Another week, another installment of VOD Vault – taking a look at some of this weeks on-demand releases that have hit various VOD platforms. This week we’re focusing on independent US horror, in particular two new VOD titles which share a similar “odd” theme: Decay and Tabloid Vivant.
Stars: Rob Zabrecky, Lisa Howard, Elisha Yaffe, Jackie Hoffman, Hannah Barron, Reese Ehlinger, Whitney Hayes | Written and Directed by Joseph Wartnerchaney
Decay focuses on a middle-aged grounds keeper at a local theme park (played by Rob Zabrecky) that suffers from a debilitating case of OCD. One day, his daily routine is disrupted by a surprise visitor in his basement: a beautiful young woman who, through a jarring turn of events, ends up dead. Jonathan panics and chooses not to report the dead girl. Instead, he invites her to dinner. Jonathan is happy to have a friend, until the police start closing in, and his mind, and the body of the girl, begins to decay.
Opening with a quote taken from a thousand internet memes is an odd way to start a horror movie. But then Decay is odd all over – odd characters, odd situations and an oddly beautiful appearance. Like Hitchcock’s Psycho, Decay is essentially a character study of insanity; brought on in both cases by an overbearing, controlling, mother. But it is shot with a visual style that – despite the creepy subject matter – is some of the most beautiful and arresting in horror cinema, in total juxtaposition to the films core plot.
And much like Richard Bates Jr. Excision, Decay tells its story much more visually rather than through tradtional exposition. Yes, there is a rather clunky intro/backstory early doors but once that’s out of the way, writer/director Joseph Wartnerchaney is left to use all the tools at his disposal tell what is, ultimately, a heartbreaking story of loneliness. All tied together by an eerie, yet empathic, central performance by Rob Zabrecky.
A perfect example of how the horror genre can be powerful, terrifying and beautiful all at once, Decay is available on VOD now. Don’t miss it.
Stars: Jesse Woodrow, Tamzin Brown, Chris Carlisle, Ana Corbi, Amber Friendly, Lisa Valerie Morgan, Christopher Heltai | Written and Directed by Kyle Broom
Max is an artist seduced by the allure of fame. Sara is an art critic whose obsessions exceed even his. When she lands a writing gig at a major art magazine, the pair retreats to a cabin in the woods, where Max reveals his strange new painting method. Convinced of its potential, she agrees to collaborate on a piece sure to revolutionize the art world. While both original and mesmerizing, the project reveals something dark and disturbing about their relationship. Like two digital-age Frankensteins, they manage to make a painting come alive – though the unsettling consequences of their success may be more fit for the pages of a blood-soaked tabloid than the chronicles of art history.
Sometimes there are films that drop into my inbox that scream “watch me Phil.” Tabloid Vivant is one such film… Seemingly intentionally made, and advertised, as a bizarre, freakish trip into terror (and one that appeals to the odd side of my filmic taste); and it is certainly bizarre – in a good way mind you! In fact writer/director Kyle Broom shares a similar visual style of storytelling as Decay‘s Wartnerchaney.
From the get go this movie looks like the anithesis of your typical direct to market horror flick. In fact the film borders on the avant-garde at times… From the way scenes are stages, to the art direction, even to the use of green screen – Broom, as director, utilises all the tools of his trade to tell his strange little story in the strangest way possible. You could never accuse Tabloid Vivant of being by the numbers thats for sure – a point Broom, the writer, lays out in the script early on in the film – Broom also has no problem breaking the fourth wall either!
There are some very deliberate choices made in the production of this film that separate it from anything else the genre has to offer. For some those choices may be a step too far into the weird but for folks, like myself, who like to dabble in what many would call the “Lynchian” side of horror, Tabloid Vivant is sure to hit the right notes.
So another VOD Vault done for this week, with two films that share a common theme: that of the odd and beautiful. But that’s not all. Both also share something else: they show what is possible in independent genre cinema. Working outside the system has allowed both filmmakers to bring their visions (no matter how strange) to life as they wanted. And both films are all the better for it.