David: Today we are talking about a horror movie that is now available on VUDU (as well as other formats like Google Play), The Dark Tapes. It was sent to us by the director Michael McQuown, who also wrote and produced the film. It follows in the recent tradition of some horror films to make an anthology type of effort, combining the works of several different filmmakers and tying them together to create one whole story.
When Michael reached out, I was really excited, because I had been following this movie’s progress across Twitter. It’s gotten some love from a few other horror writers I follow, and I trusted that the subject matter would carry it through to a satisfactory conclusion. What comes across is a film that quietly subverts your expectations (at least in the initial segment), while embracing the genre.
Shannon, what were your initial thoughts?
Shannon: Overall I thought that The Dark Tapes was good. The different tapes had a good story in themselves, and each one was terrifying in its own way. However, I just don’t see how they are connected. Did this completely just fly over my head? The only thing I can gather is that there are many types of Demons, and each tape was showing the different types along with the differences in “darkness” each one possesses. Other than that, I wished for a more obvious connection - you know me, I love when movies are tied up in a bow in the end. Did you see a different connection than this one?
Being a “found footage” movie, I was a little worried at first, but it really wasn’t that bad or too shaky. I somewhat liked the random fuzz that comes across the screen, it made it feel truly like a “found footage” that was being tampered with by dark spirits and electrical impulses. What did you think about the effects?
David: I believe what you thought was correct. It was showing the different ways demons manifest themselves. If you sit through the credits, it seems to be a bit more clear based on that freaking creepy voice that is talking all about demons in our society.
I was absolutely onboard with the effects. I thought it got a little old to see the effects on the screen after a while, and it really got old for me in the second segment. But in the main “story” if you will, I thought the effects were terrific. I also thought they did a good job of assuring that the focus did not be the gore that could have been shown, because the effect could have been rather expensive. Instead, you allow the film to build more suspense, by focusing on other parts of the camera.
Did you have a favorite segment Shannon, or did you prefer the main storyline? I know mine, and I just want to see if they compare well.
Shannon: Yeah that voice over with the credits was probably the only thing that led me to what I thought was the connection.
My favorite segment was probably the one with the couple moving into the house and start to hear things and see things, a haunted house if you will. It was probably the one that creeped me out the most. I was genuinely surprised when we found out what was going on within the house after the PIPP showed up. Did not see that coming, but I kind of liked that outcome for the reasoning behind the noises and objects moving from the house. I don’t think the main storyline was my favorite, mainly because it didn’t make a whole lot of sense to me. Yes, it was terrifying seeing that Demon with a “clown” face every time that man goes to bed, but I just don’t understand the physics (if you want to call it physics) behind the switching of dimensions and all that. The one with the two girls was just… horrifyingly uncomfortable, and the one with Amanda was freaky yet reminded me a bit of Insidious. Which one was your favorite?
I will say I had a pretty good laugh during the Amanda tape when she said she had Sulfuric Acid in those balloons, but today I got to thinking it was probably gaseous. That would make sense. Still, I laughed good. Do you know how she was able to get her revenge? I think this flew over my head as well.
David: I agree with you that the first segment was probably the best. It felt the most thought out and well rounded. As far as horror goes, it’s never the idea that’s difficult. It’s the execution and the ending that make things memorable. Friday the 13th never would have been a winner had it not been for Jason rising up out of Crystal Lake at the end. I think it is a tradition of horror movies to have endings in this manner, and so it was nice they gave it a fitting ending.
You are spot on with your assessment of the first story in general. I liked it. It had a Paranormal Activity feel to it in the beginning, along with an Insidious feel towards the middle. Very good. In particular, I liked the tape where they asked for help, and the end was delightfully aware.
I feel the same way about the main story in general, and it’s where I feel the second segment in particular lacked the most. The general story line was stronger as it went, particularly when things actually started happening, and I liked the ending there too. I felt like the second segment mainly went for the gross out factor, and it was weaker due to that reliance. As you stated, “horrifyingly uncomfortable”.
As chemists, it’s hard not to see that kind of thing. As far as the revenge segment goes, I would say Amanda got her revenge by hitting that dude in the face with some H2SO4. As someone who has been acid burned, that hurts. To further along those lines, I enjoyed her performance a lot. To deliver those long lines of monologue with very few cuts, about such an outrageous subject is to show some real talent. I enjoyed the ending too - with the implication that they were now going to skip Amanda and go on to her new man friend.
The true stand out across the movie was the effects of the creature in the main story. It was legitimately terrifying, and had me wanting to turn the lights on. Coupled with the voice, I had goosebumps. Considering I was watching it alone in a dark basement… let’s just say I hurried up the stairs quickly.
Were you scared Shannon?
Shannon: I don’t typically watch movies in the dark, but I HAD to for this one, and I think that helped out a ton with the scare factors included with each tape. I was a little freaked out when I was going to bed, mainly because my house creaks (funny right? It’s a brand new house) and my dog wouldn’t sit still. I did however dream about Demons, but it quickly turned into a Buffy-style dream and when I screamed their heads exploded. So I wouldn’t say it was a nightmare or anything. That demon was extremely scary and creepy looking though - they did an excellent job on this.
I agree with you about the acting, especially Amanda. The way she was able to deliver her lines was excellent, I’d say she was the best out of everyone, though everyone was still good in their roles as well.
Is there anything else you’d liked to touch on before we close this out?
David: No ma’am, I think we have covered everything. That Buffy dream by the way? Priceless. I’m going to give The Dark Tapes a “B”. What about you?
Shannon: Though I wish that it was more connected throughout, I still think I’m going to give it a “Liked It” rating. It was a good scary movie to watch and I’d recommend it to our readers - go check it out on Vudu and/or Google Play. Thank you to the director and producer for reaching out to use to watch this! It was excellent for sure!
David and Shannon write about movies.