The Dark Tapes Review
The no-budget indie horror anthology The Dark Tapes works wonders with its pennies, offering curious thrills to those forgiving towards its amateur efforts.Shot for $65,000 it's hard to levy any justifiable criticism against what is certainly a comparatively slick, well put-together debut from this indie production company. The four-part story, loosely connected more in theme than anything else, peddles in paranormal investigations, homicidal tendencies, cannibalism, blood sacrifices, possession, and supernatural abduction. The bookend pieces revolve around a couple of paranormal investigators who offer the only real 'science' of the piece, a curious notion - which could have actually made for a decent film itself - that paranormal entities exist beyond the fringe of perception because of how fast they fleet through our realm, and that this is why we interact with them through our dreams where real time passes much slower.Unfortunately, this kind of Inception-esque thinking is soon lost in the maelstrom, as the remaining stories take centre stage. The second piece, about another pair of investigators called to look at a supposedly haunted house, is a darker curio which does a fair job at throwing you off the scent, but the third story, about webcam girls with dark tendencies feels a little poorly developed by comparison (and despite a strong start). The final tale of abduction is the most considered, but is let down by the practical effects, as is the epilogue, but, then again, what more would you expect for the budget. Certainly the Twilight Zone vibe is strong, even if the piece doesn't really ever achieve that kind of level of quality and thoughtfulness and, more often than not, devolves into cheap blood and guts.
The Twilight Zone vibe is strong, even if the piece doesn't really ever achieve that kind of level of quality and thoughtfulness
The completely unknown cast are actually pretty acceptable considering their relative lack of experience. Of course some struggle more than others, and struggle at key things - the webcam lead strikes an honest beat at the start but then becomes bland and unconvincing; the abductee captivates, but when she's called upon to act like she's just been abducted, she can't deliver the goods. But it's a testament to the capabilities of this group that the times when they come across as amateur are relatively infrequent, rather than throughout.
The Dark Tapes is more an example of a horror director and indie production company who are still cutting their teeth, and to produce this kind of work for next to nothing is quite an achievement. It really isn't going to drive audiences into theatres or compel them to stream / buy it as a matter of urgency, but it will appeal to a few open-minded horror aficionados, and there's no doubt the same fans will be watching this space to see what the same group of filmmakers can come up with if they have a regular 'low' film budget to play with, like $10 Million. After all, they made this for the price of a Range Rover.
The Dark Tapes will be available to order from the 18th of April on the following services – iTunes, Google Play, Amazon, Xbox, Playstation and Vimeo.
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