Let me tell you a secret: regardless of their objective qualities or how well-made they are, I almost always enjoy horror anthologies. A segment doesn’t click with you in any way? Just wait for the next one, hopefully you will enjoy it. Aside from truly excruciating examples of bad horror anthology movies (such as Dark Web, 2018 or Creepshow 3, 2006), I even get a kick out subpar flicks in the sub-genre such as the V/H/S and The Theatre Bizarre, to name a couple. Of course, some horror anthologies are really great, for example the original Creepshow, The Twilight Zone movie and Kwaidan (1964).
Usually, though, anthology movies are mixed-bags. The latest one, A Night of Horror: Nightmare Radio, is now available on Shudder after having hit some film festivals in 2019. The gimmick of this anthology is quite interesting: in fact, the wrap-around story was newly filmed for the movie, but all the other 7 segments were made in the past decade, between 2010 and 2019. Yet, this is an international anthology horror, meaning that the short movies featured in A Night of Horror come from all around the world.
Continue reading and check my final grade below…
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A Night of Horror: Nightmare Radio – concept and first two segments
The Onetti Brothers (the Argentinian filmmakers behind Francesca and What the Waters Left Behind) wrote and directed the wrap-around story. This centres around radio DJ Rod (James Wright) telling scary stories in the middle of the night to his audience: these stories are the ones we get to watch as instalments of the horror anthology. In the meantime, though, Rod receives increasingly creepier phone call…
The 1st segment comes from New Zealand and it’s a period piece that follows mother and young daughter whose job is to take photos of dead kids so that their parents can moan, which was actually a very common custom in the late 19th century/ early 20th century. This is a pretty good start of A Night of Horror: this segment is based on a great concept, it features amazing practical effects and a few squeamish moments; yet, it’s well-shot and extremely creepy, despite the scares being rather formulaic and the score being quite average. The 2nd segment, though, represents a huge drop in quality. This one comes from the United States and it only consists of boring dribble from the main character, leading up to a predictable and unsatisfying plot twist at the end.
3rd, 4th and 5th segments in A Night of Horror: Nightmare Radio
The first two instalments in this anthology are representative of the whole movie: great short horror movies are intertwined with pointless, boring ones. In fact, inconsistent quality and production values can be found throughout A Night of Horror. The 3rd segment, though, from Australia, is probably my favourite one: it’s got surprisingly high production values, an original concept and most elaborate sets with many extras involved. On top of that, the 3rd instalment features truly good performances, a lot of disturbing moments and tons of impressive visual effects.
The 4th segment comes from Spain and it’s written and directed by Sergio Morcillo, whom I’m very excited to see directing a feature-length movie one day. In fact, this instalment was pretty great as well, since it benefitted from some great filmmaking: cinematography and lightening are fantastic and purposeful, the Hereditary-inspired scares are terrifying and creepy, the performances are solid and the metaphorical meaning of it is very clever. Unfortunately, the shitty score and overreliance on the cliched crescendo violin prevented this one from being the best of the bunch. The 5th instalment, from Italy, was super lame, though: this segment relies on an awful child performance, it’s very derivative and poorly-made in terms of effects and “surprises”. It might be the worst one.
Last two segments and wrap-around story in A Night of Horror: Nightmare Radio
The 6th segment was made in Eastern Europe and, while better than the previous one, is also quite bad and boring. It features plenty of gratuitous nudity, cliched moments and poor physical performances; the camera was constantly shaking, which made the viewing experience very nauseating and annoying. The final twist, though, was rather unexpected and saved this short from being a complete waste of time.
The last segment, again from the United States, kind of falls in the middle: it features some unsettling images and a few creepy moments, a couple of Babadook-inspired sequences and a decent performance. However, it’s very repetitive, it’s got a disappointing ending and it comes off as dull by the end of it. The wrap-around story, however, is the most throwaway concept you can think of. It’s really disappointing that this was directed by the Onetti Brothers, who are usually talented filmmakers, because the wrap-around story feels extremely unnecessary and forced.
As I was saying at the beginning of this article, A Night of Horror: Nightmare Radio is a mixed-bad like most anthology flicks, but I did enjoy watching it. Three very good segments in it helped the overall experience and made it worth watching, at least in my opinion.
However, most of the instalments are either very bad or dull and uninspired. If you’re okay with a time-passer horror flick and if you like horror anthologies, I would say A Night of Horror: Nightmare Radio might do the trick. If you’re not into these kinds of film, though, just skip it.
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