Sometimes, horror fans and websites tend to hype directors as the next coming. While there have been times when this felt true (Neil Marshall and Ti West for example), there have also been many times in which said praise feels a bit unwarranted. Case in point: Dante Tomaselli. Here's a director who I want to like-he's got a gift for visuals, and clearly has some interesting themes going on, but he just doesn't know how to make a good horror movie yet. Case in point: his unimaginatively titled 2002 film "Horror."
The plot goes like this: A group of teens escape a rehab center to find some kind of questionable promise of salvation from a psychopathic preacher (is there any other kind in horror) named Reverend Salo Jr (Vincent Lamberti-his father played by magician The Amazing Kreskin.) Well, it turns out that Salo has enslaved his daughter Grace (Lizzy Mahon), and she keeps seeing visions of her late grandfather. Long story short, the leader of the escapees, named Luck (Danny Lopes) kills Reverend Salo and his wife, and the next thing you know a satanic goat, zombies and more come into play.
As you can guess, this really doesn't make any sense. And that's okay, I'm used to horror movies not making a lot of sense-the films of Dario Argento and Lucio Fulci usually didn't make much sense, but those movies were still great. It's clear that Tomaselli is influenced by those directors, but he just doesn't have what it takes to make the movie work. Guys like the aforementioned Italian masters understood the importance of dread and atmosphere, as well as build up and how to make set pieces work. Tomaselli doesn't seem to know how to make that work, though he sure does try. The film is essentially a series of off kilter images and random events that not only don't make any sense, but don't offer much to captivate the viewer's attention. It's as if the director thought "hey, this would look cool" or "Hey, I should throw in a Felicia Rose cameo", but in the process forgot he was directing a movie.
Another huge problem is that there are clearly some interesting themes here, but he doesn't know what to do with them. Themes of religious mania and drug induced paranoia run rampant, yet Tomaselli doesn't exploit these themes as much as he should. Instead, the character of Reverend Salo becomes yet another religious maniac cliche, and the whole thing involving drug induced hallucinations and random events ends up resembling an amateur level imitation of surreal Italian horror.
Granted, there are some nice visuals here and there, but that's not enough to make a good horror movie. It's a shame, because again, I want to like the director. He clearly has a lot of potential, and one day he could do a good horror movie-maybe even a great one. Too bad this one is an attempt and nothing more.