100 Day Writing Challenge Pt. 2

Photo by Tirachard Kumtanom on Pexels.com

It’s been a long couple of weeks since I’ve last posted. I’ve found that it’s easier for me to take part in the Writing Challenge during the week and leave my weekends open for other activities. That said. I have just finished Day 16 of the Challenge and feel inspired to catch you all up on what has been happening for the past 11 days.

First off, the lists continued for a while after Day 5. However, I’ve started to really like the lists exercises and will most likely add it to my other techniques when it comes to worldbuilding. List exercises included Lists of Titles, List of Problems, eve a List of reading material that you want to read for either a writing project down the road or books that you’ve yet to read for fun. One of my favourite lists exercise was when we took one name from the List of Places and expanded that into a chart. In the chart there were Facts on one side and Opinions on the other. I will definitely be using that in the future!

From there on the next five days have all been Free Writes. Now… I’m not a fan of Free Writes. It’s a challenge staring at a blank page and figuring out what to write. My first day was horrendous and turned out to be more of a journal entry than anything creative. I ended up just writing down my thoughts in my head as I typed. But… I will admit as the week went on I started get a better grasp on it. I started focusing my mind on a scene, or phrase to start me rolling. From there I just wrote what came to me in the time. I had nothing planned, nothing outlined, just a vague idea of a scene and started typing. It helped, though I’m not sure if that’s how Free Writes are supposed to work?

Starting off for this week, we are finally getting a start or a focus to these Free Writes. For today it was three words that we had to start with. A jumping off point, so to speak. It worked out better than I thought and was a bit happier knowing that we had at least something to focus our creativity on. Maybe I’m just one of those people that need a topic or some sort of plan before I start to write. Still, it’s great working outside my comfort zone and thinking back on how it made my feel. 

I look forward to more of the challenges with Tim Clare’s 100 Day Writing Challenge. If you want to join in. His podcast can be found pretty much anywhere. I’m using Apple Podcasts, but I’m sure you can find him anywhere. His website is here: http://www.timclarepoet.co.uk

As with my last post. I’m going to share with you some of the Lists and Free Writes that I’ve done. Please keep in mind, Free Writes are meant to be a move forward without looking back exercises. So, forgive me for the errors and the wild tangents.

Day 7: List of Problems a person might face

Lost a precious sword
Evicted from their apartment
Lost job due to negligence
Lost a bounty
Sold the wrong medicine
Unable to do magic in a magical world
Worried about not living up to parents expectations
Unable to pay your bar tab
Lost money on stock exchange
Having no peer support/or friends to lean on for help
Crashing onto a isolated planet
Limited oxygen supply on a space station
Limited food supply on an alien colony
Convincing others you are good at something when you’re not
Being a klutz whenever you try to do the right thing
Unable to remember your past/memories
Unable to fill contract with client
Drinking too much to be useful on a quest
Your tinker robot just became possessed by a ghost
Finding the ring that would usher in a new King and Era
Becoming lost in the woods
Leading an investigation with no experience
Proving to others your own worth when you are new in town
Making a fool of yourself in public and bringing down your reputation
Killing the dragon when you should have killed the wizard
Destroying a government under false information/promises
Being the cause of the downfall of your town without meaning to
Worrying about surviving the wastes land in the post-apocalyptic world
Afraid your sibling is getting in way over their head 
Afraid your sibling/friend is being tricked by a pretty face
Being pitted against your best friend by the new kid
Not smart enough to solve the puzzle in the dungeon to save everyone
Worried what others thing if you tell them you see ghosts
Afraid of being an outcast if you tell the truth
Provoking the dragon when your too weak to defeat it
Overconfident in your skills causing ruin and loss of reputation
Getting an order wrong and facing the backlash from the customer

Day 12: Free Write

Darkness surrounded the two. The trees shot up like iron bars, narrow in areas and wider in others, but all the time committing to the idea of being caged in by the wilderness around them. They called out their friends  names, those who have already gotten separated from them in the run. An owl replied. A scattering of wind against leaves, the rustling of crunched leaves as they walked across the decaying floor.

“Where could they have gotten to?”

“Shouldn’t be far… the river was right over… here”

The two turned to where they remember gathering water for their campsite just hours ago when the last rays of light touched the tips of the forest trees. It seemed like ages ago now. The two hurried towards the river but they never came upon it. The turned left, ran, turn right, ran, but the river seemed to have disappeared.

“This isn’t possible.”

“It’s not natural.”

“Do you think those legends are true?”

“The Forest of Lost Souls?”

“Yes”

“It can’t be… but…”

A howl of a wolf echoed around them. The two froze and stood back to back as they scanned the area, afraid that there were indeed more frightening things in these woods than just urban legend and fury little animals. 

“We should go back”

“Not without our friends.”

“They’re lost… we might still have a chance to reach the cars… the road… that small town we passed through.”

“Or, the woods are playing tricks on us and we’ll become one of those legend stories if we don’t think of something more practical, real quick.”

“Lik waht?”

The one girl held her breath. She was always the nervous type, hanging back from he rest of her friends, observing instead of joining in on the fun, the parities, the conversations. But, she had a secret up her sleeve, a secret that she hoped never to tell to her friends. She grabbed her friend’s hand and pulled her further into the forest while muttering incantations and old speak that the world of this age has forgotten. 

As she feared these woods weren’t normal. It was why she was insistent to accompany her friends, even though they told her she wouldn’t like the experience. She came because she knew of these woods, the real truth. The urban legends, the mysterious, the missing people, they hinted at the truth, but time and stories gave way to myth and legend. These wood were home to spirits, to the little people, the fairies. They liked to toy and play with those who entered too far into these woods. They took what they wanted and left no trace of those who ventured in. Besides those tricky bastards, there were other supernatural creatures that roamed these trees. Things less likely to be as considerate as the Fairies.

She made sure to make the proper wards and peaceful with the fairies when they arrived at their campsite. She left out sweet milk with honey in a bowl not far into the woods. She strung makeshift wooden symbols near the trees to let the creatures now they were not here to harm their home, or be disrespectful.

Day 16: My darling, I…

My Darling, I apologize for the awful behaviour you found me in the previous night. I am here, writing this letter in hopes of giving you context for the blatant scene of disrespect that caught so many eye witnesses.

First off, please remember that I only love you. At first glance it seems the world might have shifted off balance, but I assure you that appearances are not as they seem. I love you darling, forever and ever.

Secondly, It was my mistake to leave the party as I did. I was angry, upset. You sister confided in me that you were off to Asia the following week. You must understand how that made me feel. I thought we were to spend the rest of our lives together… and to hear that you may leave the country at such short notice without notifying me or telling me of these plans. I feared that perhaps you did not find my company pleasing. That the love I thought we shared would be broken. I grew upset… that is why I threw the drink in your face later that evening. Please don’t be upset with your sister, I’m sure she had no idea that you have not told me your thoughts and plans for this trip to Asia. If anything she might have tried to prepare me for whatever it was you wanted to discuss privately. I, on the other hand, was quick to judge and for that I truly apologize for the agony and scene I caused.

As for the way you found me the way you did. Please be aware that it happened in full innocence. After throwing the drink in your face, I had to get some air, so I live the party and traveled down a side path. I forgot how close the Wetherting’s place is to the local pub. I was thinking of us, of you when it happened, and completely unawares of where I was going. That is where the three men appeared. Right out of the shadows. I realized my mistake and tried to turn back but they caught my arm. I can only imagine the horridness of their thoughts when they saw me. A young lady dressed with diamonds, alone on a path. If they only wanted the diamonds I’d given it to them. But by the smell of alcohol on their breath, I feared the worse and tried to fight fight back.

It seemed I inherited my father’s strong punch. I don’t remember much of what happened after that. But I do remember feeling the poor man’s face against my closed fist when it made contact. That seemed to only rile them up even more. All I ddid was defend my honour. They must have been more drunk than I thought, for they seemed to go down and stay down once they hit the ground. By then I was overwhelmed. I couldn’t think straight, and my legs could barely hold me. That is when Captain Harink arrived to catch me before I fell. At first I thought it was he who took out the drunk men, but I saw the bruises on my knuckles and knew it was me indeed.

Of course you know the rest. That is when you and so many from nearby who heard the men came to investigate. I swear to you my darling, that Captain Harink means nothing to me. The man is old, weathered and strange. I was just as alarmed and confused when…

Tim Clare’s 100 Day Writing Challenge

At the beginning of the year, I thought I had my writing plans and goals mapped out. Little did I know that I would be suddenly introduced to Tim Clare and his 100 Day Writing Challenge that he put up on his podcast in January of 2020. If you are unfamiliar with him, or his writing challenge – just like I was a week ago – there is is website where you can find access to his podcast and other great tools for writers: http://www.timclarepoet.co.uk/the-100-day-writing-challenge/

So, how did this happen? Why am I now taking 10 minutes of every morning (the time where I do as much writing as possible) to take part in this challenge from last year? Well, it came to my attention from my NaNoWriMo group discord chat. Another writer was giving it ago and sent the information to us. Well… at that point I was sort of intrigued and I’ve never been able to get my head around writing prompts to begin with. Not to mention, after tackling the movie review challenge of mine, I’m ready to try another challenge. 

Thankfully, there is no punishment for skipping a day. Or even starting late. While I’ve just finished Day 5, others in the group are on day 7 or 8. Taking it at my own speed and pace has been more peaceful for my mind. Not to mention the writing prompts right now have really pushed the creative part of my mind and I’m incredible curious how it could help my thinking, and what new, maybe elaborated prompts will given to us in the future. 

I thought that it might be good for me to share some of the prompts that have come up so far. Given that each are 10 minutes long, they will not be pristine works of art. Not to mention the first 5 prompts are very list heavy. Trying to write down as many names, objects and even places as possible in that short amount of time. I didn’t think it would be so challenging, but with that added time crunch, my mind does tend to seize up and I fumble around for words and phrases that could fit the bill. 

Another reason why I feel that I want to share what I wrote from these prompts is to try and get over the fear of showing other people my work. I’ve come a long way since starting my blog on showcasing pieces of my writing, opening up to beta-readers, friends, even my husband has read pieces of my work now. It’s still a heart stopping moment for me, but it feels good to finally start showing people what I do, and who I want to become. 

So today, I’ll share with you the lists I’ve crated from Day 1, Day 3 and Day 5 of the 100 Day Writing Prompt Challenge. I’d be curious to hear your thoughts, or if you’ve also done the challenges and your own reactions towards them. 

Day 1: List of Names (The aim to get 50 in 10 min. I got 60.) I’m sure most of these names I recalled from some show, or interacted with someone of that name. Yet, there are a few gems in there that will cause me to keep this list for future references.

  • Ruby White
  • Elenor Purppleberry
  • Douglas Brave
  • Whitney Williams
  • Willow Amery
  • Felix Red
  • Hicks Burgandy
  • Malory Archer
  • The Brute
  • Dr. Quizzel
  • Kevin Young
  • Leo Starfield
  • Matrix Nova
  • Bea Chattle
  • Helena Rudfurd
  • Eva Hamilton
  • Milly Lows
  • Callie Dent
  • Greg Hartfield
  • William Letterform
  • Bane Vale
  • Nellie White
  • Leo Black
  • Neon Yellow
  • Margaret Neon
  • Sally Quinn
  • Edward Thacket
  • Oliva Preston
  • Oliver Amberly
  • Zack West
  • Xylia Greenleaf
  • Ali Gold
  • Trent Creedence
  • Micky Hardford
  • Ollie Ford
  • Perry Grynth
  • Pip Vallourent
  • Marie The Wartrodden
  • Rin Ellyfrom
  • Gram Darling
  • Farly Hexitor
  • Breane the Witch of Southdowns
  • Bessy Brown
  • Nikki Starr
  • Cloud Light
  • Kikki Willowby
  • Ari Farthings
  • Raven Black
  • Red Sparrow
  • Mikki Swan
  • Alistar Moon
  • Julian Farret
  • Mack Darkrun
  • Gilli Strope
  • Hue Bluewater
  • Sven Rueben
  • Fred Zin
  • Zander Thomas
  • Ginny Blaze
  • Victor Vance

Day 3: List of Interesting Objects
I had a lot of fun with this challenge, but maybe it was because i’ve been working on a novel in the back of my head where my MC owns a magic store in a fantasy land. So of course i’ve already been collecting odd names for objects and spells and the sort that she would have on hand or would have to make. Still, I tried to branch out away from fantasy, though I somehow always comes back to the fanatical.

  • Necklace of tiny pixy skulls
  • Jar of eyes that blink
  • Minator heart reused as a sac
  • Leather-bound book full of crude drawings
  • A jar that holds darkness inside
  • A flower in a pot that sheds sparkles when hit by light at 4pm
  • A photo album full of photos of ghosts
  • A notebook with all its pages torn out
  • A mirror that doesn’t reflect
  • A stone that is always cold to the touch
  • A spell book
  • A plastic apple with a bite taken out of it
  • An bowl of fruit that always replenish itself
  • A book of magic that is blank until you say the spell
  • A cape that gives off real sparks at night
  • A sword that can’t be sharpened
  • An imprint of Bigfoot’s foot
  • An organ that plays by itself at random times
  • The head of a Gnome in a jar
  • An SSD card full of a ghostly investigation gone wrong
  • Video recordings of a group of missing adventures
  • A stuffed jackalope 
  • A jar of feathers from a cockatrice
  • A talon from an unknown beast
  • A wooden box full of fake jewels/costume jewelry
  • A treasure map in a bottle with no opening
  • Scales from a mermaid 
  • Ink bottles full of magical ink that changes colour depending on the mood of the person holding it
  • A cursed ojuia board
  • A hand mirror that shows a stranger’s reflection
  • Dried herbs

Day 5:  List of Places/Locations
At first I thought this would be easy. I’ve been collecting names for fantasy towns and cities for a while now. However, when push came to shove, I was just as mind boggled as the other challenges so far. I think I focused too much on an actual location name, or shop name than I did a big picture name. Again, there are no wrong answers with this challenge, but it’s interesting to see where my mind goes and how to try and get it to start thinking more outside the box and freely instead of getting stuck on a particular theme, genre or rut.

  • Yule’s Merchant Shop
  • Bell’s Blacksmith
  • Wyndleton
  • Sweets and Sour Shop
  • The Dark Hand that Wrote Me
  • Ryle Thicket
  • Donkey and Mill
  • Brightly’s Stand
  • Tinkerton
  • Pyre Lots
  • Quill and Ink
  • Crestfallen
  • Sagerton
  • Lil Nan’s Circuitry
  • Old Phils Repair
  • Reaper for Hire
  • Valley of Valour
  • Whispering Books
  • Mud and Magic
  • Puddles and Poodles
  • Marvins Merchandile
  • Willie’s Chop and Shop
  • Dills Crisps
  • Ollies Veggies
  • Moon and Ale
  • Lil Popping Hop
  • Questars
  • Sunflare Solarium
  • Riddles and Wordplay
  • Pops Potion Wearhouse
  • Rays Supernova Sty
  • Kilax’s Wasteland
  • Eustance Magical Emporium
  • Sally’s Sweet Shop
  • Tillie’s Hardware
  • Zander’s Ziggy Zidwinder
  • Battleground of Woes
  • Liana’s Letters
  • The Message Emporium
  • The Text Exchange
  • Hologram R Us
  • Windel’s Dry Whistle

So that is it for now. Please excuse all the spelling errors above in the lists. I tried to catch a few as I was going along, but part of the exercises so far have been to not edit and keep moving forward. Again, if you haven’t heard of Tim Clare or this writing challenge, I highly recommend you visit his website and podcast: Death of 1000 Cuts. I look forward to what else is awaiting me this year with this challenge. I hope to complete the challenge before NaNoWriMo befalls us in November, earlier if possible.

Updates and Happy New Year

Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

It has been a long while since I’ve posted. Far longer than I intended it to be. I haven’t even had the chance to thank everyone who read my October Horror Move Review Month. I think I bit off way more than I could chew by trying to post every day. It became more of a burden and overwhelming as the month went on. I still love my movie reviews and diving into horror movies in particular during October, but I may cut back next year and focus on one or two a week instead. Give my some breathing room.

Another reason why I didn’t post was because right after my little challenge to myself in October ended, NaNoWriMo 2020 started. I went into that writing challenge hard. I manage to pump out 60k words before the 20th of the month. I wrote about 20k + a week. I don’t think I’ve ever managed that before in any past NaNos. It all comes down to how I planned out and outlined my novel this month. Instead of outlining chapter by chapter, I broke it down even more and did it by scenes. Somehow that helped me focus directly on a scene, instead of a full chapter, grouping scenes together to make the chapter in the end. This detailed outline really helped me this year. Then again, I took a short story I’ve been writing for a couple of years and expanded it too. So knowing where my climax was and how it ended helped as well. Yet, surprisingly but paranormal novel ended up being more of a teen drama with high angst with some paranormal ghost hunting thrown in on the side. I’m a bit surprised by that revelation of what I was writing, but still really enjoyed the story and hope to return to it later this year or next to work out a second draft.

By the last half of November I was busy with a winter themed quilt I was working on and wanted to finish before Christmas. And well… Christmas came shortly after that. With all the writing I did in November, I was not in any mood or hurry to type out any more words until the New Year.

With that, I do want to wish everyone a belated Happy New Year. Things in 2020 were rough, and with the first week of 2021 not shopping up to look any better, I think we need to send as much positivity into the universe as ever. Do I have any resolutions? No. Plans, maybe a few Goals – Yes. My one goal is to decide once and for all to self publish my Elysia Paranormal book I’ve been working on for years and querying for the past year and half. Now it’s time for me to find a copy editor and find a way to formate the book for online and print. It’s a huge leap and I’m thankful for some very encouraging parents who are willing to invest in my book. Other than that, I have another book, a sci-fi dystopian that I want to polish and start sending out to agents later this year. It’s a huge leap as I’m only working on the second daft now and haven’t found any beta readers for it yet. But, it’s something I really love and think it might have more promise for the traditional publishing industry than my first one. Keep trying, right?

Plans. The biggest plan I have right now is to reorganize my office. It’s time to go through my books, give away those I’m no longer interested in keeping, and get a new desk. (Seriously, the one I have is really warped.) I’m also wanting to get a separate sewing desk and set it up in the opposite corner of the room. In my head this all looks great, but lets hope when put into practice it turns out the same way. I might even paint if I’m brave enough. Everything in this house has cream coloured walls. It would be nice to change it up in a room or two. 

That’s all from me for now. I have been introduced to a 100 Day Writing Challenge this year and I’ll be sure to post some of the good stuff I learn and create during the period. If interested, it is from the podcast “Death of 1000 Cuts” by Tim Clare. Feel free to look it up and try it out yourself.

23:59 (2011) Review

Directed by: Gilbert Chan
Stars: Tedd Chan, Stella Chung, Philip Hersh

Well, it seems my military horror has continued into this Singapore-Malaysian film. Set in the 80s, this movie follows a troop of young soldiers training on one of the islands. After a night of telling ghost stories, the soldiers are faced with paranormal happenings after a mysterious death of one of their own numbers.

I really liked this film – a lot! I like the idea of how urban legends and ghost stories are exaggerated and evolved over time, taking into account new times, mental stress, and how one horror story becomes the next urban legend to be passed around.

So the film starts with a group of four or five of these young soldiers at an army camp on one of the islands in the Singapore/Malaysia area, sitting around a few candles telling a bunch of ghost stories. One is about a female soldier who hung herself after getting bullied by her fellow troop members. Another is about a Kuntilanak – a ghost of a woman who died giving birth to a still born child. And third is about a powerful medium who lived on the island in the village near the army base who gave birth during a reading – resulting in a deformed baby.

But it doesn’t stop there, even though a few of the soldiers are pale, Dragon who is telling all this goes on to talk about how if anyone dies at 23:59 – one minute before midnight, their spirit is unable to find their way to the other side and returns to their realm. He adds in other spooky stories of things happening in their bunk house, of soldiers doing the Indonesian version of an ouija board causing a spirit to enter and kill them all. 

Well, one soldier freaks out from all these tales, Tan is portrayed as a timid young man whom Dragon seems to bully around an awful lot. It gets worse when another soldier – Jeremy – childhood friends of Tan, tries to comfort Tan that ghosts don’t exist, however Tan seems convinced of spying some inhuman being outside while on patrol/guard duty one night with Chester. However, Jeremy explains that as a kid himself, his father was a con man and made him believe that he had the “Third Eye” and could see spirits, only to con other people out of their money. That seems to help Tan out as they prepare for the last long range march across the island.

While out on the march, Tan, starts to lag behind and Jeremy along with a few others (including Dragon) pause a bit to mouth off before trying to catch up with the other soldiers of their squad. Jeremy at that moment spies a woman who dropped a bag of oranges and quickly helps her, mentioning how late it is (well past dark, and raining), and tells her to be careful and to hurry home. Well, now Jeremy has lost sight of both Tan and the others. They eventually meet up, with their Sargent when they discover that Tan is still missing. 

There is a pretty impressive scene where the four soldiers with their Sargent got out to find Tan, and their flashlights all stop working at the same time and the Sargent calls out for them to do a head count – and faintly a hand is placed on the last person (Dragon), and a fain “Five” could be heard. Of course upon looking back – Dragon seeing Tan’s ghost for a split second before the image disappears in the darkness of the storm and their flashlights turn back on. Seconds later Jeremy finds Tan’s dead body, and also spies the woman he met earlier in the distance for a split second.

This is when Jeremy starts to get his “Third Eye” open. He mentions how he dreamt Tan would die the night before the march, then confesses to Chester that he had a second dream of Chester dying as well. Well… Chester get’s possessed and the army calls in a medium to cleans him of the evil spirit, which only gives Jeremy more determination to figure out what’s going on around them, and tells Chester he could be next to die. 

Well… it turns out the ghost story about the medium giving birth to a deformed child is true. Through talking to one of the villagers who works in the canteen, they realize the truth behind the legend, not only did she actually exist – both the medium and the deformed child – but that when the child grew up many of the kids in the village teased and threw rocks at her. Only later to have those children die mysteriously and the story that the deformed woman can control others in some mysterious way.

Jeremy and Chester plan to head to their Sargent to tell him what they found when a musical hum seems to put Chester in a trance and pulls him out to the wilderness. Jeremy follows, only to see some unseen force twist and crunch Chester’s body to death. Once again Jeremy sees this older woman and runs from her through the wilderness to an old abandoned home where he is faced with the full truth of how things happened.

Through a flashback, we see that the medium was dying, and not wanting to leave her daughter alone (who was also chained to the wall), poisoned her as well. We then see both ghosts of the woman and the deformed child she had to the now freaking out Jeremy. However before he could escape the house, the old woman takes possession of him and comforts her daughter’s spirit one last time, apologizing for what she did and asking for forgiveness. It’s actually a very heart felt moment.

With the vengeful spirit of the deformed child now cleanse, along with the mother’s spirit, we see Jeremy return home and have a meal with his dad’s spirit. I feel that Jeremy learned a lot in that night, not only about his own gifts which turned out to be true, but also finding forgiveness with his own relationship with his father – who died while he was away at training. 

But the movie doesn’t end there, in a fantastic move, we fast forward to the “present” with a new group of recruits and soldiers in the same barracks as before. They start to talk about how two soldiers died on the island and slept in their same bunkhouse. At this time, you see the door to their bunkhouse creak open all on it’s own.

There are so many legends and ghost stories mentioned in this movie, and the aspect of young men telling ghosts stories and believing in talismans and spirits. I really loved how they turned some vengeful ghost story into a story of misunderstanding, fear, and the brokenness of a particular woman who was deformed upon birth and being subjected to harassment not only during life, but after death as well. I don’t think we get a lot of these ghost story movies with that same sense of forgiveness at the end, something happy to know that these spirits are at peace now. Or… at least not that much? 

I highly recommend this movie to anyone and everyone. It’s not overtly scary, there are a few small jump scares, but just enough level of creep factor to hold your attention. Let me know what you think if you seen it!

Overlord (2018) Review

Directed by: Julius Avery
Stars: Jovan Adepo, Wyatt Russell, Mathilde Ollivier

I absolutely loved this movie! I remember catching sight of this on Netflix a couple of years ago and mentally putting it away as something to watch at a later time. Now I’m upset that I’ve waited two years before sitting down and watching this movie. It was fantastic, maybe more action-adventure but there is enough body horror at play here that I feel safe reviewing this for my Trick or Treat Movie Review Month.

The movie takes place in an alternate 1940s, on the eve before D-Day and follows a group of paratroopers as they take on a mission to land behind enemy lines and take out the German’s radio tower so that the air support will be there for when the ships land on the beaches.

The opening sequence is pretty good, we focus on our main protagonist Boyce who is not only a private, having joined three months prior, but pretty nervous about everything… and rightfully so as their plan gets bombed just as the troops are scheduled to jump. I have to admit that scene with him jumping out of the plane with explosions, gun fire and the like is just phenomena and really impresses the fear, confusion and terror one would have to go through in order to do that. In the end, only four survived the jump and made it to the small village where the radio tower is located at the church.

Along the way they intersect Chloe, a french young woman living in the village. She helps the troops to her house to hide out and formulate a plan of attack on the church. During that time, they are able to capture a SS officer who tried to force Chloe into sex to save her younger brother from whatever experiments that are happening at the church. Boyce is unable to stand by and just watch, thus leading to the SS’s capture. Ford – the highest one in command, then orders Boyce to find the other two who went out to scout around the church and find a way in. 

Well… Boyce’s little hop and skip through the village did not go as planned and he gets chased into a transport truck full of dead American Soldiers that heads right into the compound. My some miracle, Boyce is able to slip out and into the facility without being noticed. It is there that we get our first glimpse at the “experiments” happening underneath the church. Bodies are hanging in sac like bags from the ceiling, there’s a woman’s head and spin that’s still able to speak – asking for help, and to his surprise one of his friends from the paratrooper unit. Boyce also takes with him one of the syringes that holds this unusual red liquid. There is a brief moment were we see the doctor inject a dead body with this liquid, to which the dead body starts to take a breath before being carted away.

The two then try to escape the facility and find a way through a drainage system that leads them out into the nearby wilderness where they eventually meet up with the others and Boyce does his best, but failed, to explain what he saw in the facility. Either that or Ford just doesn’t care as he’s more focused on their mission to destroy the radio tower. 

However, the seriousness of what Boyce discovered comes into light when the SS officer manages to break free and shoots one of their own. They all try to comfort the dying soldier as he died, but Boyce couldn’t just do nothing and stabs the man with the syringe. Well… we now know for sure what this drug does – raises the dead! But of course there is side affects. Well… not let’s eat your brain side affects… more super soldier style with the tendency to break their own neck, become more violent, and even harder to kill.

That scene was amazing. My jaw was just hanging open! 

Anyways, the SS officer manages to slip out during the distraction, grabbing Chloe’s younger brother along the way. There’s a shoot out, revealing to everyone that the soldiers are indeed in town. They manage to injure the SS officer, and kill all of the other Nazis that had arrived. Seeing they have to move, they make a quick plan with the remaining American soldiers, splitting up to not only take down the radio tower, but to also rescue Chloe’s brother and destroy the lab underground.

That’s our climax set up, and it delivers. I have to say that Chloe is an amazing character, strong in so many ways. When they re-enter the facility and head towards the radio tower first, Chloe’s like – ah no, I’m finding my brother! – And heads off on her own.

From here we get a look into some of the locked cells, as Chloe manages to surprise a guard and lead him to where she thought her brother is being kept. Instead it was a ploy, and he opens a locked cell and get’s grabbed. Chloe, with Boyce helping out at the last minute manages to help her find her brother when they part ways again. This time, whatever was in the cell is loose and goes after Chloe. Once again, we get this amazing woman standing up and being as strong as she could ever be. In the end she pulls out a flame thrower and destroys the creature once and for all before fleeing the church and facility.

Now, let’s step back to the SS officer, well… he’s been shot multiple times, including the face. Returning to the lab, he takes not 1, but 2 of these syringes. So… we know he’s lurking around and he makes his appearance on Ford who’s setting up the charges to blow the radio tower up. There’s an epic showdown that takes place with Boyce returning once more to help where he can before Ford is forced to take one of the syringes himself.

In the end, they are able to slow the SS officer down enough for Boyce to finish set the time in the radio tower for the charges. However, Ford locks the gate between them, preferring to die with the rest of the experiments the Nazis were doing, lighting the fuse for the labs himself. Our boy Boyce is then forced to finish the mission alone, setting the last of the fuses and running for his life as the lab, church and radio tower collapses in a rage of fire and explosions!

We are then reunited with Chloe, her brother, and the rest of the American soldiers as they finish off any remaining german troops in the village. The next scene is all of them listening to the radio, announcing D-Day’s victory. The town is now under ally control and when asked by the new commanding officer if they need to dig under the church – Boyce lies and tells them nothing of the lab or the experiments.

Once again, this movie does fall more under an action movie, but I loved the way they re-invented a super solider syrum with that of zombies. They aren’t technically zombies that you may think of, which is unique, but still terrifying only that it is now extremely hard to kill these creatures. A bullet to the brain isn’t affective. The only things that seem to do it, is either destroying the head entirely, or by fire. Still, it was a great movie and I think under-recognized. I highly recommend this movie if you like action movies, alternate history, or light horror. 

The Tingler (1959) Review

Directed by: William Castle
Stars: Vincent Price, Darryl Hickman, Patricia Cutts, Pamela Lincoln, Philip Coolidge & Judith Evelyn

Every October I try to watch a classic horror movie of some type. Thankfully we have access to TCM and they do put on quite a lineup during the month of October. Last year it was Godzilla movies, this year it was a mix bag. I think I missed a couple the I wanted to see, but I’m glad we were able to record this classic gem – the Tingler! Let’s face it, I’m a sucker for any Vincent Price movies, so of course I was going to watch this one. I have also heard a few reviews on it and after watching it myself, can agree that it does have some good scenes and I can understand why it is considered a camp classic.

Now, don’t get me wrong, it’s not scary – or not anymore. However, there are some very decent scenes in here and with the fad of “Percepto”, it probably was pretty scary when it first came out. Percepto – if you haven’t heard of it – seems to have been a fad of setting up certain chairs in the theatre with buzzers and the like to help encourage the audience to scream when necessary and build the fear in the theatre. I’m not sure how successful it was, and given it’s more of a camp classic than a true horror classic, probably not that much.

But, let’s get on with the review. The movie starts with an introduction by William Castle himself, explaining the “Percepto” aspects of the movie and encouraging people to scream if they feel fear as it could “save your life”. I’m sure it was meant to put people on edge and prepare them to the essence of the movie they are about to watch. However, as I noted, it doesn’t seem to translate anymore to a modern movie watcher, especially watching the movies at home.

Anyways, we are then flooded with heads of people screaming until we focus on one figure and his body come into view. A man on death row is lead to the electric chair, screaming in fear all the way. Afterwards we are introduced to Price’s character – Dr. Warren Chapin. The medical examiner and scientist looking into the aspect of fear and its affects on people. He does the autopsy on the now dead criminal and is introduced to the dead man’s brother in law – Oliver Higgins who needs to sign off and is responsible for the body afterwards. It is during their brief exchange over the autopsy that they bring up Chapin’s scientific exploration and it is Higgins who puts a name to the sensation or force as – The Tingler. There is a brief mention of the dead man’s spin being cracked and that it is not related to the death by electrocution, only to feed Chapin’s theory of there being another force in the body when someone is frightened.

With everything signed off and completed, Higgins requires a ride home, and Chapin complies. We learn that Higgins and his wife own and operate a silent film theatre that still puts on shows. We also learn that Mrs. Higgins is deaf and mute. It is only when Chapin accidently cuts himself with the saucer and blood is shown that we see that Mrs. Higgins is unable to scream. We watch her body go rigid before she faints. Thankfully Chapin is a doctor and is able to help Mrs. Higgins, however he leaves with the thought of what affects fear could have on a person who is unable to scream and let that agony out?

So we follow Chapin back to his house, and learn of a bit more drama happening there. His wife is unhappy with their marriage and seems to be out with other guys, while his sister in law is head over heals in love with Chapin’s assistant. However, the wife has all the power of money and Chapin’s assistant is pretty much broke, and the two lovers are stuck unsure if they would ever be able to marry. It’s only when the two lovebirds leave for dinner and Chapin waits up for his wife to return home that we see how much of a “b*tch” she is. Chapin however plays that to his advantage and shoots her with a blank. While unconscious he takes multiple x-rays of her spine before waking her up. It’s also important to note that he doesn’t protect her in any ways… so three x-rays on a woman with no protection… yeah….

This even seemed to put his wife in a bit more friendly mood towards her sister and her boyfriend, while Chapin got what he wanted, visual proof that something emerges when someone fears fear along the spine. However, it doesn’t last for long as screaming seems to disintegrate it. 

Now comes the really horrific part of the movie. Chapin is unable to produce the fear required in himself to have this “Tingler” removed, so instead heads back over to the Higgins to check on Mrs. Higgins health. I’m not sure if there was an alterer reason, or if Chapin was just a kind doctor wanting to do a follow up. Either way he gives Mrs. Higgins a sedative to help her sleep (as it seems she hasn’t been able to do so for a few days). He then gives Mr. Higgins a prescription for sleeping pills.  We next see Mrs. Higgins awake and start to either hallucinate, or as we later learn get scared to death by her husband. He appears with masks on his head, knife in hand, chasing her throughout their apartment. In the bathroom we see blood appear out of the taps and in the tub. 

Now, keep in mind this is a black and white movie, however the blood is red as red can be. That to me must have been very impressive at the time. 

Anyways, Mrs. Higgins dies of fright, and Mr. Higgins takes her to Chapin for help. There’s another great scene of him pronouncing her dead and putting a cloth over her, and while the two talk of next steps, the figure on the bed lifts up rigidly before dropping back down. Chapin asks for permission to take out the Tingler, which he gets and we see a centipede like creature emerge from the body. I have to admit, it was disturbing to see that being removed. We only get to see it through a curtain, but it is still creepy. Not to mention, this tingler is still alive!

Now we believe Chapin has all he needs for his papers and conference, however after a few days of experiments, its clear this thing is much more dangerous than anticipated. For starters, Chapin’s wife tries to kill him by drugging his drink and letting the tingler loose in the room with him. It almost succeeded before the wife’s sister arrives back home and screams loud enough for the tingler to let loose of its hold around Chapin’s neck. From there Chapin learns it is indestructible, he is unable to destroy the thing. His only hope is to return the tingler to the host body and hope that it will die with its original host. 

I don’t quite understand the logic, but it’s a movie. 

However, as Chapin tries to call the funeral home, he quickly discovers that Higgins never reported his wife’s death or took her body to the funeral home. Chapin rushes to the Higgins’ apartment and discovers that it was Mr. Higgins who killed his wife through fear. As they argue, the Tingler, kept in a cage bursts itself out and heads down through the walls and into the theatre below.

So this is the part of the film that did not age well at all. There is a movie playing at the time with a reasonably full theatre of people and eventually the Tingler is noticed and screaming begins. The screen – our screen – goes black and we hear Vincent Price’s voice try to calm the theatre down. We next see that the Tingler has made it’s way to the projection booth and once more we get a black screen and this time Vincent Price is encouraging everyone to scream for their lives, that screaming is the only way to kill it.

I mean… I hope it got some great reactions from the audience when it first came out, but by today’s standards it doesn’t hold up at all. 

There’s not much of an ending to this movie. We see Mr. Higgins appear back in his apartment to collect the rest of his belongs to flee when the body of Mrs. Higgins seems to move of it’s own accord. I believe the Tingler had found its way back to its host. From there we see Mr. Higgins scream as the movie ends.

The theme or philosophy behind the film of fear having some affect on the body, either physical or psychological I think is quite genius. I’m sure this idea of fear is nothing new, but having it but into a sci-fi horror movie makes it interesting. Part of me wonders if this idea could be brought back in some way? I’m also disappointed that very little happens with Chapin’s wife. Basically after trying to kill her husband she packs up and leaves town. Chapin is unworried by it, but she tried to kill him??? To me that’s a dropped ball in the script. 

In the end, it wasn’t a horrible movie, it kept my attention and the Tingler creature was pretty interesting, and a little terrifying. It’s a product of its time and like I said before can understand the camp cult following it must have. Let me know if you ever seen this movie and your own thoughts towards it.

Goedam Ep. 7 & 8

Episode 7: Threshold 

When someone tells you not to remove some sacred and spiritual object, it’s best to listen. In Episode 7 of Goedam titled Threshold, we see what could happen when you go against a warning.

The episode starts with a family scene, with a worried and somewhat overprotective mother. Basically her son trips over the threshold step to his room and his two parents immediately coddle him to prevent him from making some sort of big meltdown as the son and mother are about to leave to visit a grandmother. Before leaving, the wife/mother tells her husband to not remove the talismans overtop of the doorways. We notice there is a yellow talisman over each doorway of the apartment. The husband tries to make light of the situation, obviously of a modern mind who believes the talismans are useless. Yet the wife is insistent, mentioning the disappearance/death of a student and cop nearby. In the end the husband promises his wife that he won’t touch or remove the talismans before his family leaves.

So day one of being left alone, the husband notices a tuff of black hair coming out of the threshold of the doorway to his room and when he yanked it out a scream echos around the room. I thought there would be more to the female scream sound, but I must have mist the importance of this small scene.

One night, when the husband returns home after work, completely and utterly drunk, he notices the yellow talisman over the doorway to his room has partially fallen off. Like the idiot he is, he pulls the talisman off and crumples it off before falling onto his bed, desperate for sleep.

Well, as expected, by taking off the talisman he has just opened himself up to whatever evil spirit that has been lurking around his apartment. We see severed body parts start to emerge, under the bed, from the ceiling, under the dresser… a foot here, a hand there… a pile of blood pooling out around the threshold of the doorway. Eventually drops of blood wake the husband up just as a hand lands on the floor near him. Upon looking up, he spies the figure these body parts are making…. A skinless humanoid creature with no eyes.

Well, the husband tries to get away, but it’s pretty useless now as the creature follows him out of the bedroom before cornering him in the hallway before the hand comes down and collides with the husband’s head with a splat of blood. Our next scene is of the husband’s dead body in a pool of his blood with the now blood stained crumbled talisman next to him.

I have to admit the creature is pretty terrifying, but given how much of an idiot the husband is for removing the talisman… I say he got what he deserved. 

Episode 8: Birth

Okay… this one was just unusual and freaky! We start the episode with some text that explains some old rituals of shamans from Yeommae using young children… or rather kidnapping children. They starve the children until they are weak and then kill them, using their spirits to help with their work. I’m not sure how true these dangerous and creepy rituals actually are, but it sounds very horrific.

So, while we get this slight background, we see a female shaman bring a bowl of mush down to a cell were a young and very thin child grabs the bowl from the opening. The shaman leaves and we see her do some sort of prayer ritual to find the date. There are images of spells, on a table that she shuffles through, as with newspapers articles about a missing young girl of the age of 9. She gets her date and we are next taken back to the cell were the shaman enters with food on a plater. She then leads the child into a large clay pot where she murders it with a symbolic sword.

The camera angle from that of the POV of the child during this scene only unnerves me more! Then, after the dark deed is done, the shaman seems to contort her body as something seems to try to take possession of her body. From there we see the cell door close.

I’m not sure what all that is supposed to symbolize, but in the following scenes we start to see that this shaman doesn’t seem to have the strength to keep this child’s spirit at bay. While dealing with a customer (who wants her husband dead instead of getting a divorce), the shaman’s facial features contort in odd ways as she struggles to maintain control. We also notice the same clay pot is hidden behind her under what I assume to be an alter.

What pushes the spirit over the edge is when the mother of the missing girl visits the shaman in search for answers, even if it’s just the location of the body. Well, it seems the girl’s spirit responds to this, snuffing out candles and making it more difficult for the shaman to maintain her composure. Eventually the shaman kicks the woman out.

That night, well it seems the spirit can no longer remain still. It takes over the shaman, who is not strong enough to control the spirit and we suddenly get a nice little “Alien” sequence as a baby’s scream can be heard, and a face is pressed up against the woman’s stomach. Eventually the spirit burst forth, killing the shaman in the process.

What this spirit baby is… I have no clue! Our last scene is the death of the mother from a nearby tree which appears half dead.

Like many of the other in this anthology, I feel like I’m missing out on some prominent cultural references. However, that being said, these episodes were terrific to watch. I loved the quality and getting a nice inside peak into urban legends and ghost stories from other cultures and regions. If you like nice, quick and short scares, this series I highly recommend. If anyone out there has any insights to some of the questions or references mentioned that I missed that would clarify some of these stories, please let me know, I’d love to hear from you!

Goedam Ep. 5 & 6 Review

Episode 5: Red Shoes

I’m back again with more episodes of Goedam! As much as I enjoyed the series so far, I have to say that Episode 5 fell pretty flat for me. It didn’t have the connection as most of the others. The horror or urban legend of it, also seemed a bit “meh” to me. 

So, as I’m learning while watching these episodes, that many are connected to each other. This is another ‘school’ urban legend and takes place in the same school as episode 1, and I think episode 4 as well. We know for sure this is linked to episode 1, as the desk with the white rose and the death of the first ‘honour’ student is in the background. However, we are focusing on another girl within the class who seems disturbed or guilty. Other girls around them talk about their dead classmate, and how she jumped out in front of truck and got severed. 

As class ends for the day, this student we’re focusing on – Hye-Su – leaves a chat group on her phone that seems to be a place where the girls bullied the now dead Jin-Gyeong. That’s where I think the guilty feelings come from as Hye-Su texts their teacher to return to the classroom where she wants to talk and probably come clean about what could have lead Jin-Gyeong to her death.

The teacher arrives, (wearing the red shoes), and the first note we have that something is off is when she tries to turn on the lights to no avail. (C’mon people, if you can’t turn on the lights, don’t go in!). Anyways, the teacher tries to comfort Hye-Su, claiming it is not her fault that Jin-Gyeong died, however, we hear a splat sound as the teacher sets a hand on the desk. That’s when we notice the blood soaked student. The blood dripping on the desk and down around her legs. 

This part I needed to look up, as I didn’t understand the horror on the teachers face… I assumed it was because of the disheveled appearance of Hye-Su… but it sounds like really, as the girl lifts her head, it isn’t Hye-Su at all, but Jin-Gyeong who then says that Hey-Su’s legs aren’t working for her properly and she wants to switch.

Slowly, like agonizingly slowly, Jin-Gyeong lifts herself up by her arms onto the desk. Splitting from the waist down, leaving the legs to fall aside as she then hobbles to the teacher who lets out a final scream before the scene is cut and we see Jin-Gyeong hobble down the hallway with the teacher’s lower half. 

Like I said, it didn’t seem to do much for me on the horror or scary side. I feel that some of these stories are linked and are purposefully shown out of order. I don’t know why… but I think if I actually sat down and watched them all together I might be able to grasp more of what the bigger picture is behind these school themed urban legends.

As for the splitting of the body… man that was disturbing. More disturbing was the way Jin-Gyeong walked down the hallway with one foot completely bent over. But, one more, it just didn’t captivate me.

Episode 6: Dimension

Oh boy, oh boy, oh boy… this might be my favourite episode yet! Only because this is one particular urban legend that I’m actually aware of. This episode titled “Dimension” actually focus on the elevator game that seemed to have become very popular over in Asia. The only reason why I know about this is because of the unusual and unsolved case of the death of Elisa Lam at the Cecil Hotel in 2013. Many theorize that she was playing this elevator game just before she died. Also, I want to thank “And That’s Why We Drink Podcast” who did an episode on this urban legend too.

So, the story opens with a camera footage from an elevator where a student is seen talking to someone invisible on screen before getting his head bashed in. We are then introduced to our detective who arrives on the scene to investigate. There is a body found in the elevator, but it doesn’t seem to belong to the missing male student as shown in the video. Yet, this body is not only covered in blood, but looks very skeletal… with clothing ripped and clawed off, and as if something tore away at the skin. Very disturbing!

The detective gets a notification that the missing student had just posted instructions to the elevator game on how to use an elevator to go to another dimension. Now, don’t ask me, but for some strange reason our detective decides to give the game a try. I’m sure it’s somewhat logical to figure out what the kid experienced to find out where he went or what happened to him. Still… to do it alone, without telling anyone… 

Anyways, he follows the instructions, pressing four or five buttons at once then stopping at particular floors, first one being the second floor, the second being the tenth floor, then the fourth. So at first, nothing seems off. The doors open at the second floor, and he sees the big number “2” there. Same with the tenth. It is only when he starts to go back down that something freaky happens. There is a black void before it quickly disappears and a second pair of elevator doors open and he stares at himself.

The two detectives are both flabbergasted and seemingly paralyzed when faced with an unknown as the elevator doors close once again. However, before the detective could hit the next floor button, a hand comes out of nowhere and presses on for him.

When the doors open again, we see that the detective is not alone, but a woman is also standing in the elevator with him. Her body turned against him, her head bent down and hair covering her face. She mutters that she wants him to hit the first floor button for her. 

Our detective is taken aback by the sudden appearance of the woman, and doesn’t do much of anything. Only when she starts to head out of the elevator that he makes a noise to her, to which she stops and stays in the elevator, mentions that he can hear her before letting out a odd high pitch sound that renders our detective helpless. The woman then turns to face him and we see a twisted face with a black eye as she starts to slam the detective’s head into the elevator wall, over and over again. 

The camera footage in the elevator only captures the detective’s head moving and not the woman at all. 

We end on another strange note. We seem to be suddenly transported back to the start of the crime scene where we first met our detective. His partner mentions how the body in the elevator seems to be wearing similar clothes as our detective. The man shoves it off, telling his partner not to jinx him, as we pan out to see the disturbing skeletal body from earlier.

If that’s not enough, we then cut to two school girls who get in an elevator preparing to play the elevator game themselves.

This episodes was fantastic! I loved everything about it. I though they did a great job in playing with the idea of dimensional travel and time distortion too! 

Mara (2018) Review

Directed By: Clive Tonge
Stars: Olga Kurylenko, Craig Conway, and Rosie Fellner

The synopsis of this movie was the real reason I decided to watch this movie. Basically it is about a criminal psychologist named Kate Fuller who helps detectives investigate the death of a man/husband, who everyone else believes the wife is the culprit. However, this movie is much deeper than that and soon Kate herself is caught up in a supernatural terror.

To start with, I didn’t know what I was getting myself into. The description is vague but intriguing, something that mixes a mystery up with something paranormal, though even that wasn’t clear until part way through the film. If I had known this was a movie about sleep paralysis causing death… I may not have watched it just before going to bed. I will say that I did have a very hard time sleeping last night.

I also want to add that there are some amazing creep factors and jump scares in this movie. At one moment I was almost screaming my head off, making enough sounds that my husband had to come up from the basement to see if I was alright. It was just a little body horror, but it’s been a while since I had to actually close my eyes and burry my head in my hands at a movie scene.

The plot, as mentioned above, starts off pretty straight forward. Kate is brought into a case where the husband (and father), died in his bed. The agonizing twisted and contorted body is still horrific just thinking about it. The detectives are set to close the case on the wife/mother, who is rocking back and forth in the corner of the living room, not responding to anyone. Kate is required to figure out if the wife needs to go to a psych ward or regular jail. Through talking to the daughter, who is also traumatized from the events, Kate is given the name “Mara” as the one responsible for her father’s death – but little else. The wife, however, is nuts and also mentions the sleep demon named Mara as the one who killed her husband, and who is now after her.

The detectives are satisfied that the wife is not only guilty but crazy and want to close the case. Kate however feel responsible and that there is more at play, however as much as she tries to keep her promise to the daughter, she has to send the wife/mother to the psych ward for her own safety. 

That’s when Kate gets her first sleep paralysis. It’s a very disturbing and creepy scene as you see Kate in bed and the heavy impression as she sinks into the mattress and struggles to breath. We then start to see a person in shadow hovering near Kate’s bed. Most of the time the shadow leaves just as Kate overcomes the paralysis. However, it’s enough for Kate to pursue this “Mara” mystery further.

Her sleuthing leads her to Dougie, and a support group of fellow suffers of sleep paralysis, many sharing the same experience, the same mysterious figure they all call “Mara”. The doctor leading the group is grounded in science, however Dougie takes a more paranoid stance, putting the victims of Mara in stages, through blood shot eyes. He then turns to Kate to help figure out how to stop Mara before it’s too late. By then, Kate has also been marked and Mara is visiting her more often and more forcefully.

In the end, Kate is able to find the connection on what brougt Mara into their world, and who she targets. In the end, it turns out that Mara targets those who feel guilty. The Husband and Wife from the beginning of the movie were both guilty of different things, the husband had an affair, and the wife was wanting a divorce. Dougie feels guilt over the innocent he killed in Iraq, while Kate experiences guilt for breaking promise to the daughter from the beginning. 

How do you stop guilt? That to me is what made this movie more powerful than I ever imagined. In other supernatural and paranormal films, usually our hero finds a weakness or something to exploit of the ghost to free them of the haunting. Not so in this case. Guilt is a very personal experience and even if someone forgives you, that may not relieve the guilt you personally feel. Which makes the ending to this movie so powerful.

You see the daughter, was also experiencing Mara, as she felt guilt for telling Kate what she saw, knowing that was what put her mom in the psyche ward, and later leading to her death. Kate then has to race to the daughter’s bed, to try and extinguish the guilt the young girl feels before Mara takes her as another victim. 

But still, there is very little one can do to stop a demon like this. 

Of course, a horror movie isn’t a horror movie without one last jump scare at the end. We are given a false sense of hope and optimism with Kate surviving the night… when reality she was dreaming with Mara waiting in the wing to end her life once and for all. It’s very much like a “Drag Me to Hell” ending, which is refreshing as our “Final Girl” is taken down by her own continuous guilt over destroying the relationship between mother and daughter. 

This is a great movie, much better than I thought it would be. The disturbing visuals of Mara and her contorted body, the sound of cracking bones as she move is haunting! Really terrifying! Not to mention the premise of sleep paralysis is absolutely real, though I’m glad to say that I highly doubt it leads to death. Still, the legends and lore pulled out in this movie is somewhat true as many thought it was caused by demons. 

What really bothered me in the movie was the casualness of the detective. I mean… the husband was contorted! His head twisted around! Yet they are just content to blame the wife, who has nowhere near the strength to do such a thing. I think the movie could have been more intriguing if the detective actually did their job and supported Kate in alternate reasons for the unusual deaths. It’s a small detail, but it really rubbed me the wrong way. I think I’ve seen way too many episodes of CSI.

In the end, this is a great movie that I fully recommend to anyone who wants an unsettling, creepy and mystery horror movie. Just… maybe don’t watch late at night just before going to sleep.

Hereditary (2018) Review

Directed by: Ari Aster
Stars: Toni Collette, Alex Wolff, Milly Shapiro, and Gabriel Byrne

This is another movie, like Insidious Chapter 2, that I was hesitant to watch given the trailers, comments and reviews that I have already  heard of it. But, once again, I’m so glad that I did. This movie was powerful and deep… and just like many of my favourite scary movies has an awesome supernatural twist at the end. It was still very complicated in parts and I did look up some explanations to the ending of the film. I definitely understand the heavy themes of grief and even guilt in the movie and how that can affect a person’s mind. But it also gave me so many questions – especially about Annie’s past.

The movie starts with the death of Annie’s mother. We see the obituary in the opening scene before getting a pan shot of Annie’s workshop where she makes miniatures. To me, the creepiest part is all the miniatures of the house she had made and how odd the camera angels and viewpoints were when we’d zoom in on part of the miniature house and find ourselves in our next scene with people walking in and out. Many times I’d watch the scene, not sure if I was looking at the actual house or another part of the minuter – just really zoomed in. Then there is the house itself, with so many twists and turns, hallways and rooms at the end of hallways that felt odd.

Anyways, during the funeral and afterwards we start to see some disfunction within Annie’s family. Of course, being that her mother just died, I can understand a few layers of discontent going on within the family unit. There’s Annie’s husband who is trying to be the thread that connects the family together, Peter, the eldest who seems like a typical moody teenager who likes to smoke weed, and then Charlie… the daughter who seems to always be standing back and watching things unfold around her. 

At first it’s just a family trying to go back to their regular routine after their loss. However, it’s only when Annie joins a grief support group do we get insight into her troubled past, and troubled relationship with her mother. I mean, that once scene had me with my jaw dropped wondering what did she just say. Annie talks about her father dying when she was an infant, her mother having dementia, and her older brother being schizophrenic who dies claiming their mother was trying “to put other people” into him. That’s just too weird of a past!

But, things don’t end there… no it gets so much worst after that. Peter is invited to a house party, but lies and says its some school event. Annie then insists he takes Charlie with him. Charlie doesn’t want to go either, but is yet again forced to by Annie for whatever reason. I really don’t understand this forcefulness, but it happens and Charlie is left alone at this party full of people she doesn’t know while Peter is off getting high with a girl he has a crush on. That’s when Charlie, who is allergic to peanuts goes into shock after the same knife used to cut pecans is used to cut the cake she eats. She finds Peter who rushes her to the hospital… but while speeding sees some dead animal in the middle of the road and swerves to miss it, only to have Charlie who put her head out the window to get some air to have her head completely knocked off by a telephone pole. I don’t know what’s worse… the fact that it was just an accident, or Peter’s reaction to it – which was to go home and into bed, shocked and dazed and just completely out of his mind. It’s only when we hear Annie’s howl the next morning that we realize he didn’t even remove the body from the car.

That scene just yanked on my heart strings. The grief that Annie displays is absolutely devastating. From there on, whatever tensions or distances that was happening in the family unit only intensifies. 

Annie meets up with Joan, a woman from the grief support group and we hear even more devastating things that has happened in her past. She talks to Joan about how she used to sleepwalk, and one night, while sleepwalking she doused both Peter and Charlie (when they still shared a room), and herself with pain thinner and had a lit match in her hand when she woke up. Peter woke up at the same time and from there, the two have never been able to see eye to eye. I personally could get it from Peter, waking up to see your mother about to kill you in your sleep. I’m more surprised that no help was given Annie in that moment.

This is also when a few supernatural things start to happen.  Peter starts to experience some visions/hallucinations that are reminisce of Charlie’s peanut shock at the part, not to mention also hearing the “cluck” sound Charlie always made with her tongue and mouth. There is even a scene with the family attempting a meal together in which the tension between Annie and Peter is so thick that it boils over into Annie yelling at Peter for what he did. It was more that Peter hadn’t even said sorry about the accident, which is all she wanted to hear. Even then, in that moment of pure agony of Annie’s little meltdown, Peter does nothing to help, but flips it around on her, saying that it Charlie didn’t even want to go to the party but it was her who forced her to tag along. 

I can’t help but feel overly sad towards the father in this family. He is desperately trying to keep the family unit alive while it’s crumbling around him. 

At this point, Annie trying to push forward and continue with her work on these miniatures – which get a little grotesque when she does on of the accident that killed her daughter. She meets up with Joan again who tells her that she went to a medium who helped her connect with her dead grandson. Joan than pulls Annie into her home again, and shows her what she mans as they do a seance on the kitchen table. This isn’t just some ouija board either, just a glass and some sort of spell that she has to recite before hand. Well, a hole lot supernatural events happen in that room that freak Annie out. Joan, however, wouldn’t let her leave without taking the candle and the instructions of the ritual with her. 

At first, we assume Annie’s not going to do it, but she has this vision at night where she thought she saw Charlie enter Peter’s room. There the two have an even worse exchange in which Annie lets slip that she didn’t even want to have Peter in the first place. That she was scared and even tried to miscarry him. The scene gets all bonkers when the two yell and cry at each other, dripping wet, and Annie lights a match and they go up in flames. It is a dream/vision after all, but it was enough for Annie to start the ritual and wake up Peter and her husband for it.

More crazy supernatural things happen during this seance. Enough to permanently scare Peter’s psyche, which causes more hallucinations and other odd events to happen to Peter at school whenever he’s awake, to the point where it seems he’s being possessed.

Annie is also start to loose her mind, believing Charlie is still there with them, or something else entirely. She starts to finally look into some of her mother’s possessions to find Joan a major part of her mother’s life. Not to mention that her mother seems to be part of a cult. Upon investigating the attic, she finds a body of what looks like her deceased mother, but without her head. Fearing her family is in danger, she tries to get her husband to destroy their daughter’s drawing book, as it continues to create drawings on its own of Peter with his eyes crossed out. Annie also claims she can’t do it because the last time she tried, she caught fire when the book did. But her husband refuses, instead saying that she’s sick and needs help. Annie in her frustration grabs the sketch book and tosses it into the fire and immediately her husband is hot up in flames.

Basically at this point, all hell breaks loose. Peter wakes up to a dark and seemingly empty house, but all the time feeling like something is watching him. We see Annie in a dark blur pass around him as he searches the house for his parents, discovering his dad by the fireplace. Annie appears and chases him through the house and up into the attic where he is met with some of the most disturbing scenes. He sees the outline of the body that used to be there, then a sawing sound. Looking over his shoulder he sees Annie hanging from the rafters sawing her own head off. Not able to take any more, Peter jumps out through the window in the attic.

Now this is the part where I get so confused. We see a light go into what I can only assume is Peter’s dead or at least unconscious and damaged body/mind. Peter then wakes up and sees the headless body of his mother fly up into the treehouse, not to mention several naked people lingering on the fringes of the property. He follows the body up to the treehouse where there are more strangers knelt down towards the one end of the treehouse. There he sees a statue with Charlie’s head on it and the beaded bodies of his mother, father and grandmother knelt at its feet. That’s when we get the final reveal of the movie. 

I’m going to leave it there… because it’s such an odd and ominous ending that to explain that last bit feels like I’m cheating anyone who hasn’t watch the movie yet. Besides the supernatural essence behind the film, there are multiple symbols and odd behaviour to go along with the creepy undertones of the movie. What’s strange is that as much as it was very creepy and nerve wrecking to watch, it wasn’t all together terrifying or scary in a traditional sense. 

I can now understand why people talk about this movie so much. It is a different and new style of psychological horror for the new generation. This movie can still work when you take away the supernatural elements, because at its core you have a troubled family dealing with loss and a history of mental illness that can skew and distort what reality is. There were several times throughout the movie that I wasn’t sure if what was happening real, or imaginary. A mental mirage of wanting to see someone who is gone forever, or a real ghost. It plays on that dividing line for much of the movie until just after halfway when Annie starts her own seance. 

After watching Hereditary, I am looking forward to watching Midsommar and see where horror films are going to lean now that these movies are out and affecting us on a very different level.