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The presentation is spot on, and the filmmakers keep up in the following story, which concerns ghosts in a public park. By this point, I could tolerate the pointless setup with lame-o people because I was sure to get to some quality frights. I was even treated to the eeriest spin yet on broken little girl dolls this side of Tourist Trap: half of the doll’s faces are missing. Ewwwww! It works well.

By the time we get to the next section, an amusing zombie vs. mafia yarn, Dark Stories seems to get its bearings to where the tales don’t sag so much. Even the killer doll story that we keep jumping back to grows on you. It still isn’t anything sophisticated or unique, but it sure is effective at scaring the hell out of you. The djinn story is scarier than anything in the entire Wishmaster franchise, with the evil genie makeup and staging designed to f**k up your sleep for the next several nights.

“…sure is effective at scaring the hell out of you.”

By the time we get to the last story about a farmer who claims to have been kidnapped by a UFO, we get something we haven’t gotten yet: a standout acting performance by a great actor. Dominque Pinion, who older viewers will remember as the clones in City of Lost Children and really old viewers will remember as the punk rocker in Diva, nails the role in a hypnotic fashion that makes you completely ignore the weakness of the material. His tour de force acting makes his story the most potent, causing an ambiguous conclusion to resonate instead of frustrate. All of this generates enough goodwill to make the finale of the wraparound enjoyable and satisfying.

The overall feel of Dark Stories is similar to the adult movies shown in theaters during the 70s, with stories that were unbelievably awful but had great bits throughout, which is the whole point. The horror crowd will put up with lousy filler to get to the frightening goods, and Guillaume Lubrano and Francois Descraques deliver the chills. Their talent for horrifying is impressive. When it is scary, it does everything exactly right and really has the power to scare the skin off your eyeballs. It brings to mind the flawed yet loveably lethal horror anthologies of the 1980s, like Screamtime and The Offspring. It may not be the smartest film in the room, but it sure can f**k you in the horror hole real good.

Dark Days (2021)

Directed and Written: Guillaume Lubrano, Francois Descraques

Starring: Kristanna Loken, Michelle Ryan, Dominique Pinon, Delphine Chaneac, Julien Pestel, Tiphaine Daviot, Sebastien Lalanne, Dorylia Calmel, etc.

Movie score: 7/10

Dark Days Image

"…similar to the adult movies shown in theaters during the 70s, with stories that were unbelievably awful but had great bits throughout..."

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