Director: Davide Pesca
Writer: Davide Pesca
Year: 2018
Starring: Nicola Fugazza, Mary Rubes

THE SUFFERING BIBLE from Daniele Pesca is an episodic film that revisits select Biblical passages or fables but rather than showing us a Christian paradise THE SUFFERING BIBLE takes us on a hellish journey. Director Davide Pesca has previous for creating uncompromising short films having contributed to the anthologies 17 A MEZZANOTTE, A TASTE OF PHOBIA and DEEP WEB XXX as well as the Black Lava released TALES FROM DEEP HELL, which looks terrific but I am yet to see, and so expectations are high.

The harrowing black and white sequence that opens THE SUFFERING BIBLE certainly is promising and lives up to the directors reputation as we witness a near naked woman scrambling across a woodland floor while a discordant almost white noise sound rings out of the speakers. If the aim is to unsettle then THE SUFFERING BIBLE achieves this feeling very early on.

From here the first act is presented to us; titled ‘My Only God’, and a colour palette is introduced into the film but the visuals are no less disturbing as we see a woman tied to a bed, bound and gagged. Approached by another woman, a nice change from the usual trope, we learn that our incapacitated victim had promised the other that they would “be together forever”.

Suddenly it becomes clear that this is a tale of insecurity, of jealousy and undoubtably a tale of warped, disturbed love. Displaying quite literally the intertwined bonds of love, this opening act is a powerful start for the film but additionally it is also its pinnacle.

We return briefly to woodland footage which is not so much a wraparound segment rather than cogent interlude and we soon begin the second act; San Toma.

This act begins with a static shot of ‘The Incredulity of Saint Thomas’ (Doubting Thomas) as by one of my favourite artists, Caravaggio, and plays out almost as another literal translation.

In this act, a monk engages in self-flagellation causing Christ to appear. Praise Jebus! Success you might think however rather than rejoice things become rather heretical, blasphemous and bloody as a sort of perverse pleasure takes over the monk whose devotion spills over into madness and he cannot help but taste the body of christ and drink his blood, taking the communion to its logical, literal almost orgasmic conclusion. 

Meanwhile Act 3: ‘In the Name of the Father’ possesses a melancholic start and a reasonable solo performance by the female actress. However this is the first story in which I did not understand the symbolism resulting in the whole thing merely being graphic self-harm and not much more.

Moving on and the forth act, ‘The Pact’ despite looking a lot more artistic suffers from the same problem, although to a slightly lesser degree, but are the actions a metaphor for something or part of her psyche? I have no idea but I do know that my mind started to wonder at several points during this tale. 

The final act. ‘Redemption of the Lost Souls’ takes thing back up a notch with a tale of suicidal desperation and exploitation. Here the message is clearer to pick up and rather than being one of society eliminating those it deems unworthy, as it initially seems, it rather surprisingly (and pleasantly) plays to the notion that many who feel suicidal believe that others will be better off without them…and by suffering they ensure that. Benefitting from some good Fx and a clear message, ‘Redemption of the Lost Souls’ ensures that the THE SUFFERING BIBLE ends on a high.

It certainly won’t be for everyone and I found it a mixed bag with little personal replay value but big fans of the Black Lava and recent Unearthed Films releases will enjoy it enough. However THE SUFFERING BIBLE does little to alleviate my worries that often these films are little more than technical portfolio exercises for the director as opposed to anything deeper. Although I do concede that perhaps it is due to my lack of knowledge around theology and the bible that has led me to not fully understand the messages at play here.

Either way, Davide Pesca is someone with the potential to make something truly worthwhile so check out the trailer below and decide for yourself.



Directors: Various
Writers: Various
Year: 2018 [Various]
Starring: Various

A collection of eight Italian short horror/sci-fi films.

Coming from Italian production houses ‘Demented Gore Production’ and ‘Moonlight Legacy Production’ is AFTER MIDNIGHT, a collection of eight short films bundled together.

As a result of this there is little thematic or production conformity between the stories, and as expected the quality does vary particularly as a lot of the short films used in this release were recorded for separate purposes.

On to the films and experienced director Daniele Misischia steps up first to the plate with ‘L’ultimo video di Sara’ (The last video of Sara) which thematically raises questions about not only our online desire for validation but also the attitude and acts in which online behaviour can elicit.

We watch as vlogger Sara tackles the issue of her own online trolls which has caused her to have to ban or ‘censor’ people on her channel. An act that some seemingly obsessive people did not like and have let her know. However as the vlog continues we begin to realise that she is not alone in her house.

On a superficial level this short film reminded me somewhat of the 2015 American horror film Ratter although arguably with a little more to say while the insertion of subliminal cuts offered a smart piece of variety to the single frame shot utilised throughout the rest of the short running time.

In my opinion ‘L’ultimo video di Sara’ is a solid effort but would work best as a web clip as opposed to being on a home entertainment release. Featuring reasonable Fx, a few nice ideas and a reasonable concept this story is a nice start to the collection but I would not have expected any less from this director.

We follow this with ‘The Taste of Survival’ from director Davide Pesca who has recently contributed to the anthologies A TASTE OF PHOBIA and DEEP WEB XXX (as well as previously contributing to the compilation 17 A MEZZANOTTE) and so he too should know a thing or two about making a short story work.

Set 27 years after an almost apocalyptic event, ‘The Taste of Flesh’ plays somewhat with traditional convention (good) but without committing enough to the required grindhouse style (bad – although the music was spot on) and coming across quite frankly as just a bit too modern and digital.

When one of the highlights is that one of the bad guys is wearing a Wacken festival t-shirt then you know that this segment is not living up to its potential and that is a shame as the concept works a little more than the execution.

Third up is ‘Nyctophobia’ from Francesco Longo. This is a short film that I have reviewed in detail previously on this very blog and so I won’t repeat myself and go into detail here. However it forms one of the strongest stories across the board (direction, acting, story) in this release and provides an entertaining, thoughtful and at times tense watch.

A tough act to follow but Davide Cancila is commendable in his effort which centres around an almost catatonic woman and her seemingly guilt-ridden yet caring brother. 

In its short time ‘Nel buio’ manages to smartly tell the past and show the present with a few twists thrown in along the way. Overall the supernatural horror is about guilt, revenge and penance and is worth a watch.

‘Io non le credo’ from Luca Bertossi is next up and sadly compared to the previous two stories feels a little incomplete. The majority of the short follows the dialogue between a man, afflicted by a demonic nun, and an unconvinced priest to whom he is begging for help.

Possessing all of the right pieces ‘Io non le credo’ just fails to pull it off in part due to some weak performances but perhaps mostly due to lacking any real set up or emotional involvement. That having been said it potentially could be seen as a nice critique on the cowardice and ineffective nature of the church. Either that or it was simply made because evil nuns are relatively popular now.

If ‘Io non le credo’ was attempting to capture what is popular now then ‘Escape from Madness’ from Nicola Pegg is trying capture the essence of a classic.

As a woman is walking through an empty park at night she soon realises that perhaps she is not alone as first thought. From here the viewer might be expecting this short to go one way but what classic influence could I have been previously referred to?

Well this influence bizarrely comes from Tobe Hooper and the seminal THE TEXAS CHAINSAW MASSACRE. Now to say this is a rip-off would certainly be a bit harsh but ultimately the story descends into a fanboys dream to make.

Although competently made it would have certainly been improved with better SFX but with a brief ten minute run time ‘Escape from Madness’ does not overrun its welcome and will hit the mark. Not quite prime meat but enjoyable to digest nonetheless.

Now the penultimate story ‘Che serata di merda!’ (I translate as ‘That evening of shit’) from Roberto Albanesi is perhaps the lightest of all the shorts featured in the collection and the only one that is inherently tied to the release due to it’s self-and release-referential nature.

Considering he was behind NON NUATATE IN QUEL FIUME and the sequel, as well as being involved in the wraparound of CATACOMBA I had high hopes for ‘Che sedate di merda’ and the short certainly grew on me as it played.

In the short film a missing farmer re-appears blood covered and staggering through the small town while a couple share a glass of wine and a film at home….the NON NUATATE IN QUEL FIUME references are plentiful, I hope the director paid himself royalties!

In a true case of ‘I KNOW WHAT YOU DID LAST SUMMER’ revenge it is unsurprising to see that these characters have some sort of prior business but here the narrative is not so straight forward as first the director himself turns up at the house (playing himself) and then through a dialogue with the farmer in which they discuss being the fictional construction of the real Roberto Albanesi.

It is in using this device that the film excels but the final takeaway message of “Let’s drink up” perhaps resonates the most.

We end with perhaps the most ambitious of all of the stories, ‘Haselwurm’, from director Eugenio Villani, which dates back to 2011 making it a strange choice to feature in terms of contemporary work (although thankfully the quality more than makes up for this).

‘Haselwurm’ initially plays as a sci-fi survival adventure as two explorers manage to capture a mythical haselwurm but during their struggle one of the duo was seemingly scratched by the creature with effects of an almost Lovecraftian or Ridley Scott nature.

Not only is the story interesting, and in my opinion should be developed into a feature-length, but along with ‘Nyctophobic’ it is one of the strongest entries in the collection thanks to a strong story, cinematography, Fx and editing. It is a shame that it is the last story but if you get the opportunity to watch this short – do so.

Overall AFTER MIDNIGHT is, as most collections often are, a mixed bag but unfortunately one where the weaker entries outnumber the strong (‘Nyctophobic’,’Nel buio’,’Haselwurm’). That being said these stronger entries are worth checking out but as someone who advocates the (slow) return of the contemporary Italian horror scene, AFTER MIDNIGHT as a holistic collection is perhaps not the best example to put forwards.

You can find out more about the film on the official Facebook page.