08th Sep2020

Frightfest 2020: ‘Dark Stories’ Review

by Chris Cummings

Stars: Kristanna Loken, Michelle Ryan, Dominique Pinon, Delphine Chaneac, John Robinson,Tiphaine Daviot, Sebastien Lalanne, Dorylia Calmel, Slimane Baptiste Berhoun, Loup Denis Elion, Julien Pestel, Florent Dorin, Thierry Fremont | Written and Directed by Guillaume Lubrano, François Descraques

I’ve been a fan of horror anthology films for a long time, since the first time I laid eyes upon freaky treats like Creepshow and such, so I’m always intrigued when another pops up, in this case a French horror anthology that started life as a TV series, but has been reshuffled into an anthology feature here.

Dark Stories takes five horror stories and injects them into our veins with horror, suspense and thrills galore, with alien life, zombies, ghosts and ghouls to tickle the taste buds of any horror lover, it manages to change pace and tone regularly to keep things from becoming tedious or samey, which I thought really set it apart. Largely this is a successful anthology film, packed with superb ideas and writing, and some top notch acting along the way. It’s become something of an expectation, to some degree, that a horror anthology can be more bad than good. It’s true that there are some real stinkers out there in the genre, but Dark Stories isn’t one of them, that’s for certain.

A creepy bearded dummy, or doll, tormenting a woman to tell it some scary stories is what acts as the base for the other tales that we witness here. A young man is attacked by monsters in an art gallery, a women out for a run is haunted by dead children, a zombie wakes up in a morgue and becomes friends with the attendant there, whilst trying to understand its new place in life, a young lady is tormented and haunted by a jinn, though the story also hints at her issue perhaps being sleep paralysis, and the fifth tale introduces to a french farmer who believes himself to be the savior.

They all work, with only really the second short, with the woman running in the park and being haunted by ghosts, being a touch on the weaker side. I had a blast with the zombie story, and the entry about the woman going through hell at the hands of the jinn is very creepy and wonderfully done. Those were my personal favourites of the five Dark Stories on offer.

It really is something unique, and the quality here is higher than I could have expected. As a fan of french cinema, this was a real gift, and one I highly recommend to those seeking a above-standard, high-grade slice of horror. Tense, funny and with a chilling aura around it, Dark Stories is a successful foray into the realm of horror shorts. See it. See it as soon as you can.

**** 4/5

Dark Stories screened as part of this years Frightfest Digital Edition on Monday August 31st 2020.


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