David Buchert and Chris St. Croix’s “In the Dark” is definitely one of the most tonally inconsistent anthology horror films I’ve seen in a long time. While it’s not a terrible trio of horror stories, it shifting tones and mediocre scares won’t elicit a huge fan base. That’s a shame, since “In the Dark” sports a really good opening introduction and wrap around sub-plot. In the wave of anthologies hitting VOD, I’d place this in the mediocre category. Set during a night time robbery, two sisters, who also happen to be maniacal killers, hide out in a hotel awaiting a rendezvous with their boss. While they wait, they sit around and partake in three mysterious horror movies on VHS that they stole from their victims.
“The Keeper” is a basic tale of comeuppance for a group of criminals. They delight in torturing people and committing murder, save for one young girl in the gang. The leader is struggling to get her to commit her first crime, but the rest of the gang doubts she has what it takes. Things go awry when a mysterious traveler appears as if from nowhere asking for help, and they learn he’s the keeper of a monstrous being with a taste for evil individuals. As criminals are picked off one by one, the young girl tries to decide if she’s one of them or pure of heart. It’s sappy, but it works as a creature feature with decent effects.
“Dummy” is the highlight of the anthology, as a young traumatized boy named Charlie uses a creepy ventriloquist dummy to communicate to his therapist. On the way home, Charlie is harassed by a pair of bullies who steal his dummy. Despite their sister’s attempts to fend them off, Charlie seeks out his toy and accidentally takes a dive off a cliff. Years later, the young girl who attempted to help Charlie is now a woman and she’s kidnapped in her home and subjected to a game of hide and seek, at and abandoned hospital. Stalked by an axe murderer donning a horrifying mask similar to Charlie’s dummy, she seeks out her kidnapped brothers, and evades the masked murderer out for revenge.
I saw the ending coming a mile away, but that doesn’t detract from the tension and suspense “Dummy” draws out well. The mask created for the killer is also very memorable, and I wanted more. “To Be Loved” is a clunky dark comedy about a young love starved man who discovers a mysterious VHS tape. Said tape transforms his VCR in to a man eating monster. Ripping off “Little Shop of Horrors” wholesale, the nerdy young man begins feeding the hungry VCR dismembered female victims in exchange for its promise of finding him a true love. Events spiral out of control when the VCR goes back on its deal, though. It’s a pretty boring and unfunny segment that finishes the film. All in all, “In the Dark” could have used stronger writing and a better closing segment, but it’s a fine time killer with tight direction all around. I’d suggest this strictly for hardcore fans of anthologies.