Chilling Visions: 5 Senses Of Fear is, as the title implies, a collection of five short films made by five separate filmmakers, each one tackling one of the human body's five senses. It's an interesting idea and like all anthology style films, some entries work better than others, but overall, yeah, this is a solid slice of horror storytelling that shows off some creative ideas rather nicely.
Here's how it all plays out:
Smell: Directed by Nick Everhart, this segment tells the story of a man named Seth Kyle, a man whose live has taken some unfortunate turns as of late. Not only has his wife recently had enough and split for greener pastures but things at work seem to be on a consistently downward spiral. Seth's life takes a strange turn when an unnamed woman in a pink dress he assumes is a door to door salesperson shows up on his step and offers him what she calls and the packaging touts as ‘a scent to die for.' He goes for it, she offers him a free sample and after trying this cologne out, he can't help but notice a rapid change in the way his life has been headed. He's getting all the attention he could want at this point and things instantly start to look up. Of course, the cost for the scent is something he hadn't counted on, and when that bill comes due, Seth is going to realize that everything in life has a catch. This is twisted and humorous, well acted and nicely shot. A great way to start the collection off and a strong entry overall. Some nice gooey effects work this too.
See: Mike Hughes' directorial offering tells the tale of an aging optometrist who invents a type of virtual reality device that he uses to explore the visions experienced by the patients that he treats. He is literally able to harness their visions in liquid form and apply them with eyedroppers. As he's unhappy with his own reality, he uses these visions to change various situations. He uses the visions of a female patient to show her abusive boyfriend how horrible he is for doing what he does. As he goes further and further with this, he winds up essentially overdosing on the horrible things that he sees and learns the hard way that the cost of his experiments may very well be his own sanity. The guy who plays the abusive boyfriend steals the show here and Hughes' is due some credit for using some interesting visuals to get the story across. The ending is a little on the predictable side, but it's fun getting there.
Touch: Director Emily Hagins offers up this story that revolves around a blind twelve year old boy named Harry who winds up alone and afraid in an area he doesn't know after a nasty car accident severely wounds his parents. Their cell phone is broken in the accident, they are entirely alone. Completely unaware that there's a serial killer operating in the area, he wanders around looking for help and can use only his sense of touch to guide himself. He winds up at an abandoned hotel that the killer uses as his base of operations. The killer, however, is hungry for blood and sees in the boy an easy target. This short is quite clever and while often times a child actor can easily ruin a horror film, the kid who leads this short is very believable in the role and it is quite easy to sympathize with him. Hagins does a good job of putting us in his shoes and again, some interesting visual style works quite well in another solid entry.
Taste: Eric England directs this fourth story that explores the possibilities that arise when a computer hacker who had previously stayed out of the spotlight for obvious reasons goes for a job interview for a position in what seems at first to be a typical corporation. He arrives, clad in a hoodie and jeans and surrounded by suits, but he's unsure why he was invited here. Of course, there's nothing typical about it and he learns this when he meets the woman in charge and discovers that he just might be the main course on the menu. This one does take a little while to get going but it builds nicely to an appropriately grisly conclusion. It also makes some interesting allegorical observations about the green inherent in large corporations and the way in which they tend to do business. Again, some effective black humor helps to entertain and the performances are solid. By the time this one is over it proves to be hands down the goriest entry in the anthology.
Last but not least we have this final story co-directed by Jesse Holland and Andy Mitton. Here a group of tightly knit friends decides to explore the true story behind an urban legend relating to a song lost to the sands of time. As they research and discover recordings previously thought lost, they start to piece the song together but once they've finally reconstructed it, they realize that there was a very good reason for it having been hidden away for all these years. This one is done ‘found footage' style and makes good use of some black and white fullframe ‘security camera' type of visuals. This could have run considerably longer and been more effective, it feels like the short story format here doesn't quite give the crew as much time as they really needed to fully flesh things out, but what's here is good and the acting is solid.
Originally broadcast on the Chiller cable TV network, Chilling Visions: 5 Senses Of Fear is a pretty decent collection of shorts made by some up and coming filmmakers and indy horror vets. There's enough gore here to satisfy most horror fans in search of some cheap thrills but so too are there some excellent examples of legitimate tension and atmosphere. The acting is generally pretty solid and the production values decent as well, particularly when you consider that this was made for cable TV and made very quickly at that. There's some gloss and polish evident as well as some solid technical skills on display, which means that these wind up being well edited and well shot but at the same time the shorts are able to maintain a solid sense of dread. Some twisted black humor works its way into each of the stories, and there is a connecting thread that runs through all of them, which is a nice touch. Putting some more work into the finish might have helped make the ending seem less sudden, but al in all this is a strong horror anthology worth checking out.
Chilling Visions: 5 Senses Of Fear arrives on Blu-ray from Shout! Factory in AVC encoded 1080p high definition framed at 1.78.1 and for the most part it looks quite good. The clarity and detail in the picture is generally pretty strong. There are some spots where some soft focus is used for dramatic effect and obviously these aren't as sharp as the rest of the material but that isn't a fault, more of an observation. Color reproduction is good, even if things lean towards a darker palette here. Skin tones look lifelike, there's no noise reduction or weird filtering going on. You might spot some minor shimmer here and there but overall, this is quite a nice looking image.
The English language audio is offered up in your choice of DTS-HD Master Audio 2.0 Stereo or a slightly more engrossing DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 mix. There isn't a whole lot of rear channel activity here but the clarity you'd want is definitely there. There's nice depth and range to the audio that offers up clear dialogue and properly balanced levels. There aren't any issues with any hiss or distortion and all in all, the audio shapes up well. Optional subtitles are provided in English.
Extras are slim but we do get a deleted scene from Small that runs just short of a minute and a few teaser spots and trailer. Menus and chapter stops are included as well, of course.
Chilling Visions: 5 Senses Of Fear should appeal to those with a taste for quirky, spooky short films. The format dictates that we can't get the sort of character development that makes better feature length material more engrossing but these are quick, to the point, and spooky enough to make for fine entertainment. Shout! Factory's Blu-ray release is short on extras but it looks and sounds pretty decent. There's a lot to like about this release. Recommended.
Ian lives in NYC with his wife where he writes for DVD Talk, runs Rock! Shock! Pop!. He likes NYC a lot, even if it is expensive and loud.