Friday, August 18, 2023

Anthology - Revisiting Personal Cinematic Landscape

I’ve always found anthologies to be divisive among movie fans. There are a lot of people that just don’t concern themselves with the genre at all. The only anthology flicks most people tend to gravitate toward would be along the lines of Love Actually (2003). It’s a film that flows like the recipe of a typical rom-com. The framing device is something that is only really seen for three minutes split between the beginning and the end, the rest of the film plays out as if there’s no real anthology aspect to it.
Most anthologies don’t tend to play to a wider theatrical audience the way Love Actually does. They often have a different writer/director for every segment. Sometimes each entry is even filmed in a different style. As a result, a lot of people tend to steer clear.
I tend to prefer anthologies that present themselves as they are. I like a strong framing device that’s seen several times throughout the flick, and stories that revolve around a main theme but are otherwise completely different.
Anthologies give a short look into the work of various artists which helps me decide if they’re people I want to see more of. An unfamiliar name in an anthology can introduce you to a whole new filmography of work. A good anthology can even lead to several introductions.
In my original personal cinematic landscape, I covered anthologies of both styles. I wrote about New York, I Love You (2008) and If These Walls Could Talk 2 (2000) – both anthologies that exhibit the Love Actually style. I also discussed The Animatrix (2003) and The ABCs of Death (2012) which are more like the latter description.
There are two anthologies I’ve seen since the last look into my cinematic landscape that deserve to be added in. Both for the exact same reason: V/H/S/94 (2021) and The Mortuary Collection (2019).

The V/H/S series is pretty well known. Most of the movies in it, however, aren’t all that memorable. Even those that have decent reviews tend to get lost to history. Still, the found footage VHS tape framing device – especially for the horror genre – is a stroke of genius. I think that’s the reason the series has had so much staying power over the years.
V/H/S/2 (2013) was the first of the series that I greatly enjoyed, but it wasn’t until V/H/S/94 that it had any effect on the way I perceived anthologies.
Each of the various stories in V/H/S/94 kept me glued to the screen. Even if they hadn’t, though, the framing device had its own interesting story with its very own twist. It was so interesting that it held up to the short stories being told throughout the rest of the flick.

In The Mortuary Collection that twist in the framing device is more pronounced. In fact, I’d say the framing device is the best story told in the entire film. It’s so memorable that I can replay it in my head scene for scene even though I’ve only seen it once, several years ago. (I looked it up to see if it really was something I remembered scene for scene – and it is. So, I’ve seen it twice now.)
The framing device being its very own story in an anthology is something I believe could heighten the popularity of the genre. It feels less like someone sitting there telling tales than other anthologies with the same style tend to. It becomes almost like a game to try and figure out how each short ties together – on their own and within the frame.
It’s even better when the framing device has that ending twist that turns everything on its head. It elevates even a mediocre anthology into something worth watching – and recommending. I hope to see a great deal more of that in the future.

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