Review: “A Night Of Horror: Nightmare Radio” (2019) By Larissa Mrykalo

Directed by Luciano Onetti, Nicolás Onetti, Jason Bognacki, Joshua Long, Adam OBrien, Matt Richards, Sergio Morcillo, A.J. Briones, Pablo S. Pastor and Oliver Park.

Starring James Wright, Strange Dave, Kevin Dee, David Nerman, Rachel Winters, Marina Romero and Stella Charrington.

Synopsis:

Rod, radio DJ, hosts a popular horror-themed show packed with tales of terror for eager listeners. When he receives alarming calls from a horrified child things start to feel off.

It’s the most wonderful time of the year and stories about ghosts, goblins and the macabre, reign supreme. I had no idea what to expect from “A Night Of Horror: Nightmare Radio” and went into it without reading any reviews or even the premise. I highly recommend doing this for any horror film. I was pleasantly surprised this time.

The film started out with one of its eight stories. YES! This is a horror anthology film with a wrap around story featuring a DJ named Rod Wilson (a great portrayal by James Wright). He’s a late-night radio host who encourages his listeners to call in with scary stories. He will also tell tales, including ones to shut up his haters. After each story, we get Rod’s reaction and his segue into the next one. Sprinkled with eerie calls from a child in distress, we also get the sense he may be hiding something and has his own tale to tell.

I’ll do my best to not give away any spoilers because I thoroughly enjoyed being surprised by each tale. Even though the film, as a whole, came out last October, I managed to stay naive to its content. Unlike some horror anthology films, this one’s segments are independent of each other and lack any cohesiveness. They each have their own director and style. Some stories have you begging for more and some leave you pretty satisfied. I’ll break each one down with just a few words so as not to spoil the spooky fun.

In The Dark, Dark Woods Director: Jason Bognacki

The dark woods hold a secret.

Before we even meet DJ Rod, the movie begins with this sad and haunting tale of a women with so much darkness surrounding her, she is invisible. Told like a fairy tale, the woman yearns to find the light. We don’t know much about her past but are left with the sadness of her present. This one will definitely leave you wanting more.

Post Mortem Mary Director: Joshua Long

Mary and her mother run a post-mortem photography business in 1840’s Australia. They arrive to a small farmhouse to find devastated parents grieving over the death of their daughter but as they get to work Mary’s mother is required to comfort the grieving parent, leaving Mary alone to confronts her phobia she must do all she can to make the dead look alive…

I cannot tell you how excited I was when this gothic story began. Almost immediately I knew that the morbidly beautiful tradition of post mortem photography would be highlighted. The segue from Rod includes the mythology of why we used to put coins over dead people’s eyes. FYI, it’s to appease Charon, the ferryman who brought souls across the river that is between the world of the dead and the living.

Young Mary and her mother’s business involves photographing the recently deceased but she isn’t too keen on the family biz. We watch Mary’s struggles with overcoming her fear of death and are left gasping at the result. This was one of my favorites.

A Little Off The Top Director: Adam O’Brien

A hair stylist and his long lost, famous client reunite for a styling session down memory lane with unpleasant consequences for one of them.

Vanity can be dangerous. I never thought I’d be so freaked out about having nice hair. I knew where this one was going and was squirming. Weirdly for its content, it was sort of amusing. Hold onto your hats for the ending.

The Disappearance of Willie Bingham Director: Matthew Richards

Willie Bingham is the first man to undergo a radical new justice program under the State’s revised stance on capital crime.

After DJ Rod gets heckled by a caller to tell a REAL scary story, he regales listeners with this awesomely gruesome cautionary tale. Willie Bingham was convicted for a brutal murder and with the victim’s family’s blessing, his punishment fits that crime. Throughout his punishment, he is paraded around schools in order to warn kids about consequences. This was another favorite and not only do you weirdly feel sympathy for his physical pain, but his psychological pain shines through as well.

Gotas Director: Sergio Morcillo

Marta is a teenager whose parents died two years ago. One night, while she is alone at home, she will discover the truth about the pain she feels inside.

Pubescent symbolism and palpable fear pepper this painful and sad story about 16-year-old orphan with a dark secret. This Giallo-esque short proves humans are the scariest of all monsters.

The Smiling Man Director: A.J. Briones

A little girl home alone finds herself face-to-face with pure evil.

After Rod is drawn into his glitchy television set, his tainted mind “watches” (wanders into) this next short best that was best summed up by my 21-year-old son, “What the hell did I just watch?” It’s nightmarish but I wanted more. This one needs a full-length feature. Visually stunning, uncomfortableness will be yours.

Into The Mud Director: Pablo S. Pastor

A young woman wakes up naked in the middle of the woods. After the initial confusion and after verifying that she’s hurt, she discovers a fisherman and hunter who will not easily let his new prey escape. Let the hunt begin.

If memory serves me right, Rod’s segue into this short was about men who were hunting so I went into it with the notion that the confused, young woman in the story wasn’t what she initially seemed. I was right about that, but wrong about what she was. I loved this one so much. I was surprised and cheering and even yelled out at the end for her ultimate revenge. Yes, I have issues. You’ll dig this “legendary” story though.

Vicious Director: Oliver Park

A young woman comes home one night to find her front door unlocked and suspects she might not be alone in the house.

The last short actually scared me. That’s hard to do. I said, “Oh HELL no,” quite a few times. Reminiscent of the short-then-turned-feature-film, “Light’s Out,” our fear of the dark and the unknown is justified. Its chilling content leaves the viewer wanting much more and sleeping with the lights on.

As the short films wrap-up, we then see what this Rod Wilson dude is all about. It ain’t pretty but…it’s a horror movie. If you enjoy horror anthologies as much as I do, I highly recommend tuning into the Nightmare Radio.

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