SINISTER VISIONS is an anthology of short horror tales, most of which benefit from the heavy involvement of Kim Sønderholm (THE HORROR VAULT; CRAIG; LITTLE BIG BOY).

Quite how this particular compendium came about, I'm not sure: there's little consistency shared between vignettes in terms of tone, and there's no wraparound story to even attempt a linking device.

It's most likely that this consists of a bunch of short films which were languishing unseen and unloved until some bright spark had the notion of grouping them together under the guise of a singular 'feature' film.

It all begins with "Succubus", directed by the aforementioned Sønderholm. This is good enough to open with introductory text which explains what a succubus is - you know, in case you didn't know.

In this instance, Emma (Kat Herlo) is an archaeologist working in a war-torn desert who unearths an ancient relic with mystical powers. Sensing that she's stumbled across something sinister, she decides to retire back to her home in Europe - but is plagued by suggestive voices and nightmares in which messages are delivered to her backwards.

Eventually, she takes to a local nightclub intent on picking up a man. She settles on Sønderholm, who is all too happy to cast his regular girlfriend to one side and get it on with this new blonde vixen. Bad move, my friend ...

"Succubus" isn't an especially strong opening gambit. It starts reasonably well, but soon settles into hackneyed motifs (the demonic voices) and lacks a satisfying denouement. The demonic make-up is a little weak too - though it's always nice to get a pair of bare breasts thrown in.

This is followed by a painfully bad mock found-footage skit wherein incompetent scientists plan, badly, how to survive a zombie infestation. The ensuing mock infomercial advertising the services of 'Holdcare', a firm who look after your recently re-animated loved ones for you, isn't much better. Think 'Monty Python', on an off day.

The next short film proper is Henric Brandt's "My Undead Girlfriend". This maintains the comedic tone of the latter two scenarios, albeit with a slightly more satirical bent. The commentary on marriage, love and relationships in general is pretty obvious as we meet Keith (Stefan Jonason), a loser in life whose girlfriend Janine (Camilla Lojdstrom) transforms into a zombie one day during sex.

Despite some dubious accents, amiable performances and some smart set-pieces (the comedy of manners around Janine's parents' dinner table is keenly observed) fuel this stylish and well-shot offering. Somewhat daft, obviously, but agreeably so: "My Undead Girlfriend" is the first short to hit a strike.

Next, we're straight into "Mother Knows Best" - another Sonderholm offering. Although the twist can be predicted too early on, this is still a well-shot and intelligently paced number that benefits further from strong performances.

Sønderholm takes centre-stage as Karl, a man who still needs to justify his taste in women to his overbearing mother. Which doesn't bode well for his date on this night, the unsuspecting Rebecca (Tori Montgomery).

Come the grisly finale of "Mother Knows Best", we realise this is fairly original insight into how a serial killer's mind ticks. It's definitely worth a look.

Sønderholm returns in capacities as both actor and director in "A Woman Scorned", a sort of "torture porn lite" in which a demented wife (Mehrnaz Bagheri Beiknejad) takes revenge upon her cheating hubbie (Sønderholm) and his mistress.

Some stylish lighting, enthusiastic performances and a dark punch line keep "A Woman Scorned" ticking over nicely.

The real talking point of this portmanteau though is sure to be its final segment, Doug Gehl's "Genital Genocide".

In terms of storyline, it's as vacuous as "Succubus". It centres on oversized serial killer who sits on the electric chair and gleefully confesses to his misdeeds in disgusting detail, much to the chagrin of the spectators facing him.

We get flashbacks to help illustrate just how evil this man has been. Cue lots of nudity and gore, wherein scenes of necrophilia and cannibalism are graphically included. The killer's unapologetic, taunting dialogue is almost as transgressive as his depicted acts - and so, we're invited to revel in how this situation culminates.

Another well-lit and slickly edited affair, "Genital Genocide" also boasts credible FX and decent performances. It's just a shame its title sounds like it could be the next bad grindcore band.

SINISTER VISIONS is a curious proposition. As alluded to at the fore of this review, it appears to consist of unrelated shorts that haven't prospered elsewhere. And yet, somehow, I gathered a sense of pace and ended up enjoying most of what I'd viewed.

There is undeniable ambition on offer, in all of the segments listed, with acute attention to characters and aesthetics suggesting that each short is a labour of love for all concerned.

Of course, the film is often cheap and undeniably uneven; it's never going to be the case that these ambitions are appreciated by all viewers.

So there you have it: veering madly between dark horror and weird comedy, SINISTER VISIONS is an odd, briskly paced affair. But, despite this and its mega-low budget, it demonstrates a lot of potential. If you want boobies, gore, and the odd titter (both intentional and otherwise) from your horror anthologies, you could do a lot worse that checking out this film.

We received the film to review via a secure online link. So there's no DVD review as such, though I can report that the film was shot on HD equipment in 16x9. It looked very good on my laptop.

I understand Chemical Burn Entertainment have already released the film onto DVD in the US.

All in all, I'd say SINISTER VISIONS has enough ambition and technical merits to justify further investigation. It's inconsistent, but the highs outweigh its lows.

By Stuart Willis

Released by Apotheosis Film