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Fantasia 2018: Nightmare Cinema [Review]

Simon Rother

Nightmare CinemaIf horror anthologies are your thing, if you enjoyed such classic ones like “Creepshow,” “Tales from the Hood,” “Trick ‘r Treat” and “V/H/S,” then you’re definitely gonna dig “Nightmare Cinema” which made its world premiere at Montreal’s Fantasia International Film Festival, hosted by directors Alejandro Brugués, Ryûhei Kitamura, and legendary names such as Mick Garris and Joe Dante.

A classy, yet seemingly abandoned, dirty old movie theater. Very different individuals, one-by-one, deciding to enter its doors after having read their very own name on the “Now Playing” sign outside. Oh, and a very familiar face as a surprise cryptkeeper. All is set for the presentation of 5 short stories that are sure to entertain the living (or not-so-living) daylight out of you.

A girl is pursued by a blood-thirsty, crazed maniac dressed as a welder through the woods, with a truly unexpected and refreshing twist. A young woman, influenced by her fiancé, resorts to plastic surgery in the hopes of removing a childhood scar from her face so she can finally feel beautiful before her wedding day. However, she obtains much more than what she bargained for after her surgical procedure. Next, a priest and a nun battle a horde of demonically possessed children, slashing through youthful limbs and heads to get God’s work done. A mother, accompanied by her two boys, arranges to meet a doctor, fearing she is going insane as she claims to see everyone and everything around her get progressively ‘uglier’ as the day goes on. Finally, after witnessing the murder of his parents and having been shot himself, a young boy begins to see ghosts following his resuscitation at the hospital.

You’ll definitely have an entertaining time watching “Nightmare Cinema.” My personal favorite segment was the slasher entitled “The Thing in the Woods”, directed by Alejandro Brugués (writer and director of the fantastic “Juan of the Dead” and one of the directors of “ABCs of Death 2”). Filled with horror clichés and not trying to hide it, splattered with blood, gore and delicious dark humor, not to mention a surprising murder motive, it will start off this anthology with a bang.

“Mirari,” directed by the “no-introductions-necessary” Joe Dante (“Gremlins” and “The Howling”) sets a comfortable and trusting mood with the plastic surgeon, even though we know he’s up to no good. The script is somewhat predictable, but it doesn’t hinder its entertainment factor, not to mention some impressive make-up and practical effects like we seldom see in this CGI age.

“Mashit” (no pun intended, although it is often repeated as a pun within the segment), from Ryûhei Kitamura (director of “The Midnight Meat Train”), enveils the tale of a priest (Maurice Bernard; “General Hospital’s” Sonny Corinthios) and a few religious teachers who give a decent, yet not remarkable, performance in fending off evil as their pupils become overtaken by a hostile, malevolent spirit. Ordinary exorcism development with nothing out of the ordinary… aside from a vicious, violent stand-off between the religious leaders and the possessed children, right in the middle of the monastery.

“This Way to Egress,” directed by David Slade (director of “30 Days of Night” and “Hard Candy”), takes us into a whole darker universe. Filmed entirely in black and white, it is a layered progression of bizarre visuals that will only make you feel more and more uncomfortable as the tale goes on. Although it wasn’t my favorite segment, nor am I a big fan of this type of cinematic experience, I couldn’t help but feel uneasy throughout its unfolding world of oddities.

Finally, Mick Garris (creator of “Masters of Horror,” director of “Sleepwalkers” and writer of “Hocus Pocus”) brings to us “Dead.” Despite all the glorious accomplishments Mr. Garris has achieved in the horror world, this segment was my least favorite of its horror anthology. Notwithstanding some more-than-decent actors, it felt like a ripoff of “The Sixth Sense,” but in inferior fashion. The script seemed predictable and most of its twists and turns fell flat. The violent and cold murder of the boy’s parents was intense and unexpected, yet nothing seems to garner enough wow-factor for the rest of the segment to evoke any emotions from you.

All in all, “Nightmare Cinema” has some fantastic cinematography, a great soundtrack (especially intense in “The Thing in the Woods”), and an amusing way to wrap everything together within its unoccupied movie theater. You should definitely give this horror anthology a watch, despite some segments seeming inferior to others (but isn’t it often like that in horror anthologies?), as it merits 4 stars out of 5.

4 / 5 stars     


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