Fables for the Witching Hour (2023) Review
Consisting of five stories and a wraparound segment, Fables for the Witching Hour is the latest anthology film to come my way. And after watching an adaptation of De Sade’s Justine a collection of short horror stories seemed like a perfect palette cleanser.
The wraparound, written and directed by Minh Collins (Hit List, The Baka), introduces us to Lab Tech Tina (Madison Willow, Hellarious, Super Hero Last Day of School) warning us not to watch these stories alone, not to turn off the lights, etc. She’s interrupted by her co-worker Layla (Lorren Cackowski, Clown Fear) telling her she’s leaving to get ready for a date. Tina then introduces the first segment.
“The Ghost of Marilyn”, written and directed by Ahi Black (Lone Wolf Island, Broken Boy), is about a girl (Mia Leamy, Broken Boy) who’s been left home alone. Dressing up in her mother’s clothes she’s having fun until she starts finding flowers around the house and hearing voices.
Visually this is a very striking and atmospheric segment aided by atmospheric camera work by Chris Martel, an almost total lack of dialogue and the very creepy design of The Soul Collector (Kit Wade, The Lake). Unfortunately, the title makes it child’s play to figure the plot out.
The second segment, “It’s Sunny Outside”, was written and directed by Michael Robert Kessler (Dinner for Two) who also stars as Thomas, who works from home. Unfortunately, he’s not home alone and all the noise is making it very hard for him to concentrate.
This segment didn’t do much for me at all. Mostly one long ranty meltdown by Thomas, it’s neither scary nor funny and plays out about as expected. There is a cat, Mr. Whiskers, in it so it’s not totally without merit. Meanwhile, Tina, having fled her office in the last intermission is now running around the building presumably looking for the exit.
The third of the Fables for the Witching Hour, “See My Voice” is written and directed by Idelia Mars who also stars as Annie. In love with music from a young age, fate prevented her from pursuing her dream to be a singer. Now a strange woman (Farida Iskakova) may be able to change that.
A major change of tone, “See My Voice” is more of an inspirational fantasy than a horror story. Not what I was expecting, but not bad either.
Written and directed by Francis Han, “503” is the somewhat less inspiring story of Sam (Patrick Burkard, New and Forever, Relationships) a drug-addicted apartment manager who makes the mistake of stealing a rare video game, 503, from a dealer (George Ross Bridgman, Titans: The Rise of Wall Street, King Baby) at a flea market.
Fables for the Witching Hour’s final segment “The Blue Room” by Fernando Tosetti (It’s a Date, Amongst the Shadows) is about a young gamer (Corey Churchwell) whose life starts to fall apart when he begins to dream of his online gaming partner (Brooke Kayla, The Walker, Look to the Sea).
It’s an odd choice for the final story. It’s not a bad segment but it’s also not really horror. It’s more of a dark science fiction tale, but not a scary one. And a horror anthology should end on a frightening note.
Tina and Layla’s stories wrap up with a couple of surprises and that’s that.
Fables for the Witching Hour only has one weak segment, although how amusing you find the wraparound will depend heavily on your taste in humour. The other stories are, while nothing groundbreaking, fun to watch. The film’s problem is the lack of a feeling of cohesion among those stories. The segments were filmed as individual shorts and range all over the map in both subject matter and tone. A strong wraparound story might have helped, but it loses its connection to the segments after introducing the first one. And its silly tone is at odds with the segments which are all serious.
The result is a film that anthology fans should enjoy but could have been better if the stories had hung together better. Fables for the Witching Hour carries a Volume 1 subtitle, hopefully, Volume 2 will remedy that.
Fables for the Witching Hour is available on Digital Platforms, you can check the film’s Facebook page for more information.