STUDIO: Lions Gate
RUNNING TIME: 456 minutes
• Multiple making-of docs
A sextet of Spanish horror. It’s, uh, Creepshow meets Te Doy Mis Ojos, if you need something like that.
An obvious ripoff of R.L. Smithson’s famous German “Grausigkeiten!” horror series.
Cast: Javier Gutierrez, Goya Toledo, Ivana Baquero, Christian Casas, Natalia Millan
Director(s): Mateo Gil (Spectre), Alex De la Iglesia (The Baby’s Room), Jaume Balaguero (To Let), Enrique Urbizu (A Real Friend), Paco Plaza (A Christmas Tale), Narciso Cerrador (Blame)
A Spanish horror-film-festival-in-a-box, 6 Films To Keep You Awake features a diverse group of ghosts, murderers, and zombies in the following set of horror movies: Spectre, about a man haunted by a strange and supernatural love affair from his past; The Baby’s Room, in which a mysterious figure haunts a young family’s new home; To Let, featuring a young couple ensnared by a murderous landlady; A Real Friend, telling the story of a lonely young girl whose imaginary friends prove deadly; A Christmas Tale, about a team of kids who face down a vicious criminal in a Santa suit, and Blame, a grim abortion fable.
A unique punishment device, the “Leatherface Room” was an effective deterrent of
both sass talk and smart mouth.
6 decent horror movies for $25? Why not?
The Creepshow comparison was made about thirty rows up, but 6 Films to Keep You Awake isn’t an anthology along the lines of Romero’s film or the Hammer classics. It’s six full-length horror films in a three-disc package, with each double sided disc featuring a pair of movies. As such, there isn’t any linking motif between the films, save for a common intro animation. They’re diverse in tone and spirit, ranging from the vicious and violent, playful, somber, and thoughtful, and while they’re not all great, they each present a different vision, making the whole experience worthwhile.
6 Films‘ crown jewel, A Christmas Tale is a funny, touching, and ultimately brutal story about a group of adolescent friends who stumble across a trapped fugitive in a remote forest pit. The fugitive, a bank robber armed only with a sack of cash and a Santa suit, tries to beg, negotiate, and bribe her way to freedom, but the kids, convinced she’s better off in the hole, play a nasty game of captor and prisoner. A blatant pastiche of Silent Night, Deadly Night, The Goonies, and even the obscure mini-classic The Pit, A Christmas Tale was a total surprise, with a series of third act events that toy mercilessly with the “kid team” adventure genre. The ending is one of the few truly shocking moments in the set.
Not quite as entertaining but nonetheless well made was Spectre, a slow moving and atmospheric horror-romance about a man’s love affair with a witch in a small island town. Admirably, Spectre avoids jump scares in favor of contemplative dread, and while it doesn’t succeed completely, it’s still worth watching. It’s by far the least conventional horror film in the mix.
Also enjoyable was Alex De la Iglesia’s The Baby’s Room, an effective blend of both Gothic and J-Horror featuring a young family’s paranormal encounters via an electronic baby monitor. After witnessing strange figures in his baby’s room over the monitor, Juan (Javier Gutierrez) becomes obsessed with safeguarding his family, resulting in a feedback loop of paranormal events and paranoia. If Kairo taught cinema anything, it’s that there’s a very creepy realm where common technology and the sinister forces of evil intersect, and Room exploits this well. Better yet, Room avoids cliches by avoiding ghosts in favor of a more scientific explanation of the “haunting,” going so far as to invoke Schrodinger’s famous cat. Although it completely misses the accuracy mark while explaining quantum physics, it’s still a noble effort.
To Let, a variation on the Hostel/Frontier(s)/Captivity entrapment horrors, has a handful of tense scenes, but feels way too derivative, especially given the market saturation for this particular subgenre. The simple plot – a couple finds the perfect flat on the outskirts of town, only to find out that the landlady is a psychopathic body collector, resulting in a prolonged attempt to flee the premises – isn’t anything new. The characters aren’t very memorable, either. It makes a good argument for a mindless diversion, but little more.
Tito and his Morita fetish. Nasty.
Blame, an insufferably slow anti-abortion parable, features a poor young woman’s struggle with an unwanted pregnancy. She’s pressured by her supervisor (a gynecologist, who’s also her boarder) to have an abortion, resulting in all sorts of supernatural shenanigans. In an attempt to make a point about precious, precious fetuses, Blame forgets to be scary or interesting.
Finally, A Real Friend follows the lonely teenager Estrella’s struggle to reconcile a troubled life with her single Mother by creating a team of imaginary friends. It turns out that Estrella’s a fledgling horror buff, so her imaginary friends include Leatherface, Nosferatu, and Jason. With her estranged and violent father eying a return to the family, Estrella may have to call upon her new friends’ services for protection. A Real Friend has a promising premise, but it’s squandered by a collapse into obvious third act tropes and a cop-out ending that could make even the calmest Koala bear rage violently. The moments with Leatherface are memorable, and it’s much better than Blame, but it could have been great.
Although there are a few disappointments, don’t let that deter you from checking 6 Films out. At four bucks a film, it’s a terrific package; by themselves, A Christmas Tale and The Baby’s Room are enough to justify the price.
Each film contains a substantial making-of documentary as a bonus, and the trailer for Brian Yuzna’s horrible looking Beneath Still Waters appears before each film.
The audio is an acceptable across-the-board Dolby Digital 3/2.1. The video looks
great when upscaled to 1080p.