Deadhouse Dark (Season 1, 2021)
Creator: Enzo Tedeschi
Directors: Denai Gracie, Joshua Long, Rosie Lourde, Megan Riakos, Enzo Tedeschi, Rachele Wiggins
Cast: Nicholas Hope, Anni Finsterer, Gemma Bird Matheson, Ryan Morgan, Lauren Orrell, Naomi Sequeira, Barbara Bingham
A series of six short horror stories anchored by a woman who receives a ‘mystery box’ from the dark web, and then discovers the sinister secret it hold – IMDB
Deadhouse Dark is a 2021 horror anthology mini series where it takes six horror shorts to create each of its episodes. Unlike horror anthology film, this one doesn’t have that linking main story that pulls together all the pieces instead this all feels like different stories set in its own sort of darkness with different horror elements added to each of the stories giving each of them a new set of characters and a different subgenre to tackle. Its not a bad idea to that as a lot of the great horror directors do start of directing shorts and its a great way to share some great premises (just look at another recent Shudder Original release, Martyr’s Lane which also started off as a short story premise and turned out to be a fantastic full length feature).
Of course, the issue here is that what makes things a tad more confusing is that it tries to link certain elements specifically in one episode, the fifth one which has items from a previous episode and a character from another previous character and pulls together those pieces to give a feeling that there is an interconnected feeling while it more instills a feeling of whether there is more connection in the other episodes that were missed prior which at least for myself, I couldn’t seem to pinpoint. Put the interconnected issue aside, each of these shorts are still pretty good. The twist it takes and the surprise element mostly lands in execution. Some leaves a space for the unknown and others have its own purposeful ending. It definitely feels like most of them are still pretty unique and creative in how its all scripted.
Doing a quick breakdown of the episodes aka each of the short films, the first episode “Halloween” set in Halloween that has this fantastic play on time and darkness. It has a very strong twist that connects all the bits together from the beginning and ending. The second episode “No Pain No Gain” is one of the weaker episodes as it feels like a more familiar type of story even if it is inspired by the Blue Whale social media challenge which tells the story of a competitive track runner who is willing to do anything to win leading her to accept the training from a renowned coach who gives her a dangerous progression of daily tasks to complete. The pacing and execution is not quite as engaging. “The Staircase” feels like a found footage that ends up discovering more than they bargained for with some lurking in the unknown depths. “A Tangled Web We Weave” that follows a man on a date dealing not so subtly with a rat problem (for gamers, it has some serious reminders of Layers of Fear strictly from the rat problem angle and whether its real or in his mind) which takes a rather intriguing turn.
Much like “Mystery Box” which is is probably the most intriguing of the whole batch as it has a strong element of suspense and mystery which unfolds into a rather unexpected reveal at the end. Its a solo performance with a woman who opens a mystery box at her doorstep. The cinematography and atmosphere is my favorite even if the horror element is much more subtle. Ending the series is “My Empire of Dirt” that sees a ‘death midwife’ helping a sick elderly woman clean up her apartment in preparation for a peaceful death. This one has its own shock value and actually is the most disgusting of the batch since its rummaging through a dirty environment especially when there’s something hidden which is haunting this place.
Deadhouse Dark is a pretty fun overall. One or two of the snippets is a little subpar whether its acting or execution however, they are all rather creative and have some decent twists which land fairly well. It also has a lot of different subgenre which is always fun in any horror anthology format. In a nutshell, my favorite has to be “Mystery Box” which isn’t exactly pure horror but it stands out the most as it gave me the most unexpected twist. Deadhouse Dark might be like many anthologies where it has its hits and misses but its still well worth a watch.