BITS 2021: The Family (2021)

The Family (2021)

Director (and co-writer): Dan Slater

Cast: Nigel Bennett, Toni Ellwand, Benjamin Charles Watson, Keana Lyn, Jenna Warren, Yasmin MacKay, Onyx Spark

A young family, living in isolation and forced into hard labor out of fear of dishonoring their Father and Mother, fight to free themselves from their religious cult. – IMDB

The Family dives into the rural 1800s setting in an isolated farmland who is run by a family who has strong religious faith and the parents makes sure that their children follow their strict rules. Right from the opening scene, the consequences of defying those rules are harsh. The opening scene sets up the tone of the plot as much as the whole scenario that this family lives with a strict father (Nigel Bennet) standing watch while the children work on their various chores and their mother (Toni Ellwand) keeping watching in her chair holding a shotgun in her hands. Its immediately apparent that this family is very different. Throughout the first act, their followings and their rules are laid out one by one. However, when a new member joins them and ends up having altered plans, it makes them question whether their father’s teachings are as true as they’ve believed before. The Family feels like a combination of The Witch (review) and another indie film earlier this year, Glasshouse (review).

The Family is a very decent watch. Its a psychological thriller at its core with both the haunting parent figures who craft their beliefs into their children’s mind, the unknown surroundings outside of their set threshold and a group of children who obviously are not their own offspring. The million questions start firing right from the beginning. What is this religion? Where do the children come from? Is there really an exterior threat? The main focus of the story is through the eyes of their children especially Caleb (Benjamin Charles Watson) as he is now entering adulthood and waiting for his companion to show up. At the same time, he is growing more curious about what his parents are up to and what may lie outside the threshold especially when his chore leads him to follow this odd noise. His curiosity slowly trickles to the others as they start to act on their suspicion especially Abigail (Jenna Warren) who quietly observes each of his brothers’ punishments one by one and hurts on her own. When a new girl enters the picture, Caleb’s infatuation and their father’s change in attitude all comes together to create their suspicion and wavering in faith.

With quiet films like these, its very much in the atmosphere and tone and The Family does this incredibly well. What also helps is that the cast of characters are also very well portrayed. The reactions and expressions exceed any dialogue whether its fear or worry. There’s this lingering unsettling feeling of not knowing when the whole situation will turn around and how they will retaliate when they inevitably will no longer believe in their religious ways and their parents’ teachings as well as try to break free from the rules. The Father and Mother are done incredibly well especially with the Mother who is this more subtle character who doesn’t speak a lot but feels like she has this dominating and manipulative appearance even more than the Father who seems to be running the whole thing. Caleb, portrayed by Benjamin Charles Watson, does a fantastic job as well. His character having the most development and change as he is the focal character right from the start as he experiences quite a few events throughout the film. However, in a more subtle role, Jenna Warren as Abigail also does a great job despite the lesser dialogue especially in the final act.

There’s a lot to love about The Family. It grabs the psychological thriller elements really well. There are a few interesting twists here. While its nothing that becomes very surprising but the tension and atmosphere is done very well as it uses the isolated natural setting efficiently and creating their whole life in this space. The questions are all answered by the end especially the ending itself giving a really nice touch. A really well done thriller through and through.

BITS 2021: Vicious Fun (2020)

Vicious Fun (2020)

Director (and co-written): Cody Calahan

Cast: Evan Marsh, Amber Goldfarb, Ari Millen, Julian Richings, Robert Maillet, Sean Baek, David Koechner, Alexa Rose Steele, Kristopher Bowman, Mark Gibson, John Fray

Joel, a caustic 1980s film critic for a national horror magazine, finds himself unwittingly trapped in a self-help group for serial killers. With no other choice, Joel attempts to blend in or risk becoming the next victim. – IMDB

Being a huge fan of Black Fawn Films since Antisocial (review), its almost like I’ve been following director and writer Cody Calahan from his debut until now. There’s a few little gaps in the filmography however, its always been intriguing and/or fun premises especially when looking at the last film, The Oak Room (review). This latest film which also happens to be available on Shudder right now is very different from the toned down last film premise but still incredibly fun. I’m always a fan when its title sells exactly and much more as to what is expected.

Vicious Fun follows a 1980s horror fanatic and film critic for a horror magazine called Joel (Evan Marsh) who follows his roommate’s new boyfriend Bob (Ari Millen) to this Chinese restaurant-bar and ends up getting himself drunk and passes out in the storage room. When he wakes up, the restaurant is closed and he stumbles into a self-help group for serial killers and gets mistaken for the missing member, Phil. Right when the others buy his impersonation, Bob enters to question his identity and all hell breaks loose as this cast of serial killers start to go after him. As he finds a potential ally, tries to protect his roommate and gets caught up with some dumb cops, the night takes a very dangerous turn. 

There’s so much to love about Vicious Fun. The 80s setting gives it the neon-lit rooms to the synthetic soundtrack that accompanies the entire film. The cinematography here is fantastic right down to the setting of the restaurant from its set design. Vicious Fun also has this rather straight-forward plot but still has a little reveal to another side for its female lead, another serial killer at the group with her own little plan that gets slightly sidetracked played by Amber Goldfarb. Much like some familiar faces as the serial killers especially in the indie film world with David Koechner, Ari Millen and Julian Richings. Each of the serial killers have their own different style which makes it all the more fun to watch. 

The cast here really does need a detailed mention as they all come together to put together this wonderful slasher all combined in one whether its the emotionless thought-out killer Fritz (Julian Richings) who disguises as a clown, the tall masked sorority/summer camp killer Mike (Robert Maillet), the Japanese chef and cannibal, Hideo (Sean Baek), the handsome and smart psychopath Bob (Ari Millen) who is a master of disguise and the Zachary, the government funded killer. This crew embodies all kinds of slashers mashed into one film and gives a little bit of everything as they work together to get rid of their intruder and the mysterious femme fatale Carrie with her own little mission and seemingly turns on them to help Joel. These two are an interesting pairing as well since its usual that we would see the cranky male mentor with the scaredy-cat young follower and yet, this one changes it to a badass lady who really carries the whole situation and Amber Goldfarb takes on this role so well.

Overall, Vicious Fun is a stylistic neon-lit, 80s music filled, blood-soaked and gut-spilling horror comedy. It’s a ton of fun to watch and just an overall good time. The characters are over the top crazy and yet, wrapped up in this wild night is a much more grounded character reacting ridiculously but for some normal joe is also very believable. The horror and comedy balance itself out very nicely. Vicious Fun is currently available on Shudder. 

BITS 2021: Woodland Grey (2021)

Woodland Grey (2021)

Director (and co-writer): Adam Reider

Cast: Jenny Raven, Ryan Blakely, Art Hindle, Katharine King So, Chelsea Goldwater

When a man living alone in the woods saves the life of a young woman, they are forced to coexist. Chaos ensues when the woman makes a terrifying discovery in the woods behind the man’s home and unleashes something truly haunting. – IMDB

Isolated woods setting is such a great setting and its nice to see that it is being used more and more in recent horror and/or thrillers. The helplessness and emptiness and difficulty to navigate makes it all the more dangerous. Woodland Grey captures all these elements. In the face of meeting a solitary loner in the woods who appears to be saving this young woman who has her own baggage to set off this spontaneous hiking trip and to make a rather ominous discovery, the typical assumptions can be made which are gradually revealed to be something else. The film itself drives the story rather well from that point on and keeps a constant grasp on the situation adding in a little something while also giving space for flashbacks to better understand these two characters and why they have ended up in the woods.

Woodland Grey thrives from a certain fear that is similar to that of films like Blair Witch where something more sinister resides in the woods. When this fear is revealed (as most synopsis have already revealed which doesn’t exactly make it a spoiler but it kind of is), it sits in a rather mysterious and unknown space for the remainder of the film. It also has a similar mechanism where the crew seems to be stuck in a loop. Not a time loop but just a literal loop in terms of area where they cannot escape this place, or can they being the main goal from that point on. The concept of the hidden mysterious entity is a rather decent concept except in execution here, it sits in so many questions and most of them unanswered by the end that it becomes so confusing by the end that its a little hard to digest what was watched when so little of the result can be fully understood. Normally, I do love films that give the mind a nice boggling but leaves space for some mystery to sit but this one has too many confusing moments by the end that even the ending itself feels too open to find some type of closure for this film or even contemplate further. However, the whole story structure moving from past and present is well thought out where the past and present does work well together.

However, the film is executed very well as it does use its location very well. The woods and the wandering isn’t just that. Every detail does come into play at some part of the story. Some of it is fairly predictable and rather easy to see where it goes but still, the mystery and atmosphere does help to make those moments still have a certain psychological fear attached to it. In films like this, a lot of it does revolve around well-crafted logical characters and whether in terms of the solitary man or the hiking girl, their reactions to their encounter all does make sense. Adding in their back stories in the flashbacks, they have a good development throughout. The most important one being the urgency of why the girl must escape the woods within a certain timeframe being a big underlying factor.

Overall, Woodland Grey is a decent psychological thriller. There are certain thrills to be had especially with all the mystery and the twist upon twists which sometimes are predictable but some that do have a nice bit of creativity. With decent characters and acting along with a good nature backdrop and a mysterious threat that never seems to be fully explained, the film is mostly a good viewing experience perhaps right up to the end when things truly feel a tad unresolved and hard to fully comprehend.

BITS 2021: Flee The Light (2021)

Flee the Light (2021)

Director: Alexandra Senza

Cast: Annie Tuma, Ariana Marquis, Jamar Adams Thompson, Jane Siberry, Caroline Raynaud

A psychology student attempts to cure her sister’s crippling psychosis only to expose them both to its origin: an ancient creature intent on claiming their souls. – IMDB

Flee the Light is an intriguing premise. It meshes a storyline, something like a lore from its past to its present day that goes through generations of something awaken from the past which haunts these sisters which dabbles into sorcery and the concept of light and dark. The premise itself as a whole works well especially when this unknown entity seems to be preying on them and ready to possess them at the right opportunity. As one of the sisters try to help the other more unhinged one, it first becomes a whole acceptance than this whole situation surpasses that of science and dives into the occult practices to get to the bottom of the situation. With some cryptic and odd encounters as well as their own journey facing this together, the story is a little bizarre in places.

While the premise of the film itself is pretty decent, there are some little issues in execution. This is a minor issue which relates mostly to a flashback that builds up the whole plot and twist. The repetition of it loses its effectiveness with its frequency perhaps. The purpose of it is rather good but rather having a little less repetition perhaps would benefit it in my opinion (but of course, I’m not a screenwriter). The setting especially when the reach the cabin setting as the past merges with the present bringing the beginning moments of the film together in plot does work really well while the setting also creates a nice atmosphere and tone to the film which brings in a little bit of answers but also some mystery. This whole entity (not sure what else to call it) is also rather well constructed as it remains mostly mysterious throughout but still has that threatening/danger element that’s moving closer as the story progresses.

Much like the supporting characters that are introduced which feels very useless overall. The story’s focus is mostly on the sisters and these extra encounters are all a means to an end giving them rather empty shells, some more than others. However, the sisters are well-crafted characters and yet the acting also seems to lose a little bit of the desired effect mostly for the character of Andra (Annie Tuma) who has a more complex role and experiences some really weird stuff particularly one scene when she seems to be woken up from this whole situation. It sometimes makes the character feel awkward like the script or whatnot doesn’t seem to jive exactly with the whole situation. Its hard to exactly say what it is. The character does come together in the final act.

Overall, Flee the Light is a decent directorial debut for Alexandra Senza. The film itself is done well and there are little things probably more related to script that affected the whole execution. The premise is also pretty intriguing which introduced a mysterious entity from the past, almost like a old lore. It didn’t get a whole lot of depth but still had a decent threat element.

BITS 2021: The Chamber of Terror (2021)

The Chamber of Terror (2021)

Director (and writer): Michael Pereira

Cast: Timothy Paul McCarthy, Jessica Vano, Ry Barrett, Sigourney McAuley, Derek Gilroy, Robert Nolan, Ian Dyck, Storm Steenson, Seth O’Shea

Nash Caruthers is on a deadly collision course with the people that tore his world apart…along with something unexpected. Something far more sinister. – IMDB

Blood-squirting, gory, over the top are only the few words that I’d use to describe The Chamber of Terror. Directed and written by Michael Pereira, this film is one that feels very odd and bizarre right from the get-go filled with a strong indie horror vibe and packed with a cast of over the top characters acting way over to what you’d expect. Its not easy to take in and probably won’t be for everyone. However, The Chamber of Terrors, once you can get into the tone and pacing, is a pretty decent indie horror offering. Sure, there are some moments that are downright disgusting from vomit to organs and blood all over the floor and even some of the over-exaggerated blood squirting sequences like a Tarantino film but the film keeps to its not so serious tone and every one of the cast seems like they are having a blast and letting it go from zero to a thousand in terms of crazy, absurd and strange that it somehow makes it all work in the end.

The story here is one that starts off in something of a crime mystery interrogation gone wrong in an extreme setting from a family business that has a chamber of terror, making them not exactly the right people to stand behind but slowly painting the picture of this family who has a missing son, Tyler who was supposed to be the heir of this violent underground business and is having the daughter, Ava take on the business on their day one as they kidnap the suspect, Nash Caruthers who may have taken Tyler. As the story moves along in the interrogation while waiting for the father Ackerman show up, a whole different situation starts to coming up bringing on the unleashing of something more supernatural than gory as the past gets dug up. Suddenly this film take a change in direction but definitely not a change in tone which gives it that extra exciting element.

The cast also delivers really well as they all did work very well. The characters were all a little whacky and bizarre in general but due to the tone of the film and the story itself, they all worked well together. Plus, there are some familiar faces. The standout role does go to Timothy Paul McCarthy who plays Nash Caruthers who starts off the film with a fantastic scene and great introduction to his character and ends up being kidnapped by these ridiculous group that seems to not exactly know what to do with the whole situation and easily manipulated by his little tactics but also ends up saving this crew of people that he did initially construct a plan of revenge. Despite the all the blood and craziness, his character has the most development and backstory. Another familiar face but a shorter presence on screen is Ry Barrett which is very much a familiar face in the world of indie horror film especially Canadian ones and still his latest film that I saw of his, Still The Water also shows the diversity that he has to take on all kinds of different films, slower films and over the top films like this one since his character here is probably one of the wilder ones especially with it crafted for this deep love for classic horror films. Of course, another interesting character is the father character who has a shorter presence by Robert Nolan but his character also adds in some fourth wall breaking moments.

Its pretty hard to pinpoint exactly where The Chamber of Terror stands. Its not exactly for everyone and yet its not the first time that films like this pop up on the indie horror radar. However, these horror films, if you can get past the blood and guts all over the place, is a fun time. It doesn’t always make a ton of sense and its all strange from the setting to the characters to the tone and yet its always great to see the cast having a great time and that’s exactly what this film makes you feel like so that its not really something to take seriously but still has a story that has a good enough trajectory to piece it all together. Considering its supernatural and violent elements, this film is not exactly the traditional scary horror but really just a fun horror comedy that absolutely achieves exactly what its going for.

BITS 2021: Peppergrass (2021)

Peppergrass (2021)

Director: Steven Garbas & Chantelle Han

Cast: Chantelle Han, Charles Boyland, Michael Copeman, Philip Williams

During a pandemic, a pregnant restaurateur tries to rob a priceless truffle from a reclusive veteran. – IMDB

At this point, anything set during the pandemic is still fairly realistic as it is still more or less in the world. Peppergrass using the early phases of lockdown as its setting gives it a grounded moment as it took the struggling restaurant and bar businesses in its desperate moment to craft a situation where these two resorted to more extreme measures to ease their financial situation. With a beautiful isolated woods setting that brings forward a wilderness dangerous setting, the script itself almost feels a little to thin to keep its momentum going as the result is a rather lackluster hiding in the woods movie experience with only a few moments of conversation to make it more intriguing that pads out the main character. Visually, there are some really decent cinematography scenes and the setup and the ending both has some more action to keep it exciting but the middle bit is a bit of a drag as its mainly a solo quiet wandering in the woods even if the pregnancy seems like a question that hangs in the air but never directly addressed but more of a subtlety.

Wilderness settings and isolated cabins are always a rather effective horror and thriller element. The setting itself gives it the mystery especially when its wandering around in the dark woods which can also mask the danger that could be lurking in its shadows. Peppergrass starts off that way for sure as the two get separated fairly quickly and the film quickly turns its focus onto its main female lead, Eula played by Chantelle Han. The whole film itself is fairly subtle leaving a lot of space for the camera to give those little details especially when it comes to her pregnancy with a shot at the pregnancy test or the nausea along the way right down to the whole reveal about the nature of peppergrass, which also happens to be the name of her restaurant that she is trying to keep alive during the pandemic which also leads to a conversation of the insight to her backstory a little.

Things is, subtlety and darkness and the woods setting and even the isolation are all great in most horror film as it keeps it minimalistic but keeping the unsettling feeling rather alive but something here just doesn’t jive with it as the story is too thin, the character Eula doesn’t have enough to make her feel like she’s worth fighting for and then the tension never feels strong enough to keep the film engaging especially in its second act. That’s not saying that Chantelle Han didn’t do well as her character does have those moments of desperation and survival as she stumbles through the forest and in the few perilous events that happen much like the woodsman that she meets played by Philip Williams who really only shows up for a little part of the film but the conversation with Eula was one of the better moments and gave quite a bit of insight on the character primarily.

With all that said, Peppergrass is a good concept and premise. The setting and the isolation is done really well. The cinematography creates some very nice shots and truly highlights the isolated woods setting much like using the pandemic as a back frame for the story at hand. However, the script is lacking with both its characters and the substance for the motive or even the character arc that feels almost overly simple making it have a decent set up and finale but not enough to hold itself up in the second act.

BITS 2021: Motherly (2021)

Motherly (2021)

Director (and co-writer): Craig David Wallace

Cast: Lora Burke, Tessa Kozma, Kristen MacCulloch, Nick Smyth, Colin Paradine

Kate (Lora Burke) and her daughter Beth live alone in an isolated farmhouse in the woods, but when Kate slowly begins to suspect that something sinister is happening, her motherly instincts are put to the test. – IMDB

Mother and daughter relationships are so great to use as a foundation for a story wrapped up in a home invasion thriller. I am sure some titles like Panic Room pop up immediately, however, Motherly is not the same thing as the situation is not the same. This one falls into somewhat of a psychological thriller-esque mixed with some horror elements. The thing is the film premise is a good one with how the mother-daughter relationship reveals itself which shows the nature of these two characters from why they ended up in their current predicament. The film itself is a pretty decent idea but the end game does feel like its not as clever as it thinks it is.

The story itself is rather straightforward as the whole central plot is propelled by the tragedy that lead this mother-daughter to this current moment. What comes after is an home invasion where the truth slowly is put together as to who is actually responsible for the whole tragedy. Its becomes the main focus and mystery. This question circles around them as the mother and daughter gets separated in the home invasion and this forms these two characters even more. Its here that the execution feels a little lacking which leads to the twist not feel quite as unexpected and shocking as it should be.

What does hold Motherly at higher level is some great acting overall. The central cast is consisted primarily of the same cast as last year’s For The Sake of Vicious (review). Lora Burke continues her path in the Canadian horror scene with a great performance as Kate, a mother doing everything to protect her daughter after the tragedy at home leading them to be under the witness protection program while struggling with a daughter who doesn’t exactly follow the rules and honestly is a bit of a brat. Playing her daughter is Tessa Kozma who has a rather central role and actually for the character does the bratty daughter very well and as the story comes together, the reason her character acts this way also makes sense. The other supporting characters whether in terms of the cop watching them under the program or the home invasion couple all have their motives well drawn out and each of their personalities also create some balance and tension between the characters and the situation as a whole.

Motherly is an average psychological thriller. It has a decent premise and sets up the mystery well and even crafts some really great characters that are portrayed by a talented cast. However, thrillers are about the big reveal and this one felt a tad lackluster as a whole. The film loses a bit of momentum in the second half as things feel a little more predictable.

BITS 2021: Funhouse (2019)

Funhouse (2019)

Director (and co-writer): Jason William Lee

Cast: Valter Skarsgard, Khamisa Wilsher, Gigi Saul Guerrero, Christopher Gerard, Karolina Benefield, Amanda Howells, Mathias Retamal, Dayleigh Nelson, Jerome Velinsky, Kylee Bush, Bradley Duffy

When 8 celebrities from around the globe are invited to compete in an online reality show, they soon realize that they are playing for their very lives, as those voted off suffer horrific consequences, broadcast live to the entire world. – IMDB

There’s really nothing like the horror of being danger for a fight to be the only one standing. Its almost like Big Brother, The Circle mixed with Danganrompa (video game if you don’t know). Last one standing film content is so frequently seen especially after the recent Squid Game which notched things up quite a bit. Without any comparisons however, Funhouse is a good premise but lacks the proper execution however, credit where its due, they did execute a decent ending.

Funhouse sets up with these characters who are all different level of social influence on different media platforms but each having their own unworthiness of their fame which leads them to being picked to be here. These eight contestants are all introduced in a decent way. Worth a mention is probably Gigi Saul Guerrero is plays one of the contestants Ximena as she is quite the name in both being an actress and a director in the indie horror world. At the same time, there’s also the male lead played by Valter Skarsgard, another of Stellan Skarsgard’s children making an appearance on the big screen. The plan to make you want to cheer for them to survive is their little interactions and what they talk about in their camera moments and then the film’s audience votes. The problem for the actual film audience is the whole film feels repetitive and in turn, gets boring by the time the same cycle goes a few time. Its camera time, 2 seconds later not knowing them more its voting time and then their death in whatever gruesome way and rinse and repeat. Things do change when the characters flip after they realize this is a game with deadly stakes. However past that, it doesn’t quite manage to stay entertaining. No one seems like they deserve to die no matter how unworthy their Internet fame is but they also aren’t intriguing characters. The intriguing moments comes a little too late.

The previous point does lead to the more important element which is the execution and scripting being more of an issue. These two is what creates these characters and the flow of events. What helps is that the tone itself isn’t exactly serious so the characters can be as over the top (or not) as they are written without a lot of limits. Same goes for the rich guy who runs the show in the background showing himself as an animated panda on screen and going off on cheeky rants. Another point that is good is that it does circle around and gives a basic idea of who this mysterious behind the scenes guy is and why he set this whole thing up by the end, giving it a bit of resolution as well.

Thing is, Funhouse is rather below average. Its leans on the boring side of horror. Sure, it has some creative and varied ways to kill its contestants and it has a decent premise overall but it just lacks the tension these films should have. There is no sense of sympathy towards them other than the reason of why they were picked seems a little over the top ridiculous, which does match with the mentality of some killers in these sorts of film. The whole broadcast element does show an issue with Internet control for younger audiences if anything and it does also cover the scrutiny of other media sources towards the authenticity of these sorts of shows. There is something deeper trying to be told here, I assume but something just feels missing to make it more entertaining of a watch whether as a horror or even a not so serious dark humor film.

*Funhouse was part of the Super Channel program for Blood in the Snow Film Festival. The physical film festival is on November 18th to 23rd in Royal Theatre Toronto. You can check out the line-up HERE.*

My November Adventures

November was a bit of a mess of a month. I was close to a burn-out after back to back film festival coverages and its why it took a while to wrap up the remaining films for those festivals. Luckily, that’s all done. With work also being an explosion of work, its been quite the crazy ride. I don’t foresee December being a lot better but at least, the slowed down posting schedule got my focus back on writing posts. With that said, not a really exciting month overall but still a few things to talk about plus at the end, there’s some December plans.

Not talking about any new projects until December’s wrap-up or January’s beginning of the year post as I have some final decisions to make on some possible changes or a new project/segment.

Blood in the Snow Festival

The ranking for the feature films (with the except of one Parallel Minds that I didn’t see):

  1. Come True (Review)
  2. For The Sake of Vicious (Review)
  3. Anything For Jackson (Review)
  4. The Return (Review)
  5. Hall (Review)
  6. Bloodthirsty (Review)
  7. Bleed With Me (Review)
  8. Shall We Play? (Review)

Overall, Blood in the Snow Festival was a good one. There were some really fun discoveries and some good direction on the stories that were being told. All the reviews for the feature films are up. I usually do something for short films but it already took so long to get this batch done that I haven’t had time to do that. I might still go back and highlight a few that I thought were rather unique and entertaining.

New Restaurant

New restaurant opened up yet and its a Hong Kong style noodle shop who has both curries but even more for the fish soup base that they have for their noodle soup. The noodle soup is ordered similar to what you’d do for Japanese ramen where you get to pick the base, the type of noodle and then 2 toppings. The soup itself actually has quite a bit of extra ingredients added in. I had the combo which included a drink and mine was the lemon ribena which is something very much part of the Hong Kong landscape. Can’t go back to visit in this current landscape but at least there’s food to make me feel more connected, right?

New Spices & Masks

The husband had some company coupon codes sort of deal so we went ahead and took a look at the catalogue. I have some fun candles on the way that didn’t make it on this post but we ordered the spices kit from Gourmet Inspirations. So far, we’ve only tried the Veggie Fusion which adds a nice kick to the veggies.

As for the masks, the Instagram posts says it all. I’ve tried a few companies that make masks and Hop La Gogosses is by far my favorite so I’ve returned a few times. Not to mention, they are close so when I have time, I usually try to do a pick-up instead of getting it delivered. They have these custom ones so you get to choose the front and back from a range of choices.

Black Friday Haul

  • Best Buy: Chromecast
  • Google Play: The Almost Gone, Very Little Nightmares
  • Cineplex: Rental: Guns Akimbo
  • Steam: Gnog, Jenny LeClue Detectivu, Celeste, Transference, Sea of Solitude, The Missing: J.J. Macfield and the Island of Memories
  • Xbox Ultimate Game Pass

Black Friday has pretty much mostly been an online deal even before the whole pandemic landscape so seeing as I did overall spend less this year, I ended up picking up on some of the sweet deals online for games and such. The only physical item I got was a new Chromecast. Our old Chromecast was starting really casting some things really well and was starting to get a little tempermental so we changed it and it seems to work better.

Everything else was mostly gaming related. Xbox Ultimate Game Pass for PC was dropped to $1/month and that’s great since I had a few games to catch up on so my next month of gaming is pretty much sort out since when I cut my subscription 2 months ago, I still had a few games that I hadn’t tried out yet.

As for Cineplex, there was some good rentals but the one that I’ve been meaning to watch is Guns Akimbo so that’s going to be done soon.

Christmas Marathon & Upcoming Plans

End of November means that its time to welcome in the Christmas Marathon! Christmas movies have been fairly slim pickings but thanks to Netflix releasing an immense amount of Christmas movies (whether good or bad), there’s a little more selection. Hopefully enough to fill out these few weeks leading to Christmas. It should start tomorrow December 1st if all things go well.

A quick mention on December plans while we’re at it. I’m trying to work out all the backlog and releasing some more current release stuff, mostly TV (Netflix and Chinese Drama TV binges). I’m going to blend it all in this month while catching up with some 2020 TV series that I’ve missed or didn’t finish. Fingers crossed that I can work on as much as possible.

That’s it November Adventures!
Nothing too exciting and just a lot of spending overall.
What have you been up to?

BITS 2020: Come True (2020)

Come True (2020)

Come True

Director (and screenplay): Anthony Scott Burns

Cast: Julia Sarah Stone, Landon Liboiron, Tedra Rogers, Chantal Perron, Carlee Ryski, Christopher Heatherington

A teenage runaway takes part in a sleep study that becomes a nightmarish descent into the depths of her mind and a frightening examination of the power of dreams. – IMDB

Dreams, nightmares, science fiction and fantasy all come into play when talking about Come True. It starts off on a premise that may feel familiar as its about a teenage runaway who ends up joining a sleep study in order to find a place to stay while making money but at the same time, it helps her look further into her dreams and nightmares. As the study comes to play and it starts to see what the study is about, she starts to get closer to the unknown figure that appears in her sleep. What is reality and nightmare and where does it all draw the line?

Come True is one of the best offerings of BITS 2020 and that has to do with a good combination of everything: visuals, characters, the story and wrapping all that up with a mindblowing ending. The atmosphere creates a building tension. Its a deep question about what is going on with this character and her dreams and how does it all connect which makes it stand out all the more as it creates this looming question. Perhaps what makes it stand out is using one unique situation to build on, giving shape to a more fleshed out situation from it being in the dreams to how dreams a converted into visible elements on screen and then further into how this translates into reality or not. The unknown is the main element of horror and its done fairly well.

These characters and cast are pretty well done also. The character that is the most fleshed out is the main character Sarah, played by Julia Sarah Stone, who experiences this whole situation where is everyone else seems like they just cross by her. However, it never forgets that the main character may be going through her issues but she is still a runaway teenager and she can still have fun with her best friend and find ways to fix her situation on her own even if its an unsettling choice to join an sleep study off some ad for money. She has suffice back story to make the audience care about what she’s going through. On the other side is the researchers who are observing these subjects, including Jeremy, played by Landon Liboiron who seems to be popping up on my radar quite a bit since he was in Blumhouse’s Truth or Dare (review) who is a pretty decent actor and this role is works well for him. Jeremy is also a relatively well-written character. He plays a character that has some unknown motive and creates this connection with Sarah. To be fair, the story focuses on Sarah’s character the most, which is a good direction to not create too many tangents and makes it more complex.

Unlike Anthony Scott Burns debut feature film (review), Come True is definitely a hidden gem. One that carries an intriguing story and a well-crafted atmosphere. Its a mixed genre sci-fi horror that dives into the world of nightmares, dreams and reality, blurring the lines between them. If dreams could be mapped out, wouldn’t that be something, right?