written by Kristen Davila & directed by Katrelle Kindred
written by Taylor Martin & directed by Quyen Nguyen-Le
written by Robert Funke & directed by Victoria Rose
written by Matthew Sanchez & directed by Camila Tanabe
written by Anna Musky-Goldwyn & directed by Jessica Kaye
written by Rosanne Flynn, and directed by Kaushik Sampath
The Sweet Taste of Redemption
written by Jordan Trippeer and directed by Tarek Tohme
written by Rosanne Flynn & directed by John Berardo
The Labyrinth is one of the most interesting, professionally produced anthology films I’ve seen in quite some time. A lot of credit goes to the fact the eight directors of these dark, thought-provoking shorts shared the same crew, worked in collusion with each other, the score is written by one person, and the interstitial animations (drawn by Einar Baldvin, accompanied by the voice of executive producer and actor James Franco) beautifully and inventively tie everything together.
While I liked bits and pieces of the most recent full-on horror anthologies – V/H/S: Viral, Tales of Halloween, and ABC’s of Death – none of them can compete with the vibe of unity The Labyrinth puts across. Since The Labyrinth is not a part of the horror “boy’s club,” it’s refreshing to see that out of the eight stories presented, there are 11 writers and directors who are women. As a result of tapping into the feminine, perhaps more intuitive, side of life and death, the characters are complex, textured, and empowered.
More than anything, The Labyrinth reminded me of the British anthology TV series “Black Mirror.” There’s also a touch of “Tales From the Crypt,” as the stories focus on moralistic comeuppances and the consequences of one’s selfish or hasty decisions.
This would be a very long review if I went into detail on each story, so I’ll single out my three favorites.
Vincent (written by Rosanne Flynn and directed by Kaushik Sampath) is about a young, recently engaged bus driver who’s fibbing to her fiancé about her true feelings… then she encounters a lair of liars on her bus during its final run of the night. When a passenger accuses a frail, kindly old man of stealing her purse, the driver is forced to intervene and face her own demons.
The Sweet Taste of Redemption (written by Jordan Trippeer and directed by Tarek Tohme) features one of the few recognizable faces in the cast. Flavor Flav plays Midnight, a connoisseur of wine, liqueurs, and spirits. He bottles them himself, using only the rarest of ingredients, and serves them in his exclusive, secret speakeasy. It’s chic, upscale, and of course, invite-only… but it’s a club you may not want to be a member of after all.
Strings (written by Rosanne Flynn and directed by John Berardo) was my favorite of the eight. (My taste is borne out by the fact it’s slated for expansion into a feature film.) It’s definitely one of the darkest of the parables, and its one quick moment of violence in death is more shocking than many entire horror films. Strings is about a violinist who falls deep into a rabbit hole of lies and finds herself with no way out of the labyrinth… except one. When her grieving sister steps in to pick up the pieces, she finds herself drawn into pure, otherworldly evil.