Monday, December 16, 2019

Movie Review: Morbid Stories

Cody watches the anthology Morbid Stories.

Now available to rent or purchase on Amazon Prime, Morbid Stories is a collaboration between directors Asif Akbar, Mick Thomas, Ashley Mei, Will Devokees, and Clint Kelly, an anthology that shows supernatural events taking place all over the continental United States during what appears to be an end-of-the-world scenario.

Akbar directed the wraparound story, which stars Courtney Akbar as Candy, a young woman who seeks help while radio reports inform her there has been some kind of attack on the U.S., violence and looting are on the rise, and the dead are coming to life. We check in on Candy's progress between each story, but there isn't a whole lot that happens in these segments until the very end of the movie. That's not necessarily a negative; wraparound stories usually don't have much going on until the end. Up until that point, the Candy scenes are mainly interesting because the radio reports are reminiscent of the news reports in Night of the Living Dead, and because Candy has a couple adorable dogs with her.

Candy eventually gets to experience some of the supernatural for herself, but while the film builds up to that it cuts away to four stories that give us a look at the sort of bad things that are happening around her.


Running just over 12 minutes long, writer/director Mick Thomas's contribution to the anthology drops a classic monster into a modern home invasion story, and shows that these familiar creatures have a clever way of infiltrating people's homes. Of course, the people who live in the home that gets invaded don't appreciate their cleverness, so some brain-smashing, blood-spewing violence breaks out.

This segment, titled Invasive Species in the end credits, features cool performances from members of that invasive species, especially Tim O'Hearn as a character whose life has been going downhill for a couple hundred years, and also allows Crystal Loverro to kick some ass as the woman whose home gets invaded.

Morbid Stories gets off to a fun start with this one - in fact, Invasive Species was my favorite segment of the entire movie.


Titled 3 Months, writer/director Ashley Mei's segment features several members of the Koiso family as members of the Yoshida family, with Mei herself taking the lead role of their eldest sister Mallory, who is looking forward to getting out of the house when she turns 18 in three months. Unfortunately, her odds of reaching 18 decrease after she and her friends James (Austyn Reale) and Lola (Jocelyne Daugherty) mess around with a Ouija board.

The Ouija board conjures up something fun and twisted toward the end of the segment's 10 minutes, but I didn't get as much enjoyment out of watching this segment, mainly because James is a major jerk who's always saying something harsh and inappropriate about Mallory's siblings, so I was just anxious to see something bad happen to this guy.


Writer/director Will Devokees also plays the lead character in his segment Writers Beware, which is the longest story in the film, clocking in at 20 minutes. Devokees' character is author Robert Zirn, someone else who isn't remotely likeable. Zirn is supposed to be working on his latest novel, but he's too busy complaining about the house his assistant has rented for him.

Zirn is your typical anthology movie character; someone who has done something terrible, and now supernatural forces are going to make sure he pays for his sins. In this case, Zirn's comeuppance may have something to do with whatever's making odd noises in the attic of the rental property.

Writers Beware is a good short, and my favorite thing about it was a humorous dialogue exchange between Zirn and the property owner, Don Holland (Ryan W. Phillips). I also appreciated the nod to George A. Romero's Day of the Dead that's in there.


Writer/director Clint Kelly's More Than You Can Chew comes in just short of tying Devokees's Writes Beware as the longest segment in the film, ending up at about 19 minutes. Starring Krystal Pixie Adams and Eigh8t the Chosen One, this story answers a question many have pondered over the years, "What would happen if a vampire was bitten by a zombie?" The vampire and zombie actually bite each other simultaneously, but we don't see what happens to the zombie. The story follows the vampire, and it's interesting to see how the scenario plays out - especially since the bloodsucker is trying to hide both her vampirism and the zombie bite from her normal human boyfriend.

As you might have gleaned from the short running times for each of these segments, Morbid Stories is not a very long movie. It's only 78 minutes, with the end credits starting to roll at 75 minutes. Its brevity makes it easy to recommend, because why not spend 78 minutes giving an anthology from multiple filmmakers a chance? You get four (five counting the wraparound) horror stories in just over an hour - if you enjoy them, that's awesome, and if you didn't, at least it didn't take up much of your time.

Like most anthologies, this one has its ups and downs, but I wouldn't say that any of the segments are downright bad, and I got some enjoyment out of each one of them.

You will need to be inclined to appreciate indie productions to like Morbid Stories, as these shorts were made on minuscule budgets - if you need Hollywood polish on your entertainment, this one won't do it for you. I like seeing what filmmakers can pull off at this level, and this movie gave me the opportunity to see the work of five of them, so I had a good time with it.

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