Horror anthologies offer something for everyone, in theory.
Not a fan of story A.? Just wait. The next chapter might be a better fit.
The best anthologies offer something extra, a shared creative DNA that heightens the ick factor. “Creepshow” often felt like you were thumbing through a dog-eared E comic book. That’s beyond characters like the Crypt Keeper guiding us through the cob-webbed passage ways.
Not “Grave Intentions.” The horror anthology assembles horror shorts glued together by happenstance. Even the bouyant efforts of Joy Vandervort-Cobb as Madame Josephine can’t unite this uneven horror mashup.
Madame Josephine, working on a static set that reveals the film’s indie nature, introduces us to the five stories in question. She’s a chatty one, pontificating on the various candles and charms she claims to commandeer.
These segments go on far too long and fail to explain the yarns about to unfold.
The story follows a middle-aged woman (Beth Grant) who teams with a mysterious, but beguiling newbie to the bridge table. Yes, that’s Sharon Lawrence of “NYPD Blue” fame, vamping it up as someone with a dark side brimming beneath the surface.
The story suggests an intriguing clash, but the dramatics wrap far too soon to share more.
The following tale dabbles in extreme body horror, detailing a future in which the families of crime victims watch the accused get dismembered piece by piece.
The segment, dubbed “The Disappearance of Willie Bingham,” speaks volumes about crime, punishment and forgiveness. The minimalist FX are darn near perfect, too. If it looks familiar to you it’s because the short previously appeared in another anthology series and, like the other tales, packs an unsatisfying finale.
The craziest story is “Violent Florence,” about a disturbed young woman and her love/hate relationship with cats. The segment makes little sense, but as a visceral experience it’s undeniably raw.
The segments all offer richer production values than the Madame Josephine wraparounds, suggesting horror shorts boast better filmmaking than many expect. It’s also cool to see veteran actors share their time and energy to these snippets, knowing their name recognition might boost their marketing chances.
Film shorts need all the love they can get. Too bad “Grave Intentions” can’t find a better way to present them.
HiT or Miss: “Grave Intentions” is more Whitman’s horror sampler than true anthology scares. Adjust your expectations accordingly.