Top positive review
Lost Films - an uneven, but still amazing anthology
Reviewed in the United States on September 24, 2021
Lather of Flies by Brian Evenson - 5/5
A film student becomes obsessed with tracking down an obscure film. Evenson’s story maintains a creepy mood throughout. The story has that whole nightmare logic feel to it, where events happen in sequence but somehow things just don’t make one hundred percent sense. The ending is great.
The Church In The Mountains by Gemma Files - 5/5
A young woman with strange memories tries to write them down. She’s not sure if it’s a memory something she saw on tv a long time ago, or just something she dreamed up. This is definitely the standout tale in this anthology. The way Files writes is amazing. That fourth wall obliterating ending is amazing.
Daddy’s In A Snuff Film by Kelby Losack - 3/5
I liked that the progress of the story was structured like a VHS tape being rewound and fast-forwarded, but the ending just didn’t work for me. The concept of a weird surveillance video driving all the action is promising. The ending didn’t seem connected to the story at all. It was surprising not in a “I did not see that coming” way, but more like it came from a completely different story.
In A Gadda Da Vida On 8-Track by Bob Pastorella - 4/5
A story inspired by the real-life Budd Dwyer incident, this tale uses a VHS recording as the source of unnatural obsession and destruction. While I liked Pastorella’s writing, I thought the characters felt just a little underdeveloped. If you like found footage movies (like the Ring franchise for example), you’ll love this. Plus, you have to admit that the title is amazing.
A Festival Of Fiends by Brian Asman - 1/5
The whole premise (killers meeting in a remote location to screen films of their murders for a competition) is SO promising. The thing that doesn’t work is the writing style, it just feels very clunky to me. Almost every single character is given one defining characteristic and that is repeated over and over again to the audience (like one character having greasy hair, one having bad body odor, another one described as fat).
I Hate All That Is Mine by Leigh Harlen - 3/5
Centers around an amateur film maker, who has made a creepy short that has an effect on everyone who watches it (people see it once, and are compelled to watch it again and again). The story is great up until the very end. Without spoiling too much, I feel like the cliffhanger style ending was intended to be clever, but just felt unfinished.
The Thing in The Side Room by Dustin Katz - 1/5
A small group of YouTubers film their pranks, and use that for online exposure and fame. As the small company gets more successful, the pranks escalate. Except for some minor characters, no one in this story was likeable. Like in Kelby Losack’s story, I felt that the ending came out of nowhere and did not fit with the rest of the story. It’s like the author gave up at the end.
The Cosmic Atrocity by Andrew Novak - 3/5
A little boy sees a strange clown near his school playground, and becomes obsessed with telling this story to his friends, teachers, and parents. No one seems to believe him. This started out as a standard ‘no one believes a young kid when he sees creepy stuff’ story, but evolved to something more in scope. The escalation of events seemed uneven, with the last few paragraphs not matching the slow burn pace earlier.
Elephants That Aren’t by Betty Rocksteady - 5/5
A young artist is struggling with creating work that would match that of her mother. She compares herself to others in her art class, and is told she should find inspiration from within herself. Lines between dreams and reality blur, and…. well, don’t want to spoil that ending. I loved Rocksteady’s writing in this, it really keeps you reading to find out more.
Archibald Leech, The Many Storied Man by John C Foster - 1/5
A man gets sent to investigate strange goings on in a little town in the middle of nowhere. The closer he gets to the destination, the stranger his surroundings get (both the weather patterns and the people seem unnatural to him somehow). This felt a little like a detective noir movie mashed together with some cosmic horror, and I really wanted to like it. The ending was abrupt, like in a couple other stories in this anthology. That didn’t surprise or shock me as a reader, but felt more like the writer just stopped the story in a random place.
Teeth and Teeth and Teeth by Ashlee Scheuerman – 3/5
This story is structured around odd things seen on surveillance feeds, and focuses on a security guard who becomes more and more unnerved at what is happening around him. The end was a little disappointing (the build up to it was greater than the end result), and I thought the story would be more effective if it was just a little shorter (some sections felt like they dragged on).
Ghost Mapping by Eugenia Triantafyllou – 5/5
A story about loss and missed possibilities. And ghosts. I could say so much more, but really don’t want to spoil this for other readers. I was surprised by how much I loved this odd little story with its dreamlike writing.
The Fourth Wall by Kev Harrison – 4/5
Injuries start to cross over into the real world, and a cam girl tries desperately to understand what is going on. This story has a neat little mystery at the start, but I felt a little let down by the ending. Yes, it made sense within the context of what was happening, but it was so cliché! Plus, the title of the story is misleading. There is no fourth wall shattering in here.
Don’t Turn Around by Thomas Joyce – 4/5
A trio of amateur ghost hunters enter a creepy sanatorium (is there any other kind?), and quickly find themselves trapped. I liked this, and the humor was balanced well with the creepy stuff. Have to mention though, that this had a scene towards the end that was heavily inspired by one from the 1999 House on Haunted Hill movie (the part where a camcorder catches a ghostly operation).
Things She Left In The Woods by Jessica McHugh – 3/5
A lost boy, a failed search party. Two bickering siblings enter the wintry woods to try and find the child.
This had a very creepy atmosphere and used an urban legend to build tension between characters. I was kind of disappointed in the ending, which wasn’t very creepy to me (it just didn’t match the rest of the story in terms of scares).
Stag by Kristi Demeester – 5/5
A story of a girl obsessed with a mounted deer head in her family’s old house. The writing and world building in this is amazing, and there are some disturbing moments as the girl’s obsessiveness grows and grows. This was great, and the weird ending really worked.
Famous Last Words by Izzy Lee – 3/5
Told in reverse, this story feels like a mix of Blair Witch and The Descent. It’s about two film makers who go into a forest for some location scouting, and find something they didn’t expect. I think it could have been more effective with the scares if it was a little shorter. Some parts ran longer than they needed to be.
The Fabulous And Tormented Life Of A Serial Extra by Chad Stroup – 4/5
A man becomes obsessed with an extra in a movie, and starts to notice this strange man in the background of many other films. This story was very well written and there were plenty of fourth wall breaking moments. The ending was confusing, and I had no idea what actually happened to the main character.
The Fantastic Flying Eraser Heads by David James Keaton – 5/5
Two bored store clerks. A strange VHS tape. They start to slowly notice that memories are changing, events being rewritten. This was a heck of a way to close out the anthology. This is the strangest love letter to video stores, retro technology, and other such sources of nostalgia.