Distributor: Epic Pictures (US)/Thunder Road Inc. (UK)
Directors: Michael McQuown & Vincent J. Guastini
Starring: Emilia Ares Zoryan, Danielle Baez, Katelyn Bailey, David Banks, Jonathan Biver, Layne Castro, Sara Castro, Heather Compton, Michael Cotter, Sherry Dargahi, Trey Everett, Denise Faro, Brittany Fisheli, Jo Galloway, Mary Rachel Gardner
The latest entry into the found footage game, The Dark Tapes, was written by Michael McQuown and directed by McQuown and Vincent J. Guastini and the one unique thing this movie has going for it is that it is also an anthology. Anyone who knows me knows that I am a huge fan of found footage and anthology movies so this ticks two of my favorites boxes. Wraparound stories can be essential to the movie and can be funny like in Body Bags or of a more serious nature like in V/H/S, but a good wraparound can really add to the viewing pleasure of the movie.
This wraparound features a group of people trying to get footage of a ‘demon’ or ‘being’ from another dimension and has a real Prince of Darkness vibe running throughout the story, although I thought this was the weakest of the segments, only because I found the other segments so engaging. The basis is an interesting one; our brain waves during REM sleep can interact with other dimensional beings which is why we can see visions of monsters for split seconds in our dreams. Time dilates through dimensions so a being would have to stand still for minutes or hours for a waking person to see them, but in REM sleep our brain waves can sort of modulate this time dilation and allow us to catch a glimpse. This idea of monsters being dimensional beings is very Lovecraftian and sits well with me. Much like in Prince of Darkness things go awry but we are left watching the effects of time dilation and the origin of the titular dark tapes. Overall, a great segment but I just liked the other three better.
The Hunter and The Hunted is about a couple who ask for help with their haunted house. A trio of paranormal investigators show up and, as expected, things go horribly wrong. I don’t want to give any more of the plot away but the ending was quite good and original. This one has an extra layer of creepy when you watch the ending and then ponder the ramifications.
Cam Girls is next ‘dark tape’. This one centers around two girls that put on a cam show for one lucky person that they select, with seven or so starting out on the Skype screen and one is chosen. Like in The Hunter and The Hunted, camera interference is used to denote an outside force of some type interfering with our natural world. Sometimes we can see things in the interference and sometimes we can’t. It may be a bit cliché but it is used very effectively in the entire film. Here we get an idea of the plot but the writer put in a small twist at the end that is very interesting. It is not a huge mind bending twist but rather a small subtle one that keeps the viewers on their toes. Sometimes it is nice not to be hit over the head with a twist but rather enjoy a nice little tidbit.
The final story is Amanda’s Revenge. After a near date rape incident Amanda wakes from her drug induced sleep after some very crazy dreams. This story uses both traditional found footage and video calls to tell the tale. The video calls are short, to the point and aid rather than detract from the storytelling. Again, I don’t want to discuss to much of the plot. To much discussion of the plot reveals to many spoilers for this segment. This is well done and well acted with a predictable ending. The ending didn’t bother me because I was totally engaged with the characters throughout the entire story as it was more about the acting and chemistry between the main characters than the ending.
Four different stories and four different perspectives of what lies beyond. This is more than just an anthology of stories – it is a unique presentation of viewpoints of the beyond. As a whole the entire movie was very well done, the writing was concise and for a limited budget an exceptional product was delivered. I waited a few months for this one to hit and it was definitely worth the wait as there is something for everyone in this anthology, and I have a suspicion that The Dark Tapes may end up on my top releases for this year.
US/UK Release Date: 18th April 2017