Horror Marathon: The Autopsy of Jane Doe (2016)

We have a potentially packed watch list this year so I’m putting in a random film  between the main feature. In fact, I watched The Autopsy of Jane Doe in September however it is still creeping me out till this very moment that I am writing up the review. Did I just spoil my own review? Anyways, if its taken such a long time to write, that’s honestly the reason…

Lets just check it out!

The Autopsy of Jane Doe (2016)

The Autopsy of Jane Doe

Director: André Ovredal

Cast: Brian Cox, Emile Hirsch, Ophelia Lovibond, Michael McElhatton, Olwen Catherine Kelly

A father and son, both coroners, are pulled into a complex mystery while attempting to identify the body of a young woman, who was apparently harboring dark secrets. – IMDB

The Autopsy of Jane Doe isn’t quite categorized as a flat out horror because other than the whole autopsy part, it is really a suspense/mystery thriller with horror elements. However, this indie film fits right into this month because it scared the absolute sh*t out of me. It is tense for a huge part of the film. The film takes its time to really let a still corpse have character. How the heck does someone do that? I have no idea at all but damn, did everything just come together. Sure, there were some parts that were tropes and predictable moments but a well executed psychological thriller will make you think and piece together the clues and stew in those thoughts. There is so much detail and so many great moments.

the autopsy of jane doe

The main story focus on a father and son relationship who both work at the morgue and are responsible for the autopsy. The best part is that the story unfolds as they perform each step into the autopsy. The father is played by Brian Cox and the son by Emile Hirsch. While their personal story has some part in the story, what is refreshing is that the story remembers to focus on the mystery in the forefront making it less about personal drama however the parts of personal drama does shape these characters throughout the story progression. Actually, everything happens does drive these characters to be stronger and for the audience to bond more with them and see the father and son bond as well.

The Autopsy of Jane DoeThe Autopsy of Jane Doe is a rather slow-paced experience however, it works to its advantages because it knows when to use the proper imagery to create the suspense and do its proper reveals. I’m keeping this vague mostly because this movie is one to be experienced on your own. I do think that perhaps the end wasn’t exactly as strong however, it still has a lingering effect. Its one that truly delivers in mystery, suspense and horror and even for myself, lingering fear because the horror elements here are still done so very well. Its a one of a kind psychological thriller/mystery/horror experience that after almost a month still is on my mind.

Sorry for the short write-up. I really don’t want to spoil anything. If you haven’t seen this, you really should! Its an awesome movie experience!

Have you seen The Autopsy of Jane Doe? 

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Dirty Little Secrets (J.J. Graves Mystery #1) by Liliana Hart

Diving back into my TBR list sitting on my Kindle, I’m not sure if I picked up this book because I was hooked on Pretty Little Liars and the cover reminded me of the series so I thought it would be cool. There really are no reasons especially when its really a shot in the dark and hoping that its a good read. I’ve never read anything from Liliana Hart before so let’s check it out!

Dirty Little Secrets (J.J. Graves Mystery #1)
By: Liliana Hart

dirty little secrets

J.J. Graves has seen a lot of dead bodies in her line of work. She’s not only in the mortuary business, but she’s also the coroner for King George County, Virginia. When a grisly murder is discovered in the small town of Bloody Mary, it’s up to J.J. and her best friend, Detective Jack Lawson, to bring the victim justice. The murders are piling up. When a popular mystery writer shows up on J.J.’s doorstep with plans of writing his new book about the Bloody Mary Serial Killer, J.J. has to decide if he might be going above and beyond the call of duty to create the spine tinglers he’s so well known for. Passions are rising. J.J and Jack discover each victim had a shocking secret, and the very foundation of J.J.’s life is in danger of crumbling when it turns out she’s harboring secrets of her own—secrets that make her a perfect target in a deadly game. – Goodreads

Mystery/thriller/suspense are so hard to do well. I can tell you that this book has nothing to do with anything like the plot of Pretty Little Liars of course, as you can see in the summary above. The star of the show is J.J. Graves who is a doctor turned mortician who also shadows in this small hometown as the person taking care of autopsies which usually are just normal everyday natural or accidental deaths and nothing like murders until one murder after the next plague the town and it becomes apparent that someone from the town itself could be responsible and that the victims lead a much darker life than they lead on. Small towns are a great setting for murder mysteries because it keeps things confined whether in terms of relationships or just the possible suspects and gives it space to be easier to follow. For that, Liliana Hart did really good at setting up that stage. The mystery itself made sense and the big reveal also was logical and twisty enough to be a surprise.

Dirty Little Secrets is a pretty quick read because it keeps its length under control. It will have your brain wondering the whodunnit question. However, the book does have its downfall. One of the biggest ones is creating a character like J.J. who isn’t exactly someone we can care for. She is very human because of her imperfections however, she does have a generic personality as a mortician or even the big hidden secret reveal. Her conversations are uninspired especially as we step into the middle when she is infatuated by the stranger in the town while her best friend, the hunk and player of the town Jack fumes over her decisions. Now, what J.J. lacks, Jack’s character makes up a little for. He is still a little generic in his background but there are more layers to his personality and in the bits where he shows up, it leaves us wanting to know more about this character.

As the debut of a series, Dirty Little Lies does well to set up our characters and a look at the town setting. While there are some uncompelling and generic elements, there are still bits to retain it and if not that, the writing style here is a pleasure to read. It does leave me curious to see where the characters will go especially after getting through showing is the basics of this character in this first book that the next one will have more intriguing layers to work with. Maybe I will give it a whirl some time, just to see if its worth continuing to read the entire series, which seems to have ended at Book #4.5.

TV Binge: Scream (Season 2, 2016)

The second season of Scream has finally concluded a week or two month ago . Just in time for Halloween. With the franchise features and everything, it actually caught me by surprise that the season wasn’t done earlier and in turn, this missed the Halloween month although I did binge it over the Halloween weekend. I mean, it was a true binge. If you missed my Season 1 review, you can check it out HERE. There’s quite a few haters for this series and honestly, at the end of Season 1, I kind of grew fond of it. Now that I’ve caught up with all the Scream franchise, I started this up wondering if I would enjoy it the same way. Plus, a fun note, all the episodes are named after actual horror movies, which is a nice touch.

Scream (Season 2, 2016)

Scream TV Series

Creators: Jay Beattie, Jill E. Blotevogel, Dan Dworkin

Cast: Willa Fitzgerald, Bex Taylor-Klaus, John Karna, Carlson Young, Tracy Middendorf, Amadeus Serafini, Santiago Segura, Anthony Ruivivar, Sean Grandillo, Tom Maden, Bryan Batt

It has been a few days since I finished Scream Season 2 (when I first started writing this up) and I am just completely deeply in love with it (still am). Scream has its flaws but compared to the first season that took a little while to really pick up and get their characters in place, despite some obvious teen cast troupes, Scream 2 started off really strong and only got better as it reached mid season. The reintroduction of a new killer in the twisted Brandon James mask is still unnerving to see and just the reaction of the killer and the brutality in the kills are pretty intense. Not to mention, we continue a few months after the events and we learn that Emma has had a breakdown and went away to seek psychiatric help and is back in time for the new school year and ready to embrace all those judgemental eyes from the nobodies in school. We see that because of what happened in the last season, The Morgue Podcast is taken over by Noah and he has pegged them the Lakewood Six. In the last season,  (Spoiler Alert) we ended with the reveal that Audrey was part of Piper’s plans and was involved in some way. In Season 2, we start right off with Audrey being regretful of it and actually quite in the dark because the killer is back and starting off by threatening to reveal her involvement with the previous events, making Noah’s assumption of a partner with Piper becoming viable, what Audrey didn’t know was there was someone else in the equation.

Scream (Season 2)

The old cast is back with their own set of problems. Coming back from something as traumatic as being chased after by a killer is something that is pretty hard to handle. Everyone is healing in their own ways even if they don’t acknowledge it as healing. To be honest, I’m still not a huge fan of our main “heroine” here. The final girls are talked about a lot here. Another horror reference. It is one thing I love very much about how it is rather “meta”. I never know how to use that word but the Scream franchise itself plays on that a lot. Having someone who is fascinated by serial killers which is Noah in this one, a final girl which is Emma is this one. There is always someone with secrets and someone who is preppy and slutty but maybe is a little more, like Brooke. Brooke remains one of my favorite characters in Scream 2 because she has depth and actually acts kind of human in light of the return of the killer and everything that happens. There’s also Bex Taylor-Klaus who plays Audrey that I think the series has done a good job with but I already elaborated on her above. Oh wait, and of course, there’s Kieran. Also a disposable character in my book because him and Emma are getting tiring to watch. He kind of is around but isn’t. They have this relationship strain because of what happened in the last season. They continue to try to cast suspicions on him, as well as everyone else on who the partner could be. No one is left out in Season 2 on being the accomplice especially in the eyes of the police.

Scream 2

With that said, we need to look at the new additions because those are really exciting to talk about, for the most part. Stavo (full name: Gustavo), played by Santiago Segura is a great character. The young actor himself does a wonderful job. Stavo has so many layers. He is quite dark and doesn’t help that he is super creepy and says the weirdest things but we all know that the most suspicious person is rarely the person responsible. Plus, the thing he develops with Brooke is awesome! I don’t “ship” a lot of characters nowadays but them, I love to actual bits. On the same line of creepiness, Kieran’s cousin, Eli makes an appearance, played by Sean Grandillo. His role isn’t that huge but he is a pretty sketchy guy as well. He is always doing stuff that borders the grey areas. I only wish he had more camera time to build his character more. Eli felt a little wasted at times. Next up, a new character significant for a mention is the psychology brainiac, obviously paired up with Noah as love interest, Zoe, played by Kiana Ledé. A very good character also but somehow, the whole relationship thing for Noah took an interesting turn and then took a weird one which I started to not like Noah just a little. Zoe is a key part of the new cast and her character has some great moments. And also, did I mention that Stavo is the new sheriff’s son and the sheriff is a character I’m slightly on the fence about. I started liking the connection the story gives him in the second half but for the most of the first half, I question his judgement.

Scream TV Series Season 2

We can’t really do an overview of a TV Binge without looking at the killer, right? I’m going to admit that Scream TV Series has taken me surprise even in the first season. It is gory at times and really creepy. It builds a nice suspicion. The killer is crafted so well in this series. I know that this is still a teen series and there might be some things left to be desired but in reality, this one focuses a lot on the fear and building up the backstory of Brandon James and last season’s Piper and now, the accomplice. The question remains: What is the connection? And this is even above who did it. I think it becomes a little more obvious nearing the last few episodes if you look closely at the details and the events of last season and the dialogue between Emma and Audrey in the final few episodes of Season 2 leading up to the final reveal. However, it took me by surprise and that is really all I want to say about it because then I’m heading into spoiler territory and I don’t want to do that (even if I want to talk about this series so much, that I got my husband to binge watch it also.)

As a final note, I loved Scream Season 2. There are some flaws but a lot of the character chemistry and story building and even having a nice lead-up for the next season makes it have so much to look forward to. And if you were wondering, I was alright with the Halloween Special because it paid homage to the original Scream. I was waiting to see when things would kind of converge a little and I’m happy that it did. Plus, as out of place as the Halloween Special was, I thought it still had a lot of cool and creepy moments. But that’s just coming from me, who gets scared easily.  On that note, I’m happy that Season 3 is renewed currently for 6 episodes (which is half a season is what I’m guessing and hopefully will have more if the ratings are good). I’m going to keep my eye on it.

Visual Novel: LAQUE: Premonitions by Jean Fukuda Miyasato

One more visual novel before jumping back to actual novels.

This next one is called LAQUE: Premonitions. Like I said in the first visual novel post, I’m starting to grow a fondness for them. For one, they aren’t long and two, they have art to look at. Its like a picture book for grown-ups. Plus, the last one was not exactly what I expected a visual novel to be. If you missed it, you can find it here. This one should be a bit more interactive. Let’s see, shall we?

LAQUE: Premonitions
by: Jean Fukuda Miyasato

LAQUE: premonitions

If you knew that the girl you know you will die for a FUTURE know would avoid? Laque is a boy with a special gift, he often has prophetic dreams, and one of them manages to see his future love gives her life to save his, now have to decide whether to approach it or avoid it so as not to sacrifice for him. – Google Play Store

Laque is structured much more like what I thought visual novels are. This one has actual choices to decide on the path. It floats between the premonition ( maybe dream) world that the main character Laque resides in. At the beginning, we learn that he has a gift of premonition. Ghosts or images will show up that clue him in on the future events. Then he meets a girl in one of these who don’t talk. There are some blood and deaths and whatnot and now he needs to hunt down who this girl is and who the killer is to try to stop it.

The story itself is pretty basic but the idea here is pretty. The experience still left something to desire. For one, there are some unnecessary random cheap jumpscares here and there. Sometimes they caught me off guard, most of the time it was a WTF moment because it didn’t seem to fit with the story. Note that horror and mystery/suspense are two different genres therefore jumpscares are not necessary. The second point and also the last was the story and dialogue was really like watching an anime or reading a manga or whatnot but the words looked like they were being typed slowly on. I don’t know if it was for anticipation or to make the unveiling of secret feel more effective but in random conversations, it felt much longer than it needed to be.

To be fair, Laque Premonitions is pretty good. The lesson he gives at the end is a good one, at least the ending I got. I have a suspicion that there may be multiple endings. While thete are plenty of saves on the progression, the impatient me just couldn’t handle another session of slow dialogue particularly when Laque’s inner monologue could be sped up to show all at once and not thr actual ones out loud to other characters. Still, a decent experience other than some minor technicalities.

The One You Love (Emma Holden Suspense #1) by Paul Pilkington

Next book to read is another one sitting in my Kindle for quite some time. I have to say that it is something I’ve been really intrigued by as a change of pace. I mean, the genre of thriller or suspense or mystery or the likes. It is nice to read something geared for an older audience than YA novels. I remember The One You Love being intriguing when I first downloaded it off the free bestsellers a few years back. Its been sitting in my Kindle for so long that the entire trilogy is now all available.

The One You Love
(Emma Holden Suspense Mystery #1)

By: Paul Pilkington

the one you love

Emma Holden’s nightmare has just begun. Her fiancé vanishes, leaving the battered and bloodied body of his brother in their London apartment. Someone is stalking her, watching her every move. And her family are hiding a horrifying secret; a secret that threatens all those she loves. In a desperate race against time, Emma must uncover the truth if she ever wants to see her fiancé alive again.-Goodreads

 I feel like I say this a lot nowadays. Its a new wave crashing into my life. The One You Love has a really good premise. Its an overall effective suspense about stalking and obsessing and handling delicate situations and desperation and all kinds of stuff related to losing a fiancee right before a wedding, two times in a row. Emma just believes she has bad luck until her past starts haunting her. It is a good mystery and does have some pretty good moments, except it always feels like it drags on too long. There were some parts that honestly didn’t feel like it needed to be there and some extra editing would have gotten a better pacing.

The One You Love does do something really good.  It builds up a rather good twist to the mystery. It was a good level of deduction to guess who it was but at the same time, there were multiple little secrets that were brewing in the background however, it never felt convoluted. Plus, the last third of the novel was a page turner with a good ending. More novels should end like that because while it is a trilogy, it doesn’t drop you off in a cliffhanger that manipulates you to read the next novel. For choosing that path, good move! I appreciate it a lot. In fact, not being manipulated into a situation makes me more likely to want to read the next book which is something I’m thinking about however, it does cost money and that would break my promise this year. It’ll go straight to my next year reading list. 🙂

 There isn’t much to say about The One You Love mostly because I appreciated the book. It was a decent read, especially as its a free book. The quality is much better than what we find out there. This is however possibly the stepping stone of the series. The mystery and suspense is done well although the pacing could be better. While the ending plays on being a twist, it isn’t hard to eventually deduce who it might be and it does a good job and also misleading the readers to think of other possible suspects. The other secrets in the background keep the story intriguing. Give it a little patience and The One You Love might be one that is enjoyable.

Have you read The One You Love?

10 Cloverfield Lane (2016)

Recently, The Random Chat show did a podcast on Cloverfield.  It was pretty much well-timed with the release of the 10 Cloverfield Lane trailer.  The trailers were obscure to say the least.  We get the idea of a girl in an accident, saved by a man that claims the world is toxic outside and the bunker he stashes them in is the only place that they can survive. Right away, John Goodman is plays the man and its hard to not love anything he does.  Part of it has to be that he brings me some pretty nostalgic feelings about watching Roseanne with my dad when I was young. But then, he’s been doing supporting roles in various movies, the one I remember the most has to be Argo and to me, he’s a competent actor, so this movie looks intriguing to say the least.

Let’s check out 10 Cloverfield Lane!

10 Cloverfield Lane (2016)

10 Cloverfield Lane

Director: Dan Trachtenberg

Cast: John Goodman, Mary Elizabeth Winstead, John Gallagher Jr.

After getting in a car accident, a woman is held in a shelter with two men, who claim the outside world is affected by a widespread chemical attack.-IMDB

10 Cloverfield Lane was a whole level of unexpected to me.  2016 so far has been full of surprises.  10  Cloverfield Lane kind of crept up on my radar in the last month or so.  Its hard to know what to expect when the trailers are obscure.  Its also refreshing to go into a movie with only the basics. For the most part, the movie focuses highly on the level of mystery, making sure to use that to thrill the audience, keep them guessing. I love movies like that. On top of that, 10 Cloverfield Lane is not overly long and keeps things well paced.

10 Cloverfield Lane

One of the best experiences of 10 Cloverfield Lane is truly in who you want to believe. Howard (played by John Goodman) is controlling and off-putting.  Is he good? Is he crazy? Is his theory about chemical attack and contamination believable? Should Michelle (played by Mary Elizabeth Winstead) try to escape? Is that a better chance? Those questions really just scratch the surface of the myriad of question marks that float and accumulate throughout the movie. Howard is a great character.  There’s never a clear line where he lies and what are his secrets and he definitely has secrets. In many ways, the fear is embedded in the interactions with him from his lack of reaction to his full-on reactions. Who is this person? At the core, isn’t it the most psychologically fearful aspect when you can’t figure out who someone is even when your living space is restricted to the same area as they are. This is 10 Cloverfield Lane and that is the fear of it.  It doesn’t even matter if outside is dangerous or contaminated or whether its survivable. That’s just an additional factor to why the decision to stay down there makes more sense.

10 Cloverfield Lane

No matter how good John Goodman is, the other two characters are really well-balanced to make it all work out.  Michelle is a strong girl.  We get a good idea of who she is by the pieces she drops in conversation.  The same goes for Emmett, played by John Gallagher Jr. Both of these characters feel real and relatable.  Emmett is the balance of humor that breaks up the tension that John Goodman’s Howard creates many times.  His randomness comes off as goofy at times and it helps the environment a lot, especially because Michelle is mostly a tense character that regardless of the chemistry and normalcy that builds throughout the story, she still has a tad of suspicion.  She’s strong and smart.  With a movie in confined/single settings, the good ones  portray well the character development and 10 Cloverfield Lane definitely excelled in this aspect.

10 Cloverfield Lane

The last question to ask here is whether 10 Cloverfield Lane is a sequel? In reality, its hard to say.  As empty as the trailer is, there are some snippets and other footage and does suggest that it is related to the Cloverfield events in one way or another.  However, 10 Cloverfield Lane is a much different movie.  Many times, you will forget about its connection because not until the final act will you get the answer.  However, I will refrain from talking about the ending because its for you to discover.  Lets just say that it takes a turn in a very different pacing and tone from the other 80% of the movie before it. While there were some tidbits that I wasn’t a fan of, it worked well enough.  If anything, maybe we’ll see Michelle in the next installment if it happens.

Overall, 10 Cloverfield is a good movie.  The best part is its building of tension and characters.  The cast did a great job and the story was well-paced.  The finale is a no-talk zone for the moment to keep this review spoiler-free, however, any points lost for this might be on the little bits that I wasn’t sure about.  I do wonder how they’d approach it if they were to make another sequel. It would probably creep up under the radar exactly like this one did. 😉

Have you seen 10 Cloverfield Lane? Did you like it? If you haven’t, do you plan on seeing it?