hides from what I believe is a zombie that comes into her house. The zinger ending is great, but the reason for it is like the ultimate example of stupid things characters do in horror movies.
6th story – a guy is the hunter and the hunted in the woods…but we never see what the enemy is.
7th story – the classics never disappoint. A young girl believes something in the woods followed her home and is in her closet. Yikes!
8th story – a couple getting ready for bed is in for a surprise when it’s time to turn off the lights.
9th story – this is an animated story with no dialogue, which I find a jarring diversion.
10th story – a sex line operator faces off against a perv that knows way too much about her.
This is sort of a home invasion film from the director of the Blood Feast remake. However, much of it is about the main girl’s struggle to come to terms with her life after she goes blind, so you have to hang in there to get to the good horror stuff.
She makes friends in a support group, including horror veteran Caroline Williams as another blind woman, and a young mute man she is attracted to but too insecure to open up to. There are a lot of introspective EMO music montages of her sitting around drowning in her sorrows.
Meanwhile, scenes of a creep in a very freaky human mask hanging out in a room glowing with neon lights are sprinkled throughout the film, but I never quite understood exactly what this place was or where it was in proximity to our main girl’s house. It kind of looks like a high school prom gone horribly wrong and the scenes that take place there are often surreal, including a couples dance montage set to an awesome now wave song called “Love is Blind” by Mikro Hirsch that I’m totally going to be playing on my Future Flashbacks show.
Finally at about 40 minutes in, things move into slasher territory for a while, with some cuties dropping by, including a food delivery guy and a hot cop.
These scenes quite effectively convey just how vulnerable being blind can leave a person.
The masked creep does some killing and starts stalking our main girl. Little does she know he’s not only right outside her house, but eventually makes his way in and is only feet away from her at all times. It’s suspenseful at first, but then becomes repetitive. She never has any idea he’s there, so there’s never any cat and mouse game or chance for her to fight back.
The reason why becomes clear when the final scene plays out. It’s quite satisfying in terms of delivering a twist and a zinger, but it does end up feeling like the main character’s journey to the final moment could easily have been presented as a 30-minute tale in the new Creepshow series, perhaps, rather than stretched into a 90-minute movie.