Anthology films seem to have become de rigueur. Thankfully, at least most of the time, it’s such a fun and unique style of storytelling that it can be fresh and creative with each new incarnation. Creepshow is a classic most of us strive to come close to in our film or writing careers. Nothing could compare with the simultaneous genius and schlock of Vault of Horror or Tales From the Crypt, but what a noble quest to embark upon. THEATRE OF TERROR steps boldly into the anthological fray, but unfortunately stumbles along the journey.
Amber (Lauren Renahan) finds a flyer asking for volunteers to help save a local landmark theatre. On a dreary, cold day, she wanders in. The theatre is beautiful, wonderfully old fashioned, huge and crumbling. She’s completely alone, and begins to explore, until she runs into Colin (Tom Ryan), who works at the theatre. He tells her the sad news that they couldn’t organize enough volunteers in time, so the theatre is closing for good. Colin offers to take Amber on a tour of the theatre before she leaves. On their little tour, Amber finds a creepy doll in one of the aisles, which leads Colin to show her a short film on the screen (odd… there wasn’t anyone else in the theatre… who is projecting? Who opens the curtains?). With each progressive tale Amber hears and sees, she realizes something is very wrong here. She’s seeing things in the aisles, Colin is getting more menacing, and she has the terrible feeling that in spite of the theatre’s closure, she may have just volunteered herself to be part of it forever.
THEATRE OF TERROR consists of four short stories: THE GIFT, a tale of motherhood and regret. THE BOOKWORM, a creepy creature tale of a young man in a library. ABDUCTED, a classic hillbilly alien romp, and ENDANGERED, arguably the most successful of the four tales, a twist on a lycan story. The stories are fairly succinct, with perfectly viable concepts, but somewhere on their journey to the screen they got jumbled and distorted. THEATRE OF TERROR has the distinct air of a movie where every horror concept was thrown at the wall, and whatever stuck made the cut. While the individual tales themselves are good, the way they’re presented leaves something to be desired. Mostly passable performances, (with a truly exceptional performance from Alan Rowe Kelly as “Mama” in ENDANGERED) passable makeup and creature effects, passable direction, passable editing… I guess my problem with THEATRE OF TERROR is that everything is just that… passable. And while nothing here is bad, and some is spooky or interesting enough to make me pause, it’s sort of frustrating to feel that a movie didn’t “need” to get made. It doesn’t say anything new enough to make me really perk up and pay attention. And when you’re up against the greats of anthology series, a difficult and daunting task, it’s even more apparent when the cracks begin to show.
Of the four stories, ENDANGERED is the one that stands out to me, both in story, and in fun hidden Easter Eggs (the town is called “Chaney”, the mayor, “Talbot). THE GIFT has shades of a Neil Gaiman tale, with a deliciously creepy and tragic ending. THE BOOKWORM has a confusing visual style which conflicts with modern body horror. ABDUCTED features some great alien work, but overall I found myself nonplussed by the story. It’s unfortunate that each of these stories falls just a tiny bit flat, which tale after tale leaves a bad taste in our mouths as viewers.
THEATRE OF TERROR could be a fun foray into anthology tales, even making way for a series or more. I wish it was better, I really do, and I am frustrated for myself that I don’t like it more. Maybe it needed another draft, or another pass in the edit… However, as it is now, it comes up just a little short.
THEATRE OF TERROR is available from Bayview Entertainment.
“THEATRE OF TERROR steps boldly into the anthological fray, but unfortunately stumbles along the journey.”
“THEATRE OF TERROR has the distinct air of a movie where every horror concept was thrown at the wall, and whatever stuck made the cut.”
|Theatre of Terror
||No Trailer Available
||1 hr 30 Mins.
Russell Hackett, Tom Ryan