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.
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