Wednesday, 22 October 2014

Seance: The Summoning




            Before I start with this film, let me state a simple truth – I am not religious and am not particularly a fan of religion in general. However, usually I can look past and ignore overly religious elements in fictional work in favour of the story and themes inherent in that work – ‘The Exorcist’ is a good example, or Dante’s ‘Inferno’. It’s a lot harder to do that here.


            ‘Séance: The Summoning’, a 2012 film by Alex Wright, is about four friends that decide to do a séance in a morgue. Okay, there is a reason behind this, in a way – Eva  (Nanzeen Contractor) claims to be able to communicate with the dead via arcane ritual, and her friend Marcus (Chris Olivero) wishes to film this and use it as a his student film. Also tagging along is Joey (Bobby Campo), a sceptic and Eva’s ex, and Sara (Devon Ogden), a born again Christian (what she’s doing at a séance is anyone’s guess).  
            The reason they’re at a morgue is because Marcus is a security guard there and can give them access, with the reasoning being that there will be more spirts there. Now, I won’t say I’m too well versed on this matter but surely spirts tend to linger where they died, and not where they’re bodies are? Or they go to heaven/ hell or whatever afterlife they believe in? Haunting a morgue sounds really rather boring.
            Anyway, they explore the morgue, and get down to the Séance. In a panic, Joey breaks the ring of hands that is supposedly keeping them safe after witnessing a black mist, and we learn he’s a natural spirit talker, which he tries to hide. As a result, a demon manages to possess him and trap the others in the morgue to torment them, planning to eventually kill them all.
            Okay, the plot is really generic. That’s fine, it happens. However, this film has a bonus on its side – the setting. Morgues are creepy places, and they can be put to effective use. ‘Séance’ doesn’t do that. In fact, the morgue setting is, by and large, irrelevant to the film, and there would be no real difference to the plot had it been anywhere else. This is most frustrating when we are told that the morgue houses a large collection of bodies of vagrants and homeless people, and we are shown the corpse of a mutilated woman – all of these things could have been brought back into the film in unsettling ways, especially if you imagine the many horrific ways people can die in urban life.
            But no, the morgue setting is simply wasted.
            It should also be noted that this is a morgue-cum-funeral home, as it also has a display room for coffins and a chapel. The morgue is also located in an abandoned building that is severely deteriorating. This is what’s known as ‘not having the budget for a set’.
            Now, if you’re wondering why I had that little paragraph about religion, here’s why – about halfway through the film, after Joey is possessed, Sara explains the importance of Christ and that faith in Christ is the only way to save themselves, both spiritually and physically. What follows is 40 minutes of bible quoting and ill-researched moments of religious insults and preaching (particularly in regards to abortion being a sin and forgetting that the bible preaches genocide and mass murder).
            Again, I wold be fine with this if it was handled well. It is not. The film ham-fistedly throws Christianity into our faces and makes a whole deal about how it is the only way to be saved. At no point is there any alternate method considered, at no point is it thought that any other religion could be fine. No, Christianity is the only way to live.
            On a similar subject, the writing in this film is just terrible. Characters seem to gain and lose character traits in an instant, and motivations become unclear immediately. We are supposed to sympathise with these characters, some of whom are given backstory, but the delivery and writing is so blunt and poorly delivered that it fails to work. It also doesn’t help that the film favours the ‘tell, don’t show’ approach to things, and fails to present any visuals to half of the dialogue aside from people talking. In the case of Joey and Sara’s tragic pasts, we are simply told them – there is nothing to show that they are being haunted by their pasts. There are no flashbacks, no signs of them having troubled lives, and their stories are told simply through description and nothing more. It’s poor filmmaking.
            Speaking of, the direction is below par as well. Whilst it’s competent, there are many shots that drag on for way too long, and a great deal of visual repetition. It’s also very clear where practical props are going to be used as the director makes a point never to position the camera where it will not see the props. The amount of tension that’s lost because things occur off-screen is beyond imagination.
            It is also clear that the director (who is also the writer) does not know how to handle his characters. Scenes where violence and tragedy occur are ignored immediately afterwards where the characters have calm conversations and act as if nothing’s happened. There is no immediate sense of shock or loss, as the dialogue tends to ignore these aspects until it fits into the script better. Having a character burst into tears several minutes after an event has occurred and after conversation is not good scripting.
            In terms of bad character writing, Sara takes the cake. From the moment of the possession, she becomes solo focus for much of the remaining runtime, and suddenly becomes cool, calm and collected and can handle any situation, including producing medical knowledge on the proper way to reposition bone and splint broken legs. Her new-found knowledge and demeanour comes out of nowhere and doesn’t work with the character presented earlier.
            Finally on the character front, apparently demonic possession just turns you into a very hammy actor. There is nothing particularly menacing or dramatic about somebody making exaggerated faces or waving their tongue at you.
            The films audio department is just as dodgy. There is no effort in making the audio mix unnerving or creepy, or even in providing unsettling gore sound effects. The sound feels lacking and unfinished, as if they didn’t think of adding in any sound and did so at the last minute upon noticing how empty the film felt. There are a few licensed songs which aren’t too bad (depending upon music taste), but are ultimately forgetful. The film’s original soundtrack is incredibly poor with no consistent theme or even consistent usage – it often plays at the less intense moments, or is absent when needed most. Sound design in horror films can elevate the core body into something truly disturbing, but here it feels as though the creators just weren’t trying.
            ‘Séance’ is the worst kind of film – one that provides you with hints and ideas how it will bend the genre clichés, but instead dogmatically follows it. Worst of all, it carries a very ham-fisted, right wind Christian propaganda message to it and damns anyone that disagrees with it – a matter made worse by the fact that the character who gets possessed manages to point out far too many actual truths and good arguments against religion, but the writer punishes him for it. This is a movie designed to appeal to the Christian core – also known as the people that don’t watch horror. Séance is an insult, underwhelming film that cannot be recommended unless you wish to torture yourself. The power of Christ compels you to go watch something better.     

Wednesday, 15 October 2014

The Lost Episode/ Pennhurst

           ‘The Lost Episode’ (Michael Rooker, 2012), or ‘Pennhurst’, is a film about a real place – Pennhurst State School and Hospital (also known as the Institution for the Feeble-Minded and Epileptic). This is actually to the film’s disadvantage, as there is a much more interesting story in the film’s location than the film bothers to give, though it does, at least, acknowledge the fact that Pennhurst has been the site for many ghost-hunting shows and myths.
                The film itself follows a group of teens that enter the asylum to look for ghosts. During this hunt, one of the teens decides to tell a story about a TV crew that went ‘missing’ whilst recording an episode (hence the title ‘Lost Episode’). During these flashbacks, we also get a little history lesson about the asylum, most of which is true, but there are some embellished elements as well.  
                To start with, there is nothing inherently wrong with the plot – after all, there are several movies which revolve around groups of people talking about events (‘Rashomon’ comes to mind, as well as ‘Batman: Gotham Knight’). Unfortunately, instead of having something half-way interesting such as people telling contradictory tales, we are given a story which the narrator cannot, under any possible means, have known about.
                Further embellishment is needed here. The kid says he was told the story as he has connections to the police, and they told him the story (which was relayed by the survivors, an immediate contradiction to the ‘whole cast and crew died’ thing). The problem here is that there are sections of the story that no-one that survived will know about, as they were not present and were not told about these events. Ergo, the kid cannot know about some of the parts of the story, especially not the parts where none of the film crew noticed that something was wrong in the first place.
                The entire film is like this – there are constant logical failures and errors that make the entire film beyond idiotic. This ranges from the fact that it treats the crew of this TV show as if they are actual ghost hunters, something that is stupid in and of itself, to contradictory logic in the hauntings themselves. One that first point, having watched episodes of ghost hunting shows, it’s clear that they are faked and are incredibly well planned frauds, so the fact that the crew of this fictional show have a psychic that is, apparently, psychic makes the whole thing more ludicrous.
                As far as the paranormal activity presented in the film goes, the entire thing makes very little sense. If Pennhurst is so obviously haunted by actual, tangible ghosts (pretty sure that’s a contradiction), then why did none of the other shows capture footage of this, and why has no-one else died as a result? What is so special about this crew that the ghosts appear to them?
                It seems as though the creators of the film also realised that his was a stupid idea, so they also incorporated a killer doctor into the film. This is the only excessively embellished part of the actual Pennhurst story, as there was, allegedly, an actual mad doctor that worked at the asylum (that could be simply fiction, but I digress), but the doctor presented here is simply another blow to any kind of believability the film has.
                You see, this doctor wants to ‘help’ people (aka kill them) in order to cure them of their many dysfunctions. However, the problem arises in the fact that (spoiler alert) he’s human, and seems to have a knowledge of everything that happens in the asylum and the ability to teleport around. He know of the deeds the film crew perform, and punishes them supposedly appropriately (only one of these ‘karmic’ deaths makes any sort of sense), and otherwise seems to possess an inhuman strength. However, as I noted, he is human, and has lived in the asylum for a very long time - the asylum closed in 1987, and the film takes place in the 2000s, making the character at least mid-thirties or forty, so the doctor has lived in the abandoned ruins for 20 odd years with no-one noticing. He would have also had to find some sort of food source as well as water, which means he’s probably been eating small animals and insects and drinking rainwater. This would make the man a feeble, sick wretch that would have barely any coherent thought yet alone operate age old medical technology (which doesn’t even have electricity despite being able to electrocute people).
                If you’re wondering why I haven’t mentioned a single character’s name yet, that’s because this 70 minute film has a cast of almost 20 characters, very few of whom actually address each other by name. As it stands, I doubt the actors involved really want to be remembered for appearing in this travesty anyway.
                There is also an opening kill (of course there is, the film follows the guidelines on how to make crappy horror films). This scene is one of the best in the film, and is still terrible, whether it be a result of the acting, the camera work or the audio. However, it is the only time where a character motivation is addressed and presented to the audience. It’s just a shame that it has absolutely nothing to do with the film on any level.   
                On technical level, the film’s only accomplishment is that the camera crew can operate their cameras. Every single visual element of the film is a mess –composition is terrible, effects are non-existent, shots are held for too long or too short, there isn’t enough variety in the camera work and the visuals are just unappealing. Almost every shot in the film is de-saturated to the nth degree or too dark to tell what’s going on.  The film attempts to use day-for-night shots but fails to generate a difference between day and night, resulting in general confusion as to what time of day or night it actually is. There is a moment in the film where one of the teens asks why the TV crew have flashlights during the day which led to slight confusion as the light levels are identical between both sections and both groups use flashlights.
                This is also one of the few schlock horror films I’ve seen where they’ve managed to fail at creating a sex scene (and yes, there is a sex scene). The scene itself is really stupid in the first place – a TV cameraman finds an incredibly beautiful (ghost) woman in the asylum, and she has sex with him because… well, just because. First off, I doubt there would be any exceptionally beautiful woman in an asylum in the first place, and, if there were, they probably wouldn’t remain that beautiful for too long. Second, the scene does not involve the stripping of clothes or the undoing of trouser flies. Instead, the woman is already mostly naked aside from a hospital gown and underwear (lacy, tight panties that are most definitely from the modern age) and she pushes the still dressed man onto a gurney and grinds his… navel, by the looks of things. The entire scene is beyond laughable, especially when the woman randomly turns into a pot-bellied middle aged man after a minute or so. The entire sequence feels like an attempt to one-up Kubrick’s adaptation of ‘The Shining’. Rule one – never reference a better film in your crappy one.
                As far as audio is concerned, the film doesn’t do anything other than have audio. The soundtrack tends to play at the wrong moments or fail to play at all, and all the sound effects are either too loud or non-existent. The song in the credits is perhaps the best thing about the audio track. I’m also pretty sure they reused several screams in succession.
                All in all, ‘The Lost Episode’ (or ‘Pennhurst’) is a really bad film. It is excessively bad, with nothing redeeming to say about it. It seems to exist as a ‘how not to make a horror film’ guide. I’m also pretty sure that the framing story was added later when they realised the run-time was too short to qualify as a feature length film. This is certainly something I could never recommend, unless you want to sit down and insult the film.      
                  

Wednesday, 8 October 2014

Yamishibai (Seasons 1 & 2)






                It’s October, which means it’s time for spooky scary happenings and films! Yay!
                First up, a little finale to the mass amounts of Japanese anime I’ve watched lately in the form of Yamishibai: Japanese Ghost Stories. I’ll be covering both seasons, and this is will be the first time I’ve talked about a show that’s just completed its run (the final episode of Yamishibai aired a couple of weeks ago).
                First up, it should be noted that the title is something of a joke. The term Yamishibai means ‘Dark Theatre’, and is a pun on Kamishibai or ‘Paper Theatre’. Kamishibai is a type of puppet theatre that is carried on a bicycle and performed by, traditionally, monks, though to tell morality tales. Yamishibai as a show is presented in the same format – the introduction of every episode has a mysterious man arrive at a playground at 5pm with a kamishibai, before proceeding to tell ‘dark’ tales in the method of kamishibai. The shows animation style mirrors this by being a limited series of drawings manipulated digitally.
                Second thing to note is that each episode is under 5 minutes, averaging at about 4 minutes when the opening and credits are removed. That’s a really small time to tell effective ghost stories. A following note – the show is based on Japanese folklore, so some parts of it are really weird and hard to understand as a westerner.
                Since this is a show about 5 minute horror shorts, I’ll talk about all of them individually and briefly.
                Season 1 of Yamishibai was directed by Tomoya Takashima and written by Hiromu Kumamoto.

                Episode 1 is a story about a young man that moves into a new apartment. He begins to find talismans hidden away around his the home, and spots a woman eerily watching him from across the street…
                The first episode is a good introduction to the general flow of the series. We are given some time with the character to sympathise with him, and the episode draws tension gradually through the episodes. Misdirection is used to good effect here, and it’s quite creepy. This is one of the few episodes with an actual jump scare in the short, but it works in context and isn’t the finale, but a build up to a greater scare.

                Episode 2 follows a man that wakes up in hospital. He’ll be released the next day, but the other patients are beginning to scare him…
                Time is put to good use again here, and we are once more misdirected. This episode does focus on a specific Japanese term and tradition – Banzai – but you can quickly pick up on the meaning thanks to the circumstance. This episode is very atmospheric, and one of the best in the series.
               
                Episode 3 is about a boy who moves with his family to the country. His parents are to join in a mourning ritual and they put their child to sleep, telling him not to leave the room. Unfortunately, he really needs to go to the toilet…
                Another strong episode, for all the reasons the others are so good. However, this episode suffers from something of a logic failure in its concept and execution. Questions are to be raised as to why the child isn’t in the ritual, or why he wasn’t at least told about it. The episodes ending could have been easily avoided.
               
                Episode 4 focuses on a teacher that stays late at night in order to finish some work, but sees that hair is appearing on scanned documents. Curious, and rationalising away the event, she keeps using the scanner…
                One of my favourite episodes, and reminiscent of films like The Ring and Pulse. It also does a good job in building up scares and then ending with nothing, leaving the viewer on the edge of their seat.
               
                Episode 5 is about a man that gets a call to head into work whilst out buying his son’s birthday present. Angry at his wife and child for not understanding, he walks into an elevator wishing to be left alone…
                Episode 5 plays on a lot of basic human fears, and this works to its advantage, whilst also enforcing the ‘be careful what you wish for’ rule. To its credit, the episode makes the idea work far better than most could, and provides a disconcerting experience.

                Episode 6 is about a man who works too much. One his way home, his subway train is stopped due to a human fatality, and the man starts to notice something very fleshy in the luggage rack…
                Arguably the weakest episode, this story requires more thought on a metaphorical level than the others. Its actual contents is still creepy, but falls far short of the rest of the series. However, once you’ve worked out what the episode is about, it adds an extra chill.

                Episode 7 is about a woman how gets a phone call late at night from a friend. Her friend had gone with her boyfriend to an abandoned building, and things have gotten very creepy…
                Another very strong episode, this one relying on dialogue and audio over visuals (though they still pack a punch). The episode focuses on contradictory tales, and these two sub-stories are horrifying in and of themselves, but made more so in the overall scheme of the episode where we follow someone who has no way to tell which – if either – are real. Incredibly chilling and effective.

                Episode 8 is about a boy who spots a woman holding an umbrella in her mouth. After telling his father about it, he is locked in the shed and told not to open the door for anyone, as his life depends on it…
                Another mixed episode. Part of the problem is that the idea is a little silly, the other that there is quite a big logic error in the idea that the kid can’t open the shed door, but there’s a gigantic open window right next to it. One would assume it’s something to do with crossing thresholds, but it’s still a little silly. Also, it’s about a kid that’s been told not to open a door – what do you think is going to happen. The most predictable episode so far.

                Episode 9 is about a girl inflicted with a terrible curse that mars her skin. Her mother arranges a visit to a local shrine, where a priestess believes they can lift the curse…
                This episode is weaker due to the lack of rules surrounding the curse. At the beginning of the episode, it seems to be simply a deformity, but the nature of the curse changes at the episodes end. It is also the least ‘horror’ focused episode of the season, instead being more about the curing of the curse. It feels like the final minutes of a horror film where the twist ending occurs than an actual, self-contained story.

                Episode 10 follows a boy and his baseball team as the stay at a hotel. They’ve been there before, and the boy fell down a pit toilet. As he goes to toilet that night, the boy remembers that there was something else down there with him…
                This episode is another good one, despite the silly concept. It makes the most of holding back on a reveal shot, and uses sound design and good direction to maximise the horror.

                Episode 11 is about 3 boys doing their homework over summer. Bored, one of them says he has a videotape with an actual ghost in it. As they watch, one boy thinks he sees something that the others can’t…
                Similar in concept to ‘The Ring’ (again), this episode is the second where multiple people are involved in the horror, and the first where they are all in the same room. The addition of the extra characters actually heightens the fear factor, and works well in the situation. The ending itself might not be the best, but it still provides a fitting and creepy conclusion.

                Episode 12 follows a girl that is asked if she wants to play with a shadow by a group of boys. She promises that she’ll do so later, but notices that the boys know things they shouldn’t, and say the shadow told them…
                This is another favourite of mine, and another exceedingly chilling episode. Much like earlier episodes, it makes a point of building up the creepiness of the situation as time goes on and never reveals exactly what’s happening until the end. It’s also one of the few episodes that continues slightly after the supposed conclusion, and the actual ending makes the episode that much more chilling.

                Episode 13 follows two boys that are spying on a house, waiting to see a ‘tormenter’, which they believe was responsible for making people go missing…
                The final episode of the first series is a pretty decent one. It’s also another episode that doesn’t end immediately after the first ‘conclusion’, but continues slightly. The idea of the episode itself is a strong one, and works well with the characters involved. The ending of the episode itself is not particularly great and defies logic and character placement, but it is a suitable, if slightly predictable, conclusion.

                The first season of Yamishibai is a very good affair, with most of the episodes being effective horror shorts. There are a few mishaps here and there, but none that hurt the series too badly, and there are a couple of culture barriers that don’t quite pass over. It is, however, a good series.
                The second season of Yamishibai is a different matter though. The original writer and director and left, being replaced by Shōichirō Masumoto on writing duties and Takashi Shimizu (Creator of Ju-on/ The Grudge) and Noboru Iguchi (a prolific Horror director that focuses on b-movies and horror-comedy).
               
                Episode 1 is about a police officer who uses a puppet to talk about road safety to kids. During one performance, he accidentally knocks out a talisman from the puppets head…
                The first episode, and we’re not off to a good start. This is mostly because the idea isn’t particularly interesting, and the episode never really goes anywhere with it either. The idea of cursed or haunted puppets is not new and has been delivered much more effectively, and the lack of anything new doesn’t help. This episode also lacked the usual atmosphere and characterisation from the previous series, making it not only a lacklustre episode but one of the worst in the series.
               
                Episode 2 follows a woman visiting a friend at her new apartment. Whilst being served dinner, the woman notices something odd in the air conditioner – a human eye looking at her…
                An improvement over the previous episode, though still a weak one. The idea isn’t particularly bad, but it is a much more in the case of ‘here is something creepy, look at it’. Horror is about gradual tension, and revealing the monster early makes it less interesting. Also, the character’s refusal to mention the weird monster is annoying.

                Episode 3 is about a boy and his family. The boy finds a Russian doll and brings it home, but it’s confiscated by his mother. But then he notices his mother is acting very strangely…
                The first truly good episode of the season, and for all the reasons the first season was so good. Whilst it isn’t as character driven as the first season episodes, the content of the short is creepy thanks to the delivery style. It helps as well that we never see exactly what it is that causes the change in behaviour, but the audio is used perfectly to provide a disturbing atmosphere.

                 Episode 4 is about a young man that falls in love with the woman living opposite him. However, he sees something terrifying as the woman changes form…
                Another passable episode. Whilst it isn’t the creepiest episode, it has its moments. Its main misgiving is that it relies on a final jump-scare that lingers too long on something that isn’t particularly creepy instead of working towards an actually scary finale. The actual concept behind the short s very good, and is slightly Hitchcock in the idea of seeing something terrible through a window – it just deserved a better short.
               
                Episode 5 is about girl that has a crush on one of the school’s baseball players. Knowing she can’t get his attention, she decides to test an urban legend by putting a picture of him in an underground locker…
                This is one of the better episodes of the season, and it works because of a few small moments. Another less-horror focused episode, it works due to the main character being so relatable and in the short moments of horror, the first of which make the viewer (and character) uneasy, and the finale moments are a horrific (and graphic) retribution. It helps that the short actually offers a happy conclusion before ripping it away from the character and audience.
               
                Episode 6 is about a family who live comfortably together. But, one night, the mother hears her son mention the name Nao-chan…
                Probably the sweetest – if you can call it that – episode, and the only one with a happy ending. This episode is another that isn’t particularly horror focused, though does still carry the undertones of horror. Instead, it focuses on characters, and it is here where the episode falls down slightly. The story presented here is much bigger than fits into the small runtime and doesn’t really work well in a short as it feels too condensed. Which is a shame, as it is possibly the most endearing story in the series.               

                Episode 7 is about a man who sees an old man at a capsule machine. The next night, the man decides to investigate…
                Another good episode. This one plays on the self-destructive nature of people trying to hold onto memories and obsession, and it works because of this. It’s a short that manages to convey more than just surface chills, whilst the actual content manages to still be quite creepy. One of the best of the season.

                Episode 8 is about a man at a funeral. He is told that he has to confess his sins to the deceased, but doesn’t know what to say…
                This is an episode that works well on paper, but not well in execution due to the predictable nature of the conclusion. As a result, the episode seems to drag on, never really managing to be creepy or compelling. It is an incredibly weak episode that ranks amongst the worst in the series.
               
                Episode 9 is about a new teacher at a school. At lunch, she is invited to eat with the students, and is given a local delicacy – a large slab of miscoloured goo that seems to be moving…
                This episode works well due to the dissonance it brings between the teacher and those around her who become animalistic whilst wolfing down this delicacy. The sheer difference is very unsettling, and you’re left wondering what precisely is the food they’re being served… It’s one of the best of the season and possibly the series.

                Episode 10 is about a man that likes to complain in his diary. However, the more he writes, the more bugs start appearing…
                Another episode that is a warning against certain behaviour, this episode works well due to the underlying message and the unsettling amount of body horror that seeps in. The repetition of short actions combined with a persistent buzzing of a mosquito make it an effective short.

                Episode 11 is about a young man that finds a manuscript left in the luggage rack on a train. As he goes to throw it away, he sees a sign for a literary competition, and so he sends the novel in. Soon after, he gets a phone call congratulating him on winning the competition…
                Another episode that actually has a moral component to it and a weaker horror element, this episode manages to be passable, though the final half is disappointing. The short would have worked better had it spent more time building up the characters guilt rather than presenting the finale it did, and this weakens the episode quite a lot.

                Episode 12 is about a girl that is helping at her grandmother’s shop. Whilst looking around, she finds a pair of earrings that belonged to her grandfather and decides to take them…
                One of the better episodes from the second series, this is a decent horror story with good direction. It may be slightly obvious as to the cause of the horror, but the way the episode progresses makes it so that the basic assumption is only part of the explanation. It stands with most of the first season in being a decent horror episode.
                Episode 13 is about a husband and wife moving to a village. The wife notices a trail of pellet drums leading to their house, which are supposed to bring good luck to them. As she wakes in the middle of the night, she hears the drums begin to beat…
                The final episode (so far) is another episode more inclined to the previous series. It remembers to build up the horror over the episode before bringing the episode to a conclusion. Unfortunately, there are two major issues with the episode, the first being that the entire finale of the episode is in relation to a single line of dialogue (and then you have to make the logic leap from there), and the second is that the ending is a jump-scare that isn’t particularly effective. Otherwise a decent episode.

                As you may have gathered, the second series is a lot weaker than the first. Part of this is because it attempts to capture larger stories, as well as putting an emphasis on the more visceral and visual sides of horror – something that isn’t that effective in general, and less so in a show with limited animation.
                On the audio and visual side of things, both seasons have good audio design (the first better than the second) and put this design to good use. Sound is, after all, one of the most important parts of horror and can make up for poor visuals. All of the voice actors give good performances (some more than others), though it’s hard to judge from such short extracts.
                The visual side of things is a little hit and miss. The limited animation is never truly bad, but it can lead to a lack of urgency in some shorts. The art style itself changes regularly between episodes, with only the ‘paper puppet’ effect remaining a constant. There are several episodes that use life action and rotoscoped images to help in cases of fluid movement or to make something’s look less natural – considering the limitations of the shows style, this can be forgiven.

                It is a shame that the second season is so much weaker than the first. Since both seasons are currently free to watch on Crunchyroll, I do recommend you watch them, or at least pick and choose from this list which you think would be best to watch. I do highly recommend the first season, though.

               
                Also, thanks for reading this far – this is probably my longest post so far, coming in at some 3200 words. Now if only I could write that much fiction in a day…