"The Horror Vault" is back for its third installment with a batch of all new horror movies from all over the globe; "A Christmas Haunting", "Office Zombies", "Undone", "Unchangeable" and "The Psychomanteum".
Ronny reviewed "Horror Vault 2" (read here!) awhile back and it sounded like it was a fun set of horror shorts to watch for a night of light viewing. So I was glad to see a copy of the latest installment in the "Horror Vault" series in the group of screeners sent by R-Squared Films. From the press release that we posted it looked like it was going to be another batch of fun short films from some up-and-comers.
The first movie in "Horror Vault 3" is directed by the series creator, Kim Sønderholm, and it's called "A Christmas Haunting". This short also has Kim as the starring role and he goes up to a cabin in the winter while being separated from his family. Strange things occur in the cabin: odd noises, water turning on by itself, dishes breaking, and manifestations of naked-bloody women. "A Christmas Haunting" is the shortest of the movies on this set, and probably the most fun. It's an extremely simple movie that mostly parades a number of women around topless and covered in blood along with images of the women dying rather violently at the hands of a killer. Because it's so short there really isn't much to it and being so simple it's just fun but the biggest flaw is the movie features some truly awful CGI effects.
The next movie is "Office Zombies" and much like R-Squared's other movie "Office of the Dead", it's nothing more than a silly poke at the life of a 9-to-5 office drone being a mindless zombie. In the case of "Office Zombies" they are literally zombies. The story is about a man named Jacob who is up for a promotion but in order to receive it, he has to become one of the coffee swigging members of the undead at the hands of his new scantily clad boss. Refusing, Jacob takes to arms to fight off the undead and escape this cubical hell. Being a short film from the UK, it’s hard to not get a "Shaun of the Dead" after taste in your mouth especially once the tie goes around the head. "Office Zombies" is my second to least favorite movie as the humor is fairly flat and doesn't really do much in the horror department either. Nothing really to be found in here; the character Jacob runs around and escapes the zombies using different office items for weapons and to provide the jokes for the majority of it's short run time.
"Undone" is the next movie on the chopping block and is the one that stands out of the bunch with a concept that could have actually made it a successful stand-alone title if it were a feature length film. It's about Travis, a man who is consumed with grief over the death of his daughter by the hands of a pedophile that is known as the Lollipop Killer. Thankfully the killer is safely locked behind bars but a friend of Travis decides to help him out and brings him his daughter's killer and gives him a night to do what he wants before he has to take the man back to jail. What follows is a series of sadistic and cruel torture sequences that includes a screwdriver being hammered into the Lollipop Killer's jaw. and being sodomized with barbwire. "Undone" will definitely be branded with the ridiculous 'torture-porn' label since the story is about extracting revenge through torture. Regardless, the movie provides an interesting concept of what a person would do when being left with a child murdering pedophile, and the results of what a lot of people threaten to do. It's a harsh and nasty little short that doesn't get too graphic but isn't afraid of spilling some blood either. Definitely the strongest title on the DVD.
Then there's "Unchangeable" which is my least favorite and easily the worst out of the collection. It's a very convoluted story about a man trying to prove that his wife was murdered by a homeless man that the couple accidentally ran over. "Unchangeable" tries to go for the psychological-thriller and makes the audience question the reality of the situation by making it seem like either the supernatural hobo killer is real, or the husband is psychotic. Though with every twist that is thrown in, it does little other than to create more confusion and ultimately leaves the viewer with more questions than answers by the end.
"Horror Vault 3" is wrapped up with "The Psychomanteum"; a short film that I heard of before from people praising its surrealist style and visuals. It's about a young woman who is mentally broken and haunted with the voices of various people, including her parents and psychiatrist. The movie has some what of an interesting concept of taking a journey through the mind of a mentally disturbed person and very different from the other movies on "Horror Vault 3". But it's an extremely weak movie that looks like it was made to appeal to the teen-angst crowd in terms of story and character. I can appreciate the experimental nature and willing to try and do something different, but the visuals are never interesting or as haunting as it wanted to be with the obvious gothic tone that they were going for.
While I really only enjoyed two out of five short films that are presented in "Horror Vault 3" it is still a nice little collection and does what it sets out to do: To help show and get the names out of some new filmmakers. I would say that "Horror Vault 3" is best left to be watched last but the series is still worth picking up as there are still some good titles to be found in the DVD.