Anthologies have this compelling ability to portray a theme through multiple stories. You watch several shorts, navigate through separate narratives, perceive different settings, meet a considerable number of characters, and potentially even witness distinct filmmaking styles. But what makes this format such a gem is that all the segments reflect similar themes, which makes those shorts feel like part of a whole. Anthologies are indeed like multiple treats in one box. Unfortunately, the same can’t be said about How Dark They Prey, directed by Jamison M. LoCascio and Adam Ambrosio, who co-wrote with Anthony LoCascio. There just isn’t anything in the film’s segments that reflects even a bit of a cohesive flow or coherent theme.
The film is a one-hour-long feature woven by four shorts, each comprising distinct stories set in different eras. But all of them also carry a familiar hint of the paranormal. The film starts with a prologue featuring what seems like a demonic summoning or an occult killing. From there, the camera cuts to the first segment, Encounter Nightly, which follows a skeptical host (Jeff Ronan) and his cameraman (Paul Pallotta) as they interview someone about an alien encounter. In Harrowing, U.S. soldiers Lewis (James M. Reilly) and Davis (Samuel James Pygatt) are trapped by enemy fire until they find an unusual pattern in the German’s gunfire.
“…kidnapped by crazed folks wielding chainsaws.”
The final two segments of How Dark They Prey are Blood Beach and Nelly. The former concerns an old fisherman, Leon (Marc Lubbers), who teaches the troubled Kevin (Josiah Schneider) the truth behind the lake. The latter concerns Janet (Alisha Spielmann) and Officer Doles (David Johnson), who are kidnapped by crazed folks wielding chainsaws.
The quartet takes you through a blend of eerie atmosphere, intense sound effects, and a bunch of camera angles, from hand-held footage to POV shots. However, most of the film is shot with a camera on a tripod, probably due to budgetary concerns. Now add discussions about aliens, ancient creatures, unseen forces, and bloodthirsty killers, and one has a potential recipe for engagement.
"…a blend of eerie atmosphere [and] intense sound effects..."