Rated R. Time: 1:32
The best horror anthologies offer filmmakers an opportunity to expand the scope and ambitions of the genre on an economical scale.
“Three … Extremes,” a 2004 collection of three short films by Asia’s top horror directors, contained imagery so depraved that many viewers probably didn’t finish it. The 2012 anthology “V/H/S” and its sequel both offered brilliant riffs on the “found footage” conceit.
But the new anthology “Tales of Halloween” has no such daring or curiosity, amounting to little more than a slog of horror cliches.
Digital Access For Only $0.99
For the most comprehensive local coverage, subscribe today.
There are 10 short films here, and most of them are shorter than 10 minutes. Eight or so minutes is barely enough for a decent comedy sketch, let alone a horror short. The filmmakers simply lack the space in which to build suspense or create in-depth characters.
The common thread is simple: Over the course of a single Halloween in an anonymous suburb, seemingly everyone deals with a monster or a bloodthirsty psychopath. With abundant gore and the sort of manipulative music we might expect from a haunted house, each of the short films fails to make a strong impression.
Admittedly, there are some kooky monsters: A girl returning home from a costume party discovers that the subject of a scary story is stalking her, and a sentient jack-o-lantern attacks confused policemen.
All of these shorts rely on jump scares and unearned goodwill, assuming that we have come to watch with the Halloween spirit already upon us. That’s a serious miscalculation: Scary movies are supposed to get us in the mood first. By those standards this anthology is a turnoff.
(At Alamo Drafthouse, Screenland Crossroads.)
The Washington Post