DreadWorld Review: 'The Dark Tapes' (2017)

As a borderline literate film reviewer for a fourth rate horror site there are two phrases that make me throw up in my mouth: found footage and anthology. No joke there are at least 10 films sitting in my screener inbox that are either found footage films, or anthologies. Inherently, there is nothing wrong with either found footage or anthology films. It's the overwhelming volume of those types of films that we see on a daily basis, even for a site as small and insignificant as the DW, that makes our skin crawl. Michael McQuown's latest, The Dark Tapes, is everything we run from, a found footage anthology film....however in one of those twists that keeps us watching independent film, The Dark Tapes is really fucking good.

We begin, as all classic anthology films begin, with a wrap around sequence. A professor, one of his students and a camera man convene in a theater/lecture hall to make a connection with the demons that live between the moments of our dreams. It's a little heady. Those turned off by "wibbly wimey, timey wimey," inter-dimensional stuff will probably reach for the remote quicker than a fat guy reaching for his large fries. The wrap around becomes more of an interstitial, popping up between each segment before wrapping itself up with in a tight little bow at the end. Taken as a whole it's the second strongest "segment" of The Dark Tapes.

The film proper, if you will, kicks off with one of the best anthology segments I've seen in quite some time. The twist filled fuck you to all those third rate ghost hunter shows that seems to be on every damn network is scary, smart, and funny. It's reason enough to hit that "purchase" button on your Amazon account. While the next two segments don't quite hit the heights of their predecessor, they each leave their own indelible mark. Segment two is biting social commentary on the dangers of seeking computer filled satisfaction. Borrowing the very "Twilight Zone" motif, segment two teaches that getting everything you wanted may not be all you had hoped for - especially when the person on the other end of that video chat may be more than she lets on. The third and final segment involves a woman, who after an implied gang rape at a party, can't shake the feeling that she's being attacked by something other worldly every night. While the least focused of all the segments, McQuown's dabble in science fiction still keeps you on the edge of your seat and guessing until its final moments.

The Dark Tapes is one of the rare anthology entries that has no real weak moments. Keeping the film contained to only three proper segments means that each narrative is given time to develop properly. While other films may treat their wrap around/interstitial moments as throw away palate cleansers, The Dark Tapes uses those valuable minutes to scare the shit out of you. With two strong and one awesome segment, The film really hits on all cylinders. The "found footage" element is reasonable justified in every segment, with only a couple of the head scratching "why are they still taping" moments that seem to plague these films.

You can catch The Dark Tapes on all the usual VOD suspects starting on April the 18th (You can pre-order it on iTunes HERE). Check out more about the film at thedarktapes.com, on Twitter, and on Facebook. This one is going to be, popping up on a lot of Top 10 lists at the end of 2017, so make sure you check it out and support indie horror.

**** stars out of *****

As always, thanks for reading and "Enjoy every sandwich.

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