Alex Magaña’s Weekly Tales of Terror – Easter Feast Quadruple Feature Movie Review
Written by Stuart D. Monroe
Released by ACM Films via YouTube
Written and directed by Alex Magaña
2021, Not Rated
Released on April 4th, 2021
Lyndsie Jace as Mia (Invisible Man)
Blake Eli as Jacob Miller (Invisible Man)
Jennifer Kersey as Mrs. Miller (Invisible Man)
Andrew Hughes as Invisible Man (Invisible Man)
Prathyusha as Young Woman (Smiling Woman 2)
Ariel Fullinwider as Smiling Woman (Smiling Woman 2)
Katy Ford as Sister / Babe (Selfie, Selfie 2)
Rory Ross as Brother / Villain (Selfie, Selfie 2)
Riley Introcaso as Boyfriend (Selfie 2)
Dammit, Magaña! In my last review, I said I was ready for a continuation of a previous tale like Smiling Woman. Well, ask and ye shall receive! Just in time for Zombie Jesus Day, the ACM short films library grows with another Smiling Woman short, two parts of a new nightmare entitled Selfie, and a timeless monster in The Invisible Man. With this new batch of bite-size terrors, Alex Magaña is honing his craft to razor sharpness with some of his best musical cues and atmosphere to date. He’s also adding to his bulging toolkit with the addition of the now-ubiquitous trope of the evil showing up on your phone screen when you can’t see it in the real world. It’s become a staple of modern horror filmmaking for a reason; it’s simple and effective without breaking the budget.
How’s about we dig into this slew of supernatural shorts, my little droogies?
- The Invisible Man (3:33): One of my favorite novels of supernatural horror is Anne Rivers Siddons’ The House Next Door. It eschews any semblance of the gothic in favor of a brand-new, modern home as the setting. That’s the vibe here – anonymous apartment, mundane situation, and unexpected evil that you’ll never see coming. The body count, if you will, that’s squeezed into three-and-a-half-minutes is respectable, and Blake Eli does one hell of a job being just comfortable enough with the titular Invisible Man to be downright chilling. Also, Magaña knows that children’s drawings are always disturbing. He gets it.
- Smiling Woman 2 (2:13): Yes! Yes! Yes! I went full Daniel Bryan for this one. The first Smiling Woman did something for me that is rare in my horror viewing – it gave me legit goosebumps. It’s so simple and unexplained, and we all know what they say about the fear of the unknown and unexplained. Picking up right after the events at the train station, another young woman (Prathyusha) is stalked by the entity in the yellow dress down into a parking garage. This time the entity is more aggressive; there’s no toying around here. This version of the Smiling Woman (the returning Ariel Fullinwider) is as creepy as the fiend that gave that smile to her originally, and I’m ready to see Prathyusha in that yellow dress. I have so many questions that I need answered, though. What’s the significance of the yellow dress? What is the entity in its real form? Can I learn how to text without a phone? Plain and simple, any time that you remind me of Fallen I will be 100% all-in.
- Selfie (2:53): A pretty young woman is relaxing in her apartment and texting her boyfriend. He wants to know what she’s wearing. After a quick boob adjustment, she sends him a selfie. When she inspects her handiwork to see a man standing behind her in the shadows, she’s instantly terrified. Who is that masked person behind her in the hallway that she can only see with her camera? The more unnerved she gets, the closer the villain gets. How is this possible? For that matter, why are the lights flickering? Selfie sees Magaña staying in the territory of the unexplained and making it his own. Skillful editing and smart musical cues (a place where Magaña has gotten better at nearly every turn) take a concept so base that it’s a trope and make it fantastically fun and creepy. The strong finish could close out this story on its own, but there’s more…
- Selfie 2 (2:29): Turn that camera around to see “Babe”. Remember him? He’s the boyfriend (Riley Introcaso) who’s so interested in what the pretty young lady in her comfy clothes is wearing. It turns out that his girlfriend isn’t the only one with a visitor lurking in the shadows. This is the alternate view of Selfie, and it ups the ante with some live-action camera madness that says, “To hell with the still pics; I’m getting in your grill!” The two shorts pair as a great example of how to bring the horror without showing you much of anything at all. That’s an important vertebra in the backbone of the horror genre itself. It’s also one of the hardest things to master, but Magaña seems to have it figured out. You’ll dig this pairing.
Clearly, Alex Magaña is building a mythology in the same many fiction writers crank out the short stories for that eventual collection. The difference is that he’s much more than a short film guy; that’s merely a launching pad for a writer/director that I’ve come to really believe in. One of the cool things about this reviewer/critic gig is watching the emergence of names that you know are on their way up. Alex Magaña is definitely on his way up.
Now if you’ll excuse me, I must send some scantily clad selfies to my significant other. I’m going to need you to stop looking over my damn shoulder, ya’ creepy bastard.
|The Invisible Man:
Smiling Woman 2
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