Fantasia 2020 review: ‘The Mortuary Collection’ is dark, twisted, and fun as hell.

On the cusp of retirement, an eccentric mortician recounts several of the strangest stories he’s encountered in his long career, but things take a turn for the phantasmagorical when he learns that the final story – is his own.

With a gorgeous opening sequence reminiscent of Creepshow and Spielberg‘s Amazing Stories, ( plus a blink and you’ll miss it homage to director Ryan Spindell as an easter egg) The Mortuary Collection was already going to be one of my favorites at this year’s Fantasia International Film Festival 2020. Honestly, you had me at Clancy Brown, a man who haunted my youth in Pet Semetary 2. The visual textures are nothing short of delicious. This film oozes eerie but in a strangely friendly way. Brown’s overall aesthetic lies somewhere between Lurch and Phantasm‘s Tall Man. It’s beautiful for a genre fan.

This horror anthology is told in chronological era order. Each one stylized to high heaven in all it’s glory. The specificity and care in which the sequences are dressed, the minute details like a nautical wallpaper, or the name of a frat house is not to be ignored. But the homages did not end with the titles. Evil Dead, Corpse Bride, Beetlejuice, The Shining, are only a few films that feel referenced. The performances are outstanding from every single cast member. But I’ll focus on Clancy Brown and Caitlin Custer, specifically. Brown in all his towering presence and booming voice glory is a mere half of this spectacular. His wise, seen it all manner of spookiness is nothing short of perfection. Custer’s smart-alecky persona is an excellent foil here. Her nonchalance both puts you at ease and tips you off to something darker. They are both undeniably incredible.

The Mortuary Collection presents us with morality tales wrapped in scary, unexpected delight. In no way whatsoever does it appear to have been made on an indie budget. It’s simply stunning to behold from every single angle. The practical fx are gross and gorgeous. The storytelling is both tongue-in-cheek and terror-filled. I don’t think I could have asked for anything more from Spindell except perhaps an entire franchise.

 

BHFF 2019 review: ‘A Night of Horror: Nightmare Radio’ makes short films its frightening focus.

A NIGHT OF HORROR: NIGHTMARE RADIO

North American Premiere
Argentina, New Zealand | 2019 | 100 Min | Dir. Luciano and Nicolás Onetti, Sergio Morcillo, Joshua Long, Jason Bognacki, Adam O´Brien, Matt Richards, A.J. Briones, Pablo S. Pastor and Oliver Park.

As the host of a popular horror-themed radio show, disc jockey Rod shares tales of terror with his eager listeners, and although this particular night is no different, there’s also the unexpected wrinkles of alarming calls from a scared-to-death child. How that all ties together is part of the magic behind A NIGHT OF HORROR: NIGHTMARE RADIO, an anthology constructed by Argentinian duo Nicolas and Luciano Onetti, who’ve assembled an impressive lineup of recent festival-touring horror shorts to deliver a refreshingly unique new kind of omnibus. —Matt Barone

 

Visually delicious from every angle. It’s like a beautiful love letter to horror fans. Directors Nicolas and Luciano Onetti have gathered some of the buzziest horror shorts from the festival circuit to create a brilliant feature film. Each short is magnificent in story and genuinely bone-chilling. Our radio host Rod, played cooly and nonchalantly by James Wright, is essentially a more attractive Crypt Keeper. Telling stories and taking calls all while checking the time religiously. He’s a bit of an enigma but we can tell he is on edge during this particular broadcast. Rod’s tales deal with something for everyone; body horror, lore, possession, demons, trauma, monsters, urban legends and everything else terrifying in-between. While we enjoy his stories, our man Rod is wrestling with his own nightmare. The practical effects make-up and the scores are all top-notch. This is a special film. Highlighting great horror shorts in such a genuinely unique, scary way is brilliant.  A Night Of Horror: Nightmare Radio is a hell of a crowd-pleasing film for Brooklyn Horror Film Festival.

Review: ‘PORTALS’ is basically a genre-bending mindf*ck.

On August 5th 2020, an undisclosed research facility successfully creates the world’s first active black hole…Shortly after a cosmic disruption occurs triggering a series of world-wide blackouts; after which millions of mysterious, reality-altering, Portal-like anomalies appear everywhere and anywhere across the planet. While many flee from the sentient objects, the real terror sets in as people are drawn toward and into them.

 

Portals is a genre-bending anthology featuring three internationally connected stories told from four visionary filmmakers’ perspectives as the cosmic events unfold within the first few days. The action quickly kicks off with our wrap-around story following Adam and his family on their way to his mother-in-law’s house during the blackouts and reports of missing persons..during the road trip their SUV barrels directly into an Anomaly that suddenly appears in the middle of a desolate road. He later wakes up in a mysterious hospital suffering from optic nerve damage and is given an experimental eye transplant that links itself directly to the anomalies. With a determination to be reunited with his family; Adam soon discovers the hospital has cosmic secrets of its own.

Incredibly effective CG mixed with a mass hysteria mystery makes Portals beyond entertaining. The film’s pace makes you uneasy immediately. It’s quite impressive. The play on parental emotions and survival instinct keeps you on the edge. I NEEDED to know how this was all going to play out. The cast is magnificent. The multiple narrative styles fit perfectly into this genre-bending film. While the third selection between two sisters feels a bit too long, it shifts the genre dynamic. To what? I’m not quite sure, but it still has me invested because it is moving the plot forward. The physical portals themselves look like massive, high tech flat-screen televisions. The digital effects they utilize on the screens are cool and you learn very quickly somehow connected to the story. As the plot twists and turns, Portals has an almost dizzying effect. It would be a phenomenal miniseries. It’s a lot of information to explore in a single film. I try to go into a film without reading much about it first. Once I realized that this was actually an anthology, I was all the more impressed. The quality of writing flows through each separate selection as does production for continuity, obviously. But I was blown away by the risks these writers and directors took to feature different perspectives in the same way individuals having “the same experience” internationally. When all is said and done, Portals begs for a sequel. If not, then an entire series. There is a ton of story left to tell and I am here for it all.

In Theaters and On Demand October 25

Directed by Eduardo Sanchez (The Blair Witch Project, Exists)Gregg Hale (V/H/S 2), Timo Tjahjanto (The Night Comes For Us, Headshot), and Liam O’Donnell (Beyond Skyline)

Starring Neil Hopkins (“Lost”), Deanna Russo (Burning Love, Knight Rider), Gretchen Lodge (Lovely Molly), Natacha Gott (After the Dark), Phet Mahathongdy (Skyline), Ptolemy Slocum (“Westworld”), and Salvita Decorte (The Night Comes For Us)

Produced by Brad Miska and creator Chris White alongside BoulderLight Pictures’ J.D. Lifshitz and Raphael Margules, and Pigrat Productions’ Alyssa and Griffin Devine