New Horror Releases: Volumes of Blood: Horror Stories (2016) - Reviewed

What makes a great horror anthology? The truly great ones rise to the difficult task of presenting interesting, terrifying tales with their own unique voices. Trick’r Treat’s case, the chapters are interconnected stories that build to a larger narrative. Even pure anthologies such as Creepshow or the V/H/S series can occasionally be inconsistent but have enough great ideas that the good easily outweighs the bad. The new six-part anthology Volumes of Blood: Horror Stories aims to be included among the great, but doesn’t even manage to get close.

Volumes of Blood: Horror Stories is actually a sequel to the 2015 anthology Volumes of Blood. The original film was made up of five short films involving a single library (thus, volumes).The follow-up, Horror Stories, adds a sixth short film, and changes the theme to cursed house. At least, most of it does. The first two chapters, which turn up before the opening credits, are loosely connected to each other but not the larger house narrative. This makes things a bit disjointed and confusing to the viewer. It shouldn’t have been difficult to incorporate a house into a horror story. The audience is left to wonder if there was any attempt at a cohesive narrative or if everyone just did their own thing.

The rest of the stories, each set around a different holiday, leave quite a bit to be desired. Most of them are just messy, literally and figuratively, and the tie-ins to both their designated holiday and the larger narrative are a bit weak. The Christmas chapter has the most interesting idea of the six films, but even it seems to take its time to get going.(It’s difficult to assign blame as even in the credits, who did which chapter is never clearly stated). It speaks quite a bit to the experience (or perhaps, ability) of the filmmakers to be given about 20 minutes to make their film and not really knowing what to do with ten of them. Horror Stories is not just one horror film that’s slow to warm up, it’s six.

Damn those herpes!

The best horror anthologies present a lot of big ideas in compact packages, telling stories that can easily fill a feature length film on their own. The short films Volumes of Blood: Horror Stories seem to have a problem filling their short time with enough ideas to be interesting. It’s a lot of slow movement followed by a lot of blood, then on to the next one. Better thought-out concepts and cohesion could have, if not elevating it among the greats, at least salvaged Horror Stories into something interesting and clever. Instead what few good ideas there are get lost in the plodding pace and inconsistent narrative. These Volumes of Blood probably should have stayed closed.

Share the blood!

-Mike Stec