Now, anthology horror flicks are all the rage, and I can respect that if done right. The Dark Tapes particularly gained my interest, because once upon a time, IMDb had it rated at 70%…it’s lowered since, but it’s hard to ignore that it had a good rating. I think a big portion of that was because it is advertised as not only an anthology, but a smart anthology that interlocks a number of short films/short stories. Normally when you have anthology flicks, it’s a bunch of short films directed by different people around a similar topic. This one claims to be a number of short films that are interwoven with a story that pieces everything together – which would indeed be a smart anthology.
So what is The Dark Tapes about, if it is indeed all connected? Hard to really say, as it feels more like a typical anthology than a connected one, but I’ll do my best. Throughout the film, we have an interwoven story that slowly progresses throughout the film – and that is a number of scientists that try to activate REM sleep in waking life because the theory is about interdimensional beings that can only be seen in the confines of how you adapt to the speed of the naked eye. In dreams, you feel like you last a lifetime, but in actuality, it was a 10-minute dream. So, they fight to see life as if it were a dream. Throughout the film, we have three other short films that involve, basically, a reinterpretation and twisted version of Paranormal Activity, Unfriended, and The Fourth Kind…or something like that.
Let me first state that I didn’t really sense how these three short films were connected to the main REM storyline. As far as I could tell, the REM storyline was yet another short film that, for some reason or another, insisted on dragging along and interweaving itself throughout the other films. For me, it made no logical sense at all. Now, I could have easily missed something, but that’s my takeaway from it – which was, unfortunately, a huge letdown. I was waiting to see what they promised, an interconnected anthology…but you can’t just split the same short film into a million pieces and call them connected. You need to watch other movies like Crash, that have a few seemingly different storylines and characters that come together at the end, because they all matter. Even the TV show, Touch, did a fantastic job at building that kind of smart narrative.
Next up, before I get down to brass tax, just because you have found-footage, you can’t get away with bad acting. In so many ways, I feel like found-footage NEEDS excellent acting abilities because you’re trying to make something that shouldn’t feel like a production. What you’re doing has to feel even more natural than what you typically see in other films. It has to look and feel amateur, but bad acting is just amateur in the business of filmmaking. So, the acting was pretty atrocious most of the time, as I’ll get to later, and that was another aspect that drove this film into a sad, sad place.
There isn’t a lot of great things I can say about this film, as of currently, it is now the worst-rated film I’ve seen of 2017…and it may stay at the bottom of the list all year for all I know. I do have a couple of positives to say about it, though, but I’ll leave that for the specifics below.
PEOPLE SCORE – 0/10
Acting – 0|Characters – 0|Casting – 0|Importance – 0|Chemistry – 0
Okay, so the first category fully tanked, let’s talk about why that is. I mentioned above that the acting was bad, which is really true. Not a single person in this multi-story film could act. What it felt like, was this was their very first time in front of a camera…in their entire life. They read from the script just fine, but they sounded hollow, monotone, devoid of emotion. They were like robots. Not a single character was memorable, in fact, some characters had you rolling your eyes specifically. The casting obviously could have been better, as I’m pretty sure anyone could have been a better choice, and of course, these lifeless characters and actors have no chemistry.
WRITING SCORE – 1/10
Dialogue – 0|Balanced – 0|Story – 0|Originality – 0|Interesting – 1
Hey look, we have a better score, one. Where did it go right here? Well, I consider the idea a right one, the concept wasn’t bad. I’m always a fan of horror, and what they’re advertising, true or not, is somewhat interesting. The rest tanks. The dialogue is downright awful, it’s obviously convoluted, there is no story and the originality? Like I said, it was basically like they took those three horror films and adapted them to fit this film.
BTS SCORE – 2/10
Visuals – 0|Directing – 0|Editing – 1|Advertisement – 1|Music – 0
We’re moving on up in the world, with a score of 2! Count it, two stars! The two positive things I have to say here comes to the editing. The acting may have sucked, but the editing didn’t. The use of the cameras felt authentic, as it cut in and out when people were talking – that’s a plus, but how many god awful times does the stupid static show up? That’s a negative on the editing. So we’re down to one there. The other point is from the advertisement. Yes, they lied about a connected story, but the found footage bit and about differen’t genres in horror bit was true. So a point there, as well. Everything else sucked.
The visuals specifically are worse than you think. Yeah, a part of found-footage is that the visuals will look amateur, that’s fine, but have you seen the bad guys? They’re like…power ranger bad guys from the ’90s. They look face and I legit laughed out loud when they showed one. I think it was supposed to be a jump scare? The directing was pretty bad, as they couldn’t tell a comprehensive story, and there wasn’t any music. That can sometimes be a good thing, sometimes be a bad thing. Here, I consider it bad, as I’d rather have music to have something to enjoy while watching this movie.
NARRATIVE ARC SCORE – 5/10
Introduction – 2|Inciting Incident – 1|Obstacles – 1|Climax – 1|Falling Action – 0
Now, this is usually an easy category to get points on, not this time. The introduction was mostly fine, because I did like the REM story…that was kind of interesting…but splitting it apart annoyed me. The inciting incident must have been when they told us what they were planning to do, before heading into the first short film…but because this happens over and over, I didn’t see a clear incident. The obstacles are more than likely the short films…but because they don’t add to the main story, they again get one star. The climax…was okay, I guess? Nothing special and mostly anticlimactic though, which leaves us with the falling action, which there wasn’t any.
ENTERTAINMENT SCORE – 0/10
Rewatchability – 0|Fun – 0|Impulse/Buy – 0|Impusle/Talk – 0|Sucks Audience IN – 0
More tanked scores, ladies and gentlemen, as this is not an entertaining movie at all. I have no desire to watch it again, it’s a fight to sit through it, not fun, I won’t be buying this or telling anyone about it, and it certainly doesn’t suck anyone in, not with that acting.
SPECIALTY QUESTIONS – 5/50
Found Footage – 5|Horror – 0|Villain(s) – 0|Interconnected – 0|Halfway Decent – 0
Now, onto the five specialty questions written before seeing the film. It was found-footage, so how did they deal with that? They dealt with it mostly fine, but it wasn’t perfect. Those feedback transitions are more annoying than anything else, and during the skype conversations, I wish they’d have a computer background instead of simple black, but it’s whatever. Next up, this is horror, so is it scary – it’s more funny than scary. Next up, it’s a horror, so what about the villains? Like I said, basically bad guys from Power Rangers, that’s it. Next up, they claim it’s interconnected, how well is that done? Not at all. Finally, is it halfway decent? It’s not even halfway halfway decent. It’s mostly a lump of turds.