After three tiresome years of production and dedicated fan anticipation, Michael McQuown's found footage anthology film #TheDarkTapes is finally set to release April 18th on all VOD platforms or available for pre-order now on iTunes. Acclaimed for its binary reminiscence of works such as classic science fiction series The Twilight Zone and the V/H/S trilogy, I had my hopes set gleefully high while carefully keeping my expectations pragmatically low.
As rare of an occurrence as it may be, I am elated to report that The Dark Tapes exceeded more than just my expectations. Impressively rational but still stupendously haunting, this could quite possibly be the best found footage #horror film you will see this year.
The Dark Tapes is made up of five ultimately connected segments:
- To Catch a Demon
- The Hunters & The Hunted
- Cam Girls
- Amanda's Revenge
- The Wraparound
Each segment of the film has a plot all its own, but it is your job to connect the underlying story between them. Going into the film I wasn't given much information on what to expect plot-wise. As preferred for viewers (per request from the director himself), I wish to do you the same service. Much of the film will be gathering clues to connect the interlocking stories and figure out just what is at play here. That being said, your full attention is imperative at all times because in The Dark Tapes not a moment is to be wasted.
The Dark Tapes begins with a foreboding dialogue from an otherworldly voice before rolling into the first of the five aforementioned segments:
1. 'To Catch A Demon'
The only segment not directed by McQuown, this one was actually directed by the film's practical effects genius, Vincent J. Guastini. To Catch a Demon is what I would call the "smart segment," of the film. Gathering the majority of the psychics and theories at work behind much of supernatural phenomenons as well as scientific explanations behind an array of folklore from around the globe.
Some of the theoretical explanations can be a tad confusing if you aren't as much of a science buff; however, the characters do a decent job of breaking down the physics into layman's terms, enabling viewers to follow along more easily. Admittedly, there were a couple things that were harder for me to fully understand, so don't be ashamed if you don't get everything at the first mention (I myself watched the film back-to-back to make sure I didn't miss anything). Spooky as all hell, To Catch a Demon is the most frightening fun you will ever have during a physics lesson of the laws of relativity.
My advice: Google what you don't understand — you have an endless resource of information at your finger tips. The single most chilling aspect of the film is the possibility of realism, so there's no reason to skip out on any imperative knowledge.
2. 'The Hunters & The Hunted'
Beginning as what seem like a traditional poltergeist situation quickly escalates into something far more sinister than this group of paranormal investigators could have imagined. Not to be grouped into the same likeness of the #Insidious, #ParanormalActivity or Poltergeist franchises, The Hunters & The Hunted segment is something entirely fresh and all its own. Misleading in more than one way, this awesome segment can not be fully appreciated until the film is over and you are left contemplating the complexity of what truly was at work here.
My advice: Don't be too quick to judge this segment.
3. 'Cam Girls'
Satisfying our keenness for feminine sensuality, the Cam Girl's segment's spotlight is undoubtedly stolen by supporting actress Anna Rose Moore (The Bridge, Patient Seven), who plays Sindy, one half of a magnetic pair of frisky babes who make a living muff diving one another on the internet for horny dudes via webcam (not a bad profession if you ask me). Far more manipulative than your average strippers, these desperate Johns are about to get the show of their lives.
My two cents: Cam Girls is perfectly sexy without sacrificing the overall film for cheap arousal. As enchanting as the segment is, it is equally alluding — so pay attention!
4. 'Amanda's Revenge'
By the time you get to Amanda's Revenge you should have a decent gist of what is connecting these seemingly separate incidents. After multiple "kidnappings," our leading lady Amanda (Brittany Underwood, The Bay) is hell-bent on proving to her tormentors that she is not a force to be reckoned with.
Well thought out and featuring a gnarly array of non-electronic recording devices, Amanda's Revenge left me with several objects added on to my paranormal investigating gear list. I mean, it would have if I had such a nerdy list, but obviously I don't.
5. 'The Wraparound'
Basically, I would say The Wraparound is a part of the same segment as To Catch A Demon, but it is technically its own due as it is directed by the film's creator, Michael McQuown. There isn't much we can discuss in The Wraparound storyline without spoiling such a bad-ass ending. All I will tell you about the ending/ final segment is this: The Wraparound is a more than satisfying ending that brings the entirety of The Dark Tapes back around full circle.
My final piece of advice: Do not turn off the film immediate following the final segment as there is more dialogue in the credits that's vital to understanding and really appreciating the film.
Final Thoughts On 'The Dark Tapes'
The film is impressive by scripted content alone. Accompanied by some fierce performances, viable explanations and attention to detail, you get a film that is not only impressive in theory but legitimately well executed. As I said before, I have been looking forward to this film for quite some time and I couldn't be any more pleased with the overall product. There was a bare minimum of stale moments throughout The Dark Tapes and, honestly, the most relevant one in mind comes from a blatant lack of chemistry between two actors. Given that the exchange lasts all of four minutes, it isn't worth going into detail why I found the acting disingenuous — it couldn't sway my opinion and certainly shouldn't sway yours.
Carefully crafted with the verity of science and the theoretical interpretation of unexplained phenomena, The Dark Tapes is everything you could want out of a smart horror. Are you enthralled with time travel, aliens, conspiracy theories, monsters or trans-dimensional beings? Then The Dark Tapes is for you.
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