Reviews - Books

Book Review: World War Z

Today I want to talk to you about World War Z. This is a novel by Max Brooks, published by Crown Publisher in 2006. It was also made into a film that starred Brad Pitt and was released in 2013. 

The book takes place during a zombie apocalypse and is broken down into five chapters. It’s an interesting book to read, not just for its content but for how it is presented, the five-chapter structure is interesting as is how information is relayed to the reader. The book has a narrator but is a collection of individual accounts which take place across the globe. I particularly enjoyed how the accounts don’t just focus on the ‘ahh’ factor of the zombies but other ramifications including social, political, religious, economic, and environmental changes.

The book is a sequel of sorts to Brooks’ other novel the Zombie Survival Guide. The audio version of the story is performed by a cast rather than a single narrator.

Summary

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The story begins approx. 20 years post the start of the zombie ‘pandemic’ and 10 years post the end, we won. The story follows Max, the book’s narrator ad agent of the USA’s post-war commission as he travels the world interviewing other survivors. 

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Reviews - Films

Film: Malignant

Baby Back

Today I want to talk with you about a movie I enjoyed, about a lady who has visions only to find they are coming true.

Malignant is a supernatural horror film, it was released in 2021 and directed by James Wan. It was written by James Wan and Ingrid Bisu and Akela Cooper.

Setting

Modern-ish day America.

Characters

Our main characters are:

  • Madison – our main character  
  • Sydney – Madison’s sister
  • Gabriel – I’m saying nothing.
  • Detectives Kekoa Shaw and Regina Moss
  • Dr. Florence Weaver & Victor Fields & John Gregory – doctors at Simion Hospital

Plot

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The film starts in 1993, in Simion Hospital, with Dr. Weaver, Victor Fields and John Gregory treating a psychiatric patient, Gabriel. Gabriel has apparently got magic powers, as he is able to eat electricity and broadcasts his thoughts via speakers. Unfortunately for everyone Gabriel turns violent and kills a bunch of people in the hospital. Dr Weaver claims she can’t fix him and they have to cut the cancer out.

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Reviews - Films

Film: Antlers

Everyone loves a wendigo

Today I am writing to tell to you about Antlers, which is a film with a lot of symbolism.

It was released in 2021 and directed by Scot Cooper. It was adapted from the short story, The Quiet Boy, written by Nick Antosca.

Summary

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The story takes place in a small town in Oregon, where a drug dealer, Frank, runs his meth lab out of an old mine. Frank is visiting his lab and he; his son Aiden and Franks meth pal are all attacked by a creature in the mine.  Frank and Aiden escape but meth buddy does not. However, Frank and Aiden are not well after the attack and return home to be locked in the basement by Franks other boy, Lucas.

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Reviews - Games

Review: Fatal Frame 2

When rituals go wrong

Today I am writing to you about Fatal Frame, in particular Fatal Frame 2. 

The reason I’m talking to you about the second game in the series and not the first is simply because the games storylines are not related and the story in the second game is better than the first one. It was designed to be a more interesting story purposefully due to people not finishing the first game (it was too frightening to finish lol, so a more compelling story was crafted, or so the rumour goes). 

Fatal frame is a survival horror game made by Tecmo and released on the PlayStation in 2003 and is widely considered to be among the scariest games ever made. 

The game follows twin sisters Mio and Mayu as they explore an abandoned village and experience encounters with the paranormal. 

During the game the player controls the protagonist Mio and must use a camera to defeat enemies and uncover the secrets of the village. There are two modes of gameplay, field mode and viewfinder mode. When in field mode, the player can examine items and search areas for clues. But when the camera is used, the game enters viewfinder mode, from where pictures of ghosts and scenery can be taken. 

I was hoping to talk about this game without spoiling anything major but found that it was impossible to talk in depth without ruining the game story wise. So, this is your warning, here be spoilers. 

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Reviews - Films

Review: Midsommer

Rituals and pretty dresses

Today I want to write 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.

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Reviews, Reviews - Films

Review: Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark

I’ve got a story to tell

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

Stories matter

Today I am writing 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

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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

This book is weird, in the best way

Today I wanted to write to you about a strange book.

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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