Tag Archives: Mystery

Day Four, a novel by Sarah Lotz (2015)

We all have a bucket list, or at least things that we want to do at some point in our lives. I don’t even think I have a really huge one, but one of the things on it shouldn’t be too hard to achieve. It’s making a cruise on a big ocean liner. I don’t even care about the destination to be honest. But just the experience of being on a huge and beautiful cruise ship crossing the ocean and gazing at the beauty of the sea, that alone would make it worth it for me. So why haven’t I already done this? Good question. I could go into all kinds of lame excuses but the fact of the matter is I totally could have done this a million times over already. Maybe it’s lazyness, maybe it’s simply me not taking a step in trying to do something really different with my life for a change. Whatever the reason, I still plan on doing it. It’s pretty ironic though that Day Four, the sequel to The Three a book that I recenly read and highly enjoyed, once again makes me wonder if making such a trip is a good idea. First she did it with planes, now she sets her sights on a cruise ship. I see a pattern emerging here….

4DBEB9B3-D3A4-4D51-8904-C7DBE62B06CF

The Beautiful Dreamer is huge cruiseship that has hundreds of passengers aboard, that are enjoying a trip across the ocean. For three days things have been going well and everyone seems to take pleasure in the many things the ship has to offer. Also aboard is acclaimed psychic medium Celine del Ray, who is able to commune with the dead and is able to bring closure to the family members of the deceased. Or so she claims. Madeline who is the assistant of Celine has her own knowledge of the things her boss can do. But ofcourse being her assistant and all she is not going to ruin things. However on day four of the cruise, disaster strikes. The electricity fails, stranding the ship with nowhere to go, and no way to call for help. If that wasn’t bad enough already, a mysterious ilness seems to have taken hold aboard the ocean liner, with more and more people falling victim to it. But then things become even worse when a body of a young woman is found who has apparently been murdered. Increasingly frightening events are happening aboard the ship, and fear and tension take hold of the passengers and crew. Madeline is beginning to get more and more convinced that someone, or something doesn’t want the ship to reach land…..ever again….

3D3BA0F4-7058-4C64-9BB6-76F28D8A4F51

Day Four takes place after the events of the first book. But I do have to say that if you did not read that one, you could still enjoy this book as it stands pretty much on it’s own. There is the occasional reference to a name from The Three, but other than that you don’t really require any knowledge of the first book. For those who of you who read my review for the first novel you might recal that it was written in a very unique way. Using interviews, news paper clippings and skype conversations it spun it’s tale and showed very effectively what happens when fear and paranoia take hold of the world. Day Four is a more traditional book. Although near the end of the novel, the author again uses the same trick she used in the first one to uncover the final truth such as it is. We experience this novel switching between multiple characters. Each chapter spents time with one of them as they try to stay alive during the nightmare events that are unfolding before their eyes. We have a pretty diverse number of characters, ranging from a pair of elderly women that have plans to commit suicide, to the assistant of the medium, crewmembers, and even the killer who is aboard.

D973CA2C-3B48-443E-AA1C-959B35846387

Each of them had their own little background story, some working better than others, but overall it was a nice diverse cast. I do have to admit that I would have liked a little bit more depth to some of them, which would have helped me form more of an attachment to a few of the characters. But just like in the first book it’s creating the oppressive atmosphere that Sarah Lotz excells in. As can be expected in situations such as these, tempers are beginning to run high. It starts of rather innocently with people just complaining about the fact that they are going to be late in catching a flight or not having enough towels in their cabins. As soon as it is beginning to become clear that rescue isn’t coming, and food is running short as well, people are slowly reverting to animal behaviour. Just like in the first novel, it’s again not exactly clear what is going on. Is it a supernatural force, aliens, something even more sinister? Whatever the case might be Lotz again manages to write a very engaging novel, that really is one of those books that is engaging your brain in trying to figure out the puzzle.

63C642D8-7352-43B4-B554-82A6B16EEF73

Is the book as good as The Three though? I would have to say no. But that’s mainly due in part to the fact that the style of the original novel was very unique and something that I had not really seen before. Here we have for the most part a traditional novel, that while still very good, isn’t really unique. I also had a bit of a problem with the ending. It was pretty abrupt, and although I do like open endings that leave you speculating what just happened, I would have liked a little bit more closure to the final events. Overall though this was still a great read that I highly enjoyed. There are some elements in the book that fall into the horror category, but it never gets gory in any way. This is more of mystery/supernatural story, and a great book to just curl up into bed with, while a storm is brewing outside. I definitely recommend this novel, and if you liked The Three, chances are that this one will be to your liking as well.

I give Day Four a 8 out of 10 score.

 

Advertisements

Angels of Death, anime tv series (2018)

Let me just start off this post by saying that I really suck at dropping shows. When I start with something, whether it’s anime or a regular tv show, I have a really hard time just not finishing it. No matter how bad it gets. I always have that nagging voice in my head whenever something is starting to turn ugly that keeps saying “ But what if it turns really good later on?”. It’s crazy isn’t it? I’m sure I’m not the only one that does this either. So why do we put ourselves through this kind of torture? (Aside from maybe having some very masochistic tendencies?) I have had plenty of times where I finished a show and found myself wondering why I wasted so many hours of my life on a piece of crap. And I honestly still don’t have a real answer either. If you have a cure in some way for this sickness let me know alright? Well, of course there is a reason for me bringing this up right now, as the anime I am about to review is one of those type of shows. Angels of Death was dropped by a lot of people after the first few episodes. I stuck with it though and I was not alone as a few others did as well, most notably the wonderful Irina.

572D443E-51C3-4D87-97B8-DF88DE0D4A1E
Yes Rachel: Everybody hates you.

Irina wrote some terrific weekly posts on it (but then again everything she writes is terrific so if you are not yet following her yet, a fact I doubt very much, please do so now), and we had fun in exchanging thoughts on a weekly basis. Moreover we also were pretty much on the same page for most of the time. Now, I am writing this post on saturday, and her post for the final episode will come out tomorrow. As such I have yet to discover what her thoughts on the show’s finale will be. But I digress. Is Angels of Death really such a bad anime? Let’s first talk about what this show is about, before I will be answering that one question. In Angels of Death a young girl called Rachel wakes up in an unfamiliar building having no memories of who she really is. While exploring the building she runs into the scythe wielding psychopath known as Zack. He is covered from head to toe in bandages and he immediately tries to kill her. Eventually though a really strange bond begins to form between the two of them. And it becomes even stranger because of a promise that is made between the killer and the girl. But the building holds many secrets, and many strange and terrifying occupants. Will the two of them be able to escape this nightmare…..

189BE788-A009-4904-81F2-3FCA35DD5F01
He seems like such a nice guy doesn’t he? Newsflash: he really isn’t.

The first episode of Angels of Death was good. I would not say great, but it really set up an anime that had some great potential. A creepy atmosphere, a few fun and over the top characters, and some nice tension. Though there were a few cringeworthy bits like some cheesy voice-acting overall it promised us an entertaining B-type horror anime. Now understand that I sometimes love watching “So bad it’s good horror movies/animes”. I enjoyed King’s Game for instance, and well most of you know how awful that one sometimes was. Angels of Death though, sadly did not fall into that category. After the first episode, the second one turned the show into something totally different. It went into a real weird comedy act, that just felt completely out of place, especially when compared to the way the show started. But it did not stay that way (luckily: else I really might have dropped it), but it also didn’t become much better. There were some episodes that showed a hint of what might have been. At the halfway point I genuinely thought that the show was about to redeem itself. There were even some real attempts at character development (gasp) and the story became more interesting too.

2B9742C2-D23D-4CC7-BF29-0CEA09ECC5A5
Stuck in an elevator….

Now that we are talking about the characters let’s just take a little sidestep and explore the two leads. First up it’s Rachel. Young girl, blonde, doesn’t smile a lot and talks in a really monotone voice. (If you are beginning to feel like my writing is turning a bit into the sarcastic territory, you would be right). She was just a very uninteresting lead, and over the course of the show I just could not find any symphathy for her, like at all. Even when we got to learn a little bit more about her background and what exactly made her tick, I found that I could not care less about her. Strangely enough it was Zack that eventually kept me returning each week to watch this. At first I really thought he was quite the annoying guy, with a grating voice that would give Asta from Black Clover a run for his money. (Yeah, you are right…no one can beat Asta in the annoying voice department). But he grew on me, and eventually I really liked him, a lot. There was just something cool about him. He provided the best moments in the show in my opinion, and without him this anime would really have been a total loss.

A091F933-175F-422E-9ACA-A18662645A18
Sorry Rachel, I’m immune to your innocent girl act. I still don’t like you.

Which is not to say that it wasn’t. Angels of Death is based on a videogame, and at times it felt like we were watching that. Progress from Room A to Room B, find a key, move on…repeat. While this is sounding a bit harsh, and the show certainly did have some good episodes later on, overall it’s an anime that was just too uneven to recommend it to you. I kept hoping for a final episode that might have, in some way, at least redeemed the show but even that was simply not to be. The ending was as lackluster as most of this anime was, and after spending 16 weeks with this, I’m honestly feeling a bit relieved that it’s over now. There are two things that I will miss: Zack, and Irina’s posts for this one. Other than that though, this is an anime that will slowly fade from my memory and I won’t regret that in any way. So have I now learned my lesson and will I start dropping shows like flies? Erm…probably not. I’m even considering returning to Black Clover. Okay…maybe not…

I give Angels of Death a 5 out of 10 score.

Joy Ride, American movie (2001)

Who among you have ever pulled a prank on someone? Come on….don’t be shy now and speak up. I think it’s pretty much rather safe to say that we all have at some point, right? Whether it’s as a kid ringing the doorbell at a house and then quickly running away, or it’s as an adult thinking up something more elaborate. We all sometimes like to play a joke on someone. Sometimes when I have a lazy day, I like to go to YouTube and watch some truly crazy prank videos of people trying to scare the living daylights out of others. Some of them are really stupid, but there are also some that are amazingly brilliant. It’s always nice to see the response that people have to these pranks. A lot of people just laugh at the jokes, but there are also a few that really turn angry. For me those are the funniest ones to watch, but you also have to wonder at what point a joke isn’t really funny anymore. I draw the line at jokes that intentionally hurt people. I mean fun and games are all good, but if it ends up truly hurting someone, that for me isn’t a joke. But what if a prank gets turned around completely…and turns into something deadly? Funny (see what I did there) you should mention that….

34D84472-2922-4DAC-8E3C-B42C421C8E94
You are in my parking space!!

Lewis Thomas is a university student who is on his summer break and is preparing to drive home on a cross country road trip. But before he heads home he has to make a stop to pick up his friend and crush Vena who has just ended her relationship. And of course this is a perfect time for Lewis to maybe make his move. However when he calls his mum announcing his plans he learns that his older brother Fuller has been arrested yet again. Not being happy about it, but having very little choice in the matter, Lewis bails Fuller out and he comes along for the ride. While at a gas station Fuller decides to install an old CB radio on the car of his brother. On the road the two of them listen in to truckers conversing with each other and eventually the two of them decide to do some talking as well. Fuller has always been a prankster and he wants his brother to impersonate a sultry woman on the radio waves. Lewis goes along and introducing himself as Candy Cane he seduces a truck driver called Rusty Nail that totally falls for it. However, the joke will soon be on them as Rusty Nail turns out to be a complete psychopath. Lewis and Fuller will soon be in for the ride of their lives….literally….

3EDB6CB3-2F30-4390-857E-61EB5F1B69B5
That moment where you think you are dreaming, but it ends up being real.

Halloween is almost upon us, and while I would not call this movie a horror movie, it’s certainly one that comes close to that genre. Joy Ride is erm a fun ride (okay enough with the puns  already) that doesn’t takes itself to seriously but is still a joy to watch (okay…seriously quit now!). It’s always strange to see Paul Walker in a film knowing that he sadly isn’t alive anymore. He is definitely an actor that really went way before his time. In this film he plays the role of Lewis and as always he pulls it off with his natural charm. His character is just your typical highschool student, that you may have seen in countless other films. Still, it’s hard not to like him, as he is just someone that has been unwillingly put into a very dangerous situation and tries to make things right. Steve Zahn is the actor that was cast in the role of the older brother, and his character was the complete opposite of Paul’s. Fuller is a total prankster, and certainly serves as the comic relief in this film. Zahn simply excells in roles such as these, and this one was no exception.

590A50F3-68C9-4EAC-99D0-A3C189112EE1
Breaker, breaker…ten four….out and over…or was it over and out??

The love interest, Vena, was played by actress Leelee Sobieski. Once hailed to be a very promising young actress she pretty much disappeared from the big screen. Which is a real shame as not only was she very pretty, she was also someone who could really act. Which she proves in this film. While she hasn’t a huge part in this movie, I still liked her role a lot. But it’s not the acting that you want to watch this movie for, it’s the thrills, and for the most part the film definitely succeeds in that. I like the way the tension is cranked up in this movie beginning almost as a bit of a comedy, and then, with every passing minute it becomes darker. For people who might be squeamish when it comes to blood, you will happy to know that this movie doesn’t contain any scenes like that. This is a pure thriller with some heartpounding and nailbiting scenes, especially in the later parts of the film. About halfway through the movie it does have a few moments where the tension slows down, and while I would not necessarily call this a bad thing, it occasionally slowed down a bit too much.

D5E0980B-0BB0-4899-B70C-2A2CC967284A
I wonder what the punchline of this joke was. All three of them seem to struggle with it.

The truck driver who is voiced by an uncredited Ted Levine, is never seen fully which of course only makes it more enjoyable. For me at least. It’s the unseen terror that usually is just way more effective and that’s certainly achieved with this film. All in all there is very little not to like about this film. I do have to give you a small warning though. Joy Ride was followed by two sequels that went straight to video. If you were maybe thinking of giving them a watch after this one, just know that they are totally different movies. Instead of thrills, they rely more on blood and gore, and are simply a pale shadow of this one. The original though is just a great thriller, with some very decent performances, a whiff of humor thrown into the mix, and enough thrills to make your heart pump faster. It’s the perfect film to watch on Halloween, when you like your horror/thriller movies without blood. Just go along with the ride…..

I give Joy Ride a 8 out of 10 score.

The Three, a novel by Sarah Lotz (2015)

We all have our own kinds of things that we fear. It might sometimes even be completely unfounded or irrational. Something that no matter how many people tell you to get over it, your mind still refuses to accept. For me it is the fear of flying. And it’s even more crazy when I tell you that I have never so much as set foot on a plane. I don’t even know why I have this particular phobia. Maybe it’s just the fact that when I am in a plane and it falls from the sky I pretty much end up dead. (Well, at least that’s usually the case). And yes I know it’s supposedly the safest way to travel and all that other stuff they keep telling me, but well my mind just doesn’t seem to listen. Still, I want to get over it. There are some places I really want to visit in my life, one in particular, and I won’t get there if I still refuse to go on a plane. So, next year’s goal is pretty much set. Now to work on getting there in the first place. What doesn’t help with this though is reading a book about planes falling from the sky. Yes…plural. Oh well, at least the novel was very good so there is that.

489928C6-3C04-4FF1-BB22-24796CCCE5C6

Pamela May Donald, despite her husband’s plea not to go, decides to visit her daughter in Japan who she hasn’t seen in quite a while. Once the plane that is supposed to take her to her daughter is in the air, she is beginning to have some doubts about whether or not she is really doing the right thing by going. These doubts turn into horror, when the plane begins to rock and shake and crashes to the ground. But apparently three other passenger jets have also plumetted from the sky at almost the same time, just on different places across the world. This day of horror will go down in history as Black Thursday. It doesn’t just end with the planecrashes though. Three children have survived and don’t seem to be hurt in any way. Another survivor is Pamela, although she is minutes away from dying. With the time left to her she is still able to record a voice message. After her death the message is found and played back. It’s a warning….and a dire one at that. One that will have severe consequences and will change the world forever.

BB59E50E-2790-4DDF-BB62-3BCF9BCAC2AA

This is actually the second time that I have read this novel. The first time was quite a while back. So why read it a second time? Well, because I finally want to get started on the sequel for this and I wanted to refresh my memory. Now let me start of by saying that this is not a normal novel. In fact it’s a very unique one. Except for the opening and closing chapters, this novel is a book within a book. Confused? Yeah I thought you might be, so let me explain. This book contains a novel written by a fictional character called Elspeth Martins. Now Elspeth has within her book collected interviews, newspaper articles, skype conversations, even text messages from all the events that occurred right after Black Thursday. For example we get to hear from rescue workers that arrived just after the crashes, but the most important interviews are the ones with the family members of the three children that survived. Because as might be expected there is something very strange going on.

C31372A6-8233-4830-BF1E-F784C957BB5B

I loved the way this book was written. It is very unique, and it makes for a very interesting read. The family members that I just previously mentioned get the custody over these children. And through these interviews we get to hear how their lives as well as the lives of the children progress. But even more compelling is what is happening in the rest of the world. Some people think the end of the world is nigh, and that these three young survivors are the horsemen of the apocalypse. Others think that aliens have landed. The way this book deals with that is very realistically. You have various fanatical people that are trying to gain control and are causing more and more people to flock to their cause. Through radio broadcasts, and interviews with some of the people that are in the inner circle of these groups we get a good sense of the paronia that is slowly taking control of the world. It becomes ever more creepy, and one of the most intersting things is the fact that you are constantly trying to guess what is real, and what is not.

8BC515B0-1615-472B-BBDB-C6C2181F5C02

I also realise that the style of this book won’t be for everyone. It’s not a traditional novel, and in that way you don’t really get to form a bond with the characters in this book in the way that you normally would. But what you do get to experience is how some of them turn from normal ordinary people into complete and utter madness. And that was one of the most chilling aspects that this novel offers. For me it was a truly compelling read and one that I liked even better now, than the first time that I read it. Sarah truly has a seriously cool style of writing that is very hard to put down. There were a few moments where the book slowed down a bit, but for the most part it was a real pageturner and one I highly recommend checking out if you want to read something that is different from the normal books that you read. I really enjoyed this novel and can’t wait to finally get started on the sequel: Day Four.

I give The Three a 9 out of 10 score.

Hold the Dark, American Movie (2018)

I love this time of year. The days are getting shorter again, which means the sun is beginning to set earlier and it becomes darker more quickly in the evening. Yes, I know many of you are probably disagreeing with me at this point, but I love it. It’s perfect for watching horror movies, or just cozying up in bed with a good book. One would almost think that I am a vampire or something, however as far as I know that is not the case. But at certain points in the world the sun is hardly seen at all during winter time. Now that might be taking things a little bit too far I guess. Alaska for instance has some places where the darkness settles in after barely three to five hours of sunlight. Now just imagine that if you will. I think a lot of people might simply go nuts as it takes some getting used to. That said though, those barren winter landscapes makes for some amazing imagery. It also serves as a perfect backdrop for some great movies as we have seen for instance in The Revenant starring Leonardo DiCaprio. Last week a new movie came out over on Netflix which also utilises this cold and harsh environment. Is it a good film though? Well, let me talk you through it.

3D982B57-D647-4A1B-A947-FE1099A10D01
Hi honey, sorry I’m stuck in traffic. I will be late again….

Hold the Dark takes places in the year 2004 in a very small village called Keelut deep in the Alaskan wilderness. Something truly dreadful has been happening there lately. Three small children have disappeared and are presumably dead, as their captors seemed to have been a pack of wolves. Medora Slone, the mother of the last child that has gone missing, calls in the help of a retired naturalist called Russell Core. This man who is an expert in wolves heeds the call of the grieving mother and soon arrives in the village. Meanwhile Medora’s husband, Vernon, is serving a tour in Iraq and is having his own share of troubles. He is as yet unaware of his son’s disappearence and his wife has so far not been able to share the horrible news with him. Russell has set off in search of the boy and to track down the wolves that are responsible for his capture. However not all is at seems. Darker and more sinister secrets are about to be revealed, and Russel finds himself in the middle of something that he simply did not expect to find…

B991DDE8-CC5E-47D6-9037-EAED13A669F5
Trick or treat came early this year.

Did you ever watch a movie and when it ended you did not quite know how you felt about it? This was one of those films. Well, at least for me it was. I’m not saying this was a bad film, because really it wasn’t. But it’s also a movie that I felt could have been more, although I can’t quite put a finger on it what that more might just be. But let’s first get into the positives. One of the main selling points of this movie is once again the majestic and very cold landscape. It’s all shot beautifully, and adds to the sense of dread that this film is trying to achieve, and at which it also partially succeeds. You can’t help but feel very uneasy during most of the run time of this two hour movie. Hauntingly bleak visuals combined with a melancholic score certainly seem to capture the effect of what this movie was aiming for. The pacing of the film though was uneven. It was at times a rather slow film, and setting the tone for a creepy atmosphere can only get you so far.

D5B64634-E608-4457-8388-89A79BFE175C
Awwwwwwwwwwww.

The performances in this film though were also definitely worth seeing. Jeffrey Wright who played the role of the aging Russel managed to create a very sympathetic character. It’s nice to see someone who really isn’t this macho superhero, but a more subdued and normal guy, who gets caught in something that is way above his head. I always like the underdog types, and Russel could definitely be classified as such. The role of Vernon was fulfilled by Alexander Skarsgård, and he made that role into a very chilling and sinister man. It’s definitely clear that the war in Iraq hasn’t left him without a few mental scars, as Vernon was an emotionless and very, very dangerous individual. It was a terrific part, and Skarsgård played it to perfection. Lastly James Badge Dale, who had a relatively minor role as a police officer also left a lasting impression. Even though he isn’t a very well known actor, he really rises above himself with an impressive performance.

Jeffrey Wright in the new film Hold the Dark. Photo credit: Netflix
I don’t know but shouldn’t those goggles be on your face?

Hold the Dark is a bit of a strange movie which is also pretty hard to classify. The story certainly has a number of shocking twists, and for lack of a better term WTF moments. But at the same time it also has trouble in finding out where exactly it wants to go. Is it a thriller? Is it an action film? Or even a drama? It’s pretty hard to say to be honest. Some of the scenes, especially in the beginning of the film just dragged on for too long. And I feel that if the film would have had a bit of a shorter runtime it might have been a better movie. That said though, there is still enough in this dark film (pun intended) for me to recommend it to you. The story is very interesting and has some pretty gruesome moments. Add to this some great actors, a tense and foreboding atmosphere and the beautiful landscape and it’s a movie that I feel is still worth your time. If you are not a fan of slow movies though, you might want to skip this.

I give Hold the Dark a 7 out of 10 score.

 

The Void, Canadian/American movie (2016)

God, I hate hospitals. I don’t know if I have ever said this to you all, but really I do. Then again I don’t think that there are many people out there that like hospitals in the first place. But seriously, the smell alone once you enter the place, is enough to make me turn on my feet and walk on out of there. I have so far had to experience a hospital only twice in my life, both times for nothing serious. But, that did mean I also had to stay there at night. And really things are even worse then you know? Honestly, I think they are some of the creepiest buildings created by men. Tell me that I am wrong? So why all this talk of hospitals? Am I making plans to go there soon? Hell to the no! Interesting that I should mention hell though. With Halloween creeping up on our doorsteps soon, I thought it was nice to once again turn back to one of my favorite moviegenres: horror. And after the rather gloomy review I wrote yesterday , it’s time for something a bit more lighthearted. Well, at least something a bit more uplifting? Though come to think of it, this film is anything but uplifting. Unless you can find comfort in a descent straight down into the bowels of hell….

9F72BE1B-6116-4612-A73D-3587F5BC4FA2
Some people really can’t read signs. Caution stand back? Duh…..

Police Deputy Daniel Carter is enjoying a nice and quiet night in his patrol car when a man comes stumbling out of the woods he is parked next to. Daniel at first thinks it’s some drunken teenager, but soon finds out that the man is covered in blood. Rushing the wounded man to his car, he screeches off intending to take the man to a hospital. The only one available is one that is a largely abandoned due to a fire. It also happens to be the place where his estranged wife works, Allison Fraser. Once he arrives there the man is quickly taken away to be helped by one of the doctors on duty a man called Richard. But it’s then when strange things are beginning to happen. A nurse brutally kills one of the patients and attacks Daniel. He barely manages to defend himself and escape the sudden attack. But when white robed people are beginning to surround the hospital, the true nightmare begins. It’s going to be a night that Daniel will never forget. A darkness, oh so evil has been awakened and the deputy soon finds himself in what can only be called a place taken straight from the most foulest places of hell itself….

317678D4-5043-4DF6-9838-10592E0B0858
SOMEbody woke up on the wrong side of the bed this morning. 

It is no real secret that I am huge fan of The Thing, and if there is one movie that this one reminded me of, it’s that classic. This is one of those great, gory, a little bit gross, but oh so fun creature movies. It’s low budget, but it certainly doesn’t show that at all. Right from the very start of this film, the movie sets a very creepy and chilling tone and builds up the pace. I loved the way that this film did that. At first you don’t quite know yet what is going on. It seems there’s some kind of cult, maybe even something drugrelated things, but then when the first totally disgusting creature makes it’s appearance, the film goes into full on horror mode. The movie is gory, no hiding that fact. A lof of sickening, oozing and dripping fluids are spent in this movie but it gets nowhere near as bad as for instance Evil Dead. A creature feature stands or falls with the way the monsters are shown, and in this the movie doesn’t disappoint. A lot of designs are very unique (and suitably horrifying), and it also isn’t one of those films where you only see them as shadows in darkness. Still, this isn’t a blockbuster so don’t expect to see state of the art effects. But they are effective, no question about that.

2B9C9E64-21CE-4865-A068-9C13AA9518C7
Nope…not creepy at all….

Another thing this movie has going for it, is it’s setting. As I mentioned, a hospital is a pretty scary place to begin with. But it has to be said that the sets in this film are really wonderfully created. As it’s a rundown building, it only adds to the atmosphere this film has. Most of the actors in this film are relatively unknowns, but I have to admit that the acting in this film is quite decent. The main hero of the movie, Daniel, is played by actor Aaron Poole. He manages to create a likeable character that tries to make the most out of a totally abnormal situation. He really carries most of the movie on his own, though his fellow supporting cast members do some admirable jobs themselves. None of the characters are very well worked out though, so don’t expect to grow really attached to them. That’s a little bit of a missed opportunity I think, as it would have made the film just a little bit better in my opinion. But honestly it doesn’t ruin the movie in any way for me, as there are enough scares and intense scenes that make this film very enjoyable.

D66C1C8C-E575-4AD1-907C-602A5E3C9A5F
You know that things are bad when they start bringing out the axe!

I do think the film loses a little bit of momentum near the end. It’s luckily not enough to undo everything that came before it, but I do feel the ending could have been a little bit better. All in all though The Void was a very pleasant surprise. If you love low budget horror movies, or are a fan of the old Carpenter flicks, I urge you to try this one out. I think it’s one of the better horror movies that I have seen in a while. If you don’t like your horrormovies in the gory way though, this one is best avoided. So I guess this is it for this erm, did I mention in the beginning “uplifting” review? Okay, guess it didn’t really pan out that way after all. Well, can’t win them all I guess. Hope you still enjoyed reading this one though, and I will see you on the next one! Thanks for reading!

I give The Void a 8 out of 10 score.

The Cabinet of Curiosities, a novel by Preston&Child (2002)

If there is one thing I like in a novel, it’s when it completely makes you forget your surroundings or causes you to lose track of time. That is one of the highest levels of praise a book can receive, and if it manages to do that in some way, it is usually because it was written by an author that is an expert. And is also very skilled in torture. Huh? Torture? Well yes of course. Don’t you just hate it when you decided to read one more chapter before turning to sleep and end up reading five more because you just have to find out what happened to a certain character? That you just can’t stop, because if you do you feel like your mind just can’t take it anymore? Hence the torture part. I had previously read two other novels by Preston and Childs, The Relic and Reliquary, and they both featured a character that some describe as a modern day Sherlock Holmes. I’m talking about FBI Special Agent Pendergast, but I honestly don’t really see him like that. But more on that below. This third Pendergast novel though, takes you on a relentless rollercoaster ride, that doesn’t let up until you reach the final page. Not that the previous two novels weren’t good or anything, but this one takes things to a whole other level of excitement.

image

The Cabinet of Curiosities starts off on a construction site in Manhattan where a ghastly discovery is made. A tunnel is unearthed that contains the mutilated bodies of 36 young people. All of the remains had parts of their spine remove. It is not before long that agent Pendergast arrives at the grissly scene together with Dr. Nora Kelly, an archeologist who works at the Museum of Natural History. She is very relucant at first to help him, as she finds the pale man a very strange and peculiar individual. Soon though her own curiosity gets the better of her, and she begins to try and discover the truth about what really happened. It soon becomes clear that all of the people have been murdered in a horrifying way almost 130 years ago. What the exact motive was of the killer is at first unclear. But the case becomes even more terrifying when it seems that the murders are starting up again. This has to be a copycat killer though right? With the police and the mayor trying to thwart Pendergast at every turn because of ulterior motives, it becomes increasingly more difficult for him and Kelly to solve the case. In the meantime the killings continue…..

image

This was a book that I would like to call a real pageturner. It’s been quite a while since I have read a novel that had me gasping for breath at almost every page. But this one managed to achieve that, and then some. The writing style of Preston & Child is terrific. They manage to describe their scenes in a very vivid way, and crank up the tension to an almost unbearable level. Which is exactly how I like my books. No matter how great your story is, if you have characters that you don’t care about in any way, you will probably lose your audience. But the writer duo has you covered there as well, as it contains quite a number of indivuals that you will grow to love (as well as hate, for a few of them are pretty despicable indeed). But it’s agent Pendergast that is the driving force of this book, more so than in the previous installments. I’d like to think of him as kind of mix between Indiana Jones and Jack Bauer. He is mysterious, resourceful, tough as nails, while at the same time he has a very big heart that people might not notice right away.

image

If I were to name some negative points to this books, it’s the use of quite a number of pretty difficult medical and forensic terms. My grasp of the English language is quite good, but there were a few times where I struggled to understand the meaning of certain terms. But luckily this never managed to put me off in any way, as the story is just too good for that. This novel can be read without having knowledge of the events of the earlier two books, although you will probably enjoy it even more if you have read those. If you like tense and gripping thrillers about serial killers, with a slightly supernatural edge to it, this is one book you should check out ASAP. It’s guaranteed to cause you some sleepless nights (in fact I dare you not to complete this one in one day: it really is that good). In closing I would like to dedicate this review to the wonderful Kim. She is truly an amazing individual who is someone that has always managed to inspire me with the posts she writes. Kind, positive and always there for other people are some of the qualities that describe her best. Go and check out her wonderful blog about the world of the written word. I promise you won’t regret doing so. As always, thank you for reading.

I give The Cabinet of Curiosities a 9 out of 10 score.

The Ritual, UK movie (2017)

When your day starts you never quite know what you can expect from it. I mean sure, you might have a general outline of things, but there might also be some events that you have absolutely no influence over whatsoever. Some of these might be very normal like a flat tire on your bike. But there are also events that you hope to never encounter in your life. Like a terrible accident or a hostage situation. And when things like that occur there are always people that rise up above themselves. That can become a hero. But you will never know what you might do yourself until that moment arises. Will you cower in fright or will you do everything in your power to conquer your fears and meet the situation head on? It can be quite easy to say that someone was a coward when you weren’t there. How you might have knocked over that armed gunman or pulled that victim out of that burning car. The truth is you don’t know and you can’t know. I truly hope to never be in such a dilemma myself though. A fact that one of the characters in this film might have wished for as well.

image
Yes this really is a picture of four men looking at a bunch of stones.

In The Ritual a group of four friends are trying to come to terms with the loss of their friend Rob who got killed in a horrible way six months earlier. To honor him, they decide to go hiking in Sweden, which is one of the things that Rob had wanted to do. The four of them, Dom, Luke, Phil and Hutch have just about completed their trek when Dom falls and hurts his knee in a bad way. Checking their map they are trying to decide how best to continue. Eventually they think their only course of action is to head of the path and straight into a nearby forest hoping they can save a few hours this way and make it back sooner. I don’t think that I really have to explain that this turns out to be a very bad decision on their part. Soon, they are beginning to encounter very strange phenomena in the darkened woods. Weird symbols carved on trees and gutted animals strung up high above them are just the start. It seems that a strange and ancient force calls the forest it’s home. And it doesn’t take very kindly to strangers….as the four friends are about to find out……

image
And now we are all going to raise our hands and do the wave!

The Ritual is one of those movies that you might all have seen before in some form or another and it has a lot of familiar things in it. I often hear people say that a movie needs to be original in order for them to enjoy it. If that is the case than I can tell you right now, step away from this film. This one has a lot of well known clichés in it, that you will often find in these “lost in the woods” kind of movies. But does that necessarily make this a bad film? No way. What the movie lacks in originality it makes up for in suspense. I did not experience a single moment in this movie where I felt bored. Right from the opening of the film, it has a pretty nice pace that doesn’t let up until the end of the credits. The creepy wood is creating a tense and chilling atmosphere, and it also one of those movies that really depends on sounds. I was watching this late last night, in the dark and in a very silent house and trust me when I say that I jumped up quite a few times during certain scenes.

image
Why on Earth would you walk in a forest on a “path” like that.

The actors, all of them pretty much unknown to me, did a great job in portraying their characters. The film’s focus lies primarily on the character of Luke, and as such he is the most fleshed out of the bunch. Played expertly by actor Rafe Spall, Luke is someone that you can definitely feel for. His trauma from the past, is one that weighs on him heavily throughout the film. Especially when his other friends are slowly beginning to lay extra guilt on him. The group dynamics and their conversations under pressure are well written and utterly convincing. When it is beginning to become clear that they may never find their way out of the terrifying forest, the tensions between the four men are beginning to rise. It puts their friendship to the test until the breaking point, and it’s done so in a very realistic way. Also, because the film spent it’s time in letting us get to know all the characters, we form an attachment to them, which is important when it comes to films such as these.

image
Look! Up in the sky. It’s a bird, it’s a plane, it’s…not that S-dude.

Ultimately The Ritual was a very pleasant surprise. This Netflix original, might not be very original, but for it’s intended audience it works. The movie is based on a, from what I have read, pretty succesful novel written by author Adam Nevill. Having seen this film now, it was entertaining enough for me to try and track this book down. If you are in need for a quick fix of late night horror, this one is definitely worth checking out. Atmospheric, tense, and definitely creepy at times, the Ritual is a well acted and quite entertaining little horrorfilm. I recommend seeing this one with all the lights out, and cranking up the stereo. It will only add to the experience trust me on that (and really who cares if you wake up the neigbours in the process right?). I do know one thing though. After having seen this film, I’m going to be avoiding the woods for a while. Just in case……

I give The Ritual a 8 out of 10 score.

March Theme Reveal: Anime

Goodmorning, goodafternoon , goodevening, or maybe even goodnight! No idea when you are reading this post ofcourse, but I always try to be polite. So, we are already at the halfway point of February, and that means it is time to reveal the theme for next month. A few of you already knew about this (because really I am terrible at keeping secrets), but for those of you that didn’t yet know or for some reason missed the title of this post: it’s anime! I’m very excited for this month, for not only is it a theme that is very close to my heart, it’s also because if all goes well I have some collab posts lined up that I am really looking forward to. Just like last month I am going to ask you for some help again. For this month I am going to be reviewing two animes that will be selected by you the readers. And yes…..there are again a couple of rules for this. Ugh….I know I hate them too. But let’s get them over with, shall we?

The Rules

image
Ughhhh…rules? Again? This is getting so annoying!

Well, don’t worry I’m not going to make them very tough again, so here goes:

  • The anime must either be on Crunchyroll or Netflix (please bear in mind that I live in Holland, so not every show might be available to me. If it isn’t I ofcourse will let you know, so you are able to choose another one)
  • The anime must have a maximum length of 12-13 episodes (It can be a first season, if it has that number of episodes)
  • Any genre of anime is allowed, except full on comedy series (sorry, I just don’t like that genre and would not even know how to write a review for that)
  • Leave your choice for the two animes in the comments section
  • You can leave a comment on this post up until the 25th of February
  • The two animes that will be selected will be revealed on the 1st of March and just like last month I am going to use a random number generator to determine who has won
  • The two bloggers that have won will get an honorable mention on my blog

That’s it! Pretty simple huh? As always I want to thank you for your help, and I am really looking forward to seeing what you are going to come up with. Rest assured for the people that are not into anime, there will still be other content as well such as movie reviews and hopefully another Korean drama series. See you on the next post!

image
Okay, let’s get out of here!

 

Stephen King’s It, American movie (1990)

Beep, beep, people! Beep, beep! No, I haven’t turned completely insane here by beginning this post in this way. For it has pretty much everything to do with the film that I am about to review. And let me assure you that it’s a scary one at that. This movie is the third request I have had for February’s theme, this one made by Shadowcat99. Now, I think all of you will have a few blogs that you somehow ended up following rather late, and you wonder why you did not discover them any sooner? Shadowcat99’s blog is one of mine. All I can say is don’t make that same mistake as well and go follow her blog right now. Why? Because her posts are awesome! She writes mainly about manga and anime, and her posts are written with great skill and are thoroughly entertaining from start to finish. If you don’t believe me just press the link above and discover her wonderful blog. The 1990 version of It was technically a miniseries, but I allowed it anyway as most people see this as a film. And quite a number of people still fear it…..you see how I did that pun right? Enough talk: let’s get started with the review!

The review

image
I just love pop up books. Don’t you?

I think nobody can deny the fact that when we were young, we all had our own fears. There might have been simple things like an irrational fear of spiders (or in my case wasps, and no I don’t want to talk about that lol), but it might also be fears that run much deeper. Leave it up to writer Stephen King though, to turn those fears into something truly sinister. It, takes place in the town of Derry where something really awful seems to be happening. Young children are being murdered in horrible ways, but nobody seems to really care about it. Not even the police. All except for one person, and that is the man called Mike Hanlon, who works in Derry as a librarian. Mike has experienced a very traumatic event in his past that is linked to the string of murders that is currently taking place. Thirty years ago a similar spree of killings occurred. But contrary to what you might believe this was no ordinary serial killer that was responsible for these murders. As Mike unfortunately knows all too well. He, and a group of his best friends encountered the being responsible all those years ago. They thought they had dealt with it. They were wrong. With unpleasant memories from the past rising up, Mike begins rounding up his friends to deal with it once and for all. But will they be able to confront their fears, or will the being known as Pennywise have the final laugh……

image
The joke is definitely on you!

Last year a remake of It was released in the theatres. It was well received, but many claimed that the new version wasn’t really scary enough. I can not yet say if I agree with that statement as I still have to see the new version. Yes, I know…how terrible of me. However, it was a delight to relive this one though, as it has been many years since I last saw this film. The strength that this movie has, is how well it plays with themes that we can all relate to, combined with some genuinely scary moments. How many of you remember your friends from school? Did you stay in touch with them? Do you even know what they look like these days? That for me was one of the things I loved the most about this film: the fact that real friends, no matter how long they have been seperated from each other, will always stick together. The first half of the film mainly focusses on the past, and through flashbacks we can see how the main characters lives were when they were still children. I loved the fact that each one of them had their own things to deal with. And most of these were not pretty. An abusive father, being bullied at school, stuttering, are just a few examples of how tough their lives were.

image
Of course there has to be a bully in this movie as well. And an annoying one at that.

But those weaknesses are the things that would ultimately draw these children together. That, and ofcourse their common adversary: the sadistic clown Pennywise. I know there are a lot of people that hate and fear clowns. I am not one of them, but really….if Pennywise were ever to become a rolemodel for the common circus clown we would be in some serious trouble. From the very first moment he makes an appearance you are getting the chills and really you have every right to feel that way. Masterfully played by actor Tim Curry, Pennywise is a force to be reckoned with. He tortures these kids with mindgames and shows them stuff that every sane person would lose their minds over. But it’s the strength of these character’s friendship that ultimately let’s them triumph….well at least for a short while that is. The childactors were very good in their roles. It sometimes surprises me how well some children can act, but at times I also think it’s quite disturbing how they don’t end up getting traumatised by the horrific scenes forced upon them.

image
Awww…..young love.

It’s the films second act where the movie, or miniseries if you prefer, is losing some of it’s strength. The reunion of the group is heartfelt, and brings that feeling of genuine friendship back. The adult actors unfortunately do not give such strong performances as their child counterparts. Some of them overact a few times, but luckily this doesn’t really go so far that it ruins the experience. The late John Ritter is the one that honestly was the actor that impressed the most, and really had a character that I could relate to a lot. And it was nice to see him win back his childhood love. It’s the movies ending though that really hasn’t aged well. When Pennywise appears in his true form, we get a creature that you almost have to laugh at in the way it looks. Having seen this film quite a while back, I knew there was some type of monster that would make an appearance near the end. But I did not remember that it was made with some really crappy special effects. It’s a shame though, as this really does have an impact on the overall way you feel when the film’s end credits begin to roll.

image
A 7 out of 10 score? Really…..you sure of that? Be very careful how you answer this…….

The 1990 version of It is a film that, having revisited it has left me with some mixed feelings. There are still quite a number of things in it that really work well, especially Pennywise and same genuinely scary scenes. However the weaker second act of the movie, did diminish the much stronger first half of the film. So whether or not you are going to enjoy this movie in the end all depends on the way you feel overall to watching older horror movies. I have always said that sometimes horror is more effective when you are showing less, especially when it comes down to special effects. That said, despite the letdown in the end, this is still quite the effective horrormovie, that is a lot of fun to watch for the most part. And you can add another point to the grade that I gave this film, if you are scared of clowns. That’s it for this review….beep, beep!

I give It a 7 out of 10 score.