A Night of Horror: Nightmare Radio review – atmospheric shorts inside an ineffective wrapper Eight of the fest

December 21, 2020
Alix Turner 0
Film, Film Reviews
3.5

Summary

A collection of better than average short horror stories, as told by a late-night radio DJ, giving eight festival hits some wider exposure.

3.5

Summary

A collection of better than average short horror stories, as told by a late-night radio DJ, giving eight festival hits some wider exposure.

I think this is my third horror anthology to review this year, so I’m not going to go into why that format works so well for horror again. A Night of Horror: Nightmare Radio (nothing to do with Nightmare Cinema, another anthology) is a collection of eight existing short films assembled together by Luciano and Nicolás Onetti, who also directed “Nightmare Radio”, the wraparound story.

The eight shorts may be familiar to festival-goers and YouTube browsers, but I’d not come across any of them before. They are all highly atmospheric and share a somber tone and good production quality, though represent a variety of subgenres and styles. Each of them is presented as a story told by a late-night radio host, who seems pretty spooked out himself. The short films are:

  • In the Dark Dark Woods (Jason Bognacki, USA, 2017)
  • Post Mortem Mary (Joshua Long, Australia, 2017)
  • A Little off the Top (Adam O’Brien, Canada, 2012)
  • Drops (Sergio Morcillo, Spain, 2017)
  • The Disappearance of Willie Bingham (Matt Richards, Australia, 2016)
  • The Smiling Man (A J Briones, USA, 2015)
  • Into the Mud (Pablo S Pastor, Spain, 2016)
  • Vicious (Oliver Park, UK, 2015)

Of course, some of the shorts in A Night of Horror: Nightmare Radio were more successful than others. “In the Dark Dark Woods” was a creepy aperitif, but almost too short to have much impact; whereas “Vicious” seemed strangely longer than it really was, due to some repetition. “A Little off the Top” was simple torture p**n with very little plot; and “Into the Mud” was a mini chase film and creature feature combined, which barely needed any plot. Interestingly, all but one of the segments were centered on women or girls: that one was “The Disappearance of Willie Bingham”, a cautionary tale of doom about amputation as punishment (but if he was innocent as declared, I’m not sure what the message was).

The best segment was “Post Mortem Mary”, about a young girl learning her mother’s photography trade, in nineteenth-century Australia. It was slow-paced, and partly because of that, incredibly effective. Its set also gives it a terrific sense of time and place and a sound child actor. The poorest of the lot was, unfortunately, the title piece that contained the eight stories. The central actor who played Rod (James Wright) was not great, and in general, it had a different production quality to the rest (though the music was good), which brought me right out of the suspenseful mood of the film, just like adverts on television can.

There’s no light relief in A Night of Horror: Nightmare Radio: it’s all pretty serious. It’s not as long as it may first appear (about ninety minutes of film and twelve of closing credits), and although the tone is the only consistent aspect, it is sufficient to smooth out some of the flaws, so that the best images are the ones that stay with you. The majority have some aspect of supernatural – or the possibility of supernatural – and if there is any theme to be found here it is that appearances can be deceiving.


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