Tuesday, November 8, 2016

Volumes of Blood: Horror Stories

Director(s) - Sean Blevins (A Brush with Death), John William Holt (The Dooms Chapel Horror), Jon Maynard (Nearly Dead), Nathan Thomas Milliner (A Wish for the Dead), Justin M. Seaman (The Barn), and James Treakle (Death: Due Upon Delivery)
Starring - Kevin Arnold (The Devil's Gold), Christopher Bower (The Dooms Chapel Horror), and Jacob Ewers 
Release Date - 2016
Genre - Horror
Tagline - "How many stories does your home have?"
Format - Streaming (Online Screener)

Rating (out of 5):
     Early last year I reviewed the horror anthology Volumes of Blood after director P.J. Starks reached out to me about the project.  I grew up on Creepshow, Tales from the Crypt, and Tales from the Darkside: The Movie so I am always down for a good anthology.  The film surpassed all my expectations and set the bar for how I would review anthologies in the future.  A few days ago P.J. once again reached out to me to review a sequel to VoB.  I jumped at the opportunity.  Would this one hold up to one of the best indie releases in recent years?
     The film follows two asshole horror fans who disrupt a showing of a new remake and is asked to leave by the theater usher.  They give the the usher a hard time and finally leave where they plan on watching quality horror movies at home.  What they don't know is that the usher has followed them home and plans on killing them.  He kills the first asshole but sits down to watch a film with the surviving asshole.  The film they watch follows a realtor who is showing a house to a young couple where we see the horrors that awaited them in each room.  The first story follows an insurance salesman who stops by a potential clients home to find an underage girl crying because her parents have yet to return home.  She then convinces him there is a monster in the closet but there is more to it then that.  The second follows a young couple trying to make a baby but the young man is struggling with a mental illness and did not take his medicine.  He then witnesses the bathtub kill his wife.  Was it real or all in his head?  The next tale follows a housewife preparing for Christmas when she gets an unusual caroler at her door.  She appears several times before attacking the young housewife before revealing why she did it.  The fourth tale follows an older couple who keeps their marriage intact by killing people as a way to bond.
     Volumes of Blood was one of the best shot films of 2015 and easily one of the best anthologies I have seen in recent years.  I absolutely loved it.  I'm open for sequels but VoB was put together so well that I could not imagine a follow up being just as good.  For the most part, Horror Stories lives up to the Volumes of Blood name but did have some set backs.  The acting in this one is great.  Every segment has an exceptional cast that works so well with each other.  Chemistry and experience work in their favor.  It's really hard to pick a performance that outshines the others because they are all great.  No one really stands out which is good for a horror film.  Have someone that is leagues above the others only makes the rest of the cast look bad.  The stories for this one are all fun and very well done but they are put together in an awkward fashion.  The film's wrap around story, following the two horror assholes who give an usher a hard time, is one of two wrap around segments where the second takes place inside of the movie they are watching.  The film they are watching  just happens to be an anthology.  This one follows a realtor and a young couple as they check out a house and we see the home's dark past.  One segment to serve as a bookend would have been enough.  Having two was a bit of a waste and makes the viewer feel as if they missed something.  Just seems like it was a little overkill.  Some of the segments in this anthology is not as strong as others which is typical for an anthology.  The first segment following the insurance salesman was boring but did not set the tone for the film.  It has a great build up but was not able to end on a high note.  This segment had the most potential but was unable to fully pull in a convincing ending.  It starts out eerie and atmospheric but loses this look and feel when the short ends.  A more thought out ending would have made this segment my favorite of the film.  The second story following the baby making couple is my favorite of the film.  I normally dislike psychological horror films because I am an idiot and miss most of the plot but this one was more direct.  I like to call psychological horror films like this the "working man's psychological horror."  They are straight forward and direct but they still give the viewer that "what if" feeling.  The third story is great for the Christmas season and was more than just a Christmas slasher. The pissed off mom killing over black Friday is perfect and the ending was not expected but the middle of the segment is a little dry and tries the viewer's patience.  The fourth story following the homicidal couple was great and reminded me a lot of the black comedy Parents.  I could see this one becoming a feature length film.  The only downside to this segment was how it ended.  I feel like there was a little meat left on the bone in reference to the story for the segment to just end that way.  Finally, if you are looking for gore then this one is where you want to be.  This film has some very impressive kills, gore, and practical effects.  For an indie venture this has some of the best looking kills I have seen in awhile.  We need more carnage like this in modern horror instead of the quick CGI or cheap cop out with torture porn.  Overall, Volumes of Blood: Horror Stories is bloody as hell and just as fun.  The anthology has a hard time finding its footing but once it gets rolling you can expect to be covered in blood.  This is how horror is meant to be. 

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