Horror Vault, The (DVD)
Reviewed by Melissa Bostaph
Starring Claire Ross-Brown, Kim Sonderholm, Jonathon Trent, Heather Tom, Elisa Richardson, Many Amano, Jerod Edington, Russ Diaper, Adam Boone, Martin Frislov Ammitsbel, Sean Southorp,
Directed by Kim Sonderholm, Mark Marchillo, Kenny Seiko, Russ Diaper, David Boone, Josh Card, Thomas Steen Sorenson, J.P. Wenner
Released by Cetus Productions
Although it may not be a new trend in horror, I’ve recently noticed a rise in the number of compilation style DVD’s. Some contain multiple features, some shorts, and some a sampling of each. As a judge for the Eerie Horror Fest, I can tell you I watch countless genre films of all lengths and have often wondered how well a “Best of the Fest” DVD would do if it were released to a wide market. Film festivals can be hit and miss when it comes to the quality or entertainment value of the films, but I can guarantee they will always promise an abundance of short films.
The Horror Vault is a shiny silver disc that plays out like a mini film festival right in your living room. In true festival form it delivers a variety of film values ranging from large bills down to pocket change. It’s impossible to fill each timeslot at a festival with a content that will please everyone every time, and the same is true for this particular DVD. Some of the films showcased are quite good while others fall short. At least they did for me. With nine titles to include in the review, I don’t want to be long-winded so will just give a quick peek into each one.
"When John Met Julia” is meant to be a slight nod at Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet. John stops to give a stranded woman a ride. Before they even reach a destination, Julia tries to pay John for his kindness and not with cash if you catch my drift. When he turns her down, she turns on him, and things don’t end well for anyone. Unfortunately, there seems to be no rhyme or reason for anything that happens in the film.
“Delusions” takes us to a black tie affair beautifully shot in black and white, where poor Flynn has not only lost his mother, but it seems he’s lost his mind as well. This one is rather well made and lovely to look at. I’m not sure if Flynn’s mental breakdown was as effective as it could have been because it seemed a bit predictable, but I did rather enjoy the film.
“Alone” is how this killer likes his victims, or at least that’s what the detective tells the lone sorority girl through the locked door after a nearby murder. But can he be trusted? Can anyone be trusted? Personally, I can’t answer that ... “Alone” may have been attractively presented, but the muddled writing held it back from being as good as it could have been.
“Dead to the World” begins with the interrogation of a suspected serial rapist (supposedly Ted Bundy) who of course denies any knowledge of the rubber gloves and handcuffs found in his trunk. Don’t have much to say about this one other than it is cheesy all the way down to the purple “wife-beater” wearing rapist who spends more time undressing than raping.
“Mental Distortion” follows a man who is trying to deal with the death of his significant lady and doing a rather poor job of it. It’s too bad that the distortion in the story doesn’t really allow for the audience to know what’s going on. The film looks great but doesn’t make an ounce of sense when all’s said and done.
“Disconnected” is a nicely made, gritty black and white torture flick with a twist of humor in the final moments that sets it apart from most other films of its sort. It’s definitely a fun time.
“The Demon” ... here’s one that I’m sure would be quite effective if the viewer had any idea at all of what is going on. By the end you at least get some clue as to what you watched, and it’s interesting enough. But it is one seriously strange journey.
“Echoes” is a twisted little tale of how being tied to a bed isn’t always for fun; sometimes it’s for your own safety. I think. This one was actually pretty cool. It was relatively well shot and had some mildly disturbing imagery.
“Retina” seemed like more of an excuse to play with lighting than anything else. Again we have a strangely written story that just doesn’t add up.
The DVD also contains several trailers for other films available from the many filmmakers and acting talents involved with The Horror Vault. These include two faux teasers for non-existent movies shown before the actual shorts on the DVD.
The films on the disc are all different and interesting in their own rights. Some of them just seemed to have been cropped a bit too short to do the stories justice. They may not all be the best I’ve ever seen, but I can guarantee you there is far worse swimming around out there in the genre pool. This is a good thing, too, seeing as how there are two more volumes in the series due for release. The second volume is due out in December, 2008.
My best advice and suggestion for the next one is stick with the strongest films and don’t try to include so many. You’re working off of a great idea; don’t bog yourself or your audience down with unnecessary filler. Good luck!
3 out of 5
2 out of 5
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