Alex Magaña’s Tales of Terror: Bloody Mary and Gift Wrapped Movie Reviews

Written by Stuart D. Monroe

Released by ACM Films via YouTube

gift wrapped bloody mary poster large

Written and directed by Alex Magaña
2021, Not Rated
Released on February 19th, 2021

Averi White as Candice
Andrew Hughes as Bloody Mary (voice)
Dylynn Abbey as Kelly
Andrew Hughes as Creature (voice)

bloody mary 01 bloody mary 02


Free throws. I feel like Alex Magaña is practicing his free throws at this point. He’s shown us what’s in his horror toolkit with a slew of short films in the last year or so, with Be Careful What You Wish For and Nightmare at the Beach. He’s a diverse filmmaker as well, with comedy hits like Slapped! The Movie and even straight-up romance flicks like What Love Looks Like. I’m not complaining, mind you. You have to practice those free throws, after all; they’re a critical part of the game.

bloody mary 03 bloody mary 04

I’m ready for more out of Alex Magaña, that’s all. There’s a feature brewing in that brain. I especially want to see it after the latest two shorts. Let’s dig in.

  • Gift Wrapped (2:23): I know I’m giving you some seriously late Christmas horror, but somehow I missed this when it came out. Sorry about that. That’s a shame, too – it would have been great by the lights of the tree. Kelly (Dylynn Abbey) finds a surprise present under her Christmas tree saying it’s from Santa. It also has the “naughty” box checked, but Kelly can’t be bothered noticing that. She tears into the present to find layer after layer after layer of wrapping paper until she’s practically drowning in it. That’s when she hears the voice from inside the mound, so happy to be free. The tone of absurdist horror that retains a genuine freakiness without being childish or campy is a hallmark of Alex Magaña. And it’s a holiday horror that hasn’t been seen a million times! How fun!

gift wrapped 01 gift wrapped 02

  • Bloody Mary (1:25): It’s short and simple in premise and direction. Candice (Averi White; Aria Appleton) is trying to summon Bloody Mary. She succeeds. It’s classic at first – stormy weather, candles blowing out, whispers, and momentary misdirection. The appearance of Bloody Mary herself is a new one, though. And that ending shot? I’m picking up what you’re throwing down, sir. Another of Magaña’s trademarks comes through – playing the classics with his own horrifically funny sense of humor, a little mischievous grin and a wink.

So, after two new shorts that clearly demonstrate the man’s eye for horror, it’s time to see more. Perhaps a revisit of another story with legs like The Smiling Woman or Outbreak? Or perhaps it’ll be something completely original? It’s not like we haven’t all had time to think up some new ideas in the maddening isolation of the last year.

Your move, Magaña.

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Bloody Mary:
Gift Wrapped:


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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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