Director: Tom Holland
Screenplay: Tom Holland
Starring: Angela Bettis, Ray Wise, AJ Bowen, William Forsythe, Sarah Butler, Amber Benson, Tom Holland, Noah Hathaway, Danielle Harris, Adam Rose, Andy Earl, Lisa McLowy, Shaun Benson
Running Time: 142 mins
BBFC Classification: 15
Anthology horror films used to be very popular in the sixties and 70s when the likes of Amicus Studios churned them out with overly optimistic regularity. Since then other filmmakers have tried to get in on the act with mixed success – The Twilight Zone, Cat’s Eye (both good); Creepshow 2 & 3 (both pretty bad).
Writer/director Tom Holland is obviously a bit of a fan of this subgenre and has gone for a bit of a ‘Tales from the Crypt’ comic type of vibe for his own example of this type of horror flick.
On the plus side Holland has managed to pull in a lot of quality talent for the project, with some great actors sharing the limelight with some, err, not-so-great actors. Sadly this might have over stretched his meagre budget somewhat, which looks to be rather small. Consequently some of the effects shots are pretty poor and the general look and feel of the film is very low budget and somewhat basic. However, the variety of the stories told is pretty good, although I didn’t really feel any were overly original either in their writing or in their presentation.
Things kick off with ‘Fred and his GPS’ where a man, who has killed his wife, finds himself getting harassed by his sat nav, which appears to have been ‘taken over’ by his dead wife. ‘To Hell with you’ sees a young woman making a deal with a demon to get revenge on her cheating boyfriend, while ‘Boom’ sees two bomb disposal experts going head to head over the same woman.
In ‘Mongo’s Magic Mirror’ an ambitious young magician gets mirror envy with some really weird consequences for both him and his girlfriend, while in ‘Bite’ five teens try out a new strain of dope that makes people go mad and possibly turns them into cheap-looking werewolves. And ‘Shockwave’ sees dinner party friends at odds with each other over who should be saved by hiding in a one person panic room, as the end of the world rears its ugly head and draws nigh.
‘Cached’ sees a thief getting more than he bargained for when he half inches a tablet that used to belong to a genius software programmer, who also enjoyed a bit of serial murder as a side line hobby. In the meantime, in ‘The Pizza Guy’ a young woman, Emma, wants to talk to her dead sister to apologise, hence decides, as you do, to summon a demon to help arrange for some spirit Skype time with her sister.
And finally the rather surreal ‘Vampire’s Dance’ sees some rather pretentious vampires attacking nightclub punters, rather like the well staged attack sequence early on in Blade.
At considerably over two hours in length, Twisted Tales is overlong and Holland would have been better to have taken a couple of the weaker stories out completely and to have really focussed on and honed in on the better remaining ones. Some of the tales are pretty dull after all. Tom Holland also makes the mistake of having himself introducing each and every tale, in a kind of ‘Crypt Keeper’ narrator role. This is unnecessary and come across like an ego type of thing.
Having said that I enjoyed Mongo’s Magic Mirror for its rather surreal, Lovecraftian vibe, and it was nice seeing actress Angela Bettis again in the survivalist tale, Shockwave. I also thought Cached worked out pretty well. In Vampire’s Dance it was nice to see vamps going for the femoral artery for a change (although I wasn’t blown away by the story itself) and Boom nicely played around with some of the tropes from the Saw movies.
A thick vein of black humour runs throughout proceedings, which I thought helped Holland’s film out, although in some cases the laughs I had were of the unintentional variety – some of the acting and dialogue is pretty dire!
Picture quality was about what you’d expect for a film that was most probably shot on relatively cheap equipment, and the sound design felt a bit amateur – I had to turn up or down the volume at regular intervals.
Overall I thought Twisted Tales showed promise and Holland should try and get another anthology film made sometime, albeit one where he takes more of a back seat (just stick to the writing/directing) and to make sure the film is no more that two hours in length.
Twisted Tales has recently been released on DVD and is being distributed by Bulldog Film Distribution. There were no special features on the disc.