Five strangers wind up in a seemingly empty theater where
they are shown a short movie in which they are the star.
Nightmare Cinema (2018)
Directed by Mick Garris, Alejandro Brugues,
Ryuhei Kitamura, Joe Dante, David Slade
Written by Mick Garris, Alejandro Brugues, Richard Christian Matheson, Sandra Becerril, David Slade, Lawrence C. Connolly
Starring Mickey Rourke, Sarah Elizabeth Withers,
Faly Rakotohavana, Maurice Benard, Elizabeth Reaser,
Zarah Mahler, Mark Grossman
Mick Garris is no stranger to anthologies. I mean, he was the mastermind behind the Showtime series Masters of Horror. While it would only last two seasons, with a failed attempt on a major studio network, the groundwork had been laid. Get some of the biggest names in horror, both past and present, and give them the freedom to make whatever short story they wanted to make. Based off the episodes I’ve seen of his show, it worked really well. Luckily, Garris wasn’t done with the concept quite yet. As a fan of his podcast, Post Mortem, I had heard a lot about his upcoming project, Nightmare Cinema. It was being presented as the same concept, but this time it would be a movie. So, even more freedom than the show allowed. Needless to say, I was pretty excited for its release. Once I saw it was on Shudder, it was time to give it a watch.
As always, let’s begin with the wraparound. Compared to most anthologies, this was actually a really intriguing one. The idea of theater showing a horror film with you as a star and a super creepy projectionist has me actually wanting to know more. It also helps that said projectionist is played quite well by Mickey Rourke. Instead of hamming it up, he gives a delightfully creepy performance. Now, as for the stories. In a nutshell, they are all pretty good. Again, it’s common for anthologies to have a weak link, but I enjoyed all the stories here. Each displays a great balance of terror and fun. But, if I had to pick a favorite, it would be “This Way to Egress.” I won’t go into details about the plot, but know this is one of the strangest, hypnotic, and frightening shorts I’ve seen.
After seeing Nightmare Cinema, I’m glad Garris decided to keep the concept of his show alive. This was an extremely entertaining film which features stories that will simultaneously enthrall and horrify you. With Garris already talking about a sequel being in development on his podcast, I already can’t wait to see what new frights he has cooked up for us.