Since September by Noelle MacLeod

SINCE SEPTEMBER
by: Noelle MacLeod

Since September

*Book received in exchange for honest review*

For Sheridan St. John, things just haven’t been the same since September.

It’s early autumn when wall-flower Sheridan and her best friend, Cyndi, move to the city to begin their lives as young adults. On their own for the first time – and away from the harsh criticisms of Sheridan’s mom – the girls are enjoying their new independence. But after a wild night of partying, Sheridan’s grip on reality starts to weaken. When a gruesome tragedy then strikes her family, she’s convinced it’s all an epic nightmare… one from which she must somehow awaken if she is to survive. – Goodreads

Since September is a thrilling little psychological ride. Whether it lands in the horror zone is still on a fairly light degree although the imagery of some parts are done pretty well to give a good idea of the gruesome bits and the more creepy psychological bits. Structured as a novella, the story paces itself really well to never actually have any mundane down moments and it wraps together the false sense of security for its character Sheridan while also giving it some gripping moments which gives a lot of credit in the writing itself. Although the endgame is fairly obvious, Sheridan doesn’t know and having more knowledge in this case gives her character the space to develop a bit on why she is the way she is.

Essentially, the story is split into two parts: before and after the turning point event that changes the location pretty much. The second part is similar to the likes of movie Girl Interrupted, which is somewhat of a spoiler but is a compliment because of all those supporting characters in this space. Its important to have those supporting characters as they elevate the story a little more, giving it a bit of humor or the life it needs or the encouragement to move forward for Sheridan’s character. These supporting characters are all fairly shallow and that has to do with the novella territory which is a short length story so lacks the depth for growth.

This is a novella so to avoid any more spoilers, I’m going to wrap up. Overall, Since September is a fun read. Its a pageturner for sure. The story is character-driven and Sheridan is a good character to navigate. There still leaves some mystery to her at the end but the pieces presented in this story works together well enough. My only thing here is whether the readers figuring out the twist before the character revelation was deliberate or the fault of dropping a few too many clues beforehand. There is a very fine line in navigating the realm of psychological stories and while some scenes felt a bit repetitive in structure, decreasing its psychological horror elements, however there’s still a nice sense of thrills and the set-up at the beginning is done pretty well also.

Goodreads score: 4/5

Double Feature: Split (2016) & Aquaman (2018)

DOUBLEFEATURE (10)

The next double feature has come around and this time we’re going a lot more mainstream than the last one. They really have nothing in common (at least I don’t think so) but happens to be films I recently watched. The first is Split which we saw over the Fan Expo weekend and paired with that is Aquaman, continuing my not in order viewings of the DC films, but it was a cheap rental so here we are.

Let’s check it out!

Split (2016)

Split 2016

Director (and writer): M. Night Shyamalan

Cast: James McAvoy, Anya Taylor-Joy, Betty Buckley, Haley Lu Richardson, Jessica Sula, Izzie Coffey, Brad William Henke, Sebastian Arcelus

Three girls are kidnapped by a man with a diagnosed 23 distinct personalities. They must try to escape before the apparent emergence of a frightful new 24th. – IMDB

Having not seen Unbreakable before, this movie is a second movie in a trilogy which ends with this year’s Glass (which I haven’t seen either). However, it does feel like a standalone film so that is okay. Split is a film that predominantly felt like it had some positive ratings so being something that looked more of a psychological thriller, it was on my to-watch list. With that said, Split was a pretty good film overall but in the spectrum of things, James McAvoy is really the star of the show that takes it away. Its more a show of how flexible his acting can be rather than the actual context of the story being an intriguing one. That’s not saying that there weren’t thrills and maybe even some cheap jumpscares.

The story of Split can be viewed in two ways. The first is the pressing matter of this man who comes in with various personalities that these girls discover and soon through the psychiatrist scenes and such, there’s a knowledge growing on who is the boss among these personalities and their nature while at the same time, there’s this second matter of seeing Casey, who is obviously the tough one of the three girls, played by Ana Taylor-Joy who does a decent job and her flashbacks to her childhood related to hunting with her father and uncle which goes on some tangent that I didn’t quite appreciate.

Split is an okay movie. The story itself shone because of James McAvoy’s character and the multiple personalities that went through the scenes and it was fascinating to see those moments but as the film drew to a close, it felt like it went off track and didn’t quite end as strong as it started.

Aquaman (2018)

Aquaman

Director: James Wan

Cast: Jason Momoa, Amber Heard, Willem Dafoe, Patrick Wilson, Nicole Kidman, Dolph Lundgren, Randall Park, Graham McTavish

Arthur Curry, the human-born heir to the underwater kingdom of Atlantis, goes on a quest to prevent a war between the worlds of ocean and land. – IMDB

I’ve only watched 2 DC films to date: Batman vs. Superman: Dawn of Justice (review) and Wonder Woman (review) which was a pretty low point and a fairly high point respectively. With that in mind, Aquaman was bound to hit somewhere in the middle and it did. It wasn’t exactly out of my expectations which were pretty low to begin with. Having not done a ton of research either, it was surprising to see the cast that it had including Nicole Kidman, Willem Dafoe, Patrick Wilson, Dolph Lundgren and of course, Amber Heard (which I honestly think the last film I saw her in was All The Boys Love Mandy Lane).

If I were to talk about what is wrong with Aquaman, boy, we would be here for a while. The simple version is that its actually quite meh. The dialogue is a not too good. A lot of it feels really stupid. The effects aren’t too great especially the whole underwater conference and riding these different sea creatures. The characters themselves are also quite shallow where it never seems that we connect with them enough to care. At the same time, the whole deal with the revenge situation and such feels a little disjointed. Now, if we were to talk about some good things. Jason Momoa probably would be one of them as he fits into the Aquaman role quite good and I’m not even too huge on a man sporting a man-bun. But, there are some fun moments that he brings out as Aquaman.

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

Double Feature: Bone Tomahawk (2015) & Dredd (2012)

Bone Tomahawk

We are finally digging into our own movie collection and watching films that have remained unwatched for too long. We are slowly going to start tackling this pile in between Netflix and the random cheap rentals. Its been a little while since I saw these two movies and the pairing is kind of an odd double feature but still, I’ve heard great things for both films.

Let’s check it out!

BONE TOMAHAWK (2015)

Bone Tomahawk

Director (and writer): S. Craig Zahler

Cast: Kurt Russell, Patrick Wilson, Matthew Fox, Richard Jenkins, Lili Simmons, David Arquette

In the dying days of the old west, an elderly sheriff and his posse set out to rescue their town’s doctor from cannibalistic cave dwellers. – IMDB

Part Western, part psychological thriller, part horror; Bone Tomahawk is a mix genre that uses a setting to propel its story forward. Its slow-paced and intriguing, keeping it mysterious and suspenseful as well. At the same time, there is an underlying feeling of danger in the vastness of the desert that it takes place in the majority of the time as the sheriff and his crew traverse to encounter an unknown group of enemies. While the enemies in question are different, its hard to not compare a bit of the story to the likes of The Burrowers (review), which is also a Western set film except faced with mysterious creatures than cannibalistic cave dwellers. It had a lot of the similar elements from the prejudice towards the Indians and the whole trek to do find something and the missing persons sort of deal but Bone Tomahawk is executed much better. To be honest, who these cave dwellers are is the main suspense so maybe the description itself has already broken a bit of the intrigue the film wants to deliver. Maybe…I don’t know…Its always the issue of how much is too much is said when we look specifically at psychological horror films.

One of the best elements of the film, especially when looking at psychological thrillers are the characters involved. In their own quiet way, each of them add a little something to balance out the dynamic and competency of the group. If you just look at the cast, you can see that it is a really strong cast. The main group on this rescue comprised of Kurt Russell’s Sheriff Hunt, his elderly deputy played by Richard Jenkins, injured rancher Arthur whose wife was taken played by Patrick Wilson and a gunslinger played by Matthew Fox. Its because of the focus on each of these characters in their own extent and having their own place that make them each stand out in their own manner and feel like they belong to where they were especially in a journey that approaches danger. Talking about danger, the cave dwellers are done fantastically. They are brutal and intense.

Bone Tomahawk is one of those films that is executed really well because of the atmosphere and the setting and that meshes well with the story told here. The characters and all those elements boost it high but it does have the Western slow-paced which might make it a bit harder to get into at first as it builds up its story, mystery and characters.

DREDD (2012)

Dredd

Director: Pete Travis

Cast: Karl Urban, Olivia Thirlby, Lena Headey, Tamer Burjaq, Warrick Grier, Wood Harris, Rakie Ayola, Jason Cope, Domhnall Gleeson

In a violent, futuristic city where the police have the authority to act as judge, jury and executioner, a cop teams with a trainee to take down a gang that deals the reality-altering drug, SLO-MO. – IMDB

I’ve never seen the original Judge Dredd or anything along those lines so this is a completely new experience of the world and the character itself. I’m not a huge fan of people doing the whole Christian Bale’s Batman low-tone voice. I don’t find that more empowering to the character or  make them stronger, so suffice to say that took a little getting used to for me. However, setting all that aside, Dredd is a really fun time. Seeing as it was released after The Raid: Redemption, it easy to compare the similar concept of fighting up a tower to the ultimate boss. There are thugs and obstacles in the way. Within the heights of one building, it managed to create a lot of layers. These layers dive into learning more about the world created here and living standards, the life-altering drug SLO-MO and its effects, the big boss ruling the society of this building, as well as our main cop characters, Dredd and his trainee Anderson.

Suffice to say that Dredd and Anderson do bring a lot of the action and cleverness to the film. Their characters bond over the course of the film even in their differences and through learning from each other. Anderson is different because of her psychic abilities that allow her to mind control a little. It adds to their journey but also at times has its hindrances. As great as it is to learn about these two, Lena Headey appears in Dredd as the big bad villain, Ma-Ma, a fierce woman boss of this building who is brutal and unforgiving. She keeps her anger hidden under a calm appearance..most of the time and there is this deadly and unsettling vibe to her throughout because she retains a lot of the mystery as how she became who she is now. Lena Headey always seems to be found in these movies here and there, really bringing in some intriguing characters to say the least. Perhaps someone to visit and revisit her roles, especially after her success as Game of Thrones, Cersei Lancaster.

Dredd is a pleasant surprise and exceeded my expectations. Its set in an intriguing, if not more dangerous and gloomy futuristic world. At the same time, it was also great to see another beginning role of Domhnall Gleeson as the Clan Techie here which has a small role but a fairly entertaining one to watch.

That’s it for this double feature!
Have you seen Bone Tomahawk and/or Dredd? What are your thoughts?

Double Feature: A Quiet Place (2018) & Bird Box (2018)

This double feature is incredibly late. I saw these quite early this year. I always meant to pair these two together. While A Quiet Place and Birdbox are quite different, they both rely on honing into one sense and that is a fantastic angle that had me intrigued right from the moment I first saw any trailers for it, plus they both have leading ladies that I liked a lot as well.

Let’s check it out!

A Quiet Place (2018)

a quiet place

Director: John Krasinski

Cast: John Krasinski, Emily Blunt, Millicent Simmonds, Noah Jupe, Cade Woodward

In a post-apocalyptic world, a family is forced to live in silence while hiding from monsters with ultra-sensitive hearing. – IMDB

A Quiet Place is one those movies that are incredibly interesting in terms of the premise. Its an intense thriller because of the use of the silence and the meticulousness of the little details of how this family lives. The strength of the film has a lot to do with the quiet and the mysterious control of the monsters here. It also has to do with the script and the characters and how they each grow throughout the film to see what place they each have. There is no doubt that Emily Blunt and John Krasinski bring a lot to the film however, who does stand out is Millicent Simmonds and the emphasis on the relationship of her with her parents especially the journey she has as she lives with this guilt and these abilities. The best parts are the hunt and the genuine feeling of survival and the stakes in play.

However, there is one thing  that I can’t get past for this film. It has to do with the basis of this film of how the situation managed to get to the dangerous state that it is and that is Emily Blunt’s character’s pregnant state. Very different from it being a situation that happened before the danger arrived, this happened while knowing the risks of it. With that said, this doesn’t align with the whole mentality of what this family we see has tried to achieve the entire time. That is a plot hole in my opinion and something that feels contrived. Aside from that though, because as the movie intensifies, its easy to ignore and accept the situation at hand and it delivers on a lot of levels. Seeing as this is John Krasinski’s debut directorial effort, this is a solid piece.

The only thing that I’ve had on my mind (which still I wonder on) is that while the movie relies on silence, there is a prominent soundtrack that sometimes is less than subtle. It makes me wonder whether it would have achieved more with less soundtrack and more focus on the quiet. Its something that bothered me also when I saw The VVitch (review).

Bird Box (2018)

bird box

Director: Susanne Bier

Cast: Sandra Bullock, Trevante Rhodes, John Malkovich, Vivien Lyra Blair, Julian Edwards, Sarah Paulson, Jacki Weaver, Rosa Salazar, Danielle Macdonald, BD Wong

Five years after an ominous unseen presence drives most of society to suicide, a mother and her two children make a desperate bid to reach safety. – IMDB

Bird Box is a really nice example of how the big Hollywood can take in a sophisticated filmmaking efforts that Netflix has to offer. There are things that don’t always make sense and it has its moments that aren’t quite as refined but this post-apocalyptic world and the world-building and the survival and character developing is all such a huge part of what makes Bird Box shine above all those imperfections. In some ways, there are  a lot of parallels to A Quiet Place but somehow Bird Box works better in that aspect because it starts in a situation that was made out of necessity. The structure of how the story is told makes a contribution to its success and effectiveness. All the way from why Sandra Bullock’s character changes over the course and seeing the need to find salvation to her two kids who she calls Girl and Boy and remains nameless throughout the film. The history of it makes it work because it helps build up the different elements of the invisible danger outside.

Sandra Bullock is an awesome actress and she takes on this role so well. A lot of credit has to go with the character being written really well. There’s a lot of great actors in here which creates a lot of layers to the story itself, making it a more psychological experience and a human nature sort of deal. There’s a more self-preserved character that is more grounded to the reality of the post-apocalypse played brilliantly by John Malkovich and a fairly shorter role of BD Wong and then, a great performance playing opposite Sandra Bullock by Trevante Rhodes that we first saw in Moonlight (review).

Bird Box stands out to me the most because of its tension. Its psychological aspects especially because the whole nature of the villain or outside factor that attacks civilization is about that as well. There are a lot of little details and reveals in the story that make it work. In some ways, there are elements that remind me of 28 Days Later and having the sense of hearing becoming a central sense works here also.

That’s it for this double feature!
Have you seen A Quiet Place & Bird Box?

Book Blitz: In Servitude by Heleen Kist (Excerpt & Giveaway)

in servitude book blitz

In Servitude
by: Heleen Kist

In Servitude

Publication Date: August 23, 2018
Publisher: Pollok Glen Publishing (self-published)
Pages: 338

Recently voted Top 50 Best Indie of 2018 on Read Free.ly

SYNOPSIS

Do you owe your family your life?

Grace thought her sister led a charmed existence.

She was wrong.

Now she has to pay the price.

When Grace’s beloved sister Glory dies in a car crash, her carefully planned life spirals out of control. She discovers Glory had been manipulated into illegal activities at her trendy vegan café. What’s worse, Grace finds herself an unwitting accomplice now forced to take over her sister’s shady dealings.

Determined to keep her fingers clean and protect those Glory left behind, Grace plots to escape the clutches of Glasgow’s criminal underworld. But her moral certainty is challenged when more family secrets emerge and her sister’s past intentions remain unclear.

Grace grows convinced Glory was murdered. Why won’t anyone listen?

Seeking justice, she finds betrayal…

Goodreads

For a limited time, you can purchase In Servitude on Amazon (everywhere) for only $2.99!
Paperback also availabe at Barnes & Noble and other outlets.

EXCERPT

Blue pulled at the lead. I let him off once I’d scanned the area and noted no loose dogs. Only a lone figure loitering. His eye line crossed mine as he also examined the park, and paused on me long enough to raise a creepy sensation.

I moved to a bench by the play park and pretended to tie my laces. When I straightened up, the man was striding straight towards me. I searched for Blue, hoping for a semblance of protection, but he was nowhere to be seen. Nor was anyone else.

Before I could stop him, the man sat down next to me. He whistled and shouted, ‘Here boy!’ then faced me with a disturbing grin. As if he knew the dog wouldn’t come. I jumped to my feet and looked around. What had he done?

On the second blow of silent air through my dry mouth, Blue appeared from behind a tree thirty yard away. Safe. He showed no interest in me or the man, instead sniffing out the ground’s many treasures.

I turned back to the intruder. Standing over him gave me an edge—at least I thought it did—and I raised my chin and my voice when I asked, ‘Do I know you?’

He chuckled. ‘Nah, hen. I’m only the messenger.’

‘What?’

His smile faded. ‘We’re not very happy about you closing the café for so long. You need to open up again. There’s a delivery coming on Thursday.’

‘What do you mean? How do you—’

His eyes turned to ice as he grabbed my wrist in a flash. ‘We’ll be very disappointed if you’re not there to receive the goods. Ken what I’m saying?’

He rushed off, his dark coat billowing behind him like a cape, almost engulfing Blue who circled his legs, tail wagging, until he turned towards the road.

About the Author

heleen kist

Heleen Kist is a Dutch businesswoman who lived all over the world while growing up and for her career. Then she fell in love with a Scotsman and his country, and now writes about its (sometimes scary) people from her garden office in Glasgow.

She was selected as an ‘up and coming new writer’ and awarded a Spotlight at Bloody Scotland 2018, the International crime writing festival.

Her debut psychological suspense novel ‘In Servitude’ was inspired by Heleen’s expertise in small business finance mixed with her friend’s courageous idea to open a vegan cafe in a city renowned for its dubious diet. She is currently working on her next book, which will be dark women’s fiction.

Website
Twitter
Media Contact: hk@heleenkist.com

GIVEAWAY

2 paperback copies of In Servitude by Heleen Kist are up for grabs!!!

Winners will be selected at random on 23 December and notified personally, only your initials will be used in the winner’s announcement.

Mailchimp Link: https://heleenkist.us17.list-manage.com/subscribe?u=98b133908f834869324ff86ea&id=d94bfdbfe6

Book Blitz organized by:

r&r book tours

Double Feature: Bug (2006) & You Get Me (2017)

 Another double feature here today! Tax season makes for a lot of background film watching. Gotta get something positive from the boring tax preparation, right? 😉

Two odd and random choices for myself since these two are two films that I wasn’t particularly completely invested in which was great for the criteria of being a background film. The first is 2006’s psychological thriller Bug with one of the debut roles of Michael Shannon played alongside Ashley Judd. Followed up by Netflix Original You Get Me starring Bella Thorne in a role outside of her normal bitchy high school girl, which is replaced by an obsessive character. I guess in some psychological way, these two do have something in common.

Let’s check it out!

Bug (2006)

bug

Director: William Friedkin

Cast: Ashley Judd, Michael Shannon, Harry Connick Jr., Lynn Collins, Brian F. O’Byrne

An unhinged war veteran holes up with a lonely woman in a spooky Oklahoma motel room. The line between reality and delusion is blurred as they discover a bug infestation. – IMDB

Where do I even start with Bug? In a completely spontaneous viewing, I checked out Bug on Shudder. What started out with something of generic story of a lady, played by Ashley Judd, hiding away from her ex,, played by Harry Connick Jr.  after he was released from prison and meets a stranger, played by Michael Shannon who she ends up falling in love with. Its easy to chalk this movie away in its opening moments but as the plot thickens once we start see the relationship between Ashley Judd and Michael Shannon gets deeper, it gets so much more thrilling than the threat of Harry Connick Jr’s character showing up. Although, I do have to say that I thought Harry Connick Jr did such a great job at being the ex. I’ve only seen him in some romantic drama with Sandra Bullock. I think it was Hope Floats (review).

The question here really lies in whether you believe Michael Shannon’s character and the conspiracy theory that he believes in…or is it the reality? The movie does a great job as his crazy actions expand to where Ashley Judd’s character believes it also. As they get more unhinged, the blur in reality and delusion (as mentioned in the summary above) is the key element of the psychological thriller and its executed in a pretty competent way. Right up to the end, even when some extra characters come into the scene, it proves the theory and then denies it and its just a crazy trip you take with these characters. Whatever you want to make of the ending will depend on how you would analyze the whole thing and get out of the movies.

Props here goes to both the wonderful cast here. It always baffles me how underrated Michael Shannon is because in every role I’ve seen him in, he just does a great job. Convincing and believeable role. The story is thrilling and full of questions and as these questions bug these characters, we are wondering what is the same thing and the reality and delusion. The more I think about it, the more I want to watch it again and see if I can pick up something else.

You Get Me (2017)

you get me

Director: Brent Bonacorso

Cast: Taylor John Smith, Bella Thorne, Halston Sage, Nash Grier, Anna Akana

Tyler’s crazy in love with his perfect girlfriend Ali, but when a big fight makes him and Ali break up, he lands in the arms of sexy out-of-towner Holly who shows him a night he’s gonna remember. The next morning he finds that not only is Ali taking him back, but Holly is a new student at their school and is dead set on her new man. – IMDB

I’m definitely in a 50/50 feeling for this one. I guess it explains how I’ve never been more certain about giving this one a 2.5/5 on Letterboxd. You  Get Me isn’t particularly innovative. It leans into a lot of predictable territory. However, the execution isn’t all bad. They do some nice shots and a good progression from some sweet moments in the beginning that spirals more and more out of control. I’d have to say that a lot of the greatness in this movie is that to date (from what I’ve seen, haven’t seen The Babysitter yet), I feel like Bella Thorne delivers one of her best performances. She’s always been a fairly one dimensional actress where she is the bitchy self-centred teenage girl role. This time, she dumps the bitchy and brings in the crazy and man, she definitely delivers it.

Sure, You Get Me never really hits the dangerous levels because it doesn’t seem like it would step into something so extreme, even though Netflix Originals usually do get some extreme if they wanted. There are some nice sexy scenes. Other than Bella Thorne standing out and Taylor John Smith being okay as the male lead since he is a decently attractive dude, I wasn’t too on board with the monologues he did. It felt so unnecessary and preachy about life and whatever. It wasn’t his acting that bothered me but just the script for that part. It was trying too hard to be deeper than the movie actually was. There are some thrilling moments but unfortunately, its one that is easy to watch and had a few tense moments but still never reaches the potential it could have reached as it didn’t break out of the predictable territory.

That’s it for this double feature!
Have you seen Bug and/or You Get Me?

Poor Agnes (2017)

Poor Agnes (2017)

poor agnes

Director: Navin Ramaswaran

Cast: Lora Burkes, Robert Notman, Will Conlon

A serial killer and her next victim form an unexpected relationship. – IMDB

First Official Trailer

Slow-burn, psychological and wildly violent, Poor Agnes captures its audience by allowing us into the world of a psychopath and serial killer Agnes who lures her victims into her carefully laid plans until she invites a private investigator, Mike posing as a journalist who is looking into her ex-boyfriend’s mysterious disappearance years ago and ends up capturing him. There is so much to love about Poor Agnes in some of the most unsettling ways. This has a lot to do with its small cast particularly Lora Burkes, who plays this mysterious woman, Agnes who is the focal point of the entire movie.

Perhaps playing the role of Agnes for Lora Burke may have more guideline, however for the audience, the appeal of Agnes was wondering why she did all this. Was it something in her past that caused her to become like this? However, the audience soon learns that it isn’t important why she does this but rather the concern is in how she treats Mike in both a manipulating and ruthless way while oddly creating a bond with him. As the movie goes along, its disturbing to realize that she has these narcissistic and godly beliefs about herself and her mission in life. In fact some scenes and dialogue might remind you of a female version of American Psycho. However, Mike seems to be caught however as the audience, we also see both sides and how her plans also seem to be changing as she grasps to keep it in line with what she wants to achieve but also be influenced by this bond. Ironically, Agnes isn’t “poor” at all. She isn’t looking for sympathy or pity and probably doesn’t deserve it. This movie is a slice of her life and a snippet of who she is. Why and how she became this way and what influenced her to believe in what she believes is the right thing and justifies her action doesn’t really matter that much at the end. Probably if you watch this enough times and analyze her monologues throughout, which are also quite profound, there might be a tie somewhere. Poor Agnes will make you think and its because of the complex characters that we don’t know everything about that makes it a great psychological thriller.

Poor Agnes is an unsettling little indie film and achieves a lot. It is a character study of Agnes who is a character that is concerned about looking good, staying healthy and keeping true to her psychopathic nature. She’s a complex character and what she believes about her role in the world is crazy but the outstanding performance from Lora Burke will make you believe Agnes. While this movie is a slow-burn experience, it is also one that will quietly make you hold onto your seats as you watch her unlikely relationship and bond with Mike also unfold. Its unpredictable just like Agnes’ personality. This is one that I highly recommend: this is a truly thrilling psychological thriller.

Shorts Triple Feature: The Substitute/I Want You Inside Me/The Stylist

We hopped back into Shudder and since there was quite a few movies still backlogged for review, I decided to check out some of the short films instead.

The Subsitute (2015)

the substitute

Director: Nathan Hughes-Berry

Cast: Madeleine Sims-Fewer, David Bamber, Ben Kerfoot, Haruka Abe, Alfie Stewart, Anna Hogarth

A young teacher takes a job at an unusual private school where the boys have a sinister power over the girls. – IMDB

The Substitute is a sinister and psychological short. It takes a dark and suspenseful tone of this private school with peculiar rules that most teachers are able to adapt to hence why they have hired a substitute. Not only are the classes structured weird but also the behavior of everyone is also. Particularly when there is a mysterious locked door at the end of the room that no one talks about but when there is bad behavior, it is where the student exit the class. The movie gives the viewers lots of questions and hits them with a few answers. Being a short film, it does a great job of keeping the mystery of the locked door. Its impossible to not think throughout the film of what is actually going on here and especially is what behind the locked door.

Its been a long time since I’ve felt this amount of suspense and thrills that has honestly been on my mind for a few days lingering on the movie stirring up some deep emotions about the connotations of this short and honestly, hoping that this was a full length film because it would give more answers. Of course, that is only a hope and looking at IMDB, it doesn’t seem like its in the works but I still highly recommend this short film.

I Want You Inside Me (2016)

i want you inside me

Director: Alice Shindelar

Cast: Abigail Wahl, Kiley Juckel, Nate Bucsko, Ezekiel Ashamu, Malik Johnson

A tale of all-consuming desire. – IMDB

A young girl losing her virginity is already quite the scary thing but think about not even remembering what happened and also finding that the boyfriend as disappeared as well when she wakes up, that is nothing short of confusing and heartbreaking. I Want You Inside Me is a intriguing one. While the tone of the film lies in the mystery of what happen and the reveal feels odd, it also does have this weird vibe throughout the film that works and doesn’t at the same time. Perhaps its because a short film doesn’t give the viewer enough time to bond with the main character here and she doesn’t exactly hang around with a crowd that makes it easier to like her more. Whatever it is, they do drop one hint of sorts in the film and if the viewer catches that, the ending might seem a little more apparent. It is a little out there but not something completely unique and unexpected. Actually, it is slightly goofy and disturbing all at the same time.

The Stylist (2016)

the stylist

Director (and writer): Jill Gevargizian

Cast: Najarra Townsend, Jennifer Plas, Angela Dupuie

Claire is a lonely hairstylist with an unnerving desire to escape her disappointing reality. When her final client of the evening arrives with the request to look perfect, Claire has plans of her own. – IMDB

I’m not up to date with a lot of short films. However, The Stylist has been on my radar since it had hit the festival circuit. I remember some other blogger writing about it and seemed incredibly intriguing. The Stylist is a solo journey for this young woman who stays late at her job to take care of her last customer at the salon. As the movie proceeds, we learn more through her actions and emotions about who she is. There might not be a ton of dialogue but her expressions will get you a trip into her world. Somehow it strikes a chord easily on the idea of wanting to be someone else. However, the short did remind me of a few films as it was going on that it lacked the originality it needed to really make it very suspenseful. It definitely still had the psychological aspect because The Stylist herself, played by Najarra Townsend does  a great job in interpreting the main character Claire and showing all the right emotions .

The Stylist had all the right tones and an outstanding performance with a mysterious character however, the layout of the story lacked a bit of intrigue. It is still done very well and for just looking at the snippet of Claire’s world is as deep as 15 minutes can get you.

This wrap up the triple feature for these short films!
A very suspenseful and psychological thriller collection of three shorts! 🙂