Alex Magaña’s Weekly Tales of Terror Movie Review
Written by Stuart D. Monroe
Released by ACM Films
Written and directed by Alex Magaña
Released every Wednesday at ACMofficial on YouTube
Samantha Kruse as Emily
Winter Bassett as Ashley
Brittany Lewis as the Camper
Joe Ouellette as the Stalker
Keira Weiss as Girl
Kimberly Durham as the Woman in White
Ellie Pomeroy as the Young Woman in White
Candis Ortiz as the Girlfriend
Ricardo Effe as the Boyfriend
Rory Ross as the Villain
Alex Magaña created ACM Films and broke into the industry on the strength of his comedy, drama, and romantic comedy chops with movies like Slapped! The Movie, 29 to Life, and What Love Looks Like. These are dark times, however, and in dark times everyone turns to horror for a little psychological comfort; it’s a proven fact. Expanding upon the horror portfolio that he’s begun with the excellently creepy The Smiling Woman and the surprisingly close-to-home alien invasion short film entitled Outbreak, Alex Magaña is releasing a new horror short every week to keep the horror juices flowing and the cabin fever at bay. They say that idle hands do the devil’s work; Alex Magaña is fighting the good fight by cranking out new horror rapid-fire in a sort of inner monologue. It’s an inside look at the developing mind of a creator with a good eye for scares that work.
The way we get our horror content (and our entertainment content in general) has changed drastically in the last six months, and movies like Shudder’s Host are proving that the horror made in the new age of the pandemic may have even sharper teeth than much of the stuff that came before it. ACM is tapping into that vein and finding their own style. Let’s take a look at the first four outings, and then I’ll cover the new release each week. Enjoy!
Do Not Open (2:37): A mysterious figure drops off an anonymous cardboard box marked “Do Not Open” on the doorstep of Emily (Samantha Kruse; Fighting Olympus). As she stares, her curiosity grows. She calls a friend, Ashley (Winter Bassett), and is warned to not open it under any circumstances before the call is suddenly terminated. She simply cannot resist the voice that is now coming from inside the box. I mean, how bad could it be? Do Not Open takes a simple premise and revels in turning the conundrum that comes from it on its ear. It’s a solid example of having fun with your horror with the underlying feeling we all have right now of desperation for any kind of contact and meaning that break through the wall we’re all living behind.
Not Alone (2:02): That slasher vibe hits you right in the face as you see a camper (Brittany Lewis; Wicked Moms Club) waking up from a refreshing night in her tent. All that is shattered when she looks in her phone to find several pictures of herself fast asleep. She tentatively scans the area before throwing her boots on and making a run back to her car. Her stalker (Joe Ouellette; 2 Live & Die in L.A.) has other plans, as evidenced by the blurry face in the window. Not Alone is utterly straightforward and shows a penchant for understanding the slasher subgenre; it’s easy to see Alex Magaña taking a stab at the style in a way where the characters actually do something different and the presentation isn’t a total Friday the 13th rip-off but instead tips the cap to it.
Woman in White (1:34): It’s the simplest of premises – a girl (Keira Weiss) is being chased out of a cabin by a floating witch, a Woman in White (Kimberly Durham; Safety Not Guaranteed) with the loveliest jet-black eyes whose feet never touch the ground. My favorite of the bunch despite the scant run time, it’s essentially one long action shot that’s adroitly handled before he hits you with an extra punch in the closing moments. There’s more to be developed and grown in this scenario.
Under the Bed (2:23): A young couple is passionately making out on their way to the bedroom. The clothes are starting to come off until an insane laugh bubbles from under the bed. The couple are frozen until the boyfriend (Ricardo Effe) bravely investigates. He climbs down, and in the shattering silence that follows his quiet and unceremonious disappearance, his girlfriend (Candis Ortiz) becomes more scared. She finally takes out her phone and snaps that ill-advised picture. Under the Bed is minimalist by design in an environment where you’re already vulnerable and does an adequate job of showing that Magaña can do bloodless horror for tension building (though it doesn’t seem to be his forte). It’s still pretty effective.
It Comes For You (1:44): A young girl (Michelle Torian) is having a jog through the woods, initially unaware that a non-corporeal presence is following her. Once it puts on a sheet and starts to toy with her, however, she quickly bolts. She didn’t think it would follow her home. It Comes For You pays respect to Sam Raimi and It Follows, not reinventing the wheel but instead doing the little things right in the execution. It’s not easy to elicit a fear response in a minute and a half tale, but Magaña shows that he can do so with the most basic of premises. Fun and simple visual effects enhance the childish ghost, making him more menacing.
|Do Not Open:
Woman in White:
Under the Bed:
It Comes for You:
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