Anthologies are all the rage now. It seems like not that long ago they were incredibly rare. Then there was Trick r’ Treat and V/H/S (and the upcoming V/H/S/2) and The ABCs of Death (which is also getting a sequel). Now cable is getting in on the action. Chiller will debut the original movie Chilling Visions: 5 Senses of Fear on Friday, May 31.
The short films are directed by some promising newcomers including Eric England (Madison County) and Jesse Holland and Andy Mitton (YellowBrickRoad). As per usual for anthologies the quality runs the gamut, but overall the entire endeavor is lacking in imagination. It only really comes to life in the home stretch. The first three entries are pretty lackluster.
Smell, directed by The Asylum veteran Nick Everhart, kicks things off. Seth (Corey Scott Rutledge) is down on his luck. He is miserable at work, misses his ex, and lost all interest in his appearance. Suddenly a strange woman, resembling an Avon lady, shows up at his door. She presents him with cologne that promises to change his life (and luck). “A scent to die for” she calls it. Just don’t use too much of it.
Of course he doesn’t follow directions. At first, Seth enjoys the fruits of his new cologne. He gets a promotion at work and buys a fancy sports car. Women can’t resist him, including his ex. But then the side effects kick in, and his skin starts rotting. While there are a few amusing moments as Seth lives it up, for the most part Smell is uninspired and predictable. Everything you expect to happen happens, in routine fashion.
Scent number two is See, from actor Miko Hughes (Pet Semetary, Remains). A slightly nutty eye doctor steals something from the eyes of his patients and uses it to see through their eyes. When he discovers that the boyfriend of a patient he likes is abusive, he decides to teach him a lesson by making him see horrible things. It backfires, and soon the tables are turned on Dr. Tom (Ted Yudain). Again, nothing really unexpected or interesting transpires, though there are some gruesome effects involving needles to the eye.
The weakest entry is the third, Touch. It is directed by 20-year-old Emily Hagins (My Sucky Teen Romance) and is unfortunately a mess. A family of three gets into a car accident in a rural area. The parents are hurt so their young son, who is blind, goes for help. He stumbles upon some abandoned buildings and a killer who doesn’t like to be touched. It is more about sight than touch and meanders aimlessly even with a short running time. It feels incomplete, like it was made before a vague idea could be shaped into something coherent.
And then things get interesting. While they aren’t great, the last two entries are easily the strongest. They take more chances and make more of an impression. Eric England’s Taste is the best of them all. A hacker named Aaron (Doug Roland) is picked up by a limo and driven to a sprawling corporate campus. He has no idea why he is there. All a secretary can tell him is that Lacey (Symba Smith) wants to interview him. The less said about this one, the better. It goes totally bonkers and ends up involving an unconventional job interview and a nasty facial apparatus. It’s weird and somewhat perplexing but a hoot.
Finally, Listen, from Jesse Holland and Andy Mitton. It takes a found footage angle and is about two guys making a movie about a song that allegedly kills people. The filmmakers find some videos from the 1970s showing a doctor conducting experiments. He has people play a song called “Listen, My Children.” It culminates in a fantastic scene showcasing what happens when a guy plays the song in front of four other people, proving that there is merit to the legend. Like Taste, it’s quite gory and much better than the first three.
Taken as a whole, 5 Senses of Fear is mediocre and not particularly frightening. You could definitely skip the first three and not miss anything. Only the last two make an impression and have a little fun with the concept.