AUS | 2015 | Directed by various
It’s a rare breed indeed, the Australian horror movie anthology. And just as rare are the horror anthologies that are actually any good. So in a double rare move, two Aussie writer/producer/directors have teamed up to create the first in what will hopefully be an ongoing series: A Night Of Horror Volume 1. The men behind this dark sun are Dean Bertram, the festival director responsible for Australia’s premiere genre film event, A Night Of Horror & Fantastic Planet International Film Festival, the dual horror and sf/fantasy movie festival that has graced the Dendy Newtown cinemas for the best part of a decade. The other helmsman is Enzo Tedeschi, CEO of Deadhouse Films, co-writer/co-producer of the recent Airlock web series, and co-writer/co-producer of the found footage flick The Tunnel.
A Night Of Horror spins seven tales of supernatural and visceral dread, each one dripping with blood, each one its own distinct nightmare, and yet, cleverly laid into the framework of a wrap-around narrative. Life Imitates, directed by Tedeschi, features Bianca Bradey who wakes to find herself alone in a warehouse of macabre art pieces. With each sculpture and canvas discovery, a new segment is unleashed. Eventually at anthology’s end, the reason for her abduction is revealed in classic giallo fashion.
The first two segments are the only international productions. The first is from the US, Hum, and it’s a deeply unsettling descent into one woman’s audio-visual paranoia that eventually consumes her. In the Canadian Point Of View a mortician is terrorised by sly undead activity preceding the grave. These first two segments set the creepy tone and shadowy atmosphere for the rest of the anthology.
The subsequent five segments are Australian productions, and they are a solid bunch indeed. From Tasmania comes I Am Undone, director Rebecca Thomson, from Stranger With My Face Film Festival, a pitch black comedy of designer beauty gone seriously bloody messy. Dark Origins is from Queensland, writer/director Evan Randall Green delves into the diabolical psyche of a mental patient. Goran Spoljaric’s The Priest is the ride from hell, or perhaps into is more accurate. The family claustrophobia tightens with Carmen Falk's Ravenous, every child's worst nightmare about their grandparents. Writer/director Matthew Goodrich’s Scission is a complex and savage portrayal of a family torn apart, quite literally, while the final segment Flash captures malevolent spectres that linger most lecherously.
Production values are high, performances are uniformly excellent, and the overall vibe is impressively consistent, certainly well sustained, a factor which frequently derails many anthologies. This first volume of A Night Of Horror feels auspicious. I'm sure many more annual nights are brewing in the shadows. Let the bloodletting continue in this fashion!