Dark Tapes, The. Curiosity Play in Technology and The Supernatural Offer Frighting ResultsDecayMag Premier Award in Film

Dark Tapes, The earns DecayMag Premier award for innovative concept, practical effects, and technical authority

Film DetailsDecayMag.com Director: Vincent J. Guastini, Michael McQuown Writer: Michael McQuown The Dark Tapes

Director(s): Vincent J. Guastini  Michael McQuown

Writer: Michael McQuown

Release Date: April 18th, 2017

Release Format: VOD

MPAA Rating:

Genre: Horror, Sci-Fi, Thriller

Running Time: 1h 38min


A genre-defying mixture of horror, sci-fi, myth, mystery and thrills told as four interlocking tales in one intelligent anthology. Ghosts, spirits, creatures, demons and more from the paranormal world collide with rational curiosity.



The Dark Tapes did not deliver a visual medium this author finds dull and unprofessional. The shaky-camera-first-person point of view is a nonsensical, tired act. This type of filmmaking technique is known as found footage. The purpose for this style is to emulate a point of view (POV) perspective. This uncreative creative has overstayed its welcome in Horror cinema. There are many reasons backing this claim. These POV type films have a step by step formula that is both boring and predictable. Rich climatic events unfold within Act III leaving the first two Acts as doldrum fillers.

Yet, there’s the occasional creative work that stands above typical found footage productions. That’s where The Dark Tapes comes in.

Anthology films are a staple in Horror cinema, a contribution dating back decades. The entertaining aspect in these films are the short stories that connect into one theme. The core concept often reflects social and/or human commentary.

Combining found footage within an anthology concept is a unique pairing. The Dark Tapes executes this format. With a running time nearing two hours, audiences will transverse a series of POV stories. The tales, at the core, reflect human curiosity and the tragic result thereof. This is one interpretation to Michael McQuown’s haunting storytelling.

DecayMag.com Director: Vincent J. Guastini, Michael McQuown Writer: Michael McQuown The Dark Tapes


The Dark Tapes has a production value that deserves acclaim. Directors Vincent J. Guastini and Michael McQuown don’t stray into typical found footage territory. The duo uses the POV method to coordinate an interconnecting view on terror. Guastini and McQuown place the camera where needed to convey a superb visual story.

The various degrees of creative lighting served well in areas that needed enhancements. The set designs were simplistic and corresponded well with the core theme. The credit into painting a convincing visual canvas goes to the cinematographers; Michael McQuown and
Matt Shapira.

DecayMag.com Director: Vincent J. Guastini, Michael McQuown Writer: Michael McQuown The Dark Tapes

The Dark Tapes offer a slate of characters with each being compelling in their own right. Despite not having backstories these roles extend bridges with the viewer. It seems unorthodox to connect with characters lacking solid groundwork. Yet, the cast played integral and contributed into pulling this act off. Each actor brings a sense of convincing prose and execution.

The Dark Tapes feature performances that do not fall into B-movie trappings. Each segment has the ability to stand as a film of its own. On-screen the cast worked in concert to build the concept of this anthology theme.

From the team of curious scientists to the lustful lesbian couple. Audiences will find the characters interesting and compelling. The only downside is not knowing more about these fictitious people. A glimpse on the course leading them into the situation would have been a welcome addition.

DecayMag.com Director: Vincent J. Guastini, Michael McQuown Writer: Michael McQuown The Dark Tapes

The central plot may or may not have an easy interpretation. Even so, the complex nature of the film is intriguing and original. Writer Michael McQuown marries the supernatural and technology for a complete story. The end result delivers originality and dispatches many planes of terror.

Technology and the supernatural, as a pair, seem to be on the rise. This form of storytelling remains in its infancy. McQuown can now add his name to the list of visionaries advancing this sub-genre.

DecayMag.com Director: Vincent J. Guastini, Michael McQuown Writer: Michael McQuown The Dark Tapes

The practical effects was another surprising technical aspect. Most found footage films rely on cheap scares and poor CGI renders. Such was not the case with The Dark Tapes. The film featured remarkable depictions of terror. The antagonistic force was unique in design and conjured serious fear factor. In keeping key details under wraps the creature concepts will not be dissected.

The practical effects team did a remarkable job. Their work was later enhanced by using CGI to bring these inter-dimensional creatures to life. This successful fusion between practical and special effects is seldom seen in Horror cinema. Neither of the two components overpowered the other in the film. The blend was almost seamless. For the practical  effects, major acclaim goes out to the team and they are:

• Afton A. Adams

• Josh P. Crockett

• Jeffrey S. Farley

• John Fasano

• Jill Fogel

• Vincent J. Guastini

• Dezzy Hartley

• Josh Wasylink

DecayMag.com Director: Vincent J. Guastini, Michael McQuown Writer: Michael McQuown The Dark Tapes

The viewing experience for The Dark Tapes had unexpected results, in a good way. McQuown’s film was suspected of being a typical found footage debacle. After the opening frame, all doubt was set aside. The intertwining stories featured in The Dark Tapes are all well executed. McQuown set the entertainment factor on high in his latest production.

DecayMag.com Director: Vincent J. Guastini, Michael McQuown Writer: Michael McQuown The Dark Tapes

The scare factor was not as defining as other technical applications of the film. A lack of terror remained despite the well-executed creature and mounting tension. Many audiences members, in particular, Horror connoisseurs can anticipate the next frame of action. A subtle shift in camera angles coupled with a play in the sound design can shift focus on upcoming scares. These examples are now being implemented in Horror-themed video games with great results.

For More Information visit The Dark Tapes across social platforms:


Official Website



Click for information on rating metric: 0-10 Avoid | 11-20 Mediocre | 21-30 Good | 31-40 Average | 41-50 Satisfactory | 51-60 Stunning | 61-70 Terrific | 71-80 Must See | 81-90 Amazing | 91-100 Impressive

90 %
80 %
Originality / Redefining
95 %
95 %
Practical Effects
80 %
Scare Factor
5 %
Special Effects
50 %
Viewing Experience
95 %
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Ken Artuz is Co-Owner of Meca Ex Studios LLC. Artuz is a New York City Based Photographer with proficiency in Photoshop. His digital artwork was featured in exhibitions SOHO, NYC, twice. Artuz is a graduate of The Institute of Audio Research where he earned his degree in Audio Engineering and Record Production. He also earned certification in Television Production and Field Recording at Lehman College. For Horror Artuz Favors French Extremism and Indie productions. He is a novelist, and screenwriter listens to EBM, Industrial & Witch house and is an avid MMA sports fan. Ken Artuz will create a media empire built on the DecayMag Brand.


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