LA Horror Review: “L.A. Macabre” (Season 1)

Los Angeles is an incredible city with a rich culture and colorful history.  While this city has given us some amazing events, it has also given us some of the most horrific.  After all, this was the home of Richard Ramirez (The Night Stalker), The Black Dahlia murder, and the rise and fall of Charles Manson – perhaps the most notorious cult murderer of all time.  And, if you’re like me, you might have a morbid fascination toward some of these things and, perhaps, even a desire to learn about some of the under the radar crimes that may have been committed in this great state.

Luckily for us, there is Dan Ast‘s “L.A. Macabre,” a new web series about a trio of young filmmakers, Ryan (Ryan Hellquist), Collin (Aidan Bristow) and Jamie (Ryan Bartley), who set out to do just that.  But when the trio meets Callie (Corsica Wilson), plans to cover a wide variety of real life Los Angeles horror change, and begin to focus onto one sinister story that the media never covered: The New Family.

THUMB5-2“L.A. Macabre” is an impressive character-driven series, which is a hard feat to pull off, especially in this genre.  This is mostly due to the incredible performances from the shows main characters, the hosts of “L.A. Macabre,” Ryan Hellquist and Aidan Bristow.  They are both natural leading men and have no problem carrying each episode to its greatest potential.  Their characters are layered and deep, and each episode allows them to flex their acting chops a little bit further, especially when things get intense.  

Complimenting them nicely is the timid yet alluring Corsica Wilson, who plays ex-cult member Callie of the mysterious New Family.  She brings an element of mystery and intrigue and succeeds as being the catalyst for a lot of the show’s drama.  The chemistry of everyone on screen makes “L.A. Macabre” extremely enjoyable and easy to watch, as they not only succeed in their intensity and dread of the situations unfolding around them, but also bring a realistic, human quality, which is a great find in indie horror. There are no generic, stereotypical “horror” archetypes in “L.A. Macabre,” and I genuinely felt invested in these people as if they were actually investigating these events.  This is a fictional show…right?

But quality acting does not alone a good series make.  Writer / Director Dan Ast has come up with a clever, engaging horror show.  While the story flirts with real life events, namely the Manson Family murders, it creates an almost alternate history that is very believable.  This is Los Angeles, after all, and there’s plenty of whackos out there.  Pairing this idea up with the documentary filmmaking style, it really clicks.

Now, I know what you may be thinking…a documentary style, “this is real” approach has been done before, correct, but rarely does this work as seamless and believably as it does in “L.A. Macabre.”  The use of multiple cameras never feels like a gimmick or distraction, as there is a great blend of DSLR, webcam and GoPro footage that all comes together in terrific fashion. There are some incredibly creepy and intense moments where you are just begging to see what the other cameras are filming, but we are at the mercy of the characters’ choices, often just the click of a mouse, which changes our entire perception of the events we are witnessing.  This creates some serious tension and several jaw dropping moments throughout the series. Just wait until you see the season finale…

But while the episodes are fantastic, they are only part of the story…Ast and his crew have really put together a piece that’s so deep and layered that it’s unlike any web series I’ve ever seen before.  In fact, I HIGHLY recommend watching ALL of the additional content outside of the episodes themselves, as they add a whole lot more to the overall picture.  These include Jamie’s Video Blogs, which are co-written by Ryan Bartley, the “L.A. Macabre” updates & behind the scenes videos, as well as the mysterious LAMacabre Fan, who lurks about giving ominous clues to the team.  Needless to say, it’s an intricate and meticulously planned series and viewers with a keen eye to detail will be rewarded…

What we’ve posted here is just a sneak peak of the universe “L.A. Macabre” has created, and there’s not a lot about this show that I didn’t enjoy.  In fact, my only major problem with it is that the season is over and I’m DYING to find out what will happen next!  I’ve got my fingers crossed for a season two, that’s for damn sure.  And just a word to those curious horror thrill seekers out there…don’t bite off more than you can chew…you might just find yourself in a spot you can’t get out of…

You can subscribe and watch to the entire “L.A. Macabre” series in chronological order here.  Also, be sure to follow “L.A. Macabre” on Twitter & “like” the series on Facebook!


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