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The Roanoke Girls
The Roanoke Girls
Amy Engel | 2017 | Fiction & Poetry
8.0 (14 Ratings)
Book Rating
This review may be a bit spoilery concerning the theme of this novel, this couldn't be helped but I've tried to be as vague as possible.

"Roanoke girls never last long around here. In the end, we either run or we die."

These were the words that originally captivated me, pulling me in and compelling me to pick up The Roanoke Girls by Amy Engel.
This was quite a read, an unusual one, reminiscent of bygone authors, setting a stage of intrigue, mystery and dysfunctional family dynamics.
The secrets surrounding Roanoke are subtlely revealed early on leaving the reader highly aware of what flows beneath the seemingly normal surface.
This is a definite page-turner despite the exploration of (view spoiler)
This tale is told in two parts "Now and Then" and the storyline seamlessly hops between these two timelines.
We also get to jump briefly into the heads of each Roanoke girl that came before, which I found very enlightening, I really loved this touch and it greatly added to the storyline giving the reader an insight into what each girl was feeling deep inside her own skin.
Jane, Sophia, Penelope, Eleanor, Camilla, Allegra, Lane there is also little Emmaline but she died of a crib death as a baby.
All Roanoke girls, all carrying the same secrets down through the years, messed up heads and lives affected tragically.
The echoes of this rebounding out through each new generation.
This story is told through Lane Roanoke's point of view after her mother commits suicide and Lane comes to live with her Rich grandparents and cousin Allegra on the family estate.
This is the "THEN" portrayed in the narrative.
The "NOW" is Eleven years later when Lane returns to the family home after a frantic call from her granddad informing her that her cousin Allegra is missing.
After vowing never to return, Lane reluctantly returns home confronting secrets shes buried deep down inside.

I loved Lane as a character, she was a bit of a messed up headcase, but who can blame her.
It's obvious Lane Loved Allegra so deeply and this was the only thing, I think, her disappearing, that could have dragged her back to the bowels of Roanoke.
It was also very thought-provoking to observe Lane's former teenage toxic relationship with cooper rekindled as adults and I really did like him he had his own past baggage but really seemed to have evolved from this, unlike Lane.
I was so rooting for these two and I thought they made a great match, neither party having had it easy in life, they both deserved a bit of stability in the now.
Now Lanes connection with her grandad this was a strange one, confusing even I think to lane herself she really seemed to feel equal measures hate and love towards him.
Struggling with her mixed up emotions, greatly wanting to loathe him but feeling a strange pull, maybe because Lane feels he was the first person to actually seem to want and love her after enduring a lifetime of apathy from her mother.
As for the gran, well, What a cold selfish bitch she was.
I felt she herself held a huge role in what had been allowed to transpire, isn't it a mothers job to protect her daughters.
In this Lillian Roanoke has failed epically actually blaming her daughters instead of shielding them, she was such a cold fish only seeming to feel any affection towards her twisted husband.
Turning a blind eye and looking the other way is her game.
Surprisingly she was my least favourite character even over Myles Roanoke himself.
I think it was the whole lack of maternal anything that contributed to my dislike of her immensely.
The Roanoke Girls has so many diverse flawed individuals that all do their part in making this an enthralling page-turner.
This is a portrayal of a family that is so not right and has not been for a very long time.
It is Love expressed so wrongly and out of context that it has become a sickness consuming from the inside out devouring till nothing remains standing.
A Dysfunctional family with dark concealed secrets at his core.

So I felt the author Amy Engel did an amazing job of dealing with such an explosive subject matter. she has handled it beautifully with finesse and a great understanding of such a delicate topic. Not everyone could have done this so sensitively and without sensationalising it so Really well done.

So that's it from me folk's, I could waffle on all day about this fascinating story, but I'm going to leave it here, but before I go a trigger warning The Roanoke Girls deals with themes of incest, but bar the one small kiss it is only referred to in words not actions and it is really not graphic in its content at all, but if this is a trigger for you please do avoid.
So all that's left is for me to say Thank you to NetGalley, the publisher and the author Amy Engel herself for providing me with an arc of The Roanoke Girls this is my own honest unbiased opinion.

Arc Reviewed By BeckieBookworm
What To Do With A Duke
What To Do With A Duke
Sally MacKenzie | 2015 | Fiction & Poetry
2.0 (1 Ratings)
Book Rating
Mild humor (1 more)
Some good discussion about marriage and women
Unstable plot (2 more)
Frustrating characters
Vulgar male lead
A misguided curse
When it comes to historical romance, I look for one of two things: one, a compelling love story with some scenes that make me blush and fan myself; or two, a light and fluffy clean romance, sometimes with a touch of humor. What I demand from all historical romances is for both the romance and the setting to be believable. I’ve started to wonder if my standards are too high. When I went into this book, with the cute cover and hints at a curse, I figured this one might fall on the fluffy side of the spectrum (the cat on the cover may have influenced this assumption). I was sadly mistaken.

The characters seem so non-committal, not just with each other, but with upholding any of the values they claim to have. Catherine was constantly complaining about how she needed peace and solitude to write, but in the first half of the novel whenever she had it she didn’t do it. She blames family for her difficulties with not being able to be the next great novelist, but the problem was really with the fact that she was not all that committed to doing it. Just like she apparently was not all that committed to being a spinster, despite preaching about it constantly. I found Catherine’s character to be frustrating at every turn and had a hard time rooting for her.

Unfortunately, the other half of this love story was hardly any better. Marcus is dreamy for all of a few minutes, until he started talking about his manhood… Which he proceeded to do all the time. Every time the narration would switch to him, inevitably a thought would end with some note about what his cock wants. I suppose Marcus’ raw desire was supposed to be tantalizing, but I honestly just found it vulgar. It didn’t help that everything about Marcus and Catherine’s romance was a lust at first sight sort of scenario. I didn’t feel any real chemistry between them, even by the end when they are apparently in love with each other I still wasn’t feeling it. Literally everything always boiled back down to sex. The rest of the story and dialogue was not even all that funny, clever, or witty, it was just two stubborn people wanting to get in each other’s pants the entire book while being really over dramatic about, well, everything.

Then there is the curse plot line, which I could suspend my belief and go with it for a while, but even that felt like it was poorly thought out. Marcus has to control his desires and avoid marriage because he’s fearful of accidentally impregnating a woman, thus ending his life. Though somehow, he has no problem with brothel women and the risk of impregnating any of them? Because bastard children can’t be heirs? Sure, at that time period they certainly had a harder go of it, but it wasn’t unheard of. And even if that was the case, didn’t the curse start with an illegitimate child born to a woman jilted by her lover? The number of plot holes was staggering and it wouldn’t have been such a big deal if it wasn’t the central focus of the story.

I also didn’t buy the mildly magical ending with the cat. No I don’t hate the cat, on the contrary the cat was perhaps the best character in the entire book. It just seemed too convenient, too hastily put together. I was also bothered by the fact that, in order to I guess create some tension, Marcus had absolutely no interest in finding out the truth about the curse. That alone basically undid all of the effort, all of the worry, all of the focus this character had on this family curse that has weighed so heavily on him for his entire life. It made absolutely no sense for his character. I don’t even want to go into how his character contradicts himself again once the mystery is solved. I hated Marcus.

I almost put this book down after the first couple of chapters, but things picked up around the half way mark. After one scene that actually made me chuckle with the eye brow waggling old ladies, I had hope that maybe the story would redeem itself with the added bit of comedy. I was disappointed that things started to go downhill again once the book attempted to flesh out the curse and develop the romance between Catherine and Marcus. Which, while I’m on that subject – I absolutely hated how that turned out. Catherine spends the entire novel preaching about never wanting to get trapped in a marriage and to never have children, then finds herself trapped. It wasn’t romantic, it was just frustrating.

On a slightly random note, I also noticed at one point an expletive is used that I was fairly certain did not exist in the context that it was used during that time period. After looking it up my assumption was correct – while the word had existed in the more vulgar sense that it is commonly used, as a curse or slang word it didn’t come about until the 1920’s. I know it’s being overly nit picky, but things like that really ruin the immersion in the time period for me.
The Vampire went to Georgia
The Vampire went to Georgia
6.0 (1 Ratings)
Book Rating
I really have to say that as much as I loved this book and this series, that I found the final battle a little anticlimactic. I was really hoping for more, and even though I did hope for more, I wasn't entirely disappointed. In this 216 page book, I think I cried for a third of it. I have to say that even with a few things I would have loved to see differently, that the overall book was amazing.

First, to see everything that we only got glimpses at before to unfold, was amazing. To learn how some of the characters who seemed to just be filler to hold such an important role in saving the world was truly inspiring. I think my favorite part was learning how Death himself had changed because of Pandora and her lover, as well as how Scarlett and Tenebris were stronger in this world together than Tenebris had been in other worlds by herself. I have to say that the love that Death had for his daughters Scarlett and Tenebris. had been touching and surprisingly difficult to understand when he was asking so much from them. But it wasn't just his love that made you smile and feel all warm and fuzzy, it was the love of all those around them as well. To willingly sacrifice yourself for someone is a huge deal and there were plenty of sacrificing in this book that kept your heart bleeding. However, I have to say, it was what definitely made me not want to stop reading.

This kind of thing reminds me of a saying that states if you love someone truly, then you have to be willing to let go of them. Everyone in this book had loved Scarlett so much, they were willing to do whatever it took, even if it broke her down to nothing. I hated seeing her hurt that way but the strength while dealing with it all and how she was determined to be strong and prove what everyone was saying in times to be false, was just truly amazing. Even though I felt like my own heart was being ripped out, I could see how all the betrayals and pains of the previous books helped her cope and deal with the impending battle, whether or not that I felt she deserved any of it.

Even though love and romance was spread through the series, the romance was heavily lacked in this book. Which made is extremely serious. Though you knew who loved who and it was stated in their appropriate times, the book just didn't have all the romantic drama the others had. It seemed to be too serious at times and I would have loved some comedy or that romantic air to it to help break up all the seriousness that the book seemed to drag on about. Not saying the seriousness ruined the book. It just seemed to end slightly anticlimactic compared to what you were being led to believe would happen. Which would have to be the biggest complaint I had. This next part WILL have spoilers and I apologize for that, but it may save you from feeling let down. If you don't wish to read the spoilers, you can skip to the final paragraph.

When you first learn of how War and Scarlett and Tenebris are connected and how there will be a battle between War nd Scarlett, who is the shell that holds Tenebris and ground the chaotic being, you find yourself excited for the battle. However, at the end, during the face off, Death grants the girls one last gift and suddenly War just pretty much gives up. Don't get me wrong, if I had to fight the dragon Scarlett and Tenebris transformed into, I would be ready to throw in the towel, but still, Tenebris was supposed to be War's right hand woman and to see her standing by Death should have been the rage enough to lead that woman into battle. This is War after all. But no the Horseman pretty much just gives up and allows herself to die. To me, not having the battle and making it end in such a way was disheartening and I am quite upset over it. I was moved to tears all the way up until this point and now I can't even get the action I felt I needed to be okay with the prior actions of characters. Needless to say, the fight scene wasn't all that it could have been.

I would rate this book 3 stars out of 5 stars because as much as I loved crying at certain parts and we were able to learn more about a few of the beloved characters and so on, the ending wasn't all that it was chalked up to be. It was a huge let down, in my opinion. The series overall was amazing and besides the ending I would just make a few changes, like maybe adding the novellas into the books that they belong before or after, instead of leaving a note before a book about a novella being needed for that book. And maybe making the ending have slightly more action. I would rate the series overall, 4 stars out of 5 stars and recommend it to anyone into the paranormal romance and adventure scene with a bit of mystery in it.

Chris Sawin (412 KP) rated A Nightmare on Elm Street (1984) in Movies

Jun 20, 2019 (Updated Jun 23, 2019)  
A Nightmare on Elm Street (1984)
A Nightmare on Elm Street (1984)
1984 | Horror
Nancy Thompson (Heather Langenkamp) and her friends have more on their plate to worry about than typical high school drama. A child murderer named Fred Krueger (Robert Englund) was killed by the parents residing on Elm Street after they took matters into their own hands when the justice system failed to get the redemption the parents so desperately seeked. That was thought to be the end of it and everyone tried to move on with their lives. That is until Nancy, her boyfriend Glen (Johnny Depp), her best friend Tina (Amanda Wyss), and Tina's boyfriend Rod (Jsu Garcia) begin having nightmares about the same man. A man wearing a red and green striped sweater, brown fedora, and a four finger-bladed leather glove. Could Fred Krueger really be exacting his revenge from beyond the grave and in the dreams of his victims?

Wes Craven is probably best known for the Scream franchise since it's the most successful set of films he's ever been a part of, at least as far as the box office is concerned, but there was another film that he created that spawned seven sequels and a remake. A film that is looked at as a horror classic and is considered to be the first commercially successful release from New Line Cinema. That film is A Nightmare on Elm Street.

A Nightmare on Elm Street is looked at by some (including myself) as the best film in the franchise. While most of the sequels feature a Freddy that is more interested in cracking a joke than being an intimidating serial killer, the original film is where he seems to shine brightest. He seems to always be lurking in the shadows making it nearly impossible to get a clear look at his face. Remember when films left a bit of a mystery to things rather than being entirely realistic and showing every little detail when it came to gore? Well, this is a good example.

The deaths of Tina and Glen could arguably be reason alone to watch the film. Tina's death is so original and so well done. One of the reasons it still holds up today is because it was done with practical effects. The same can be said about Glen's death. The only thing more impressive than his death is the fact that it's Johnny Depp's debut. Both deaths are two of the most memorable in horror film history.

Despite A Nightmare on Elm Street being one of the most influential horror films of our time, it still has that cheesiness associated with most horror films that come out of the eighties. Bad acting (Heather Langenkamp especially. The "Screw your pass!" scene is a good example, but is hilarious in its own right) and dated special effects being the best examples. While the practical effects are a good thing and are much preferred over CGI, some of them haven't aged well over the past 26 years. The scene of Freddy chasing Tina is probably the best example of this. His arms stretching inhuman lengths to scratch the walls and Tina ripping off his face just didn't hold up as well as other effects in the film.

A Nightmare on Elm Street is a beloved horror classic that gave birth to one of the most iconic serial killers in the genre. The original film features some of the most creative deaths and practical effects (seeing Freddy in the wall above Nancy's bed in the beginning of the film is one of the best scenes) to come out of any horror film held in such high regard. The film's charm will go over a lot of people's heads who look into it for the first time after seeing the remake which will probably result in the film getting more flack than it deserves. But nevertheless, it's hard to deny the impact Freddy and Wes Craven have had on this genre thanks to this film.

Special Features: The two-disc Infinifilm is packed with extras including:

Feature commentary including a variety of topics: the financial problems the film had with writer/director Wes Craven, producer Bob Shaye, actor John Saxon, and cinematographer Jacques Haitkin sharing their thoughts, Heather Langenkamp and Wes Craven talk about how great it was to work with Johnny Depp, Amanda Wyss goes into detail about not knowing much about the horror genre before taking her role as Tina, a discussion of how Robert Englund got the role of Fred Krueger and Englund shares his thoughts on the Fred Krueger character. Everything from the problems the film had to Freddy's popularity to the film's reputation and more are discussed by the cast and crew.

Original commentary includes Heather Langenkamp, John Saxon, Wes Craven, and Jacques Haitkin.

Beyond the Movie Features include The House That Freddy Built: The Legacy of New Line Horror and Night Terrors: The Origins of Wes Craven's Nightmares.

All Access Pass Features include three alternate endings, Never Sleep Again: The making of A Nightmare on Elm Street, a trivia challenge and the theatrical trailer.

There's also Infinifilm bonus features that can be accessed while the film is playing and the original screenplay can be viewed as a DVD-ROM feature.

The film is remastered and restored from the original film negative and is presented in both Dolby Digital 5.1-EX surround sound and DTS-ES 6.1 Surround Sound.
Motherless Brooklyn (2019)
Motherless Brooklyn (2019)
2019 | Drama, Mystery
With all the recent big action blockbuster movie releases recently, there is a genre that has been overlooked for some time, a good detective story. Most movies that take place in the 50’s tend to focus more on mob related backdrops and ruthless hits to draw in audiences. Motherless Brooklyn written, directed and starring Edward Norton looks to tell a story that harkens back to the day where gumshoes spoke to key individuals and followed the clues to get to the bottom of the case. This is long before forensics was a thing, and there were no fancy computer databases or DNA matching to utilize to narrow down the suspect pool. This was when it took the skills and abilities of the individual themselves to follow the clues and piece them together like a puzzle to solve each and every case.

Lionel Essrog (Edward Norton) is a private detective who works at a small P.I. firm trying to eek out a living in the streets of New York back in the late 50’s. Lionel along with his fellow gumshoes grew up in a Catholic orphanage that cemented the bond between them all as both friends and family. Lionel suffers from Tourette’s syndrome causing him to tick and burst out in unusual statements which only gets worse as he gets nervous or excited, however he also possesses a photographic memory, able to recall specific conversations and repeat them verbatim when asked.

On what begins as a seemingly routine job, things quickly turn deadly when Frank Minna (Bruce Willis) the lead private investigator (and owner) of the firm is gunned down in an alley. With very little information to go on and forced to confront each suspect while attempting to maintain his composure, Lionel must use his smarts and the help of his friends to piece together what Frank was involved in and unravel the mystery before anyone else gets hurt. His investigation will take him throughout the streets of New York at a time where racial tensions were bubbling over, and the lure of power and money was more than folks could ignore.

Edward Norton does an outstanding job with his portrayal of an average Joe who must overcome a debilitating mental condition to find those who killed his friend. He does such a believable job with his portrayal of Tourette’s that at times it’s hard to believe that he doesn’t suffer from it in his real life. Much the same way Jack Nicholson brought Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder into the public conscious in As Good as it Gets, Norton portrays his Tourette’s in a somewhat comical, but still respectable manner. In a way, his condition disappears into the background allowing his skills and smarts to come across first.

Norton is joined by a star-studded cast featuring Bruce Willis as his best friend Frank Minna, a seemingly well-intentioned man who has stood up and protected Lionel since child-hood. Alec Baldwin portrays a powerful and ruthless city official, looking to extend his power in the city while making a small fortune in the process. Willem DaFoe, fresh off of another Oscar worthy performance in The Lighthouse, once again brings his acting pedigree to the mix and last, but certainly not least Gugu Mbatha-Raw brings a smart and extremely strong female character with what should be an Oscar winning performance.

Motherless Brooklyn is a long movie (chalking in a bit over two and a half hours) and does take some time to gather its footing. This is a detective movie after all, and much of the action takes place speaking with suspects and researching in the library. It certainly brings an authentic feel to detective work in the 50’s and is a surprisingly refreshing detour from the onslaught of action and superhero movies which have dominated the screens in 2019. New York in the 50’s comes to life with the incredible costumes, vehicles and just overall feel of what the city must have been like back in the day. It’s a testament to how much wardrobe and attention to detail can take the viewers back in time. For those who lack the sort of patience that this movie will certainly require, it may seem a bit overwhelming to consider, however once the viewers settle in, they are in for a treat as they join Lionel in piecing the puzzle together, to sort out what led to the death of his friend.

Motherless Brooklyn was exactly the type of movie I was hoping for, a gritty detective movie that isn’t overly concerned with outrageous plots or frantic gun play. It’s a movie about gathering the clues, investigating the leads, and seeing where it takes you. The star-studded cast is outstanding, and I certainly cannot over emphasize the pivotal role that Norton brings to the screen. If old crime novels and private investigator stories are your cup of tea, you’ll find that Motherless Brooklyn checks off all the boxes. In a sea of superhero movies and high action thrillers, it’s refreshing to come across a film that brings some realism back to the cinema.
In a Dark, Dark Wood
In a Dark, Dark Wood
Ruth Ware | 2016 | Fiction & Poetry, Thriller
8.0 (22 Ratings)
Book Rating
I've been a fan of Ruth Ware since I read The Death of Mrs. Westaway. Actually, what really made me love Ruth Ware was her book The Lying Game. When I came across In a Dark, Dark Wood, I was intrigued to say the least. I'm glad I decided to read this book because I believe it's Ruth Ware's best novel out of the four I've read.

Leonora, or Nora as she likes to be called, receives an email inviting her to Clare's hen do (bachelorette party). Nora and Clare used to be the best of friends, but that was 10 years ago. Nora is a bit wary of the invite, but when her friend Nina is invited and says she'll go if Nora goes, Nora agrees. Nora finds out who Clare is marrying, and it seems like things go from bad to worse including Nora being injured and others being hurt. Nora must find piece together what happened at Clare's hen do in order to figure out the mystery behind everything. There's only one problem. She can't remember what actually happened that night.

The plot really sucked me in right from the beginning. I was wondering why Nora would be invited to someone's hen do that she hasn't seen or spoken with in over 10 years. I also had to understand why Nora would even be interested in going considering it had been so long. I don't think I would have went. However, the whole plot fascinated me. I had to know the motives of everyone. I felt like everyone was a suspect, and I was scrutinizing every little detail. There are some plot twists, and a few of them are predictable, but I still loved In a Dark, Dark Wood. I also loved the fact that there were no cliff hangers, and all of my questions were answered by the end of the book. One thing that did feel a bit improbable but not impossible was how Nora and her ex-boyfriend James ended things when they were teenagers. I have a hard time believing that not one of them would have reached out to the other in the whole ten years they had not seen each other especially right after their break up with what happened. Like I said, I guess it is possible to go without speaking to each other after that, but when something that major happens between a couple (I don't want to give the major thing away due to spoilers), I would have thought there would be more talking at some point.

I felt the characters were well written and had enough depth to the them to feel realistic. I enjoyed the character of Nora. All I can say is with what goes wrong for her makes me glad that I've never been in her position. I admired her desire to find out the truth even if it meant getting herself in trouble. However, sometimes I couldn't understand her reasoning behind some things such as wanting to go to someone's hen do that she hasn't seen or spoken to in ten years! Perhaps other people would go out of curiosity, but I would have just noped out of that. Also, what I mentioned in the previous paragraph about her not speaking to her ex even though there was something major that happened in their relationship. However, I really did like Nora. I had a love/hate relationship with Nina. Sometimes I liked her but other times she came across as too mean. I know that was just meant to be her personality, but I just had a hard time figuring her out. Flo was definitely a character. It was as if she was in love with Clare! She was obsessed with Clare and very high strung. I felt like Flo had some mental problems going on and needed help with them ASAP. I never knew if I should trust Flo or not. Clare seemed like she had changed from her school days when she was manipulative and selfish. I wish Clare would have been more of a forefront character throughout the book, but she felt like a minor character. Tom was definitely an interesting character to say the least. I did really like him, but I also questioned his motives.

I very much enjoyed the pacing for In a Dark, Dark Wood. The pacing flowed smoothly from the very first page. I never once felt like it slowed down at all. I was left hanging on every word.

Trigger warnings for In a Dark, Dark Wood include drinking, smoking, drug use, profanity, mentions of sex although not graphic, violence, gun violence, and death.

All in all, In a Dark, Dark Wood was a fantastic read! I enjoyed every second of the book, and I felt so empty after it ended because it was over. It had all the makings of a great book such as an interesting plot and fantastic characters. I would definitely recommend In a Dark, Dark Wood by Ruth Ware to those aged 17+ that love psychological thrillers and those who want to be sucked into a book from the very first sentence.
The Hunt (2020)
The Hunt (2020)
2020 | Action, Horror, Thriller
Contains spoilers, click to show
I've been looking forward to this since before it was cool.

A group of strangers wake up in the middle of nowhere, gagged and confused. The last thing they remember is being home in their respective states and then waking up in a clearing with each other.

It's no mystery to some why they're there, it's the Hunt. The bored elite pick up 12 strangers to hunt for sport and now it's their turn. A box full of weapons an open field and danger in every direction. Will the prey survive?

Mindless violence like this is right up my street, usually because it's so ridiculous it's funny and shocking in the most unexpected ways. It reminds me a lot of The Condemned, although there's no amazing role for Vinnie in this.

The trailers... ugh. One gives away a lot of key points and the other misleadingly splices together a lot of footage, the latter doesn't bother me nearly as much as the first. Had they only used the international trailer it would have avoided a lot of those problems and I think it would have left a bit more surprise.

Admittedly, I probably wouldn't have noticed how many reveals there were if I hadn't gone back to find something out after seeing the film. I could not for the life of me understand why they insisted on only showing the back of Hilary Swank's head in the opening, in the plane, partially during her meeting... why? If they had kept the role a secret until a reveal at the very end of the film (I still wouldn't have understood it but) I would have kind of been okay with it... but they show her face in the trailer... so why the hidden face all the time?

We get quite a big cast here with a lot of faces to recognise, all be it very briefly at times. I'm a little impressed that they decided to knock out as many as they did so early on, and especially their choices.

We have Betty Gilpin in the lead as Crystal fighting back against her would be murderers. I've only come across Gilpin (knowingly) in Elementary where she also played a character with many quirks. There's a certain kick-assery quality to Crystal, and those bits are great, but when she gets intense and mentions she might have issues it seems odd and at times not at all clear what she might be alluding to. She seemed to handle the role well but the occasional loopy moment didn't really fit.

Hilary Swank's performance as Athena was okay but the character had a lot of different issues throughout that I personally think would have made any attempt at this role mediocre.

I'll cover some of the flaws in the movie briefly, very briefly because there are a lot of things that just don't make sense. The text message that starts the whole thing... horrendously specific and doesn't seem like a likely response in that conversation. To then cause her to rage out in her meeting and decide to have the invented rampage seems even more ridiculous. When the prey can roam anywhere, why are a big chunk of them staying in the bunker on the original drop point, and how would they have known in advance that having someone with refugees would pan out in the end? And why after being so furious about the whole thing does Athena stay in her manor? Those are some of the things to quibble about, but I'll move on.

The film appears to say a lot but honestly doesn't really say anything at all. No point is ever really followed through with and explained, so the fact I wasn't "in tune" with it I didn't take anything away from those scenes anyway. At one point they throw so many topics into a conversation that it became quite annoying. I found it interesting to read up about why the film was pulled in the first place, under the veils of some terrible incidents in America at the time when it seems that the media influence was trying to crush it even before that because of all these hot topics. I don't know why anyone would be in their case if they'd actually seen the film, but as I said, this isn't my area of expertise so I don't intend to debate on the point.

I'm not sure how I feel about the ending, all I can say is that that sandwich would definitely have been burnt.

There are a lot of threads to pick at in The Hunt but none of them actually made the film fall apart, it has some humour, including some of those moments that aren't really funny but they're shocking and you laugh as a defense mechanism. It has one moment in particular that is so far off course that I wondered if it would go all out spoof. Even with the issue I still enjoyed it, there's something in these films (like Bloodshot had been) that relieves the stress of having to think.

Originally posted on:
The Thing (2011)
The Thing (2011)
2011 | Drama, Horror, Mystery
After the success of a videogame based on the original film, rumors of a sequel arose many times but never came to fruition, with creative differences between Universal and John Carpenter cited as the main reason. It was oft-speculated that Carpenter made a deal to write and produce a sequel provided he got to name has director. But when he opted to name himself director the studio balked and the project fell apart. In the aftermath, rumors of a miniseries on the SyfY channel arose along with the possibility of retelling the story with 20-somethings on a tropical island but (thankfully) they never saw the light of day.

Rather than do a sequel or remake, Universal opted to jump start the franchise with a prequel that covers the events leading up to the John Carpenter film. It is set in 1982 at a Norwegian research station in Antarctica shortly before the scientists make an amazing discovery. When they uncover an alien craft that had been buried in the ice for over 100,000 years, as well as a frozen crewmember from the craft, they quickly celebrate the scientific discovery of a lifetime.

Kate Lloyd (Mary Elizabeth Winstead), is recruited by a famed scientist to travel to the desolate continent to research the find. Told only that they are about to research an amazing discovery, Kate and a team of specialists arrive and are absolutely stunned by the magnitude of their discovery. Kate urges caution but is overridden by the expedition leader Dr. Halvorsan (Ulrich Thomsen), who insists on taking a tissue sample of the frozen creature encassed in a block of ice.

Later that evening while celebrating, the very much alive creature escapes from its icy prison and begins to systematically hunt the members of the research team. The creature is eventually trapped and burned which causes some consternation over the loss of the creature for further scientific study, but many in the camp applaud its loss after seeing firsthand the destruction it is capable of.

After a bizarre series of events, Kate makes the startling discovery that the cells of the creature are able to imitate and perfectly replicate any thing that it comes in contact with. As a result, not only is the creature very much alive, but the individuals in the camp may no longer be human. Trapped in a remote location with an advancing winter storm, suspicions and paranoia go through the roof as the survivors are pitted against one another, unsure of who is still human. What follows is a high-octane adventure awash in action and grisly special-effects as the two species are locked in the ultimate battle for survival.

The film has a good supporting cast and Joel Edgerton does solid supporting work as an American helicopter pilot assigned to the camp. Eric Christian Olsen provides a steadying presence as a research assistant but his character is not as developed as it could be. It is known that he and Kate know each other but their past history is undefined which makes their relationship a bit puzzling in the film especially when the survivors begin to pick sides.

While the movie is not going to make fans forget the original, it is a very worthy companion piece. As the film was winding down I found myself checking off a couple of inconsistencies with the original film, but was very pleasantly surprised when this was all explained during the end credits which perfectly synced the end of this film with the opening of John Carpenter’s classic.

In many ways the weakness of film is due to the success of John Carpenter’s previous film, in that the creature is not that much of a mystery this time around. Part of the suspense of the previous film was not knowing how the creature operated nor how it was capable of infecting and replicating numerous individuals.

This time around the suspense is lost due to the familiarity with the creature. As a result, director Matthijs van Heijningen focused his efforts on a more action adventure oriented film that gave very little time for character development. We are not told very much about many of the characters in the film as they simply exist to serve as potential victims for the creature. All one really needs to know is they are scientists or support staff as aside from a handful of characters we’re not really given much reason to care whether they survive.

Visually the film is sharp and it is clear that a lot of attention was paid to replicate the look of the previous film. The shots of vast fields of ice and snow emphasized the remote and isolated setting that the characters find themselves in and served as a reminder that danger lurks all around. The special-effects have obviously been upgraded since 1982 and it was nice to see that the creative elements did not go overboard on CGI effects, and actually used puppetry and animatronics to provide updated creature effects that were still in keeping with the look and tone from the previous film.

While the film is not likely to reach the iconic status of the previous film, it is still a worthy companion piece that has enough action and effects to keep it interesting to fans of the series – just so long as they keep their expectations reasonable and do not expect a film on par with the previous one.
Voices in the Snow
Voices in the Snow
Darcy Coates | 2020 | Dystopia, Horror, Thriller
9.0 (1 Ratings)
Book Rating
Horror (2 more)
Well-written detail
Awkward characters (1 more)
Some inconsistencies
Winter is beginning to really show up for 2021 by blanketing the States in snow, which made this novel seem fitting to read this month, along with the isolated climate of quarantine which the two main characters go through in Darcy Coates' Voices in the Snow. This story is the first book in a four book series that is full of horror and mystery, and I couldn't seem to put it down - - - after the first 100 pages, the story steers off in a direction I didn't see coming.

Voices in the Snow is set in today's world, but at the beginning of a dystopian future in the UK, which mostly takes place at a large, desolate manor that sits just outside a forest called Banksy Forest. From the second chapter until the end, readers make their home here with the two main characters Clare and Dorran, but very shortly into the story, we realize that they aren't the only 'people' in the house.

The main question of the novel is whether or not Dorran can be trusted - - - Clare wakes up in his family's manor after a car accident, and she can't exactly remember how the accident happened, but she also can't remember why she was driving out in a blizzard in the first place, but she does recall that she was on the phone with her sister, Beth, and we learn that her sister worries about Clare like she's her mother. Clare becomes focused on trying to somehow contact Beth to let her know she's still alive.

We find out later that Dorran comes from a prestigious family that makes their money from being in the wood distribution business. His family, the Morthornes, aren't a typical family. Not only does Dorran's relatives live at the manor during the warmer months, but so do the servants, all 60 of them. Dorran makes it obvious that he doesn't enjoy this type of lifestyle:
" ' All right. I guess not. Especially in this house. How large is it [the house] ?'
'Inconveniently large.' He shrugged. 'It does not only house our family, but the servants as well.'
Clare's eyebrows rose. 'Servants?'
'Staff,' he corrected quickly. Clare thought she saw a flicker of embarrassment, but it was hidden almost immediately. 'My apologies. That is another part of tradition that is well outdated. My mother wishes for the staff to be referred to as servants.' "

Soon the two are discussing whether or not they could survive for months at the manor due to the blizzard not seeming to let up, with this discussion, readers find out there is an inside garden located in the depths of the manor, unfortunately, food wasn't planted since the family and servants leave the home for the winter, but there are plenty of seeds to start cultivating. One day while Clare is trying to get the seeds planted, she decides to go get Dorran, who left to go check on the many furnaces that heat the manor, but Clare easily gets lost in the house she has barely walked around in, and ends up in a wine cellar: here, Clare hears scraping noises that lead her to a creature huddled in the dark.
" The figure turned toward her. Eyes glinted - - - horrible, inhuman eyes peering out from behind long, greasy hair. Then the figure darted away, escaping from her circle of light, disappearing into a narrow doorway in the stone wall.
A sharp, broken scream cut through the cold air. Clare didn't realize it had come from her until she felt the ache in her throat. She stumbled backward, and her shoulders hit one of the shelves. Muffled clinking noises surrounded her as the bottles rocked.
She couldn't stop shaking. The thudding footsteps echoed around her, beating fast, like her own heart. The scraping noise joined it, louder this time. It surrounded her and overwhelmed her. "

Although Clare tells Dorran what she saw, he doesn't believe her. He believes that the stress from the car accident has caused her to hallucinate. Clare slowly begins to tell herself that he's probably right, but then the human-like creatures begin to show up more and more, always disappearing right before Dorran can see them. Shortly after an incident with another one of the creatures, Clare runs into Banksy Forest, set on getting the radio she remembered having in her car, to contact her sister Beth.

There are so many twists and turns in this story that it makes it wonderfully unpredictable. If I said anymore about it, it would give away too many of the surprises waiting inside. Voices in the Snow may not have been the best title for this book, but it is a really well-written horror story. The only annoyance I had with the novel is the awkwardness between the two main characters, which didn't seem natural. Most of what happens between Clare and Dorran are seen a mile away before it happens. During some scenes, I found myself rolling my eyes at the dialogue between Clare and Dorran, but the horror in the story makes up for the predictability of the characters.

I highly recommend this book to horror lovers; the scenes of scares and creatures were well-detailed. I was not disappointed at all. There were only a few inconsistencies throughout, but I think they would be easily over looked for the story is really enjoyable. I look forward to reading the rest of the series.
Rear Window (1954)
Rear Window (1954)
1954 | Classics, Drama, Mystery
“Hmm… must have splattered a lot”.
Maddy at Maddy Loves Her Classic Films is hosting The Alfred Hitchcockblogathon. A fine idea, celebrating the life and works of the “Master of Suspense”. My contribution comes from his 1954 masterpiece “Rear Window” starring James Stewart and Grace Kelly.
In one pan around his small apartment, and without a word of dialogue required, Hitchcock deftly fills in all the back-story you need: Stewart plays ace photo-journalist L.B. Jefferies, laid up from jetting the world to worn-torn regions by a broken leg in a full-cast with only his courtyard view to entertain him. In sweltering summer temperatures all the apartments are open to the elements, so he can be well entertained by the menagerie before him: “Miss Torso”, the scantily-clad and frequently showering ballerina; a sculptress with an eye towards Henry Moore; a struggling composer (who has his clock wound by someone very familiar!); a newly-wedded bride threatening to wear out the groom; a salesman and his bed-ridden wife; a dog-loving and balcony-sleeping couple; and “Miss Lonelyhearts” – a hard-drinking spinster forced to create imaginary male dinner-guests.
Stewart plays his usual ‘Mr Ordinary’ watching perfectly ordinary goings on in a perfectly ordinary apartment block.

Or not. Jefferies is drawn to some odd-events in the apartment of the salesman (Raymond Burr, still 13 years before his career-defining role in TV’s “Ironside”). His rampant suspicions infect not only his cranky middle-aged physiotherapist Stella (Thelma Ritter) but also his perfect (“too perfect”) girlfriend, the fashion expert Lisa (Grace Kelly). Of course his police friend Doyle (Wendell Corey) is having none of it… there is no evidence of any crime being committed. And the “murdered” wife has been seen being put on a train by her husband, and is sending him letters from the countryside.
Is Jefferies just going stir-crazy? Or is there really something to it?
The set for this film is masterly. Although depicting a genuine location in New York’s Greenwich village the huge set was constructed on the Paramount lot in Hollywood, and you can just imagine the army of carpenters and artists building the multi-layered structure.

It’s one of the stars of the film, allowing for a wealth of detail to be populated: in the apartments; in the street behind; even in the cafe over the other side of the street. And it’s this detail that really makes what could be a highly static film come alive. There are a half dozen films-within-the-film going on at once, with Stewart’s character – and you as the fellow-voyeur – having a multi-pass to watch them all simultaneously.
And watch he does. As what could be perceived as a seriously pervy character – something he is called out on by Stella – Jeffries gets to see an eyeful in particular of the shapely and scantily-clad ballerina (Georgine Darcy, agent-less and only paid $350 for the role!). These scenes must have been deemed quite risque for the year of release.

Where the film rather falters is in the bickering romance between Stewart and Kelly. As a hot-blooded man, I will declare that even today Kelly’s first dream-like appearance (with Vaseline lightly coating the lens) is breathtaking. She’s just the ‘girl-next-door’: if you live next to a palace that is! And yet (with Kelly 21 years Stewart’s junior) she’s just “too perfect” for L.B. , who feels (against her protestations) that she’s ‘too girly’ to hack the life of a war photographer on the road. The mysogeny, common for the day, is gasp-making: “If a girl’s pretty enough, she just has to ‘be'” intones Stewart, to no howls of protest or throwing of saucepans! In fact Kelly is greatly encouraged: “Preview of coming attractions” purrs Kelly, flaunting what she has around the apartment in a negligee.

These scenes though are rather overlong and somewhat get in the way of the murder mystery plot-line. Things really start to warm up when a death occurs, to piercing screams in the night: “Which one of you did it?” shouts a woman to the neighbourhood, as everything – momentarily – stops. “WHICH ONE OF YOU DID IT?”. Given your emotional involvement in the ongoing voyeurism, it’s hard as a viewer not to feel discomforted…. (“well, it wasn’t me”…. shifts uneasily in the seat).
From then on, Hitchcock proceeds to pile on suspenseful jolt after jolt, with first Lisa and then L.B. placed in harms way. While the perpetrator may seem clueless and incompetent, as most murderers of passion probably are, the denouement is satisfying, with a great trial use of green-screen ‘falling’ that would be perfected by Hitchcock for “Vertigo” four years later.

What’s curious for such as classic is that there are a number of fluffed lines in the piece: with two notable ones by Stewart and Kelly. Hitchcock was the master of long and uninterrupted takes, but did he not believe in re-shooting scenes when such errors occurred? Most odd.
Although tighter and more claustrophobic that some of his better known films, this is a firm favourite of mine. If you’ve never seen it, its well worth you checking out.