Tales from the Apocalypse (2023)

I’m shocked at how great “Tales from the Apocalypse” was, and I say that as someone that loves a good apocalyptic yarn here and there. While I wouldn’t be quick to compare it to “Trick r Treat” as the premise has explained, it manages to stand on its own two feet as  great anthology filled with five great science fiction shorts obvious influenced by the likes of Ray Bradbury, Rod Serling, and Richard Matheson. I’m also glad a lot of the shorts picked for this film aren’t the usual tired tropes, but aim for something so much more meaningful and thought provoking.

William Hellmuth’s “Alone” is my favorite of the bunch centering on a space pilot named Kaya who managed to barely escape the explosion of her ship. Now with little fuel and dwindling resources, she finds her pod drifting in to a massive black hole. To bide the time she makes contact with another lone space explorer who is also trying to stave off loneliness. “Alone” is such a thoughtful and heartbreaking tale about being stuck in a hole and finding a will to live thanks to friendship and companionship. “Cradle” from Damon Duncan is a sad but interesting tale of Eade, a fourteen year old girl that has spent her whole life on a space ship. After the disappearance of her mother, she’s forced to save her father when an accident puts him in to a coma.

As she ventures in to the computers anxiously trying to help her dad, seemingly lost camera footage reveals something about Eade’s life she never expected. It’s a marvelous short film with a great performance by Jaqueline Joe. “Lunatique” from Gabriel Kalim Mucci is a beautiful film that sadly suffers from a climax that feels unfinished. That said it’s very well realized and interesting tale that flips the script mid-way allowing us to garner a second glance at the world we’ve been introduced to. With some great effects and costume work this is a nice bit of dystopian warfare. “New Mars” from Susie Jones is a sweet tale of a civilization on Mars that is preparing to colonize and have taught the new generation to avoid “traps” like emotional attachment and lust.

But when Venus 7 forms affections for her friend Mars 3, she’s forced to confront her feelings, especially as the mandatory “pairings” of couples looms. It’s a well made and more minimalistic tale with a great commentary about how love is as natural as any other bodily function. The most high concept is “AI-Pocalypse” from Lin Sun is a great capper that pictures a world run by AI. When one of their androids Sonia garners a consciousness and attachment to her makers, she takes it upon herself to not only fix humanity, but correct it. “AI-pocalypse” is a beautifully made and fascinating take on the idea of Artificial Intelligence and if there’s any difference being ruled by humans of androids nearing a human consciousness.

“Tales from the Apocalypse” is a marvelous compilation of pretty stellar science fiction short stories. I hope fellow genre fans look out for it.

On Digital and DVD July 4th.