The horror anthology has remained a cornerstone of the genre since the days of Hammer and Amicus churned out star-studded horror anthologies effortlessly. Decades from its heyday, the anthology film has been making a steady comeback with VHS, Ghost Stories, and the ABCS of Death.
New to digital this week is Nightmare Radio: The Night Stalker, a late-night radio DJ who invites her listeners to call in and talk about their encounters with the things that go bump in the night. However, it soon becomes clear that the DJ has an obsessed fan with a nightmarish story to tell. By nature, an anthology can be a bit like a sketch show; by that, I mean a bit hit and miss. There are some strong ideas on offer here; the first story will ring true to many of us with its use of urban foxes steadily driving a young couple to madness. The segment itself is a short film called Foxes, which was produced over a decade ago and directed by Lorcan Finnegan has gone on to make some notable features (Nocebo, Vivarium), so its inclusion here is odd, albeit welcome, as its a well-crafted 15-minute movie.
Nathan Crooker’s Playback sees a security guard haunted by ghoulish images of his future demise on CCTV crying out for a feature version. The former asylum set Insane by Adam O’Brien offers a few genuine scares, even if the conclusion feels somewhat unresolved.
I love anthology films, and I truly admire the concept and innovation of Nightmare Radio. They’ve taken a selection of existing horror shorts and forged a solid wraparound device to cue each story up. However, there is little thematically to tie the stories together; while it’s a phone-in so that the stories will vary, it is a wildly random collection of stories with a wraparound that could have been stronger.
Nightmare Radio The Night Stalker might lack originality, but some promising new filmmakers offer some well-made tales of terror.