Volumes of Blood (2015), directed by P.J. Starks, Jakob Bilinski, Nathan Thomas Milliner, John Kenneth Muir and Lee Vervoort.
Written by Todd Martin, Nathan Thomas Milliner and P.J. Starks.
Starring Roni Jonah, Jim O’Rear and Jeff Armstrong.
Followed by Volumes of Blood: Horror Stories (2016)
Volumes of Blood is a horror anthology movie featuring five short films, each helmed by a different director. The overarching story focuses on a college study group in a public library trying to create a new urban legend as part of a class project. As in just about every anthology, some of the stories were better than others, owing to variances in acting, cinematography, and screenplay. Yes, it’s a low-budget film, but that’s not where it falls short: what failed the movie was the writing. The dialogue veered from ham-handed clunkiness to over-the-top sophomoric humor, and some of the story elements were unsuccessful. Nevertheless, it’s an entertaining film, one worth your time.
The first story, A Little Pick Me Up, involves a young woman trying to write a term paper in the library despite fatigue and lack of concentration. A rather sinister-looking stranger offers her a brand-new energy drink to help her maintain focus, and you can pretty much guess what happens from there. Evoking the feeling of Tales from the Crypt if not the style, it was one of the more gruesome stories in the film, but its simplicity did it no favors and it just came off as an exercise in bad decision-making for the protagonist.
Ghastly, displayed in black and white, was a more conventional ghost story. Creepy and thoughtful, it had no dialogue but delivered some decent scares. The best story in the film.
13 After Midnight relied on an unbelievable conceit to wrap the story up, one that I won’t spoil here but made no sense whatsoever, even within the framework of a prank. In the short, a girl with the most obnoxious, unfunny boyfriend on the planet tries to study after hours in the library, and terrors ensue.
I quite liked Encyclopedia Satanica, despite the overlong opening scene and the unfortunate inability of the protagonist to run any faster than an arthritic trot. What didn’t help were lines like, “Your lies will not give you any resolution,” and “You abandoned me when I needed your embrace.” Nobody talks like that. Still, it’s a fun piece.
The movie ends with That’s a Wrap, a meta-take on the entire project. In it, angry, buffoonish director P.J. Starks storms around the Owensboro Library set, liberally dispensing abuse upon the beleaguered cast and crew of the film. This is where much of the special effects budget went, and it shows. And yes, it’s always funny when some poor guy gets called a “fartknocker” in a movie.
If you want to compete with the bigger studios, you have to produce the work. Volumes of Blood doesn’t reach greatness, but it’s a good movie with gore, frights, and a few memorable lines.