Sometimes folks make movies for their audience, and sometimes folks make movies for themselves. I would have to say Dante Tomaselli's nightmare on film, Horror, falls toward the latter. A fugue-like montage of spooky imagery, Horror unspools like a greatest clips reel of horror films past sans any semblance of narrative to hold them together.
The film opens with a promising scene in which a young girl is stringing Christmas lights, when she sees a demonic looking black goat standing at the edge of her property. The girl panics and scrambles onto her porch where she is abducted by Reverend Salo Jr. (Lamberti), a mad preacher who takes her back to his deranged wife (Sanford) where she is drugged and brainwashed into thinking she is their own daughter, Grace. Meanwhile, a group of teen inmates escape from a detention center to rendezvous with the elder Reverend Salo (Kreskin), who had spoken at their facility the day before and encouraged them to seek him out. The reverend also provided the teens with some party favors in the guise of beer and mushrooms, which they eat copiously en route. When the teens arrive, the drugs are in full effect, and they are barraged with horrific images both real and imaginary.
Horror is a bit of a let-down for me. After seeing Tomaselli's excellent debut, Desecration, and a fifteen minute "extended trailer" of this film, my expectations for Horror were admittedly high. The opening scene hooked me in, but once the film crossed over into its nightmare motif it lost me. Jack-o-Lanterns on sticks fly around, people see scarred visages in mirrors, paintings come to "life", all of this imagery meant to frighten but instead confuses (or in the case of the Jack-o-Lanterns, amuses). It's as if Horror is trying so hard to be weird that it forgets to be scary.
Now this isn't to say that the film offers no thrills; there are a few scenes that stand out, especially one in which a fleeing teen runs past a tree from which a masked man emerges and clocks her in the head with a shovel. The scene is shot in a partial silhouette against a canvas of dark blues and snowy whites and looks fantastic, but these moments only serve to remind us what's lacking from the film as a whole, and that's a concrete narrative. I'm sure Tomaselli is well aware that the film is a disjointed affair and most likely assembled it this way on purpose, but that doesn't make it a good decision from my critical standpoint. Those who praise films for being incomprehensible will more than likely hail Horror as a work of genius, but I'm a simple man, folks. Give me something that makes a lick of sense, and I'm happy.
The DVD from Elite presents Horror in a widescreen anamorphic print with a nice Dolby 5.1 mix. The transfer is solid, save for an immense amount of diffusion and grain during lighter scenes (which is most apparent during outdoor scenes in the snow). This is a result of the 16mm film transfer and was most likely beyond Elite's control. The disc features a commentary by Tomaselli, some behind the scenes footage, a short featuring The Amazing Kreskin displaying his skills for the cast and crew on set, a "lost" scene from Desecration, stills gallery, and the film's standard and extended trailer (which was sent out as a promo for the feature last year). It's a packed affair from Elite, and fans of Tomaselli will be more than happy with the abundant offerings.
Horror is a visually impressive yet fundamentally flawed film that places to much of an emphasis on trying to "blow minds" instead of telling it's story. Still, there is much here to make horror fans stand up and take notice, even if it will have them scratching their heads in the end.