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Three Horror Reviews

It’s October, and there’s things I have found on Netflix and simply not talked about. Actually a lot of my watch list and to-watch list is horror films, and while I’ll get round to From Beyond, Troll Hunters, and maybe even Errementari at some point, there’s also a few new favourites.

Time to get into the mood for some serious fear, here’s a collection of quick-fire reviews of some of Netflix’s selection of horror films.

Ghost Stories

Let’s kick off with a horror anthology which – aptly – tells three stories of hauntings and fear, but the truth is that the framing device is the film. An investigator dedicated to debunking psychics is summoned to the hiding place of an old hero, a man who faked his own death decades ago, who leaves him with a handful of case studies that he believes prove the existence of an afterlife that he’d been dedicated to debunking. A night watchman, a nervous teenager, and a boisterous landowner, beset by stories that have traumatised them to their core, each barely capable of talking through their experiences, each forces our investigator to confront something about himself.

I’m a big fan of anthologies, not that I think one can accurately call this an anthology as such. Meeting the protagonist of each story helps build some of the tension ahead of time, seeing how deeply each player is impacted by their part. This is also a parade of British talent at its best, Andy Nyman, Paul Whitehouse, Alex Lawther, and Martin Freeman are tentpoles of the cast. At times Ghost Stories get’s a little reliant on jump scares, and yes they’re often exaggerated by cheesy musical stings, but it uses them to solid effect, and supports it with magnificently built tension, a little well-placed humour, and subverts the format of the anthology by turning it wholly on the main character for the finale.

“Why is it always the last key that unlocks everything?”

The Descent Parts 1&2

Ok, this is cheating, only part 2 is on Netflix right now, and I’d seen them both anyway. Let me clarify as well that I sincerely think that the two are inextricable and that we should not offer one without the other, so do not watch it on Netflix, find some other means. Actually distribution of these films when they were created may not have done it many favours, release dates four years apart (’05 and ’09) when in fact they tell a single, unified story, but that may be about the only criticism I have. A claustrophobic tale of potholers, cavedivers, and thrillseekers who go deep underground in the Appalachian mountains and discover that something has been down there for quite some time.

Use of pure red lighting is very du-jour for the mid-00’s but it’s used to great effect as personal tensions in the group build, and spot some of the camera work and set building that really betrays the decade. But they do a great job of creating a fear of the hidden places below ground, create a genuinely horrifying monster, and mix them with a horror that lurks above ground. It’s very Lurking Fear in it’s inspirations, and is easier to appreciate if you’ve read/listened to the book, but The Descent takes a slant on the idea of subterranean humanoids and makes monsters of some of its main cast at the same time.

Apostle

For some reason Dan Stevens is not listed as being famous for Legion on imdb? What the hell is Downton Abbey?

Anyway, he and Michael Sheen headline a Wicker Man-esque horror that delves a little more directly into the supernatural while still keeping the focus on the horrors brought about by humanity’s own bad habits, our tendency to abuse a resource, mysticize what we can’t understand, and lean towards totalitarianism in the pursuit of freedom. It also fits most solidly within the modern horror oeuvre of mounting tension above overt fear, and manages to insert a rather complete thriller amongst the more terrifying elements.

A girl is held to ransom by a charismatic cult leader in a bid for money to keep his flock alive, all while maintaining a facade of normalcy. From the perspective of the mysterious stranger come to rescue his sister, normalcy is highly strange practices of bloodletting, strange scriptures, and unmerciful practices, along with visions of a strange figure that roams abroad. A cunning trick played by the soundtrack includes the sound of dripping liquid into glass, or very similar, to drive home the sanguine nature of the fear.

I’d say the ending takes a turn for the aesthetically wonderful, but starts to detract from the fear so wonderfully conjured by the first and second acts, but don’t take that as too harsh a criticism. Apostle is still a great film, just one that coasts through its finale, rather than rises through it.


Three More Netflix Reviews

I had fun with the last one, and there’s a few things I have opinions on that I didn’t review while I was in my last run of Dungeon Situationals. Rather than review one at a time, let’s take a short look at each. (more…)


Geek Out Christmas ’16

‘Tis the season to get geeky!

Falalalalaaaa….

Ahem

We’re fans of Christmas around here, and we really don’t care how or if you celebrate some holiday or other around about this time of year, or even if it’s even winter where you are (you crazy people in other hemispheres and ecosystems) we will continue to do what we do best, and what we hope all of you are doing every day of every year: Geeking Out as hard as we possibly can.

Here’s what you can look forward to…

Let’s Play

Don’t think we’ve forgotten about that YouTube channel of ours. It may have been a little while since it last saw activity, but don’t think it has simply been neglected, because despite all outward appearences GeekOut is a hive of activity; plans are afoot.

We begin this Sunday with “Quite possibly the worst game I [Tim] have ever played”. For this month you can expect a flurry of winter and christmas themed GeekOut Plays, if you have any suggestions of games we can sample, let us know in the comments, or on Facebook and Twitter.

Events

Not one, not two, but TWO GeekOut Bristol MeetUps. And yes, there is a difference between two and TWO, these ones are better.

December 10th, the first of our duo sees the return of Super Secret Santa, participants put there gifts in and get one back, with no way to know who you’re buying for or who’s buying for you. The thrills! Next week’s MeetUp features special guest, me! And if you’re a fan of the pre-meet-meal, the vote is live now to choose a venue.

The second is New Years Eve, information should be appearing on our Facebook page this week. This event will require the purchase of tickets, and spaces are limited.

Rise of the Guardians

Articles

As ever, our Saturdays will feature the weekly geekly Top 10 as chosen by you, the reader. Expect seasonal options to pop up on the vote to get us through the most wonderful time of the year. But of course, that’s not all we’ve got planned.

We’ll be reviewing those best loved geek classic films such as A Nightmare Before Christmas, and taking the time to appreciate those lesser loved greats like Rise of the Guardians and Krampus: The Reckoning.

Tim will be discussing how you can geek up your Christmas tree, and I’ll be discussing the power of cold weather in games.

All in all this month is shaping up to be a great way to wrap up the year, but you still have time to get involved, even if you can’t join as at a Bristol Meet. We still accept submissions for articles or article ideas, and we love to hear your thoughts and suggestions for the site, so get in touch via our contacts page or our social media pages. And because it’s December, and we can finally say it without fear of anyone declaring it “Too Soon”…

Get ready for a Merry Christmas.

 

 


Share Saturday – Kaiju Industries

Cosplay photographer, B-Movie reviewer and all around great guy, Rob Maythorne runs his own geek-empire called Kaiju Industries.

Really I can say no more than that, check out his work on the website, facebook, and youtube!

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And Rob, thanks for the awesome games!