I think most people go in to a movie that’s labeled a found footage anthology film might be expecting something like “VHS,” but directors Michael McQuown and Vincent J Guastini have so much more ambitious in mind. While the aforementioned horror film garnered a small assemblage of horror stories with a framework, “The Dark Tapes” tries to add more cogency. Everything in “The Dark Tapes” is cryptic and complex, and what we’re watching ends up making more sense the more we think about it. The directors obviously aspired to make a movie you have to watch more than once to understand. And of course they invite audiences to go to the movie’s website to perhaps convey their own theories about what the movie entails.
I think “The Dark Tapes” pulls off that function in where fans might go back two or three more times to kind of put together what we’ve and attempt to figure out what it all means. “The Dark Tapes” watches a lot like something like a horror version of “Pulp Fiction” where something affects the next story, and so on. For folks that are in the mood for something richer in the horror genre, “The Dark Tapes” is an abstract and eerie horror film that inspired me to go back to it at least two more times and try to put the puzzle together. “To Catch a Demon” by co director Vincent J Guastini involves Sam and Marie standing outside a building. This is the wrap around for the entire anthology, as they immediately find a camcorder with video from the previous day. From there, their inspection involves the four stories.
And while the wrap around seems fairly uneventful, looks can truly be deceiving. “The Hunters and the Hunted” is a very good segment about a young couple that moves in to their seemingly ideal house. Said house reveals itself to be haunted by an unseen specter, and as they hire a group of ghost hunters, events unfold in to unexpected and horrific ways. “Cam Girls” centers on a beautiful young woman named Caitlin who moves in to an apartment with her girlfriend Sindy, where the two engage in live erotic video chats. As Caitlin begins experiencing unusual and violent black outs, she seeks the help of her friend Eric, a medical student who begins investigating her condition. This segment is much more chaotic adding weird video artifacts that will confuse the viewers and sets the stage for some truly unnerving turn of events.
“Amanda’s Revenge” involves another young girl living alone who begins experiencing attacks while sleeping. As the attacks continue, she realizes she’s developing weird powers, and attempts to uncover the secret behind the attackers. “The Dark Tapes” is an exceptional and surreal horror anthology that makes great use of both of its formats, contributing to an indie film that’s also an experience. I wasn’t sure I would care enough to want to go back to the well again and revisit the segments for the sake of assembling the puzzle, but the film draws enough ideas and unusual plot points to inspire some evocative concepts about age old fears. As well, the cast are all absolutely remarkable, as is the make up, which helps to build some spine tingling moments of pure horror and some of the best moments in the film.
If you come across “The Dark Tapes” give it a spin and prepare for something completely out of the ordinary.
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