The anthology goes hand in hand with horror like peanut butter goes with chocolate. Some story ideas just don’t translate well into full blown features, and the fine folks who make horror films for a living seem to understand that better than anyone. Personally, I’m always up for a horror anthology, whether I know anything about the creators involved or not. I recently got a chance to give a watch to Volumes of Blood, a new anthology from Verite Cinema. The only other thing from them that I’d seen was “The Confession of Fred Krueger”, which absolutely blew all my expectations of it away. After that, I was really excited to be given the chance to see more from this talented group of filmmakers.
Volumes of Blood focuses initially on a group of college students who are all taking a class on urban legends. They meet after hours in the library to come up with new urban legends to tell each other in the hopes that maybe a couple of them could replace, or at least co-exist, with the numerous others that have been passed along for years. As you might have guessed, these stories end up being the short films that make up the anthology. All of them use the library as the setting, each with a different writer/director at the helm.
The first segment, “A Little Pick Me Up” is a fun story about a girl who is struggling to stay awake to meet a deadline on a paper. She gets approached by a stranger who offers her a brand new type of energy drink, guaranteed to blow her mind. This one felt like the perfect jumping off point for the movie. Director John Kenneth Muir and writer Todd Martin craft a tale that sort of has a light tone to it, but delivers some nice gore by the end. I also particularly enjoyed Jim O’Rear’s performance as “Lucem Ferre”.
Next up was “Ghastly” from writer/director P.J. Starks. This one focuses more on the paranormal, as a certain book about ghosts refuses to stay on the shelf where it belongs. As the night progresses, the book begins to appear at the librarian’s every turn, all while an evil presence watches from behind the book shelves. This one was done in black and white, which gave a classic feel to it that really added a little something extra. Cool, creepy little ghost tale here.
The third short, “13 After Midnight”, was more of a psychological horror story. It starts off with a girl trying to get some studying done for her midterm, while her boyfriend pesters her to party with him. As the time passes, and midnight approaches, the lights go off and she ends up on the run from a monster. This was one of the stranger ones, from director Jakob Bilinski and writer Todd Martin. The lighting was really good toward the end, and the monster looked pretty cool, but it just didn’t click for me. I did like the twist at the end though.
Finally, rounding out the short stories is “Encyclopedia Satanica”, from director Nathan Thomas Milliner who also co-wrote it with Todd Martin. It begins with a young girl named Paige, who’d recently broken up with her boyfriend, which lead to his committing suicide. She’s been eaten up with guilt ever since. On All Hallows Eve, as she prepares to close the library alone, a strange book appears, which tells of a way for the reader to speak with the dead. Desperate to make amends, she performs the steps, and brings her boyfriend back to apologize. Her only problem is, he may not be in the mood to forgive her just yet. This one ended up being my favorite of the bunch. It’s creepy, has some nice gore, and the strongest performances of the movie. In particular, Kevin Roach, who Milliner also directed in The Confession of Fred Krueger, was fantastic as the resurrected boyfriend.
As if all of that weren’t enough, when all the stories are said and done, and you think they’re about to wrap things all up with a nice twist and roll the credits, Volumes of Blood breaks the fourth wall, which results in some hilarious dialog and back and forth between the crew and P.J. Starks, and then turns into a full on slasher. I was totally shocked, and thoroughly enjoyed the finale just as much as I did the anthology portion of the movie, if not more. I don’t want to spoil it too much, but the beginning and ending in a way act as a bookend for the shorts, but then again there’s a twist, and I absolutely loved it.
All in all, Volumes of Blood succeeds in delivering a solid, entertaining horror anthology. All the tales were original, and set themselves apart from the others. This is an independent feature, but at times doesn’t feel like one, as performances are good and there’s some really nice effects work here. It’s evident that the creators at Verite Cinema Films know exactly what they’re doing, and are determined to make a name for themselves not only just in the indie scene. I’d love to see them get their hands on a larger budget and just go nuts on something. Either way, I’m definitely looking forward to their future projects.