Nightmare Cinema Review: A great, gory good time that’s perfect for any horror fan
Anthology films, films that contain a variety of short films that are interconnected through one main plot thread, are quite a rare breed of film. Frankly, their only seen in horror genre and films like Trick r Treat, V/H/S, and Tales from the Crypt have been highly regarded for using this style of storytelling to create horrifying, intriguing, and unique stories that horror fans can enjoy. That’s why when I came across Nightmare Cinema, I was interested to see what it could offer as it had plenty for me to be excited about. First off, when you have talented directors like Alejandro Brugues (Juan of the Dead), Joe Dante (Gremlins), Ryuhei Kitamura (Midnight Meat Train), David Slade (30 Days of Night), and Mick Garris (Critters 2) attached to your film, you have a group of true modern masters of horror at your disposal. Not to mention, with legendary actor Mickey Rourke play The Projectionist, the owner of the titular cinema and the narrator between each short film, there’s plenty of pieces in play to make Nightmare Cinema a great anthology and horror film.
Now that I’ve delved into each of the film’s nightmares and gotten a taste as to what each of these directors can offer, I can say that Nightmare Cinema is just as worthy as all of the talent attached to it. It’s a solid showing from everyone involved and each story presents some great, gory fun that’s perfect for any horror fan.
The film follows a group of five strangers that somehow find themselves in a strange cinema with only a seemingly all-knowing projectionist inhabiting it. Though they don’t know it when they enter, they’re about to see their nightmares appear onto the big screen. Some are more grotesque, and others are more personal, but all of them lead to fatal consequences for its viewers and each of these strangers are unsure of their fates until their film comes to an end.
Each director really brings their best with each of their films and I loved how unique each film was. Brugues’ “The Thing in the Woods” flips the script on viewers by coming off as a typical summer camp style slasher and ended having a twist that I really loved. He blends great kills and creepy creatures with some truly campy humor that worked for me. There’s a great sequence with someone attempting to stab the killer with knives that had the right amount of humor to it will definitely be memorable for fans. Dante’s “Mirari” plays around with some plastic surgery horror that contains the kind of horrific, and even a little comedic, imagery that many associate with him. The film boasts a perfectly creepy performance from Richard Chamberlain and had an ending that game me some chills. Kitamura’s “Mashit” boasts some supernatural, satanic scares that results in some nice creepy kid moments and an epically gory final battle that viewers won’t forget. Personally, “Mashit” might have been the weakest segment as its story isn’t exactly clear for the most part and its effects on its titular demon aren’t the best. To be fair, there’re plenty of moments where the cheaper effects can be noticed across all of the films and while I can respect the strong use of practical effects here, they can be distracting at times.
Slade’s “This Way to Egress” is a solidly dark take on someone’s growing madness that was definitely inspired from his work on Black Mirror: Bandersnatch. I loved that it was in black and white as it created this eerie feeling and a unique look compared to the other films. Not to mention, the creepy imagery of the deformed characters looked great and the film is a very dark look at someone’s growing inner demons and madness. Garris’ “Dead” was probably the most interesting, though, as it was more of a put together film. Not to say that any of the other film’s don’t have a necessarily clear story, but there’s just something about the way Garris makes “Dead” that it has a true beginning, middle, and end. “Dead” actually has great Stephan King vibes, which makes sense considering he’s worked on plenty of King adaptations in the past, and I really liked the more personal story its main character and the supernatural suspense that’s built well throughout the film.
The only part of Nightmare Cinema that I felt was lagging was actually everything in the titular cinema. Frankly, I wish the film would’ve explored the cinema, itself, a little more and especially Rourke’s Projectionist as they have a very mysterious appeal to them. For the very little screen-time he gets, Rourke puts in a very fun performance as The Projectionist and his strong and dominating physical appearance blends well with his more all knowing and cynical personality. I will say that the film builds his presence well and when Rourke gets more time, he makes good use of it. In future installments, that we’ll hopefully see, I hope that we can see more of people’s experiences within the theater and more of The Projectionist interacting with these doomed viewers.
Nightmare Cinema is a great blend of everything that the horror genre has to offer and with creepy imagery, creative storytelling, intriguing settings, and unique concepts, it’s a must-see for any kind of horror fan. It’s another win or anthology horror films that showcases that each of these directors are truly masters of horror. Hopefully it won’t be too long before viewers can revisit the cinema so that these directors, or possibly new ones, can keep giving fans new concepts and stories to enjoy.