Alex Magaña's Weekly Tales of Terror: Nightmare at the Beach Movie Review

Written by Stuart D. Monroe

Released by ACM Films

nightmare at the beach poster large

Written and directed by Alex Magaña
2020, 2 minutes, Not Rated
Released on September 9th, 2020

Jenly Crespo as Young Woman
Courtney Rotz as Evil Entity

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I feel like maybe Alex Magaña is firmly clicking into wavelength I’m operating on now. Not that he wasn’t before, mind you – his short horror film series has shown an understanding and appreciation for the genre that it’s natural, proving that horror and comedy are cousins of the kissing variety in many ways. He’s given us a new short film that is the best of bunch by far to this point and proves that with the right voice even the most innocuous items can still instill a little dread.

A young woman (Jenly Crespo) is having a relaxing nap in the afternoon sun, or so it seems. Her eyes move rapidly behind closed lids. She’s having a Nightmare at the Beach, and it’s not going to be easy to break away from. One minute she’s in the deep dark woods in the wee hours of the morning; the next she’s in a sun-drenched hollow. The constant is a blond woman in a flowing black dress. This evil entity (Courtney Rotz) is stalking her through her dreams like she ran off with her ugly Christmas sweater. Back at the beach she feels safe and awake, but what’s up with that pool noodle?

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Nightmare at the Beach takes a lot of the best moments from previous short films and uses them very smartly in this homage to A Nightmare on Elm Street that manages to utilize one of the most iconic effects from The Grudge to freakish effect as well. The music is much more front and center than in any of his other short films, too. It’s a necessary addition that increases the punch here.

Magaña also wisely uses the natural effect of horror in the bright daytime sun to pretty full measure and manages to make pool noodles scary and give an ending that makes you wonder in which place she really was in the first place. Bending reality a bit is especially impactful to the believability of the monster in a film so short, and that deserves recognition.

So, yeah – Alex Magaña continues to check the boxes necessary to make you really want to see what he can do with the reins of something that has more time to develop into a feature length nightmare that could bring something fresh to the genre.

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Movie: 4.5 Star Rating Cover

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Stuart D. Monroe
Staff Reviewer
Stuart D. Monroe is a man of many faces – father, husband, movie reviewer, published author of short horror, unsuccessful screenwriter (for now), rabid Clemson Tiger, Southern gentleman, and one hell of a model American who goes by the handle "Big Daddy Stu" or "Sir". He's also highly disturbed and wears that fact like a badge of honor. He is a lover of all things horror with a particular taste for the fare of the Italians and the British. He sometimes gets aroused watching the hardcore stuff, but doesn't bother worrying about whether he was a serial killer in a past life as worrying is for the weak. He was raised in the video stores of the '80s and '90s. The movie theater is his cathedral. He worships H.P. Lovecraft, Stephen King, and Clive Barker. When he writes, he listens obsessively to either classical music or the works of Goblin to stimulate the neural pathways. His favorite movie is Dawn of the Dead. His favorite book is IT. His favorite TV show is LOST.
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