100 CANDLES ** New Zealand 2020 Dir: Victor Catala, Brian Deane, Oliver Lee Garland, Guillermo Lockhart, Tony Morales, Nicolas Onetti, Nicholas Peterson, Daniel Rubesam, Christopher West. 101 mins
Sitting in a circle surrounded by candles, a group of friends is forced to tell scary stories in front of a mirror in a strange room until they’ve completed a ritual involving the candles in the room. As they continue throughout the night getting closer to their quest, they start to hit a breaking point as the stories make them notice that the rules are being changed by the malevolent spirit holding them captive, and must find a way to get themselves free before succumbing to the curse attached to the game.
There are times during this anthology that works rather nicely. While not always effective, the good stories here aren’t that bad with some decent ideas, some fine special effects, and some twisted endings that aren’t quite in the same league as the best yet work nicely for the type of story here. It’s when the other segments come into play, from the overall brevity that forces so many of the segments to be under ten minutes, some lame twists in the writing that showcase some predictable outcomes, and some just plain lacking urgency since everything is so rushed there’s no time to get invested in anything. The main story is slightly better with some fine jump-scares built around an intriguing premise designed for one of these anthology films to explore. However, it starts to feel somewhat repetitive with the same thing happening in each of the segments a sit builds up In the end, this all makes for a watchable but highly problematic anthology.
Review by Don Anelli