Anthology movies have always been associated with the horror genre. Instead of a film focusing on a single story, anthology movies have anywhere from three to five different stories that focus on allegory and metaphorical themes. When you think of horror anthology movies, the titles that pop into your head include Creepshow, Trilogy of Terror, Trick R’ Treat, etc. Each of those films have monsters that represent a theme in the story they are in. What if there was an anthology movie that had various stories that dealt with one concept? Writer/Director John Dabach along with collaborators Tom Colley, Danny Issacs and Rob Margolies have made a new film that deals with the inevitable outcome for human begins, which is death along with the unanswered question of is there life after death.
Immortal features four stories that focus on specific individuals who find themselves in realistic scenarios that result in their deaths only to be mysteriously brought back to life and ending in a surprise twist. Dabach wrote all four stories and directed one of them while Coley, Issacs and Margolies were each assigned a story to give their visual interpretation that flowed with the concept of the film. Each story shows how fragile we as humans are and how our temptations and actions have a consequential effect.
The titles of each story are based on the main character or characters that its centered on. The first story titled “Chelsea,” stars Lindsay Mushett as a high school track star who finds herself in a predicament involving her coach. This catches the attention of her literature teacher, Mr. Shagis played by veteran actor Dylan Baker. Shagis sits with Chelsea after class to lend a sympathetic ear to what is going on and offers to help her resolve her issue. As Chelsea walks to the car after school, she is shot in the neck by a tranquilizer dart and collapses only to wake up in the woods with Shagis appearing in front of her wearing camouflage and carrying hunting equipment as he seems to take a liking to her for his own amusement. Rob Margolies directed this story which features great performances from its two leads with Mushett being the cautious girl whom warms up to her teacher as someone she can trust while Baker plays a likeable character on the outside, but there’s something about him you can’t quite put your finger on until you see what happens next. I felt that the story needed to be fleshed out more. The impression that I got was Baker’s character was trying to teach Chelsea a lesson on how to be strong and surviving in the real world. The story ends on a humorous cliffhanger.
The next story in Immortal deals with “Gary and Vanessa.” Gary (Brett Edwards) is not only dealing with a potential bankruptcy, but he is going to be a father as his wife Vanessa (Agnes Bruckner) is nearly due with their son. Gary comes up with a scheme to make sure Vanessa and the baby will be financially secure. Of course, the scheme does not go as planned. Danny Issacs takes the helm of this story which features a strong performance from Bruckner as the concerned wife and features a guest appearance from well known actor/writer/director Mario Van Peebles as a cable guy. While the story starts out sappy it quickly turns a one eighty which has horrific consequences at the end due to the greedy nature of the characters that you could see it as an act of karma. Isaacs delivers without a doubt the most gruesome story in this film.
The third story, which is the heart and soul of the film involves “Ted and Mary.” A TV crew interviews Ted (Tony Todd) and Mary (Robin Bartlett). Mary is dealing with terminal cancer and only has hours to live. Ted and Mary talk about their life together and how has Ted prepared for the inevitable. After the interview, Ted plans on ending Mary’s suffering by assisting her in a slow suicide. This story is the centerpiece of the film and is filled with emotionally driven performances from the legendary Tony Todd and Robin Bartlett that are deemed Oscar worthy. Obviously, horror fans know Todd as the iconic Candyman, but he has played a diverse range of characters throughout his career and this is his finest performance to date. You shed a tear for him and his wife as you see the life drained out of both and how will they cope with being apart. All the credit goes to Tom Colley for creating a focused piece that has the most unexpected twist at the end which made me shed a few tears.
The finale of Immortal titled “Warren” is perhaps the most horror themed story in the film. Warren (Sam Levine) dies due to a hit and run accident only to emerge moments later as being alive despite breaking his necks along with a few other bones. After cutting his finger with a knife only for the would quickly heal, he does one final test to determine if he is indeed everlasting. After passing the test, he seeks revenge on the woman that ran him over. John Dabach directs this story as it is indeed very dark in nature as Levine essentially takes the matter into his own hands rather than contacting the authorities. Like a predator stalking his prey, he learns as much as he can about the woman that hit him before he strikes. The payoff in the end is indeed an eye for an eye moment which may leave viewers questioning Warren’s motives whether justified or not.
Overall, Immortal is a different take on the horror anthology concept. There is no host to give an introduction or wraparound segments as the film goes straight into the first story and then they next story after that with no room for a breather. There is little in terms of blood and gore. There’s no over the top monsters, instead the monsters are inside the characters which shows how evil natured we as humans can be when we’re willing to do what is necessary to achieve our own goals. The acting and the directing for me were the key moments of the film. Except for the final story, I found myself taken aback from the twist endings as I did not expect those to happen. Immortal is a nice breath of fresh air to all the other macabre anthology horror flicks and is worth a viewing especially if you enjoy films that deal with real world situations.