I have to say, sometimes being a film critic ain’t easy. Oh sure, you get to watch lots of movies before they are released, help create buzz on a film (either positive or negative) and in general we get to indulge in our love of movies and once in a while get paid to do it. Then, there are times when we struggle. I mean really struggle. As a lifelong genre fan I tend to review movies through a horror lovers eyes. Movies that might not really be all that good can still get a positive review from me because I look at them in the context of horror, not necessarily Oscar level film goodness. With all that said, it is with a heavy heart that I offer up to you, the general horror loving public, the anthology film “Dreadtime Stories”. Yes, this one made being a critic a tough gig for a little while.
But let’s get to the nuts and bolts of this ting shall we?
An intern at a mortuary finds a book on a dead guy, takes book to party, party goers pick up book and randomly read stories from book. Not a bad idea for a set up, but it is so poorly acted, and clumsily executed that it made me cringe.
“Home Cooking” – We start off with an older lady making dinner while playing so happy upbeat swing music. Chopping vegetables and such. Her goofy husband pops in out of the kitchen and he is pretty happy too. There is however, something unusual on the menu. Bet you will guess the main course within 5 seconds. Very predictable.
“Forgotten” – Wow, this is a mess. What you have here is terrible acting, poor writing, and a story that makes absolutely no sense. Who is the kid….and why? The title suits it well as I have completely forgotten this story.
“Harvest Hollow” – Thought this had promise with a creepy scarecrow legend, but alas, it goes off the rails very quickly. There is no real reason given for the events, or the actions, or……anything really. Should have spent 90 more seconds on back story, if they had, this might have been a contender.
“Useless” – This one started out pretty well. A couple guys sitting in a truck, chatting, just killing time. The conversation was rather humorous and the acting was good. The ‘twist’ was so unoriginal and uninspired however, that anyone could this coming from a couple miles away.
“Wits End” – Here we have a genre fan and his girlfriend who is emphatically not a fan. This had some element of the old stalk and slash in it, a little twist, that again was so easy to spot it may as well have had a neon blinking sign telling you what’s coming. I didn’t need the sign – this story has been done before. This one I liked…….the second twist was good.
“Stained Affection” – We start in the middle of a stalk and slash, then flashback to how we got there. We get a nice big rack in here for a couple seconds, a possibly psycho boyfriend, and well done brutal kill. This one I liked – it is nice little homage to the slasher films from the 80’s. The best of the bunch, although that’s not saying a whole lot…..kind of like being the prettiest fat girl at the dance if ya know what I’m sayin’.
“Punishment” – In “Punishment” we have a man being beaten by his boss for hit gone wrong. But it turns even darker and the boss wants to really punish the hit man. Injects him with a serum while his young watches, and then…..well, you don’t want me to give this away. Suffice to say that this is the meanest story of them all, and although it can be a bit disturbing it just didn’t stand out for me.
“Empty” – A time honored myth – the lonely road, strange girl in white, girl gets ride only for driver to find out girl is not exactly what she seems. This had zero tension, totally re-hashed plot, and the twist was just plain boring. Ho-hum for “Empty”.
“Distention” – Finally we arrive at the end. A pregnant girl turned away from a shelter of some type finds kindly help from a volunteer at said shelter. Not bad, but very derivative of mid-seventies films. I won’t give away what happens but suffice it to say that if it seems too good to be true – it is. This was my second favorite of the stories and it was well done actually. No surprises but well plotted.
With just a little bit more money to hire real actors, a tightening of the scripts, and more of a horror spirit this could have been not half bad. There is clearly a love of the genre on display here, but all of the stories have been played out some many times in such better ways.
In conclusion, if you haven’t either read the stories before, or seen them done better in other shorts or feature films then you are most likely under the age of 18. A better use of your time would be to watch the Twilight Zone marathon on SyFy New Year’s Day. Skip this one unless you are new to horror.
1 / 5
DREADTIME STORIES is directed by Jacob Grim. The movie was written by Jacob Grim and Sal Hernandez and has recently acquired distribution through SGL Entertainment.