Tales for the Campfire 3 ★★½

Gathering around the campfire one last time, the group decides to tell more scary stories to entertain each other.

The Good Stor(ies): Wee One-Taking home a gift from Africa, a woman is surprised to learn the voodoo in her possession is very much alive and looking to torment her. This is a pretty solid way to start this out. The simple story works well in this brief format, giving an idea of the dolls’ cursed origins and then getting straight to the chasing and tormenting around the house which is rather fun and energetic. However, it would’ve worked a little better had this been stretched out a little with some build-up as to what’s going on with the doll and preparing the viewer for the final twist which is completely out of nowhere and makes no sense.

The Bitter Half-After being released from a mental asylum, a man troubled by the death of his twin brother finds himself tormented by voices in his head. This was a slightly underwhelming story. Far too much of it is spent on the seemingly random shots of walking around the house and settling in that it takes a while for something to start happening as the character-based piece tends to focus on psychological breakdown rather than action. The atmosphere of him being alone in the house and the tempting fate of the voices coming through are genuinely creepy and unnerving, especially with the final twist which is fun but again could’ve used a bit more time.

The Campfire Gang-Gathering around the campfire one last time, the group decides to tell more scary stories to entertain each other. As a wrap-around feature, this one does come off rather nicely. The groups’ chemistry and joking nature are quite fun and manage to keep this light and breezy around the storytelling aspect which is what sets up the main stories to be told in the anthology for it’s a fun enough framework. The fact that it does go on much longer than it needs to include some bizarre coda that is completely unexplained as to what’s going on and what the group is doing which is a slight disappointment in that regard.

The Bad Stor(ies): Cole Canyon Creeps-Coming home from a concert, a woman hitchhiking through a dark canyon road meets an unlikely commuter. This was a pretty simple and enjoyable story that works best when keeping itself confined to the atmosphere of being alone out in the middle of nowhere. There’s a lot to like here with the paranoia of the situation and trying to get to safety when someone is appearing to come after you, but again the brevity of the situation with no real build-up or payoff is featured.

The Prisoner-Stuck in her house on Halloween, an agoraphobic woman finds herself being stalked by an escaped mental patient from a local asylum. This one really had the most potential to be the best of the series but is a slight letdown. So much of the story’s setup is given as a precursor to the actual segment that could’ve been given to us through the on-screen events instead if there had been more time devoted to it which is a slight problem. Some of the padded time walking around the house or watching TV is an issue as well which is all the more troubling when the tension and build-up of the escaped patient news come into play and generates some this is the tensest of the segments.

The Gateway-Attempting to investigate a local legend, a couple heads out to a local cemetery and find something far more devilish than they intended. Again, another effort that tends to focus more on some underwhelming setup that could’ve used more time explaining the central myth that they’re investigating but instead goes for time-wasted at the bar at the beginning. However, this does tend to feature a rather inspired finale that offers up one of the only gore effects shots in the film which is a bit brief but still is thankful for the attempt at the bloodletting. Still, it’s too little too late with another confusing twist that undoes this one.

Rated Unrated/R: Graphic Language and Violence.