There is a certain charm exuding from the DIY ingenuity of Tales From Six Feet Under. Even when the film gets bogged down in superfluous details, such as the surprising amount of footage shown from the movie-in-a-movie, one can tell how happy Jacobs is at getting the chance to make a movie at all. This… this… let’s call it, gung ho spirit lures the audience into staying tuned no matter what.
Aside from some things that aren’t as necessary as Jacobs thought they were, or at least their point isn’t driven far enough home to work, there is a lot of dead space. Some scenes simply consist of one person calling another. For some reason, we are privy to the entire thing. Joe calls his friend to explain that his attempt to use the Ouija board failed. His friend tells Sam that he forgot the most critical part, candles. Instead of the audio playing out over footage of Sam looking for and finding candles (perhaps even going out to buy some), Sam is just sitting there. There is no visual stimuli to engage the viewer. While this is not an issue in every scene, the silhouette reveal of the demon summoned by the Ouija board is quite good, it does plague every story at one point or another.
“…a certain charm exuding from the DIY ingenuity…”
Thrill at watching someone text! Be haunted by a person editing video footage! Yeah, it can be boring to watch at times. But, Tales From Six Feet Under wears its horror influences with pride, and there is some fun to be had in guessing whether that is a Mike Flanagan shoutout or if that shot is invoking Wes Craven on purpose. Plus, the ideas behind each story, especially the last one about Jennifer (my favorite of the bunch), are nicely explored within their rather brief runtime. While they may not be the most original, Jacobs puts own unique his twist on the material, so the film never feels derivative.
Tales From Six Feet Under will not be everyone’s cup of tea. It lacks visual style, and despite it not even being an hour-long, the film does feel padded out. But multi-hyphenate Nicholas Michael Jacobs shows promise in the ways he overcomes the extreme lack of budget (shooting in black-and-white, for instance), and he attempts to find new ways to tell old stories. I think that with another title or two under his belt – this marks his third feature – and access to a larger budget, he will have a promising career.
"…this… let’s call it, gung ho spirit lures the audience into staying tuned..."