Like most anthologies, not every segment works in Skeletons in the Closet, but there's a lot to enjoy. The first scene involves a mother and her daughter staying at grandmas house for a few nights. The grandma (played fantastically by Leigh Rose) is an angry, wicked woman, dressed from neck to toe in black, and swatting the hand of little Kacey when she reaches for the cookie jar. There's a dark past between the elder mother and her daughter, revealed in flashbacks, and as most horror stories go, the dark past lurks in the night, waiting to get the innocent child. The direction from Tony Wash delivers great use of an old haunted house, and makeup that got me to jump. It was my favorite part of Skeletons in the Closet by far.
Cut in between segments, are various stylish injections to break up the scares, keeping the allure of watching an 80's television show. We go back to The Widow and Charlie, which includes plenty of laughs, as he's planted in his seat with his ghastly skeleton face, the makeup is quite fantastic, followed by breaking news from channel 13, and multiple moments of static. If Skeletons in the Closet has any issues, it would be the lack of confidence in the complete narrative to not use tricks like static and VHS tuning to interrupt the action. Skeletons in the Closet is fantastic fun, I just wish the directors stayed confident in their work.
Other segments round up the action, one involving a woman with bloody dreams that are blurred between reality, a breaking report about a man that broke out of a mental institute- very Halloween-like, and the final segment involves a pair of thieves escaping a mysterious killer that stalks them in a junk yard. There is a nice cohesive connection between each section because directors B.A. Lewandowski, Tony Wash, and Robert Patrick Stern have an affection for the genre and merge their styles to make a solid anthology.
Skeletons in the Closet is one of the biggest surprises of 2018. This predominantly Chicago-based production, is bursting with fantastic make-up, plenty of scares, an appreciation for 80's horror, and a perfectly cast film. I especially enjoyed the performances by Elizabeth Stenholt as the preoccupied babysitter, Leigh Rose's extremely disturbing grandmother, and Ellie Church's energetic host- The Widow. Skeletons in the Closet is a great reminder that horror movies come with all kinds of budgets. It's just a matter of what you do with the bones you got. Skeletons in the Closet is a bloody good time at the movies.
Written by: Leo Brady
MOVIE: SKELETONS IN THE CLOSET
STARRING: ELLIE CHURCH; ADAM MICHAELS; LEIGH ROSE; ALAINA KARNER; ELIZABETH STENHOLT
DIRECTED BY: B.A. LEWANDOWSKI; TONY WASH; ROBERT PATRICK STERN
AMovieGuy.com's RATING: 3 STARS (out of 4)
As far as horror films go, it is the perfect genre for independent films to capture an audience. No matter the budget, they know what they love, and if a film hits the right notes, it is a scream for everyone involved. Take the newest anthology film, Skeletons in the Closet- opening this weekend at the Davis Theater- which is a micro-budget film, paying homage to horror anthologies such as Creepshow or Body Bags, while doing it's own thing. I'm not blowing smoke when I say this, horror fans will love Skeletons in the Closet. It's a nesting doll film, set in the 80's, with young Jamie and babysitter Tina watching a Svengoolie-style TV show, hosted by an Elvira-type character known as The Widow (Ellie Church) along with her dead skeleton husband Charlie (Adam Michaels). Each weekend they present a “classic horror flick” and this week it's an anthology film called "Chop Shop". Skeletons in the Closet bounces back and forth between each various short film, with varying themes, including a haunted car lot, a disturbing visit to grandmas house, and a man loose from the psych ward. It all bundles up into a horrific-ly good time.