Directed by Nathan Crooker, Mia Kate Russell, Lorcan Finnegan, Adam O’Brien, Carlos Goitia, Ryan J. Thompson and David M. Night Maire, and written by Taz Pereyra and Camilo Zaffora. A late-night radio DJ with a program where people call to tell her real horror stories, soon will find out how far an obsessed fan is willing to go. Starring: Paula Brasca, Agustin Olcese, Valeria San Martin, Michael Lorz, Sean Weil, Nancy Nagrant, Pooya Mohseni, Robert Eletto, Marie Ruane and Tom Vaughan-Lawlor.
Horror is the perfect genre when creating an anthology because you can put together so many different styles and still have it make sense in the bigger picture. For the most part, and in a structural sense, Nightmare Radio: The Night Stalker does a good job of that, the tone across the whole film feels in sync and the different pieces are individual but also work together. However, in the larger sense, there’s a lot of inconsistency with the length of the different shorts, it’s not expected for them all to take up the same space but having some be much longer than others makes it feel uneven. It also adds an unsatisfying note to those that play out much more quickly, only some having decent resolutions.
As with most anthologies, some are stronger than others and the standout film is unsurprisingly from Lorcan Finnegan. However, what is surprising is that it’s actually a short of Finnegan’s which was made in 2011 and has been available to watch on his YouTube channel for the past three years, making its inclusion feel slightly suspicious. Coming in behind that is Nathan Crooker’s ‘Playback’, it’s unfortunately much shorter than hoped but it has a great concept and plays out confidently and with good horror notes. Adam O’Brien’s ‘Insane’ feels like another good example of a beloved horror format, combining a dark past, haunting and violence but it’s also extremely familiar.
All of that said, there’s one glaringly unforgivable issue with this film which is contained within the titular ‘The Night Stalker’ short from Carlos Goitia, which also serves as a narrator of sorts. The narrator concept works, to have it almost set up as a series of spooky tales being broadcast by a host with a taste for the bloody. However, when it reveals its underlying story of a vengeful man, having had his advances spurned despite buying a woman a drink, it speaks to an awful unawareness and insensitivity. It’s absolutely tasteless to take a genuine danger that women face on a daily basis and turn it into a cheap shock tactic for a horror film. It’s disgusting that women have to be wary of a minefield of issues that could set off unhinged men, a problem that has resulted in the deaths of countless women. So to use it as a tawdry setup for a poorly written and executed short film, speaks to a complete lack of social consciousness.
Nightmare Radio: The Night Stalker completely undermines anything it could have to offer by including a short that’s genuinely insulting to women. To be so woefully unaware of the dangers that women face on a daily basis in this day and age is not acceptable, maybe in a 1970s slasher flick but filmmakers should know better today. It colours the entire experience of the film and writes off any good qualities that the other shorts could bring to the table.