Blogtober 2019 – Over and Out

It is with some sadness that I prepare to pack away all things Halloweeny for another year. It’s been a blast. October’s been a super creative month for me what with both Blogtober and Inktober going on – I hope I can find a way to keep it up to the end of the year at least.

I more or less nailed Blogtober with 30 posts in total, more than last year. I missed one Final Girl Friday which bothers me but all in all, I’m proud of what I’ve achieved.

Photo by Kelly Sikkema on Unsplash

To recap:

  1. In Fabric – film review
  2. Late Night Lady DJ (Reblog)
  3. Bats About You
  4. Final Girl Friday: Amelia, The Babadook (2014)
  5. Ready or Not – film review
  6. St. Agatha, or: It’s Nun of Your Business – film review
  7. A Witching Hour Update
  8. Skeletons
  9. GUEST POST: The Ghosts of Halloween Past
  10. 3 From Hell – film review
  11. Final Girl Friday: Jen, Revenge (2017)
  12. Four Films, One Week
  13. The Cleaning Lady – film review
  14. I Wish I Knew How to Quit Boo – Stephen King Edition
  15. Autumn TV Recommendation: Haunted, Season 2 (2019)
  16. GUEST POST: Halloween & Me

    Photo by Daria Tumanova on Unsplash
  17. Inktober 2019
  18. Final Girl Friday: Trish, The Girl Who Loved Tom Gordon (1999)
  19. Elixir
  20. We Have Always Lived in the Castle
  21. GUEST POST: What Halloween Mean to Me
  22. Dip
  23. This is Halloween
  24. A.M.I. – film review
  25. Hallowe’en Party – book review
  26. The Girl Who Loved Tom Gordon – book review
  27. Wholesome Content: Halloween Edition
  28. Wounds – film review
  29. Countdown – film review
  30. Blogtober 2019 – Over and Out
Photo by Kelly Sikkema on Unsplash

Tonight I’m spending time with Laurie Strode and bingeing true ghost stories on Reddit. Bliss.

Until next time my friends!

Countdown

If you could find out exactly when you’re going to die… would you want to know?


This movie has such a lame title I completely forgot what it was called when I went to buy the ticket. In the UK we have a quintessentially British quiz show of the same name – which tests vocabulary and mathematic skill against the clock – and I just can’t with it. Despite the fact the film isn’t that bad, it loses one point off the bat for the title.

When a nurse downloads an app that claims to predict the moment a person will die, it tells her she only has three days to live. With the clock ticking and a figure haunting her, she must find a way to save her life before time runs out.

Countdown

*Spoilers*

My Review

Some kids at a party accidentally stumble across a phone app called Countdown and, for a laugh, all decide to download it at once. The app as you know if you’ve read the above synopsis tells you how much longer you have to live. The kids decide that the loser (aka the person with the least life left) has to drink everyone else’s booze. Alas, Courtney draws the short straw in this sicko game with mere hours to live.

Well no prizes for guessing who won’t have to worry about a hangover in the morning: the app doesn’t fuck around and more than that eerily eludes to the fact that you can’t cheat death if your time is really up. Which is something I think we’ve heard before…

Countdown is a sort of Final Destination/Happy Death Day hybrid (though not as good as either) but I was quite pleasantly surprised by it anyway.



When newly qualified nurse Quinn Harris (You‘s Elizabeth Lail) learns about Countdown from one of her patients – Evan, boyfriend of our first victim – she stupidly downloads it without a care in the world. It’s something she grows to regret when it tells her she only has a few days left.

And when Evan’s own fate it revealed, she starts to believe there might be something more to the app than it just being a silly prank. Add to the mix sexual harassment in the form of a smarmy doctor and family stuff, Quinn ain’t having the best few days but she’s willing to try everything to turn back the clock.

Unfortunately, her first thought – to simply get a new phone – is not the one, so she’s forced to get increasingly  creative.

When she teams up with Matt, another Countdown victim, they try technology AND religion to save themselves – and the life of Quinn’s annoying little sister Jordan. Will any of their hare-brained schemes work?



Honestly, it’s very silly and a little bit loose on the old folklore but we’re not here for realism, are we? I kind of love how it escalates – and becomes a completely different film to the one I expected. The main demon guy is dreamy af and I love his particular brand of mischief, as he tortures the dead victims to be.

There are some brilliant side characters in the form of Tech Guy and the crazy demonologist/priest which went a long way to keeping this interesting and Lail is very good as Quinn. In fact, she is a likeable and well-rounded final girl who probably didn’t need the tragic backstory she was given.

In contrast I did like the shit-head doctor (sort of) getting his comeuppance but the climax is a little sloppy. Generally I could have done with more killings in more creative ways too.

Otherwise this movie was fun and stupid and exactly what you need on a Monday night straight from work.

Film details:

Starring: Elizabeth Lail, Jordan Calloway, Talitha Eliana Bateman
Director: Justin Dec
Year: 2019
IMDB Rating: 5.4/10
My Rating: 3.5/5

What are you watching?

 

Wounds

Don’t call it in.

Jill was happy with this pick because she wanted to see Armie Hammer die, which is as good as reason as any to be excited I guess. I was intrigued because this is the second full-length feature from Under the Shadow’s Babak Anvari. UTS was a properly eerie folktale with some simple yet devastating (on the nerves) effects so I was stoked for this…

Does it suffer from ‘difficult second album syndrome’? Read on friends!

Disturbing and mysterious things begin to happen to a bartender in New Orleans after he picks up a phone left behind at his bar.

Wounds

*Spoilers*

My Review

Will is barkeep in a cockroach ridden dive in New Orleans called Rosie’s. One night while shooting the shit with his friend Alicia (Beetz) and her boyfriend Jeffrey (Glusman) there’s a ruckus between bar regular Eric (OITNB’s Brad William Henke) and his buddies. Eric sustains a really fucking nasty injury to the face but refuses to seek medical help.

Present at the scene are a couple of college kids who clearly have no business in a bar but get a free pass anyway. In the kerfuffle, one of the kids’ phones is left behind and Will pockets it for safe keeping. He returns home to the frankly lush pad he shares with his girlfriend Carrie (Johnson). Later when he properly looks at the phone, it receives a message from someone called Garret who claims to be scared and is also being followed by something from the “tunnel”. Will somehow manages to unlock the phone and messages Garrett, telling him to pack it in.

In the morning the phone has received some rather disturbing images from Garrett. Carrie is sickened by what she sees and insists Will calls the police. He promises he will. Carrie and Will btw are very much a couple on the ropes, there’s a prominent coldness between them and Will is convinced his girlfriend is shagging her college professor.

When Will visits Eric to check on him, the wound is worse than expected and it looks as though something inhuman is lurking in there. Eric is not a model patient though so there’s not a lot of room to make sure he’s okay.

In addition to his rocky relationship with Carrie, Will has a mammoth crush on Alicia (well, DUH) and is deeply jealous of creepy looking Jeffery. They don’t seem to want him around much probably because all this is so obvious, so Will wanders around town on his own. He doesn’t realise that he’s being followed by one of the kids and meanwhile, he is getting more and more disturbing media sent to the phone, including one of a decapitated head and lots of roaches.

Things go from bad to worse and Will still doesn’t call it in but he and Carrie find a clue to all this tunnel business. A photo of a book called “The Translation of Wounds”. When they call Garrett, an inhuman screech comes from the phone.

There are hallucinations a go go, yet more bug imagery including a roach for a hand and Will finally contacts the authorities. Although he does so with no evidence, having lost the phone and they can do bugger all. Will also tries to get off with Alicia (who reciprocates for a second or two), which pretty much ruins their friendship and Carrie seems to be newly under the influence of whatever the fuck this tunnel is.

Carrie has been doing what any good girlfriend would do: try to find out more about Garrett on the internet. Later Will receives a visit from “Garrett” to their home.

Reader, it’s a lot and I’m not sure I followed all any of it. I liked it well enough but it lost me.

My Comments

The ending is (semi)satisfying, horrible and weird af – and I think it went some way toward my enjoyment. Hammer, despite being above averagely handsome also has a little bit of the everyman going on here and I think that probably worked in his favour for this role. Will is a non-entity which is one of the accusations thrown at him by Carrie when she finally breaks up with him. She calls him empty and perhaps that’s the whole point.

Both Johnson and Beetz are kind of wasted here, they don’t really have much to do beyond being connected to whiney Will but I like seeing them both.

I don’t know, Wounds has an intriguing premise and some strong imagery but doesn’t quite bring it home. It might be a grower though. Some of the best things in life are.

Film details:

Starring: Armie Hammer, Zazie Beetz, Karl Glusman
Director: Babak Anvari
Year: 2019
IMDB Rating: 4.1/10
My Rating: 3/5

What does my wifey think of this one? Would she slice its face open in a bar brawl or let it go home unscathed? Most importantly is she satisfied by Arnie’s fate? Find out here.

Read my review of Under the Shadow here.

Wholesome Content: Halloween Edition

On Sunday a small group of us gathered for Matt’s birthday at his place to hang out and carve pumpkins. As I’ve mentioned before, the last time I did this exact activity (as a group and not at work as part of a competition) was when I lived in Vancouver.

We put on music and got to work, all coming up with something pretty impressive considering. I chose two tried and tested designs, AKA different Jack Skellington faces while the others did Mike Wazowki (of Monsters Inc.), a scene from Lord of the Rings, some more traditional skull designs and one with marijuana eyes. It’s funny how satisfying it is creating something from nothing but an oversized vegetable – particularly on my favourite holiday – and particularly around people I like so much.

Halloween hasn’t even arrived yet but I’m already excited for the next one. It has been rather a wholesome one this year. The Halloween party was a sober one for me, which meant no hangover but lots of people approaching me to make sure I was okay. It’s still baffling how awkward people are around non-drinkers at social events. I was just happy to people watch for a bit and grab a Burger King on the way home.

Tonight I caught trashy horror Countdown as one of my #31horrors (review no doubt coming soon) and we’re planning a very low-key home-with-the-family Halloween evening on the 31st. I plan to be in my pyjamas with a pile of snacks by 6.30pm.

What are you up to? 🎃

The Girl Who Loved Tom Gordon

I introduced you to my new favourite protagonist last week but I still want to talk about the full novel because I really loved it and devoured it in two days. For a Stephen King book it’s like a tasty snack rather than a main meal – and sometimes, that’s just enough to satisfy.

Tricia is lost in the woods. But she’s not alone . . .

The world has teeth and it could bite you with them anytime it wanted. Trisha McFarland discovered this when she was nine years old. Lost in the woods.

Trisha McFarland is just nine years old when, on a hike with her mum and brother, she wanders off the beaten track and gets lost in the forest. Her family, too busy bitterly arguing to notice, don’t discover her gone until it’s too late. In mere hours, Trish is so lost that it doesn’t feel like she’ll ever see or hear another human being again. Although, judging from the creeping feeling she has, she’s definitely not alone out there.

While Trish stumbles through the woods, determined to find her way back to her old life, she imagines she is joined by her favourite baseball player, Tom Gordon and sometimes her best friend Pepsi. At night she grabs a few moments with her Walkman, catching up on the ball games and sometimes, news reports about her own disappearance. By day she eeks out the small packed lunch in her backpack but little by little she must rely on the basic survival techniques her mother has taught her.

As the clock ticks and the authorities fail to retrieve her, she believes she is being gained on by something not altogether human. If her fever dreams are anything to go by she has something new to fear besides starvation and eating the wrong berries: The God of the Lost in all his wasp-faced goodness.

Can Trish make it to the end of this horrible journey, despite all the bites, the sickness, the hunger and her mystery stalker? You bet your arse she can.

The book is incredible vivid and King, as usual gives us a very well-rounded central character to root for. He plays with reality a lot and again with the concept of self-preservation via an inner fantasy world.

While I couldn’t 100% be sure we’d get a happy ending – King has absolutely left me floored with the unexpected more than once – I was so satisfied by this ending. A definite recommendation from me if you fancy a quick but impactful read.

Book details:

The Girl Who Loved Tom Gordon
Publisher: Hodder Paperbacks (19 Sept. 2019)
ISBN-10: 1529311128
ISBN-13: 978-1529311129
Bought Halloween edition paperback for myself

What are you reading?

Hallowe’en Party

Hercule Poirot takes on one of the most challenging cases of his career.

I haven’t read nearly enough Agatha Christie, even though I know lots of her stories via their TV/Film adaptations. I’m not sure Hallowe’en Party was the best place to start but I chose it because of the title and I can’t say I didn’t have a good time hanging with Hercule and speculating about all the villagers of Woodleigh Common.

HP revolves around the shocking murder of thirteen year old Joyce Reynolds, who finds herself face down in the apple bobbing tub at the end of a Halloween party hosted by Rowena Drake.

Mere hours before the tragic death, Joyce had been boasting publicly about having witnessed a murder. Now everybody’s a suspect in hers. Ariadne Oliver, well known author and friend of Poirot is present on the night of the incident – and calls upon her old pal to come and have a look around for himself. Can Poirot, with his well-seasoned eye for detail, work out who would commit such a heinous act?

As the story unravels we learn more about the villagers – of their connections to one another, of the secrets that lie just below the surface. Joyce, it seems was not a well-liked little girl and already had a reputation for being a big fat liar. But why would anyone kill her and in such a horrible way?

When Poirot finds out about some seemingly random murders commited in Woodleigh over the years – as well as a dodgy will made out to a shady au pair – he becomes a dog with a bone. Could they all be related?

Well it’s not for us to uncover the truth – Poirot’s got this – but it’s fun for us to guess.

While this book is fun enough it was originally criticised for its poor characterisation and loose ends – “Not Christie’s best”. I can see why, it’s quite forgettable, to the point I had to read up on the ending again to remind myself.

I love Ariadne Oliver’s friendship with Poirot though – and it is never wasted time to take a wander with such a legendary character.

Book details:

Hallowe’en Party
Publisher: HarperCollins (24 Sept. 2015)
ISBN-10: 9780008129613
ISBN-13: 978-0008129613
Bought new paperback for myself

What are you reading?

A.M.I.

A seventeen year old girl forms a co-dependent relationship with an artificial intelligence on her phone and goes on a murderous rampage.


A.M.I.

*Spoilers*

My Review

Cassie has recently lost her mum and via the medium of flashback, it seems she might have been driving the car that claimed her life. She spends a fair amount of time at ma’s graveside while her father is largely a) drunk and b) absent. Don’t worry though she has a close-knit group of loyal friends and an adoring boyfriend who tends to her every whim to make up for it.  

NOOOOOOT. 

Jock boyfriend Liam is a slimy toad hell-bent on banging any girl that moves, while BFF Sarah goes out of her way to blow all of Cassie’s boyfriends (literally), including Liam – and currently has her eyes on the ultimate prize, Cassie’s dad Greg. Other BFF Ruby is something of a non-entity but is also definitely being hit on by Liam. While she doesn’t openly reciprocate, she doesn’t tell him to fuck off either. 

When her friends start talking about a new app called AMEE, a phone service that acts like a pocket friend, Cassie is reluctant. This reluctance turns to something else when she finds an abandoned phone near her mother’s gravestone which asks her if she wants to be friends. She leaves it but later returns to retrieve it and, curious, she sets up her own AMEE. Eerily, Cassie calls hers ‘Mother’ and the app does the rest, replicating her mum Diane’s voice and adopting traditionally maternal personality traits. 

For a while Cassie takes great comfort from Mother and suddenly, doesn’t feel so alone. But it doesn’t take long for everything to go pear-shaped. Liam neglects his girlfriend horribly, usually for ‘leg day’ even though she clearly needs him – and when she spies him leaving Sarah’s house, she has no choice but to serve up some justice. 

Alas, and annoyingly, it’s the women in Sarah’s life that get their comeuppance first. Sarah tells Cassie she’s always hated her (on account of being rich and pretty, I guess) which gets her murdered. Mother in this case goads Cassie to finish her and then guides her in the perfect way to dispose of a body in the woods. An innocent witness also has to be eliminated which is unfortunate but proves our girl is evolving quickly into her new role of cold-blooded killer. 

One by one obstacles present themselves – and Cassie and Mother are forced to address them, usually via violent means. When Dad finds a video Sarah has made, showing Cassie murdering her – he blames her head injury from the car accident and vows (finally!) to get her the help she needs.

It is too late? It’s too late, isn’t it?

My Comments

Uh. This is one of those trashy teen horrors that Netflix churns out on the regs. They’re not great but sometimes they have potential – and this wasn’t horrible. I actually think Debs Howard is pretty good as the wholesome Cassie who turns bad but (sort of) through no fault of her own. I mean, sure some of the responsibility should lie at her feet but what with all the bastard people in her life and an evil operating system taking advantage of her – what’s a girl to do?

I do not buy her as a 17 year old though – she looks and acts like a woman born in 1991 – which is exactly what she is. It’s a minor beef but still. 

All in all, I ain’t mad at you, A.M.I.

Film details:

Starring: Debs Howard, Philip Granger, Bonnie Hay
Director: Rusty Nixon
Year: 2019
IMDB Rating: 4/10
My Rating: 3/5

What are you watching?

This is Halloween

In all the excitement of my lovely guest posts – thank you girls – I had almost forgotten to take a moment to think about what my favourite holiday means to me. 

Kath has already touched upon the fact that Halloween hasn’t always been the most hands on in the UK. It was a thing but not in the same way as Stateside and as such I can’t remember ever trick or treating. Our family was more of the mind of turning off all the lights and pretending not to be home when the kids came calling, something Glynn and I do now. 

In fact I had never so much as carved a pumpkin until I was living in Vancouver and my BFF David and his family took me under their wing and showed me how. I’ve been a big believer ever since.

We did do a couple of years of taking my step son out along the beautifully decorated streets of Hove when he was younger but his heart was never really in it. He had a habit of saying, loudly: “Oh no, not Haribo AGAIN!” which lead to some very indignant vampire mums and dads. 

I might not have had Halloween in my blood from an early age but I have always loved the wicked and the macabre. I blame John Landis for the Thriller video, which inspired my future tastes from the moment I saw it. From there I fell into creepy things quite quickly but only really started devouring the ‘classics’ when I was about 18 and got my own TV for my birthday. 

From here I really got into the big boys – not just Jason, Freddy and Michael – but George. A Romero, Stephen King, John Carpenter. To say a whole world opened up to me would be an understatement. 

Now horror soothes me like no other. I feel nourished by horror stories and calmed somehow, like all my daily anxieties are distracted by the terror unravelling before my eyes. There’s less likelihood of me fretting about a stupid thing I said in a meeting earlier in the week when there’s a demonic possession going on, you know? 

I have also succumbed to dressing up a bit more, certainly in the last few years. At work I’m on the Rewards & Recognition committee so get to be involved in the party planning. It’s impossible not to get carried away when you’re helping glam up the venue for Halloween. This Friday I’ll be partying as Wednesday Addams and last year I went as Wonder Woman. 

Thinking about my spotty fancy dress history reminds me of my last job, where absolutely nobody cared about Halloween and it annoyed me so much that I went to work dressed as a cat – and was literally the only one in any sort of costume. Which I refused to be embarrassed about, frankly.  

This Halloween, or the weekend before anyway, I’m going to an intimate gathering with friends where we’ll carve pumpkins and get a spooky.

Apart from that we’re not planning much. Glynn and I  have been happily devouring a horror a night for 31 Horrors and we’ll probably finish off with Michael Myers terrorising Haddonfield whilst eating our body weight in sweets. The usual. 

What will you be up to?  


  • Read Kath’s guest post here
  • Read Meghan’s guest post here
  • Read Jillian’s guest post here

Dip

Ah, the monthly dip appears to be here, the one in which I question why I bother with anything and what my purpose on this earth even is. The one in which I wonder if I really am the worst person in the world.

Sometimes I think maybe if I were I would worry less and be freer, so unencumbered I would be with other people’s opinions and feelings (*cough cough* Trump). I often wonder if it would be that easy, to just choose to be a different person and GO.

Probably not but maybe one day I will shrug off the shackles of being me and find a new way to live. Dramatic, aren’t I?

I’m in the habit of working and coming home at the moment. Call it the winter blues but one day blends into the next and I’m not inspired. I feel ogre-like. I’m bored.



I can’t even be bothered to take selfies of my new pink hair, it’s that drastic. I should be out and about frolicking in the fallen leaves and worshipping the late Autumn sunshine but I can’t bring myself to do it. Maybe I’ve finally watched too many horror movies/listened to too many true crime podcasts.

Maybe I’m broken.

Maybe I’m a normal girl.

I will fix all of it but this is where I’m at today. And oh yes, my period is just around the corner.

I’m sure there’s absolutely no connection between the two.