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Of Mice Not Men
Of Mice Not Men
Donald L. Canterbury | 2016 | Dystopia, Fiction & Poetry, Science Fiction/Fantasy
6
6.0 (1 Ratings)
Book Rating
Genre: Science Fiction, Non-Romance

Page Count: 350 pages

Average Goodreads Rating: 4.75 out of 5 stars

My rating: 3 out of 5 stars

After manmade natural disasters wiped out most humans and life around the world, war breaks out among the remaining humans. The faction called the Developers want to take the resources from Earth and leave the dying planet behind to join the stars. The Harmonizers want to stay and restore Earth’s resources. Both factions race to stop the other, using deadly, even sadistic measures. After all, the fate of the planet and the human race lies in the balance.


I had my ups and downs with this book to be sure. Aside from the book badly needing a proofreader, the writing itself is well done, only dipping into preachiness about human’s greed a couple of times. The brain curdling torture scenes were deliciously awful and made me stop reading a couple times to look up pictures of pet pigs until I calmed down enough to continue.

I thought I had a stomach for violence. I read Stephen King books and have watched plenty of horror movies. In middle school I reveled in shocking my classmates with presentations of General Sherman’s March to the Sea and torture practices from the Spanish Inquisition. In high school I was the only one who could watch the video of a shark eating a turtle without looking away ( but I ended up crying about shark fin soup later that year).

The point is, violence in books usually doesn’t bother me. But Canterbury takes it to a whole new level in a few of the torture scenes. It wasn’t just the twisted sadism in the scenes that bothered me, however. It was the fact that both sides are tooth achingly aware of the finite resources left and yet they both spend resources making inefficient weapons. The Developers do it in the name of sadism and the Harmonizers end up with weapons that are less effective than gun powder guns. I guess it shows that humans don’t make sense.

There are a lot of characters in this book, but Jasmine is the main character. I didn’t like her at first. I found her too cold-hearted and hot-headed. Granted, she’s in deeper and darker shit than I’ve ever seen in my lifetime, but despite her parents dying, she isn’t a sympathetic character for most of the book. Her relationship with Thomas feels as forced as a cheap jigsaw puzzle. Mostly she is indifferent to him or pushing him away. For awhile the only reason she was still with him was out of fear of being alone. And then suddenly she loves him? I never really bought it. Cynthia’s relationship with an alien artificial intelligence robot feels more real and she thought she was hallucinating it.

But I ended up really liking Jasmine in the end, and even Thomas. The plot was fascinating, even a couple of parts I was skeptical about at first and this book turned out to be entertaining, even though I guessed two of the biggest plot “twists” (if you can even call them that) as soon as the foreshadowing again. But one plot twist I didn’t see coming at all, which was great.

I do wish the sides were not so black and white. The Developers were clearly evil with practically no human sides in any main characters while the Harmonizers were clearly peaceful with no dark streaks to be found. It ended up making what could have been a great story about needless conflict and saving the world sound a little like anti space exploration propaganda. That being said, it is still entertaining.

While Canterbury’s writing skills are rough, he has the potential to be a great science fiction/horror writer.
  
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Ryane (20 KP) rated Closer in Books

Jan 21, 2019  
C
Closer
F.E. Feeley Jr. | 2018 |
10
10.0 (1 Ratings)
Book Rating
This book was provided by the author and read on behalf of Thorns & Ink, LLC.

This is one stories that is going to cause my review style to vary. This is not a bad thing mind you, it’s a thing that happens every now and then.
​​
The opening was very interesting. I love a good ol’ wives tale that ends in a curse. This defiantly lends to the creepiness that sets the tone for the entire book. The foreshadowing is spectacular. Mr. Feeley took a lot of care in creating a foreboding feeling that carries throughout the entire book.

The chapters rotate between several characters in a Stephen King vignette way, there were a few times, I lost track of who the focus was on. This did not take away from the pure enjoyment of the story. (On a purely technical note, I would have liked to have seen the view shifts in the events of the town shown a bit more clearly.)

The depiction of the town was picturesque, the weight of it was overwhelming. As I was sitting in my favorite reading spot, I felt fidgety. I was waiting for something to happen. I was just waiting. The leisurely pacing of the book kept me on the edge of my seat. I really enjoyed that. The pacing was slower than a typical cozy mystery and that is hard to pull off in a suspenseful horror. The homey feeling of the town added to the creepy crawly feeling I had started to get as the book progressed. Not going to lie, overly friendly and nosy old ladies creep me out. I get really suspicious of their intentions.

Really, I am more inclined to place this book in the realm of stories like What Lies Beneath. Scared the pants right off me. This has been one of the most pleasurable ghost story horror/suspense/mystery new reads that I have read this year. It takes a lot for me to finish a book like this, especially reading it at night.  

Now to your usual programming.

The characters. While I liked both main characters, Suzi is my favorite. She is a complete doll. Strong, sweet, and outspoken. Tommy and Hayden. Oh my little loves. I have to break this out.

Hayden suffered the loss of his husband Malcolm. It was untimely, and it was ugly. I have to say that Mr. Feeley handles his grief with grace. He allows Hayden the time to wallow, have a pity party, and to feel. This is so important. I have said time and time again, grief is personal. There is no right or wrong way to go about it. The depiction is realistic, and heartbreaking. I found myself mourning with Hayden.

Tommy, the resident bad boy and veteran. While his initial judgy streak was led than to be desired, I don’t dislike him at all. I certainly do not blame him for his suspicious nature at all. It was warming to see the lack of trust he had for those in the town.
The slow burn that and courtship of Tommy and Hayden was wonderful. I am a sucker for wooing in any book. While this is not a romance, there is a little bit of a romantic element that will please even the most discerning romance reader.

If you are wanting a good scare, this is the book for you. If you want to be creeped out, absolutely read this one. The thought that I had as the mystery slowly revealed itself:

Here kitty kitty kitty, the water won’t hurt you. Just come a little closer.
  
Doctor Sleep (2019)
Doctor Sleep (2019)
2019 | Horror
Characters – Danny Torrance grew up to learn how to contain the nightmares of the Overlook Hotel, he has turned to alcohol and drugs to get him through adult life, until he looks to clean up his life and start fresh, using his ability to guide people to the afterlife. He does make a new friend that communicates through a wall, one that will force him into using his ability to a new fight, a new evil, where he must protect a teenage girl who is being targeted. Rose the Hat is the leader of the cult, she selects who to eat or who to turn, she is the strongest of her group and keeps them in line, she searches for the next targets, with her eyes set on Abra, only to learn just how strong she really is. Abra is a teenage girl that has the ability to look and see miles away from her location, feeling the pain of the victims, she communicates with Danny for years and now calls for his help to deal with Rose and her friends. Billy is the man that sees the good in Danny and wants to help him clean up his act, becoming his best friend. Snakebite Andi shows what it is like to be recruited by Rose, she is one character that you did want to learn more about, because it feels like certain parts of her arc are left in the editing room.

Performances – Ewan McGregor taking the leading role is wonderful in this film, showing how damaged his character’s life is. Rebecca Ferguson is a joy to watch in the villainous role. Kyliegh Curran gives a fantastic performance filled with fear, determination and aggression in the fight.

Story – The story here brings us into the modern times as Danny Torrance is all grown up, dealing with most of the nightmares from his childhood, until he starts communicating with a teenage girl that has seen herself targeted by a cult that preys on the children with the shining abilities. This is a sequel to the much-loved The Shining and does bring us a brand-new story that does make complete sense. We do see certain ideas from other Stephen King novels come to light, with the idea of good and evil joining up before a battle, much like The Stand, while we get references of others through the film. The biggest and best part of the story comes from the idea that both sides can be dealt with the scarier moments in the story, making nobody feel safe.

Horror – The horror is the most interesting and strongest part of the film, we get Danny having his nightmares and to impress more, Abra and Rose using their abilities to try and stay ahead of each other, not to mention one of the most disturbing sequences of the year.

Settings – The film might be known for the iconic location of the Overlook Hotel, the rest of the locations see the gypsy characters travelling around showing how the powers are more than just a long time alone in a hotel.

Special Effects – The effects in this film show just what will happen to the cult if they don’t receive the steam, while also managing to recreate iconic moments from the original.


Scene of the Movie – Rose visits Abra.

That Moment That Annoyed Me – Snakebite Andi did seem to have more to her story.

Final Thoughts – This is by far the best horror film of the year, it spins the horror ideas on its head by having both sides being put through the horror elements and does continue the legacy created by The Shining.

Overall: One of the Best Horrors Ever.
  
F
Fractured
Catherine McKenzie | 2016 | Fiction & Poetry
8
8.0 (1 Ratings)
Book Rating
Also read my review here: http://bookbum.weebly.com/book-reviews/fractured-by-catherine-mckenzie

AVAILABLE NOW IN THE UK!

<b><i>They say that if a butterfly flaps its wings in the Amazonian rainforest, it can change the weather half a world away. Chaos theory...

All I know is today is that you can think that what you’ve done is only the flap of a butterfly wing, when it’s really a thunderclap.

And both can result in a hurricane.</b></i>

Julie’s life has gotten hard, she’s become a famous author and managed to bag herself a crazed stalker, so she decides to move her family across the country in hope of a new, stalkerless, beginning. And when she meet neighbour John, they hit it off immediately, the future seems brighter. But before long, things start to go wrong again. Who knew moving into a beautiful picturesque new neighbourhood could be so deadly?

I was really worried about reading this because Netgalley classed it as women's fiction and I have serious beef with that genre… but also, I was expecting a suspense thriller, not some family-lovey-dovey bullshit, but after seeing the rave reviews on Goodreads I had a little more hope that this would be bearable for me. And boy was it bearable, more than that in fact, it was exciting and thrilling to read!

As Stephen King says <i><b>“Good books don't give up all their secrets at once.”</i></b> and this book certainly didn’t! I thought it was excellent at keeping you on your toes, feeding you chunks of mystery and suspense a little at a time.

<b>Minor spoilers in this paragraph.</b> I really liked the main characters in this book… separately. Julie was a good mum and loving wife who was dealing with all her issues in a non-annoying way and John was a good dad, and, for the most part, a good husband. But put the two of them together and they got annoying. How could a grown man and woman not realise the friendship they had managed to create out of one conversation the day Julie moved in was inappropriate for so long? Julie especially, as her relationship with Daniel seemed close to perfect! The childishness of their situation had me really irritated and uncomfortable throughout the novel. I never used to have a problem with these kind of relationships in books until me and Matt had been together for a while, not that I <i>ever</i> condoned cheating on a partner before I got into a relationship, just the thought of being cheated on by your other half sets off all kinds of emotions and feelings inside of me that I can’t even begin to describe. <spoiler>So when they kissed each other outside Julie’s house, my stomach dropped, I felt instantly panicky and sick and contemplated putting the novel down as unfinished. I hate, <b>hate</b> reading about affairs.</spoiler>

My favourite character was Daniel though, what a lovely, gentle and understanding man… if not a little naive. Though I didn’t like Hanna, but she had every right to be angry and suspicious with John.

It’s pretty clear from a few chapters in who our criminal is, but McKenzie does well to keep what specifically the “accident” is and who our victim is secret until just the right moment. When we found out what happened and who it happened to I was shocked! It’s been a long time since a book has surprised me in the same way. What a crazy end to this rollercoaster ride of a book!

Overall, this is a fantastic suspense novel, with just the right amount of “women’s fiction” merged with thriller. I seriously recommend this for all thriller/suspense readers out there, I’m sure this won’t disappoint!

<i>(I don’t mean to create any kind of drama with this comment but this whole novel is <i>so American!</i> Wanting to sue someone over small things? Having “block parties” and neighbourhood newsletters and stuff with an immature queen bee in charge of it all? This shit would never go down in the UK.)</i>

I’d like to thank Netgalley and Lake Union Publishing for the opportunity to read this in an exchange for an honest review.
  
The Haunting of Hill House
The Haunting of Hill House
Shirley Jackson | 2009 | Fiction & Poetry, Horror
6
7.8 (23 Ratings)
Book Rating
Several years ago, I watched The Haunting (1999). It was not an intentional watching of the movie and I actually forgot that I had watched it shortly after. Now and then, I would recall a scene and try to remember where it was from without much luck. At that time, I was not aware that it was an adaptation of Shirley Jackson's novel, The Haunting of Hill House. In fact, it wasn't until more recently that I returned to my long forgotten passion for the written word. In a way, I'm a bit glad that I read the book - or in this case, listened to it.

One of the largest determining factors for me when I'm listening to an audio book is the quality of the narration, and in this case I highly suggest the version narrated by David Warner over Bernadette Dunne. Warner's voice is far gentler on the ears and his heavy English lends an utterly unique feeling to the story. I only listened to a sample of Dunne's version and found it very painful on my ears. Warner's reading is published by Phoenix, whereas Dunne's is from Blackstone Audio. Considering that I use audiobooks in order to help me relax along the hour long commute to and from work, the quality of the recording is vital to whether or not I am capable of stomaching the book (and for this reason, I nearly dropped House).

The Haunting of Hill House was published in 1959 by Viking, six years before Shirley Jackson's death. <a href="https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Shirley_Jackson"; target="new">The book itself is lauded as a classic example of haunted house fiction, earning praise from my all time favorite author, Stephen King.</a> It is a story in which four individuals take up summer residence in the famed Hill House, where they embark upon an unexpectedly brief journey to learn more about the supernatural - and perhaps even about their own selves. Each character is riddled with their own flaws and, to my great surprise, are not filled with the incessantly needy yearning for romance that is so common in other books.

I can also admit that none of the characters are particularly likable. The character that I find most tolerable is Eleanor Vance, our star for this read who clearly suffers from mental illness. Given the time in which the book takes place, it is almost heartbreaking how little others are able to pick up regarding her mental state and, when they finally do, the disdain they treat her with is extremely painful to watch. My least favorite of the cast is Mrs. Montague and her planchette. Mrs. Montague seems rather incapable of caring about anyone other than herself and goes to great lengths to undermine her husband. Her short fuse makes her utterly unbearable and, were I to cross paths with her, I can't promise that I wouldn't want to throttle her.

As far as the haunting of the manse itself goes, there's very little to it. While Jackson's prose is meticulous and gorgeous to behold, at no point did I feel any sense of unease. Much of what is meant to be unsettling is not supernatural in origin, but derived from the interactions of the characters. In a way, the reader is simply a passenger along for the ride in Eleanor's descent into madness, and it is from this that unease can be felt than by anything ethereal.

I enjoyed The Haunting of Hill House and I find it to be a pleasant read (or in this case, listen), but it is not among my favorites when it comes to horror. I felt no real need to keep going and none of the edge-of-your-seat anxiety that horror fans like myself thrive on. It is certainly a beautiful book and Hill House has a hauntingly sad past, but other than that I did not find the story to be overly impressive. While some of this could be attributed to the fact that I had seen the movie in the past, I don't really feel that is the case - especially since I seem to be in agreement with several other readers.
  
Stand by Me (1986)
Stand by Me (1986)
1986 | Drama
A Modern Classic
Remember the days of your youth, when Summer was just one long vacation - where you and your buddies would take off and let the day unfold as it presents itself - no schedules, no meetings and the only clock was the rising and setting of the sun?

Such, nostalgic, feelings and remembrances is at the heart of the 1986 Rob Reiner film, STAND BY ME, a "coming of age" tale of boys on the cusp of leaving boyhood behind.

Based on a Stephen King novella, STAND BY ME follows the adventures of Gordie LaChance and his pals Vern, Teddy and Chris as they set off to find the body of a young man who has been missing - and presumed dead.

But it is not the destination that is at the heart of this story, it is the journey - and what a journey, filled with heart, it is. We join in with these 4 boys as the walk towards the unknown - both physically and (more importantly) metaphorically, growing and developing in front of our eyes.

Credit for this film has to start with Director Rob Reiner - mainly known before this film as "Meathead" on the classic TV Series ALL IN THE FAMILY. This was Reiner's 5th film as a Director and, I believe, announced his "arrival" as a signature Director. Look at the run Reiner had. In order, he directed THIS IS SPINAL TAP, THE SURE THING, STAND BY ME, THE PRINCESS BRIDE, WHEN HARRY MET SALLY, MISERY and A FEW GOOD MEN. I would also include THE AMERICAN PRESIDENT and GHOSTS OF MISSISSIPPI in this list, but they come after the misfire NORTH. But, 9 out of 10 good films is quite the track record.

What struck me in this showing of the film (seen on the big screen for the first time by me since 1986) is the contrast between intimacy and enormity. When the boys are on their trek, Reiner shoots a good deal of these scenes from a distance - showing how small these boys are in comparison to the world around them. But, when the scene is an intimate, dialogue, character-driven scene, he tightens his shots right into the faces of the 4 leads, creating an intimacy that draws us into these characters.

The other credit has to go to whomever cast this film - for the 4 unknown boys that were cast in the leads were well cast, indeed.

Start with Wil Wheaton as Gordie. Gordie has spent his whole life in the shadow of his over-achieving "All American" brother, trying to be noticed for who - and what - he is, an author, not an athlete. Wheaton brings the right combination of determination, intelligence and vulnerability to Gordie, giving us a protagonist we can root for. Jerry O'Connell was funnier than I remembered as the "fat kid", Vern, who just wants to play by the rules, but always goes along with his friends, despite his better judgement. Corey Feldman has never been better than he is here as Teddy Duchamp - a young boy with a troubled home life - and a troubled life - that is trying to control, and understand, the rage inside of him.

But it is the work of the late River Phoenix as Chris Chambers, the "leader" of this group that really shines. He is the glue that keeps this foursome together, strong but showing a vulnerability and a "realistic" view of what it is to be a misunderstood youth - the hurt that comes with that and the walls that one puts up to combat that. Phoenix commands the screen in every scene that he is in and when the scene is just Phoenix and Wheaton, you are drawn into a real friendship.
I was surprised, at this viewing, at how serious this film is - and the topics that this film addresses - but those moments are wisely balanced by scenes of action/adventure (like the train tressel scene), comedy (like the the "lard-ass" pie eating scene) and "other" moments (the leaches!).

This is one of those films that is getting better with time - it is aging well - and, rightfully, fits in the category of "Modern Classic".

Letter Grade: A
  
Jojo Rabbit (2019)
Jojo Rabbit (2019)
2019 | Comedy, Drama, War
Inventive, funny and poignant
Writer/Director/Actor Taika Waititi is one of the most original voices working in Film/Television today. He skewered the Vampire flick (at the height of the Twilight craze) in WHAT WE DO IN THE SHADOWS. He revived the sagging Thor saga (and some would say the Marvel Cinematic Universe) with a comedic approach to the material in THOR: RAGNAROK, and now with his latest film, JOJO RABBIT, he takes his sense of humor to a subject that is difficult to satire - Adolph Hitler and life in Nazi Germany during WW II.

And, darn it all, if he doesn't pull it off.

As seen through the eyes of a zealous 10 year old Hitler Youth named JoJo, this film follows Jojo's journey from an idealistic follower of all things Nazi Germany to the harsher realities of the world - and what the 3rd Reich means to the world.

Young Roman Griffin Davis does a marvelous job as the titular character slowly changing his character from an all out innocent devotion to Hitler (his imaginary friend as played by Waititi) to a somewhat less innocent soul. His journey is at the heart of this film and he is a winning personality to follow along with. I was drawn into his struggles and was rooting for him to "come to his senses" throughout the course of this film.

Helping him in this journey is his Mother, played in an Oscar nominated turn by Scarlett Johannson. This character has an idealism all of her own and is willing to let her child "get there in his own time". It is a strong turn by Johannson...but Oscar nominated worthy? I'm not sure.

Also joining in for fun, frolic and (by turns) seriousness is the always great Sam Rockwell (Oscar winner for 3 BILLBOARDS...)as a disillusioned German Officer, comedian Stephen Merchant (LOGAN) in an unlikely mostly serious turn as a Nazi who likes to say "Heil Hitler" and Alfie Allen (GAME OF THRONES) as a devoted German soldier (at least devoted to Rockwell's character). Waititi also uses Rebel Wilson sparingly - as she should be used - as another devouted-to-the-cause German citizen.

Adding heft and pathos to this film is Thomasin MacKenzie (THE KING) in a role that would be a spoiler to say what she is playing, but...I WILL say that she needs to succeed in this role for the film to succeed (and she does).

Also, special notice needs to be made of the performance of cherubic Archie Yates (soon to be Kevin in the reboot of the HOME ALONE franchise) as JoJo's friend Yorki - who keeps getting knocked down and steps back up over and over again. I would LOVE to see the film that would have focused on this character (in addition to this film).

And, finally, there is the Writer/Director himself, Taika Waititi as JoJo's imaginary friend, Adolph Hitler. He is all fun loving and gay at the beginning becoming more and more frantic as the film progresses - mimicking the real life events that are happening around him.

Waititi's style in this film is reminiscent of Wes Anderson in such films as THE GRAND BUDAPEST HOTEL and MOONRISE KINGDOM and this works well here, giving this film more of a "fable" than a "realistic" look - and that is important to help set the tone for the events that follow. Waititi has a sure hand on the material (that he wrote) as the Director. He knows the tone he wants to strike and knows how to get there. He is nominated for Adapted Screenplay for his script (deservedly so) and was NOT nominated for Best Director - but his work in this area is just as good.

I did not know what to expect from this film when I walked into it, and I was more than pleasantly surprised. Give this little comedy/drama a try - I think you will be glad you did.

Letter Grade: A

9 stars (out of 10) and you can take that to the Bank(ofMarquis)
  
It (2017)
It (2017)
2017 | Drama, Horror
The cast are great (1 more)
Good tonal balance of horror and comedy
Sloppy technical elements (1 more)
Predictable jumpscares
Time To Float!
Contains spoilers, click to show
The 2017 remake of IT has been highly anticipated by Stephen King fans around the world and being a huge fan of King myself and growing up reading his stuff meant I was looking forward to seeing this. I also loved the original 1990 version when I was younger, so I was really hoping that this wouldn’t suck. Spoilers are going to follow for anyone that cares.

Let’s go through what I liked first of all. The movie opens with the tragic and brutal death of Georgie Denborough. Just like the book, he follows his paper sailboat down a storm drain, where he first encounters IT. This first appearance of Bill Skarsgard as Pennywise sets the tone for the rest of the movie, unflinching and horrifying. I felt that this intro was extremely effective in setting up what the audience could expect from this adaption, both tonally and visually.

I thought that the child actors in the movie where phenomenal, much better than I had anticipated. They all do a great job with the material they are given and each manage to bring some range to their roles. I liked the visuals for the most part and appreciated the use of mostly practical effects, my highlights being the headless burning boy in the library and when Pennywise’s entire head opens up to consume Beverly.

I enjoyed the fact that the movie served as both a coming of age story and as a horror movie. Stranger Things was clearly inspired by the original IT and this version is clearly inspired by Stanger Things, which was nice to see as a fan of both series. I liked how the movie was about kids, but dealt with adult themes in a mature manner. I also admire how the movie worked in a fair amount of comedic moments whilst still remaining frightening. Another thing that I appreciated was the few moments of subtle creepyness that the film sprinkled throughout, such as the kids TV show that was heard in the background talking about how ‘you should dance along with the clown,’ and encouraging you to be violent etc, I thought that this was a really nice touch. Also, during the library scene where Ben is flipping through the history book, I think IT took the form of the librarian, as the librarian is really creepily staring at Ben from the background of the scene, which really freaked me out when I noticed it. I also liked how some of the jumpscares worked, but unfortunately not all of them did.

Now onto what I didn’t like; my biggest issue with this movie is how formulaic it ends up feeling by around the halfway mark. With each new member of the losers club we are introduced to, we find out what the kid is scared of, then IT appears to them as the aforementioned fear, then we get a jumpscare and the scene cuts away, the next kid is introduced and the same thing happens again. This occurs repeatedly about eight times and by the fifth or sixth time it isn’t scary any longer. The worst thing that a horror movie can be is to become predictable and I’m sorry to say that this is what happens here. It ends up feeling like a checklist:

1. A child is introduced into the movie. Check
2. Some exposition is given for why they are scared of a certain thing. Check
3. IT takes the form of said fear and scares the kid. Check
4. Jumpscare happens and we abruptly cut to the next scene. Check
5. Rinse and repeat.

 Some of the jumpscares do work though. Although the jumpscare during the projector screen was very obviously telegraphed, the fact that Pennywise was so huge in that scene took me by surprise, which was a nice touch. Also the scene I mentioned earlier with the headless boy in the library was well structured in the sense that once the boy was chasing Ben through the library you thought you had seen the scare, but when Pennywise leapt out from nowhere it was a genuine surprise.

The sound design is another element of the movie that I had a love/hate relationship with. For me, good sound design is essential to any worthwhile horror movie. I thought that the score used in the film was fantastic; the varied pieces perfectly complemented the tone of each scene they were used in. I also thought that some of the sound effects were well implemented in places. At other points though, the audio just annoyed me. The most egregious example of this was after Beverly smacked her dad across the head and IT appears behind her and grabs her. The sound that occurs here is ear piercingly loud, to the point that it was uncomfortable. It’s not scary, it’s not enjoyable, it’s just obnoxiously loud. It also comes across as lazy; it’s as if in post production someone decided that that scene wasn’t scary enough, so as a quick fix they just put in a painfully loud noise.
 
Another technical element that bothered me in places was the lighting. Don’t get me wrong, I enjoyed how a lot of the scenes took place in broad daylight, meaning we could see IT in all of his terrifying glory and in some scenes the lack of lighting added a sense of dread and helped with the film’s tone, but at times it obscured what was going on and shrouded too much of the environment and characters in darkness, to the point where you were having to squint to see what was going on.

 Overall, this is a decent adaption. Bill Skarsgard does a fantastic job as Pennywise, the actors playing the kids are all great and the movie does have some effective scares. I was just taken out of it too many times though, due to the predictable nature of the repeated jumpscare sequences and some really poorly implemented technical elements.
  
Doctor Sleep (2019)
Doctor Sleep (2019)
2019 | Horror
A return to Room 237
***MINOR SPOILERS ONLY***

After the events which ruined his childhood at the Overlook Hotel, Dan Torrance has not had a profound life. He does drugs and has become addicted to alcohol. He decides to move to a small town where he tries to get his act together. He is still haunted by those events so long ago even seeing the ghost of long deceased Overlook cook Dick Hallorann who also possessed the ability to "shine". Dan always knew or assumed other in the world had the ability as well; however, had tried to lead a normal existence.

Meanwhile, a cult of soul swallowing degenerates emerges and preys on those who have the ability. Some not knowing their minor gifts are easy prey, but those who have remarkable abilities present more of a challenge. One of these such wunderkinds is 13 year old Abra Stone. Like Danny, she has had abilities all her life, her parents chose to ignore them, but now events are intensifying so profound she cannot ignore them. The cult leader, Rose The Hat, seeks out more victims for her flock to feed upon having an eventual confrontation with Abra.

***I don't want to say more so I don't ruin for anyone.***

I have decided when writing a review of a sequel of any kind, I will never refer to it as "unnecessary". I have read many recent critiques of movies like Zombieland: Double Tap or Maleficent: Mistress of Evil when this word is used and I don't agree with that as a criticism. People are only using that word if the sequel is a disappointment. Someone would never say The Empire Strikes Back or The Dark Knight were unnecessary because they were great films. Even mediocre sequels will get tagged with unnecessary and I guess I feel you should rate the film which was made on its own merits and not try to decide if it was worth making or not.

Much like the way 2010 tried to explain the monolith and the mystery from Kubrick's masterpiece and my favorite film of all time 2001: A Space Odyssey, Doctor Sleep explores and expands the "shining" universe and gives audiences another look into that world. I was reminded when watching for some reason the sequence in Ready Player One where the characters go back to the Overlook and interact with the unique setting and art direction the film possessed. The homages and settings in Doctor Sleep feel both modernized and a fond look back of what everyone loved from The Shining. I could tell writer/director Mike Flanagan loved this universe so intensely, he decided to adapt the Stephen King sequel novel and it is well done.

Most main characters from the original Shining film make an appearance here as well, most with smaller cameo type roles which I don't want to spoil here. The new characters of both Abra Stone and Rose The Hat are great additions and acting by Rebecca Ferguson (who is quickly becoming one of my faves) and young Kyliegh Curran really bring them to life. Other than the obvious Trainspotting, Ewan McGregor usually plays such happy and likable characters that it was interesting to see him in a darker light, especially at the beginning of the film.

The musical score felt much like The Shining at times (the best parts), but also foraged new ground and was truly haunting and beautiful throughout. The cinematography and art direction were beautiful when showing the dark forest and suburban landscapes as well as the recreation of some of the more familiar elements.

Doctor Sleep is the ceiling threshold of how good a sequel to a Kubrick classic iconic perfection piece of movie artwork onscreen. The feeling and fun of seeing new interpretations of classic characters was fine with me as the screenplay does them justice. Comparing it to The Shining is moot since Kubrick was the master and his films should be studied indefinitely by film students worldwide and Doctor Sleep is an admirable compliment to that.

I tried to find an instance where Kubrick made comment about the film 2010, but I could not other than he said he wished the director well with it. I would imagine he would have the same reaction here. I think he would feel his work stands on its own without need for further explanation or additional narrative, but that is not a criticism, just an observation.

  
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Hadley (398 KP) rated The Haunted in Books

Jun 23, 2019  
The Haunted
The Haunted
Danielle Vega | 2019 | Horror, Mystery, Paranormal
6
6.0 (1 Ratings)
Book Rating
Ghosts (0 more)
A lot of inconsistencies (1 more)
Stereo-typical characters
A murder begins the story of 'The Haunted,' where Vega starts with every parent's nightmare:
 a little girl named Maribeth is killed in the cellar of the Steele House by an unseen force. We jump to three years later, where our main character, Hendricks, is moving into this house with her parents and baby brother- - - a family that is unaware of the murder that took place in the cellar. Vega does a wonderful job of steering the paranormal aspects away from the usual ones that most readers are used to. But although the story is good, the writing is poorly executed.

Starting with the teenaged girl Hendricks, she tells us that she refuses to be a stereo-type, but her first thoughts on the ride to school are of her ex-boyfriend, Grayson. But this is a young adult book, so a young girl obsessing over her ex is to be expected. Yet, when Hendricks gets to her new high school, she quickly begins to stereo-type everyone she meets by what they are wearing. Unfortunately, every character in this story, including Hendricks parents, are stereo-types. Eddie, who wears nothing but black clothing, is the outcast; Portia, who wears too short of skirts and too tight of shirts, is the makeup obsessed girly-girl; Raven, who tries to be funny, is the sporty best friend, and, Connor, who seems to be the only character that Vega tried to keep away from his stereo-type, is a friendly jock who loves his large family.

Readers learn early on that Hendricks' break-up with her ex, Grayson, was a traumatic event for her- - - as Hendricks releases more and more memories, it's soon easy to see that the relationship was an emotional abusive one; from Grayson telling her how to dress to him influencing the way she acted around other people, including who she was allowed to be around. In the middle of all this, Hendricks begins to learn the history of the Steele House, and we find out that Maribeth may not have been the only one murdered there. When Hendricks isn't trying to drink alcohol in almost every chapter, she begins experiencing strange things in the house, including one very similar to Maribeth's experience, but sadly, the paranormal aspect is the only good part of this book.

'The Haunted' could have been a great story, but there are so many inconsistencies, some even on the very next page. Such as, on page 44, Hendricks sees a singing doll waking up her baby brother inside his room (Vega literally states 'in the middle of his room'), but the very next page, Hendricks is suddenly scooping up the doll outside of her brother's room to put it away. On page 157, Hendricks is being pinned against a wall in the cellar by an unseen force, one of her arms is against her back, but suddenly she is able to use both hands to push off the wall, but it was never stated that her arm became unpinned.

One of Vega's biggest mistakes in 'The Haunted' was using the same handful of descriptions for emotions with every single character throughout the entire book. Such as, if a character was trying to make a decision, they always bit their lip; if a character was confused, they always furrowed their brow; if a character was embarrassed, they always had a reddening face. Vega never took advantage of other body language to convey these emotions, causing the story to come up short.

As I have said, the only good part of this book was the paranormal aspect, and the ghosts happen to be the only interesting characters. If I had to choose my favorite part of this story, I would have to choose when Eddie and Hendricks bring in the occult store owner, Ileana. Following this chapter, the best part of the paranormal aspects happen, but I don't want to spoil that for anyone who may want to read this. Vega is crafty in keeping up the suspense throughout this entire time, this is apparently where her strength in writing occurs. She amazingly describes scenes where readers can easily imagine them happening in reality. Her take on hauntings is one that is rarely seen and I think should be utilized in paranormal fiction more often.

'The Haunting' just didn't add up for me. It seems the story was written too hastily that beginning writer mistakes were made and overlooked, but most young adult readers may be able to look past this. Like Stephen King, Vega has great story-telling power in the horror genre, but in 'The Haunting,' I don't feel she was fully able to display this because the focus on Hendricks' life drama took over most of it. If I were to recommend this to anyone, I would only recommend it to people who like teenaged drama mixed in with a ghost story.