Hey gang, Valkor here. As I approach this next film that’s about to hit the TOV chopping block, The Dark Tapes, I realize that it’s been awhile since I’ve taken a dip into the “found footage” genre. I believe the last film of that nature that I viewed was “V/H/S 2”, which I didn’t review it, but I thought it was OK (part one was obviously better). I mention V/H/S because The Dark Tapes feel similar to it. But will it fare better?
The Dark Tapes, much like V/H/S, is an anthology film where you have your base story interconnected with three additional tales. The main story titled "To Catch a Demon", centers on a group that's experimenting with night terrors, time dilation, demons and the planes that exist between the real world and the spiritual. Their experiment produces results but with deadly consequences, ultimately leaving one member displaced out of time. The other stories are connected in that it appears someone is gathering these videos, but for reasons yet unknown. And that ups the creepy factor immensely, given that some involve personal video chatting. How this entity is capable of gathering such videos could be through hacking or possibly other more mystical means.
Hunters and the Hunted (Valkor favorite) – Think “Paranormal Activity” but with a twist. A couple, who have just moved into their new home finds out that it’s haunted. And in order to deal with the situation, they call in ghost hunters to tackle the job. And I’ll just leave it at that.
Cam Girl – A couple of cam models are going to give one lucky viewer a “special treat”. But first, he’ll have to do something for them…
Amanda’s Revenge – This one was an odd one for me, but I still enjoyed it nonetheless. Anywho, the short kicks off with a party where a gal named Amanda was drugged and almost raped by a couple of guys. Afterward, things get really weird for her as she relates to a friend that she's frequently kidnapped. And even though she's tried to capture the beings on video, all efforts have proven hopeless. Until she discovers a way that she's able to not only capture the beings on video but also to put a stop to them once and for all.
I realize with "The Dark Tapes" I've done a bit of a comparison to “V/H/S”; while the two films are similar, V/H/S utilized a bunch of directors to tell its different tales, while “The Dark Tapes” all comes from one mind, which I think tells a better story. But I’m getting ahead of myself, so let’s take a dip into the TOV Breakdown.
While “The Dark Tapes” might not be the scariest film on the block, it does a better job in terms of storytelling than most found-footage films I’ve viewed. With this anthology, you’re dealing with a stronger narrative rooted in a deeper evil that goes beyond one film. I guess that’s why there was a second film announced, which makes me a happy Val, as I’m curious to see where the series will lead. Hell, if "Paranormal Activity" can get a bunch of films made, I think "The Dark Tapes” could easily follow suit, as it's capable of telling a better story. On the horror side, I mentioned above that the film isn’t all that scary, but it does have creepy vibes that rank pretty high. Even “Evidence” wasn’t particularly scary, but it does enough to keep you interested. And the same can be said for “The Dark tapes”. The use of practical effects as opposed to heavy CGI works perfectly. And the sudden flashes and audio bits really enhance the viewing experience. Finally, the acting sells the package and I gotta give props to Aral Gribble who plays the pitiful and ready to please role of “Gerry”; As soon as he was picked I felt bad for the guy. And then… damn! It's always pleasing (and sometimes not so pleasing) to see what direction a found-footage film takes. And with “The Dark Tapes”, while it might feel familiar, it's certainly a different take on the genre that’s totally worth checking out.
Even though I really enjoyed “Hunters and the Hunted”, it’s the only short that, to me, feels out of place. I don’t want to get too into it because this is one short that doesn’t need spoiling. But without revealing anything, I don’t see how this one fits. And if it's answered in a second film, I might revisit this review.
Whatever that demon thing was that's used in the wraparound story, that thing gets mad creep points!
“The Dark Tapes” is available now, which you can watch through video on-demand services such as Google Play or Amazon Instant. And if you’re a fan of found-footage video or if you’re just looking for something new to watch that'll give you the shivers, then this is one you’ll definitely want to check out. And out of TOV 5 stars, I’m giving “The Dark Tapes” 4 stars.