Chiller TV gets into the horror anthology game with their first ever horror anthology Chilling Visions: 5 Senses of Fear. The show airs this Friday, May 31st at 9pm ET.
All this week Chiller has been screening five films that this quintuplet of directors have been involved in leading up to Friday night. The only one busting their nut on their first film is Miko Hughes and his debut Smell. But subscribers to Chiller had the choice of watching him in the atrocious zombie flick Steve Niles' Remains. So what we get are five short films by 'up-and-coming' writers/directors, all of which are based on the five senses: Smell, Sight, Touch, Taste and Hearing. Not a wholly original idea but I am willing to let it pass as this is the first time Chiller is doing something like this. It is also made for television horror. So slack has been cut.
Smell by Nick Everhart starts things off okay. A young office lackey is woken up one morning by an aggressive Amway sales type woman at his door. She tells him that the reason his life is so down in the dumps is because of his pheromones He does not smell of success. She hands him a bottle of 'cologne' with a warning to use in sparingly. So he does and his life begins to turn around. He even works on getting back together with his ex-wife. Instead of getting laid off he gets promoted. He gets whatever girl he wants. He is suddenly successful. But, using this spray comes at a cost: thus begins the physical transformation into a gloopy mess.
Everhart got a lot of experience over at The Asylum and SyFy making movies. His short film sort of reflects the goofy nature of those kind of projects. It also tinges with a bit of sincerity near the end too. There is plenty of gross makeup effects as well as our poor sod undergoes the physical transformation too.
See marks the directorial debut of Miko Hughes. Miko did pretty good as a child actor. He got his start at the risen from the dead toddler in Pet Cemetery. He was that kid in Kindergarten Cop who said, "Boys have a penis and girls have a vagina". Now you know who I am talking about. Well, Miko is all grown up now and moved on to making movies as well.
In his short an optometrist is stealing memories from his patients through their eyes. In liquid form. This is convenient because he can simply take a drop in each eye and relive those memories as if they were his own. He has a favorite patient and suspects that she is being beaten by her boyfriend. A couple drops from his favorite patient in his eyes confirm this and he schemes to get back at the boyfriend by spraying this guy's eyes with nothing but bad memories. Things go bad. People die. See is not remarkable in any way. It just is. Eye trauma is always fun though and there is a little bit of that here. May Miko move on to bigger and better things.
The name Emily Hagins has appeared on the pages of ScreenAnarchy more than a couple times in recent years. We first caught wind of her when she was the subject of the documentary Zombie Girl; a film which follow the then pre-teen as she made her first feature film, Pathogen. She has since been a fixture at all things Fantastic Fest and SXSW in Austin, Texas. Her star is on rise.
In her short Touch a blind boy must venture into the woods to find help when he and his family are in a car crash. Visual clues suggest that this was no accident and there is something sinister in the woods waiting for this brave lad. Commence the face off between the lad and a psychopath taking up residence in a deserted town deep into the woods. Touch is not bad. It is not great. There are attempts at cleverness that never really take off; they project too much. It comes off like a tepid Home Alone in the Woods really. I wonder what could have been had Emily been allowed to go full out instead of being confined to the television safety net.
When I saw Madison County I thought it was too restrained and not fully committed to the slasher genre it was representing. It showed promise but for a slasher film the violence was weak sauce. In his short Taste we are finally let in on a sub-plot that has been subtly hinted at in the first three shorts. A young man is driven out to an office building for an interview. Except he does not know what for. He gets no hints from the limo driver. The two other guys in the waiting area seem happy with what they were given. A conversation with a guard/officer suggests that he be happy with what he is given.
He then meets Miss Sharp, a head hunter for a company called Watershed. They want him to lead a project and work with two teams. However, this young man is a lone wolf and does not accept the offer. But he finds out that you simply do not walk away from this job offer and live. Cue a bloody death. Taste spends a lot of time being aloof and mysterious that when it comes time to 'end the interview' the means by which Miss Sharp brings the meeting to a close is almost laughable. The gore is good and all though.
Everything sort of culminates with the final short Listen. Shot Cinéma vérité and found footage style the opening slide claims that none of the footage was altered, blah blah blah, we all know the drill by now. I immediately rolled my eyes. And then the short by Jesse Holland and Andy Mitton played out and I kind of dug it. Two filmmakers are hired to piece together pieces of a musical puzzle. A song exists that when you listen to it things go... bad. So these two guys are tasked with collecting all jumbled evidence and putting it back together.
I think the reason that Listen works the best out of all of them is the sense of mystery throughout its brief run-time The filmmakers are left pieces of this puzzle. The closer they get to finishing their goal the more harried they get. Hollan and Mitton take all the best elements out of this found footage style and cram them into a taunt few minutes and it works. Surprisingly well. There is a good share of blood by the end. And of course a warning. Don't listen to the song!
Mostly in the background throughout all five shorts is the mysterious conglomerate called Watershed. By the end they are nothing more than your typical organization hell bent on bringing about the end of the world or whatever. I suppose they succeed in some fashion by the end of Listen. It is presented in visual cues in the first three shorts. The company comes to full light in the fourth then one of their projects is the focus of that final short. I suppose it acts as a tie-in, or, a way to reduce costs by using actors in multiple shorts. Nothing will come of it. It is just an attempt at being clever.
The press kit in the mail promised 'five ground-breaking visions'. I don't think that any ground has been broken here but at least they didn't trample the grass either. Each short is entertaining enough. There are adequate amounts of gore and blood in each one; enough to appease any horror fan. As things go with anthologies you can usually bet on their being a dud or two in the mix. These five are fairly consistent though. In comparison to say, The ABCs of Death, where all 26 directors were left to their own devices and visions, and I'm sure you'll agree there were definitely duds there, I imagine a project like this was under far more control and scrutiny. Keep to the basics and you have achieved your goal. Whether Chiller will allow less sanitized visions to be realized moving forward on other projects remains to be seen.
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