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Rebecca (2020)
Rebecca (2020)
2020 | Drama, Mystery, Romance
A dull adaptation
Rebecca is an adaptation of Daphne Du Maurier’s 1938 novel of the same name, following a young woman’s whirlwind romance and her battle to rid her new marriage and home of the shadow of her husband’s first wife.

Rebecca as a novel is a classic and a book I very much enjoyed, and whilst I’ve never seen the Hitchcock adaptation, it’s often referred to as a fairly legendary classic too. However I’m afraid to say the same cannot be said about this new version. The basic plot and story is present, although rather frustratingly the ending has been extended unnecessarily, but it has not been executed very well.

The trailer made this look quite sinister and spooky, which is quite right when the original novel is a gothic horror with aspects of a ghost story thrown in. However this film turns out to be nothing of the sort. It’s more of a romantic drama with a hint of thriller thrown in – the gothic horror ghost story is nowhere to be seen and neither is any form of intrigue or suspense. In fact I’d be so bold as to say this is just outright dull, and even the campy over the top sinister vibes from Kristin Scott Thomas’s housekeeper Mrs Danvers are laughable at best. The most interesting part of this was the opening scene with it’s sinister score but this just didn’t carry through to the rest of the film.

Sadly the cast don’t fare very well in this either. Lily James is a great actor, but her version of the new wife is too mousy and timid and you wonder what on earth Maxim ever sees in her. The character herself is very frustrating and irksome as she’s far too naïve and sweet. And Armie Hammer is miscast as Maxim De Winter himself. He looks the part, dashing and handsome, but he’s lacking in the intrigue, charm and secrecy that you’d expect this character to have. He’s also missing the age gap that is rather notable in the book.

The cinematography in this is rather concerning. The scenes in Monte Carlo are far too colourful and garish and they just look out of place, even more so for something that is meant to be a gothic horror. I’m unsure of why this has been done, other than to show a striking difference between Monte Carlo and Maxim’s Cornish home of Manderley. In fact what is most concerning about this film is why Ben Wheatley wanted to direct it. By far the biggest shock of this film was finding out Wheatley, of Kill List and Sightseers fame, had directed it. Wheatley is known for psychological dark (and often funny) thrillers and there is nothing of his style to be seen in this film at all. Which is a shame, as I think a little more of his dark style would’ve propelled this film into more than just a sub-par drama.

Overall this a very disappointing and long winded adaptation of a classic novel. Whilst there are a few decent scenes and a good, if not out of character, performance from Lily James, these are nowhere near enough to save this from being a bit of a bore.
  
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Sarah (7794 KP) rated Memento (2000) in Movies

Nov 29, 2020  
Memento (2000)
Memento (2000)
2000 | Mystery, Thriller
One of my favourite films
Film #5 on the 100 Movies Bucket List: Memento

I have to admit, I may be a little biased when it comes to Memento. Christopher Nolan is my favourite director and Memento is both one of my favourite films of his and one of my favourite films of all time. For me, this undoubtedly deserves its place on this bucket list.

Memento is a 2000 psychological thriller starring Guy Pearce as Leonard Shelby, a man suffering from anterograde amnesia searching for the person responsible for the death of his wife, using notes and tattoos to organise his thoughts.

One of the most noticeable features of Memento is the fact that half of the narrative is told backwards. The movie begins at the end, focusing on a rather gruesome Polaroid photograph that fades rather than develops and a victim of a shooting coming back to life. The rest of the film jumps backwards a few minutes at a time, each scene ending where the last one started. For a film about memory loss and amnesia, this mechanism of telling the story really helps put us in Leonard’s shoes. It makes you feel as confused as he is. On the original dvd release, there was a hidden feature that allowed you to play the film in chronological order and this just didn’t have the same impact. These reverse scenes are interspersed with black and white flashbacks of Leonard earlier in his wife’s murder investigation and his life as an insurance investigator, which really help with the exposition. These paired together alongside a haunting score make for an intriguing and not your run of the mill murder mystery.

There are some great performances in this that also help increase the intrigue. Carrie-Anne Moss as the apparently helpful Natalie and Joe Pantoliano as the questionable sidekick appear new to Leonard every time they meet yet their loyalties and motives waver for us as the viewers throughout the film. And Guy Pearce manages to portray the frustrated and not as innocent as he first appears Leonard incredibly well, and holds this film on his own for most of the run time. They’re helped by a clever and smart script that flawlessly blends the sinister and rather dark criminal aspects of this with some surprisingly funny lines.

This story starts at the end so you don’t have to worry about how it turns out, but despite this Memento still comes up with a rather cracking twist and denouement. This entire film is about time and memory and how unreliable it is, and the lies we tell ourselves about our own identities. Even during this, what we thought we knew about Leonard as the black and white flashback meets the backwards story, is revealed to be completely unreliable and quite shocking. Without revealing too much, the outcome of this film is both surprising, sinister and rather emotional, and features some of the best dialogue of the entire movie. Leonard’s actions and motives revealed here and the final voiceover as he drives off makes for a hugely satisfying ending.

I first watched Memento in a psychology class at college around 17 years ago. I loved it then and in the years since, it hasn’t lost its appeal. Watching it back now still evokes the same emotion and feelings when the credits roll as it did all those years ago and will always be one of my favourite films, even possibly my all time favourite.
  
The Cloverfield Paradox (2018)
The Cloverfield Paradox (2018)
2018 | Sci-Fi
Contains spoilers, click to show
The Cloverfield Paradox is the third and (at time of writing) the last Cloverfield film and it's main purpose is to explain where Clover and his friends come from. Does it do this in an easy to follow, straight forward way that fits easily into the already established Cloverfield universe? Hell no.
The first film was a found footage monster movie and the second film was a psychological thriller that was loosely linked to the first so naturally the third film is a hard Sci-Fi set in the near future. The earth has used up most of it's resources and everyone is nearly at war, the last hope is the Cloverfield space-station which has the 'Shepard' beam, an experimental particle beam that, if it works, will produce an endless supply of energy. The lack of resources and looming war are the only problems, there are no monsters and there never were.
The Cloverfield Paradox mainly follows the crew of the space station and quickly turns into a Sci-Fi horror in a similar vain to 'Event Horizon'. Basically the crew activate the Shepard Beam, it works then crashes and the earth disappears. Then strange things start to happen. At the same time something happens on earth, there is an attack on America and a few people run around trying to find out what happens and one hides in a bunker similar to the one in 10 Cloverfield Lane. Meanwhile the crew of the Cloverfield try to find out where the earth is.
As a Sci-Fi, the Cloverfield Paradox works well, it uses just enough jargon and theoretical physics and as a horror it works well, killing off the cast in weird and wonderful ways. And as an explanation for Clover well SPOILER that's what attacked Earth, of course this is only reviled right at the end and there is no explanation to how they got to the past in the other film's. Except there is, about twenty minuets into the film, after everything has been set up but before everything goes wrong there is a news program shown on a monitor whilst the crew begin to start their experiments. The news show is interviewing the author of a book called 'The Cloverfield Paradox' and, in the interview the author explains everything from what is going to happen to how Clover and the other monsters appear on earth even though know one in the future knows anything about them, so pay attention.
One thing the all three Cloverfield films did well was all of the extra stuff. The original film started with tease trailers, infomercial's form company's seen in the film and fake news reels. This kind of marketing continued for all three films and other information was made available including one big link between Cloverfield and the Cloverfield Paradox. The last scene of the first film, the scene that was set before everything that happened with the couple by the beach shows something falling from the sky in the background, this is part of the Cloverfield space station.
With the revelation that the creatures now exist all through time a fourth film was rumoured - Overlord- however, even though the film was made by the same company and the same people it was never part of the Cloverfield universe and is/was meant to be the start of it's own franchise. Even though it could easily fit even as a ret con.
  
The House Guest
The House Guest
Mark Edwards | 2020 | Thriller
6
6.0 (1 Ratings)
Book Rating
After reading and enjoying The Retreat by Mark Edwards, I came across The House Guest by the same author. The synopsis sounded intriguing, so I decided to give it a read. While it wasn't a bad read, it was lacking a certain something.

Ruth and Adam are house-sitting for Mona and Jack, a rich couple they met on a cruise. When a woman named Eden shows up claiming to be an old friend of Mona's and Jack's, they decide to let her stay. After all, Eden seems to know a lot about the rich couple, and she seems nice enough. However, when Ruth and Eden disappear after a night of drinking, Adam begins to worry if he made a mistake by inviting Eden into the house. Is Eden actually an old friend or was she actually a complete stranger?

The plot for The House Guest really caught my attention. Mark Edwards does a fantastic job of making the story seem original. While many of the plot twists were easily predictable, it was still interesting enough to hold my attention. I did find that the pacing starts off a bit slow and doesn't really pick up until about halfway through the book. All of my questions were answered by the ending of the book and although there's not a cliffhanger, the ending does leave room for a sequel. I must admit that I liked the way Edwards kind of teased that there could be a sequel. One thing I wasn't a fan of was how the narrative would switch from a third person point of view for everyone to a first person point of view when it came to Adam. I would have much rather read the whole book in third person, but perhaps that's just a personal preference. Edwards did great at setting up the world building throughout the book, and when the pacing finally caught up to the action, I was immersed in the story line to find out if my predictions were correct.

I very much enjoyed the characters in The House Guest. Ruth and Adam were a likable couple, and it was easy to understand their relationship and what each one was feeling thanks to Edwards' great description of how each character felt about the relationship. I sympathized with Adam feeling like a loser compared to Ruth and her success. However, I could also relate to Ruth and her feelings of not being good enough and other insecurities. Eden was an awesome character, and I enjoyed whenever she had a scene. Her backstory was definitely an interesting one. I never knew if she was telling the truth until towards the end. Callum was a wild card in the story, and I was surprised when his true backstory was revealed. Though all the other characters felt fleshed out, I would have liked to have read more on Gabriel. I believe that he really could have flourished a bit more had he had a bigger part in the story. Saying that, Gabriel still is a fantastic character.

Trigger warnings for The House Guest include violence, gun violence, murder, attempted murder, attempted rape (not graphic), mentions of sex (not graphic), getting drunk, mentions of drugs, brainwashing, and abuse.

All in all, The House Guest does have some faults, but it's still an interesting read. The story unfolds perfectly, and the characters really draw you into their world. I would recommend The House Guest by Mark Edwards to those aged 17+ who are after a decent psychological thriller.
  
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BankofMarquis (1695 KP) rated The menu (2022) in Movies

Nov 24, 2022 - 5:11 PM  
The menu (2022)
The menu (2022)
2022 | Horror
8
8.0 (1 Ratings)
Movie Rating
Puts the DARK in Dark Comedy
If a Film Comedy is Milk Chocolate and a Dark Comedy is Dark Chocolate, then the new film THE MENU (Directed by Mark Mylod - Game of Thrones) is the SPECIAL INTENSE (90%) Dark Chocolate of films.

And I mean that as a compliment.

Written by Seth Reiss and Will Tracy, THE MENU tells the tale of an exclusive, isolated restaurant, the 12 clients that head out to the secluded island this restaurant is on and the ego-maniacal, celebrity chef that runs this restaurant - and this dining experience. What starts out as a satire of these types of restaurants, the chefs and the hero-worship of it’s clientele turns into something much, much more sinister.

This is a film in 2 parts - the first part is a satire of the “Foodie” World with the dishes being somewhat absurd - and believable - as the attendees gush over the dishes, trying to interpret what they are being served and why. The 2nd half turns darker - as the real theme of the night emerges - but it is not the horror/slasher film that one is led to believe in the trailer, it is more of a psychological suspense thriller with some gore to accentuate the themes. (But make no mistake, there IS gore).

Ralph Fiennes (Voldemort in the Harry Potter films) is the perfect choice as the central figure in this film, Chef Slowik. He controls the screen by standing still and when he speaks and goes into action he pulls the audience - and his clientele - into his web.

Anya Tayor-Joy (THE QUEEN’S GAMBIT) is growing into an actress that is extremely interesting to watch on film and she more than holds her own up against Fiennes in their scenes together. She becomes just as much a force as he is.

The supporting characters in this adventure are interesting ranging from the always good John Leguzamo to Judith Light to Nicholas Hoult and Janet McTeer. They all flesh out characters that could have been just 2 dimensional background characters, but in the capable hands of these performers, they become much more.

Special notice needs to be made of Hong Chau (DOWNSIZING) as Chef Slowik’s main assistant. She pretty much holds down the center of the first part of this film (as we build up the entrance of Fiennes’ character) and she pulls it off with an understated strong performance.

Director Mylod treads an interesting line in THE MENU as he starts this film as a satire, moves it to a dark comedy fairly quickly and then moves it to a much darker place while still keeping the satiric and dark comedic tones as the more sinister things are happening. It’s a tightrope walk to be sure, and Mylod pulls it off.

It’s the type of film that will be difficult to find an audience for it is 2 types of films put together as one - and neither will totally satisfy hard-core fans - but for someone who is looking for an intelligent suspense film (with some gore and, again, let me emphasize that there IS gore) than this MENU will satisfy.

Letter Grade: A-

8 stars (out of 10) and you can take that to the Bank(ofMarquis)
  
Tusk (2014)
Tusk (2014)
2014 | Horror
To legions of his many fans, writer, director, producer, and podcaster Kevin Smith is a man fanboys find easy to root for. His films have become pop-culture gold to comic book, science fiction, and general geekdom fans the world over. Smith has built a career on independent films with characters that are as real as they are raw and raunchy. The crude nature of his jokes often put him in a “love them or hate them” category for many critics as it is definitely not a style that is for the masses. That being said, the films are witty, honest, and most times relatable, no matter how bad the situations and the characters become. Recently, Smith took a detour to the darker side with his film “Red State” that looked at a group of kids who became the victims of a fanatical cult leader and his followers.

While Smith was reportedly working to get funding for “Clerks 3”, an idea was presented to him during his Smodcast about a guy in rural Canada who is offering free room and board to anybody who would live with him on the condition that they wear a walrus costume from time to time. Buoyed by his followers on Twitter, Smith decided to make a horror film based on the situation even after learning that the incident in question was the result of a prank by a comedian.

In his new film Tusk, we are introduced to a successful podcaster named Wallace (Justin Long), who along with his costar Teddy (Haley Joel Osment), run a show called the Not See Party, whose name leads to several double takes and comical and uncomfortable situations down the line. Wallace’s girlfriend Ally (Genesis Rodriguez) wishes to accompany Wallace to his trip up to Canada in order to interview someone for a show.

Since Teddy is not a flyer, Wallace travels to locations to interview people and then in turn tells the stories to Teddy so the two can comment about them on air. Ally longs for the Wallace of old who was a struggling comedian as she believes that the successful Wallace is not that fun to be around as he no longer makes her a priority in life. Wallace admits as much when he discloses a series of infidelities to Teddy and dismisses them as nothing more than clearing of the head while traveling or before doing a live show for an audience.

Upon arriving in Manitoba, Wallace learns that his intended interview has befallen tragedy and faced without a topic for his next show, Wallace is intrigued by a flyer from a man offering room and board as well as plenty of stories.

Wallace makes contact with the individual and travels two hours into rural Manitoba at night to meet the man at his expansive estate. Upon meeting Howard Howe (Michael Parks), Wallace is captivated by the elderly wheelchair-bound gentleman and his tales of life at sea including meeting Ernest Hemingway during the war. As Wallace sat spellbound by the tales Howard is telling him, he soon falls unconscious as a result of being drugged by his host. Things take a very dark turn the following morning when Howard learns that he has lost a leg of which Howard proclaims was the tragic result of a spider bite. Things become a living nightmare as Wallace quickly learns just how devious and diabolical Michael’s plans are for him and trapped in a remote area his humanity and faith are slowly stripped away by the situation he finds himself in.

Teddy and Ally travel to Manitoba due to a frantic call Wallace makes and not finding much assistance from the local authorities, turn to quirky and eccentric former homicide detective Guy LaPointe (Johnny Depp), who fears that Wallace has become the victim of an elusive killer whom LaPointe has been trying to find for years.

What follows is a dark, disturbing, and utterly captivating thriller in a race against time with the very essence and humanity of Wallace hanging in the balance.

While Smith inserts his trademark humor into the film, this is very much a psychological thriller and not a comedy. Depp does a fantastic job and is almost unrecognizable in his role as a homicide detective who is scheduled to appear in a subsequent film currently shooting. While it seemed a bit of a stretch that Ally would want be involved with Wallace, there was nonetheless a good bit of chemistry between them even though the majority of their scenes are shown via flashback.

Long and Parks propel the story as it is pretty much about the dramatic struggle between the two of them. Parks is captivating and creepy while the brash Wallace gets a lesson in humanity and what truly matters in life. While some will no doubt find the subject matter highly disturbing and may be quick to dismiss the film, this is one of the more clever and enjoyable thrillers in recent years and proves that Smith is a filmmaker capable of doing things other than his trademark comedies and should be encouraged to continue to broaden his horizons.

As it stands the film should delight fans of Smith but also allows him to expand his audience into new areas as this truly is one of the more memorable and entertaining films of the year.

http://sknr.net/2014/09/19/tusk/
  
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Hadley (567 KP) rated The Other Mrs. in Books

Apr 4, 2020  
The Other Mrs.
The Other Mrs.
Mary Kubica | 2020 | Thriller
10
9.0 (2 Ratings)
Book Rating
Mental illness done correctly (1 more)
Addictive
Written like a YA novel (0 more)
Mental illness.

I've read a lot of horror books that cover this subject, watched horror movies covering this subject, listened to music covering this subject, but none of them have covered mental illness as well and correctly as Mary Kubica's "The Other Mrs.."

So, with that said, if you have any type of PTSD, this book may be hard for you to read. Otherwise, this novel is very addicting, filled with so many twists and turns that you won't be able to set it down for long. For me, someone who deals with C-PTSD, 'The Other Mrs.' by Mary Kubica has been a heartache to read, but also very fulfilling to finish.

Kubica is known for her best-selling novel 'the Good Girl' - - - a thriller following a mother and a detective in search of the the former's missing daughter that leads them down a twisted tale of family secrets. From highly acclaimed critics, 'the Other Mrs.' has out-done 'the Good Girl' as Kubica's best novel so far. Kubica sticks with her psychological thriller writing that she is known for in this newest novel. She keeps the reader guessing at what will happen next, and she plays out mental illnesses in a way that most who suffer can relate while winding in a mystery well enough that the reader won't be able to guess everything before the ending.

I can't give such a heavy review on this book because, to do so, would give away a lot of the ending, so I'll stick to talking about noteworthy characters that make up the novel. The main character is a woman named Sadie, whose family is being uprooted from Chicago and moved to a small island in Maine after her husband's sister dies, which leaves them with not only a house in the will, but a sixteen-year-old niece named Imogen.

Sadie is already a mother of two sons, both younger than sixteen, when she suddenly finds herself in-charge of the stereo-typical edgy teenager, Imogen. Sadie describes her the first time she sees Imogen: " But there she stands, a morose figure dressed in black. Black jeans, a black shirt, bare feet. Her hair is black, long with bangs that slant sideways across her face. Her eyes are outlined in a thick slash of black eyeliner. Everything black, aside from the white lettering on her shirt, which reads, I want to die. The septum of her nose is pierced. Her skin, in contrast to everything else, is white, pallid, ghostlike. She's thin. "

Early one morning when Sadie is heading off to work, she finds a word spelled on her car window. The word reads: "Die." Sadie, as most readers, quickly assumes that Imogen is responsibly for this, as she tries to explain: "I've tried to be understanding because of how awful the situation must be for her. Her life has been upended. She lost her mother and now must share her home with people she doesn't know. But that doesn't justify threatening me. Because Imogen doesn't mince words. She means just what she said. She wants me to die."

The next character that makes up a big part of this story is a confident, self-centered woman, whose name is Camille,and is also the 'other woman' in this story. Camille is a woman who gets what and who she wants, and won't let anyone get in her way, including Sadie, whose husband is someone Camille wants. I can't go much into the things that Camille's character does because it would give away a lot of the surprises in this novel - - - I can say though that there is murder and mystery throughout; the book will leave most readers guessing until the very end.

One other character who deserves mentioning is a little girl- - - with the nickname 'Mouse' - - - who finds herself suddenly dealing with a horrific stepmother, who abuses her physically and mentally unbeknownst to Mouse's father. One time, in which Mouse shows how smart she is to her the stepmother while being in front of her father (who Mouse likes to call 'Fake Mom'), later that night, when Mouse's father isn't looking, Fake Mom lets Mouse know how she felt about that:

" But later that night, when he father wasn't looking, Fake Mom got down into Mouse's face and told her if she ever made her look stupid again in front of her father, there would be hell to pay. Fake Mom's face got all red. She bared her teeth like a dog does when it's mad. A vein stuck out of her forehead. It throbbed. Fake Mom spit when she spoke, like she was so mad she couldn't stop herself from spitting. Like she was spitting mad. She spit on Mouse's face but Mouse didn't dare raise a hand to wipe it away."

Mental and physical abuse make up all that The Other Mrs. is about. So far, this is the best story I have read in a long time. My only problem with it is it's written like a YA novel, where it seems Kubica tried to keep that from happening by throwing in some heavy syllable words to make it more fitting for adults. But, luckily, she left out most of the wishy-washy elements that make up YA novels, so I believe most adults will enjoy this. I highly recommend this book to people who love murder mysteries!
  
You Are Not Alone
You Are Not Alone
Greer Hendricks, Sarah Pekkanen | 2020 | Contemporary, Thriller
6
7.6 (5 Ratings)
Book Rating
I've been a fan of Greer Hendricks and Sarah Pekkanen since I read their novel The Wife Between Us as well as their other book An Anonymous Girl. Hendricks and Pekkanen are definitely a force to be reckoned with when it comes to writing. When I was offered a chance to read their new book You Are Not Alone, I didn't even have to think twice about saying yes!

The plot of You Are Not Alone sounded intriguing. Shay Miller is just existing. Through witnessing a tragic event, Shay meets the Moore sisters - Cassandra and Jane who are extremely glamorous. Shay is beyond thrilled to be friends with these two amazing women. However, things aren't always what they seem, and this is what puts Shay's life in immediate danger.

I felt that the world building of You Are Not Alone was done beautifully. The novel takes place in New York, and although I've never been, Hendricks and Pekkanen made me feel like I was instantly transported to that setting every time I started reading. The pacing is a bit up and down throughout the book though. However, this wasn't that fast paced thriller I was expecting it to be. I felt as if there was something missing overall from You Are Not Alone. I felt satiated with Hendricks and Pekkanen's last two novels, but there was something that felt a bit flat in this new novel. I felt as if the big unpredictable plot twist was also missing. Yes, there are a few plot twists throughout You Are Not Alone, but the actual plot twist didn't wow me like in the authors' previous books. Don't get me wrong, You are Not Alone is not a horrible read. In fact, it is quite interesting. I just felt as if Hendricks and Pekkanen rushed through You Are Not Alone. I will say that I admired all the statistics throughout the book. Hendricks and Pekkanen really did their research for this novel, and it shows.

I felt that some of the characters of You Are Not Alone lacked a bit of depth. The main character, Shay, felt a bit too one dimensional at times especially for the majority of the book. However, towards the end, she does become quite the character, and I enjoyed her tenacity to get to the bottom of what was happening. I did enjoy Cassandra and Jane, and I felt like they were fairly fleshed out, but I would have liked a bit more backstory on them such as how they rose to be such prominent adults. I would have liked to know about how they were able to become the perfect manipulators. I enjoyed the character of Daphne, but I would have liked to get to know her more. I would have also liked to read more about Stacey too. Valerie and Amanda were the only ones who felt the realest. They both seemed pretty fleshed out and realistic. I felt like I could relate to Amanda and her thought process.

Trigger warnings for You Are Not Alone include rape and attempted rape (not graphic), alcohol use, manipulation (including gaslighting), some violence, profanity (although not much), murder and attempted murder, and suicide.

Overall, You Are Not Alone is a decent read. Despite its flaws, the book does have some redeeming qualities such as an interesting plot and a fantastic background when it comes to the statistics mentioned in the book. I would still recommend You Are Not Alone by Greer Hendricks and Sarah Pekkanen to those aged 17+ who are fans of psychological thrillers.
--
(A special thank you to St. Martin's Press for providing me with an eBook of You Are Not Alone by Greer Hendricks and Sarah Pekkanen in exchange for an honest and unbiased review.)
  
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Lee (2222 KP) rated Castle Rock in TV

Jan 21, 2019  
Castle Rock
Castle Rock
2018 | Fantasy, Horror, Mystery
Sissy Spacek (1 more)
Bill Skarsgård
Fantastic story telling
Set in the Stephen King multiverse, the Maine town of Castle Rock is the setting for this psychological horror thriller spanning ten episodes. It utilises various characters and settings from the authors work, and even actors who have appeared in movie versions of his books, resulting in a unique and richly detailed story which has been clearly influenced by the great author.

The story begins with yet another Shawshank prison warden, Warden Lacy, committing suicide. When his successor Theresa Porter takes over, she begins plans to reopen an abandoned cell block within the prison in order to cater for the growing number of inmates. As guards investigate the old block, they discover a young man (Bill Skarsgård, as creepy without his 'It' makeup as he is in it!) locked in an underground cage, with no record as to who he is or why he was down there. The only words he utters when asked his name are Henry Deaver, the name of a lawyer who'd had a troubled childhood in Castle Rock (glimpsed in a flashback right at the start of the episode) and is now living in Texas. As the kid gets moved to the main prison cells while they try to figure out where he came from, mystery and death seem to follow him. We discover in flashbacks that Warden Lacy was the one responsible for caging him and keeping him alive all these years, claiming that god had instructed him to do it. Eventually Henry Deaver manages to get the kid released into the community, but bad things continue to happen wherever he goes and he also appears to be drawn to the childhood home of Henry Deaver, where his dementia suffering mother Ruth (Sissy Spacek) and her new partner Alan are. Is this mysterious stranger actually the devil? Why did Warden Lacy tell him before he committed suicide that he must ask for Henry Deaver if ever discovered? And why, as we discover later on, has this kid not aged one bit in the last 27 years?!

The remainder of the season continues to slowly add details and backstory, adding a few more interesting characters along the way with very few clues that may provide a full answer to these questions. It's wonderful story telling, continuing to provide mystery every step of the way and demanding that you pay close attention to absolutely everything. Towards the end of the season are two outstanding episodes which reward your attention, making you re-evaluate everything you've seen before and giving you a fresh perspective on the whole story. They focus on the two most interesting characters of the season, coincidentally played by actors who have previously starred in Stephen King movie adaptations. In 'The Queen', we focus on Ruth - walking us through conversations and scenes we've seen before in previous episodes but showing them the way she experiences them, which isn't necessarily the way they unfolded for others. It's an emotional representation of dementia, showing just how terrifying and tragic a deteriorating mind can be. Then, in the episode 'Henry Deaver', we focus on the kid and finally get to understand who he is, where he came from and the reason for everything that's happened so far. We get a lot of answers, and whether or not you'd already got a pretty good idea of what was going on (I hadn't), this is still a fantastic episode.

Overall, Castle Rock managed to keep me hooked, entertained, and at times confused, and I really can't ask for more than that in a show. I'm not a reader of books, so wouldn't have picked up on all of the Easter eggs dotted around the show for fans of Stephen King to enjoy. But I absolutely love the movies that are based on them, so I got a real kick out of revisiting the setting of Shawshank. I also love 'The Shining', so got an even bigger kick out of a final end credits scene where the niece of Jack Torrance, and an author herself, states that she's headed out west to dig deeper into her family history. If we're headed to the Overlook Hotel next, then I absolutely cannot wait for season 2!
  
Show all 4 comments.
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Ross (3282 KP) Jan 21, 2019

Great, I'll look into that, cheers! Its so odd that it isn't more widely available yet.

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Lee (2222 KP) Jan 21, 2019

I know. I was gutted last year when I found out it was coming to Starz and not Netflix or standard Prime TV as I didn't really want to have to pay out for yet another streaming service. Hope you manage to catch it though

Everything You Want Me to Be
Everything You Want Me to Be
Mindy Mejia | 2017 | Crime, Mystery
10
7.8 (5 Ratings)
Book Rating
It's not very often that I add a title to my list of favorite books, and I've never felt the burning desire to create a shelf for my favorite reads on Goodreads - that is, until this moment. After finishing up with Mindy Mejia's Everything You Want Me to Be, I am nearly speechless. What Mejia has pulled off in her book is nothing short of a impressive.

One of the things that caught my interest when I was browsing through titles to request on NetGalley was the synopsis for this novel, which I found to be unique. Most books give you a loose summary of the plot, sans spoilers. It's the information that you usually find on the back of a book, really. That little tidbit of information for Everything You Want Me to Be came defied the norm in that regard by blatantly telling potential readers that they would be following the life of a girl up until her death which, if you ask me, is a pretty big spoiler: one that leaves a challenge at that. If you tell your readers that the main character is dead, the question that remains is this: how are you going to keep them hooked? Mejia's reply to that query comes in the form of a plot full of nerve-wracking twists and turns that, no matter how certain a reader might be, is likely to still leave them searching for answers. (I was actually guessing until the very end how this book would play out, and I did not figure it out until the very last moment, when there were only lines left until the major reveal.)

Everything You Want Me to Be is a whodunnit novel - of that, I have no doubt. Eighteen-year-old Henrietta Hoffman, full of talent and with her whole life ahead of her, is murdered. It was someone close to her, according to evidence, and its left to the sheriff, who happens to be the girl's father's best friend, to find out who's behind it. It is also a psychological thriller. Reading this book, I felt things I did not want to feel. Where I felt I should be directing anger and disgust, I could not; in fact, my least favorite character is actually the victim, rather than the various suspects I encountered as I read.

Henrietta, or Hattie as she prefers to be called, is a typical teen-aged girl, facing the usual obstacles of small town life. Having been in her shoes, I was able to connect with her and, in some ways, relive my own past as I read through her dialogue. Born and raised in rural south Minnesota, Hattie has dreams of the Big Apple. Every moment of her free time is spent focusing on those dreams, and while she's browsing through a forum, she meets a guy that she ends up falling in love with. Through private messages, a relationship blooms, and she and this guy embark upon a journey with an unknown destination. It's a pretty easy web to get caught up in, especially when one spends most of their time pleasing other people, which Hattie obviously does.

The book is told from three perspectives in total: Henrietta's, Peter's, and Del's. Peter is a teacher at her school and Del is the town's sheriff. In addition to these three vastly different points-of-view, there is a plethora of minor characters and, surprisingly enough, they all have their own quirks and flaws. I have to admit I'm actually impressed by how much depth there is to Mejia's characters and that she's written them in such a way that it's easy to remember their traits. More often than not, when there's so many characters to flesh out, it is way too easy to lose track of individual character traits.

I can't say a whole lot about the plot's flow really. To be honest, it is a bit all over the place. Considering that Everything You Want Me to Be is written in a loose journal-style and one of the speakers is the sheriff, that is to be expected. Obviously there isn't much of a need to include him prior to the discovery of Hattie's body. Also, the story starts at the end, then hooks back to a year prior to the murder. Fortunately, each shift in voice is dated, so it's not too much of a challenge to keep up with.

Thanks to NetGalley and the publisher for providing me with an advance copy for the purpose of an unbiased review. I can't wait for a chance to purchase a physical copy of this book for my shelf!