After Dark Horrorfest 4 (DVD Box Set)
Reviewed by Uncle Creepy
Starring (Dread) Jackson Rathbone, Shaun Evans, Hanne Steen, Laura Donnelly; (The Graves) Jillian Murray, Clare Grant, Bill Moseley, Tony Todd; (Kill Theory) Don McManus, Ryanne Duzich, Teddy Dunn, Daniel Franzese; (The Final) Marc Donato, Jascha Washington, Witney Hoy, Justin Arnold; (Lake Mungo) Talia Zucker, Rosie Traynor, David Pledger, Martin Sharpe; (Hidden (Skjult)) Kristoffer Joner, Cecile A. Mosli, Anders Danielsen Lie, Bjarte Hjelmeland; (The Reeds) Anna Brewster, O.T. Fagbenle, Will Mellor, Scarlett Alice Johnson; (Zombies of Mass Destruction) Janette Armand, Doug Fahl, Cooper Hopkins, Russell Hodgkinson
Directed by (Dread) Anthony DiBlasi; (The Graves) Brian Pulido; (Kill Theory) Chris Moore; (The Final) Joey Stewart; (Lake Mungo) Joel Anderson; (Hidden (Skjult)) Pal Oie; (The Reeds) Nick Cohen; (Zombies of Mass Destruction) Kevin Hamedani
Here we are at Year Four of the After Dark Horrorfest, and things have picked up a bit of steam. The original festival still holds onto the title of strongest of the bunch, but thankfully this year's offerings were a hell of a lot better than the last.
As usual for Horrorfest, this review will be done a little bit differently than our norm. Rather than write new reviews for each film, I'm going to just link to their existing reviews so I can spend my time here giving you a brief opinion and then the skinny on the supplemental materials that await the eager horror hound. The Stabby ratings you see below are for the extras ONLY. Links to buy either the whole set or individual films will be at the end of each respective review.
Let us begin --
Dread (review here)
Every year the After Dark Horrorfest has one movie that stands head and shoulders above the rest. This year's is without question Anthony DiBlasi's Clive Barker adaptation Dread. Believe me when I tell you that if you're only going to watch one of these flicks (though you'd actually be missing out on some other tasty morsels), make it this one. DeBlasi perfectly captures the wonderfully dark tone of Barker's work, and that's no small feat, as evidenced by a ton of cinema misses. This may not just be the best of the fest ... it could very well be one of the best Barker adaptations to date.
In terms of supplemental features we get three goodies. Things kick off with a behind-the-scenes featurette that, well, is exactly what you think it is. From there we get a video conversation with Clive and DeBlasi and a few deleted scenes. Solid, but not excessive. A commentary would have been nice, but hey, you can't have everything!
3 out of 5
The Graves (review here)
Along with the best inevitably comes the worst in the set, and sadly Brian Pulido's The Graves fits that really blundered bill. Given Pulido's stellar past comic work and the movie's heavy hitting genre cast, it's hard to tell exactly where or even why this one went as wrong as it did.
Therefore it's even more ironic that the least likable film in the bunch also gets the best DVD treatment. Again, the below rating is for the DVD features ONLY! This thing is stacked, and even worse, after the movie you're probably not going to want to see any of it. Kicking things off are two commentary tracks, one with Brian Pulido and the other with director of photography Adam Goldfine and production designer/producer Francisca Pulido. Of the two Brian's is the better listen, but it still doesn't make for a better experience. From there we get three featurettes that focus on your standard making-of stuff, the film's sound design, and what it took to bring their plan for the movie to fruition. These were actually a lot of fun, and speaking of fun there's also a short Spot the Gnome feature that fans of Pulido's work will surely appreciate. Add on some audition footage, a music video, and even the original script, along with the producer's trailer, and we are finally done. Good stuff.
4 1/2 out of 5
Kill Theory (review here)
After those two we move into slasher territory with Kill Theory. Don't be expecting the usual slice-em-up affair, though, as Kill Theory is a surprisingly rock solid experience, and dare I say it? It's also my second favorite flick of the entire set. The film is just a lot of fun with some cool splatter and a nice twist ending slapped on for good measure. Totally recommended.
The DVD, however, falls on the lean side of the fence. All we get are your standard behind-the-scenes featurette, a couple of alternate openings, and a deleted scene. As one character in the flick puts it ... "Weak sauce!"
2 out of 5
The Final (review here)
Revenge is a dish best served psycho, and that's exactly how this group of kids who "have had enough and are not going to take it anymore" have decided to handle all the assholes in school who have been haranguing them on a daily bases. The Final is meant to push buttons and start controversy, and it does a fine job of doing so. Hell, just look at the comments section of the review, and you'll see what I mean.
The supplemental material is nothing above and beyond, but it's completely serviceable. First up we get an audio commentary with producer Jason Kabolati and director Joey Stewart, which happens to be as interesting as the flick itself. Definitely a worthwhile listen. From there we get your standard behind-the-scenes featurette, a producer's trailer, and a deleted scene. Not too shabby.
2 1/2 out of 5
Lake Mungo (review here)
Holy cow did this one have potential. Billed as one of the only supernatural films in this year's Horrorfest, Lake Mungo ends up being more depressing than it does anything else. Second only to The Graves, it's easily the weakest of this year's crop with the above par acting being its only saving grace.
I'm thinking the powers-that-be knew they had a stinker on their hands, too, as the only special features to be found here is a producer's trailer. Can't say I blame them for checking out early.
1/2 out of 5
Hidden (Skjult) (review here)
Hidden, or Skjult for you purists out there, is the token foreign film of the bunch, and it's pretty much a winner. You want atmosphere? This baby's rife with it. So thick you could cut it with a knife! The flick comes out the gate swinging, but unfortunately its arms start growing tired as the minutes tick by. By the time we get to the end, things have petered out quite a bit, despite its attempt at a needless twist. Not great but definitely good. We've certainly seen worse.
And after the movie we get nothing. Not even a trailer. Really? I know it's a foreign flick and all, but nothing? C'mon, guys!
0 out of 5
The Reeds (review here)
If Dread is the best of the bunch and The Graves the worst, then The Reeds is without question the dividing line of mediocrity. Not bad. Not good. Just instantly forgettable slasher-fare with no desire to be anything more.
Just like the Hidden DVD we get nothing. Zero. Nada. Nil. Donut Land. Cheerio. Zilch.
0 out of 5
Zombies of Mass Destruction (review here)
Finally things end on a high note. Just like some other big name zombedies out there, ZMD: Zombies of Mass Destruction delivers the laughs as well as the gross-out gags. What lifts this one above its usual ilk is the fact that the movie actually has something to say and in the end is the perfect horror-themed snapshot of the times we live in right now. Get you're rewind button ready, too ... there are a couple of moments in this flick you're gonna want to watch over and over! Good stuff!
Not so good, however, is the DVD package. For a flick with so many messages, we get next to nothing in terms of supplemental material. The only thing you'll find here is a five-minute behind-the-scenes featurette and not a damned thing more. Pretty disappointing! At least the movie is good, and in the end that's all that matters, right?
1 out of 5
So, there you have it, kids! The official skinny on the After Dark Horrorfest 4. Let's go to the scorecards, shall we? This year's festival was home to two great flicks, three decent flicks, one mediocre experience, and two stinkers. Well done, After Dark. Way to bounce back from last year. Here's to the next one and of course also to the newly announced After Dark Originals series.
3 out of 5