As can be guessed by the title, Mother Noose Presents Once Upon A Nightmare is a horror-tinged anthology revolving around classic fairy tales. Yes, fairy tales, not the nursery rhymes the namesake is known for; no, I don’t know why she’s not named Sister Grimm or some such either. The film begins with Through The Woods, written and directed by Eric E. Poe, in which the queen of the gruesome herself, Mother Noose (Jezibell Anat), writes to a potential assistant. That letter is being delivered by The Courier (Wayward Vixen), who is being stalked by The Wolf (John Wayne Miller). Of course, she does hand over the correspondence, but that does not mean she is safe from the creature stalking her? Or is the h***y animal the one in trouble?
This segment is only okay. Anat’s voice-over is effective, and the fabulous costumes and strange sense of humor are proudly on display. But there is no tension built up as The Wolf hunts the Little Red Riding Hood analogue. Happily, the creature is a very nice-looking suit, and the director wisely allows viewers to get a good, thorough look at it. However, the humor is quite juvenile, focusing on boners and whatnot, which does not mesh with the visual tone. Just throwing in sex, nudity, or violence does not adult material make. But, the ending to this segment is pure dynamite, so this is an uneven though compelling entry to the world of Mother Noose Presents Once Upon A Nightmare.
The throughline story is Mother Noose And The Assistant, wherein the person (Nik Uttam) who received the letter earlier shows up to the macabre, darkly humorous lady’s abode. To get to know him better, Mother Noose regales the prospective partner with several tales. She’ll be judging his reactions to each story and will decide if he is worthy of undertaking the task of helping her. But, what exactly is he helping her accomplish?
“… a horror-tinged anthology revolving around classic fairy tales.”
Written and directed by Richard Tanner, this wraparound narrative is amazing. Anat is brilliant as ghoulishly fun, sinisterly funny Mother Noose. Her energy is unparalleled, and she anchors everything with a true sense of macabre humor and danger. Instead of making her simply the narrator with a motivation, I really wish the whole movie revolved around her. Maybe each segment would be using various “assistants” to achieve her goals, even if it means they die. An anthology would still be possible with that premise while not leaving the true lifeblood of the story at hand.
Tanner’s directing is also good, as he turns the camera into a character Mother Noose interacts with. A lot of it is filmed from the assistant’s viewpoint, which adds tension, as one isn’t sure what lurks around the corner. This segment handily is the best one on display, and since it is the wraparound, interjecting after each tale, it is the reason audiences will feel compelled to finish the movie.
The first story Mother Noose tells is Breadcrumbs, a fascinating take on Hansel & Gretel. Told exclusively from the point of view of the tired, worried father (Jack Allison), he laments the harshness of his wife (Allison McLeod) and how much she hates the children. As the story unfolds, viewers are left to figure out what did happen to the children.
Also written and directed by Tanner, this entry is quite good. It oozes atmosphere thanks to brilliant directing and Allison’s excellent, sullen voice-over.
"…can I please get Jezibell Anat as this character in a more structured film all about her?"