The aptly titled “Horror” is a great Halloween movie. However, “Horror” doesn’t work very well as a Halloween party movie. There’s a difference, you see and I’ve done the test. I first tried to watch “Horror” on Halloween night with holiday festivities (sex, drugs and booze) surrounding me at all times. Some movies play well in this kind of atmosphere (“Re-Animator,” “Dead Alive,” any Troma movie), but not “Horror.” It definitely looked interesting, but I’ll be damned if I knew what the hell was going on and as the movie continued, I cared less and less to find out. The following morning, I grabbed a remaining bottle of wine and gave “Horror” another shot. The experience was completely different, if yet still a little confusing, but in the end, I realized that the confusing nature of this film is part of its charm.
Lured to an old house in the middle of snowy nowhere by a grocery bag full of shrooms, lollipops and an assortment of other recreational items handed down by a sinister preacher, a group of teens escape from their reform school/rehab/whatever, grab a van and hit the road. Upon reaching their destination, the teens find themselves entangled in the middle of a zombie/ghost infested nightmare, hosted by Beelzebub himself, that they can’t escape from.
Not to cheapen the value of this film or anything, but “Horror” plays out quite like an episode of “Freddy’s Nightmares.” Y’know, the TV series spawned by the ever-growing popularity of Freddy Krueger that featured an hour long nightmare sequence that went round and round in circles – a nightmare that the show’s characters couldn’t wake up from. “Horror” has this same sorta quality, but with a helluva lot more class. And this is why this film doesn’t play well as a party movie. “Horror” is a film you really have to pay attention to in order to follow all of the fungus induced hallucinations, nightmare sequences, hypnotically suggested bummers and general freak-outs and still, you’re likely to be a little confused as to what just happened when the whole thing is over with.
But director Dante Tomaselli makes one hell of a trippy ride. “Horror” isn’t exactly a kill-crazy rampage committed to film, even though it’s packed with zombies, devil worshippers, juvenile delinquents and a Satanic goat. Tomaselli keeps the pace slow and deliberate as he builds up his own brand of creepy suspense. Many other “horror filmmakers” try and build suspense by simply having their characters mosey about a quiet old house or shadow infested woods for an extended length of time, but instead, only wind up building the urge to snore. Tomaselli, on the other hand, has the skills to create a horrific atmosphere for his characters to wander around through masterful camerawork, an eerie score and above average performances from his cast.
Tomaselli is here to stay. Keep your eyes open for “Horror,” as well as other films from the director in the near future. His nightmares promise to only get better.