Rod, radio DJ, hosts a popular horror-themed show packed with tales of terror for eager listeners. When he receives alarming calls from a horrified child things start to feel off.
The opening sequence (In the Dark, Dark Woods) is a short film in and of itself but seems to be more of a mood-setter than part of the story. I was captivated straight away as it is a reimagining of my favourite childhood book (A Dark, Dark Tale by Ruth Brown) and used the same haunting lines that are probably the reason why I am now sitting here reviewing horror movies today. It is a wonderfully twisted short film with a great production value and gorgeous special effects used intelligently. A fantastic way to start us off. My expectations were now set pretty high. We’re then introduced to our host, Rod Wilson (James Wright), our smooth-talking radio host/horror enthusiast/storyteller-extraordinaire. It is with Rod that we meet our callers and get introduced to our various short films. Let’s jump right in!
The first short (after the intro) is an Australian tale called Post Mortem Mary which is about a pair of undertakers, a young girl and her mother, performing their craft in the Outback in what looks to be the late 19th century. It is an unsettling tale to say the least and really quite twisted. It is an atmospheric nail biter that had me both on the edge of my seat and wanting to cover my face. It’s a real scare; a perfect marriage of sound, screen and scream. I may have slightly soiled myself. I’d say that this was my favourite as it was the only one that actually scared me…and near nothing scares me. *Applause*
The second short, A Little Off The Top, tried hard, with great sound and lighting coupled with decent actor working off a mediocre monologue. There was little in the way of surprise as we could kind of figure out what was going on from the start of the short, but that didn’t really detract from the story, just the tension. It does have a fantastic climax though, so I’d call that a win and a worthy watch.
The third short film is simply genius and probably the best of the lot—although not my favourite. The Disappearance of Willie Bingham is more a political or social commentary that a traditional horror. Using body horror as its platform, this short takes us to uncomfortable places while tackling issues like capital punishment and government overreach. It’s incredibly well made, well-acted, and well shot. The themes are dark and the story twisted but the events are grounded in fact rather than fiction…The worst part is that events similar to these are probably taking part somewhere in the world. Maybe not for all to see, but I don’t think that anyone would argue that these events are impossible. Humanity is not always a shining beacon of hope.
The fourth short is entitled Drops. It is a strange, almost surrealist horror that had one too many jump scares for my personal tastes. It is a passionate, powerful film with awesome creature effects and a good-looking production value but it really just wasn’t what I’d watch for fun. More something meant for a festival.
The Smiling Man is something more traditional but also really jump scare centred. I guess if you are a fan of those Annabelle or Conjuring style films with the cliched audio and overly long pauses where you know there’s a scare coming, then this maybe right up your alley. I liked the ending. The actor playing our creepy clown creature was honestly fantastic. While personally not a fan of this kind of horror, it is extremely well made.
The sixth short, Into the Mud, is the campiest, craziest, sexiest creature feature in the set. This is the kind of film that I grew up on and I loved it. I don’t want to spoil the plot as the devil is in the details but suffice it to say it’s a solid short and lot of fun. Nom.
Short 7, Viscious, is a British film that is probably the most generic and least inspiring. It’s not bad by any means…in fact, it’s very well done. It’s just that I have seen this film before in various other incarnations…too many familiar tropes and overused devices. It had the jump scares and the monsters and the fancy long shots, but it wasn’t really all that memorable.
Now, with anthology films, we usually have this awkward subplot that gives the narrator agency over the story. Sometimes, it is written well and adds to the overall film and other times it is nothing but cringe. For Nightmare Radio, it worked. It wasn’t anything game-changing and certainly not better than any of the shorts that the film highlights, except maybe Viscious. Nevertheless, Wright had the chops to pull off the tale, with a gorgeous beard to boot. It added a nice creepy twist to the end and opened and closed off the film well.
All in all, I was more than satisfied. Nightmare Radio is a superb collection of short films wrapped in one explosive package. Genres for everyone, styles for everyone, tastes for everyone. It is a smorgasbord of a watch and comes with two thumbs up and a full five stars. The lower review scores make no sense to me…It’s as if this film were rated by folks that don’t know what a horror anthology is supposed to be. It’s this. This is what a horror anthology is supposed to be. Thanks for reading and as always, stay sordid. Poster and trailer below. A Night of Horror: Nightmare Radio will be available on Amazon and Google from 21st December and iTunes from 30th December.
Site founder. Horror enthusiast. Metalhead.