Taste of Phobia (2017)
Directed by: Alessandro Giordani, Chris Milewski, Lorenzo Zanoni
Written by: Andrea Cavaletto, Michael J. Epstein, Sophia Cacciola
Starring: Giulio Pampiglione, Lianne O'Shea, Mark Thompson-Ashworth Mark Thompson-Ashworth
UK Release Date – TBC
More information via Artsploitation Films
There are a couple of ways I could start this write up for what is yet another horror anthology. One would be to say that fourteen short stories is a little more than a taste. Perhaps more a buffet of phobia? It’s only a title I suppose. Selection Box of Scary Stuff doesn’t have the same ring to it admittedly, though I always push for more alliteration whenever possible. The second approach would be to simply to go for the jugular and point out a credit noting that this is a ‘collaboration with Trash Films’. Of course even I would never be so ruthless. Well not often anyway.
There’s a lot to wade through here in a fairly densely packed ninety minutes, all vaguely linked by a channel hopping girl watching television. At least I think that’s what they’re going for. But to simply list every story here would be cruel and unusual so I’ll try and describe things in a more brisk fashion. The stories compiled range between bad, dull and just kind of lacklustre. I’m afraid that there are barely any standout moments at all and even the best segments are still disappointing. I wonder what the fear of being let down while watching new VOD horror movies is called?
There are a couple of interesting ideas present at least. My top pick here is Astrophobia, a fear of stars or the universe at large I suppose. Being anxious by thinking too much about the scale of outer space itself is kind of eerie in concept, and this looks the best in terms of cinematography. Of course they bungle the conclusion by trying to make it scarier… which means adding a dumb shock scene at the end. Similarly Chaetophobia (fear of hair) looks pretty good as the camera glides around a sinister man meticulously shaving his body before trying to do the same to a girl he’s got tied up in the basement. Strangely he still has eyebrows.
But attention to detail isn’t a strong point of any of these shorts. They might try and include classical music and steal shots from the likes of Tenebrae but there’s no real sense of style. A few of them have nice practical gore effects but a lot of the time it’s try-hard in all the wrong ways. Mysophobia has a man afraid of germs hiding in a plastic covered room. But it’s a public hotel where numerous guests have visited, not a sealed apartment He drinks alcohol to clean his insides out, but he doesn’t ever wear a simple paper mask. Then he tries cutting his skin off… which would obviously cause infection not prevent it. As another reviewer once said; I haven’t rolled my eyes this much since that demonic possession.
The story about the fear of cooking does at least have a sense of humour and includes a talking fish lecturing a woman about her choice of meal. It’s clearly a plastic toy (the kind that sings) but it’s harmless and has some visual flair even if the comic panels used are a mystery in the context of all these others stories. Nobody else tried to mimic Creepshow at all (which is a shame). But at least it’s brief and light hearted. Some of these chapters feel far too long, much like the film itself. They have a hard time generally getting the length right, with some being so brief it’s confusing why they’re here while others drag things out.
Some of the tales don’t quite fit with their titles either with a fear of the dark feeling like a ghost story. Even more confusing is the ‘fear of mazes’ which actually ends up being a kidnapped by red-necks story. Later the fear of dreams is just a random skit about a mental breakdown. In fact a lot of them feel like this, weird things happen and weird people act out. The worst offender here is Coprophobia… fear of faeces. If you want to see a fully naked man smear a variety of human bodily fluids all over himself this is the place to be. It’s very early on in the running time and the film never really recovers from it.
Generally speaking this is kind of an exhausting feature and it lacks anything but the most fleeting glimpses of entertainment value. I’d have thought the fear of things like spiders, insects or heights were common enough to make a few simple stories about. But I guess nobody else thought of that out of fourteen different film makers. Some of them just wanted to do their own thing and label it as a phobia after it was finished I guess (the fear of ageing is a body swap story for some reason). Ultimately this all feels like a series of half hearted and re-purposed ideas, which means I can’t give it any kind of recommendation. Unless you need curing Somniphobia…