Run (2020)

Run (2020)

Director (and co-writer): Aneesh Chaganty

Cast: Sarah Paulson, Kiera Allen, Pat Healy, Erik Athavale, Sara Sohn, BJ Harrison

A homeschooled teenager begins to suspect her mother is keeping a dark secret from her. – IMDB

There always seems to be this focus on mother-daughter relationships and a fascination on these movies being chosen by Netflix (thinking back to the sci-fi Netflix film, I Am Mother (review)). Run focuses its main premise around a teenager, Chloe and her mom, Diane. Chloe is a girl that survived at birth but is ridden with a full bill of medical issues from asthma to being paralyzed in her legs. Despite that, she looks forward to her freedom when she gets to finally leave home and go to college however, its then that she starts something suspicious of her mom and starts to look deeper into it.

The movies focus on the two main characters and the build-up of how their relationship evolves over the course of the film is done fairly well. Plus, it also sees each of these characters’ development. All these are definitely strengths of the film especially when it gives the mom character played by the talented Sarah Paulson, who showed us how creepy she can be when she was in Netflix show, Ratched. Paired up with a younger actress Keira Allen, who does hold her own. The two play well off of each other. The scope of the film really is a focus on 2 characters and their confined life and routine that it actually makes it all the more engaging to watch how Chloe will react when she realizes the secrets and the changes she goes through.

The script isn’t exactly completely original as the twist doesn’t feel as shocking as it probably could be. There are some subtle creepy moments which was probably given away if you saw the trailer, and that’s something that I dislike about Netflix when its a highlighted film and just plays the trailer on its own. The trailer gives a lot of the movie away perhaps that’s why it feels not as exciting as it should be. However, thanks to these two characters and how they are scripted, the movie does have its own tension especially as things do ramp up in a decently-paced manner. Actually the movie sets up the norm of this family rather quickly and then sets up the suspicion and kicks things off from that point on rather quickly. It all comes to a rather intense ending especially when we look at the final ending which is one that is pretty good and has decent shock value.

Overall, as I think back to Run, the movie is at its best when the characters are playing off each other. There is no doubt that Sarah Paulson’s acting and grasp of her character is fantastic. It creates this dreading feeling that she is always watching which makes everything Chloe does to figure out the mystery feel even more tense especially with all her medical issues. Despite some of these ideas feeling slightly familiar, Run is still a decent well-paced psychological thriller that is still well worth a watch.

BITS 2020: Bleed With Me (2020)

Bleed With Me (2020)

Director (and writer): Amelia Moses

Cast: Lee Marshall, Lauren Beatty, Aris Tyros

During a winter getaway at an isolated cabin, a self-destructive young woman becomes convinced that her best friend is stealing her blood. – IMDB

Cabin in the woods, cold winter and bunked up for a getaway with a couple and a best friend is the set up for Bleed With Me. The isolation, the single setting and the obligation for the characters to interact with each other builds up through a well-executed atmosphere and tension, wanting or not, its inevitable. As best friends Rowan (Lee Marshall) and Emily (Lauren Beatty)are using this trip to bond, Emily and her boyfriend Branden (Aris Tyros) are there to take some time together where Branden voices his reluctance to bringing Rowan along.

Bleed With Me is shot from Rowan’s angle right from the beginning as she drowsily lies down in the backseat of the car for the road trip. The audience sees what she sees. Its a clever way as her observations and feelings as well as the effects of her blurry sight when she wakes up in the middle of the night keeps the unknown feeling going. As she tells her stories and experiences to Emily and Branden, her character starts to form especially of self-harm issues. Especially since Rowan is set up to be socially awkward especially in this weird third wheel situation as she flails between keeping her distance to give Emily and Branden space but also drinking to try to ease herself and fit into the conversation.

As she starts suspecting that Emily is taking her blood at night and growing increasingly suspicious of her as more cut marks appear on her arm, its a big mystery where the uneasy starts to take effect as it plays on whether she is really experiencing it and Emily has ulterior motives or whether its all in her mind, playing on the psychological horror/thriller element very well. The small cast delivers some good performances, notably Lee Marshall. Although, deliberate or not, Lauren Beatty’s character sometimes feels like its laying the creepy vibes a little heavy, especially when Lee Marshall’s portrayal of Rowan is much more subtle.

Bleed With Me uses its dim setting, the environment and the isolation as well as the character development to give it an unsettling feeling and to keep suspecting between Rowan and Emily. As Rowan explores the cabin on her own and how Emily reacts to certain things, the mystery starts to have a few hints towards what this all is about. While the ending is a tad odd but the sum of its parts and the entire movie before then worked really well together. Using dark settings and low lightings along with her blurry/distorted vision and the horror of the unknown, Bleed With Me is an effectively unsettling horror film.

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*

Double Feature: The Lodgers (2017) & Luz (2018)

Welcome to the next double feature as we continue with the alphabet and head into our L selections! The first is an Irish gothic horror called The Lodgers and the second is a German (and Spanish) supernatural horror film. Let’s check it out!

The Lodgers (2017)

the lodgers

Director: Brian O’Malley

Cast: Charlotte Vega, Bill Milner, Eugene Simon, David Bradley, Deirdre O’Kane, Moe Dunford, Roisin Murphy

1920, rural Ireland. Anglo Irish twins Rachel and Edward share a strange existence in their crumbling family estate. Each night, the property becomes the domain of a sinister presence (The Lodgers) which enforces three rules upon the twins: they must be in bed by midnight; they may not permit an outsider past the threshold; if one attempts to escape, the life of the other is placed in jeopardy. When troubled war veteran Sean returns to the nearby village, he is immediately drawn to the mysterious Rachel, who in turn begins to break the rules set out by The Lodgers. – IMDB

The Lodgers is a gloomy sort of film. Its filmed with a dark atmosphere and lingers in a mysterious air as the story of The Lodgers, their rules and these twins’ stories are gradually revealed of why they are bond to the house and what is expected of them. The story does take a nice pace in revealing it and maintains a rather creepy vibe especially in the first half when its laying out the story and the mysterious vibe with the crumbling estate and what the predicament of the twins and the lodgers. Its in the second half when things start unfolding that it starts feeling like it loses a little of its steam since the twist is revealed in a fairly obvious way by that point and its easy to understand where the twist is. To be fair, its actually one of the scenes of the female lead seeing the figures of her parents in the lake that seem to repeat itself one time too many.

The Lodgers falls under one of the issues where the “monster” aka The Lodgers reveal is where it renders the horror element lesser than when it was a mystery.  While that is the case, the whole underwater scene is shot so nicely of where the lodgers reside and who they are. There’s something very fantastically creepy about the deep underwater darkness and its captured so well.

Other than that, there are essentially three main characters here. The female lead Rachel (Charlotte Vega), her twin brother Edward (Bill Milner) and Rachel’s suitor Sean (Eugene Simon). There are a few other supporting cast that help further set up the story and the mystery surrounding the twins and their estate. The three main leads do create a nice dynamic especially watching the interaction between the twins as well as between Rachel and Sean.

The Lodgers do have a few tropes and such but somehow it does have this very chilling and ominous feeling throughout. Its twist is revealed gradually but is rather easy to find the hints to what its trying to build towards by probably the middle of the movie. There are some unique elements to the story that definitely deserve a watch especially with its estate setting being used from inside the house to the grounds as well as having a great cinematography.

Luz (2018)

luz

Director (and writer): Tilman Singer

Cast: Luana Velis, Johannes Benecke, Jan Bluthardt, Lilli Lorenz, Julia Riedler, Nadja Stubiger

Luz, a young cabdriver, drags herself into the brightly lit entrance of a run-down police station. A demonic entity follows her, determined to finally be close to the woman it loves. – IMDB

The best way to describe Luz is probably “odd” and “bizarre”. The whole setup of the movie has this old film filter over its scenes. At the same time, its incredibly psychological. Visually, it uses a lot of close-up shots as well as still shots to capture the moments and emphasize an uneasiness in the scene. It fluctuates between what is reality and hypnotic dimension especially for the character of Luz. There are so many little details set up to bring in a lot of intrigue (and maybe get lost a little in this whole possession) of what is actually happening in the room and what is happening in Luz’s mind. Its all done in such a unique style that adds so much to the story itself.

I do have to say that what works for Luz for some viewers might be what doesn’t work at the same time. Its a strange experience watch and one that challenges piecing together the different parts of the story line especially at the beginning as the events seem to blend together and connecting the characters. As it works towards the finales, the characters and the possession element and the hypnosis world and reality all easily can become this confusing to follow story. For some this confusion might be quite the fun ride. For myself, that ride was unique and as things started to slot back into place, the execution is key to where it all stands out at its best from the cinematography to its use of sounds.

Luz is a hard film to talk about it. Its quite the horror experience on a psychological level and takes a unique approach to the whole possession premise right from start to beginning.

That’s it for this double feature!
Have you seen these films? Thoughts?

Blog Tour: The Memories We Bury by H.A. Leuschel

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From June 29th to July 5th, you can purchase her book for ONLY $0.99 on Amazon! You can also try to win a digital copy of The Memories We Bury by entering the giveaway below!

The Memories We Bury
By: H.A. Leuschel

The Memories We Bury

Publication Date: April 17, 2020
Genre: Contemporary/Psychological Suspense

SYNOPSIS

An emotionally charged and captivating novel about the complexities of female friendship and motherhood.

Lizzie Thomson has landed her first job as a music teacher, and after a whirlwind romance with Markus, the newlywed couple move into a beautiful new home in the outskirts of Edinburgh. Lizzie quickly befriends their neighbour Morag, an elderly, resourceful yet lonely widow, who’s own children rarely visit her. Everything seems perfect in Lizzie’s life until she finds out she is pregnant and her relationship with both Morag and Markus change beyond her control.

Can Lizzie really trust Morag and why is Markus keeping secrets from her?

In ‘The Memories We Bury’ the author explores the dangerous bonds we can create with strangers and how past memories can cast long shadows over the present.

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REVIEW

The Memories We Bury is a psychological sort of novel that alternates between the first person narrative of its two main characters: Lizzie, a new mother and her elderly neighbor, Morag who has a strong desire to be needed and control and views this opportunity to be a chance to nurture another child. The first person narration style gives these two characters a slowly building development and very much suited as in many ways, this story is something of a character study, especially in terms of Morag who gradually reveals the reason why her children have left her and the other secrets that others have hinted at but never mentioned as it builds up to the big finale where she truly oversteps. On the other hand, Lizzie’s side of the story is much more about motherhood and the suspense behind her suspicions of Morag and her intentions. As their friendship develops over the course of the story, the dynamic changes and it moves between control and manipulation. In that regard, both of the characters are very well-written.

The flow of the story is probably one of the elements that is much  more of a slow-burn. Just like the chapters move through a timeline to give an idea of the progression of time, which didn’t really impact my own reading experience too much. The story unravels very slowly. It could definitely have been paced a little better. As mentioned before, the characters did need the time and events to develop however, it did also feel like it dragged on a little in the middle bits between the beginning build-up which was intriguing to introduce and set-up the two characters and the big climax that was quite scary and shocking overall.

Overall, The Memories We Bury keeps in line with the strong psychological elements of H.A. Heurschel stories. Much like some of the previous works that I’ve read, this one also delivers with another completely different sort of relationship as it jumps into the topic of motherhood as well as friendship. The characters are intriguing to watch and even manages to add a little uncertainty at the end. Its an impressive way to end the story which leaves a little space to contemplate.

Score: 3.5/5

Where to buy: Amazon

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Photo - Helene edited

Helene Andrea Leuschel gained a Master in Journalism & Communication, which led to a career in radio and television in Brussels, London and Edinburgh. She later acquired a Master in Philosophy, specializing in the study of the mind. Helene has a particular interest in emotional, psychological and social well-being and this led her to write her first novel, Manipulated Lives, a fictional collection of five novellas, each highlighting the dangers of interacting with narcissists. She lives with her husband and two children in Portugal.

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TADFF 2019: International Shorts After Dark

Toronto After Dark Film Festival

Compiled as 8 short films from various international locations, a few of them from the USA and screened as the International Shorts After Dark, here are 6 of the 8 shorts reviewed. One of them called Bar Fight was paired with a feature during Fantasia Festival in July so the review is linked at the bottom.

Maggie May (2018)

Maggie May

Director (and writer): Mia Kate Russell

Cast: Lulu McClatchy, Katrina Mathers, Sophia Davey, Ditch Davey, Don Bridges

Maggie May is about a sister who stays back to help out after their mother dies to end up in an accident which leaves her dying but her sister Maggie May simply ignores it. Sometimes, the scariest thing is not what someone does but in some situations, what someone doesn’t do. That is what powers the horror and unsettling feeling in Maggie May.

While the short itself is done fairly well, there’s this over exaggeration (perhaps deliberate) of the character of Maggie May and that makes it too over the top to make it feel as horrifying and more just a loathing in general to watch. What does work for the concept itself is the whole idea of passivity being more dangerous than the other way around in some cases. However, what does balance it out is the whole process of dying with the sister and the both the psychological and physical changes that she goes through hoping for help but also noticing the pieces around her fading away.  There’s a decent amount of blood and gore that somehow balance with the psychological elements of the whole story and pulls through a fairly effectively little short.

Puzzle (2019)

Director: Vincenzo Aiello

Cast: Marie Wyler

In a fairly concise story, Puzzle is a rather creepy one as it is based on the premise of a woman finding puzzle pieces around her home. As she pieces them together, it reveals something frightening. This one is very well-executed. It keeps its setting confined in a room mostly while using the puzzle pieces to each lead to the next one and it having the final unveil of what and possible who is responsible and yet, it still manages to keep some mysteries, mostly because its less than 5 minutes and the ability to craft something rather unnerving is already very impressive.

Eject (2019)

Eject

Director (and writer): David Yorke

Cast: Elena Saurel

Eject is about a woman that finds her arm has a USB port and proceeds to plug it in and ends up in another place where she can sort through files of her life. There are some fairly horror elements here and yet, characters finding too good to be true situations and using it to their advantage is not a new concept although this one for being a short did leave a fairly precious deeper message (in my mind but I might be overthinking) about the impossibilities of casting everything bad out of life as that isn’t reality. Its the mechanics of how this dimension works that becomes the mystery and the horror all wrapped up together. Its not a long short, less than 10 minutes and yet, long dark tunnels and empty room with a cabinet and a mysterious door leading to who knows is the unknown factors that add to this short film.

La Noria (2019)

La Noria

Director (and writer): Carlos Baena

La Noria is a Spanish animated short with no dialogue about a grieving boy who sees creatures in his attic who ends up showing him compassion.

La Noria is possibly the best short so far in all of the shorts shown at the festival. The animation is absolutely brilliant. On a visual level, the color palette is beautiful. The creature designs are also incredibly creative. There’s something of a Christmas holidays setting but somehow its the tint of light that works here. What starts off as failing to put together a ferris wheel and remembering his father turns into an intense walk through  his home festering with all kinds of creatures, all different in their appearance and having their own characteristics but all takes a surprising turn of events to something very touching. This one shows off the concept of being able to deliver an effective story with the power of visuals and sound effects and score to give it all it needs. Even the ending credits are done fantastically.

The Haunted Swordsman (2019)

The Haunted Swordsman

Director: Kevin McTurk

Cast: Jason Scott Lee, James Hong, Franka Potente, Christopher Lloyd

In terms of uniqueness, The Haunted Swordsman is a short that definitely fills that criteria. Its a ghost story puppet film that takes a horror adventure following a samurai in a world of witches and creatures. Made with 36 inch tall bunraku puppets and in live action, The Haunted Swordsman is a lot of fun filled with sufficient amount of horror, fantasy and adventure.

The story itself is a lot of fun as it starts with a samurai on a quest with a severed head, The Navigator as his companion guide, whichever it is in search of the The Black Monk, voiced by Christopher Lloyd. The samurai being voiced by Jason Scott Lee and The Navigator voiced by James Hong. The score itself blends well with the samurai tale elements and for a puppet film, the action is incredibly on point. A lot of compliments go to the attention to detail given to the puppets and how great it all looks as well as the puppeteers who make it all come to life convincingly. Its definitely a realm well worth looking at. While this is a short animated film at about 15 minutes or so, the samurai is sent on a quest, giving this concept and story a lot of potential to explore further and hopefully, director Kevin McTurk will do just that in the future.

Place (2019)

Place

Director: Jason Gudasz

Cast: Emily Green, Nick Hurley, Stella Edwards, Emmanuelle Roumain, Willy Roberts

Place is a short about a couple the goes into their new home to find the electrician dead in a freak accident to find that something seems to also be inhabiting it.

Place is about a family adjusting to all the ghosts in the place. While the ghosts never quite reveal itself, it does take over the family one by one. It gives them a rather edgy character and each of them change in their own way as they each take on a different oddness to them, whether its their change in how they talk. A lot of it is rather deliberate and possibly in a fairly dark comedy sort of way. Each of them interact with it in a different form as well. The character changes are a bit abrupt for a short, it needs to be paced fairly quickly. However, the daughter in here does bring in those little details of giving out clues of what legends are in the equation, inhabiting their place. Place is quite odd but then its meant to be that way with those little details which adds to the story plus it does have a rather good twist at the end.

Other shorts in this showcase not reviewed here:

Bar Fight (Fantasia Review)
Your Last Day on Earth

TADFF 2019 Shorts #1: We Three Queens/Eyes Open/Make Me A Sandwich

Toronto After Dark Film Festival

Much to our surprise, we are going to be covering Toronto After Dark Film Festival remotely for its short films selections. The festival itself runs from October 17 to 25th this year at the Scotiabank Theatre. If you happen to be in Toronto, do head over to check out this festival with its great line-up of feature films. You can find all the info HERE.

Over the next few days throughout the duration of TADFF, I will be looking at these in various categories and pre-feature shorts will be batched in 3 (or 4) films. Most of these will be paired with their screening times. These three to kick-off the first batch of pre-feature shorts are paired with screenings from October 17th and 18th.

We Three Queens (2018)

We Three Queens

Director: Chris Agoston

Cast: Erin Margurite Carter, Soma Chhaya, Emma Hunter, Rachel Wilson

*Screens with Extra Ordinary at TADFF 2019*

Beard (Erin Margurite Carter), Charlotte (Soma Chhaya) and Janet (Emma Hunter) are an all-star carolling group called We Three Queens. As they go to pick up their vests from their seamstress, they end up waking up kidnapped in her basement. With Christmas just around the corner, they need to find a way to convince Shelly (Rachel Wilson) to release them before midnight so that they can finish their carolling.

Christmas horror is always a welcome idea. Carolling has probably (at least to my knowledge) never been used in the context of a horror film. In a premise like this one, carolling definitely seems like quite the competitive world although who doesn’t want to be a part of something important or get noticed by the people that they enjoy watching, right? Running at almost 9 minutes, We Three Queens is a fun little Christmas horror short that adds a little comedy to the situation. Its not hard to see where the story goes as there is some foreshadowing but the actresses here are also quite entertaining to watch especially with their dialogue. Something about having a lot of red on screen not only makes it have the feeling of holiday but also have this more troubling situation at hand that we never know how Shelly would react to their responses to her requests.

Straight-forward and fairly unique in its premise of carollers being the central focus, We Three Queens is a fun Christmas horror short to check out.

Eyes Open (2019)

Eyes Open

Director (and writer): Jawed J.S.

Cast: Angela Bell

*Screens with Witches in the Woods*

Eyes Open is a 2019 horror short about a girl who goes for a walk in the woods to soon find out that she is haunted by an unseen presence both physically and psychologically.

Horror set in the woods has become increasingly used. Its a great choice for a setting because of its emptiness and isolation. With Eyes Open, its (almost) 6 minutes is a huge difference from where it starts to where it ends. The horror actually builds in its moments. While there were some oddities to this one, it still works overall especially as the unseen presence that haunts the single character in Eyes Open shows what it is doing: attacking when she closes her eyes. There are some odd low-budget effects but still, for its progression of horror, it does a pretty decent job at making it intriguing.

Make Me A Sandwich (2019)

Make Me A Sandwich

Director: Denman Hatch

Cast: Anne Shepherd, Peter Hodgins

*Screens with James vs. His Future Self*

Make Me  A Sandwich is a 2019 horror short (and its very short) about a wife who is constantly being asked by her husband to make him a sandwich.

Nothing is quite defining of a short film than one that runs for 3 minutes and keeps things as simple as a wife constantly being asked to make her husband a sandwich. And yet, those 3 minutes say a lot with just the wife’s reaction to each aggressive demand. Anne Shepherd as the wife does a great job at using those little facial expressions to show her lack of patience each time and how she retaliates. At the same time, what seems simple and straight forward as this story has a very startling twist at the end. Deranged might be the way to say that twist ending and actually makes you think a little more about the whole situation here and what we just watched. Its rather unsettling to watch and yet its hard to not laugh at a little of the dark humor here (perhaps its dark humor..I’m not sure anymore). If satisfying unsettling is a term that works, then this might apply to Make Me  A Sandwich.

 

Blog Tour: Hope by Terry Tyler (Review/Giveaway)

Hope

HOPE
BY: TERRY TYLER

Hope

Publication Date: May 24, 2019
Genre: Dystopian/Psychological Thriller

SYNOPSIS

Terry Tyler’s nineteenth published work is a psychological thriller set in a dystopian near future – the UK, Year 2028.

Blogger Lita Stone and journalist Nick Freer live and work online, seeing life through soundbites, news TV and social media. Keeping the outside world at bay in their cozy flat, they observe the ruthless activities of the new PM and his celebrity fitness guru wife, Mona (hashtag MoMo), with the mild outrage that can be quelled simply by writing another blog post.

Meanwhile, in the outside world, multinational conglomerate Nutricorp is busy buying up supermarket chains, controlling the media, and financing the new compounds for the homeless: the Hope Villages.

Lita and Nick suspect little of the danger that awaits the unfortunate, until the outside world catches up with them – and Lita is forced to discover a strength she never knew she possessed.

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REVIEW

Hitting quite close to home as the main character Lita is a blogger who talks about fairly touchy subjects in a future dystopian UK that results in rather dire circumstances, Hope is a gripping psychological thriller. Its dystopian setting is one that has similar goals to those familiar with movies like The Purge, where the government schemes in their own way to thin out the non-working class which is seen as being a burden to the society and disposed of in whatever way possible. “Out of sight, out of mind” kind of deal. This dystopian future is always a nice topic to look at as it also refers to different events that has happened in our current day and age and how it has affected the future of the UK (such as Brexit). This setting opens up through the eyes of Lita about the levels of governmental control, its manipulation of technology, the lies and secrets as well as its schemes to push the non-working class or the poor/less fortunate to these camps called Hope Village in the middle of nowhere and working to live there for credits while having a lot of underlying issues that the three soon discover for themselves.

Separated into a few parts in the book quite cleverly, the situation of Lita and her two friends, Nick and Kendall end up in different locations as they move from one place to the next trying to maintain their bond and stay together as they view each other as family. Each location creates a new section of the story which gives it structure. In each phase, it moves from the struggle to stay afloat as things go sideways for each of them one by one and how it leads them to live in a Hope Village which makes them desperate for change and their actions to this puts them in a much worse situation.

Its these situations that also give Lita the hard times that give her character a lot of development. It shifts from each location from the honest blogger to a much more toned down version that treats situations a little smarter through her many losses throughout the story and shifts her character trajectory. While a few of these situations, from the reader’s view is quite easily predictable and doesn’t quite do any out of the left field. Its really the combination of all these events that make Hope quite an intriguing read.

The finesse of crafting  each of the characters and the hardships they encounter each lead to their own outcome. The setting of this dystopian future UK also is one that has lots of discover. It manages to touch on a lot of the different angles from the government motives to the characters reactions and how to face this situation and find their ways to uncover the secrets trying to be hidden. There’s also a little to think about this dystopian future as the society going backwards as these Hope Villages feel very similar to restrictive camps in history. As thrilling as this might be, where it falls short just a little is that it was fairly predictable and I like thrillers to be slightly more shocking. While I say that, there is no doubt a lot of really great writing and story execution done here. 

Goodreads: 4/5 

Where to Buy:

Amazon UK
Amazon
Universal Link

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Terry Tyler

Terry Tyler is the author of nineteen books available from Amazon, the latest being ‘Hope’, a dystopian, psychological drama set in the UK, a decade into the future. She is currently at work on ‘Blackthorn’, a post-apocalyptic stand-alone story set in her fictional city of the same name. Proud to be independently published, Terry is an avid reader and book reviewer, and a member of Rosie Amber’s Book Review Team.

Terry is a Walking Dead addict, and has a great interest in history (particularly 14th-17th century), and sociological/cultural/anthropological stuff, generally. She loves South Park, Netflix, autumn and winter, and going for long walks in quiet places where there are lots of trees. She lives in the north east of England with her husband.

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BLOG TOUR SCHEDULE

October 14th

Reads & Reels (Review) http://readsandreels.com
Just 4 My Books (Review) http://www.just4mybooks.wordpress.com
Lisette Brody (Guest Post) http://lisettebrodey.com/
Reviews and Promos by Nyx (Spotlight) https://nyxblogs.wordpress.com/

October 15th

Lunarian Press (Spotlight) https://www.lunarianpress.com/
Jessica Belmont (Review) https://jessicabelmont.wordpress.com/
Tommye Turner Talks (Review) http://tommyeturnertalks.com

October 16th

B is for Book Review (Interview) https://bforbookreview.wordpress.com
The Magic of Wor(l)ds (Review) http://themagicofworlds.wordpress.com
Books Teacup and Review (Spotlight) https://booksteacupnreviews.wordpress.com/

October 17th

LoopyLouLaura (Review) https://www.loopyloulaura.com/
Tranquil Dreams (Review) https://klling.wordpress.com/
Didi Oviatt (Spotlight) https://didioviatt.wordpress.com

October 18th

I’m All About Books (Review) https://imallaboubtbooks.com
The Faerie Review (Review) http://www.thefaeriereview.com
Crossroads Reviews (Spotlight) http://www.crossroadreviews.com

Blog Tour organized by:

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R&R Book Tours

 

Halloween Double Feature: Get Out (2017) & Hereditary (2018)

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This next double feature should probably be called the high hype indie pairing where both of these films are indie horror films that got a lot of hype and love upon its first release and both of them have been on my radar since all those great reviews scattered across the blogosphere. So here we are, getting it both done at the same time!

Let’s check it out! *crossing my fingers that they live up to the hype*

Get Out (2017)

Get Out

Director (and writer): Jordan Peele

Cast: Daniel Kaluuya, Allison Williams, Catherine Keener, Bradley Whitford, Caleb Landry Jones, Marcus Henderson, Betty Gabriel, LaKeith Stanfield

A young African-American visits his white girlfriend’s parents for the weekend, where his simmering uneasiness about their reception of him eventually reaches a boiling point. – IMDB

Two types of movies that are hard to write about: movies that are fantastic and movies that are so indifferent, its just a waste of time to write about. Get Out is definitely the first one where its just so thrilling and creepy and weird and yet, it lands well for probably 90% of the times. Usually, comedy inserts in these films don’t bother me but for this film, there were some issues of putting comedy where it probably wasn’t time for even if thinking back, I probably wouldn’t have taken out the character’s bits, probably just shifted it around, maybe. With that said, Jordan Peele’s directorial debut is amazing with twists that work and subtly creepy/unsettling bits and a good balance and execution of the ideas and unveiling the plot one step at a time, never rushing it forward.

The long awaited film that is finally watched on my list! Its rare that films actually live up to the hype and Get Out does. Whether its in the terms of psychological horror or the pacing or the characters, everything here is done with a great balance and great eye for things that come into play. None of the awkwardness in the beginning is left unminded to by the end and that does give this a lovely completeness, a rarity nowadays when movies always want to end with a possibility of a sequel. Kudos to Get Out for finding their way to create this unique piece of cinema that is mysterious, thrilling and subtly horrifying. I’m not going to talk to much about it in fear of ruining anything for those who haven’t seen it but its definitely worth a watch.

Hereditary (2018)

Hereditary

Director (and writer): Ari Aster

Cast: Toni Collette, Alex Wolff, Milly Shapiro, Gabriel Byrne, Ann Dowd, Mallory Bechtel, Jake Brown

After the family matriarch passes away, a grieving family is haunted by tragic and disturbing occurrences, and begin to unravel dark secrets. – IMDB

Hereditary is an odd film. The characters are rather odd, the family is weird, their history is mysterious and the people they encounter is also a bit out there also. Its like an onion which you peels away the pieces with each event and it leads to the end game. With that said, the best part of Hereditary is its execution, the atmosphere and Toni Collette.

The execution is on point mostly because is this mix between playing with the scenes using the miniature pieces that Toni Collette’s character makes which also ends up melling the reality into a morbid permanent display. The movie is pretty slow-burn and with that, the atmosphere and horror is presented subtly and becomes rather unsettling as the characters themselves are mostly repressing their feelings and quiet until it reaches a breaking point.

With that said, Toni Collette’s performance as the mom is great. She is dealt the worst cards as we start the movie knowing she is coping with llthe loss of her mother and dealing with the effects it had on her family especially her teenage daughter and then what happens with her daughter afterwards. Her character is the anchor of the film as it goes through a one person show almost of discovering the secrets of her family with possession and about her mother. Of course, the odd character here goes to Milly Shapiro as daughter Charlie who is rather odd both in her actions and has one of the most shocking scenes here, a scene that marks the turning point of this story. Its an outstanding performance from a young actress.

Hereditary does do a lot right in direction, execution and the horror of the whole situation. The ending is a bit mind boggling which warranted some rethinking to piece together (kind of). Overall, Hereditary is a pretty good movie. The process of watching it was great even if the ending felt a little in the left field (but that might just be my whole comprehending issues).

That’s it for Halloween Double Feature #4!
Two very highly renowned movies paired together! Have you seen them? Thoughts?

Halloween Double Feature: Anna and the Apocalypse (2017) & The Babadook (2014)

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Welcome to the 2019 Halloween Horror Marathon! I’m keeping with this year’s change to double features even for the marathon! Hopefully you will enjoy it as well! The goal is to get about 3 double features up a week. It might not all work out since that does requiring watching a lot of movies. Regardless, there will be other things going on from more thriller/horror books and TV as well so we’ll see how it all goes. Main focus is on movies from  Netflix Canada and Shudder.

First pairing probably should have been more research but it still works out as a Netflix pairing with horror comedy musical Anna and the Apocalypse followed by 2014’s indie horror hit The Babadook.

Anna and the Apocalypse (2017)

Anna and the Apocalypse

Director: John McPhail

Cast: Ella Hunt, Malcolm Cumming, Sarah Swire, Christopher Leveaux, Marli Siu, Ben Wiggins

A zombie apocalypse threatens the sleepy town of Little Haven – at Christmas – forcing Anna and her friends to fight, slash and sing their way to survival, facing the undead in a desperate race to reach their loved ones. But they soon discover that no one is safe in this new world, and with civilization falling apart around them, the only people they can truly rely on are each other. – IMDB

I only realized this is a Christmas zombie movie after I started it up but I’m sticking with it for a light start to the Halloween horror marathon, plus Netflix listed it as a Halloween Netflix and Chills category so why not. It does have zombies after all. To call this would be a stretch since its not really categorized as horror. However, as a start and a little mix genre type of movie to kick off the Halloween marathon, I’m pretty happy with it. Zombies and musicals are quite a nice little mash-up and Anna and the Apocalypse delivers some really fun tunes. I’d say, perhaps one song didn’t land well for me but overall, it was all catchy.

In terms of characters, Ella Hunt playing Anna does a great job. Probably one of the wittier characters which I really did like was Steph played by Sarah Swire. Its a fun little movie. There’s some little story between everyone but its really just a group of friends that rely on each other to go back to find their loved ones and survive through this zombie apocalypse. Its deliberately over the top and sarcastic humor throughout and its the type of humor that I love. Musicals are all about breaking out in random singing and dancing numbers and while the songs weren’t directly about the zombie apocalypse, it was immersed in it so the background was sometimes as fun to watch as watching the singing going on. Some of the bits reminded me of various other musicals. All the friends had a different kind of personality and brought something to the group which is always fun as it creates balance.

There are zombies and bloody and guts but Anna and the Apocalypse is a fun Christmas movie that still fits into Halloween because of the apocalypse elements. A light-hearted start to the marathon but more intense movies to come, I’m pretty sure. Now, if more people would do movies like this, I’d be down for a sequel or some other horror comedy musical.

The Babadook (2014)

The Babadook

Director: Jennifer Kent

Cast: Essie Davis, Noah Wiseman, Hayley McElhinney, Daniel Henshall, Barbara West, Benjamin Winspear

A widowed mother, plagued by the violent death of her husband, battles with her son’s fear of a monster lurking in the house, but soon discovers a sinister presence all around her. – IMDB

The Babadook is a fairly slow-burn psychological horror film. Usually, slow films aren’t normally an issue and with something so highly regarded as The Babadook, its nice to see where it all takes it. In many ways, when The Babadook finally makes its “appearance”, it starts becoming an anxious sort of deal, mostly because of how the characters act. The beginning of The Babadook is honestly just a lot of set-up where we see where the main characters are from how they became the situation of only the mom and son and the oddities of the character that make them fairly unwelcome or unaccepted.

A lot contributes to The Babadook’s atmosphere as well. The quietness of the film in general as well the setting itself being in a gloomy blue and black painted home which gives it a naturally darker tone that especially helps blend both the creature as well as giving the red Mister Babadook book to standout especially as both these things give off the related sort of feeling whether its depression or fear. With that said, the characters themselves being in their own rather odd ways do also give the movie an unsettling feeling. Does a child screaming or throwing a fit always instil  fear? Not really. Some of the bits of the kid was annoying and some did also land well in being slightly creepy. Essie Davis as the mom probably did a lot more of the effective acting as her character went into the change and fell into this different character that was pretty frightening to watching unfold.

Honestly, The Babadook is not too scary. The idea of itself is a lot scarier about the creepy story that comes alive. The Mister Babadook story has a dark twist to it that was scary to watch. The execution of The Babadook was also done well because it was mostly in the shadows and has the same effect of giving the viewers a way to imagine it  whether than letting it all show up. As well as a stellar performance by Essie Davis as the mother and just setting up the gloomy atmosphere really well. I can’t say that I’m a huge fan of the ending but it works.

The first Halloween double feature in 2019 is done!
Have you seen Anna and the Apocalypse and/or The Babadook? Thoughts?