TV Binge: I Know What You Did Last Summer (Season 1, 2021)

I Know What You Did Last Summer (Season 1, 2021)

Cast: Madison Iseman, Brianne Tju, Ezekiel Goodman, Bill Heck, Ashley Moore, Fiona Rene, Cassie Beck, Brooke Bloom, Sonya Balmores, Danielle Delaunay, Sebastian Amoruso

In a town full of secrets, a group of teenagers are stalked by a mysterious killer a year after a fatal accident on their graduation night. – IMDB

I Know What You Did Last Summer is a 2021 modernized TV series adaptation of the novel of the same name and the 1997 film with only retains the general premise. I have always felt that slashers do have a market in creating longer forms for these stories whether its the previous attempt with Scream TV series (review) or this one since it gives so much more room to flesh out the story and characters and create a bigger mystery to cast suspicions. However, as both Scream and this series has proven, somehow they aren’t quite the crowd pleaser. Perhaps its the comparison to its predecessors or that a bunch of fresh faced teens as the main teens aren’t quite as appealing to watch with their new lingo and modern technology making the target audience not exactly aimed correctly. Whatever it is, it seems like a fate they haven’t been able to escape albeit myself finding both the previously mentioned or this one are still decently enjoyable despite there being obvious plot holes.

Looking at the story of I Know What You Did Last Summer, the essence of the premise is there. Grad night and an accident happen that gets hidden, a year later, they start getting hunted down along with other members of their community. The elements are all there and this remake brings things to today’s world: the social media, the lingo, etc. The story does pace fairly well throughout the season. It sets up the plot and uses the pieces of grad night to craft these characters one by one to not only complete the past and in turn, building up their present intentions or actions. The execution on that level is well done. The killings for the main group of teens is also spaced out fairly well with some creative death scenes to say the least while also directing suspicions from one character to the next reasonably. The best element of this TV series is that its self- contained. One season, a resolution and most answers addressed: its rare thing to have these days.

Looking at the young cast, I Know What You Did Last Summer is still pretty decent. Leading the show is the central characters, twins Lennon and Alison as they appear in flashback and present day, played by Madison Iseman, a young actress that I discovered with an indie film that I love, Riot Girls (review). She does a fantastic job as her character spirals throughout the film and creates some mind-boggling character development moments. Playing alongside her is Brianna Tju as Margot, a girl that has a little thing for Lennon but keeps getting rejected and has her own set of issues whenever she seems to lose control of her life as well as Dylan played by Ezekiel Goodman, who is the center of a lot of grad night’s feud between the twins and has the most resistance towards the whole accident being covered up. Much like them, there’s another girl who is best friends with Dylan and also deals drugs as her side business to earn some money, Riley (Ashley Moore). Complimenting the younger cast are the parent characters, the two prominent ones being Lennon and Alison’s dad (Bill Heck) who seems very knowledgable about covering their tracks about their little secret while his not-so-secret special fling with the police sheriff (Fiona Rene) who no doubt is a focus considering she is investigating all these deaths hitting their small town.

Overall, I Know What You Did Last Summer is a remake. It literally only uses the skeleton of the premise and builds from there. The film is set in sunny Hawaii which makes for some nice scenery. The cast itself is fairly decent for this type of teen series fare. While the plot itself has its fair share of head-scratching developments aka plot holes, it still fairly enjoyable to watch. I’m not sure anyone heading into these teen series are expecting some revelation or revolutionary profound watch so there’s no point in trying to make it what it isn’t. However, the show does have its fair share of tackling different personal issues that a lot of these shows normally would have and does it in a decent way. Slasher genre in general aren’t really supposed to taken that seriously since its just a fun time. Putting aside the comparisons, the show itself is pretty fun with decent moments of mystery and suspicion, building tension and a nice little wrap-up for the season-long mystery.

As a final thought in general, these teen slasher TV genre really seems to be struggling. It definitely makes me wonder why that’s the case. Teen series aim for a younger crowd so the original shows should bank on this better, perhaps Scream Queens being a nice example since it did make it to 2 seasons where other adapted or remade series might have its bigger issues as older audience than teens might want to venture into it since those would be compared to their source materials or film adaptation predecessors. Not sure there’s any conclusion to this thought but its been something that I’ve thought about whenever thinking about these series.

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: 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: 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.*

Book Tour: Ekleipsis: The Abyss by Tamel Wino (Review)

Ekleipsis: The Abyss
By: Tamel Wino

Expected Publication Date: October 29th, 2021
Genre: Horror/Anthology

SYNOPSIS

Ékleipsis: The Abyss is the second short story collection by the award-winning author.

Tales of depravation and insanity are woven together with unrelenting style and depth, scrutinizing human nature’s degeneration when compromised by tragic, vicious circumstances.

These complex, wretched individuals and the irremediable conditions they are desperate to claw out of—or into—invoke the unfathomable question: What devastation are we truly capable of when left with no way out but down . . . into the obscurity of the abyss?

” It is at times appalling, strange and outright frightening, but Wino’s way with character development is outstanding. The display of artistic creativity and character creation really sets “Èkleipsis: The Abyss” apart in the field of short story collections.”
Reader Views

“The stories are well-packaged and generally have the feel of watching a syndicated crime drama. Fans of this form of entertainment will likely enjoy these well-crafted stories about everyday people whose lives are shattered by lunatics.”
The US Review of Books

“Wino’s writing is vivid, unsettling and filled with brilliant hints that contribute to the exhilaration of its pacing. Ékleipsis: The Abyss is a clever and creative horror offering worth checking out.”
―Independent Book Review

” Tamel really captured that essence of society and the dark side of people. Readers will appreciate the dark undertones of this horror anthology. Ekleipsis: the Abyss will surprise you more that you can imagine.”
―Literary Titan

Add to Goodreads

Available on Amazon

REVIEW

Ekleipsis: The Abyss navigates through six different stories of insanity and vulnerability as it goes through the horrors of human nature. The six stories all differ in the content and the skeletons that are hiding in each of their closets making them all relatively intriguing reads. As with most anthologies, there are always stories that stand out more than others. Looking quickly over them, they each do have their own sense of unsettling and sinister moments.

You can group the stories into two different styles. The first three stories having more resolved endings, while the second half consisting of the last three stories all have more a open-ended approach. Right off the bat, it starts off with “Marlene” which feels like a much more familiar tale of paranoia and delusion. Its one of the more normal unfolding of its premise but does show its craft and the writing that makes its a rather fun read and sets up a great tone for the rest of the stories to come. “No Place Like Home” takes a turn to dive into a warped family unit full of replacement, manipulation and suspense. Its one that does grab rather well but the ending does feel a little abrupt. However, the premise is rather solid. “En Prise” is where the strength of dialogue and tension truly builds the best as it lingers around two characters that are developed really well through their conversation. The conversation is an odd and dangerous one and yet, so intriguing as its almost like two people seeing whose bluff works the best and who is actually telling the truth and whether this tactic will work in the end. Its both a clever approach and very well-written.

The second half of the anthology kicks off with “All Day and A Night” which is a rather intense story as prison guards talk about their extreme schooling program to tame the new inmates to two people on a hunting trip when things during the trip take a turn for the worse when things get out of their control. In terms of story development, this one does take a more predictable path however, the whole descriptive element of very vivid right down to the ending. “Blue Devils” is a different type of story and probably in the whole group feels like it falls a little short. Its premise is rather similar, the description is done well and yet the characters also feel a little empty. It is still a dangerous situation and there is some intensity to it but it all feels fairly familiar that it loses its exciting element a little. The whole anthology ends with “The Descent” which dives the deep into human nature/psyche as the main character experiences this hero complex or adrenaline rush that changes his perspective of life and finally spirals into something much more insane. In some ways, this one does pack a lot of surprise especially in how it ends.

Ekleipsis: The Abyss is really quite an outstanding horror anthology. Human nature is a great premise for horror as a lot of other horror writers have proven before as its hard to grasp the extremities that the darkness and instability and insanity can take a person. There’s a good variety demonstrated in each of these stories which also dive into different settings and premises. It keeps the read very refreshing as it moves from one story to the next. Each has decently executed twists and while one or two felt like it had some little issues, the overall feeling was still a rather entertaining and intriguing read.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Tamel Wino is a Canadian fiction writer from the resplendent British Columbia whose works focus largely on degeneration of sanity and morality. He studied Health Sciences and Psychology, which only furthered his interest in human nature.

With inspirations including Alice Munro, Joe Hill, Stephen King, Margaret Atwood and Edgar Allan Poe; Tamel’s expositions are strongly grounded in traditions of dark fiction. Yet, with his bold narrative voice and incisive plot construction, Wino is paving a new movement within the space.

When he’s not reading or scribbling away on his laptop, Tamel loves listening to jazz, rewatching good ol’ classic shows and traveling.

Ekleipsis | Facebook | Instagram

GIVEAWAY

Giveaway: Signed copies of Ékleipsis and Ékleipsis: The Abyss
a Rafflecopter giveaway

BOOK TOUR SCHEDULE

October 25th

Reads & Reels (Spotlight)
Liliyana Shadowlyn (Spotlight)
The Faerie Review (Review)
Latisha’s Low-Key Life (Spotlight)

October 26th

Rambling Mads (Review)
Phoebe’s Randoms (Spotlight)
Stine Writing (Spotlight)

October 27th

@tiny.bibliophile (Review)
@bookaholic__reviews (Review)
B is for Book Review (Spotlight)
Sophril Reads (Spotlight)
Misty’s Book Space (Spotlight)

October 28th

Tranquil Dreams (Review)
PoptheButterfly (Spotlight)
Sadie’s Spotlight (Spotlight)
I Smell Sheep (Spotlight)
Gryffindor Bookish Nerd (Review)

October 29th

@rosyreadz (Review)
Nesie’s Place (Spotlight)
@authormalmccartney (Review)
Haddie’s Haven (Spotlight)

Book Tour Organized by:

R&R Book Tours

TADFF 2021: The Free Fall (2021)

The Free Fall (2021)

Director: Adam Stilwell

Cast: Andrea Londo, Shawn Ashmore, Jane Badler, Michael Berry Jr., Elizabeth Cappuccino, Dominic Hoffman

After attempting to take her own life, a young woman must wrestle with an overbearing husband. – IMDB

The big finale for my coverage of Toronto After Dark Film Festival is also the high point of the entire festival with this clever, thrilling and tense psychological horror film. There is so much to love about it and yet, what really pulls it together is its fantastic twist that gives this movie such a unique concept that pulls together the whole film in a way that hasn’t been done before (at least in my film experience). I don’t want to dive into the details as that will definitely ruin what makes this so cleverly structured and written. With any film which relies heavily on the ending being able to pull all its pieces together in a rewarding way for its audience, it also comes with a lot of mysteries and questions built out throughout that will definitely be very mindboggling and confusing. However, trust me on this one, if you stick it out, the ending is well worth it.

Moving away from the element that I can’t talk about, there’s a lot of other things that make this film pretty well-executed. The first has to be its one setting. One setting films are really quite fun as it works well to use its space efficiently, having spaces left to be explored and in this case, with a main character suffering from amnesia also brings in going into spaces that may or may not bring in new memories and create different atmospheres.

The atmosphere is also built up pretty well especially when it comes to the imagery and visuals. The house itself having a lot to do with how some shots are set up in an appealing way. The atmosphere also changes with the fluctuation of the main character Sara as she struggles with what she is seeing in reality or her imagination. It brings in a lot of darker and sinister moments that create the horror lurking in the background whether its through reflections or dark spaces. At the same time, there’s a nice control of how to use some of the scenes repeatedly but also expanding on them to add more to the story as it progresses.

A lot of credit does have to go to the cast here. Andrea Londo as Sara does a great job right from the start as she experiences the trauma that drags her into this situation where she struggles with recovering from amnesia and dealing with all the odd and suspicious things that seems to be happening in her home. Andrea Londo has a good control over her role which is ever so important here as it makes sure there isn’t any overacting. Much like Shawn Ashmore who also delivers a good performance as the husband Nick. Nick’s character is suspicious right at the beginning and in some ways, its meant to have that feeling especially when amnesia and suspicious husband roles come into play as they are estranged characters that haven’t been introduced until that moment. His character develops and changes over the course of the film especially in its character’s intensity and calmness that delivers a different layer.

Overall, The Free Fall is an outstanding psychological horror film. Thrillers are so hard to do great and this one manages to make the ending so rewarding and gives such a unique angle to the horror subgenre that its tackling. The writer Kent Harper deserves a lot of credit. The cast, the cinematography, the writing are all really well-executed, making this film well worth a watch.

TADFF 2021: Ditched (2021)

Ditched (2021)

Director (and writer): Christopher Donaldson

Cast: Marika Silas, Mackenzie Gray, Kris Loranger, Declan O’Reilly, Lara Taillon, Shawna Pliva McGill, Reamonn Joshee, Lee Lopez, Michelle Molineux, J. Lindsay Robinson

After a routine prison transfer crashes in the forest, young Inuit paramedic Melina finds herself surrounded by murderers with a mere 100 feet to climb out of a ditch to escape. When they are attacked by an unseen force in the forest, Melina’s short journey to safety becomes the ultimate contest of wills. – IMDB

Ditched is a 2021 Canadian survival horror film where it almost feelings like Panic Room but in an isolated country road but instead of an actual panic room, its the insides of an overturned ambulance. As the people involved in the accident both in the police car and the ambulance wakes up, they start to realize that there is a group of brutal killers outside waiting to kill each one of them one by one.

The isolated ditch in the middle of nowhere at night is a wonderful horror/thriller setting. It brings in the helplessness and the fear even more as the unknowns lie in the dark. The mystery also comes from why this group has targeted them specifically: Is it for the prisoners that are being transferred or is it just for the hunt itself? The questions that build up do get answered gradually towards the middle which does feel like the reveal is a little bit early at times as this leads into this long face-off period which loses steam as the final confrontation is also drawn out as it faces down to almost monologue moment that also feels a little tedious. This is definitely a pacing issue with the script itself as perhaps the entire plot was structured a little straightforward in the beginning that there isn’t as many angles to play with in execution.

With that said, the tension that is built in the first act is done really well and does trail into a good portion of the second act. A lot of it also comes down to some well-structured kills as they go through them one by one while they try to survive in their own way. Its a rather psychological battle for the most part as well as a battle of the wits in the final act. While there are quite a few characters in these interactions, the main few do focus around Melina the paramedic, the strapped down manipulative prisoner as well some other paramedics that make it out. As they use the resources in their tight ambulance space to survive, it does make for some nice fight back moments.

The main element with Ditched is that where it works and doesn’t work is in its plot. Where is doesn’t work is in how it seems to get to the reveal point of what the goal is as mentioned before. However, it also works in the plot as it creates this more conflicted view towards people in general where it makes the audience think about whether the killers are actually bad and the survivors are actually good. In more simple terms, the gray area gets explored here in human nature and probably how some people aren’t exactly what meets the eye completely while also leaving some room at the end for a little further contemplation about whether what is done as the big finale is actually justified.

Overall, Ditched is a decent horror thriller. It does show a lot of low budget elements. It also does feel like it has a lot of influences in terms how certain moments are treated. The director’s message at the beginning does talk about his intentions of creating something that feels like it been the missing 80s film that no one ever saw before but finally get a 4K release and in many moments, it definitely feels like an 80s film whether in dialogue or the effects or how certain scenes are structured.