Tag Archives: Thriller

Duel, American movie (1971)

When it comes to movies one often overlooked fact is the director. Sure, a movie can’t be made without good actors, and hell it also helps to of course have a bit of a decent script. But a truly skilled director can really turn a film into something legendary. Now the name Steven Spielberg should be familiar to almost anyone who at the very least has a rudimentary knowledge of movies. He was responsible for such classic films as Jaws, Saving Private Ryan, Schindler’s List, E.T. and Jurassic Park to name but a few. The man is simply put a juggernaut in Hollywood, and although not everyone might be a fan of all of his movies, one can’t deny that he certainly is one of the most succesful directors in movie history. A little known fact though is that before he really broke through in Hollywood with Jaws, he made his debut with a movie that was originally made for television. Later, because of the film’s succes it also appeared in movie theatres. Perceptive readers have already seen the title of the movie and the year in which this movie was made.

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And we still wonder why the environment is doing so bad…..

Yes, Duel was made in 1971. Yes, this movie is now 47 years old. Does that mean that this movie is now so dated, that it is probably considered by current standards a film that can’t hold the attention of the modern moviegoing audience? You will probably be very surprised by the answer: no, it totally isn’t. If this movie would be released in theatres today, and you had no knowledge of the fact that this film was made in 1971, you probably would not even notice it. Duel is a film that I saw for the first time when I was still a teenager. (Yes I know, don’t remind me of the fact that is now decades ago). And I was not prepared for the impact it would have on me. I was totally blown away by it, and I honestly lost count of how many times I have seen it after that. So what is it about this film that has me so spellbound? And why is it, that I still get that same adrenaline rush every time I see this film. Perhaps I should first start with telling you what this movie is about, before I get to the answers of those questions. You know me when I get enthusiastic about something, I can’t stop talking about it.

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Some people are just in a rush to get somewhere.

Right, okay. So Duel then. The title itself ofcourse is already giving a way a little bit of what this film is about: a duel. We are however not talking about a duel between knights, or two men that need to walk a few paces and then start shooting each other. No, this is an altogether entirely different duel. David Mann is an ordinary guy who has a job as a salesman. Eager to close a deal, he heads for the road in his car for a business trip. Once he enters the Mojave desert he comes across a tank truck that seems like it missed a trip to the scrap yard. David quickly passes the truck without even giving it a second thought. Because really, what could go wrong right? A few seconds later though, much to his surprise, the truck speeds up and overtakes him.  What at first starts off like a seemingly innocent game, soon turns into something very sinister and deadly. The truck driver is a psychopath that seems determined to end the life of David. A terrifying road duel between car and truck is about to begin……

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Yep, anyone would get a headache if something like this were to happen to them.

This is one of those films that has an incredibly simple premise, but still manages to glue you to the edge of your seat for the entire duration of the film. I have always loved films that feature a lone and ordinary guy or girl, who is put into a situation that soon grows beyond their control. It also takes an incredible amount of skill on the part of the actor who portrays that kind of character. In this case that actor is Dennis Weaver who plays David. Now for most of you that name probably won’t ring a bell, but some of you readers out there might recognise him from the highly succesful tv series McCloud. Suffice it to say that Weaver just knocks this role right out of the ball park. His character isn’t some kind of macho superhero. He is a normal guy just like you or me, who is thrust into a very deadly situation, that could happen to anyone. And simply put, you want him to win. His adversary though, except for shots of his arms and legs, is never shown. And that makes it only all the more creepy, because he could be anyone.

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One of the reasons we don’t have telephone booths anymore.

The truck this guy drives though is almost a character itself. As soon as you lay eyes on the rust bucket, a sense of dread enters your body. And this is only made more sinister by the way the movie is directed. Some truly terrific camera angles and shots, especially during some of the chase sequences, are absolutely breathtaking. Duel might be Spielbergs first movie, but I also still consider it one of his best films. This movie is a true nailbiter, with some incredible edge of your seat and very memorable scenes. Rest assured this is not a horror movie, that contains buckets of blood or something like that. It is a thriller in every sense of the word, and one that is completely timeless. If you have become interested in seeing this film, and are wondering where you can find it, I suggest you try YouTube. Just search for: “Duel full movie”, and you will find an incredibly high quality version of the movie there. It’s one and half hours of time very well spent, trust me on that. And it will also make you think twice the next time you pass a truck on the road….just saying….

I give Duel a 9 out of 10 score.

 

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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….

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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….

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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.

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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.

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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.

 

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….

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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….

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

Aggravated Momentum, a novel by Didi Oviatt (2016)

I should this start this review off by making a huge apology. I have made a promise to the author of this book to write a review for it in what seems like ages ago. It’s strange that I love reading so very much, but always get drawn back into the worlds of movie magic and anime so much faster. It makes me feel guilty even more when I tell you who the author of this book is (Okay, I guess that was kind of hard to miss when you look at the title for this post). Yes this book was written by none other than our very own Didi Oviatt. If you have somehow not come across her blog yet, you would be missing out on one of the most supportive people that are in this wordpress community. Always kind, always offering words of encouragement to other people, she really is one of the driving forces of the wordpress community and a really amazing person. So press on that link and go follow her blog, if you haven’t already done so. But, she is also an author. And a damn good one at that, as this novel I just read is pretty much one of the best thrillers I have ever come across in my life. So Didi, I’m sorry it took me so long, but this post is for you!

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As you can pretty much see from the cover, Aggravated Momentum is not a novel that is telling a nice fluffy tale. But hey, as most of you know, I love the more darker and bloody stories anyway, and this one certainly is one of those. Markie is a woman who has recently lost her best friend Beth at the hands of a brutal serial killer. She has been trying to come to terms with that death as best she can. While she begins to pick up the pieces of her life again, her younger sister Kammie tries to support her in that. Urging her to go out more and just live life to the fullest. But it seems the unknown murderer’s work isn’t done yet. As a lot of horrific events are beginning to take place in Markie’s life, it is beginning to become clear to her that she seems to be at the centre of it all. With her unrelenting stalker coming ever closer, Markie’s world is beginning to unravel more and more around her. Fear and paranoia are taking control of her mind, and grip her like a vice. But the real nightmare has only just started….

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I started reading this book a few weeks ago, and in between a flu and some other real life events happening I finally was able to finish it today. Now I can hear you thinking already: well this probably means the book didn’t grab my attention. Well, that’s where you’re wrong. Because I finished this book in pretty much two days of reading when I finally came back to it. This book is simply put an incredible pageturner that grips you tight from the opening sentence, and never let’s go of you until the final page. It really is that good. It’s told from a first person perspective, but not only from the point of view of the main character, but also all the others that are featured in this book. I usually am not a huge fan of that style, but this book was a very noteworthy exception to that rule. How I loved the characters in this book! All of them were lifelike and the way that Didi described them made them pretty much appear in your mind as if they were people you might have known all your life.

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When an author is able to do that through his or her writing, that makes it all the more satisfying to me. But it’s not only the characters that are brought to life in such a great way. I never got bored for a single second. There usually is always some point in a book where your attention seems to waver or where the pacing feels a bit off. That never happened here. I loved the twists and shocks that the book offered. One of those was the reveal of the killer (yes, we also get his viewpoint in this book), and I think the loud bang of my jaw hitting the floor must have been heard pretty much all the way across the world. I at least did not see it coming, and there were many more of these wonderful twists that make your head spin. While the book was certainly bloody and at times very sexy as well, it never went overboard in any way. All of the scenes just felt right and weren’t just woven in the tale just for the sake of it all.

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So with all these high words of praise was there anything I didn’t like in this book? Well, honestly, no. I could go for being very petty and say there were a few typos in the book, but that would be reaching, and pretty much every novel has them. What we have here is a truly solid thriller that everyone who loves stories of serial killers, and novels that crank up the tension to the breaking point should definitely check out. It’s a bloody, steamy and at times horrific but oh so delicious tale of mayhem that you just have to check out. My only regret is that I didn’t start reading this book sooner, and I’m definitely going to be on the look out for the rest of Didi’s books in the future. That is pretty much a given, and hey I was already a fan of her so there is that. Oh, just so you know: it might seem that Didi asked me to write all this, but I can assure you she did not. This was my own undertaking, and my own opinion on the book as well. So, all I can say is don’t take my word for it, download/buy this novel today. You need this in your life.

I give Aggravated Momentum a 10 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….

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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….

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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.

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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.

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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.

Lawless Lawyer, Korean drama series (2018)

There is very thin line between justice and revenge. What many people might consider justice, might just barely scratch the surface for some of the victims of a crime. Or even worse: what if the crime isn’t punished at all, and the perpetrator that committed it walks free? I think history has plenty of examples for that. One only has to look at the O.J. Simpson trial to see what I mean. Good thing though that eventually the law cought up with that guy. However it’s when things like that happen, that you start to wonder if the law sometimes is enough. What would you do if you were the victim of a crime and find out that justice isn’t being served? I’m not talking about something petty, like a purse being stolen (although that can be annoying as well of course). No I am talking about the big crimes: murder, rape, etc. I consider myself a pretty peace loving guy, but if someone close to me got hurt, and I find out who has caused it…Well let’s just say that Bill Bixby in the classic tv-series of the Hulk said it correctly: You would not like me when I’m angry! After seeing Lawless Lawyer though, I think you will find out that you can hand out revenge in an even better way: by the law itself!

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Some people just don’t know how to eat their food properly. 

Meet Bong Sang-pil. He is confident, charming and a very convincing lawyer who has a succes rate that others can only dream of. His methods however are quite unorthodox to say the least. Having returned to his hometown of Gisung after several years, he has started up his own lawfirm Lawless Lawyers. He is not alone as he has surrounded himself with a number of colourful characters that are going to help him pursue justice. But Bong Sang-pil has something else on the agenda as well. When he was a young child his mother was murdered before his eyes by the ruthless criminal Ahn Oh-joo. Bong Sang-pil barely managed to escape, and has since then grown up under the care of his uncle who runs a gang. Now, the young lawyer wants only one thing: revenge! He eventually meets up with the female lawyer Ha Jae-yi who has recenly been dismissed from court because she punched a judge in the face. Together this unlikely pair is going to bring the law to Gisung. But there are ties from the past between the two of them, that will soon rise to the surface. It becomes clear that Ahn Oh-joo might not be the only criminal in town, as there is someone with an even higher authority that will become the real target of Bong Sang-pil’s revenge…if he can survive long enough to bring that person to justice that is…..

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Awwwwwwww ❤️❤️❤️

Sometimes you just have to watch one minute of something and you get the feeling that it’s going to be a series that will be more than worth the watch. Lawless Lawyer is just that kind of show. From the very first scene this Korean Drama series just brings a freshness with it and it hardly ever loses your attention during it’s 16 episode run. This is not just another legal drama. One of the things that I always love about K-dramas is the fact that they can turn the atmosphere of the show around in a heartbeat. When this series first starts you might think this is a comedy. But you would be wrong, dead wrong. While there is some seriously funny stuff in here as well (not the least of which is the sometimes totally crazy music that accompanies it), Lawless Lawyer is above all a terrific revenge thriller with some wonderful plot twists and an absolutely amazing cast. There are so many different things in here one would almost think it’s too much. Humor, Action, Romance, Sadness, Thrills…all of these elements are combined to give you an absolutely exhilarating experience.

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Are you serious about this? Isn’t this a little bit too much credit? 

But the one thing that really kicks this drama into overdrive is the cast. Bong Sang-pil played by Lee Joon-gi is one of those characters that you will fall instantly in love with. From the very first moment he appears he wins you over with his charm. He can play any kind of emotion and just lights up the screen with his amazing performance. And that also more than covers his physical abilities which you will see in the many fight sequences this drama contains. Another thing that works exceptionally well is his on screen chemistry with his female counterpart Ha Jae-yi, played by actress Seo Ye-ji. Here we have a woman who is not only incredibly beautiful but also displays a cold and determined confidence in her abilities. She is certainly not one to be taken lightly, and is one of the strongest female roles that I have seen in quite a while. When Bong Sang-pil and Ha Jae-yi are together it is just a delight to see them play off each other, and their romance that develops later on is all the better for it.

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One of the things you will wonder about int his show is how many suits this guy owns. 

However…the best performance and the one that makes this drama a must watch is on the parts of one of the villains, namely Ahn Oh-joo. The actor that brings this vile, but utterly delicious creature to life is Choi Min-soo. I recently sent a tweet out on Twitter claiming that if there was ever going to be an Oscar category for best villain in a Korean drama, he would win it without even having to blink. Ahn Oh-joo is just one of those thugs that you can’t help but smile at every time he enters a scene. I’m not kidding when I say that my jaw eventually began to hurt from being permanently stuck in grin mode. Ahn Oh-joo is despicable, loathsome and truly one of the lowest lifeforms you will ever encounter. And despite all that you will love him. Words alone can not really get my point across, so for a change I have included a scene with him below to let you see what I mean. I hope you will enjoy it. It’s a great confrontation between him and Bong Sang-pil, and it ends in a cliffhanger so that’s the perfect excuse to start watching this.

Now I have purposefully not said anything about who the true villain is in this review, as that would be spoiling stuff. Which is also a bit of a shame as that role is an equally impressive part and now I can’t really talk about it. Suffice it to say that developing hatred for that person is the first emotion that will rise to the surface when you see it (erm for the role that is, I’m sure that in real life the one who plays the part is a charmer). So after all that positivity are there also any negatives to the series? Well, some of the humor is at times very slapstick and there are some small scenes that make you cringe a bit. Also a few of the later episodes do tend to drag the story out longer then it needs to. But these are very minor things as above all this is a solidly entertaining dramaseries, that you will binge through in no time. One can only hope that maybe one day Bong Sang-pil and Ha Jae-yi will return fighting the good fight. I for one would not mind it at all if there were to be a second season for this.

I give Lawless Lawyer a 9 out of 10 score.

Another Episode S/O, a novel/manga by Yukito Ayatsuji (2013)

Two years ago I came across an anime series called Another and I completely fell in love with it. Which is strange considering it’s a horrorseries, and a pretty bloody one at that. But what set Another apart is the incredible storyline about a cursed schoolclass, and one amazing lead character called Mei Misaki. If you have yet to experience this terrific anime, I highly recommend watching it. It has an incredibly tense atmosphere and a storyline that is full of twists and turns. After I completed the 12 part anime I was thirsting for more and immediately went out and bought the book on which the series was based. It was another (pun intended) win for me, as it added a little bit more background to the story (although to be fair it held little suprises, as having seen the anime I already knew how the story would turn out). But apparently that wasn’t the end of the story as we now have Episode S/0 that serves as both a prequel and sequel to the original. As this book contains both a novel and a manga I’m going to handle this review a bit differently.

The looks

The first thing you will notice when you pick up this book is the amazing cover. It features Mei Masaki with a haunting look on her face, and it immediately grabs your attention. But it doesn’t stop there. When you remove the cover you find a beautiful painting on the inside as well. Flipping through the book you will later on discover an art gallery for the manga of the original anime, that contains some breathtaking images of a couple of the main characters. I have included a small gallery below to give you an idea of what I am talking about. But of course I did not just buy this book because of the way it looks. What about the story?

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Episode S

This story takes place after the events of Another and as such you could say this is a sequel of sorts. And I do say of sorts, because the story itself takes place during Another. Confused yet? Well, let me explain. In Episode S we again meet up with Mei Misaki, who is about to sit down and tell a tale to her friend Koichi Sakakibara. When Mei begins to speak, the narration switches to first person where we meet up with the main character of the story Teruya Sakaki. And he has a problem, a big one. As he is kind of, sort of dead. Yup, we have a ghost story here, and it appears a litteral one as it is actually the ghost of Teruya who is speaking to us. Teruya doesn’t remember how he ended up being dead, and eventually he meets up with Mei who can see death as we all know. Together with her help he is trying to find out what exactly happened to him, and who, if anyone, was responsible for his death.

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Episode S was a nice little mystery story, and one I quite enjoyed. I would not call this a horror story but more of a supernatural mystery. As the main storyline takes place during the events of Another that is the reason I didn’t actually call it a full sequel. Still it was nice to once again read a little bit more about Mei in this one. I do have to say that the style of writing takes a bit getting used to. We often get long pages of conversation between two characters, without really saying who is uttering a particular sentence. I often had to look back in order to find the person who started talking, and that was at times a little bit annoying. Still the story itself is pretty cool, and it contains a nice twist that I most certainly did not see coming. As this is not a horror story, there are no really gruesome or gory scenes in it. All in all this was a nice follow up to the original.

Episode 0

I am not a huge fan of prequels as I have said quite a few times, as I usually find they bring little to no surprises to the table. Episode 0 is the prequel part of this book, and it is a manga. The thing I liked about it was the amazing art. I loved the way the characters were drawn, and I could quite often just keep staring at certain pages. The story features a young Reiko Mikami during her schooldays in the year 1983. As her classmates begin to die, Reiko is trying to find out exactly what is going on and meets up with the librarian mr. Chibiki. This mysterious man seems to know more, but can he really be trusted? With a pagecount of 45 pages, this story was just way too short to leave a lasting impression. While it was nice to see a little bit more background for Reiko, I honestly could not really connect to her at all in this one. This really was more of a filler story, and certainly didn’t add anything really significant to the existing mythology of Another.

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I could not resist including an image of the Anime. It’s soooo good!

The Verdict

In the end I am left with some mixed feelings about this one. On the one hand I really enjoyed the main story of the book, despite it’s flaws. On the other the manga, while beautiful to look at feels like it was just added to give the book something to fill it up with. If you haven’t seen the anime or read the original novel, I would suggest starting there first. While both stories contained within this volume can be read on their own, you will find you will enjoy the book more if you know the background of the main characters. And not only that, Another is far superior to this, and as previously mentioned well worth it to check it out. In the end I do think this books is worth the buy, especially if you are a fan. The mainstory more than makes up for the weaker prequel story, and the art contained within if nothing else is really beautiful to look at. The writer of the book says there might be more to come in the future. I do hope that if that is true, it will go back to it’s original horror roots. But I guess, that is a story for another time….(yes I am done with the puns now).

I give Another Episode S/0 a 7 out of 10 score.

Tunnel, Korean drama series (2017)

People have always held a kind of  morbid fascination when it comes to serial killers. One has to wonder why on Earth that is. There is nothing romantic about it. In fact when you look at all the serial killers from the past and present all you see is a lot of sadness and pain. Especially for the families of the victims of these often loathsome individuals. What drives one to become one? Some of them are just born that way, and have an evil inside them from a very young age. But it also happens that something triggers it. Choosing the wrong friends, an abusive childhood, a traumatic experience, all of these might be the cause of turning someone into a murderous psychopath. But they also say that each and every one of us has a dark side. Which brings me back to my original question, why are we so obsessed with them. Is it because of that inner darkness that we all have inside and that we have to satisfy it in some way? You think I am overreacting? Well, look at the sheer amount of movies and books about serial killers. Got you there didn’t I? Getting creeped out already by this post? Am I getting under your skin? Insert evil grin. No worries…this introduction only served to set the tone for the thrilling Korean drama series Tunnel. Which of course features a serial killer, and time travel. Say what?!?

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Why are you looking at me with such a dumb face?

It is the year 1986 when we meet up with Park Gwang Ho a police detective who is always very determined, enthusiastic and takes his job very seriously. One a day a horrific series of killings shakes up his police district. Women are found dead, having been strangled with their own stockings, and strange dots are left behind on their ankles. Purely by chance the detective stumbles on the culprit and gives chase on foot. Eventually the killer and Park Gwang Ho end up in a tunnel where a fight between them begins. Unfortunately the killer gets the upper hand and strikes our hero on the head leaving him unconscious. When he wakes up and exits the tunnel, he gets the shock of his life. Apparently Park Gwang Ho has been transported thirty years into the future leaving him stranded in the year 2016. Determined to find his way back home and to his wife he left behind, he assumes the identity of a police detective who carries the same name as himself. Together with a new (and in the beginning very reluctant) partner named Kim Sun Jae, and a beautiful but mysterious criminal profiler and psychology professor Shin Jae Yi, he tries to fit into this new and unfamiliar world. But when it seems the murders that he tried to stop 30 years ago are starting up again, things become very grim indeed. The serial killer is still at large and will stop at nothing to continue with his killing spree……

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Who are you calling a cold fish?!?!

Time travel and a serial killer blended into one single series? That is pretty much a match made in heaven. While this 16 episode series wasn’t perfect, it was very enjoyable and I bingewatched the hell out of it finishing it in about 3 days. One of the best things in this Korean drama is once again it’s characters. The three leads had a very good chemistry between them, which helped make this series a cut above the rest. Actor Choi Jin-huyk brings to life the hero time travelling cop and he just had a vibrant energy to his role that worked very well. He seems to be able to handle a wide range of emotions, from heartbreak to comedy, and he is able to switch between them in the blink of an eye. His future partner played by actor Yoon Hyun-min is more serious, but the chemistry between both actors is terrific. I really enjoyed some of their comedic banter that hardly ever failed to bring a smile to my face and a lot of their scenes together were certainly the highlight of this series. And then there was actress Lee Yoo-young who played the role of Shin Jae Yi. She was a bit of a cold fish at the start of this series, and I did not really know what to make of her. But when the series progressed her character began to grow, and at the end I really ended up liking her very much. She was very heroic and a verbal exchange between her and the killer in one of the show’s final episodes gave me goosebumps. She played that scene so incredibly well and lifelike.

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This guy had such a fun role (yeah I know he looks like he doesn’t have much humor)

Speaking of the role of the killer, and I am not going to mention the actor’s name in fear of spoilers, I can only say one thing: WOW! What a loathsome, terrifying and incredibly evil monster did this actor give birth too. It is an incredible performance and out of the many serial killer roles that I have seen in my life, he certainly is in the top three. That’s for sure. Over the course of the 16 episodes that this series has, we get a story that has some nice shocks and tension, some comedy (mainly because of a few side characters that I haven’t named here, but really help to relieve some of the darker aspects of the show), and heartbreak as well. That said, there were also some moments during the middle of the drama where I felt it began to feel a bit slow. But luckily those moment did not carry on and the final episodes really made you forget those moments very quickly. Another element that I was a bit dissappointed by was the use of the timetravel aspect of this series. I had expected it to be used more, with maybe some clever jumps in between the timelines, but sadly that did not really happen.

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See? I rest my case 🙂

Still, this Korean drama was a wonderful show. Even though it had some dark events happening in it, it never became too depressing. Most serial killing movies/series always seem to go to for the shocks or the horror, and while there were certainly scenes like that in it, there was also enough room for other more lighthearted things which was very refreshing. Tunnel is well worth checking out and also a series that for me at least seems like a good one to watch if you have never entered the world of the Korean dramas before. With memorable characters, a great, gripping and often tense story, this drama will leave a lasting impression in your mind. Well, that wasn’t too bad was it? I know the beginning of this review might have creeped you out, but hey it had to be done. Even I have a dark side…..

I give Tunnel 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.

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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…..

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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.

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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.