If you enjoy taking chances on weird and wild feature films that all-out go for it but fall a bit short, director Larry Wade Carrell’s (Girl Next) Lovecraftian outing The Quantum Devil has what you are looking for. This one feels like it is going for an insane vibe a la Stuart Gordon’s Re-Animator and From Beyond, but whereas the humor was intended with those features, here some of it may not be. Plenty of head-scratching is sure to ensue also as a group of scientists — portrayed by Tyler Tackett, Ariadna Cabrol, Brad Richards, and Tamara Radovanovic — are summoned to the residence of a mysterious host (Neil Dickson). As with any such set-up in the spirit of Agatha Christie’s classic And Then There Were None worth its salt, each of the guests has a secret to hide, and their host is quite happy to reveal them. The group attempts to break the quantum barrier, but this being a horror movie, they are destined not to be too happy with what they might find on the other side. Plenty of blood, nudity of the living and the dead, references to self-gratification, and the partaking of marijuana are on display. Completists of Lovecraftian cinema, aficionados of ambitious independent horror cinema that isn’t afraid to take chances, and those in an adventurous mood should find plenty to have fun with in The Quantum Devil.
★★★★1/2 out of ★★★★★
Directed by Frank van den Bogaart
Netherlands/Belgium coproduction Darker (Donkerster) is a superb work that masterfully combines folk horror with dark fantasy and magical realism. Rhena (Adriana Bakker) is a young girl fascinated with her father’s (Daan Stuyven) story of Atlas, a tree in the nearby forest that collects the stories of all living beings. Atlas has a heavy burden to bear, as the dying come to tell of their lives in the hopes that they will be remembered. When Rhena’s father goes into the woods at night and does not return the next morning, the girl goes against the wisdom of the other villagers and heads into the forest herself. Writer/director Frank van den Bogaart invests Darker with an eerie, brooding atmosphere and heartbreaking poignancy. Bakker gives a memorable, mesmerizing performance as a daughter who is thrust into making heavy actions and choices. Imagery ranging from the gorgeous to the gruesome are beautifully captured by cinematographer Piete Can Campe.
★★★★ out of ★★★★★
Directed by Christopher Stevens
Horror short Virgil takes a somewhat familiar set-up and explores it in a unique, entertaining manner. After the death of his father, young Jeremy (Aidan Wallace) and his mother (Jama Williamson) move into a new home of which, naturally, the boy is not fond. While exploring the attic alone, he discovers an old PC on which he begins chatting with another boy, named Virgil. Although initially friendly, Virgil’s side of the chat becomes increasingly sinister. Christopher Stevens, who cowrote the screenplay with Hunter Daniels, builds up the suspense wonderfully, delivering a chilling climax. Wallace is terrific in his starring role, and Williamson provides strong support. The initial bright exterior shots contrast well with the dark setting of the attic and the creepiness it holds.
Reviews by Joseph Perry
The Quantum Devil, Darker, and Virgil screened as part of Romford Horror Festival, which took place in Romford, U.K. from February 23–26, 2023. For more information, visit http://www.romfordhorrorfestival.com/.