Weird Fiction Movie Review
Written by Joanna K. Neilson
Released by Fame Cinema
Written and directed by Jacob Perrett
2018, 87 minutes, Not Rated
Released on 3rd October 2018
Taylor Rhoades as Father / Liam / Dan / Squid
Isabella Rodriguez as Jaime / April
Jacob Perrett as The Collector / Guy At Bus Stop
Christian Styborski as Tommy / Film Crew / Brady
Rose Spencer as Woman / Christi / Tiff
Rylee Prenatt as Paige
Mask-wearing creeps and monsters in your closet; sex demons, unforgiving neon lighting and lashings of gorgeous synth music. Oh, and acting that would make a brick feel embarrassed. It’s all here, and it’s pretty damn charming. Weird Tales is an anthology film containing a decent variety of stories familiar to most horror fans, with just enough panache to make it interesting. Even as you wince at the dialogue and wish the kids would use some Clearasil. But the raw effect of all this is very endearing.
If you can imagine V/H/S made on an even tighter budget, with more authentically ropey acting and even cornier dialogue, then you’ll understand what they’ve created here. Any enjoyment will hang entirely how much you enjoy the taste of the nostalgia vein it taps us into. It’s trying to remind you of carefree evenings and weekends spent watching dodgy VHS copies of horror films, where the lurid cover art was vastly more impressive than the film itself. Weird Fiction uses a great collection of stories in different settings, on an unapologetically low budget. At times, the true darkness of night time scenes makes the action almost invisible. But it genuinely appears and sounds like a VHS video someone randomly found in a long-abandoned Blockbuster, buried underneath a crumbling ‘returns’ box.
Now, as fun as it is to go back, Weird Fiction mainly reminds us how lucky we are now that HD and glossier production values have become more widely available. It relies on a very forgiving audience who ‘get’ it. The strongest stories are early on, especially Night of the Sitter, while later stories like Incubus seem to overstay the format. But there are plenty of segments to choose from, with an overlapping cast clearly giving it everything they have. Weird Fiction is a scarily accurate pastiche of micro-budget 1980s movies, but it’s also made with the same level of bright-eyed enthusiasm that created those, rather than being a slicker, cynical Grindhouse cash in. That helps all its rougher edges to go down a lot more smoothly. It’s also fully aware of the ‘moral panic’ that gripped the 1980s, laying on the ‘lesson’ of each horrific instalment with a cheeky nod and inviting wink from its creepy host character.
Perhaps YouTube has improved our tolerance of short format, low budget horror too. Vitally, no story really outstays its welcome, so there’s very little padding. Anyone who remembers the often laboured pacing of these old movies will appreciate this! It even has brief dance scene, proving that Weird Fiction knows exactly what it is and where it wishes it came from. However, the music is its major strength. I’ve yet to find anything wrong with soaring 1980s synth music applied to low budget horror, and the soundtrack here easily adds an extra thousand bucks to the film’s meagre budget.
Although Weird Fiction seriously lacks the polished dread of Ti West’s 1980’s throwbacks, it delivers a hilariously goofy, retro charm all of its own, that at least some older horror fans will truly appreciate. In fact, this VHS-style ‘video nasty’ turned out to be surprisingly nice, and I’d highly recommend taking a look, and letting its soaring synth take you right back to the 1980s, one more time.