The last film I viewed at the first edition of Montreal’s Requiem FearFest was a horror anthology of found footage films, interlocking storywise, entitled “The Dark Tapes,” written by and co-directed by Michael McQuown, who had written “The Perfect Man” in the past, and was directing his first motion picture.
Tape # 1 is entitled “To Catch a Demon” and sees some individuals attempt an experiment where a demon or spirit could be captured near someone who is in the midst of REM sleep. It is the main story which is shown in fragments throughout the full film. Tape # 2 is entitled “The Hunters & The Hunted,” where a couple requires the help of paranormal investigators after being witnesses to strange sounds and poltergeist activity within their home. Tape # 3’s title is “Cam Girls,” as we follow the webcam conversation between a duo of girls and one of their viewers, as the girls present a sensual, yet sinister, online show. Finally, tape # 4 is entitled “Amanda’s Revenge:” Amanda is a young lady who is unfortunately drugged and raped at a house party. Following this despicable act, she begins demonstrating telekinetic powers, acts strangely, and confesses to one of her friends that she is kidnapped nightly by non-human beings.
Michael McQuown was present for the screening of his horror anthology (which he directed every segment of), and I asked him if he was inspired by the “V/H/S” series, since his movie seemed similar in its style. He answered that he definitely was inspired by them, and that any other director presenting a horror anthology of found footage films who says that he wasn’t inspired by “V/H/S” is lying. Therefore, if you’ve enjoyed “V/H/S” 1&2 (I disliked “Viral”), you should enjoy “The Dark Tapes,” in theory.
The acting, throughout most segments, is solid and truthful. A few jump scares, here and there, but with some average, at best, special effects. Decent, for the budget of the movie, but average, in general. In my opinion, it was a mixture of good, decent, and “meh” tapes. My favourite one was “The Hunters & The Hunted,” being the one that, even though it was “déja-vu” in films such “Paranormal Activity,” still evoked chills within me at certain points, in addition to having a very interesting ending. “Cam Girls” was the most disappointing segment for me, seeming very predictable, not much excitement, and shaky acting, albeit interesting special effects in a gory scene towards the end.
With many ups, and despite a few downs, “The Dark Tapes” should still be viewed, and when it is released on DVD in 2017, director Michael McQuown said there would be a 5th tape added for the DVD-only version, which will be available after the final credits. “The Dark Tapes” merits 3.5 stars out of 5.