In this horror anthology, producers Tim League and Ant Timpson (The ABCs of Death) selected eight filmmakers to adapt lore to the screen. They’ve chosen well. Pared to 8 films from The ABC’s 26, Field Guide To Evil flaunts a curated horror index of considered inertia, or mania, depending.
These lengthier slabs make films like it’s opener The Sinful Women Of Höllfall viable. Directed by Goodnight Mommy duo Severin Fiala and Veronika Franz, the film’s allowed time to stretch and play with. A romance has time for mystery, anxiety, and firey release -- the serenity of its forest time to map into our heads. Length lends weight to the cause & effect morality of myth, the inexorable tragedy that must heed its way, and the horror that must spite its sinner.
Which isn’t to say you can see where these stories will go. Often times you won’t, this is a distinct lot. It’s redundant to call an anthology like this uneven. The Field Guide To Evil has an assortment of different modes, moods, and intents to try on you -- and some are bound to affect you more or less than others. That’s part of the experience. But you can count on Field Guide’s assortment to be venerably constructed across the board.
That's because you can count on these directors. Agnieszka Smoczynska of The Lure! Peter Strickland of Berberian Sound Studio! Can Evrenol of Housewife! Calvin Reeder of The Rambler! Katrin Gebbe of Nothing Bad Can Happen! Even Ashim Ahluwalia and Yannis Veslemes, regrettably unfamiliar to me prior, produced two of the film’s greatest segments (The Palace Of Horrors, Whatever Happened to Panagas The Pagan?).
Whatever Happened To Panagas The Pagan (Yannis Veslemes) has something akin to Hard To Be A God but with grittier camera movement, Christmas, booze, and trolls.
The Palace Of Horrors (Ashim Ahluwalia) utilizes historical stills, black & white photography, and diary-like narration, to bring textbook authenticity to the oddities that lay in wait.
Al Karisi, The Childbirth Djinn (Can Evrenol) stars a pregnant mother, who looks all of about 12 years old, tasked with tending to her baby, bed-ridden grandma, and Childbirth demons.
A Nocturnal Breath (Katrin Gebbe) plays with the mechanic of a mouse demon that swaps between human hosts, a brother and a sister.
Beware The Melonheads (Calvin Reed) represents America proper with something almost parodic, with a myth about big headed kid cannibals stalking hiking trails.
The Kindler And The Virgin (Agnieszka Smoczynska), tasks a man with eating three hearts of the freshly dead in whole.
And Cobbler’s Lot, my favorite, sees Strickland infusing his fetishism, this time of the most classic kind (feet), into the structure of a silent film.
You probably haven’t seen an anthology like this. This consistently well made. This considered.