The Dark Tapes Review
by Phillip Wilcox "Our Movie Demon"
Writer: Michael McQuown
Directors: Vincent J. Guastini & Michael McQuown
Starring: Emilia Ares Zoryan, Anna Rose Moore, David Banks, Jonathan Biver, Sara Castro, Michael Cotter, Denise Faro, Brittany Fisheli, Jo Galloway, Annalisa Guidone, Shane Hartline, David Hull, Clint Keepin, Casey James Knight, Kari Lane, Shawn Lockie, Matt Magnusson, Tessa Munro, Olivia Leigh Nowak, Jake O'Connor, Cortney Palm, David Rountree, Katherine Shaw, Meredith Thomas, Brittany Underwood, Steven Zimpel
Running Time: 1 hour 38 minutes
How It Can Be Seen: VOD Platforms/DVD
Found footage films can be a tricky sub-genre to pull off, and so can anthologies. But horror anthologies that also contain a found footage style and format to the way each story is filmed is like walking a line as thin as one would use to go fishing with. So either you'll tip over or the line will give way and snap under the weight of a poorly executed film. However if the film is done well, and everything comes together in perfect harmony, which is rare, you'll be able to walk along that line all the way to the end knowing you survived; and so did your film. Found footage films have always been a hit or miss with me. But the more I think about, there are maybe a small handful that totally work for me and that are effective. But the minute they started pumping out movie after movie with that same style, they lost me. I was done. As a devoted Cinephile, I cannot stand (or sit) idly by while I waste precious time and money watching movie after movie with Identical plot devices, exact same style with no sense of individualism, authenticity, or even just an ounce of originality. So please understand my extreme hesitation before seeing THE DARK TAPES.
This anthology is made up several tapes, each one tells a different story containing a different genre. So one is a straight up horror, one is a sci-fi, another tackles supernatural and another deals with a myth. Personally, there were 2 Tapes in particular that come to mind that I either found fascinating or intense or chilling. One was called "The Hunters & The Hunted" and the other is called "Cam Girls". What I found great about these two stories was that they took an idea or concept that people either already know about or have at least heard about, and then by the end of it you'll feel like you're watching something completely different. So in the beginning you could be thinking, "Ugh, seriously?" Like i did. But if you have the patience and stick with them, you'll see the script slowly but surely get flipped on you.
It's stuff like that that excite me and make me take notice because they're adding in a slice of originality. Oh and by the way, the 2 Tapes I mentioned were more from the horror genre. The other Tapes, 1 of which kicked off the anthology but was long enough to be broken up into multiple sections (or Tapes) throughout until it became sort of like book ends for the whole movie. One that dealt with a group of scientific researchers that want to video record what happens after R.E.M. sleep, and it also injects a creature and different dimension. Awesome concept, in theory. However, the way it was executed and just the way it played out, instead of scary or gripping, certain things came off more hokey and cheesy than anything. So it just didn't work for me. The other Tape, entitled "Amanda's Revenge" tells the story of a college girl whom, while at a party, gets roofied and almost gets raped however doesn't with the help of her loyal friends. They stay with her and after she wakes up the next day they all realize, Amanda included, that bizarre things are beginning to happen to her. Both this plot and the one in the first Tape are both Sci-fi in nature. And the thing about Sci-fi based movies is that they must be handled just right or they won't have some sort of stable believability or if they're using some kind of silly unnecessary trope such as clearly a manufactured voice to make it sound evil or like a demon or creature and use it to sputter out an unnecessary bit of dialogue or to even laugh, its difficult to get invested in it.
Of course there are things that I did like. Some of the makeup effects were impressive, and though they have to be in some fairly cheesy moments and get through some pretty bad dialogue sometimes, all of the actors are giving it their all. They are invested and they are truly performing with every they have. So I guess what I'm saying is, between what I enjoyed and didn't, I say see the movie and decide for yourself what you think of it! Now on various VOD Platforms like Amazon!