Dark Stories (To Survive the Night) (2019)

Directed by Guillaume Lubrano and Francois Descraques. Written by Lubrano, Descraques, Fabien Adda, Marion Dauriac, Victor Druillet, Jean Christophe Herve, Norman Jangot and Cedric Perrin. Starring Kristanna Loken, Michelle Ryan, Dominique Pinon, Tiphaine Daviot, Delphine Chaneac, John Robinson, Julien Pestel, Sebastien Lalanne, Dorylia Calmel, Loup-Denis Elion, Slimane-Baptiste Berhoun and Florent Dorin.

Plot: in this French anthology movie (where some characters actually speak English), Christine (Loken) distracts a killer doll by telling him horror stories.

Killer Doll

The wraparound story begins with Christine putting her young son to bed. However, we realized something was off about this “bedtime” right away, so we weren’t surprised by the “twist ending” later on. Anyway, after putting her son to bed, Christine receives a package with a male doll inside that ends up being alive. He also ends up being a killer who threatens her and her son. To distract him, Christine starts telling him horror stories. Whenever she finishes one, the doll gets upset, and she has to quickly start another.

The first story was a bit hopeless and was mine and DJ’s least favorite. It all took place in an art gallery where ghouls, living inside paintings, started eating people. Eventually they take Alice’s (Chaneac) son and a security guard (Pestel) tries to help her get him back. There was some excellent acting here, we just didn’t really like the story.

Something’s Wrong With This Picture

The second story was better. It was about a runner, Sophia (Calmel), who meets another runner, Matthew (Robinson), while jogging in the park. Somehow, she ends up falling asleep on a bench and wakes up after dark. While trying to get out of the park, she gets lost in the dark and encounters a pile of creepy dolls, a ghost girl and a ghost man who has apparently been asphyxiated with a plastic bag. She’s scared by all this of course, but are the ghosts the real threat? Probably not, as this turns out to be a superb, little, cautionary tale. Sophia is likable, the story is original and the specials are outstanding. It was a little crazy, but it was good.

Keeping with the trajectory, the third story was even better than the second. Actually, it was downright magnificent. It was about a man named Franck (Lalanne), who wakes up in a morgue drawer, after being killed by some thugs. The morgue attendant, Marcus (Elion), is very excited to see Franck alive-ish and helps him with clothes and money, so that he can go save his neighbor and her sister from the same thugs that murdered him. The protagonists in this story were very likable. There was even some wonderful Freddy Claws due in large part to Marcus. The acting was first-rate, the effects were killer and the whole thing was fun and funny. We loved it. Yet somehow, we loved the next story even more.

Franck Has Looked Better

In the fourth story, we meet Audrey (Deviot), a young woman who is unfortunately dreaming of a Djinn. She goes to an old friend, Samir (Berhoun), for help. While he doesn’t truly believe her, he invites her to stay with him. He’s attracted to her, see, and even if she’s psychotic, he still wants some of that. But, he gets way more than he ever bargained for, because it’s a horror story after all, so the Djinn is real. The Djinn is very real. We loved this story because of how truly frightening it was. While we laughed during a few parts, we screamed during others. It was uncomfortable to watch, but only in the most splendid way. The script was great, the acting was great, the effects were really, really great and the direction was super as well. It was the first story we wanted to rewatch, just never while alone.

The Djinn Is Real. The Djinn Is Very Real.

The last story Christine tells the doll was also quite remarkable. We’re not sure which we like more, this one or the one about the Djinn. This story starts with Carrie (Ryan) and Damien (Dorin), coming to the house of Jean-Luc (Pinon), to hear and record his story about his encounter with aliens. Jean-Luc is strange, but adorable, and he invites them to stay the night with his family. It all takes a turn though, when it’s revealed that Jean-Luc and his mother believe he is now the Messiah. His brother thinks he’s gone insane though and lucky for us, we get to find out who’s correct. It’s all highly original, with a good script, great innovation and terrific rules. Also, the cast is fantastic, the effects were fantastic and the ending was truly compelling with it’s “seeing is NOT believing” message.

Carrie Doesn’t Believe

The movie ends back with Christine and the doll. She keeps looking out the window and we realized exactly what she was waiting for before it was revealed. We don’t always catch the twist, but we did see this one coming. We still enjoyed it though. It was awesome when it all came out. And altogether, the movie got really high scores from both of us and we totally recommend.

My score: 74. DJ’s score: 78.

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