Well. This is an unexpected surprise. Chiller TV's second Chilling Visions anthology 5 States of Fear, the follow-up to last year's 5 Senses of Fear, shows a remarkable improvement in the quality of filmmaking and storytelling. Any preconceived notions I had before watching this anthology, no doubt set by the lackluster 5 Senses last year, were quickly dismissed by the time I was into the second short.
The idea behind the anthology series is that each short is based on a human fear. This time around the fears are Ego Death, Separation, Mutilation, Extinction and Loss of Autonomy.
Sandy, by Brett Simmons (Husk and Monkey's Paw) is the quickest of all the shorts. An unfaithful husband's past comes back to exact revenge upon him. It may be the shortest but there are a couple of very good jump scares in it. A good way to start off the show.
The Trouble With Dad, by Glenn McQuaid (V/H/S, I Sell The Dead and Stakeland) is a story about an elderly man looks for his dog, Charlie, while his daughter tries to move him out of the house. McQuaid has worked with Larry Fessenden at Glass Eye Pix for a while and that experience shows here. Never underestimate the elderly.
Tick Warning, by John Poliquin (Grave Encounters 2) is the story of a young couple go to his favorite camping spot as a kid, behind a chain link fence. Easily the grossest and most gory of all the shorts it also has this dream-like quality to it that quickly turns into a nightmare. Definitely not for the squeamish.
Ghost Daughter, by Zao Wang, starts off with this beautiful shot of the ocean. The story is about a mourning mother is reluctant to help her daughter cross over to the other side. As they say, no one should ever have to bury their own child. And though the ghost of her daughter has told her how to help her complete her journey her mother's efforts to keep her daughter with her take extreme measures. Wait for that moment on the beach near the end. You will know it when you see it.
And in The Caregiver, by Graham Reznick (The Sacrament, V/H/S, The Innkeepers and Stakeland), a husband must deal with his conniving wife. All he has to do is put his mind to it. Reznick has also worked extensively with Fessenden at Glass Eye Pix. I am not the biggest Stephen King fan but I could not help but think of him when I was watching this last short. Perhaps if I were a bigger fan I would not say this but somehow the vibe of this short just rang of King.
My only quibble about this anthology is that apart from Tick Warning, none of the other four shorts give any visual indicators which State they are taking place in. New York is obvious and cannot be missed. But the adjoining notes in the press package suggest that each short in 'States of Fear' is "set in a specific location across five different U.S. states".
So color me surprised. 5 States of Fear is an anthology that I can assuredly recommend viewing. The quality of storytelling is better. The work of the directors and their crews is excellent. The risk and the allowance we as viewers make with anthologies is that there is always going to be one or two shorts that do not stand out like the rest. I can confidently say that there is not a weak link in the bunch. All five shorts have their own strengths and highlights.
You have won this round Chiller TV.
5 States of Fear airs Friday, July 11th at 9pmET on Chiller TV.
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