Chilling Visions: 5 States of Fear (2014)

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Chiller Films’ “Chilling Visions” is on its way to being a solid series of anthology films made up of some of the best horror voices around. While I really enjoyed “5 Senses of Fear” despite being a mixed bag, “5 States of Fear” is a noticeable step down in quality. I really like the devotion of horror tales to certain ideas of psychology and fear. I also really like giving indie filmmakers a voice with highly publicized anthology horror films, I just wish “5 States of Fear” was more well put together and coherent. It’s not a bad movie, but the producers stretch the idea so far, it’s kind of pointless continuing the gimmick by tale two.

First there’s “Ego-Death,” whatever that means, from director Brett Simmons. More coherent than “The Monkey’s Paw,” this segment is short but sweet. Centered on a man who ventures out to the desert to murder and bury a woman, he finds himself plagued by visions and voices of the woman he murdered who happens to have been his mistress. When he goes out to the desert to see if she’s really dead, he gets a surprise. Though the segment is short and could have stood for more exposition, it’s an interesting preamble. “Separation” is easily the best of the bunch and carries the spirit of something we’d likely find in a “Creepshow” reboot. Glenn McQuaid directs the tale of an elderly man named Jim who is still convinced his long passed dog is still around, and can barely keep his senses about most of the time.

Despite his long suffering daughter and son in law’s insistence that he go in to a home, Jim decides to see if he’s really losing his mind. McQuaid directs a demented and delightfully sly segment with a great surprise ending that I quite enjoyed. “Mutilation” is an attempt to inject pointless gore even if we don’t need it, as director John Poliquin directs an alleged fact based tale. Centered on a young couple Joel and Sarah heading off to visit his old camping grounds from his childhood, they step in to an infected zone that gave birth to Lyme Disease, where Sarah is convinced she has bugs under her skin and begins tearing herself to bits. It’s a dull and pointless segment that would have worked more toward states of paranoia or loss of sanity.

“Extinction” is the second best of the bunch, where a mother’s dead daughter comes back from the afterlife insisting her mom avenge her murder so her soul can rest. It’s a tragic and eerie story in the vein of “Deathdream” about how overbearing parents can sometimes be more painful than death. The finale, “Loss of Autonomy” is a mean spirited and irritating short about a feuding husband and wife news casting team. When the husband is stricken with a massive stroke rendering him paralyzed his vindictive wife begins scheming to steal his money, and make him suffer. But he has an ace up his sleeve, as his stroke mysteriously grants him psychic powers. It’s a poor book end to a mediocre anthology series. “5 States of Fear” is an inferior follow up, but I’d like to see “Chiller Films” dip back in to this pool again, as I think there’s still a great anthology to be mined from this concept.