07th Feb2020

‘The Tombs’ DVD Review

by Phil Wheat

Stars: Jessica Cameron, Ria Fend, Jess Impiazzi, Akie Kotabe, James Kermack, Danielle Harold, Carl Wharton, Devora Wilde, Anthony Ilott, Marcia Do Vales, Barry Jay Minoff, Ayvianna Snow, David Lemberg | Written by Michael William Smith | Directed by Dan Brownlie

the-tombs-poster

A live streamed, publicity stunt, filmed inside London’s most famous scare attraction takes a terrifying turn as the event awakes an evil spirit. Something relentless and seemingly unstoppable starts stalking the celebrity guests through the claustrophobic halls of this maze of terror.

The Tombs was, if memory serves, filmed a number of years ago in London at the scare attraction The London Tombs… Making this, despite being filmed some time ago, the latest film in a current spate of hunted attraction films to have hit DVD (and VOD) shelves, following on from the likes of Haunt, from the writers of The Quiet Place, and The Asylum’s Clown. Both films from either end of the movie spectrum – Haunt had all the publicity in the world, debuting at films festivals etc., and Clown was dumped direct to VOD.

And The Tombs sits somewhere between the two.

The set-up will be VERY familiar to anyone who’s ever seen Big Brother, a host introduces the cast of participants from across a bevy of sources: reality stars, TV presenters, actors, bloggers and more – a quick short-hand way of getting round any character development. Said participants are going to spend time in the London Tombs as part of a publicity stunt for a sequel to a slasher movie called… wait for it… The Tombs. How very meta.

Having been filmed way back in 2014 *when Jessica Cameron came to London for Frightfest (hence her appearance in this UK film), and then crowdfunded in 2015, it seems the road to distribution has been rather long for director Dan Brownlie’s film – which is surprising given how much publicity was generated for the film way back in 2041/15 (they even had a huge press night at the London Tombs to announce the film etc). A sign perhaps of a more deep-seated issue with the film, or just the foibles of indie film-making?

Having now seen the film I’d tend to think its the latter. Because there’s nothing particularly bad about The Tombs, not enough to warrant such a huge delay between production and release. It’s better, at least in my opinion, than Haunt and THAT filmed played Frightfest last year!

Of course The Tombs is still cliched fare: the haunted attraction turns out to actually be haunted – the usual horror trope. Though in this case things are played less like a haunted house film and more your typical slasher movie. Which isn’t actually bad thing, especially given The Tombs‘ villain is a burlap sack wearing, axe-wielding, spirit akin to Jason Vorhees.

Though making the spirit “glitch” in the style of a blinking lightbulb (complete with accompanying sound) was a REALLY nice touch, reminding you that yes, the monster is a ghost, even if he lumbers around like a man. Yet having a Jason-like unstoppable monster as the antagonist actually gives the film a sense of danger not reliant on cheap jump scares, which is what most of these hunted attraction movies rely on for their frights. The audience here is always waiting to see when he’s joining to strike next, the creating their own tension without being manipulated by the film so much (something which the aforementioned Haunt relied on way too much for my liking).

Much, much better than the long release delay would suggest, The Tombs is out now on DVD and Blu-ray from Gravitas Ventures.

*** 3/5

P.S. If you too like The Tombs then check do out Dan Brownlie’s documentary Haunters, which takes a real-life look at scare attractions.

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