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.

 

Review: SHUDDER and Jay Baruchel bring you ‘Random Acts of Violence’

Comic book creator Todd Walkley (Jesse Williams), his wife Kathy (Jordana Brewster), assistant Aurora (Niamh Wilson) and best friend, Hard Calibre Comics owner Ezra (Baruchel), embark upon a road trip from Toronto to New York Comic Con and bad things start to happen. People start getting killed. It soon becomes clear that a crazed fan is using Todd’s “SLASHERMAN” comic as inspiration for the killings and as the bodies pile up, and Todd’s friends and family become victims themselves, Todd will be forced to take artistic responsibility. Directed by Jay Baruchel. Premieres August 20 on only Shudder (US & UK).

Secretly centered around deep childhood trauma, Random Acts Of Violence, is one of this year’s most visually stunning horror films. Reminiscent of Creepshow with its comic book window integration, actor/producer/writer/director Jay Baruchel‘s newest feature will freak you out. The gore factor is insanely high, the kills are next level disturbing. The killer has a literal playbook. But from page to screen they are all the more unsettling. Bravo to the makeup effects team for building purely maniacal creations. But in truth, they come from Jay Baruchel’s brain. Scary shit, indeed. Performances are top-notch from everyone. The honest intensity and fear will rattle even the hardcore viewer.

The script is filled with just enough breadcrumbs to keep you invested but completely blindsided. The feminist monologue Baruchel writes for Brewster is amazing; throwing the glorification of violence against women in our faces. The psychological trauma being explored makes for such a smart screenplay. The camera work slowly reveals just how sick the premise is, how vile the imagery. And that’s coming from someone who ingests horror more than the average person probably should. Good news for Shudder, this film will reverb in viewers’ nightmares. Random Acts of Violence is anything but random. It is genre art.

RANDOM ACTS OF VIOLENCE is available now on SHUDDER US/UK/Ireland