Dark Tapes, The (2016)
Starring David Banks, Sarah Castro, Cortney Palm
Directed by Vincent J. Guastini and Michael McQuown
Another grisly premise, another box of those damned cursed VHS tapes…on top of that, you guessed it…found-footage. Oh my evil nemesis, how you’ve managed to yet again hunt me down like a rabid dog and pry my eyeballs open to fully take in your shaky, nauseating vistas of tremble-ocity. I swear I’m going to turn over a new leaf and stop discounting these productions as soon as they hit my lap, and in the case of The Dark Tapes, I’ll admit that I was more than willing to forgive and forget certain atrocities in the past.
Co-directed by Vincent J. Guastini and Michael McQuown, the film sets up like some before it: the opening wrap-around story, called “To Catch A Demon,” centers around a bunch of recording equipment that’s discovered by a couple (Banks and Castro) outside of a building where there’s been quite a bit of documentation going on, and what they find on the tapes is rather disturbing…but I’m sure you all knew that already. Trans-dimensional beings infiltrating REM sleep is the study on tap for a Physics professor (David Rountree) and one of his students (Palm), and the realization that night terrors are indeed a paralyzing occurrence come face-first when their experiment goes horribly awry. Special effects were a bit lacking in this one, but the element and overall presence is fairly creepy stuff. Moving along to the next tale brings us to “The Hunters and The Hunted” – and we get somewhat of a Paranormal Activity redux with a happy couple that decides to have every damn moment of their lives recorded when they believe that their new digs may be haunted. Although on first inspections, I’d had my share of justified reservations, but this short really turned out to be creepy as hell.
Next tale up ain’t for the kiddies! It’s called “Cam Girls,” and it follows the online erotic pay-per-view exploits of two lovely young ladies, and after one of the gals begins to suffer some debilitating blackouts, help is called in to assist, and we get to see via recorded chat sessions, just what happened while she was in dreamland…hey, if you pay for it, you deserve what you get! The last story in this film is titled “Amanda’s Revenge” – about a college girl who gets a date-rape drug slipped into her drink, and after a failed sexual assault, she then suffers unexplained memory loss and changes in her personality, as if someone (or thing) is flipping a switch in her mind. After regaining a slight sense of what’s been happening to her, she devises a plan for revenge – interesting stuff, indeed. Look, for me to immerse myself in another found-footage presentation is an undertaking in itself, but the effects work (for the most part), the stories were pulled off nicely (with the exception of the cheesy web-cam exhibit), and surprisingly the acting served its purpose: believable and smooth conveyance of each specific storyline. Both Guastini and McQuown have executed a tense and thrilling film here, which is packaged with some good scares and is a flick that should be watched with the lights off and the sound on HIGH. For all intents and purposes, I’d recommend these Tapes to the adventuring renter.