FNC 2020: Violation (2020)

Violation (2020)

Violation

Director (and writers): Dusty Mancinelli & Madeleine Sims-Fewer

Cast: Madeleine Sims-Fewer, Anna Maguire, Jesse LaVercombe, Obi Abili

A troubled woman on the edge of divorce returns home to her younger sister after years apart. But when her sister and brother-in-law betray her trust, she embarks on a vicious crusade of revenge. – IMDB

Violation is a revenge thriller. One of the more direct and straight forward stories to be shown at this year’s Festival du Nouveau Cinema. Or at least it would seem that way. Violation executes its story on a double track. On one hand, its set in the present as the main character, Miriam reunites with her sister and her family to help prepare for a family gathering but there is a tension in the sisterhood and an uneasiness that sets between them that quickly comes to light when it also becomes apparent that she has other motives to be there that takes a rather brutal turn of events as her meticulous revenge plan. That’s where the other side comes into play as it flips between the present, the past answers the questions brought forward to what has caused her to go on this revenge streak. Violation is subtle and intense but yet, also brings forth this look at a touchy subject where it brings into question how the situation was interpreted and how she views it and the psyche behind her taking the matters into her own hands.

I still remember watching a short film last year on Shudder (which isn’t there anymore) called The Substitute which I liked a lot starring Madeleine Sims-Fewer who stars and writes the script and it was one that really showed how much potential she had as a writer. Helming both co-director/co-writer and the main actress, Madeleine Sims-Fewer plays Miriam, a woman with a revenge plan both wronged by her sister and her brother-in-law as it navigates between the past relationships with her husband and their failing marriage, the sisterhood and their trust and somewhat shaky foundation as well as the friendship/family connection between the brother-in-law which takes a turn after a night of trusting chat takes a betraying turn. Its a complex role and yet, Madeleine Sims-Fewer gives so much to the character of Miriam that gives her a lot of different sides to the character with the writing and subtle dialogue also building up her character right from the beginning.

Violation is a great film. In fact, there’s a lot of discussion to be had about the character Miriam as well as the situation that she deals with especially stemming from what happens with her brother-in-law who she trusted due to their prior friendship before the relationship with her sister as well as her own relationship with her sister and the fragility that it seems to have. There’s a lot to explore here and yet, its not exactly a character study but the character and the course of events takes on a rather unexpectedly brutal and intense scene at one point that brings this whole movie to a different notch. Its the delicate touch on the execution and pacing that makes this film quite the hidden gem.

TV Binge: The Haunting of Bly Manor (2020)

The Haunting of Bly Manor (2020)

Creator: Mike Flanagan

Cast: Victoria Pedretti, Oliver Jackson-Cohen, Amelia Eve, T’Nia Miller, Rahul Kohli, Tahirah Sharif, Amelie Bea Smith, Benjamin Evan Ainsworth, Henry Thomas, Carla Gugino, Alex Essoe, Roby Attal, Kate Siegel, Katie Parker, Martn McCreadie

After an au pair’s tragic death, Henry hires a young American nanny to care for his orphaned niece and nephew who reside at Bly Manor with the chef Owen, groundskeeper Jamie and housekeeper, Mrs. Grose. – IMDB

After the success of The Haunting of Hill House (review), Mike Flanagan helms his next mini- series with another haunted house story called The Haunting of Bly Manor. The Haunting of Bly Manor takes some of the execution style of Hill House but is essentially its own story. After the Hill House experience, its hard to go into this one with a little more alertness and always on the lookout for whats hidden in the background (at least for us, it had that effect for at least a few episodes). Its unfair to compare the two even if there are a similar cast returning from Hill House in mostly supporting roles and being helmed by Flanagan as a creator but less this time as director. In fact, Bly Manor is a different beast in itself with Bly Manor being a new haunted house that comes to life with new characters and backstories and some new ghosts to discover which makes Bly Manor a creepily fun time and its has children so add in a little of the unsettling creepy children element.

Using the same execution of breaking down the episodes to discover the backstory of each of the characters on the past and present is a clever way to do this. In some ways, it gives it this feeling of peeling layers of an onion before every piece fits together and one twist/ secret gets revealed after the next while also getting to know each of the characters more to give them greater connection. Other than that Flanagan takes on the main role of writing which is what gives this piece a lot of style and atmosphere. He only takes the director’s seat for the first episode which sets off the story in a great direction in terms of setting up the proper atmosphere however, even in the hands of other directors, the TV series does still manage to keep a certain atmosphere that is always rather unsettling and creepy but in this one, its definitely more about the mystery and suspense built from what is actually happening.

With that said, the characters are the true star as each of their story comes to life. Victoria Pedretti plays a great role as the American au pair Dani who brings on some change to Bly Manor as she tries to dig into what is causing those abnormal things to happen whether with the children or the inexplicable things she sees or experiences. At the same time, the baggage she carries does brings on a few twists as well. The cook Owen (Rahul Kohli) is also a really fun character especially with some hilarious puns like Al-Cohol You Later (one that we have a lot of fun right now saying randomly). One of the best characters and possibly the one with one of the best episode is for the housekeeper Mrs. Grose (T’Nia Miller) who delivers a hell of a performance. Not to mention the kids deliver some great performances by Amelie Bea Smith and Benjamin Evan Ainsworth as Flora and Miles respectively. Then you have some comeback roles with one or two episodes as some decent characters with Henry Thomas as the uncle, Carla Gugino who is the narrator and Kate Siegel as a key character to the past of Bly Manor to just name a few. There’s a whole lore of how the ghosts and spirits work that becomes a very nice twist.

Bly Manor brings its own setting by itself. The grounds and the manor itself all comes to life with all the stories that slowly comes to surface. The cast brings quite a lot to the story just like the first one as they all have a great deal of depth and its never solely a ghost story but much more than that which is what makes The Haunting of Bly Manor so good. Its something of a love, revenge, family, drama with supernatural elements. There’s some heartwarming moments and some comedy and then there’s a lot of creepiness and fantastic eerie atmosphere at times that’s pretty well balances. Its the not the same as Hill House but different in an equally good way.

FNC 2020: Siberia (2020)

Siberia (2020)

Director (and co-writer): Abel Ferrara

Cast: Willem Dafoe, Christina Ferrara, Simon McBurney, Dounia Sichov

Abel Ferrara (King of New YorkBad Lieutenant) is back in a big way, setting his latest, a psychoanalytic nightmare — think Tarkovsky and Lynch in a boat crossing the Styx — in a Siberian dreamscape where Willem Dafoe offers refuge to visitors. – FNC 2020

Being unfamiliar with a lot of Abel Ferrara’s work other than Body Snatchers (review, which I watched in the early days of the blog and early days of writing movie reviews so its not really insightful) and a little more familiar with Willem Dafoe’s work (who I do think is fairly underrated as an actor), Siberia was an abstract visual feast that dived into some pretty bizarre segments.

Visually, Siberia is a treat both in its setting in the middle of isolated Siberian winterscape starting off at an inn run by Willem Dafoe’s character who gives refuge to people passing where he doesn’t understand what they say most of the time and quickly moving through this wintery land via dog sled on a journey to an unknown destination and landing in some caves and other interesting places leading to deserts and such. I already said it before, its really out there and because of that, its easy to get lost but somehow, I feel like its meant to reflect on this character of Willem Dafoe as he moves through these scenes reflecting on this own life and whatever feelings that he’s getting as it blends into the different places that he is. The imagery, the atmosphere and the cinematography is fantastic even if I might not have quite understood everything that was going on. In fact, all those elements together crafts what it describes as a nightmare which I do agree with as a lot of it is very unsettling even sometimes in how its scripted and the dialogue.

Willem Dafoe does grab this character, Clint in a rather mesmerizing way. He fits into this role in a fairly convincing fashion molding, facing each blend of reality and hallucination into this interesting character going through different dilemmas (I’m not sure if that’s the right word to use here). In some scenes, it feels like his character is having this confrontation with himself and there’s something very intense here that needs to be understood under all the abstract elements. There is a limited amount of dialogue going on and yet in a very subtle and subconscious way, we do know a lot more about Clint’s character by the end.

While Siberia might not be exactly my cup of tea, it sure seemed like in all the oddities and bizarre nightmares, there is something ripe for discussion about human relationships and Clint’s character and the depth of each of the scenarios of what is reality and hallucination because it does jump from different climates and it does feel disjointed without fully understanding this whole movie. Siberia is a tough movie to talk about because of how unusual everything is but after having a few chats with others who are more familiar with Abel Ferrara’s work, it does seem to be right on track with his style (which is something I’m going to explore further and hopefully come back to follow-up with a better understanding). If Ferrara’s work is something that you enjoy, this might be one to check out especially since I did appreciate the cinematography and Dafoe’s performance. On a final note though, I might not be the best person to vouch for this movie at this point but Siberia is unique, that point I am absolutely certain of.

*Siberia is currently available on Festival du Nouveau Cinema that runs until October 31st, 2020*

Double Feature: #Alive (2020) & The Bridge Curse (女鬼橋, 2020)

Next up in the Halloween movie marathon is an Asian film double feature with South Korean Netflix zombie film, #Alive paired with Taiwanese horror film, The Bridge Curse, both on Netflix fittingly for this themed month.

Let’s check it out!

#Alive (2020)

#

Director (and co-writer): Il Cho

Cast: Ah-In Yoo, Shin-Hye Park, Bae-soo Jeon, Hyun-Wook Lee

The rapid spread of an unknown infection has left an entire city in ungovernable chaos, but one survivor remains alive in isolation. It is his story. – IMDB

There’s no doubt that there is no shortage of zombie movies out there. I mean, we’ve covered a ton of them here but after the success of Train to Busan, its hard to write-off what South Korean cinema has to offer. #Alive is a little different. In many ways, its about survival during the zombie apocalypse (which movie isn’t) but its more than that as its about two characters self-quarantined during this post-apocalypse. As much as there’s zombies, its about a guy and a girl both in their own apartments in the same complex surviving in their own way. Its a different angle because its also very character-oriented. #Alive is structured in a good progression from a focus on the guy and his survival to realizing he isn’t “alone” and then reuniting the characters to survival together. Its a little far-fetched in some scenes when they reunite and plays upon how lucky they are to beat a ton of zombies but it does work pretty well in terms of the tension and atmosphere.

In reality, there is where #Alive stands out and that’s the two characters. In reality, the zombies are a definite threat but they are less scary than the desperate situation that the two characters are caught in. With their wits and their own know-hows, they end up being quite a team of helping each other out and each having their own story and unknowingly saving each other in some subtle moments that clues in on their individual characters that the other doesn’t learn about. Zombie movies at this point are the best when they are entertaining to watch which #Alive is absolutely there. Sure, it doesn’t give anything new with the zombies or the post-apocalypse situation and maybe even the characters but the angle and the premise or making it more character-oriented and a lonely quarantine probably lands even better because its released during the current landscape in our own reality and at least made me question my own preparedness at home for whatever survival needs that I might be lacking.

The Bridge Curse (2020)

Director: Lester Hsi

Cast: JC Lin, Vera Yen, Summer Meng, Ning Chang, Ruby Zhan, Yi-hung Hsieh, Cheng Ko

University students, planning a bravery initiation test for their fellow classmates, choose a campus bridge rumored to be haunted by a vengeful female ghost. – IMDB

I’ve always been pretty skeptical about Chinese horror movies in general. As much as they try, it all turns out to be fairly generic and full of horror tropes. With that said, I’ve only started going through some horror stuff sporadically from Taiwan (prior it was mostly Hong Kong horror) and The Bridge Curse is one of those that recently landed on Netflix. The Bridge Curse has some strong vibes of Dreadout, the game and not the film adaptation, which was decent enough. Actually there are some scenes that almost replicate that of one or two cutscenes from the game. The Bridge Curse plays on a lore about a female ghost haunting a bridge where at midnight, the steps leading away from the bridge will mysteriously have one extra step and if the person walking the steps counts to the extra step and turns around then they will see the ghost and be haunted. The story itself is fairly generic and it does have some creepy moments but most of it is rather expected. Where it does fall flat is that the surprise in the finale is a bit lackluster and it has to do a lot with the execution. In some ways, it may have benefited from being either a full found footage film instead of bouncing back and forth between that and the normal film structure. It might actually have worked better as the former.

The Bridge Curse’s structure is a parallel of bouncing between the past where the university students perform this initiation set-up/demonstration for their juniors and the story progresses at the same time as the present where a reporter is on location investigating the details of it to get to the bottom of this Bridge Curse and whether there was something more to the case. The structure is pretty good as it pairs up the two parts from one side reaching a certain room and then bouncing back to the present being in that room. The pieces of clues that she finds and how she connects it together also works well logically.

As much as that, the university students has their own little issues and some of the parts and the dialogue is not scripted that good, making these characters a little empty as well. At the same time, the scares are all fairly predictable even if some of the execution did turn out a little creepy although the ghost reveal did happen a little too early and the scares at times happened a little too frequent which made it lose its effectiveness by the end.

That’s it for this double feature!
Have you seen these two Asian horror films?

Double Feature: The Babysitter: Killer Queen (2020) & Unfriended: Dark Web (2018)

After our single feature yesterday, we’re back to the the next double feature! This time we’re looking at a pair of horror sequels. The first is Netflix Original film The Babysitter’s sequel: The Babysitter: Killer Queen and Unfriended (aka when I saw it it was called Cybernatural)’s sequel, Unfriended: Dark Web. Let’s check it out!

The Babysitter: Killer Queen (2020)

Director: McG

Cast: Judah Lewis, Samara Weaving, Jenna Ortega, Emily Alyn Lind, Andrew Bachelor, Robbie Amell, Bella Thorne, Hana Mae Lee, Ken Marino, Leslie Bibb, Chris Wylde

Two years after Cole survived a satanic blood cult, he’s living another nightmare: high school. And the demons from his past? Still making his life hell. – IMDB

The sequel of The Babysitter (review) is something of a disappointing follow-up. In some ways, it has a bit of the rinse and repeat formula where its also about performing a satanic blood cult and it brings back the ghosts of Cole’s past in the form of the cast from the first film. On one hand, the original cast brings in a lot of callbacks from the first one whether its their personality or what happens to them that adds a lot of fun moments for fans of the first film. I’m not quite sure it lands as well for someone watching this without the first film (although I’m not sure who goes into sequel without watching the first one especially since The Babysitter is also a Netflix Original film so its all the same platform). With that said, the other side is the partnering with an unlikely ally which is the first twist fairly early in the movie that brings in the second group there to perform this ritual and also targeting Cole. With that said, Cole has a spontaneous partner in the new girl in school, Phoebe (Jenny Ortega) which links back to Samara Weaving’s character, Bee which also takes on a parallel storyline.

If anything, Killer Queen is disappointing because it loses its simplicity of the first film being as straightforward and scripted better in its originality of the characters and the babysitter running a cult which has some comedy and some more abrupt moments. This one runs on a lot of tangents and a bigger setting. The setting itself does it a lot of favors and the original cast also is very enjoyable to watch as well as Jenny Ortega’s character is a standout as well. But then, they bring in the parents which is meant to be rather funny but a lot of times runs on fumes at times and falls short of the comedy that it should land. Perhaps the beginning it was a lot more entertaining than by the time it reaches the end. The end is redeemed when it takes this different twist which was a little obvious by the end but gives a little redemption to the characters.

Overall, its still a little disappointing. Its not exactly bad as it just loses the horror comedy elements by the end. Its a little disjointed and tries to add too many moving parts than the story actually needs. It falls short in a few elements. Its a little sad since I was really hoping to like this one but by the middle, it just got a little frustrating to watch, mostly with the new cast being a little overacting and the characters just not really working as well.

Unfriended: Dark Web (2018)

Director (and writer): Stephen Susco

Cast: Colin Woodell, Stephanie Nogueras, Betty Gabriel, Rebecca Rittenhouse, Andrew Lees, Connor Del Rio, Savira Windyani

A teen comes into possession of a new laptop and soon discovers that the previous owner is not only watching him, but will also do anything to get it back. – IMDB

When Unfriended (review) released, it was the beginning of a cyber found footage style. While the first movie some of its issues, the concept itself proved to be a good one. One that would prove to be especially engaging watching since in some ways, the audience was the invisible spectator in the story as this is all going on through a Skype call. It was a little surprising to see that they ended up making a sequel for it but set in another realm, the Dark Web (which was conveniently on my radar because some video games had explored that as well). In many ways, Unfriended: Dark Web actually is better than the first movie. For one, the setting and the tension is a lot better. The execution and how they facilitate the call even if the technology is pretty much the same. Adding to the equation a deaf girlfriend and some relationship issues and the whole message of not taking what isn’t yours, these friends start off with a virtual game night and ends up being dragged into this dark web community of craziness with what starts off as a simple deed to return the laptop turns into a bigger reach when it involves the Dark Web and the members.

Unfriended: Dark Web is really quite an intense ride. There are twists and turns throughout and it uses the found footage concept effectively. Some of the characters and dialogue might have some little issues here and there but overall, the experience is really good. Its a lot more subtle horror and tension build-up than it is about how they all die. Its plot and the way things flow actually matches up to the little surprises with how the dark web members plan out their kills in a very clever way that all clicks together at the end. An impressive sequel and one that honestly is a rare case of the sequel being better than its original.

That’s it for this double feature!
Have you seen this pair of sequels?

FNC 2020: The Cloud in Her Room (她房间里的云, 2020)

The Cloud in Her Room (2020)

Director (and writer): Zheng Lu Xinyuan

Cast: Jin Jing, Dan Liu, Zhou Chen, Ye Hongming, Kangning Dong

Muzi, 22, returns to her hometown of Hangzhou. Her parents, now separated, have both moved on. She, in turn, hovers between past and present, flight and the eternal return.  – Festival du Nouveau Cinema

The Cloud in Her Room is generally the type of movies we all expect to see in Festival du Nouveau Cinema. Its absolutely arthouse. The movie is set in the current times in Hangzhou but shot completely in black and white along with some very interesting transition with close-ups of water, upside down swimming in the pool sequence and a negatives sort of filter of a building so on so forth. The setting itself also adds a lot of characters from her walks along the river to the residential area and its buildings and the different plances that she ventures alone or with others.

Its a slow-burn drama about a girl who returns home and the story floats between conversations with her mother, her father, her boyfriend and a barowner that she meets, her half-sister and the time she spends by herself wandering back to the family’s old apartment before her parents divorced. Another part is something like a documentary as there are interviews of the different people in her life or that she meets who talks about their view of relationships and how they came to this point in life. The concept of love, relationships and companionship and the unavoidable loneliness that she is coping with as everyone, especially her parents have moved on but she still hasn’t as she seems to be caught between the past and the present. We soon realize that in the present day, she’s remembering times of the past and what her past relationship meant to her as she was reconnecting with her each of her parents in their own lives.

While the film does float to the other characters in Muzi’s life in various conversations whether between her mother and her foreign boyfriends or her father and his new family, the central character is Muzi and she is one interesting subject. She is very flexible as she tries to blend with everyone and accepting to her mother’s more outward personality and her array of boyfriends. At the same time, her father has his own struggles with his family of his involvement and the whole discussion of not being a good father and in reality, realizing it himself when he asks whether she blames him for his decisions. At the same time, the most apparent relationship is the one with Yufei, a friend from school that has expanded further to something more intimate but never defined as boyfriend/girlfriend outwardly as he has issues with her personality and how she acts sometimes while he also has issues of his own from other relationships and really talking vaguely about what he wants from this before having a very memorable scene between them at the end.

The Cloud in Her Room isn’t for everyone. Its very slow-paced and almost feels like nothing much is happening except for the mundanity of Muzi’s life. Its full of subtle notes of watching a girl wander through her time and embracing her past and present and coming to terms with her life at this stage. Between the conversations and even the silent moments of observations and being in her own world, the movie crafts a rather deep character for Muzi and her life as well as the people in it. It sometimes feels random and disjointed but when the movie ends and giving it some thought (and I did a lot because this review took over a week to write up), it becomes a film that does carry some profound thoughts about relationships: family, love, friendship, companionship, etc.

*The Cloud in Her Room is currently screening on Festival du Nouveau Cinema and will be available until October 18th.*

Hall (2020)

Hall (2020)

Director: Francesco Giannini

Cast: Carolina Bartczak, Yumiko Shaku, Mark Gibson, Bailey Thain, Julian Richings

When a debilitating sickness spreads across a long hotel hallway, a few scattered victims fight for survival, and try to escape from the dark narrow stretch of isolated carnage. – IMDB

Matching very well to our current times, Hall is a horror movie surrounding a viral outbreak except it is fairly contained at the beginning phases in a hotel hallway. Its a bit vague on how the whole thing goes down but it does show how it starts and how the virus itself evolves as it infects the people on this normal hotel floor, especially focused from the angle of three characters: Naomi, a Japanese pregnant woman overseas for work running away from her past, Val, a mother getting ready to leave her abusive marriage with her daughter Kelly.

These three people are the choice characters as the story dives a little deeper into their story in something of a parallel execution in the first half of their arrival and what they all are doing before they realized something was wrong whether to themselves or those around them, including the people that they meet in the hallways who are now infected. The focus on three characters gives them each their own struggles that they need to overcome as they slowly come to grips with this infection happening to a different level. The backstory does feel like it cuts in to set up their situation and give them a connecting point to show what is at stake for their survival and their desire to escape this viral infection. Especially with their struggle to do it especially as the movie starts off with someone infected by the disease, crawling slowly down the hallway in their paralyzed state. Its a powerful way to open up a movie and quickly grabs attention to find out how it got there. The movie starts off more focus on one side of these characters and then ends with another side of the equation.

Its a clever way to execute this whole thing as everyone while similar in how they are escalating in their infection, each seem to progress in a different way. As clueless as the people on this hotel floor, Hall is all a mystery for its audience to discover how the virus works on its infected as the movie progresses. Hall is a subtle movie especially with its virus infection premise. Its a much more psychological fear that digs deep in its scenes of crawling down the hallway to how the infection changes the appearance of the infected. For some, its creates a more psychological effect and adding in the factor of the three characters especially Val and her daughter Kelly being separated for a duration of the film. In reality, Val’s subtle signs of her abusive relationship is also rather unsettling in its various scenes which builds more on a desire for her to escape this with her daughter.

Hall is decent horror film about a virus infection in its early spread in a normal everyday single setting of a hotel hallway. The long narrow setting gives the ones trying to leave its share of obstacles. There are some familiar tropes and some would argue they sandwich perhaps one crawling scene too much which points out a little pacing issue. It loses its effect a little at a certain point before changing the direction and pulling it the story back on track. At the same time, how the infection progresses in its different states is where the horror truly lies and perhaps partially with the people that these characters are escaping from. The characters are all scripted really well even if children will be children and Kelly’s character makes some silly child decisions which can be a little frustrating but overall, they all pull out pretty decent performances.

*Screener received from ChicArt PR*
*Hall will be screening in Blood in the Snow Festival 2020 on October 30th*

Blog Tour: To Reap the Spirit (The Dead Dreamer Series Book 3) by Sarah Lampkin (Review/Giveaway)

To Reap the Spirit
(The Dead Dreamer Series #3)
By: Sarah Lampkin

To Reap the Spirit

Publication: October 13th, 2020
Genre: New Adult/Urban Fantasy

SYNOPSIS

Sanguis daretur. Ignis invocavit.

The third installment in the haunting Dead Dreamer series.

Somehow Brenna Whit has survived to her junior year at Nephesburg College. Despite all odds, she’s fought against the Gatekeepers and lived. But the battle for the Fade has only just begun.

New pieces have been added to the board.

The Fade opens to the Veil.

And a Shade from the past returns.

With Brenna’s secret out, everyone is after her: dead and living alike. Those from across the sea have come and they’re determined to regain control of their broken faction.

Questions will be answers

Fires will be lit

Chaos will reign

Add to Goodreads

REVIEW

Picking up from the situation of Book 2, To Reap the Spirit explores further into the Fade as more moving parts of the dangers surrounding Brenna’s Dead Dreamer side of things take on a new meaning. Much like Book 2, the Gatekeepers have called in another Dead Dreamer, Bridget to remedy and control the situation of her unsealing the doors to stop their conflicting goals. However, Bridget is a much more dangerous character that takes things further as she can cause some dire consequences with her power.

Book 3 brings in the equation of the different stances that the Guardians and Gatekeepers have as well as things that they also can’t seem to control while also giving Brenna her own further struggles with balancing life in the Fade and how far she can go before even she has her limits while also having the side of life with the living that she can’t seem to get involved with. At the same time, it explores another dimension other than the Fade called The Veil. At the same time, pulling in more characters to have bigger parts to play that were either present in previous books or at least mentioned. There’s a bigger element of action and danger throughout which does make it more engaging but at times, what made the previous 2 books stand out was the smaller scope from at least the character standpoint but to be fair, it was inevitable that it had to get bigger since we had already hints of bigger parties at play than what was happening in the college campus.

Overall, as a 3rd book of a series, its engaging because of how it manages to expand further into the story and world building on the elements from the previous books. At the same time, adding more characters expands further from just its main character Brenna while giving more room for other people to be involved like her interaction with her best friends, Aeria and Damon as well as having more roommates and new “enemies” that adds quite a bit to the story overall.

Score: 4.5 out of 5

Purchase Links
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DEAD DREAMER BOOKS

To Dream is to Die (Book #1)

Eighteen-year-old Brenna Whit is entering college as a freshman and starting to meet new people, but she hides a dark secret. Because of an accident that happened three years ago, her spirit wanders the Fade whenever she falls asleep. It’s something she wants to keep hidden from the world, but when she sees someone watching her in spirit form, she fears the secret’s out. With new friends, possibly new enemies, school, and a new crush, Brenna has too much to worry about for just her freshman year of college.

Perfect for those who enjoy Buffy the Vampire Slayer and Supernatural

Goodreads

To Wake the Dead (Book #2)

Brenna Whit teeters the line between the living and the dead. Now that she’s back for her sophomore year at Nephesburg College, she’s determined to focus on the waking world. But when her own soul is trying to kill her and a new Dead Dreamer is fighting for power, Brenna is dragged back into the world of the dead.

The Gatekeepers are doing everything they can to restore the power they once held over the town of Nephesburg. With a mysterious set of twins arriving in town to help them prepare, Brenna must decide what’s important: continuing to hide her secret or reveal herself and fight for what she believes is right. The decision could end up leading to a permanent death for Brenna so she must choose wisely.

Classes have begun…

The battlefield is set…

Let the fight for the Fade begin.

Goodreads

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

A native of Richmond, Virginia, Sarah Lampkin is a 2015 graduate from Lynchburg College [University of Lynchburg] with a master’s degree in English. Since graduation, Sarah now lives in Northern Virginia working in the IT field as a Technical Writer while continuing her research for her graduate school thesis. When she isn’t working, Sarah continues her Celtic mythology research and Gaelic studies, while working on the Dead Dreamer series.

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GIVEAWAY

Digital collection of the Dead Dreamer series (Everyone)
ENTER GIVEAWAY HERE

BLOG TOUR SCHEDULE

October 12th

Reads & Reels (Guest Post) http://readsandreels.com
It’s a Novel Life (Review) https://lifesanovelty.blogspot.com/
The Faerie Review (Guest Post) http://www.thefaeriereview.com
Cocktails & Fairy Tales (Spotlight) https://www.facebook.com/CocktailsFairytales
@bearpiglovesbooks (Spotlight) https://www.instagram.com/bearpiglovesbooks/

October 13th

@the.b00kreader (Review) https://www.instagram.com/the.b00kreader
I Smell Sheep (Guest Post) http://www.ismellsheep.com/
Dark Whimsical Art (Spotlight) https://www.darkwhimsicalart.com/blogs/news
PoptheButterfly (Spotlight) https://popthebutterfly.wordpress.com

October 14th

@a.p.reading (Review) https://www.instagram.com/a.p.reading/ @joanna.zoe (Review) https://instagram.com/joanna.zoe?igshid=1xipr7pa6a9zl
@dreaminginpages (Review) https://www.instagram.com/dreaminginpages/ @BETTER_OFF_READ (Spotlight) http://WWW.INSTAGRAM.COM/BETTER_0FF_READ/
Rambling Mads (Spotlight) http://ramblingmads.com

October 15th

Dash Fan Book Reviews (Spotlight) https://dashfan81.blogspot.com/
Tranquil Dreams (Review) https://klling.wordpress.com/
Horror Tree (Guest Post) https://www.horrortree.com
Breakeven Books (Spotlight) https://breakevenbooks.com
Misty’s Book Space (Spotlight) http://mistysbookspace.wordpress.com

October 16th

The Magic of Wor(l)ds (Guest Post) http://themagicofworlds.wordpress.com Book Dragon Girl (Interview) https://bookdragongirl.com
Entertainingly Nerdy (Review) https://www.entertaininglynerdy.com Lunarian Press (Spotlight) https://www.lunarianpress.com/
Sophril Reads (Spotlight) http://sophrilreads.wordpress.com

Blog Tour Organized by:

R&R Book Tours


What’s Up 2020: Week 41

A bit of a late one today since I lost track of time with Thanksgiving happening on Monday and having a day off and a change in my work situation which has everything all upside down right now. Either way, I realized it just now so here we are with a rushed What’s Up piece before I run off to wrap up something else!

READING

To Reap the Spirit
  • Undine

Currently reading: To Reap the Spirit (The Dead Dreamer Series #3)

I’ve been a little bit lazy with reading of late and it has to do with another film festival that popped up. With that said, I have a reading commitment for a blog tour that’s literally happening this week so its been a rush phase finishing up the reading last week. However, I did watch a movie that inspired me to go check out Undine which is a German fairy tale novella. Its an interesting one to say the least.

PLAYING

cat force

Currently playing: Cat Force, Find Out

I never got around to starting Simulacra although its definitely still on my mind but I’m going to be realistic and not tease it any further and just stick with that I’m actually having time to play and that’s Cat Force, which I believe that I’ve reached the end of that game for me although I’m also still playing Find Out and that game is still so much fun.

WATCHING

Topside
  • Raw (2016, Review)
  • Future World (2018)
  • Hall (2020)
  • The Cloud in Her Room (2020)
  • Topside (2020, Review)
  • Diary of the Dead (2007, Review)
  • Survival of the Dead (2009, Review)
  • Mamà, Mamà, Mamà (2020, Review)
  • Undine (2020)
  • Jack Whitehall: At Large (2017)
  • Jack Whitehall: I’m Only Joking (2020)
  • #Alive (2020)
  • Unfriended: Dark Web (2018)

Between Festival du Nouveau Cinema coverage (which the writing is going incredibly slow) and October’s Halloween marathon trying to hit the 31 Days of Halloween, its been a wild ride on the movie watching front. I did watch a few really good movies though plus everything isn’t completely off track considering FNC is just a week into the festival and it runs for the rest of the month. I’d recommend a few like Mamà Mamà Mamà and Undine and of course, my highlight of this week goes to Topside which is an amazing movie!

Although, if we talk about other movies here, Raw is a very good movie and I have some upcoming double feature for Halloween marathon picks that were some great watches! Lots on the movie front in terms of writing coming up once I get things back into a certain routine this month with all the changes.

BINGING

  • The Haunting of Bly Manor (2020)

Currently binging: Love Signal 3, The Journey Across the Night, Go Newbies

Would you look at the short list of TV happening right now? I really shaved off a lot of stuff that I was watching and didn’t start new things. Obviously the reason is because of movies but then I just couldn’t not watch The Haunting of Bly Manor right away. Plus, I was scared social media would start sharing all kinds of spoiler even if I try to avoid it. I love Mike Flanagan and The Haunting of Bly Manor is really great. It was a trip that sent shivers down my spine and had me on a edge a lot. The horror that gets me the most is anything related to ghosts and spirits so this stuff is right up my alley.

With that said, The Journey Across the Night that no one is watching sadly is a TV drama with that kind of psychological thriller twist to it that I really like. Plus, its set in Hong Kong and meshes Cantonese and Mandarin dialogue which I really appreciate. Its a ton of fun so far with some creepy moments. Hopefully more people will watch it. I would have loved to do a TV binge for it in October but the series runs into November since it only releases 3 new episodes a week.

That’s it for this What’s Up!
Hopefully your week has been less of a confusing rush of stuff!
What have you been reading/watching/binging/playing?

Double Feature: Diary of the Dead (2007) & Survival of the Dead (2009)

Time to wrap up Romero’s Dead franchise as we look as the last two films with 2007’s found footage, Diary of the Dead and then 2009’s Survival of the Dead. Let’s check it out!

Diary of the Dead (2007)

Director (and writer): George A. Romero

Cast: Joshua Close, Michelle Morgan, Shawn Roberts, Joe Dinicol, Todd Schroeder, Laura de Carteret, Amy Lalonde, Philip Riccio, Tatiana Maslany, Martin Roach

A group of young film students run into real-life zombies while filming a horror movie of their own. – IMDB

Diary of the Dead is found footage which means its in a rebooted universe of the current time when the film was made in the 2000s however, its supposed to be slotted in the original at around the same time as Night of the Living Dead (review) when the whole apocalypse just started. Timeline and technology wise, its off from each other. Luckily, the first film isn’t about that and focuses on the whole ordeal and the people dealing with it so its really just getting past the decade difference and taking this movie for what it is. Its a nifty and dialed down film seeing as the previous film Land of the Dead (review) was a much bigger scope. This one brings it back down to a simple found footage concept even if it doesn’t really work a lot even if it tries to justify the purpose of making it and insisting on capturing everything on camera even if the characters argue over it constantly throughout the film.

While its hard to say that Diary of the Dead is as good as any of previous movies in the franchise, it does offer a few good zombie kills. The characters are a mixed bag and the monologue is a little wooden. The whole found footage is done fairly well and the whole idea of the importance of capturing this world on film is alright at times. There are some good moments and then of course, we have one scene which links up to the next movie. This movie takes the view of different young adults dealing with the situation together but the next film swaps over to a more military side seeking refuge.

Survival of the Dead (2009)

Survival of the Dead

Director (and writer): George A. Romero

Cast: Alan Van Sprang, Kennth Welsh, Julian Richings, Wayne Robson, Kathleen Munroe, Richard Fitzpatrick, Athena Karkanis, Stefano DiMatteo, Devon Bostick, John Healy, Philippa Domville

On an island off the coast of North America, local residents simultaneously fight a zombie epidemic while hoping for a cure to return their un-dead relatives back to their human state. – IMDB

The last movie of the Dead franchise takes us to a group that the Diary of the Dead crew meets and gets pretty much robbed by this National Guardsmen group that the story turns to their side as they also try to survive and as they follow a message about refuge on an island set up by a man exiled from Plum Island and sets up a plan to send everyone to the island to go against this man where these families are feuding.

Its a rather silly type of story but it talks about how different these two are treating the zombies and how they should be treated and it drags this group into the mess as they land on the island and slowly get caught up in the different traps they set up. The story itself feels a tad empty and the whole feud between the two just feels a little off and maybe tired at this point. It seems a little random for this story to pop up at this point especially since the two feuding family leaders aren’t really good people anyways but it does highlight the point of Day of the Dead on a parallel that zombies do have this ability to connect to menial tasks that they used to do and can be trained to act a certain way. In some ways, the story isn’t all a bust.

In reality, the story itself is where it seems to just not work too well. There are some decent moments here as well. I did probably feel this movie felt the most meaningless out of the whole franchise especially since it doesn’t offer a whole lot of different elements and doesn’t add a lot to the whole story and lore plus the characters don’t really stand out either.

That’s it for this double feature!
Thoughts on the Romero’s Dead franchise?