Directed by: #MeoshaBean
Written by: #MeoshaBean
M.V.B Films Horror Anthology Vol. III Paranormal is a horror anthology featuring six short films that each explore the paranormal. These range from three minute shorts to the final film coming in at just under twenty minutes, almost half of the anthology's runtime. All written, directed and produced by Meosha Bean - even starring, in one case - they attempt to tell concise yet chilling scary stories. Unfortunately, they mostly miss the mark.
Take, for example, the second short film. Set in a radio station, we meet a cheesy and energetic presenter who is holding a competition, played convincingly by Lou Pizarro. His first caller breathes heavily down the phone; his second is a clueless elderly lady who gets the answer completely wrong. After this, the original caller is back on the line and this time he manages to wheeze out a grunted plea for the prize tickets. Dismissing it as a prank call and shutting down operations for the day, he heads out only to come face to face with this mystery caller.
While it's hardly an original idea, the 'heavy breathing' trope proving difficult to ignore, it is still a fun and engaging setup. It's what transpires after this that sees the early promise quickly slip away as the film refuses to delve any further into the narrative and instead opts for a jump scare to conclude. On top of this, this particular segment was originally a short film of its own, titled 'Crazed' and, confusingly, the opening credits and title from when it stood alone are still in place in the anthology. An oversight like this feels careless and leaves a bad taste moving forward.
Following this is a short that centres on an unnamed woman as she awakens in the country and stumbles home. Everything on screen here is gorgeous, from the light blue whimsical costume to the wonderful lighting that creates a surreal atmosphere with a very soft focus and bloom effect. As she gets home, the dream turns to a nightmare and this is where the anthology's most effective scare comes in. Rather than choosing to get a jump out of the audience, Bean obscures the threat by not allowing the camera to focus on it and taking it out of shot almost as soon as it appears. Without a doubt, this is the best looking and most effective short in the anthology.
The final and longest segment, however, is the weakest. Taking up almost half of the overall runtime, it features a paranormal investigator as she goes on vacation to a friend's house. However, it soon becomes clear that her expertise are required here too. From audio that isn't mixed well, resulting in muffled dialogue, to the dialogue itself seeming unscripted and meandering, there's very little engaging here. At one point, the film switches to a found footage style for a moment before completely dropping that device - though not without creating a continuity error in the inconsistent 'recording times' shown in the two shots that it's used. Concluding in an almost identical and equally unsatisfying way to 'Crazed', the twenty minute runtime of this one feels completely unjustified.
Overall, M.V.B Films Horror Anthology Vol. III is disappointing. Featuring a few good ideas and one genuinely scary short, it often feels that the premises, imagery and sounds are used for the sake of stereotypical scares, rather than for any narrative reason. Bean frequently opts for the easiest conclusion rather than an interesting one and, as such, while there are moments of originality and engaging story-telling, the whole thing doesn't feel cohesive or satisfying.