Signal Horizon

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{Movie Review} ‘Nightmare Cinema’ A Little Something for Everyone

We here at Signal Horizon are huge fans of Shudder, and one thing that Shudder has been doing is supplying its subscribers with quality horror content, including new originals. With Nightmare Cinema, we have a horror anthology film, which offers something for every horror fan. The film is put together by Mick Garris, of Critters 2, The Stand mini-series, Sleepwalkers, and Masters of Horror Fame. He has recruited several talented long stays and up and comers in the horror industry and had each of them direct a short film.

 Photos courtesy of Cinelou Productions

Like every anthology, the films differ in tone, each one is different, and if you don’t like them all, we can guarantee that you will enjoy most, and walk away from this movie with a positive experience. The wrap around here is an interesting concept. There is a cinema that people wander into, and they watch a movie of their greatest fear/their death. The projectionist of the theater is played by Mickey Rourke, who collects the films of all these people’s last moments’ alive or greatest fears.

The first film of the anthology is called “The Thing in the Woods” directed by Alejandro Brugués of Juan of the Dead fame. This movie is a parody of a slasher film, which turns into a whole different type of movie, where the serial killer turns out to be the hero? I’ll be frank, this one did nothing for me. The practical effects were fantastic. Which is one thing I’ll say now, this movie is 90% practical effects, and they all look fantastic, this short included. This short deals with a woman running from a serial killer with a welding torch called The Welder, he’s the least threatening serial killer you will ever meet (there’s a point to that). This is a fun watch, it’s just the humor didn’t work for me at all. I appreciated the twist at the end which is implemented well. But the focus of this film is the comedy/parody elements, and sad to say, I found them quite stale.

Next up we have Mirare by the legendary Joe Dante. Dante needs no introduction. He’s a horror legend, and this short is a lot of fun. It’s very reminiscent of Tales from the Crypt, it has a very similar vibe. This short is about a woman who has a scar on her face that she is self-conscious about. She is getting married soon and wants to look beautiful for her fiancé and her future mother-in-law (who she’s never met). The mother-in-law is a big proponent of plastic surgery. Which leads us down the wacky tunnel of plastic surgery/body horror. She goes to get her face done, but when she’s kept overnight at the clinic, something strange is amiss. This short isn’t brilliant, it doesn’t stand out, and it’s kind of forgettable. But, it is a lot of fun, and the anthology started to turn around for me with this one. If you go to this surgeon, you won’t recognize yourself when you leave.

We follow that with the wacky Mashit by Ryūhei Kitamura of Midnight Meat Train fame. This short is insane. It opens up with a child who seems to be possessed by a demon, killing himself by jumping off the roof of a church and splattering his insides all over his friends. Then we find out something strange is amiss at this church/school. The priest and nun are fornicating. Also, the demon isn’t fully gone and other students are experiencing hauntings. This short climaxes with the priest and nun fighting off children possessed by a devil and painting the walls of the church red with the blood of possessed children. It’s nutty, it’s insane, it’s sleazy, and it’s a lot of fun. This was my second favorite of the anthology.

By far my favorite short “This Way to Egress” was directed by David Slade of Hard Candy fame. This is a hard one to write about. A woman goes to her therapist’s office with her children and a normal trip to the therapist becomes a living nightmare. The short is shot in black and white and it is very stylish. It’s also unnerving. It’s almost as if David Lynch and 1980s David Cronenberg had a love child together. It’s like watching a waking nightmare. The film is full of unnerving scenes, body horror, paranoia, and it’s so entrancing that you can’t look away. All you want is for the woman to find her children, and for everything to be okay. Then by the end, you’re left in a state of shock and you don’t know if her hallucinations are real, or if it’s just one giant delusion. This anthology is worth watching for this film alone, it’s amazing.

 Photos courtesy of Cinelou Productions

Finally, we have Mick Garris’ contribution Dead. This is also a great film, a little like The Sixth Sense, but darker. It focuses on a boy who was shot in the chest after his parents were killed in a carjacking. The boy died for 12 minutes, but he was revived. However, he has a side effect, he can now see dead people. He sees his mother and his mother wants him to let go, so he can join her in the afterlife. The story progresses slowly and it has a dreamlike quality to it, and a lot of heart. It has some tense moments too, and a couple of brutal scenes. Unlike Pet Sematary, sometimes dead isn’t better.

Overall, if you’re in the mood for some horror cinema, you’ll find movies that suit all different styles of taste. Each movie is different, and that is both to the movie’s benefit and to its deterrent. It’s available to rent on Amazon Prime and will be available on Shudder later this year.