Mike’s Review: The Isolation Horrors (2020)

★★★★ out of ★★★★★

Directed by Nicolai Kornum, Emma Dark, Richard Markworth, Martin Daniels, and John Whitaker.

More often than not the horror story teller is beset with complex stories, radical exposition, and meandering narrative. The horror fan and the horror filmmaker so desperately want to hear and tell a compelling and multi-layered story. But as we all know too well, these stories are overtaken by this well-meaning desire and evolve in to a product so complex that they forget their intended purpose — the SCARES!

The prescient and timely The Isolation Horrors is superbly aware of this exposition trap and manages to create an exquisite economy of horror story telling. The rule for this pandemic/isolation anthology was hyper-simple: Stay at home, shoot your film on a mobile device, and make it scary. This five-part horror short anthology — clocking in at 25 minutes — succeeds with much aplomb.

The Isolation Horrors is woven together with a clever, small, and convenient device — a face mask. Nicolai (Nicolai Kornum), the narrator for the tales, wanders outside of his home and discoverers a face mask drenched in blood, mucous, and undetermined human pieces and parts. Somewhat concerned, he returns home with face mask in hand and begins to call his neighbors and friends to make sure that they’re coping with the emerging pandemic. Using the technological parlance of the day, video chat, Nicolai begins to make the virtual rounds checking in on each of his acquaintances. This coy device allows for a spooky handoff where each person is able to tell their sickening story.

Goryo is a Faces of Death-like cautionary tale is told by Emma (Emma Dark) who sees the news of a Japanese pop star who’s recently succumbed to the disease. Someone sends Emma a video of the last breaths taken by the pop star, but warns her not to watch the video. Does she watch? Of course she does!

Across the Landing, the funniest of the bunch, follows Richard (Richard Markworth) who decides to record a video diary of himself contending with the pandemic. As he wanders through the recesses of his mind he becomes increasingly perturbed with his neighbor who is clearly not obeying the Stay at Home orders. Should he take matters in his own hands? Of course he should!

Anomalous gets at the weird heart of any pandemic worth its salt — how much toilet paper is too much. John (John Whitaker) apparently can’t stay at home. He. NEEDS. TOILET. PAPER! This is his psychological currency and he won’t be stopped from acquiring it. Does he end up obtaining enough? Of course he does!

Ghosting Isolation is a spooky tale the depicts the paranormal happenings that unfold when Martin’s dad (Martin Daniels) lights a candle and lets the ghouls out to play. Vaguely wiccan, vaguely satanic, all frightening. Does he really see ghosts? Of course he does!

As we’ve all come to learn as part of this global nightmare, there are very poor choices we all make in contending with this nasty disease. Spending 25 minutes and watching The Isolation Horrors wouldn’t be one of those poor choices. If you’re a regular listener to the Scariest Things Podcast you know that 1) we love our horror shorts, and 2) we love our horror anthologies. This one’s the perfect and efficient mix of horror joy. Go wash your hands, stay at home, and if you happen to wander outside, DON’T pick up any bloody masks!

The Isolation Horrors is streaming for free on YouTube, or you can watch it right here!

ATMOSfx! Woo!
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