FrightFest 2023: Lore Invites You to Tell the Story That Scares You the Most

Image provided by FrightFest

I love anthology horror. Sure, I enjoy complex, thematically rich stories as much as anyone, but sometimes I want my movies to keep the buildup to a minimum and get to the “good stuff” as quickly as possible. And anthology films do exactly that. So naturally, when I heard about Lore, I was immediately intrigued. This film sounded like it would satisfy my craving for quick-fix horror fun, and I couldn’t wait to see what scares it had in store for me.

Lore was directed and co-written by James Bushe, Patrick Ryder, and Greig Johnson, and since it’s an anthology, it stars a huge ensemble, including Bill Fellows, Richard Brake, Andrew Lee Potts, Miles Mitchell, Dean Bone, Sally Collett, and Samantha Neale. It’s about four friends who go on a horror-themed camping trip, and after they arrive, their guide encourages them to share the spooky stories that have terrified them the most.

Some in the group are reluctant at first, but as you can probably guess, they all eventually give in and tell the scariest stories they know. Then, after they’re done, the four friends find that this seemingly harmless activity has had some terrifying and unexpected consequences for both them and the people around them.

If you’re a seasoned horror veteran, you know how hit-or-miss anthology movies can be. While they may have some great segments, they often have a few bad ones too, but surprisingly, Lore manages to avoid that pitfall. All four stories in this film are excellent, and the frame story is also pretty fun.

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Image provided by FrightFest

In fact, these segments are so good that rather than review each one individually, I can just give some general thoughts about the movie as a whole. For starters, the stories all have surprisingly good characters. Granted, they’re not fleshed out too much, and to be frank, I’m not sure any of them would be able to sustain a feature-length film, but they don’t have to.

They just need to hold your interest for about 15-20 minutes, and they’re more than up to the task. Every single one of them is played really well, so I totally bought into them and their stories. In particular, I have to give special mention to the characters in the frame story. They’re hands down the best of the bunch, and I even think they’d be able to carry an entire movie all by themselves.

The four campers are really charming and likable people, and actors Miles Mitchell, Dean Bone, Sally Collett, and Samantha Neale have such great chemistry together that I really believed they were longtime friends. What’s more, their guide is played perfectly by Richard Brake, so he’s quite possibly the scariest character in Lore. Seriously, this guy could creep you out just by reading a phonebook, so whenever he opened his mouth to speak, my eyes were absolutely glued to the screen.

On top of those great characters, I also thought the horror in Lore was fantastic. The four segments span a wide variety of subgenres, and they absolutely nail every single one of them. They’re creepy when they have to be, the ones that are about monsters feature some awesome creature designs, and a few of them have some really fun gore effects. Simply put, these four segments gave me just about everything I want from anthology horror, so I never felt the urge to fast forward a few minutes to get to the next story.

A man smiling
Image provided by FrightFest

That being said, I do have to give a few caveats about the frame story in Lore. While I loved the characters in it, I thought the horror was a bit of a mixed bag. I don’t want to spoil anything, so I’m going to have to be really vague here, but if you watch the film, you’ll know what I’m talking about.

Like I said before, after the four friends tell their stories, they find that those tales have had some unexpected consequences in the real world, and initially, I was pretty underwhelmed by those consequences. The first thing that happens is a bit humdrum, and it’s not entirely clear how it ties in with the stories the campers told. Granted, I get most of it, and some of it is pretty clever. But even now, after thinking about it for a bit, there’s something involving a phone that I’m still not entirely sure about. Maybe I just forgot a little detail that ties it all together, but as far as I can tell, this particular link is a bit thin.

Then, after that first, somewhat disappointing round of consequences, a few other things happen to these four friends (including something in the middle of the credits, so stick around!), and thankfully, these final few events redeem the frame story. They deepen the mythology behind this campsite and its mysterious guide, and they close out the film in a really satisfying way.

So despite a few tiny missteps, I’m happy to report that the good in Lore outweighs the bad by an extremely wide margin. The film absolutely nails a wide variety of horror subgenres, and unlike most horror anthologies, there’s not a weak story in sight here. It’s just an absolute ton of fun all around, so I can’t wait for this movie to get a general release and reach a wider audience.

Lore had its world premiere at FrightFest on August 24.

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Written by JP Nunez

JP Nunez is a lifelong horror fan. From a very early age, he learned to love monsters, ghosts, and all things spooky, and it's still his favorite genre today.

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