This week I was contacted via the 5D Facebook page asking whether I'd be interested in looking at a horror web series with a view to scribbling some thoughts about it. To be honest I was a little reluctant to do so so at first, after all the upcoming Comic-Con here in the north east of Scotland was taking up the majority of my attention - you know the usual stuff; make sure I can remember how to use the camera this time, actually have questions ready for the guests I want to interview and to this time make full use of my press pass instead of getting sidetracked into buying lots of Comic-Con Goodies....... well one can hope.
Well my couple of readers won't be surprised to learn that I quickly changed my mind and indeed decided the watch the three episodes made so far in the horror web series that is The Witching Season. Perhaps the main reason for my change of mind was the quick look I had of the short introduction sequence that accompanies each episode - because, well......wow!
The intro section of The Witching Season unashamedly nods a respectfully knowing head in the general direction of John Carpenter's sublime Halloween with a segment that oozes a dark atmospheric tension with it mix of dreamy visuals, seemingly normal small town scenes interspersed with jarring Halloween props and a haunting synth soundtrack throughout. The haunting soundtrack comes courtesy of the wonderfully named, Slasher Dave - it is not clear whether this is a harmless yet curiously strange nickname or the result of the man's predilection for unsavoury knife-related weekend activities which require the need for a number of body bags and bottles of bleach..... I'll check with him at some point. It really is a fabulous opening sequence which barely lasts 60 seconds, but nonetheless, the perfect precursor to the main attraction.
So what is this Witching Season malarkey, I hear you ask. Well ask no more, for in the words of the people themselves..........
"The Witching Season is an anthology of short horror films, presented on YouTube as a free web series. Inspired by classic anthology shows such as "Tales From The Crypt", "The Twilight Zone", and "Are You Afraid Of The Dark?", The Witching Season delivers originally produced tales of terror that are all set during the Halloween season. Fuelled by nostalgia, the series pays special attention to the atmosphere and spirit of the Halloween season."
Ahhh, brave words, but are they true? Well yes, in my opinion I would say that the claim is pretty much on the mark. If you don't believe me, we'll have a quick looksee at the descriptions below and then click on the YouTube link to watch the episodes for yourself.
Episode 1 - Killer on the Loose
In this first episode, and perhaps my favourite of the three, an escaped killer lurks in the shadows of an isolated home on Halloween night.
The episode is written and Directed by series creator Michael Ballif ("2 Hours"), and skilfully pays its own form of tribute to classics horror films of the 80's, but with its own particular Witching Season variation. As an introduction to the web series it works very well, containing a suitable level of tension and terror throughout. Not only that but the film is confidently filmed and acted with a degree of aplomb that occasionally escapes some low budget indie horror productions. Add a couple of genre in-jokes (watch out for the film playing on the Television) and you have a thoroughly polished and effective chiller.
Episode 2 - Princess
The second instalment of The Witching Season sees Kendra and her daughter Jamie move to a new home in the quiet suburbs in search of a new beginning........But something evil lurks in the basement and it isn't looking for roommates. The episode is written and Directed by James Morris ("The Astrological Whipping Boy" & "Absolution Is Now Public"), this second episode of The Witching Season takes the series in new direction of terror. The filmmakers sincerely hope that their Princess doesn't frighten you...... but she probably will!
The second instalment will most definitely squeeze the nether regions of certain viewers, as it takes some other favourite elements of the horror genre, a family in a new home that on the surface seems perfectly blissful........however underneath lies something distinctly sinister in the buildings depths and fabric. Once again, we're provided with a skillful and effective slice of terror.
Episode 3 - Not Alone
In the third and final episode (well, so far at least) we find Kyle, who wakes from a horrific nightmare, struggling to bridge the gap between his dreams and reality in the darkness of his room. But then, he notices something… an ominous figure standing silent in the darkness. He is not alone.
Once again the episode is written and Directed by James Morris ("Princess", "The Astrological Whipping Boy" & "Absolution Is Now Public"), here The Witching Season explores the realm of sci-fi horror, a sub-genre that I perhaps love more than any other.
So there you have it, a trio of well written, acted, and filmed horror shorts all wrapped up in a delicious helping of atmospheric soundtrack. I have it on good authority from Mr James Morris himself that episode 4 is in pre-production so it should be hitting YouTube in the very near future. James also mentioned that they have a cunningly clever plan in releasing episode 5 after that. I may not be the sharpest knife in the kitchen drawer but I'm pretty sure I would have definitely worked that out for myself......... eventually.
Personally I can't wait.
You can find out all that you need to know about this excellent web series by checking out the following links;
▶ Main Website: http://witchingseasonfilms.com
▶ Facebook: http://facebook.com/witchingseasonfilms
▶ Youtube: http://youtube.com/witchingseasonfilms
▶ Instagram: http://instagram.com/witchingseasonfilms
▶ Twitter: http://twitter.com/witching_season
▶ Contact e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org