Many people aren’t particularly interested in anthologies. In today’s world of binge-watching, stories can be told in long-form. They can take their time spinning a yarn over multiple episodes, and this type of long form storytelling is becoming more and more popular. The ability to tell a story in such amazing detail works for a lot of series, giving us what we crave and more of characters that we grow attached to over so many hours.
I love a good binge-watch as much as the next person, but sometimes, I’ll be honest: it can be EXHAUSTING. At those moments, when I’m between awesome series and want something short and sweet that still packs a wallop, I turn to my trusty anthologies.
Anthologies are great in that they pack into 15-30 minutes the best parts of a full length scary movie – when done effectively, they can leave you literally breathless as a new story starts and you’re still struggling to process the next. They provide you with fast-paced options and let you decide which you like the best. Anthologies often have a variety of types of horror as well – slasher, gore, demonic possession, ghosts, monsters, and more can all appear in the same movie and it can make for a wild ride. So, if you’re unsure of your horror mood, try these anthologies on for size!
This was a great movie that I stumbled across late one night on Netflix. I was hoping for something to help me sleep when I was restless, and I know that because this is a safe space, I can say that I chose this one. This anthology is COMPLETELY bonkers in the absolute best way possible. What makes this one so unique is that each short is written and directed by women. Each tale is very different, and while they aren’t woven together by a common story thread, they are well worth the watch. My favourite was watching a delightfully unhinged Melanie Lynskey in The Birthday Party. Check out the official trailer:
V/H/S and V/H/S 2
I cheated a little and included both of these, because I feel that they are both truly excellent films and do well as a pair. In the first installment, a group breaks into a house, their only instruction being to steal an old VHS tape. When they get there, they find a body in a chair and a LOT of tapes. They watch a few to try and decide which they are supposed to take, and the stories that unfold are each on different tapes. The third one, V/H/S: Viral is unfortunately skippable. The first two are so great because they take horror tropes and turn them on their heads in unique ways, whether through how its shot or the story itself. One of my favourites from the first involves a series of Skype conversations between a guy and his girlfriend who are living in separate cities. She claims her apartment is haunted and he doesn’t buy it…at first. Fair warning…these are both violent and gory – not for the faint of heart.
This was a recent watch, a way to escape an extremely hot afternoon in a friend’s basement. These stories of people on the same strange, unmarked highway in the middle of nowhere are interwoven as each horrific incident takes place. While this one is not big on scares, it’s an interesting look at human nature and penance. It examines how we justify it when we do bad things, and how we tend to punish ourselves for things beyond our control. The effects are great, and I have to say, the creatures and tales in this one are definitely unique. This one will make you squirm in your seat. For each of these characters, it is evident that no help is coming.
One word and one word only can describe Creepshow: C-L-A-S-S-I-C. Made in the 80s but based on cheesy 50s comics, this one features one of my all-time favourite shorts starring Leslie Nielsen and Ted Danson. High on cheese, I guarantee that this is the most fun you’ll have watching horror ever. I recommend it for non-horror lovers all the time because there are some genuinely creepy moments, but it will also make you laugh. Sometimes the laughter is maniacal, but that’s healthy, right? Check out the fromage on YouTube here:
Trick ‘R Treat
This is probably my all-time favourite anthology, and a must-watch every Halloween. The over-arching plot of this one is the rules that are meant to be followed to stay safe on Halloween, including making sure to hand out candy. If you don’t, you better watch out for little ol’ Sam…. The stories here are longer for those who enjoy a more cohesive storyline, and are interwoven as Halloween wears on and the characters meet one another in different ways. Scary, funny and well-acted, this one is a pleasure to watch all year round. This film was criminally underseen when it was first released, only put in limited theaters. It has achieved a definite cult status in the last decade, and should be watched as essential viewing for all horror buffs. If you haven’t enjoyed this hidden gem yet, I am truly jealous.