Luciano Onetti and Nicolás Onetti, collectively known as The Onetti Brothers first came to wide attention in 2015 with their modern giallo Francesca. They’ve since followed it up with the TCM inspired What The Waters Left Behind and another giallo Abrakadabra.
Now they’re trying their hand at the anthology film. They provided the wraparound sequence and helped select the shorts that make up A Night of Horror: Nightmare Radio. The idea was to collect the best of the short films making the rounds and assemble them into a collection. Then bind them together in a framework of stories told by a radio DJ Rod Wilson (James Wright). As he tells his tales, he finds himself caught in his own horror story.
The idea of a DJ or their callers yelling scary stories has been used before, most notably in A Christmas Horror Story. As has an anthology made from existing shorts. Shevenge being a recent example. Where both differ from A Night of Horror: Nightmare Radio is they have a theme to unify them. Here there’s no central theme just a lot of stories of varying ideas and quality.
And they are all over the map thematically. In The Dark, Dark Woods by Jason Bognacki (Mark Of The Witch) is a tale of an invisible woman, and of female repression. Post-Mortem Mary from Joshua Long is a creepy tale of post mortem photography. Into The Mud from Pablo S. Pastor is a twist on hunting and fishing. And Matthew Richards’ The Disappearance of Willie Bingham is a tale of commercialized punishment that might have been more frightening if it wasn’t already happening in China.
I could keep going, there’s several more, but you get the idea. The bigger problem is that they vary not only in style and theme but in quality. There’s a couple in here I have to wonder how they managed to be considered, let alone selected for the film. A Night of Horror: Nightmare Radio also has a couple of stories that are nothing special, they’re just OK. And that really hurts a film like this.
A Night of Horror: Nightmare Radio, unfortunately, follows the trend of stuffing loads of very short films into its run time. The result is more weak stories and jarring tonal shifts as we go from a fun creature tale into a much darker allegory about incest and child molestation.
There are just enough really good segments to make A Night of Horror: Nightmare Radio worth a watch. Short films can be hard to see, so take the opportunity this anthology provides. But the selection process needed to be better, and the stories themselves more focused for the film to be truly successful.
A Night of Horror: Nightmare Radio just made its North American premiere at the Brooklyn Horror Film Festival. It will be playing other festivals as it looks for distribution. You can check where it will be playing on its Facebook page.