Nightmare Cinema is a 2018 horror anthology featuring nightmare stories told by five renowned directors. It was an opening film at the Fantasia Festival and the screening was preceded by the presentation of the Lifetime Achievement Award to Joe Dante, one of the five directors of this film.
Nightmare Cinema (2018)
Director: Mick Garris, Alejandro Brugués, Joe Dante, Ryuhei Kitamura, David Slade
Cast: Mickey Rourke, Eric Nelsen, Sara Elizabeth Withers, Zarah Mahler, Mark Grossman, Richard Chamberlain, Maurice Benard, Elizabeth Reaser, Adam Godley, Orson Chaplin, Faly Rakotohavana
Are you ready to enter the world of The Projectionist in the old Rialto Theatre? This Nightmare Cinema brings 5 complete strangers where their darkest fears are the focal point of the story on screen. This anthology features five decent lengths short stories pieces that each have their homage to a nice variety of horror genres but adds in their own twist to make it more modernized or more entertaining or even more intense.
The opening segment takes no time to introduce us we follow a young girl into the theatre where she sees a movie with her name as the main feature called “The Thing in the Woods”. Directed by Alejandro Brugués, an Argentinian director known for his work in Juan of the Dead and The ABCs of Death 2 segment, this segment pays tribute to the 80s slashers that many still love. As with many slashers, there is a campiness to it as well as a dark humor that surrounds it with both great effects and well-timed moments. Probably the least serious and frightening of the five tales but also a great way to start off this anthology especially with this genre being one of the most popular in the horror subgenres. There is an artistry to the way it is filmed and even the way the story is written with a fantastic twist which honestly is what makes it stand out.
The second segment follows with “Mirari”, directed by the ever so renowned Joe Dante as he takes the audience to the horrors of plastic surgery and boy, do things go horrifyingly bad. While the story does keep you guessing for most of the film, it is the one that feels more mysterious and suspenseful because of the premise. It plays on the obvious expectations that the audience will have, knowing that there is no way that this plastic surgery won’t go wrong. What keeps the audience under the wraps is when it becomes apparent that the people around our victim all become rather sinister.
The third segment “Mashit”, directed by Japanese director Ryuhei Kitamura, known for The Midnight Meat Train among many films, enters the world of a Catholic school and possession. Its bloody and eerie. Some scenes brings up memories of The Exorcist if it was done in this day and age with some outstanding effects that will send a chill down your spine. There are a lot of elements that work here including creepy children and scary makeup. The best part here is the use of light with the hallways covered in sinister colors and then adding in this gloomy backdrop that highlights the bloody parts. However, some parts do get a little overboard and ticks those over the top boxes a little too much.
The penultimate segment is directed by David Slade, the man behind the disturbing indie film, Hard Candy as he presents “This Way To Egress”. Not surprising to see that this story follows a mother of two who visits a psychiatrist office who believes she is going crazy. Her world falls into this ugly reality. This is helped by the stylish black and white feature especially making it more psychologically disturbing as you wonder whether the world are full of monsters or her mind is turning everything into monsters. It straddles the line of truth and fiction while tackling some serious subjects as her story unfolds. While it never quite hits the disturbing levels of Hard Candy, This Way to Egress does pack an effective punch and amps up on the tension as we near the end of this anthology.
The final segment “Dead” along with the intermission segments with The Projectionist is directed by Mick Garris. A great finale to wrap up the anthology as it takes a look at some The Sixth Sense area where a young boy wakes up from being dead for essentially 17 minutes to realize that he can see the lost souls. There is much more to the story than that but the dead are all creepy. There is a great amount of tension arising from the circumstance that he is put in. Dead ends the anthology packing quite the punch. However, the films merit is in creating this character, The Projectionist, portrayed by Mickey Rourke who is a mysterious fellow as we see him more and more in the intermissions between segments as he hints towards what this Nightmare Cinema is all about and well, the final scene shows that there is potential for these stories to just keep on going.
As with any horror anthology, it is about the sum of its parts as much as it is about the big picture. Each of the five stories here pack in some homage to a certain genre and boast the talent of the director and their artistry. Both the cinematography and the atmosphere is top of the line. The soundtrack also builds the mood and tension for each of these scenarios. Even when the story feels like it takes it a little too far or gets a little silly, these elements pulls it back into place. The structure of the horror anthology though is where it stands out because it goes from something more comedic like The Thing in the Woods and builds up both the seriousness and the intensity so that when you reach the final segment Dead, it is pretty much an intense segment from start to finish. With the vast amount of horror subgenres here, there is bound to be something for every horror fan.