Doctor Sleep

I’m introducing mini reviews to the blog for the films I really enjoy and first up is this really rather decent adaptation of Mr King’s novel of the same name.

 

Doctor Sleep (2019)

Years following the events of “The Shining,” a now-adult Dan Torrance must protect a young girl with similar powers from a cult known as The True Knot, who prey on children with powers to remain immortal.

In the hands of Hill House‘s Mike Flanagan I knew this wouldn’t be rubbish but I was surprised by how much I liked it. The book (which admittedly I might read again) was quite meh and I could barely remember most of it. So I was happy to have it brought back to me by one of my favourite horror directors and a pretty solid cast.

It must be said that Rebecca Ferguson‘s Rose the Hat is the stand out of the piece, bringing real evil to the character while still encouraging you to kind of root for her. I mean, the Baseball Boy scenes are horrifying and testament to the fact she ain’t messing around – but there’s real love between The True Knot who are just like a genuine family. Plus, I like Rose a lot more than I like Danny and Abra. LOL.

Obviously the revisit to The Overlook is the money shot and the director’s respectful attention to detail is really something. We revisit beloved characters from The Shining, both central and sideline – and it is magical.

Flanagan is definitely not Kubrick and he’s not trying to be. His own signature style really suits this story and I’m all over his take on the hotel.

I’ve been thinking a lot about this movie since I saw it yesterday and I don’t really have many negatives. I didn’t warm to Abra much and Dan Torrance was fine but I really enjoyed spending time with The True Knot. The fantasy elements are sublime too – the segment in which Rose the Hat goes searching for Abra in her mind is breathtaking and very effective.

Colour me impressed.

4.5/5

What have you been watching?

Tigers Are Not Afraid

This week’s pick is something I heard about on a horror podcast and have had on my list for some time. It’s a pretty brutal fantasy horror which frankly, is right up my street but might not be your cup of tea if you’re averse to children being fatally harmed. Which would be fair enough.

Tigers Are Not Afraid (2017)

“A dark fairy tale about a gang of five children trying to survive the horrific violence of the cartels and the ghosts created every day by the drug war”

Director: Issa López
Stars: Paola Lara, Juan Ramón López, Nery Arredondo

*Lots and lots of spoilers*

Estrella (Lara) is a young girl living in a Mexican city devastated by the infamous Mexican Drug War. She’s at school learning about fairy tales when class is dismissed indefinitely due to violent gunfire outside the building. Amid the panic of the incident, the students and teachers are forced to dive for cover.

While on the floor, Estrella’s teacher gives her three pieces of chalk and tells her they will grant her three wishes.

Meanwhile, on the streets Shine (López) steals a gun and an iPhone from the henchman of crime boss Chino (who is actually well-known politician Servando Esparza). The henchman, Caco is fucked out of his nut so doesn’t notice the mugging or the fact that Shine seems keen to blow his head off. Luckily for Caco, Shine can’t pull the trigger.

Following her eventful day at school, Estrella returns home to find that her mother is nowhere to be found. She waits for days for her to return and grows increasingly worried/hungry. She fears her mother has fallen victim to The Huascas, a human-trafficking ring masterminded by Chino. She wishes that her mother would return and that night suffers horrible haunting visions of her.

The ghost implores Estrella to “bring him to us”. Later she catches Shine looting her apartment. When she confronts him, he shouts at her that her mother is dead.

Estrella follows Shine to his make shift home where he lives with his friends, other street orphans called Morro, Tucsi and Pop. Morro is super, super young and carries a toy tiger. She tells the boys that she’s hungry. Shine tells her he doesn’t care about her and is very anti having a girl around. Estrella sticks with the boys though and in particular, bonds with little Morro. Shine still has hold of the phone he stole (it has a photo of his mother on it) but by now it has become clear that the cartel know he has it and they vow to get it back at any cost.

When Morro is taken, Shine gives Estrella the gun and tells her if she kills Caco and gets him back, she can stay in the gang. She doesn’t want to do this but is eventually persuaded. She breaks into Caco’s apartment but wishes that she doesn’t have to kill him. When she approaches she realises he’s already been murdered. Estrella lets off the gun anyway and allows the boys to believe she’s killed him.

The kids are forced to go on the run when Caco’s brother comes after them and they start to wonder what’s on the phone that’s got their knickers in such a twist.

A lot goes on but the gist is that Morro is killed accidentally, the kids make a deal with Chino – to hand over the phone if he calls off The Huascas – and Shine finds a video on the phone of Chino murdering a woman. While the children deal with the loss of Morro, Chino reveals that he was the one that murdered Caco, thus revealing Estrella to be a flaming liar. Shine is particularly angry with her and the boys shun her.

Alone in the abandoned building the kids have been calling home, Estrella is once again haunted by ghosts, this time all the victims of Chino and his gang. They implore Estrella once again “bring him to us” – I think they want you to do something for them, love.

When the boys bury Morro, Estrella is lead back to them by Morro’s ghost.

The kids meet up with Chino and he holds up his end of the bargain, however Shine has worked out that the woman in the murder video is Estrella’s mother and he wants to tell her. He gives Chino a fake phone and he in turn murders every one of his henchmen.

In return for Shine’s kindess/honesty, Estrella uses her last wish to grant him what he wants – for her to remove the facial scar he sports from the tragic fire that also stole his mother’s life. She’d been reluctant up until now, convinced that each of the wishes has lead to something bad.

She’s not wrong though and she finds herself alone again (Tucsi and Pop are long gone, Shine is dead) and running from Chino who has worked out the double cross. Estrella is guided by Morro’s toy tiger to the room in which her mother was killed.

She finds a pile of hideously decaying corpses but tricks Chino into the room where the ghosts, including Shine have their way with him.

This film is truly gorgeous with some wonderful supernatural/fantastical imagery. Morro’s tiger is wonderfully animated, while there are some really effective scares. Every one of the children are brilliant, their gang is one you really warm to quickly. Shine is a very damaged boy who tries to be hard but hasn’t really got him in it, while Estrella is nails.

This is a very sad tale which has really opened my eyes to the trauma suffered by children forced to live with nothing on the streets. The end made me weep like a goddamn baby but I loved it.

4/5

What does my own little tiger think if this one? Would she set up home with it on the roof or leave it to starve? Find out here.

On Hold

Much as I enjoy the lead up to the day itself (and I mean like, the week before), I always sort of resent Christmas. I’m no Scrooge but it puts a spanner in a lot of things, don’t you think? Finances for one, normal life for another.

Rather than grumble about all that though I’m choosing to look at it from a more positive POV. On the flip side of how inconvenient it is, there’s also the fact nobody can have a go at you for taking the rest of the year for yourself and putting big plans on hold ‘until the new year.’

This is exactly what I’m going to do with the rest of 2019. I’m going to potter, do some more drawing (which I’m terrible at but LOVE). I’m going to concentrate on my Wicca and my spells, beef up my Book of Shadows and just generally be all about that modern witch life.

I will turn 42 on the 25th quietly and efficiently and apart from a tiny bucket list I’ve been working on I will not be making any serious moves until 2020, beyond voting in the general election on the 12th December.

It’s all going to shit in 2020 anyway so I may as well surround myself with the people I adore and the things I like doing until then. After that I can take each day as it comes and get a new job/move/finally buy a decent duvet one step at a time.

So yeah, plans are officially ON HOLD. You can catch me tending to myself for the next two months.

I’m not even going to moan about Christmas, I swear. I’m just going to roll with it.

Paint It Black

A Free for All after the excitement of October’s Horror Month and we appear to have naturally landed on another very dark movie to kick it off. Another horror if you will. I’m not complaining though, especially since this one stars one of my faves.

Paint It Black (2016)

“A young woman attempts to deal with the death of her boyfriend while continuously confronted by his mentally unstable mother.”

Director: Amber Tamblyn
Stars: Alia Shawkat, Simon Helberg, Janet McTeer, Alfred Molina

By all accounts the book that inspired this adaptation is fantastic. The film is fine, gorgeous to look at and very moody but there’s not much to it really.

Josie (Shawkat) is pissed off with her boyfriend Michael who’s been ignoring her for a couple of days. So she goes out drinking with her girlfriend to take her mind off things. Outside the apartment she shares with Michael (Rhys Wakefield), she realises she is being watched by a middle-aged women in an expensive car. Michael’s mother Meredith.

The morning after a heavy night out, Josie finds out why Michael has gone so silent. After checking himself into a motel under the alias Oscar Wilde, he has taken his own life. The bottom falls out of Josie’s world but she barely has time to register the news before Meredith (McTeer) is on the phone making cruel accusations about who’s fault her son’s suicide is.

At the funeral, Meredith attacks Josie and Michael’s father Cal steps in, sweeping her away for some post-funeral drinks. At the bar Cal admits that it’s always really been Michael and Meredith, with him considered the interloper. After realising that Meredith is still following her, Josie goes to her house and the pair get drunk together. Josie tries to leave but she’s too pissed and wakes up in Meredith’s guestroom. When Meredith finds her looking around Michael’s old room, she screams at Josie to get out.

Later the pair dine together and Josie permits Meredith to visit their shared apartment afterwards but forbids her from taking anything home with her. So begins an unsettling back and forth as the women compete for the prize of Michael; of his memory, his possessions and the right to grieve. Meredith clears out the apartment of everything and Josie steals it back – later Josie accuses Meredith of trying to kill her.

This twisted relationship comes to a head when Meredith makes Josie a peculiar offer that has the power to change her life forever. What will she do?

Well. This is a slow burner. It’s not bad – I mean there’s a lot of strong imagery and it’s very stylish – I just wish it had done more. Josie is starring in some sort of amateur movie project that looks pretentious AF and is being directed by Howard Wolowitz of The Big Bang Theory. She looks great because she’s Alia Shawkat and Shawkat is born to be filmed in low golden LA light (and in delicious vintage clothing) at all times.

There’s a sadness that permeates everything and I have sympathy for both the central characters, despite the fact neither of them are very likeable. Meredith is on the edge but it’s hardly surprising. As a girl her father drowned himself in the family pool, so she’s no stranger to suicide when her son kills himself. Josie doesn’t seem to have much direction herself and shares the history of her relationship with us via deeply photogenic flashbacks. We don’t really know much about the enigmatic Michael and that’s okay, really this is a movie about the women in his life and I like it for that.

Personally, I would have holed up with Meredith and accepted the lavish lifestyle she was offering. Who needs freedom of choice and moving on when you have designer frocks and dinner parties on tap? I jest obviously, and Josie does the right thing.

I’ll probably not think of this movie again honestly but it wasn’t a bad way to spend 98 minutes.

3/5

What does my love think of Paint It Black? Would she run away and live with it in a massive creepy house or drive away as quickly as possible? Find out here.

November Rain

Photo by Maddi Bazzocco on Unsplash

I fell asleep last night full of creative plans for this lovely fresh month and now it’s here, I’m not really sure what those plans were. I’ve had 8 hours and some v. vivid dreams since then. I think really all I wanted was to come up with a solid plan for the rest of 2019 and sweep out the Halloween for another year, much as it pains me.

I’m so indecisive about the look I want for my blog – it really does change as often as my mood. I want it clean then I want it colourful, I want it flooded with images – then like a long form journal. I need to land on something and love it for what it is. Technically the content should speak for itself and honestly, who am I really doing this for? Only myself and the three lovely people who read it.

I’m quite conscious that there are too many film reviews, which I love doing but this was never mean to be a full-on film site – and I think maybe I use these as fillers where I could be digging deeper. That’s often my biggest criticism of myself, I fail to dig deep enough, even when I’m talking about the dark days. I’ve always wanted to be authentically myself and I think I am but there’s more I could share, more going on beneath this picture perfect exterior. LOLLLLL.

Perhaps I’ll go balls to the wall from this post onwards. Can you handle it? I’m not sure I can handle it. It’s raining like a motherfucker out there and is so windy that work lost all power for 20 minutes and it was great. I’ve spent the afternoon indoors re-watching Spaced and loving life. Nesting is the best.

I’ll pull my finger out when the rain stops and the weekend is over.

Happy November all.

31 Horrors 2019 – The List

the-furies-image-01
The Furies

A cheeky little recap of all the films we watched this October. Phew. I’m (almost) all horror’d out.

Almost.

  1. The Grudge (2004) – 2.5/5
  2. Wrong Turn (2003) – 4/5
  3. The Human Centipede (First Sequence) (2009) – 3.5/5
  4. You’re Next (2011) – 4.5/5
  5. In the Tall Grass (2019) – 0.5/5
  6. The Furies (2019) – 3.5/5
  7. Hell House LLC (2015) – 4.5/5
  8. Satanic Panic (2019) – 4/5
  9. 3 From Hell (2019) – 3/5
  10. The Curse of La Llorona (2019) – 3.5/5

    House of Wax
  11. House of Wax (2005) – 4/5
  12. The Cleaning Lady (2018) – 3.5/5
  13. Little Monsters (2019) – 3.5/5
  14. Mayhem (2017) – 3/5
  15. Final Destination (2000) – 4/5
  16. The Blair Witch Project (1999) – 5/5
  17. The Visit (2015) – 4/5
  18. Trick ‘r Treat (2007) – 4.5/5
  19. Tone Deaf (2019) – 3/5
  20. Wounds (2019) – 3/5
  21. Prom Night (1980) – 3.5/5

    Prom Night
  22. The House of the Devil (2009) – 4/5
  23. Scream (1996) – 5/5
  24. Drag Me to Hell (2009) – 4.5/5
  25. Mandy (2018) – 5/5
  26. Trash Fire (2016) – 3.5/5
  27. The Exorcist (1973) – 5/5
  28. The Hills Have Eyes (2006) – 4/5
  29. Countdown (2019) – 3.5/5
  30. Halloween (1978) – 4/5
  31. Halloween (2018) – 4/5
Drag Me to Hell

To recap:

Not one but two Richard Bates Jr. movies, who knew? Not nearly enough Stephen King though there is one very bad one on this list. A lot of new films from this year, a classic turn from Prince of Peculiar Nicholas Cage (Mandy is a masterpiece) – and an Exorcist revisit.

2 Halloweens – 40 years apart – and I almost prefer the newer one, not going to lie. Strong cameos from horror gems Babak Anvari, Alexandre Aja and Ti West. One low-key Shyamalan horror which absolutely slaps.

Sarah Michelle Gellar absolutely wasted in a remake nobody needed or asked for. A classically meta Wes Craven nightmare – and lots more besides.

Bring on #31 Horror 2020.

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.