Take This Walk: A Review of Creepy “The Road Cain Walks”

Book Reviews

It’s one thing to watch a horror film, and it’s a whole other thing to read one. Written words tend to spark something in the imagination that triggers such imagery that could never be recreated for the screen. This is precisely why I don’t tend to read them all too often (The Honorable Stephen King being the obvious exception). I’m glad, however,  I decided to read Matt Kilby’s “The Road Cain Walks”.

Tensely written, the novel is set in the picturesque, quiet and quaint town of Pine Haven, North Carolina. Seemingly out of nowhere and atypical of town behaviour, a horrendous murder occurs, giving instant infamy to Grady Perlson, convicted murdered and a complicated major character.

Perlson is serving his time at Starks County Prison, a place that certainly matches its namesake in terms of ambience and void of human empathy. Here, alone, Perlson suffers in reliving the awful tragedies of his past. But things around the world are starting to converge with Perlson’s despair. This is where the true horror of the novel comes into play.

The author cleverly denounces the typical horror trope formula wherein there is
a focus on one character, his or her horrific past, and either the continuance of horror or a redemption. Instead, the merging of inexplicable global events being documented by one ambitious psychologist who is trying to find an explanation to tie these apparently random events together. It is Joe Richard, the psychologist, who embarks the walk referenced in the book’s title. It’s both an allusion on the path of evil, and the quest for being understood.

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Haunting History of the Barclay Hotel: A Review of J.M. Moore’s Work

Book Reviews

“The History of the Barclay Hotel: A collection of true short stories both epic and tragic” is an extremely interesting and well written piece from author J.M. Moore. As a whole, the book is a collection of the vast, sordid history of the Barclay Hotel, ranging from the structure’s historical past to its popularity amongst filmmakers as a set.

Immediately, I was entranced by the author’s approach to the depiction of the infamous hotel. Instead of presenting a straightforward historical retrospective of the location, J.M. Moore rather uniquely presents snippets of the past via newspaper articles and splices it with just enough back story to bring these isolated events in history alive to the reader.

Clearly, hours and hours of research was made into The Barclay by the author. Each carefully selected word is a veritable testimony to the historical facts that has befallen its walls. Is it haunted? Maybe. Have there been mysterious deaths and murders throughout the years? Uh huh. Is the novel riveting? OMG yes.

I have so many favorite parts, but the if I had to choose one, it would have to be the virtual tour of the hotel found at Barclay Hotel History.

You get chills from the stories that all of the walls speak.

 

A Conjecture on “The Conjuring 2”

Best of 2016, Film, Rave!

As a film scholar and enthusiast, I am often asked why do I like horror films so much. What is it about the genre where bloodshed, psychological warfare, and disturbing images intrigues me? To this question, I do not have an answer. Like with traditional art and sculpture, describing the feelings that accompany a particular piece is impossible. Same goes with film, in my humble opinion. The film going experience is less about the representation of a series of images used to form a narrative but about the visceral, more emotional responses the audience has to it. It is often these feelings that can make a film extremely successful or a major flop.

Before I begin to wane philosophically on the nature of cinema, I am bringing my focus back onto my most recent cinematic experience with the film The Conjuring 2. A sequel to 2013’s The Conjuring, the aptly titled The Conjuring 2 acts more as a partner piece to its predecessor rather than relying upon the conventions that so often mire sequels today. As opposed to a continuance of a particular story, The Conjuring 2 extends the world of Ed and Lorraine Warren, “Paranormal Investigators”,  into another time and place. This installment finds the two charismatic and spiritually complicated characters in 1977 London, England, where muted greens and plush carpets adorn every depicted scene. It’s all so 70’s. The Warren’s task this time is to assist a family who is experiencing strange, paranormal phenomenon in their City-subsidized house. Reports of levitation, unexplained sounds and the demonic possession of Janet, one of the four Hodgson children being plagued by these nightmarish incidents.

Instead of resorting to a plot play-by-play, I instead want to center more on the tangential elements of the film. The narrative is interesting in many ways. It develops enough back story of the Warren’s to support their intentions throughout the film without becoming iterative of the first film. There are also many unique questions asked throughout the movie, whether intentional or not by the director I do not know. These questions prompt the viewer to take each and every depicted character’s motivations with a literal grain of salt, giving the film an air of  incredulity. This incredulity compliments the skepticism that accompanies the Hodgson’s families attempts with convincing the authorities of their supernatural situation. The dialogue and cinematography, like the apparent ambiguity of the verity of the films’ events, are subtle and provocative, leaving the viewer with the dilemma of whether to believe what they are seeing, or to laugh off the incidents being presented as though it was one big elaborate hoax.

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The plagued Janet Hodgson (Madison Wolfe)

I mention the idea of a hoax because The Conjuring 2 is based on actual events reported by the Hodgson Family in 1977 London. What makes it so unique is that some the events depicted in the film are, in a way, re-enactments of the real life events that were recorded audibly and visually. Known as the Enfield Haunting, I ask you to Wikipedia it to see how the film successfully relayed the real Hodgson’s family experience into film as a piece of art.

I propose that aside from the traditional horror/thriller film tropes at play in The Conjuring 2, there’s also a whole lot of subversion going on. Yes, this film has components often associated with ‘popcorn flicks’ or mindless entertainment, but there’s also various concepts lurking below the surface, below what you as the viewer and the Warren’s as characters, cannot see. It’s a feeling that’s invoked. This feeling lies somewhere between skepticism and sympathy.

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Vera Farmiga as Lorraine Warren

Acted the hell out of, The Conjuring 2 is a solid, welcome addition to the horror genre canon. As Lorraine Warren, Vera Farmiga shines with tenacity and inherent conflict. Her scenes with that terrifying nun are a sight to behold. The younger actors, particularly the revelatory Madison Wolfe who portrays the possessed (?) Janet Hodgson, is stellar. Instead of pulling a Linda Blair-esque performance, her role is subtle and quite sad. But this film is less about the acting and more about the feelings.  Is The Conjuring 2 scary? Yes. Is it a classic horror film? Maybe. Is it an exercise in the power of cinema? Most definitely.

 

 

T.W. Maplass Covering Fright Fest UK 2015 – Days 3-5

Film, Guest posts, Halloween

DAY THREE

My most anticipated film of the festival was FUTURE SHOCK! THE STORY OF 2000AD. If you know your comics, you will understand how crucial this title was in the shaping of Marvel and DC. Paul Goodwin and Sean Hogan teamed up to deliver a funny and insightful talking heads retrospective documentary about the rise, fall, and rise again of the cult sci-fi and fantasy comic. Hogan and co managed to gather the vast majority of important players, past and present – Alan Moore (WATCHMEN) being the most notable absentee.

Many of the supremely talented artists from the 2000AD stable went on to write and illustrate some of the most seminal stories in the superhero multiverse and much besides. As one commentator from the documentary stated, ‘Without 2000AD, there would be no Vertigo.’

The main slot on Saturday evening certainly justified its position. RABID DOGS is a fast and loose remake of Mario Bava’s 1974 project (which was actually completed by his son after Bava’s death). Eric Hannezo directs this brutal French thriller about a bank heist gone awry, where the armed robbers are forced to take hostages. A delightful sting in the tale will leave audiences reeling long after the final credits.

Rabid Dogs

Rabid Dogs

Covering “Frightfest UK 2015” – Days 1 and 2

Film, Halloween

For those of you unfamiliar with the name, Film4 Frightfest is the UK’s largest horror and genre film festival, held annually in London at the end of August.

FF-2015-poster-artwork-WEB-1

Although I would consider myself somewhat of a veteran now (this being my sixth year in attendance) the festival in its current iteration was actually celebrating its sweet sixteenth birthday this year.

It serves as the focal point for every horror fan, and hosts various world and European premieres, showcasing the best talent, both at home and internationally. It also gives fans and everyone involved in the making of the movies a chance to interact in a unique way that is rarely observed during most festivals or conventions. Frightfest is about family. If you come to show your film and behave like a diva, you will be roundly ignored.

The festival seems to grow year-on-year, with over seventy films screening this time around. I was fortunate to see twenty of them, so I wanted to give you a brief overview of my experiences on each of the five glorious days of blood, guts, satirical humour, and psychological torment.

DAY ONE

The opener this year was the occult thriller CHERRY TREE, directed by David Keating (WAKE WOOD).

Sadly, the audience was not treated to the brilliance of last year’s THE GUEST to kick things off. Instead, we got a ham-fisted take on urban witchcraft, where our schoolgirl heroine is fooled into carrying an evil seed in return for the restoration of her terminally ill father. The cast did their best with some extremely clunky dialogue and uneven plotting, and the climax was nothing short of ridiculous.

Thankfully, the evening significantly improved with TURBO KID. François Simard, Anouk Whissell, Yoann-Karl Whissell (the team behind the fantastic mock trailer, DEMONITRON) introduce us to a post-apocalyptic 1997, where the grinding metal of MAD MAX is replaced with BMX bikers, and a plucky kid (Munro Chambers) sets out to save his friend from the tyrannical Zeus (Michael Ironside) while trying to emulate his comic book hero, Turbo Man.

turbo-kid-day1My one and only criticism would be that without the character of Apple, played with effervescent charm by Laurence Leboeuf, this would have been exposed for what it was (a popular short that was stretched out into a feature). Fortunately, Apple was present throughout, illuminating every scene, making Turbo Kid a joyous flirtation with 80’s Sci-Fi.

For the late film on opening night, we got Benni Diez’s romcom/B-movie mash-up STUNG. Two caterers take the job from hell when they are attacked by a swarm of genetically mutated wasps at a garden party. Even though the leads (Matt O’Leary and Jessica Cook) were charismatic enough, the romantic chemistry between them never truly caught fire. In addition, the final act was ruined by some badly rendered CGI. A big shout out has to go to Lance Henricksen. He seems to appear in everything these days, which is no bad thing.

 

DAY TWO

Friday morning brought with it the first real highlight of the festival for me. Previously, Bruce McDonald impressed with his inventive slant on the zombie apocalypse, PONTYPOOL. In HELLIONS, teenage Dora (played with panache by Chloe Rose) decides to ditch the Halloween festivities so she can come to terms with the unwanted news of her pregnancy. Alone in a house next to a pumpkin field, she is transported to a netherworld that mirrors her own, terrorised by a gang of demonic trick or treaters who resemble shrunken versions of Slipknot.

HellionsIf you are looking for plot and clever dialogue, you will be disappointed. Call me fickle, but sometimes style over substance is my bag, baby, and there’s certainly much deliciousness for the eyeballs here, in a pink filtered fever dream that will only look prettier on repeat viewings.

The next spike of a decent day came in the form of Ted Geoghegan’s Fulci-inspired haunted house tale, WE ARE STILL HERE. There was a great deal of buzz already surrounding this film. Most of it was completely justified too. The stark and cold reality of the New England countryside was beautifully captured, and the veteran actors who are front and centre play the material with conviction.

The only aspect that didn’t work for me was the tonal shift that takes place during the final act. I found it jarring, and I would have been happier with more of what this atmospheric creeper had served up before it climaxed and smothered itself in gore.

Check us out tomorrow for a continuation of T.W. Malpass’s Guest Blog series.

Guest Feature: T.W. Malpass Covers “Frightfest” – The UK’s #1 Horror Film Festival

Guest posts, Halloween

We here at Reading Other People are so thankful and grateful for T.W. Malpass’s guest blog series highlighting his adventures at Frightfest. With Halloween just days away, it’s a perfect time to to feature Malpass’s reviews and experiences of the festival.

T.W. Malpass resides in Staffordshire in the North of England and is an author of horror and dark  fantasy fiction. His work is often noted for its social commentary and references to popular culture.  His love for horror dominates his life, and he can often be seen prowling the grounds of his local cemetery at night, searching for any poor soul who will listen to him recite the complete works of H.P. Lovecraft. This guy’s a strange bird, but someone who instantly becomes your best friend when you need to win a movie quiz.

Currently, Malpass is due to release his prequel to the Fallen Gods trilogy, Fallen Gods: Origins, as well as a controversial, unnerving short story with a feminist tract, which combines FGM and reality TV.

He occasionally writes freelance articles and movie reviews and lives in his family home with his equally crazy dog, Biscuit.

When he’s not writing, you can find him here: https://www.facebook.com/T.W.Malpass

Or sometimes here: https://twitter.com/TW_Malpass

Check us out tomorrow when we feature Malpass’s first guest blog.

Malpass and Kane Hodder - that's right, Jason Voohrees himself.

Malpass and Kane Hodder – that’s right, Jason Voohrees himself.

Reviewing The Polarizing “It Follows”

Movie Reviews

I’ll admit, I tried watching It Follows earlier this year but I had gotten so bored with it that I gave up. I figured since the film is now on Netflix, and Halloween is fast approaching, I thought I’d make the commitment to see the entire thing. While my first impression was not that far off from my final impression, there were certainly some good things in between.

The film is a horror flick through and through. There’s heavy industrial music following the many long tracking shots where the damsel in distress is constantly on the move. There are plenty of low angle shots demonstrating the vulnerability of our protagonist, Jay. Technically, the movie is a complete homage to John Carpenter and Wes Craven’s great flicks, but it has a certain awareness that really catapults it onto another level.

It Follows

Some of My Favorite Halloween Flicks

Film, Halloween

Like a moth to a flame, I’m attracted to watching gory and terrifying movies around this time of year. Some I’ll be watching for the first time, some for the 14th. It’s really quite hard to really describe what it is that makes a scary film truly scary. It’s often a combination of the right lighting, plot progression and actor portrayals that really knock a horror flick out of the scary movie park. Sometimes it’s just a mood that’s evoked, or the subtle behaviours expressed by the often young talent on the screen. Regardless, scary movies are so successful because they are visceral, and here’s a list of some of my faves, in no particular order. I’ve included VERY brief descriptions of my favorite part of the films.

The Shining

Them twins.

Ginger Snaps

Mimi Rogers.

Rosemary’s Baby

The haircut.

Prom Night

The dance scene.

Misery

The hammer.

Candyman

Cabrini Green.

A Lesson in Frustration: Reviewing Goodnight Mommy

Mixed Feelings, Movie Reviews

I’m a lover of all things thriller and mystery, with a dash of horror thrown in for good measure. That is why I was super excited to check out “Goodnight Mommy,” a 2014 Austrian horror film only now  being seen in North America. The trailer alone is chills inducing, reminiscent of the creepy twins in “The Shining” and Pedro Almodovar’s “The Skin I Live In.” But like with what seems to be the tendency of most trailers these days, the best parts of the film are already shown to the viewer, taking away from the eeriness of the film.

goodnight-mommy-poster

Dark Summer

Movie Reviews

It was an evening of couch commando. I finally settled upon Dark Summer, a horror/thriller/mystery flick that looked promising. Newly released, it’s a story of a teen (though that’s unclear, I mean, how’s this kid supporting himself?) who is on house arrest after apparently being convicted of cyber-stalking his crush. Yes – that’s right. Who said chivalry is dead.

Anyhow, upon his foray into the monotony that one would imagine house arrest brings, the kid finds himself haunted by the girl he was stalking…who, mysteriously and never really explained fully, decided to call him while she offed herself. Sound pleasing? It gets better.

Dark Summer