Review: The Haunting of Hill House (2018)

I’ve been quiet this week as the mini boy has been having trouble at school, the last day included taking out 3 teachers and 1 TA. This is the struggle with autism, you don’t know what is coming next.

However…digressing….I haven’t been watching many horror movies this week because I’ve been binge watching The Haunting of Hill House on Netflix. It’s a series that I think you need to watch on its own merit and not compare with the book or previous movies. It needs to stand alone.

The premise of the series is a family moves into Hill House with the intention of flipping it, doing it up and selling it on so they can have the funds to buy their forever house. They have five children. There are the twins, Luke and Nell, who are adorable and completely open to the supernatural side to the house. The older siblings, Steve and Shirley, who really don’t experience much and think the twins are crazy. There is also Theo is the middle, she has her own psychic abilities but keeps it locked in. The story switches between the past and the present. We know something terrible happened to their beloved mother in house and that each them as adults are broken in their own way.

Each episode focuses of a different sibling and some of their backstory, until towards the end when it all starts to come together centering on the house. The stories told are as much about a family broken by tragedy and the effects of that on their lives as it is about ghosts and horror. The ghosts often represent their own personal fears and tragedies. It also addresses family relationships and secrets.

The first two episodes I was underwhelmed but I pushed on. I think I was struggling to figure out the characters as to me they looked like (the women that is) and switching between the past and the present was confusing to my ASD brain. However, by the third episode I was officially sucked in. Some episodes were better than others but the strong ones were fantastic. I started to care about most of the characters, Steve was a douche and Shirley was a grumpy bitch but the rest I wanted to see develop. I thought the Luke and Nell episodes were amazing and gut wrenching. Oh my God, Nell and the bent neck lady….arghhhhh! There are just enough plot twists to keep you wanting to watch the next episode.

Horror wise, there are plenty of ghosts within the house to keep horror fiends happy. There is the horrific bent necked lady, the floating man in the bowler hat, the zombie in the basement, the old lady, Poppy the crazy lady, the tall man, and many more.

The boy had to revise (so he tells me) so I watched on without him but I will be watching again to try and spot the hidden ghosts that are apparently spooky Easter eggs throughout.

It was a really strong series with just a few blips so I can’t give it 10/10 but definitely a solid 9/10. The point lost was on the melodramatic ending, which felt rushed considering the slow burn build up and there was so much more to the story that needs to be told. Second season please???

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Movie Review: Hereditary (2018)

Hereditary has been well hyped and I was worried like Veronica it was going to be a disappointment. I went in not knowing anything about it and I think this is important for the movie and I’ll try not to give any spoilers away.

The movie takes places after Annie’s (played by Toni Collette) mother has passed away. She has two child, Charlie and Peter and is married to Steve. She sneaks out to attend a grief counselling session and it transpires she had a very complicated relationship with her mother, who had mental health issues and a brother, who killed himself after also having mental health issues. This lines up the idea of how much of what Annie is experiencing may be mental health issues due to her family circumstances. The movie is a slow burning one but contains excellent story telling. When the shocks happen, they really get you (I ended up spilling something all over the sofa in shock and there was a shout of Oh My God from both me and the boy). The boy says it’s definitely one of the best horrors we have seen this year. It gives me that 70’s horror vibe, folk horror (my favourite!), I don’t know if I’ve ever mentioned one of my favourite movies is The Wicker Man (the proper one not the Nicholas Cage mess!). There is so much symbolism and story telling throughout, you certainly could watch it again as nothing is too obvious. Most horror films these days are dumbed down, and this movie takes it back to llowing us to make our minds up. Looking at some of the reviews, it’s like marmite, you love it or hate it. I loved it, even the dodgy CGI moment near the end. The end really ramps up the pace and shocks come thick and fast. Toni Collette acts her heart out. Some moments really crawl into your brain and stay with you. Charlie makes a funny little click sound throughout and I’ve found myself doing it…creepy.

9/10. One of the best horrors I’ve seen for a long while.

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Weekly stuff

It’s been an interesting week. An anxious week and a busy week. I was diagnosed on Monday with Asperger’s Syndrome. It wasn’t a great surprise but I’m trying to come to terms with it and what it means for me. In between I’ve been feeding my friends cats, taking some photos and watching underwhelming horror movies. I was starting to feel reluctant to review them because I don’t want to produce negative reviews all the time. I watched Hereditary on Saturday and that was much more my thing. That will have a review. I also watched Ghost House with Scout Taylor-Compton which was a mish-mash of lots of Asian horror ideas and the ghost/creature was horrendous…and not in a scary way. American Horror Story Apocalypse is really ramping up on episode 3. Deaths, mutants, witches oh my! Michael Langdon is starting to develop into his role, when at first I thought he was wooden. The story is starting to reveal itself and I thought it was a great episode. I was hoping to watch The Haunting of Hill House but had technical issues with Netflix. Currently trying to read The Forgotten Child by Melissa Erin Jackson but people keep interrupting me. I took some gorgeous photographs out and about. It hasn’t been feeling much like autumn though in the UK, it feels unseasonably warm and we have winds from Storm Callum. So here’s some photos I took along my travels this week. I feel so lucky that I can find these little pockets of beauty right in the middle of town.

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Movie Review: Malevolent (2018)

Am I doomed to be underwhelmed by the offerings of horror this October season?????

Malevolent (2018) is a Netflix original. Angela and Jackson are brother and sister who have started a ghost busting business to con grieving families out of large sums of money. It’s clear Angela is unhappy with the arrangement but is easily influenced by her brother. It is also clear from the beginning that Angela’s “powers” aren’t all fake. A visit to her granddad explains their mother died after receiving ghostly visions and removing her own eyes. Obviously, Angela’s real fear is turning out like her mother. Her brother owes money to some dodgy individuals who give him a beating and it’s only for this reason she agrees to go and do this one job with him. It is at the site of a multiple murder of young girls, who were tortured and had their mouths sewn up. The mother of the child murderer wants the ghosts to shut up so hires them.

This movie had an interesting story but took too long to get there. It’s very hard to feel any sympathy towards Jackson’s character. Towards the end there’s some gory moments but I started to lose track of the story. It had potential but the story had to be told better, suspense was really lacking and they seemed to save everything up to the end but by that time I’d lost interest. It’s a shame as there were some solid actors that didn’t get a chance to show their potential (James Cosmo and Celia Imrie). There were lots of plot holes, Elliott (Angela’s love interest) was indestructible for example and the story was really under developed. I LIKE SOME DECENT BACKSTORY. There were lots of nose bleeds and I’d had enough of Rose McGowan’s nose bleeds in Paranormal: White Noise.

5/10. Potential but lost itself along the way.

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Book Review: Everyday Enchantments by Maria F. DeBlassie (2018)

Everyday Enchantments by Maria F. DeBlassie is not what I expected. Diving in, I expected another spell book instead it was a thing of beauty. It was a lyrical account of a witches everyday life and this is what magic is, the ability to see the magic intertwined in each and every thing we do on a day to day basis. It brought the art of mindfulness alive for me, much more so than any mindfulness textbook ever has. It was poetic and flowing, I haven’t felt so touched by a book like this since Emma Restall Orr’s Spirits of the Sacred Grove. If you are racing through life from experience to experience maybe slow down and read this book to revel in the beauty of the simple things. If anything this is just beautifully written and I’m sure even non witches and Pagans would find inspiration here. It brought to life the authors culture and her experiences in New Mexico, maybe not something that I have a personal connection with but the author transported me there with her. Little nuggets of magical wisdom are hidden away within the authors words if you take the time to explore.

5/5. Inspirational mindfulness. Get a cup of tea, wrap yourself in a home made blanket, cast away aspirations of perfection and love life and yourself just as it is and you are.

Thank you to NetGalley and John Hunt Publishing Ltd for this eArc copy in exchange for an honest review.

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Movie Review: Paranormal: White Noise (2017)

Paranormal: White Noise (Alternative title: The Sound) was a new title I spotted on Netflix. I’ve fallen behind on my 31 horror movies for October so didn’t have time to worry about it, I just choose it as I’d already spent some of the evening watching the new Doctor Who. It stars Rose McGowan and Christopher Lloyd. The last horror I’ve seen Christopher Lloyd in was at a 4D kids ghost film at Flamingo Land theme park.

I expected better. Simply….it was boring. Rose McGowan was dour and smug in her role as paranormal debunker throughout. I couldn’t understand Christopher Lloyd’s mutterings. There was a number of things going on but nothing really connected. Old burial sites, creepy dolls, suicide, secret passage to ye olde asylum, Rose McGowan’s characters mental health issues after an anniversary of something very bad…it was almost like they choose as many popular themes as they could and just mashed they together in a creepy subway without any cohesion. Everybody seemed to have great 4G and mobile signals as they rang each other and updated twitter in the underground tunnels (until it became convenient not to have signal story line wise). Apparently, it was sensible for a lone woman to wander around an abandoned subway station alone and with a top of the range laptop (Insert Apple product placement here), not a homeless person or crackhead in sight. Even the police let her carry on…wasn’t it trespassing?…in the UK you would be escorted out and possibly facing a fine or imprisonment! Other questions include do moths make a buzzing sound? Did she have a photographic memory? One quick google and she memorizes an authentic ritual to summon spirits. There was some dodgy CGI. It took all my considerable power to keep the boys sarcasm in a box so I could try and understand this mishmash of a movie. There was a serious misuse of hashtags in place of any decent dialogue…..#ihatepeoplewhohashtageverything….. There was additional background story to add to everything else that was going on. Yet this just confused the movie even more. It was disappointing because maybe if one line of story was chosen and developed more deeply maybe it would have been better.

3/10….#boring #disappointing #wasteofanhourandahalf

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Book Review: Haunted: The Horror of Haverfordwest by G.L Davies

Haunted: The Horror of Haverfordwest by G. L Davies (Release date: 30th of November, 2018).

Blurb: Blissful beginnings for a young couple turn into a nightmare after purchasing their dream home in Wales in 1989. Their love and their resolve are torn apart by an indescribable entity that pushes paranormal activity to the limit. Haunted: Horror of Haverfordwest is the prequel to the bestselling A Most Haunted House. Dare you step inside…

Anne and Dai moved into the house as their first home together but right from the beginning they start to experience the unexplained. From vivid horrifying nightmares to black dogs to unexplained noises and visitations. It nearly tears their relationship apart. They are haunted by a vile old lady, two strange children and a large angry man….a twisted family that refuse to let anyone find happiness in the house.

When I requested this book I was unaware that it was a real life account and I also didn’t know it was a prequel. This might have put me off. At first I worried it would have a “found footage” feel as it was written in an interview format. However, I continued and soon found myself drawn into the story of Anne and Dai. It resonates with me as I have lived in Wales in my misspent youth and I have also lived in a haunted house (not at the same time). I think because I have experienced living in a haunted environment the story felt authentic. I found this book genuinely creepy. I would love to know if anyone ever found more information about the spirits in this house and their origin. I thought the authors attempt at the end to provide a variety of potential reasons for the experiences other that a supernatural origin really interesting and refreshing that alternative conclusions were explored.

5/5: A real life haunting account. 

Thank you to NetGalley and John Hunt Publishing for this eArc in exchange for an honest review.

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Movie Review: The Vault (2017)

The boy fell asleep after 5 minutes in and I thought it was a shame. I enjoyed The Vault. It starts with 2 sisters, their brother and a couple of friends/accomplices, who are in the process of robbing a bank. It stars James Franco, Clint Eastwood’s daughter and Taryn Manning. Early on, the fact that the bank is haunted is alluded to. They take hostages and unfortunately discover there is not enough money for their needs until the assistant manager, James Franco points out there is another vault with millions in. Of course, this is the haunted part of the bank and chaos ensues. Somebody has alerted the police and bad guys start dying. It took a while to get going and a while for the relationships to become clear. Apart from this, there were some semi decent jump scares. Dead people with bags on their heads covered with soaked blood creep me out a bit. There was a twist at the end that I saw coming but I liked it. I also thought up some other twists they could have done if they’d pushed the boat out. It didn’t blow my mind…but it wasn’t terrible. I felt Taryn Manning was type cast as white trash again and James Franco was a strange choice of casting. I’m struggling to find enthusiasm one way or another. So I guess 6/10 for this middle of the road horror but with some nuggets of creepy gold.

31 days of horror movies for October: 1st of October: Absentia 4/10. 

2nd of October: Cold Skin 7/10.

3rd of October: The Vault 6/10.

 

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Movie Review: Cold Skin (2017)

We choose Cold Skin as part of 31 horror movies for October. It was in the Netflix horror section but strictly speaking I classed it more as a fantasy movie now that I’ve seen it. It stars Ray Stevenson, who I have loved since his days as Pullo in Rome.

Cold Skin is based just before the commencement of the first world war. A young man is dropped off on a remote island with only a lighthouse, the strange lighthouse keeper and a cottage. He is there for 12 months to monitor the weather. It appears Gruner, the lighthouse keeper has lost all social niceties as he parades around naked and is generally anti social. We never learn the younger mans name but we can guess he probably went to private school, suffered some kind of disappointed and has delusions of the romanticism of solitude. The reality of being left for 12 months on a remote island soon becomes apparent when on the first night he is attacked by unseen creatures. Soon he meets the sea creatures that swarm the island night after night and explain why the lighthouse keeper has barricaded the lighthouse. He also meets Gruner’s “pet” sea creature, Aneris. Gruner treats her much like a dog/slave. The sea creatures remind me of Gollum, maybe the creatures of the descent. There were so many unanswered questions that could have been developed further…however there was only so much time and it might just be me that needs answers putting on a plate so to speak. I think it answers one question quite clearly….we all have the ability to become monsters.

The visuals are stark and beautiful. The story is simple and the lesson is clearly making parallels with how “civilized” humans always assume the worse of tribal communities, choosing violence over peace, slavery over friendship. I don’t think this movie is for everyone but we enjoyed it.  7/10. 

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Book Review: The House by the Cemetery by John Everson

Thank you to NetGalley and Flame Tree Press for this eArc for an honest review. Release date for this title is 18th of October, 2018.

The House by the Cemetery by John Everson I expected to be your traditional haunted house book. It was only later I realized that the title is a nod to the movie of the same name by Lucio Fulci. This books horror name dropping has made me want to visit some old classics.

Blurb:

Rumor has it that the abandoned house by the cemetery is haunted by the ghost of a witch. But rumors won’t stop carpenter Mike Kostner from rehabbing the place as a haunted house attraction. Soon he’ll learn that fresh wood and nails can’t keep decades of rumors down. There are noises in the walls. Fresh blood on the floor. Secrets that would be better not to discover. Because behind the rumors is a real ghost who will do whatever it takes to ensure the house reopens. She needs people to fill her house on Halloween. There’s a dark, horrible ritual to fulfill. Because while the witch may have been dead…she doesn’t intend to stay that way.

The House by the Cemetery was not your average traditional haunted house story. It was a B-movie romp full of blood and gore. The author obviously adores horror movies referencing several throughout the haunted house attraction creation. I would watch this as a movie. It was a great book for the start of October on the run up to Halloween. While there may have been some obvious plot lines and may not hold many surprises it was great fun and well written. The characters were well developed. The ghost hunters were annoying though but maybe they were supposed to be. I finished this book in a couple of days but it hasn’t put me off visiting any Halloween haunted house attractions…not that we get much of that in the UK unfortunately. I’ll be lucky to find a pumpkin patch. I would certainly read more by John Everson. Great book just don’t take it too seriously. 4/5. B movie horror fun for Halloween. 

 

31 days of horror movies for October: 1st of October: Absentia 4/10. 

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