Fantasia Film Festival 2018 Review: NIGHTMARE CINEMA

NIGHTMARE CINEMA is a horror anthology directed by five masters of horrors which include Joe Dante (Gremlins), Ryûhei Kitamura (The Midnight Meat Train), David Slade (30 Days of Night), Alejandro Brugués (Juan of the Dead), and the one and only Mick Garris (Masters of Horror). NIGHTMARE CINEMA just saw its World Premiere at Montreal’s Fantasia International Film Festival 2018 on July 12th and I’m here to tell you that horror fans are going to be in for a real treat with this film.

At the center of this film is an unassuming movie theater run by a mysterious projectionist (Mickey Rourke) who feeds off of people’s nightmares. The viewer is presented with five different stories that range from a slasher flick with a twist ending, a plastic surgery that goes horribly awry, an exorcism at a Catholic school, a black-and-white story that spirals into madness and insanity, and a ghostly encounter that’ll make you fear ever going to the hospital again.

Horror anthologies have a tendency to be hit or miss, either the stories don’t flow together or the narration used to tie all the stories together falls flat. Luckily, this is not the case with NIGHTMARE CINEMA, as each director does their part in making sure that their rendition makes sense to the overall execution of the film. Though there were particular vignettes I liked more than others, as a whole I can easily say that NIGHTMARE CINEMA is up there as being one of the best horror anthologies of our time.

Mickey Rourke and Maurice Benard in NIGHTMARE CINEMA

I know that those of you who are reading this are probably thinking, “Wait, back up, did you say Mickey Rourke is in this? THE Mickey Rourke?” Yes, yes he is, and honestly, I’m glad to see him back in action. Playing the pivotal projectionist, Rourke exudes a creepy, sinister vibe that perfectly demonstrates 80’s nostalgia. Dressed in all black leather with his chiseled chest showing, his hair billowing in the wind, and a badass cane, Rourke is clearly not fucking around when it comes to retrieving and storing the nightmares of all those who wander into his establishment. Speaking of this ambiguous theater, I would highly suggest paying attention to what movies are being shown on the marquee as each character enters as it gives a slight clue as to what to expect when their nightmare unfolds.

As for the style of the film, I was very impressed with the practical effects that were used throughout as well as the creativity with each story; most notably the plastic surgery and cabin in the woods vignettes. I also felt as though each tale had a nod to a certain sub-genre of horror: whether that be the 80’s slasher, J-Horror, experimental, restless spirits, or demonic entities. Though we are presented with these above horror tropes, I appreciated how each director made sure to give their story it’s own special touch in order to surprise the viewer by twisting the narrative on it’s head. By doing this, it brought about a fresh take to the stories while still embracing the familiar aspects that we have all come to love within the genre.

All in all, NIGHTMARE CINEMA is an absolute must-see. So far, it’s my favorite film out of the Fantasia Film Festival and one that I look forward to hearing the reaction of from horror fans. You’ll be hard-pressed to not enjoy what these masters of horror have concocted as there is definitely something for everyone in this anthology. What I’m really trying to say is that this is a must-see so make sure you keep your eyes and ears peeled for when it gets a theatrical release.

(Front Row): David Slade, Joe Dante (Second Row): Mick Garris, Ryûhei Kitamura, Alejandro Brugués
Shannon McGrew
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