Reviews - Films

Review: Midsommer

Today I want to talk to you about the film, Midsommer.

Midsommer is a folk horror story that was released in 2019. It was written and directed by Ari Aster, who you may remember from Hereditary. Midsommer and Hereditary are both very similar in their ability to build and hold tension as well as the sheer depth of the atmosphere.

In these blogs I usually go heavily into spoiler territory but I’m going to avoid that with this film, just because the best experience you can have with this film is when you go in blind. While the strength of this film comes from its atmosphere and its ability to build tension and keep you up there for as long as it damn well pleases, that does diminish when you know exactly what’s coming. Though that being said this isn’t a film that relies on a twist its got wonderfully crafted characters, and well thought out settings, the story is a very strong one and when you rewatch it you’ll notice all the little foreshadowing hints that you might have missed on first viewing.

Synopsis

Psychology student Dani is left distraught after her parents are killed by her sister in a murder suicide. When she tries to seek support and comfort from her boyfriend, Christan, he is emotionally distant and it is revealed to the audience that he was looking to end the relationship but felt that he couldn’t due to her recent tragedy.

Christian and his friends have been invited to Sweden, by their Swedish friend Pelle, and Dani kind of guilts them into taking her along as well. They go to witness a celebration that occurs only once every 90 years. However, on arrival they discover that there’s a lot more going on at the Hårga than some cute folk festival and the people/cult throwing the festival have ulterior motives and not all is as it seems.

My thoughts

So, this is a little difficult without going into spoiler territory but I am determined that if you’ve not seen the film then I won’t be the one who ruins your first viewing.

The pacing in this film is superb, the story advances quickly but at no point feels rushed or like things are being skipped over, nothing in my opinion felt like it lacked depth or needed to be looked into further. The pacing allowed tension to build expertly well and remain at a tolerable level for far longer than I would have expected. The film is very suspenseful, the score really helps with this.

The world building is masterful, the small settlement with the cultists feels fully developed, again with depth. This is done in many ways, one of which being the setting, the buildings and the costumes, all of which were clearly well researched. You can feel the love that Ari has for the story he was telling.

The film terrifies its audience in a number of ways, it taps into common fears with a few gross out moments as well as tapping to the fear of things such as heights, darkness etc. It taps into the fear we feel when in an alien society and the threat of that society towards outsiders. Lastly it also looks into more abstract fears, such as the fear of isolation, losing our community and support network.

Again without spoilers the ending is a mixed bag, both tragic and hopeful in the same breath.

Overall I strongly recommend this film.

Reviews, Reviews - Films

Review: Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark

I am a big fan of the old school special effects.

Do not get me wrong modern day special effects like CGI etc can be amazing when done well and either hilarious or uncanny valley when done poorly. I am not here to bash CGI I just want to gush for a moment about old school costumes, and puppetry etc.

These effects have a very warm place in my heart, probably because I was born in the mid 80’s and so spent a lot of my pre-teen years watching films like Dark Crystal, Legend, Gremlins and Labyrinth. Either way, I love the fact that these effects are ‘real’ as in the actors can see and respond to an actual ‘creature’ as opposed to people n green body suits covered in ping pong balls. They make eye contact; they physically touch the creature, and it shows in their performance.

It is for this reason that I became a fan of Guillermo del Toro, his version of Hellboy was amazing, Pan labyrinth was fantastic and his creatures in all his films are of such high quality it is like they were ‘real’.

So, when I saw he was attached to Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark I was thrilled. I could not wait to see what he did with this and I was not disappointed.

Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark was released in August 2019, directed by André Øvredal, and is based on the children’s book series of the same name.

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Reviews, Reviews - Books

Review: Ghost Story by Peter Straub

Today I want to talk to you about Ghost Story, a novel by Peter Straub. The book was published in 1979 by Coward, McCann and Geoghegan and was turned into a film in 1981. Today we will be talking about the novel, not the film.

I’ve been struggling to write this blog for a while as I find it tricky to express what it is I liked about this story. I also think its one of those ones that is best experienced first hand rather than second hand after having everything spoiled by me in a review. So, with that in mind, this will be brief.

Summary

As I said above this is a difficult story to summarise as I really don’t want to spoil it, so I will be brief.

The story is told by five men, all of whom are lifelong friends, Frederick “Ricky” Hawthorne, Sears James, Lawrence Benedikt, John Jaffrey, and Edward Wanderley, who has been dead for one year. They have dubbed their little group the Chowder Society and meet every so often to tell ghost stories.

However, since Edward’s death they have all been suffering from nightmares and fear that their own sordid past is coming to get them. They write to Edwards nephew, Donald, for aid. Donald arrives and tells his own story of a broken relationship and a suspected murder which he cannot prove.

The chowder society reveal their past, a story of Eva Galli, a beautiful woman, who met an untimely fate. Don suspects that she was a shapeshifter and has returned for revenge.

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Reviews, Reviews - Books

Review: House of Leaves

House of Leaves, was written by Mark Z. Danielewski and released in March 2000

Fundamentally this is a story about a house which is revealed to be larger on the inside than is strictly possible. This drew me in as I am a Doctor Who fan, and this immediately put me in mind of Time Lords and the TARDIS.

While, I initially struggled with the unusual layout of the book, I’m extremely glad I stuck with it. The story is marvellous and compelling. As always I will discuss the plot below, but I am going to be making an effort not to spoil to much of the story as it is such a great mystery and one you really need to experience yourself.

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Katie's Stories

I got another review!

I got mentioned in another review!

This reviewer wrote lovely little comments on all the included stories, I was thrilled that they enjoyed my little ditty.

5.0 out of 5 stars Stories to Chill the Bones…

Reviewed in the United States on October 7, 2020

I’ll be short and to the point.

If you’re like me you’ll wonder what’s about to leap from the shadows as you read this book of ghost stories.

So let’s delve into the works contained within these pages with a brief summary of each:

Scratching by Katie Robinson: Neat little ghost story that ratchets up the tension and then ends in a twist that will tug at your heart.

I really enjoyed these stories, and recommend this book as a ghostly October treat!

Reviews, Reviews - Books

Review: Heart-Shaped Box

Today I want to look at Heart-Shaped Box by Joe Hill. 

Heart-Shaped Box was published in 2007 and was Joe Hill’s first novel. It won the Bram Stoker Award for Best First Novel. 

Being a huge Stephen King fan, I was naturally drawn to this book by his son and I was not disappointed. Joe certainly shares his father’s skill for storytelling with well-crafted plots, believable characters and a firm grasp of what makes the horror genre great.  

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Creepypastas

CreepyPasta: Psychic Baby Project

Creepypasta takes many forms, some are presented as third-person perspective stories, others are accounts from a friend of a friend of a friend who knew this one guy, and others are shown as diary entries. Today’s entry is presented as a thesis, though it morphs into an account towards the latter half of the story.

Today we will be looking at the Psychic Baby Project.

Psychic Baby Project is a great example of the Creepypasta genre, it incorporates elements common to many creepypasta stories and uses them well. The narrative is easy to follow and the narrator a well-crafted one who is believable in their reactions. The plot is reasonably well done, though could use some improvement. Certain elements are left open to interpretation in some areas and several elements are not resolved or explained which adds to the potential realism of the story. But then there are elements that seem superfluous to the story and the fact that they are not resolved makes me think they would have been better off being cut completely.

I’d very much recommend you read it yourself to get the full impact.

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Reviews, Reviews - Films

Review: Dark Water

Anyone who knows me for long will tell you that my nearly all my favourite horror films are Japanese in origin. 

I think this has to do with several elements, the fact that I watch these films subtitled (which I find much more immersive and a less passive way of watching a movie), the stores they choose to tell and the fact that I am not naive to Japan, which means I only see the imports and usually money won’t be spent importing a film unless there’s a market for it and it’s reasonably good.

One of my favourite horror movies is Dark Water and it is that film that I want to talk to you about today. Keep in mind I will be discussing the 2002 story and not the 2005 remake with Jennifer Connelly.

Dark water was directed by Hideo Nakata and released in 2003 in the UK. 

Reviews, Reviews - Books

Review: Sleeping Beauties

Stephen King is one of my all-time favourite horror writers, so consider yourself pre-warned that I am not walking into this review with an open mind. I picked up this book expecting to love it and I did.

I suppose that makes this blog more a rave than a review?

I’m not blind to the book’s faults, but as with most of my reviews, I prefer to write about what

I liked as opposed to what I wasn’t keen on. Quite frankly there are enough reviews out there that discuss faults, some fairly and others less so, so I’m going to continue to sit here in my corner of positivity.

Sleeping Beauties was released in September 2017 and is a bloody huge story by Stephen King and his boy, Owen King.