Ralph Breaks the Internet
Mission: Impossible - Fallout
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All Critics (8)
| Fresh (7)
| Rotten (1)
Found-footage, by most accounts, is a novelty that has run its course, but The Dark Tapes offers a worthy return to found-footage films.
Overall, The Dark Tapes is a colossal waste of time.
The Dark Tapes owes something to Cloverfield in style but the script here is tighter and more sinister. This is effective, mysterious, and vibey millennial horror.
McQuown is to be commended for willing to do something different with horror tropes that have become stale through constant repetition.
An exceptional and surreal horror anthology...
The Dark Tapes ends up doing more right than it does wrong ... you'll find some really cool creatures and a few truly frightening and original moments that will send more than just a chill down the old spine.
The Dark Tapes is fun, scary and consistently tense - it knows exactly what kind of film it wants to be and isn't afraid to simply roll with it.
Overall, this is considerably more successful in its thematic linkage than most of its ilk, and it' not hard to see why it has done well on the festival circuit.
I don't know how long's it been, but I'm certain I haven't watched an found footage movie in quite a while. Anthology horror too, so it's a double whammy. For those of you out there who, unnecessarily and unjustly, hate the genre, this might be a blessing. I'm not gonna say it's a curse, because I've seen plenty of less than stellar movies in this genre, but I've also seen my fair share of quality movies. Those that come to mind are Rec (one of my favorite horror movies of all time, Rec 2, Paranormal Activity 1 and 2, Afflicted, TrollHunter, Chronicle, Creep 1 and 2 (even if I classify those as mockumentaries and not necessarily found footage. The latter, Creep 2, would have to be the latest one that I've seen. And, in my opinion, Creep 2 is even better than the original and it shows the amount of creativity that is still left within this most divisive horror sub-genre. So, while I can understand the amount of hate it can get, I also appreciate when filmmakers are able to do something new and, if not new, interesting within this form of storytelling. I don't know why I picked this movie, honestly, I guess favorable reviews played a part in it and, upon having seen the film, there's some legitimately interesting ideas here. The problem is, however, that these ideas are wasted in a movie that, quite frankly, is really quite boring. I don't think any of the segments themselves (since this is also an anthology horror film), at least in my opinion, could be called good. And that's honestly a bit of a shame, since, for the most part, there's very few anthology horror films, that I've seen, where none of the segments are outright good. Even VHS: Viral, which is a considerably worse movie than this, had a great short by Nacho Vigalondo. The thing is that all of the shorts themselves are actually competently made, but the quality of their storytelling is really lacking. I think I'm gonna go over each short, to give my opinion on each of the segments of the film.
To Catch A Demon: This is a weird segment because this, essentially, acts as the wrap-around, which connects all the shorts together. They show you 8-10 minutes of this and then move on to another short, which is shown in its entirety. This is weird because there's already a 'wrap-around', which is really minimal. Basically, it's this man and a woman who find a mess in their theatrical playhouse and they're the ones who find the footage. That's it, there's nothing to it. So this, in essence, acts as the wrap-around. I liked the concept of this one. Basically, it's this science professor, I think, and his graduate student performing experiments to catch, what the professor calls, transdimensonal entities or, by any other name, demons. The professor's theory is that night terrors are a result of time dilation during REM sleep, which is when these demons, for however briefly it may be, appear to the person experiencing the night terror. The experiment is basically to capture this on camera to prove their existence. I like the concept, but I think they do a poor job at explaining how the camera is meant to catch this demon that someone else is experiencing. When people suffer from night terror or sleep paralysis, they're the only ones who can see these 'beings' or entities, so how are they actually managing to film this??? They just did a really shitty job at explaining it. And then when the professor, his grad student and the cameraman get stuck in multiple time dilations (while everything else around them remains 'frozen', so to speak), it's even worse. They use a bunch of technobabble that, honestly, I just tuned out of and stopped paying attention to. Of course, there's a demon that they need to fight off and, honestly, I'm a little undecided if the design of the monster looks cool or the lack of a major budget means that it just looks like a guy wearing a costume. So, in essence, the concept of the short is great, the execution and the horror are really lackluster.
The Hunters and The Hunted: This one is another mixed bag. I thought the twist itself at the end was great, but everything leading up to that is kind of meh. David and Karen move into a new house and, at first, everything seems perfect. But, almost immediately after moving in, they start to hear strange noises and experience even stranger events, like objects being moved from their original position, etc, etc, etc. These hauntings keep escalating to the point where, whatever is in the house, is starting to get physical with David. So, David and Karen begin documenting everything before enlisting the help of these ghost hunters whom, they hope, will be able to rid the house of whatever may be afflicting them. Strange shit keeps happening and, eventually, it comes to a point where David has to admit to the ghost hunters that their daughter died three years ago and that Karen has refused to accept it and, at least, attempt to move on. Blah, blah, blah. Long story short, it was all a ruse cooked up by David, Karen and their daughter in order to get unsuspecting ghost hunters to come by for them to murder. I liked the twist itself, because it ends up playing a critique of ghost hunter shows where, wherever they go, they go under the assumption that what they're dealing with is of the paranormal variety. Which I pointed out in my Demon House review not that long ago. And it was just pretty clever in all, for the title of the short to end up being a play on the phrase and switching places between the hunters and those being hunted. With that being said, however, this short is very boring all things considered. There's very little in the way of interesting horror and a compelling story. You can still tell a compelling story, even in a truncated format and this just didn't deliver that. Your enjoyment of this will be entirely based on whether or not you thought the twist made the other 20 or so minutes of the rest of this bore it. That's as blunt as I can be. I liked the twist, but not enough to make me forget the fact that everything else was terribly uninteresting. Again, good idea, so-so execution.
Cam Girls: I honestly don't think I can call any of these segments good, so I can't say that I liked them. But, if there's one that I could say I disliked the least, it MIGHT be this one. But that's not really saying much, since I generally disliked them all. Caitlin is in a relationship with a woman and they are both cam girls, hence the title (DUH). Apparently Caitlin grew up in an extremely religious home and she decided to leave that all behind, move away and do the exact opposite. She wants to have fun, drink, sex, etc, etc, etc. Caitlin has been having these blackouts during the nights when they go out drinking and, honestly, while I'm certain I could probably connect them to what happened later, I don't really care. Caitlin does give the origin of the word alcohol to this guy she, it's implied, may have dated. It's derived from the Muslim word al-kuhl, which means demon and/or ghoul. I'm certain that this has a lot to do with what we saw in the end. But, like I said, but I don't really care enough to figure out the segment's 'mysteries'. Sindy, Caitlin's girlfriend, asks her to get this guy to cut himself on camera...for one reason or another. Later, Sindy and Caitlin decide to give one free show to the person most susceptible to their demands, Jerry. It takes some trying, but Caitlin convinces him to cut his hand and, eventually, his throat, obviously killing him. All on cam, of course. Later, Sindy and Caitlin find their way to Jerry's apartment, where Sindy is revealed to be some sort of demon that saved Caitlin from the archangel Raphael. They then pull back Jerry's head to reveal a really nasty slit throat wound. Caitlin and Sindy then consume Jerry's blood and, I'm assuming, the rest of his body. This is easily the best part of the entire movie, because the gore itself is tremendous. Whoever did that practical effect deserves a lot of praise, because it was a really grotesque-looking wound. I think that's why this, again, is the one that I disliked the least. It's relatively straightforward with a decent concept but, once again, the execution wasn't great. It's still 'better' than every other short here, but, as I said earlier, that's not really saying much.
Amanda's Revenge: You know how the saying goes 'save the best for last'? Well, don't tell that to this movie, because they saved the worst for last. Though, again, if I'm being fair, it's not like there's varying degrees of quality here. All four segments exist within the same-ish category, quality wise. But, of course, what I mean is that I like this one the least. It just didn't do anything for me. Amanda, of course, has been 'kidnapped' every night by these extraterrestrial beings and, of course, given the title, she has a plan to get revenge on them. But, of course, there's more to be told and the story starts at this party, where Amanda, Ryan (her best friend) and two other close friends, prevent these molesters from raping Amanda after they give her a roofie. After this happens, Amanda starts acting strangely, as if being controlled by someone else. The next morning after the party, Amanda acts strangely, before telling everyone not to touch her and leaving. Then she comes back out, acting as if she had just woken up and nothing had happened. She keeps experiencing these abductions and she asks her friends to stay up with her in order to see if they're able to see anything. Of course, they don't see anything and Amanda wakes up screaming. Amanda has attempted almost everything under the sun to get rid of these abductors. I should also note that Amanda has gained telekinetic abilities as a result of these abductions. So, really, not a bad trade off, honestly. Eventually, she deducts that these beings cannot be recorded, because they just mess the cameras up. They mess with everything regarding electricity and modern technology. So, no matter how much she tries, she can't get them on camera or video, since they always disrupt her plans to get rid of them as a result. So she resorts to an old wind-up camera from the 50s to record them and an old phonograph to capture audio. She has these traps set up full of acid that would trigger once the beings enter her room. Eventually, she does record footage of these beings being murdered, I think, by the acid that she set up. They show you this footage and, honestly, it is quite terrible. They make the footage look all grainy with special effects instead of, you know, using an old camera so the effect can look genuine. The alien costume itself also looks terrible and it's all just really poorly done in my opinion. This, in my opinion, is the least interesting short in the entire movie. Once again, your enjoyment of this lies on what you thought of the reveal. And, I can't have made it clear enough, but I thought it sucked. Everything prior to the reveal itself was just dull and not particularly exciting to watch and the ending itself blew. So, in my opinion, this was just a waste of my time and a complete failure of a segment. Maybe that's a bit harsh, but I did not enjoy it in the slightest. It's the weakest segment in a film full of them.
So, yea, I wasn't the biggest fan of this movie. With the exception of Amanda's Revenge, I think that, at the very least, the remaining three segments had the potential to be really cool and interesting. It just so happened that the execution of these shorts left a lot to be desired in all cases. That's the plain and simple of it. They thought that having interesting concepts would be enough to carry them through and, honestly, it just didn't. The horror is really lacking and I wasn't really that into what I was seeing, at any time. I can't say that this is bad. But, other than VHS: Viral (which this is better than), this has to be one of the worst anthology horror movies I've seen in a while. And, even then, it's more boring than it is bad, but I still wouldn't come close to recommending this. Safe Haven from VHS 2 is infinitely better than anything you will see here. The disparity in quality is similar to the disparity in acting talent between Adam Sandler and Daniel Day-Lewis.
PS: Also, I felt the need to bump this down from 2 to 1.5 stars, because I didn't really enjoy this and also because Amanda's Revenge really is that much of a detriment to the rest of the movie.
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