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Review: Outlast 2 (Video Game)

Posted in Review with tags , , , , , , , , on October 13, 2018 by Lilliandra Winters

Developer: Red Barrel Studios
Platforms: PC, Xbox One, PlayStation 4
Release Date: April 25th, 2017

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Lets take a minute to appreciate how truly fucked up Outlast is. It’s full of some twisted shit and when I thought it couldn’t get worse, they gave us some messed up DLC. Thank fuck that’s over! Outlast 2 was like, hold my beer.

The problem with sequels is that you have an expectation. It isn’t the new, never-seen-before experience of the first one. So keeping this in mind, Outlast 2 seems to have upped the ante. Also giving it an American Horror Story feel the second game, with only subtle nods to the first game, gives it a completely different concept. You are a different character in a different part of the world.

outlast_2_launch_screen_7Blake and Lynn are flying in a helicopter, making their way to investigate a woman that was found wondering down a stretch of highway, barefoot and pregnant. She is later murdered under suspicious circumstances. Your helicopter crashes and bursts into flames. Lynn is missing, but your camera is intact, so you pick it up and start to make your way in the darkness looking for her. You see a man tied to a tree and gutted, you see a town in the distance and make your way towards it.

Outlast 2 jumps into pushing limits. It was really interesting to see what they did to the game after the the demo. They incorporated a lot, but not everything, and there were some distinct differences between the two. The ‘flashbacks’ unlock a story from Black’s past about his friend, Jessica, and what happened to her. It has some correlation to what is currently happening, but why it’s happening is pretty fucked up.

I will warn you, there is a LOT to follow in this game: cults, zealots, STDs, a prophet, murder and your past. That’s just the tip of this disturbing iceberg. It’s a lot of information to keep straight, but completely worth it when you do. Outlast 2 is a wonderful reminder of the depravity that lurks in the dark.

I don’t know why you are still reading this. If you haven’t played Outlast Outlast: Whistle Blower go play then and jump straight into Outlast 2. Here’s hoping you have a strong stomach.

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Review: Malevolent (2018)

Posted in Review with tags , , , , , , , , on October 6, 2018 by Xander Woolf

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Starring: Florence Pugh, Ben Lloyd-Hughes, Scott Chambers, Georgina Bevan & Celia Imrie
Directed by: Olaf de Fleur Johannesson

Netflix is killing it with their original content. Shows, mini-series and movies alike, Netflix knows content and has the budget to do these projects justice. Not the least of which is Malevolent, a horror movie about a young woman that inherited the medium gifts that eventually took her mother’s life.

What’s it about?
Brother and sister duo, Jackson (Lloyd-Hughes) and Angela (Pugh), decide to use their mother’s name to create a side gig for some extra cash. The children of a famous Scottish medium, they set Angela up to be the face who speaks with ghosts, while Jackson gets the gigs and their friends, Elliot (Chambers) and Beth (Bevan), help with the tech. They put on a show for their clients, then make off with the cash before it’s discovered that they didn’t actually do anything.

This all changes when they take on a job a little too big for their britches. Mrs. Green (Imrie) supposedly lives alone on a large estate. She used to run a girls’ school, but tragedy struck and all of the girls ended up dead, their mouths sewn shut. Now, she hears laughter and screaming and she just wants a quiet house. Jackson accepts the job, against Angela’s wishes, and the team heads to this remote estate in the Scottish countryside.

What awaits them, however, are mutilated ghost children and a revelation about what actually happened all those years ago.

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What did I think?
Like with most movies, there are pros and cons to Malevolent. The ambiance is fantastic. The setting is perfect. It’s a very well-made film in general. It actually scared me. Give me Scottish ghosts and I’m putty in your hand.

It’s a fairly typical haunted house movie. The protagonists arrive, thinking none of the stories are real. We start with glimpses of ghosts and mini-jumpscares. Then, all of a sudden, the unknown becomes known and our protags are in very real danger.

While the acting was great, the characters themselves were a little off for me. Angela is quiet and angsty — straight out of a YA novel. Jackson is unfeeling and overconfident, despite his life being in danger after borrowing money from the wrong people. Elliot is the puppy dog that follows Angela around and Beth doesn’t really seem to add much value to the plot. They’re all a little two-dimensional.

Mrs. Green, on the other hand, was phenomenal. With a base need for quiet as her driving force, Mrs. Green is multi-faceted. Celia Imrie really brings her character to life, which is to be expected of such a celebrated and talented British actress.

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Despite all this though, the relationships between the characters felt real. There were times when tears came to my eyes because the raw emotion that Florence Pugh put forth caught me off guard.

Story-wise, I’m left with more questions than answers, which I’m not a particular fan of. If it was a series and this was the first part, I’d be okay with this, but it’s a standalone movie, with no plans that I can find for a sequel. The haunted house plot wrapped up nicely, but there are questions about Angela that I’d like answered.

Do I recommend it?
Yes. While it has its flaws, this movie pulls from classic horror archetypes and introduces some twists that I didn’t expect. It’s worth a watch, especially since you won’t spend any extra money on it. You can find Malevolent on Netflix.

The Power of Silence: A Quiet Place Review

Posted in Review with tags , , , , , , , on September 7, 2018 by Xander Woolf

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I know, I know, I’m late to the party!

Sometimes it’s difficult or impossible to see a movie when it just comes out. Believe you me, I’ve been trying to see Slenderman for weeks and it’s just not happening yet. But Winters and I finally got to sit down and watch A Quiet Place, thanks to Amazon and their 40% rental discount.

We went into the movie not really knowing what to expect. I know it’s been out awhile, but we were good about staying away from spoilers. We knew that they couldn’t make noise, or else something bad would happen. We knew the oldest daughter was deaf, and so was the actress who played her. We knew that John Krasinski had written it for his lovely wife, Emily Blunt. We knew all that, but we had no idea what the movie was actually about.

Turns out, there are monsters that somehow showed up (per Wikipedia, they’re aliens). They’re blind and they’re covered in a naturally thick hide that serves as armor. They attack noise and wiped out most of humanity in a matter of months.

The Abbott family survived by staying silent and vigilant. They can communicate because they already knew sign language – having a deaf daughter, Regan – and they formulated countless in-case-of-emergency plans.

The movie begins on one of the family’s outings to gather supplies from the abandoned supermarket in town. Their four year old son grabbed a toy rocket from the shelf. As they were headed back, the boy turned on the toy, which became very, very loud. Before Lee (Krasinski) could get to him, one of the creatures grabbed the boy and killed him.

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A year later, the Abbott family is expecting another little one. Evelyn (Blunt) and the two remaining children – Regan (Simmonds) and Marcus (Jupe) – take to soundproofing the basement of their old barn so that mom and baby can recover without attracting the beings. Meanwhile, we are shown exposition as Lee works in the basement of the house on a new hearing aid for Regan.

The plot follows this family’s plight for survival as multiple unexpected things start to happen – as they do when you have a wife about to go into labor and two children who are incapable of seeing the big picture. Over the course of the mostly-silent movie, we are shown the very emotional dynamic of this family. Lee, Evelyn and Regan all constantly blame themselves for the death of the youngest, Beau. Regan believes that Lee blames her for Beau’s death and thus their relationship is strained.

The acting throughout this is phenomenal. Without dialogue, each of them were able to convey exactly what the characters felt and wanted. The emotional connection between these four was palpable and brought tears to my eyes on multiple occasions.

The most powerful part of this movie, however, was the silence. The use of sound – and lack thereof – was my favorite part about this movie. Sure, the beings were terrifying and the CGI was well done. We could easily relate to the family and the amount we could gather without dialogue was fantastic. But the sound. The sound made this movie.

While there is a traditional movie score in this movie – as Krasinski did not want the audience to feel as though they were part of ‘a silence experiment‘ – it is used in such a way that we, as the viewer, can still feel the silence. Every noise was deafening and caused myself and Winters to jump several times.

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Every noise made me genuinely afraid for the well-being of this family. Every single noise evoked some kind of emotion in me, which cultivated in my outright sobbing later on in the movie. But I won’t go into detail about that because I don’t want to spoil anything.

I honestly can’t think of anything bad to say about this movie. I have no suggestions for improvement and no criticism whatsoever. This was masterfully done. The story was captivating, the acting was superb, and the ambiance was enough to keep me at the edge of my seat.

I highly recommend this movie. Let me know what you thought in the comments below!

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

Why I couldn’t finish “The Curse of Sleeping Beauty” (2016)

Posted in Review with tags , , , , , , , , , on July 14, 2017 by Xander Woolf

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Supposedly based on the Grimm fairy tale “Briar Rose,” The Curse of Sleeping Beauty follows Thomas, a reclusive artist who consistently dreams of a beautiful sleeping woman that he just can’t wake up. When he inherits a property that’s been in his family for generations, his nightmares become real. He has to free Briar Rose from her prison in order to free himself from the property.

It sounds like it could be a beautiful story… if done right.

The movie was so awful, though, we couldn’t even finish it. We got about half-way through and turned it off. This is actually a big deal for Winters and me. In our entire friendship, we’ve only ever turned off three movies.

It’s especially a big deal for me given that I love bad horror movies. I’ll watch bad horror until the cows come home, but I couldn’t finish The Curse of Sleeping Beauty. Here’s why.

1) The acting was atrocious. While the actors were all beautiful in their own right, they weren’t right for the roles. Ethan Peck, at first, seemed perfect for a reclusive artist role. As the movie went on, however, it became obvious that Thomas was supposed to care about both Briar Rose and Linda, the woman helping him learn more about the mysterious property. Ethan Peck, however, continued with his emotionless character, causing his lines to fall flat. India Eisley, who played Briar Rose, was gorgeous in her outfit, but could have spent more time with a dialect coach. Her English accent was reminiscent of that of a teenager pretending to be “posh.” Finally, Natalie Hall’s Linda attempted to be the comic relief, but the delivery of her lines combined with the overall feel of the movie made that attempt fall short. We felt as though each of these actors was only hired because of their good looks.

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2) The script was just bad. The acting probably would have been better if the script was better written. Instead, there were lines that made no sense and major plot holes. Not only that, but near the middle of the movie, the plot changed from straight horror fantasy, where one or two people deal with an evil force, to an ensemble let’s-tackle-this-together movie. The dynamic completely changed when the two extra characters were added. Thomas and Linda were all that were needed, in my opinion.

3) They mixed several cultures together. This goes along with bad script writing, but deserves a point all to its own. The Sleeping Beauty story is of French origin. The movie takes place in America (I think!). All the characters seem to be American or Canadian, with the exception of Briar Rose, who is supposedly British. Richard (Bruce Davison), shows up in a car with a European license plate. And, finally, when they determine what the actual curse is, they reveal that it’s Middle Eastern… Dear writers, pick one and stick to it!

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While those are my three big points, there were a lot of little points as well. Let’s call it nitpicks. First, Thomas’ uncle supposedly lived in the mysterious house for 40 years, but it looked like it hadn’t been lived in for quite a long time. Second, Thomas at one point says he just wants to get out of this “godforsaken town,” but there was no introduction of the town itself or Thomas’ interaction with it. Finally, there’s a scene where a bunch of mannequins are attacking Thomas and Linda, attempting to protect the secret of the house from outsiders, and I was just reminded of an episode of Doctor Who, which took me right out of the story.

I didn’t see the ending, but absolutely nothing could have made this movie worth it. I assume Briar Rose turned out to be evil and they had to defeat her. Otherwise, they never would have introduced Linda as Thomas’ other love interest. I also assume that the 53 people who had gone missing on the property were the people inside the mannequins. But, hey, I could be wrong.

Watch it for yourself and tell me your thoughts in the comments below!

Review: Split (2016)

Posted in Review with tags , , , , , , , , , on February 28, 2017 by Xander Woolf

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Directed by: M. Night Shyamalan
Starring: James McAvoy, Anya Taylor-Joy, Haley Lu Richardson

What’s it about?
Split follows a man named Kevin (McAvoy) who has Dissociative Identity Disorder (DID). One of his alternative identities kidnaps three teenaged girls in an effort to sacrifice them to “The Beast.” The three girls must find their way out while Kevin’s other alters work to either help or hinder the alter responsible.

What did I think?
I’ve got to be honest with you, I had no idea this was an M. Night Shyamalan movie until my boyfriend and I went to go see it opening weekend. I’m not on my game lately. I have to tell you, though, my assertion in my review of The Visit is still true: M. Night Shyamalan is back.

The acting was superb. James McAvoy’s ability to switch between Kevin’s alters within seconds is just astounding. Anya Taylor-Joy also brings an amazing performance to the table, which can only be expected after her excellent acting in The Witch.

The premise is terrifying, even if problematic. In a time when society is struggling to end the stigma against mental illness, M. Night Shyamalan releases a movie where the villain is a villain because he has DID. This can be harmful to the perception of mental illness in this country. If not for Kevin’s well-meaning psychiatrist, Dr Fletcher (Betty Buckley), who asserts that those with DID have ascended to a higher plane than us mere humans, it would be completely problematic.

Overall, though, the movie was scary and filled with an amazing amount of suspense. And the twist ending, which I’m sure you all already know about, is amazing. And, more good news, M. Night Shyamalan is going to make another one to complete his trifecta!

Do I recommend it?
Yes, despite its problems, it’s still an amazingly well-made movie. M. Night Shyamalan is definitely back… Let’s just hope he doesn’t revert back and try to make another Avatar

Review: Tattletail (Video Game)

Posted in Review with tags , , , , , , , , , on February 24, 2017 by Lilliandra Winters

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Furbies were fucking everywhere. I mean everywhere. You couldn’t get away from them. If you didn’t have one, then you knew someone who did and that was that. They were adorably creepy and I can’t tell you how entertaining I find it that my mother was constantly jump scared by mine. I remember they weren’t allowed to be in most places because they held the ability to record. Fast forward and those of us who find dolls terrifying now have a reason to fear furbies, or Hatchimals, if you want to be more current.

So, it’s days before Christmas and you wake up in the middle of the night to go peek at your presents and discover that you are receiving a Tattletale, the hit toy for the holiday season. You are so eager that you open it up and immediately play with it, but the Tattletale is much more than it seems. The Tattletale is increasingly demanding, requiring grooming, actual food and charging at its station in the basement. Also, don’t forget about Mama.

This game is fucking terrifying. It combines several fears together and shoves them into a child’s toy. After the first night, I am constantly wondering why you would go back but it seems like these fuckers, once unleashed, will NOT go back to sleep. Every night, you have to deal with this tiny demon, feeding, brushing and charging. However, Mama doesn’t like you. (THEY NEVER SAY WHY, SHE JUST DOESN’T, LIKE A JUDGEMENTAL BITCH!) You are sent on these crazy quests, having to take Tattletale with you (who WON’T SHUT UP). (I KNOW YOU LOVE ME, SHUT UP ALREADY!) However, there is a reason for the chaos. You realize that shit is much worse than previously thought, it is creepy as fuck once you figure it out. Don’t forget to collect all of the eggs for the ‘good’ ending.

This game is amazing. The concept is terrifying. It’s well written, the art/graphics are incredible, and the music/sound creates so much anxiety on top of what you already have to go through. Panic on top of panic is how you want to play a horror game. An extreme sense of urgency makes it easy to forget that you are a terrified child just trying to survive your own Christmas toys and make it the joyous holiday of gift giving. I can’t give this enough praise, the fear is real, the ending is almost perfect and I’m setting every Furbie I see on fire. Play it for yourself, FFS it’s only $5! Prepare for some jump scares and have fun sleeping!