Dir: Courtney Andujar, Hillary Andujar, Anthony Cousins, Emily Hagins, Aaron B. Koontz, Chris McInroy, Noah Segan, Baron Vaughn
Star: Jeremy King, Hawn Tran, Byron Brown, Jon Michael Simpson
It feels like I’ve reached half my word count, simply by listing all the directors in this anthology. Yet despite the disparate personnel, they do a good job of maintaining a consistent style: if you’d told me all the segments were directed by the same person, I’d have believed you. In terms of content, on the other hand? We run the gamut from A to Z: A as in “awesome”, to Z as in… um, something beginning with Z? It begins very effectively with “Cold Open”, perhaps the most well thought-out story. A background character in horror movies – awkwardly named Mike Myers (Simpson) – dreams of getting a story arc, while stuck doing menial work such as cutting the power to isolated cabins. It’s genuinely inventive, a bit like Free Guy from a horror perspective.
The main wraparound follows, “Rad Chad’s Horror Emporium”, where Chad (King) hires a new employee for his movie store (Tran), and trains them in the way of video (top). This allows for easy segues into the remaining installments, yet is also amusing in its own terms, even if the “throwback video store” has kinda been done to death. Still, I did laugh at the shop having sections for “Evil Clowns” and “Post Modern Feminist Slasher Revenge Body Horror” – the latter containing precisely one title (surprisingly, not directed by the Soska Sisters!). After a superb start, the results thereafter are more variable, so let’s quickly survey what follows:
- “One Time in the Woods” – not much story here, beyond a camping trip going horribly wrong. But definitely makes up for it with some gloriously icky, energetic and practical special effects.
- “M.I.S.T.E.R.” – a man joins a men’s rights group, only to find it’s not what it seems. Takes rather too long to get to where it’s going, and not particularly worth the wait when it does.
- “Girls’ Night Out of Body” – a demonic lollipop possesses a group of women on a weekend getaway. I have no real idea what the point of this was, since it was neither particularly amusing nor horrific.
- “The Night He Came Back Again! Part IV – The Final Kill” – A pointed segment on the difficulty of really terminating horror movie killers. This concept should ring a bell with just about every genre fan, and is a load of fun.
- “So Much to Do” – Someone gets highly upset about spoilers. Again: not sure why this was included, it left me neither shaken nor stirred.
- “Horror Hypothesis” – Circles back to Chad, who finds himself stuck in a horror movie, being pursued by the Devil’s Lake Impaler (played, out of costume, by WWE’s Goldust!). Takes “meta” to an almost insane degree, to the point even I could apprecuate it. I certainly can’t argue the accuracy of the tropes it targets.
It’s in the nature of anthology movies to always be variable: in effect, they’re multiple little films in the same package. Yet I’m not sure I’ve ever seen one which covers quite such a range of outcomes. It is the case that individual mileage will vary: maybe you’ll like the ones I hated, or vice versa. Regular readers will know I’m not normally a fan of self-referential horror, considering Scream to be more annoying than anything. Yet I’ll confess that the approach here works, poking fun, in an appreciative way. Even if some of the results fall rather flat, I think the ones which succeed are stellar, and more than make up for the less successful.