Horror Movie Review: The Black Book (2021)

An anthology horror, The Black Book has segments written and directed by Topher Chambers, Jim Dougherty, Steven Durgarn and Joe Herbert. It stars Mark A. Nash, Emmanuel Carter, Heidi Harian, Heather Chambers and Ari Lehman.

The wrap around story surrounds a book store, one that appears to have sprung up out of nowhere, and an unusual book. One that the owner swears is incredibly rare and cursed. Before selling it to a customer, he implores the man to not read it.

Of course, the new owner of the book ignores this warning, going home and settling in for a good old read. It’s these stories that we will now experience. A collection of uninspired and unexciting shorts.

The first is Date Night and is set some time in the 1950s. A young couple parked in the woods hear a noise outside. The boy decides to go take a look, ignoring the stories of dangerous animals that are said to live in the woods. When he doesn’t come back, the girl decides to follow him. A yawn-inducing story that barely gets going and then abruptly ends with a twist ending that is far from earned.

The second story is an improvement and certainly shows how an imaginative idea doesn’t need to be held down by a low budget.

Called Sorcerer’s Finger, three young girls sneak into an abandoned warehouse and come across a gang interrogation. One man, tied to a chair, is being brutally beaten in an attempt to give up the identity of a hitman simply known as ‘The Sorcerer’. Yet, no matter the punishment dished out on this man, he refuses to tell them anything. In fact, he starts to find it quite funny.

While hardly scary or horrifying, this story plays out well and keeps the interest up by not taking too long to get to the point. The ‘twist’ is predictable but still enjoyable.

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Up next is The Woods, a wholly forgettable ghost story set within the Louisiana bayou. Followed then by Give Up the Ghost, one of the longer stories overall. Where a student decides to do this thesis on the existence of snuff films but gets drawn into starring in his own one after digging into the dark web a little too deeply. Here we get a story that you feel could almost work as a fully-fledged movie (albeit perhaps needing more originality).

The penultimate story is called Ocularis and begins in good fashion. A woman waking in her car, unsure of how she got there, finds out that the world has been hit by an unknown viral disease that turns its victims into wild animals. As she tries to make her way home, the story changes into an alien invasion horror.

Interesting and energetic, the tone shift of this story is a bit unnecessary but it’s still an enjoyable short. Which also applies to the finale of Man in the Mirror. A story about urban legends, in particular one that surrounds mirrors. Here, we get some the best effects.

As for the wrap-around? It’s pretty uneventful, mostly made up of the buyer of the book reading until eventually he, like the others, becomes part of the story.

The Black Book is simply an ‘alright’ anthology. A handful of shorts that feature different styles and with no connection to each other. That means it lacks flow and with the varying quality of the stories, it really fails to engage. A handful of decent shorts is not enough to make this a worthwhile watch.




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  • Carl Fisher

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The Black Book (2021)
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