It is hard these days to find a horror movie that is original. And even worse, we keep seeing these trends that at one time proved successful but now are so overplayed that fans just cringe… and not in a good way. A few popular trends that come to mind are found-footage films, zombie films, and recently, anthology films. Horror anthology films have been around for a while with Stephen King’s Cat’s Eye, Trilogy of Terror, Twilight Zone and more modern films like Three… Extremes, The Theatre Bizarre, Trick ‘r Treat, V/H/S (1 & 2), and The ABC’s of Death (1 & 2). Anthology films can be great but the recent rise in these types of movies leave much to be desired with typically very forgettable short stories. Morris County, luckily, is anything but forgettable with stories that are “as gruesome as they are tragic and heartfelt”.
Morris County is a trilogy of short films, which at first glance seem like isolated and unrelated stories. Once we dig in though, there is so much more than meets the eye. These unconnected characters reveal a dark theme on the façade of the modern American family. Like in the film Happiness, suburban existence crumbles when they can no longer keep up the charade of normalcy and psychopathy takes over.
The first story, labeled Subject One, 1999, is about Ellie. Ellie is a pregnant teen on a self-destructive path. She has a terrible secret and is basically on a mission to give herself an abortion. But that’s not even the bad part. The bad part is finding out who the father is. At first I thought this story was going to be pretty predicable but it has an ending that is sure to shock even the most gore-hungry horror fans. This is morbid and offensive storytelling at its best… and we still have two more unsettling stories to go.
Subject Two, 2002, is about The Family Rubin. This husband, wife, and pre-pubescent son trio seem like a normal Jewish family at first glance. An extramarital affair has this family at odds and it is getting harder and harder to hide behind the smokescreen. This seems bad enough as tensions rise, but the most frightening thing is being ignored and lurking in the shadows- the frightening signs of psychopathy in their young son.
Subject Three, 2002, is about Elmer & Iris. Elmer and Iris are an elderly couple with plenty of time to kill. Elmer is a man of few words and Iris is an eternal optimist. Her delusional well-being lends to her making some unpleasant decisions when life doesn’t go as planned. Without getting into it too much, this story is same parts depressing as it is revolting and proves that the golden years are not so golden.
I liked each story equally which is almost unheard of for horror anthology films since there is usually at least one dud in the bunch. A warning, though: Morris County is a low budget film. But, it is NOT cheesy and there is NO hokey acting. Actually, the acting quality is quite admirable. Director Matthew Garrett left me feeling dirty and depressed, but more so intrigued at the thought of what kind of mind can come up with stories like this. It is a weird and wonderful mix of emotions and I am really looking forward to Matthew Garrett hopefully coming out with a feature film in the near future. I know low budget films can be a major turn-off but I was enthralled from the get-go with these multi-faceted characters and enigmatic stories that slowly unfold in all of its horrific and gory glory.
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The cover artwork is fantastic and really gives you a glimpse of what to expect. Check it out below.