Nightmare Cinema (2018)

This anthology of five horror shorts is probably about thirty minutes too long, but for the majority of its running time, it’s a lovingly crafted homage to old-fashioned horror. Set in a gorgeous arthouse with a series of characters watching scary stories about themselves on screen, it opens with the energetic, unpredictable “The Thing in the Woods,  which has fun subverting a number of cabin-in-the-woods horror tropes. It’s followed by the effective, quietly unsetlling “Mirari” (featuring a terrific performance by Richard Chamberlain), and while the pacing takes a hit from the overstuffed, overlong “Mashit,” things pick up quickly with the eerie, “Eraserhead”-like “This Way to Egress” and the tragic “Dead” (which is highlighted by Faly Rakotohavana’s compelling performance). It’s a shame that “Mashit” is square in the middle because it damages the overall experience, and without it I feel like the movie would be much better (not to mention that it would cut down on the two-hour running time and improve the pacing along the way). The wrap-around story featuring Mickey Rourke is rather negligible, but there’s so much palpable passion for the genre in each segment that the movie accrues tremendous good will.

Rating: ★★★ (out of 5)

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