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The Mummy (Movie)

Posted in Review with tags , , , , , , on October 13, 2017 by thiathebard

Written by: Bridget Cannon

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Written and Directed by: David Koepp and Alex Kurtzman
Starring:  Tom Cruise, Sofia Boutella and Annabelle Wallis

What was it about?

War profiteer and soldier Nick Morton (Cruise) is looking for artifacts to sell on the black market while being stationed in the Middle East. His antics lead his commanding officer to him, and a site of a hidden tomb. Jenny Halsey (Wallis) is a Doctor working with the US military and demands to examine the site. Within the tomb, an ancient mummy has been buried in an odd fashion. Halsey convinces the military to help her transport the Mummy back to London with her. During the flight strange things begin to happen and an evil is set loose.

What did I think?

I really wanted to like The Mummy. It is the first in a number of horror movies that Universal Studios is remaking. The Dark Universe will be bringing all of these remade monsters together with a cool team trying to track, study and contain them. That idea is really promising and, frankly, exciting to me. The Mummy just did not deliver.

I did not care about the main character. At all. Nick Morton is a terrible person at the start of the movie, he is still terrible in the middle of the movie and he is just boring by the end of it. I didn’t care if he was safe or if he reached his goals. Which is a shame because if you are going to have a character set up a big franchise, who viewers will probably be stuck with later, it is a good idea to make them at least a little interesting. Not even necessarily likable, but at least give the man some layers to his personality.

Other characters had potential. I could see Jenny Halsey being more interesting as a recurring bit character, without Nick’s blandness holding her back, in future movies. Doctor Jekyll, yes THAT Doctor Jekyll, was very well played by Russell Crowe. His character and the organization he heads are both saving graces for the story.

The Mummy herself (Boutella) was a fascinating character. I enjoyed her effects. I just didn’t understand her and Nick at all. Her story seemed to take a backseat to his shenanigans a lot of the time instead of showcasing a great villain. They had no chemistry. In short, The Mummy was pushed back in her own movie for a boring man to just make poor life choices. Can we finally stop Hollywood from believing that we want our heroes to be wrecking balls who don’t seem to care about anyone around them except for sexual purposes? 

Seriously, though. Why was Nick so important again? We had a cool organization and an awesome Mummy to play with. Honestly, Hollywood, we could have had it all.

I also was a little… okay more than a little… off put by a few big mistakes about Egyptian mythology in the movie. There are fact checkers in Hollywood. Did The Mummy even have one? It was difficult to take a universe seriously when the building blocks are not there. Particularly when misinformation keeps being thrown at the audience.

The Mummy is also just not a strong horror movie. The themes were there, but it just did not deliver. Again, because I think that too much of the focus was on the wrong character. It was like the movie was reaching for something great, but then Nick would come on screen and it would just give up. The scenes that focused on the Mummy were good. I even jumped at one of the jump scares. However, one jump scare does not a horror movie make.

Would I recommend it?

It kills me to say this because I want the larger project of the Dark Universe to succeed, but no. There were a few laughs. A couple scares. Even with a fascinating premise, The Mummy just fell flat in the end.

I will say this, though. I think there is great potential for the greater universe that is being created. If they can tighten up their storytelling and focus more on the monsters, the rest of these films could be a fun ride for horror fans. Just not The Mummy

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Review: Silverfish (Book)

Posted in Review with tags , , , , , , , , , , , on August 29, 2016 by thiathebard

Author: Hobie Anthonysilverfish
Publisher: Tentacles Press
Date Released:December 7, 2015

Review by Bridget Cannon

Silverfish is a compilation of short horror stories by Hobie Anthony. The setting is a dystopian world ruled by one twisted man. The stories have different settings and twists while keeping with the overall theme. Despite the theme, and the hard work that was clearly put into the stories, I was not a fan of Silverfish.

The stories in Silverfish were not a style that I am overly fond of reading. Particularly the first story which shares the name of the main volume itself.

The first story utilizes a style of writing that can be confusing if the reader is not accustomed to it. The lack of punctuation and flow was off putting until I realized what Anthony was doing with the story. Instead of it adding to the story, I found it disjointing. It is set in a dystopian future that heavily utilizes shock and sex in the narrative. There was one twist that I did enjoy, but other then that it fell flat for me.

The other stories do have a better pace. Perhaps if Anthony had started with one of them, it would have been a better way for the reader to be introduced to his writing.  I did enjoy Anthony’s verbiage. After getting past the first story his vocabulary was able to shine.

There was a story that I did enjoy called “A Cleaner Today, A Brighter Tomorrow.” It was able to keep the grit and shock that are a big part of the overall novel. The main character in this story was a lot more interesting to me then the others. She seemed less flat than the others.

 Silverfish has a lot of great tropes. I can see where the author tried to make his characters gritty and have more of an anti-hero quality. A lot of them just felt like I was reading caricatures that were meant to shock me, though they never really did.

The idea behind the stories were good. It just never really reached the point where I was scared or excited. 

While I did not enjoy it as much, it has gotten some very good reviews on Amazon, so if you like dystopian or shock horror, perhaps you might want to try it.

Review: Reincarnation (2005)

Posted in Review with tags , , , , , , , , on August 19, 2016 by thiathebard

By: Bridget Cannon

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Dir. by Takashi Shimizu
Starring: YûkaKarina, Kippei Shîna

This is a movie that does not get enough love. Yes, I am starting with that statement because it is true. Reincarnation is a movie about an up and coming actress who is offered an amazing role. As the movie progresses and the cast gets closer to filming on location the creepier things get.

Reincarnation comes from Takashi Shimizu, the director that gave us Ju-on and The Grudge.  Nagisa Sugiura is offered the role of a lifetime in a film about a professor who killed his two children, guests and himself in an experiment about reincarnation. Nagisa begins to have dreams about the murders and starts to think that she is actually the reincarnation of the professor’s murdered daughter. Other members of the cast also begin to have strange experiences. One actress shows a friend a scar that makes them believe that she is the reincarnation of one of the victims. As the cast and crew finally assemble in the hotel where the murders took place they are placed or drawn to the areas where victims were killed.

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Reincarnation meets a lot of the checklist requirements of great J Horror for me. The story is good and keeps the viewer guessing. There are ghostly apparitions. There is lore that is explored throughout the movie. Great settings. No jump scares, which is a wonderful tool of J Horror that really spooks myself and others who are more accustomed to their over utilization in our films.

I would rate it: Must see.

Warning: Japanese with subtitles is how the viewer will have to watch it. This movie is totally worth it though.

You can watch the trailer here:

 

 

 

Review: The Forest (2016)

Posted in Review with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , on July 22, 2016 by thiathebard

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Dir. by: Jason Zada
Starring: Natalie Dormer, Eoin Macken, Stephanie Vogt

I think that most horror fans have a favorite sub-genre. One of mine is Japanese Horror, or J-Horror. I love creepy schoolgirls that just pop out of the shadows, ghosts that kill people with their hair and the overall physiological shocks that these movies bring. I was excited when I thought that The Forest would be able to have many of those qualities. I was also worried, like many other people, that the movie would be disrespectful of the Aokigahara Forest.

The Aokigahara Forest plays a large part in the movie. It is the setting for the majority of it. The forest could also be argued to be the antagonist. Now, why would a horror movie center around a forest in Japan that is also a popular tourist attraction? Partially because it’s very dense and without much wildlife. This gives it an eerie quiet. The other reason is because it’s a popular site for people to commit suicide and is supposedly haunted by angry spirits of the deceased.

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Thus brings about the plot of The Forest. Sara Prince (Dormer), an American, receives a phone call explaining that her twin sister, Jess (also Dormer), might be dead. Jess was last seen going into the Aokigahara Forest. Her sister has always been troubled, so Sara travels to Japan for answers. When she ends up with more questions than answers, she decides to go look for Jess in the forest itself.

The movie is good. The Forest is not great, but also not as bad as I thought it might be. I still have some complex feelings about the story, though.

I loved the hints of J-Horror; the darkness of it. The scenes in the older buildings made me think of other movies I love. It put me on edge. Trust me when I tell you I wanted those ghosts. I wanted the twists that come with them. Every time Sara talked to someone outside of the forest, I kept wondering, “Is this person really alive? Are they being interacted with by anyone else?”

I still feel torn because The Forest does have a white person just charging into a place and a culture that they don’t entirely understand. I don’t think that The Forest was disrespectful of the Aokigahara Forest, but the movie is also clearly from an outsider’s perspective. I think that made it lose some of the scares that could have be there. Instead of being properly afraid, Sara just stomps along expecting everyone to fall in line. I hate to admit that I always love when characters like that get tormented.

Please understand that I did like Sara. I understood her abrasiveness. I appreciated her need to get things done to save her sister. As I learned her backstory, her actions also made more sense. I just wish that the main character would have had a better understanding of the lore of the Aokigahara Forest. Having American Sara, who researches so little beforehand, also gives us less to be afraid of from the start because we have so little information about the Aokigahara Forest and its possible ghosts.

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Why are people going to commit suicide there? What possible energy could be stuck there? What emotions still fill the space? All of this kind of information could have been given to Sara before she went and the audience could have had more to jump at. As an American myself, I want to know all about it. Give me the history. Every theory. Let it fill my brain up with possibilities. Instead, we are rushed through. I suppose that was supposed to make it mysterious and more scary – fear of the unknown and all that – but I think it did quite the opposite.

I think Jess knows. I think Jess knows the lore and the history. I think she goes into the forest with respect on the trip and with the intention of acting upon her knowledge. It is one of the differences between the sisters. Sara is so fast paced and sure. Jess is not. The audience also only sees Jess through Sara’s eyes. We see Japan and the Aokigahara Forest through Sara’s perspective. I honestly think it would have been more interesting through Jess. Her knowledge and immersion in the culture would have made the film so much richer. We get so little of an appreciation for the culture surrounding the main setting of the film.

Overall though, I did like the film. I liked the characters. I was concerned and unsure when I should be. The settings lent to the story. Some of the effects were unnecessary. I was a little disappointed with the end, but it has left with me with a few theories.

My rating stands at: Good.

Watch the trailer here:

Review: A Head Full of Ghosts (Book)

Posted in Review on April 8, 2016 by thiathebard

Author: Paul Tremblay
Publisher: William Morrow
Date Released: June 2, 2015

Review by: Bridget Cannon

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Have you ever finished a book, sat back, re-read the last bit and then just made a vague “huh” sound? It seems to be the only thing to do when unsure of how to feel about the end of a book. That is what I had to do at the end of A Head Full of Ghosts by Paul Tremblay this morning. I also made a very strong cup of tea, which has not yet helped me to unlock my feelings about the end of the book.

A Head Full of Ghosts came to me very highly recommended. It is on multiple “must read!” lists. It has been lauded as both scary and well written on said lists. A good friend of mine kept me updated on her progress through the book. She had nothing but great things to say about it. I worry that I went into reading A Head Full of Ghosts with the wrong expectations due to too much hype. I don’t know what I was expecting, but it wasn’t exactly what I read.

I am, in short, conflicted about my opinion after finishing the book. I expected it to be scarier. No, that isn’t correct per say. I expected A Head Full of Ghosts to be more stereotypical. I wanted to be throwing the book away at jump scares. I wanted to be unable to sleep at night as I relived moments from its prose in my darkened room. That SHOULD have happened, given the subject matter and from what I read of reviews.

Now, I am not saying it was a bad book. In fact, the more I allow my brain time to process, the more I decide I really liked A Head Full of Ghosts. Just not for the reasons that others have implied I would enjoy it.

A House Full of Ghosts centers around the events that happened to Merry years ago, when her father decided to allow a camera crew to film their lives as an exorcism is performed on her fourteen-year-old sister, who may or may not actually be a person living with Schizophrenia. It is now fifteen years later and Merry is telling her side. The story is almost a framed story in the sense that we know that Merry makes it out of the whole thing mostly unscathed because she is the main front of information for us. There are however stories within stories. Things that have been referenced in passing first and then are told in detail, weaving a confusing narrative in which the reader becomes trapped. The book starts with Merry beginning to be interviewed by an author who wants to write a book about her experiences. Merry warns us time and again, though, that she is not the most reliable of sources since she was only eight.

I started the book thinking I understood this written journey. Merry is alive. Merry witnessed her sister either become possessed or have a psychotic break. Merry was going to led me through these interviews, because she is grown up now and has no reason to lie, so I can totally trust what she says. I have been conditioned to do that by years of watching and reading horror and this story would result in nothing different.  I will go through reading a scary story about a scary topic. I will cringe through written jump scares. I will make it through the exorcism proper, which will be the climax of the book. There will be resolution that will end with one last scare. The golden rules of horror will be followed. Through it all, Merry will guide me. Always trust the Final Girl*. They will keep you safe. The book also gives us information about the show, the family and the exorcism through a popular horror blog and articles that break up the interviews.

To be honest, these blog entries are some of my favorite parts. First of all, the blog is titled; “The Last Final Girl.” YES. Tremblay gives the reader a horror blog written by a real horror fan. Karen, the name of the blog writer, lives up to what I wanted from her. She shares her love of gothic horror and uses it to help break down the “episodes” of the events that Merry is telling us her version of. She goes through years of horror and exorcism movies to break down the production side of the story. She calls out the tropes, the patriarchy and tools used for exorcism horror. I loved reading her snark;  I could have done with fewer of her comments in parentheses, but that point is moot.

The book was a slow burn for me. Actually, to be completely honest, I was never really scared by the book itself. Unease was probably what I felt the most. Again, I chalk this up to having preconceived notions of what kind of horror I was going to read. I was made nervous. I did have trouble sleeping, but that was mostly because the subject of exorcisms is a scary one for me. I have been made full of pop culture, religious fear and expectations. In retrospect, that was actually a very interesting way to read about an event that was also full of all of the above…or was it? I won’t tell you. I want you to guess the whole time. I want you to be sitting on the edge of your seat wondering which layer is truth or perception. The story goes so much farther than you think. So much deeper than whether or not a fourteen year old girl is possessed. Focus on the danger, because there is real danger in this book.

So yes, I am recommending it. I can tell you that while reading it as a horror nut I felt under satisfied by the lack on my expectations. As a writer and reader, I can tell you that now I am surprised at how well that feeling goes with the book’s theme.

Don’t go in because of the hype, especially from other horror writers. Don’t expect to be scared or not to be scared. I don’t know how you will react to this story. Just read it. Sit back. Re-read the last bit and say, “huh.”

Postscript: It is the day after I wrote this. I did not sleep last night. The last bit of the book did give me a nightmare. I give in. A Head Full of Ghosts is scary.

*A “Final Girl” is the usually female character who makes it to the end of the horror movie or book and is usually the one telling the story.