The Film (4/5)
Anthologies seem to be the current recycled fad now-a-days. Wasn't too long ago that the Zombie had it's gruesome comeback with every major and independent film studio looking to cash in on the walking dead. With the successfulness of V/H/S and The ABCs of Death, the horror anthology have risen from the grave and returns to the land of the multimedia living in hopes to revive the once esteemed genre where Creepshow and Body Bags once reigned. Shout Factory's latest release Chilling Visions: 5 Sesnes of Fear brings together five short films based upon the five human senses: smell, sight, touch, taste, and listen.
Beginning with the first short entitled "Smell", I nearly wanted to shut down my player and scrap the entire review when my ears were suddenly tortured with a stock Lifetime-esque TV soundtrack and an unimpressive, slightly boring monologue began, but somehow managing to conjure all my quickly diminishing strength, I powered through and focused on the story at a hand and leaving the soundtrack, the monologue, and the first five minutes in the past. "Smell" follows the mundane life of Seth Kyle. Kyle's wife has left him, his job is going nowhere, and his friends don't even remember his last name - in short, Kyle's life is "undesirable." When a mysterious saleswoman shows up at his front door and the promise to make him more desirable, his life forever changes as she gives him a test sample of a new, more desirable, scent that makes Kyle self-confident, but there is a price to be paid with every spray. To be honest with you right from the start of the review, "Smell" is not my favorite short and this most likely stems from director Nick Everhart and his farcical directorial style mixing very little of some awesome camera work. "Smell" feels more like a music video narrative, yet it concludes into a Creepshow aftertaste and by then I was hooked and tuned in to the rest of the senses readied to be shown to me.
"See" tells the story of an optometrist, obviously, who sucks the visions right out of his patients eyes from his optometrist device and uses them as eye drops that propels their visions of life into his eyes. When the optometrist discovers that one of his favorite patients has an abusive boyfriend, he decides to teach him a lesson by filling the abuser's mind with visions of unspeakable brutal and grisly images. The plan backfires when the result of his lesson turns into a bloodbath. "See" is comparable to a lube; it lathers you up, its made to be gentle, and it will guide you in with ease. "See" definitely felt more natural and became a bridge between the rest of the senses. Slightly farcical at the beginning, but quickly turns dark in a blink of an eye.
"Touch" begins where "See" leaves off but either by days or months later - we are not really told. I won't spoil anything for you, but I can tell that the abusive boyfriend does return in this short about a blind boy guiding himself through the middle of a wooded nowhere trying to find help for his parents who were in a car accident. As he uses his sense of touch to visualize his path through the forest, he stumbles upon a serial killer's campground and thus the cat and mouse game of blind kid versus serial killer ensues. Now we are talking! Who doesn't love a good cat and mouse game especially when one side has a disadvantage. The only flaw that could hinder "Touch" is the abrupt end. There could have been more to the story, but then again, this is a short film anthology where each film is only about 15 minutes - give or take.
Length doesn't matter with the next short entitled "Taste." The length is absolutely perfect when a street-smart hacker is escorted to a mysterious global corporation to be interviewed for a potential job offer. Employees of this corporation speak about the interviewer as she is known around the office as "The Shark" and for a good reason too. His curiosity grows about the position until he realizes that his interviewer won't take no for an answer and her office nickname has more "bite" behind it. "Taste" has the feel that corporate America is fighting back against as the rebellious accusations and criticizing feedback with this short and, frankly, I love it even though I'm one of those rebellious types who would make accusations and criticizing feedback about capitalist corporations.
Lastly, the anthology ends with "Listen" which tells the story of two guys researching an urban legend of a song that once heard you'll die a horrible death. Their research leads them to stumble upon various, chopped up recording mediums that when pieced together they quickly realize that Pandora's box has been opened. This apocalyptic scenario leaves you wanting more, but the cliff hanger is momentous. Though a bit hard to follow at times due to the time length of the short, the story is phenomenal and the scenes are greatly horrific.
Besides the human senses being the key connection between all the films, there lies another motif. The mysterious global corporation that I mentioned in the review of "Taste" is also a connector. The company's name is called Watershed and they're a key player in every scene: Watershed is the creator of the scent in "Smell," the Optometrist in "See" is a Watershed employee, the serial killer in "Touch" is a byproduct of one of Watershed's invention, in "Taste" we are taken right into the heart of the corporation's building, and with "Listen," who do you supplies the researchers with the various recordings? Watershed resembles the evil Umbrella Corporation from the Resident Evil series without trying to use a facade to mask their evilness.
Shout Factory usually outputs a lot of great Blu-ray releases with 1080p High Def Widescreen format and the release of Chilling Senses: 5 Senses of Fear is no exception. The picture is very clear without any flaws nor any color reduction.
The audio could use some work with the DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1. The soundtrack is by far excellent. I like said before, certain scenes seem more like music videos, but some of the dialogue is lost and can't really heard due to the overwhelming soundtrack. Pay attention very closely or you may miss some key plot dialogue. Remember, this is an anthology of short films and short films have short dialogues.
The team behind the film's at home entertainment release really scraped the bottom of the barrel as only one deleted scene from "Smell," a couple of TV spot trailers, and a still gallery make up the extras. With young promising directors, you would think there would be more about them in the extras, but instead, more can be read from their IMDB.com page.
The horror anthology is back! This would be a great release to have and to store right next to your Creepshow Blu-ray on your shelf. With Great amateur talent, I'm anxiously looking forward into seeing what each director has next in store. Most of Chilling Senses directors bleed with originality, but one or two may ooze of rehashed material. A recommended buy if you're in the mood for pure entertainment in the horror genre and a good take on evil corporate empires!