The Dark Tapes, directed and entirely self-financed by director Michael McQuown, is a horror anthology in 3 stories with a wraparound that loosely bundles everything under a theme of extradimensional beings that exist all around us, outside of our perception. I’ll get to the wrapround in a minute, but given how it snakes throughout the film, it’s useful to look at it in context, so I’ll address it last.
The Hunters & The Hunted
The first of the three tales follows a couple moving into a new home when strange paranormal events start to occur. They hire a group of paranormal investigators to monitor their home overnight, but as the story progresses and tensions rise, you get the sense that the couple may know more about what’s terrorizing them than they let on.
A reasonably strong start, this first independent story feels a bit like a poor man’s Paranormal Activity stylistically, but there are some very moody, creepy shots here as well. Pretty straightforward haunted house feel, but not bad if you like that sort of thing.
Next up, Cam Girls opens on a young woman talking to a friend online about how she’s been having blackouts and seeing things. It turns out she and her roommate are cam girls that decide to put on a very special show for one of their fans.
This one ended up going to some dark places, which I always enjoy. The underlying themes and how they relate back to the larger picture end up getting lost. There’s some great gore and creepy imagery, but it doesn’t really go anywhere all that intriguing.
The final of the standalone shorts, this one follows a girl that initially seems completely unphased after an apparent sexual assault at a party, but then falls victim to a string of alien abductions whenever she falls asleep.
I may have missed some metaphor here, but to me this one felt the longest and most meandering. A lot of time is spent without the viewer getting a lot of answers and there wasn’t enough character development to keep me interested in the journey.
To Catch A Demon
The wraparound and most interesting segment, To Catch A Demon is really what substantiates the film’s premise and I wish the other stories had more elements of what made this work. A professor, his student and one of her friends are taking part in an experiment to capture video evidence of extradimensional beings. The theory essentially is that these beings exist on another level of time dilation from us, where what we perceive to be only fractions of a second may, to them, be weeks or years. When we dream, we experience some level of time dilation as well, with dreams sometimes being reported as seeming to be many times their actual duration. So, the thought is that night terrors might be beings from other dimensions whose relative time dimension coincides with our own when we enter REM sleep.
It’s all very hand wavey pseudoscience, but it’s not a bad premise. Ultimately, The Dark Tapes feels like it has a lot of good ideas it doesn’t quite know how to capitalize on, and for that reason, I was happy to hear that plans are underway for a sequel. I think with a bit more time to mature this concept would produce some fantastic material, but what we have here manages only to scrape the surface of that potential, while still managing to be something that anthology fans with a tolerance for shoestring budgets are going to be able to enjoy.
The Dark Tapes is available today on iTunes, Google Play, Amazon, InDemand, Vimeo today.
|The Dark Tapes|
|Directed By:||Vincent J. Guastini Michael McQuown|
|Written By:||Michael McQuown|