Nightmare Radio: The Night Stalker (2023) Movie Review – Loosely Wrapped Anthology Horror
Candy is a late-night radio DJ with a program where people call to tell her real horror stories. One of her listeners begins to call her insistently. Candy quickly discovers that there is a strange connection between them. Soon she will find out how far an obsessed fan is willing to go.
Welcome to Knockout Horror. Today we are reviewing Nightmare Radio: The Night Stalker from 2023. Surprise surprise, you can find this movie right now on Tubi but it is a little different from the standard Tubi fare. In fact, if you were to suggest an anthology horror movie to me, Tubi would be the last place I would think of looking. I mean, their normal horror movies are bad enough. Reducing the budget even further and spreading the stories among a bunch of inexperienced, lacking in talent, directors would be a recipe for disaster.
Anthology Horror Strangeness
Nightmare Radio: The Night Stalker is actually quite different from what you would imagine from a Tubi anthology. This is a movie that takes a bunch of shorts from experienced directors and wraps them up with a connecting story. Much in the same way as Christmas anthology horror movie A Christmas Horror Story does. Whereas the segments in the aforementioned A Christmas Horror Story were made for that specific movie. The shorts here are not. They already exist, are already well known and have been around for awhile.
We have Lorcan Finnegan’s (Without Name, Nocebo) Foxes from 2011; Nathan Crooker’s (#NoFilter) Playback from 2015; and David M. Night Maire’s Chateau Sauvignon: terroir among others. Naturally, with this type of presentation. You are going to be seeing a number of different direction styles with different aspect ratios and different, somewhat disconnected, themes. The question is, does it work? Well, the short answer here would be “sort of”. It sort of works. Some of the individual stories are competent enough but to say they are loosely gelled together would be an understatement.
In fact, the only thing these stories share in common is that they could, generally, be considered to be horror. There is no other overriding theme at all. The way Nightmare Radio gets around this is via its connecting story – Carlos Goitia’s The Night Stalker. A horror fanatic radio show host presenting an early hours broadcast requests viewers to contact the show to relate their scariest stories. The individual segments are portrayed as being the real life experiences of the people that phoned in.
Meanwhile, a creepy dude repeatedly calls in to the show insinuating that he has some connection to the host. Hence the “stalker” part of the title. It’s a story that isn’t particularly effective and does little to inspire fear or, even, interest. The dialogue here feels silly and the interactions between the main character and her stalker are poorly fleshed out.
To be honest, it is difficult to offer up much in the way of praise to this approach. It feels cheap; the connecting story isn’t particularly interesting and the various segments feel very disconnected. Whereas A Christmas Horror Story does the same sort of thing. All of the stories take place within the same world and within the same location. Nightmare Radio suffers for how loosely put together it all feels. Naturally, that begs the question of how well the individual segments hold up. The answer is somewhat mixed.
A Few Effective Segments
There are a few segments here that are, legitimately, pretty good. Lorcan Finnegan’s Foxes is a haunting exploration of loneliness, isolation and hopelessness set against a backdrop of ominous, atmospheric, gloom. Feeling every part the depressing vision of dull, mundane, every day life after a person gives up on their dreams. It follows the story of a couple’s new life turning to a domestic nightmare and a woman’s desire to be free. It’s very effective and could likely work well as a feature length movie.
Chateau Sauvignon: terroir is a fun little Sweeney Todd-esque tale of a young boy’s willingness to do whatever it takes to help his ailing mother and struggling family. Featuring an interesting plot and some fantastic gore. It’s a decent watch and, once again, could hold up to the full length feature treatment.
Liz Drives rounds up the decent segment list with its clever story of why it’s not always best to assume the worst. Mia Kate Russell presents us with a self contained story of paranoia and tragedy that takes the viewer on a short but effective roller coaster ride. Each of these segments succeed by not trying to do too much. They are simple and effective. The other segments, not so much.
And a Few Bad Segments
Adam O’Brien’s Insane is a ghost story set in an abandoned hospital that is, pretty much, a facsimile of every other abandoned hospital ghost story ever. Following the story of a movie director scouting for a location for his next movie only to get much more than he bargained for. It is fairly atmospheric in parts but altogether too long and very guilty of some terribly hokey special effects and a predictable outcome.
Ryan Thompson’s Play time is an incredibly short and extremely highly strung horror affair featuring a woman attempting to turn off a television. Only to find it repeatedly switching back on with increasingly terrifying results. For something that lasts a few minutes, Thompson has managed to cram hundreds of horror cliches into this short including spooky dolls, flashing lights, television static and scary apparitions. It’s highly unoriginal and very derivative.
Nathan Crooker’s Play Time is a rather mundane affair that sees a man witnessing a brutal murder in his apartment block play out on his television. Prompting him to investigate. This one feels more like the seed of an idea rather than a full blown story. It is poorly fleshed out, uneventful, and just feels a bit pointless. All of these segments leave a lot to be desired and feel like padding, at best.
Anthologies are always a bit uneven. It is rare that you watch one that features predominantly decent segments. Nightmare Radio: The Night Stalker is no different. It simply falls foul of all of the problems anthology horror normally fall foul of. Only with a few extra issues to boot due to its lacklustre connecting segment.
Acting is generally fine throughout with no segment featuring any notably terrible performances. Agustin Olcese is pretty cheesy as stalker Jack. Delivering an uneven voice performance and a physical performance that does little to inspire dread. Paula Brasca as radio host Candy really tries her best in what is a rather boring role. Nothing really stands out for being overtly terrible, though.
All segments feel fairly low budget but not glaringly so. With Lorcan Finnegan’s Foxes obviously doing the best job of demonstrating a truly creative director. Hinting at the interesting visuals and fascinating stories he would helm in the future. Everything else just feels very milquetoast. Not particularly memorable and unlikely to stick with you for very long.
Final Thoughts and Score
The best way that I could describe Nightmare Radio: The Night Stalker is as feeling very tacked together. It seems a bit cheap and very disconnected. Like a director simply purchased the rights to a bunch of short movies and wove them together with an interconnecting tale that does little to bring the very disparate themes together. It’s just a mish-mash of horror tales with no semblance of connection.
Some of the stories are okay, Foxes is legitimately decent. Most, however, are simply copy and paste horror stories that do nothing new and will probably be forgotten about as quickly as they played out. The connecting story is not very interesting and does little to tie the other segments up in a nice bow. Nightmare Radio: The Night Stalker is about as middle of the road a horror anthology as you can get.