Producers: Josh Goldbloom, Brad Miska, Kurtis David Harder and William Chandra HOLY HELL Director, screenplay: Jennifer Reeder Cast: Kimmy Choi, Nicolette Pearse, Thomas Mitchell, Drug Viergever, Rodrigo Fernandez-Stoll, Dax Ravina, Kevin P. Gabel and William Jordan STORM DRAIN Director, screenplay: Chloe Okuno Cast: Anna Hopkins, Christian Potenza, Brian Paul and Tim Campbell THE EMPTY WAKE Director, screenplay: Simon Barrett Cast: Kyal Legend, Devin Chin-Cheong and Daniel Matmor THE SUBJECT Director, screenplay: Timo Tjanjanto Cast: Budi Ross, Shahabi Sakri, Daniel Ekaputra, Donny Alamsyah, Bio One, Vincent Martin and Novi Rahmat TERROR Director, screenplay: Ryan Prows Cast: Christian Lloyd, Thomas Mitchell Barnett, Cameron Knetelman, Steven McCarthy, Brendan McMurthy-Howlett, Slavic Rogozine, Daniel Willston and Dru Viergever Distributor: Shudder
Anthology movies are invariably hit and miss, and this fourth entry in the poverty-row-level VHS horror series is more of the latter than the former, though fans devoted to grindhouse fare might find it worth their time.
“Holy Hell,” the wraparound segment by Jennifer Reeder about a SWAT team that invades a warehouse where they find the bodies of people propped up in front of televisions, their eyes gouged out, as video tapes unspool, is frenetic but vacuous; a twist at the close doesn’t save it, though it establishes the theme of grisly VHS material .
“Storm Drain,” by Chloe Okuno, follows the investigation by a local TV reporter (Anna Hopkins) of stories about a “rat man” in the city sewer tunnels. Like the others it has a twist ending, in this case a pretty lame one, and the effects are of bargain-basement quality, which is of course designed as part of the joke.
Next up is Simon Barrett’s “The Wake,” a mood piece about a service in a funeral parlor on what could definitely be described with the cliché “a dark and stormy night.” The place is deserted except for the staff—and the corpse, of course.
The most extended entry is Indonesian Timo Tjanjanto’s “The Subject,” which shows, in gruesome detail, the experiments of a mad scientist (the raving Budi Ross), who’s trying to meld kidnapped subjects with mechanical addenda. A SWAT team invades his lair, and much mayhem ensues. Much of it plays out like a first-person video game—an extremely gory and prolonged one.
Saving the best for last, the penultimate effort—before the wraparound coda—is Ryan Prows’ “Terror,” about a bunch of yahoo militia types preparing to use a secret weapon to attack a Detroit federal building. This is marked by some obvious but welcome commentary about the wacky “patriot” movement and a goofily over-the-top performance by Christian Lloyd as the group’s self-appointed leader.
Overall, the movie is very cheaply made, and the camerawork by Jared Raab, Andrew Apelle, Patrick Tasadian and Benjamin Kitchens, as well as the editing by Thomas Newell, James Vandewater and Brad Bachnan is pretty amateurish. Of course, that’s intentional, since the contents are supposed to resemble stuff from 1990s videocassettes, though that hardly makes it any more pleasant to look at. The score attributed to The Lord blares mercilessly, and the acting and direction throughout play for the rafters.
The fact that this series doesn’t aspire to be anything but grindhouse junk means that it could go on forever. One can only hope it doesn’t. The grade of C is for effort, with a minus for actual achievement.