MovieCriticND's blog

The Dark Tapes

There are four stories tangled together in The Dark Tapes, all done in found footage format and all about things that go bump in the night, but they certainly aren't four standard ghost stories, not by a long shot. If you want something suspenseful and creepy but otherwise aren't sure of what genre you'd like, this is the film for you.

The camera sees all, but doesn't always let us know what's really out there.


We all know being a single parent is rough. Unfortunately for widowed mother Lauren (Emma Wise), her 12-year-old son Gene (Jack Maw) is a particular handful. Now he's in trouble at school for having brought in an especially large hunting knife. Granted, the knife is something of a keepsake -- it belonged to his recently deceased stepfather -- but it's also a deadly weapon. It's a difficult matter to handle, but Lauren absolutely agrees with the head teacher (Tracy Gabbitas): this can never happen again.

Lauren seems nice, but you probably wouldn't want her as your mom.

The Hollow

In Culter County, Mississippi, there's a little out of the way spot the locals call The Hollow. It used to be just one of those spots where teenagers would park, but these days there are more sinister goings-on there. When a 20-something couple, just passing through town, ask two deputies for a cheap place to crash for a while, Deputy Ray Everett (Miles Doleac) decides to send them to The Hollow, just because he's a jerk like that.

Vaughn broods in front of the equally brooding Mississippi landscape.

Twenty Twenty-Four

Eight years from now, the world is on the brink of nuclear war. It's probably all Donald Trump's fault. In Twenty Twenty-Four, the British government has created a series of secure bunkers to keep all the important people (referred to collectively as Priority One) alive. Until disaster strikes, though, each bunker has just one occupant, a scientist and general handyperson whose job it is to keep everything in working order. When disaster does strike, these caretakers are supposed to slip quietly out the back while all the rich and powerful arrive at the front door.

Arthur asks Roy what's on his mind for the 300th time.

Black Widows

We all know someone who seems to have terrible luck with relationships. In Black Widows, that's Darcy (Jordan Elizabeth). She's naturally trusting, the men she meets are all jerks, and given those two problems her friends have decided to stage an intervention. Nora (Brigitte Graham) is the pushy but protective older sister type, while Olivia (Shelby Kocee) is, in Darcy's words, the matriarch of the group. Of course, neither one is really qualified to stage a relationship intervention, given that their own love lives are a mess, but they mean well.

Olivia, Darcy, and Nora watch in shock as unexpected things happen yet again.

Blood on the Leaves

In Philadelphia, an inner-city African-American kid (Imani Khiry) is stuck with a dead body to get rid of. In rural Pennsylvania, a middle class white man (Bill Nally) goes out bow hunting for the day, trying to forget his worries about money. And in Blood on the Leaves, the two of them manage to run into each other in the middle of the woods with serious and strange consequences.

Country out walking through the gorgeous, er, countryside.

L.A. Contagion

This might just be me, but I've always assumed that the only people having fun at the average baby shower are the guest of honor and whoever is hosting said shower. The makers of L.A. Contagion take this theory one step further and present a baby shower where no one's having any fun at all, certainly not after the contagion of the title starts doing its thing.

Some of the guys out hunting in their makeshift riot gear.

Dark Cove

A group of friends piles into a car and heads out into an isolated area for a much-anticipated chance to get away from it all. No, this isn't Consumption again; this is a movie called Dark Cove, about a camping trip on the beaches of Vancouver Island. For once a movie was filmed in Canada without Canada doubling for someplace else.

Ian looking angry. The scenery's gorgeous if you look past the blood.

Play Violet for Me

Every night Violet and her sister Lyla (both played by Najarra Townsend) are at their usual bar, as are their admirers Foley (Matt Mercer) and Remy (John Paul Romeo). Violet is the sister who attracts all eyes; Lyla is less showy but just as attractive in her way. These facts are clear enough in the noir short Play Violet for Me, but beyond that you're left guessing based on the fascinating, tantalizing clues the movie slowly gives you.

Foley and Violet.  Or is it Lyla?


One crisp winter's day, four friends decide to head up to the mountains of Utah for a vacation. The family of one friend, Seth (David Lautman) has a condo there, and it's a great place to get away from it all and relax. And they all seem like they really need to relax. Sounds like a good plan, right? Don't let it fool you.

This is Mallory. She's not having the best of days.