An odd little film. It’s certainly J-Horror; the cast is Japanese, and so is the dialogue. I’m just not sure why. Writer-director Jason Cuadrado is American, his crew is American, and it’s filmed in California. A contract job for a Japanese studio?

Point of origin aside, Tales From the Dead is a reasonably engaging anthology of four tales spun by blithe medium Tamika (Leni Ito) to a stranded motorist whom she has rescued by the side of the road. Tamika spends most of her free time hanging out with earth-bound spirits in search of justice, helping to right the wrongs done to them in life. Her psychic powers came to her via a bite from a black widow while attending her father’s funeral, a “gift from beyond,” as it were.

Tamika’s first story is the richest, about a catatonic son returned to his family home, and the loving arms of his grieving parents who had thought him lost. After a few clever plot twists are revealed, the familiar feeling of domestic dread, that palpable sense of creeping evil anchored to a mundane location that serves as the foundation for the best J-Horror, escalates dramatically and disturbingly. The rest of the vignettes range from “meh” to “pretty good,” adequate storytelling from the same template utilized by Tales From The Crypt or The Twilight Zone. It’s nothing you haven’t seen before, but the time passes agreeably, bolstered by the life lessons imparted from the transgressions of the doomed souls depicted herein.

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