CONTAINS SPOILERS, NERDY ASPECT RATIO TALK AND A PALPABLE SENSE OF RELIEF
Of the two biggest streaming services it's Amazon Prime who seem to go for quantity over quality. This is not to suggest that Netflix's pickups are always winners (Flying Monkeys got turned off after about ten minutes) but the ratio of good to bad to facepunchingly godawful skews towards the lower end of that spectrum when you're sometimes adding a dozen "new" horror films in a week. Which is why it's such a relief when a random pick off Prime turns out to be more than perfectly decent. Not a gamechanging masterpiece by any stretch, or a film that redefines the genre (how many of those come along in a year?) but still something that's more than worth your time and that exceeds expectations.
Five not-as-hateful-as-usual students in Singapore have a class holiday project to make a film the old-fashioned way, starting with a script. But when they find a complete reel of 16mm in the ashes the morning after jokingly sacrificing an old cine cameras an offering to their ancestors (part of Ghost Month tradition) and it proves to be a fully finished short film, they realise they can use this to kickstart their movie careers. But they need more, and burning up cardboard cameras magically grants them all the supernatural sting-in-the-tail material they need (in a nostalgic variety of formats). Until the last one...
A proper anthology film with the Amicus structure of a wraparound story linking all the episodes together (rather than the YouTube playlist approach of just stringing a bunch of shorts together one after the other like The ABCs Of Death and the insufferable The Field Guide To Evil), Afterimages is something of a treat. You could quibble that the full Scope format is redundant given that the 16mm and VHS sequences should be seen in the old Academy ratio of four by three and only the reel of 35mm (which the gang watch in a wonderfully huge cinema) is actually in 2.35. Against that, it's frequently beautifully shot, it manages the inevitable jump scares well, the special effects are impressive and it even manages to throw in the debate about piracy, torrenting and copyright ownership. Plus it does leave the way open for a sequel (though, seven years on, that hasn't materialised). Afterafterimages, perhaps? Absolutely worth hitting the Add To Watchlist button for this one.