Film Review: Final Destination (2000)

Ah, a classic horror at this point. I feel like everyone of my generation saw this one growing up. It’s definitely one of the most memorable and has some big names: Devon Sawa, Ali Larter, Kerr Smith, Seann William Scott, etc.

The film follows a group teens after they manage to cheat death. It all starts when the group are getting ready to head to Paris for a school trip. Alex, the leader character, has a horrible nightmare where everyone dies and after freaking out, is escorted off the plane. A few other students are taken off with him and are forced to stay behind, along with one of their teachers. Turns out, Alex was completely right. And no one is comfortable with the implication.

Carter, who has a chip on his shoulder about Alex’s entire existence, it seems, blames him for getting them into trouble and for having the dream and then for being right. Carter even confronts him later at the funeral. Some students, like Billy, are convinced Alex is psychic and ask him questions about the future. The teacher, too, is freaked out by his vision and is cruel to Alex for having the premonition. Slowly, though, the survivors realise that they aren’t safe and didn’t escape.

Overall, this is a film that will make you walk on egg shells for the rest of your life and, as a result, it makes for a solid horror movie. Everything will make you jump and start after you watch this!

Did anyone else watch this growing up? Favourite childhood spooky movie?

Film Review: The Skeleton Key (2005)

I’m a huge fan of Southern Gothic as a genre, although I actually only learned today that the name for the genre started out as an insult. Ellen Glasgow was criticising Erskine Caldwell and William Faulkner and labelled them as ‘Southern Gothic’ and the name stuck. This was in 1935. But I really like the tone of Southern Gothic literature and cinema. True Blood (2008) and The Gift (2000) are the first things that usually spring to mind when I think of the genre, although I feel like Justified (2010) has some Southern Gothic vibes. If there’s such a thing as Modern Western Gothic, I’d put Justified in that category!

Continuing on with my October horror movie marathon, I picked up The Skeleton Key. The film follows a hospice nurse who quits her job because she finds that not enough people care about the patients, and takes a month-long job in the bayou at an old plantation house, caring for the ailing owner. She’s brought in by the estate agent, much to the wife’s frustration, but decides to stick it out.

Things are instantly eventful. There are no mirrors in the house, leading to a sense of foreboding, and the old man seems to be trying to communicate with Caroline, the nurse. As time goes on, more and more strange things start to happen. And then Violet, the wife, tells Caroline about the house’s history and the horrible things done by the previous owners.

You can see where this is going.

I’m not sure that angle really worked for me. It just made me really sad. Plantations hold devastating histories and having that incorporated into the storyline left me gloomy. I did think the actors did a good job, and I certainly didn’t see the ending coming, but overall this movie wasn’t for me.

October Recommendations

October is probably my favourite month of the year. I love the themes, the bite in the air and the scented candles. Everything is orange and yellow and red, everyone’s wearing jumpers and scarves, and things seem quieter, calmer. So I wanted to compile some of the things I associate with October into one place. And because I think this is a season that blends cosiness with spookiness well, these recs are very varied!

Gilmore Girls (2000), without a doubt. This has been a childhood favourite of mine for years, but whenever I think of autumn and fall, I think of Lorelei and Rory. Everything about Stars Hollow is cosy and cute, the colours are so vibrant and the town so festive. Definitely a fall favourite! I also really find the small town theme very cosy, so following this theme, allow me to also recommend Virgin River (2019) and Hart of Dixie (2011).

The Exorcist (2016) is another show to watch this month, for sure. I really loved the storylines and everyone should give it a go. It got cancelled after two seasons, but it ends on a good note that isn’t utterly frustrating or cliffhangery. Some other really good shows are: Bates Motel (2013), Slasher: The Executioner (2016) and Zone Blanch (2017). Unfortunately, I think Zone Blanch was cancelled, too, but gosh if it wasn’t amazing noir-misty-mystery.

Buffy the Vampire Slayer (1997) has amazing Hallowe’en episodes and they’re basically classics by this point: people turning into their costumes, a haunted house that becomes real, Giles and his costumes, Dawn getting into trouble. Stranger Things (2016) is also definitely going to enter the realm of classics someday.

The Legend of Sleepy Hollow is probably one of the top October recs. I want to actually watch The Adventures of Ichabod and Mr. Toad (1949) soon, which I haven’t seen yet, but I really love the movie Sleepy Hollow (1999). I also recommend It Follows (2014), which is so eerie, I can’t even describe. It’s all filmed on site in Detroit, which was really cool. Some other more classic recs are: Practical Magic (1998), Hocus Pocus (1993), Scream (1996), The Addams Family (1991) and The Cabin in the Woods (2012).

I recently watched The Skeleton Key (2005), which follows a young nurse when she goes to tend to an aged couple on an old plantation in Louisiana. She quickly discovers that not everything is as it seems and there’s something else in the house. It’s an interesting addition to the Southern Gothic genre, although I didn’t like it as much as I’d hoped. The cast is great, though!

Other general horror movies for you to peruse, if you’re in the mood: Christine (1983), Friday the 13th (2009), #Alive (2020), The Possession (2012) and It (2017). I also have some horror-comedy recs here. Horror-comedy is one of my favourite subgenres and I wish there were more in the category!

Candles! I love candles. They’re absolutely one of the best things about fall and winter. I mean, I have candles year round, but the best scents come out around this time: pumpkin, spice, ginger, apple, cinnamon. All smells I associate with autumn and all are pretty much guaranteed to put me in a festive mood.

The clothes! I’m not a summer clothes kind of lady. I prefer jeans, boots, jumpers, scarves and knit hats. I definitely prefer the cold weather, too, but I also just think the styles are so much better. Fall styles > summer styles, for real. I got a new coat and scarf recently (on sale!) and love wearing them when I go out. I’m not much for short sleeves, to be honest.

As for reads, I think Pumpkinheads (2019) definitely picks up the spirit of the season! Such an adorable comic/graphic novel, honestly. I also absolutely loved The Monsters We Deserve (2019). Like, really truly loved it. I finally got to The Legend of Sleepy Hollow (1820), which I reviewed here and can wholeheartedly recommend it. Of course there’s the always relevant The Exorcist (1971), Dracula (1897) and Frankenstein (1818). The Witches (1983) is another classic.

General horror reads: I Know What You Did Last Summer (1973), Everything’s Fine (2020), Anything Resembling Love (2020), Eyes I Dare Not Meet in Dreams (2017), Selfies (2014), These Deathless Bones (2017), A Forest, or a Tree (2019), Lullaby for a Lost World (2016), A Gift of Magic (1972), Gallows Hill (1997), The Third Eye (1984), Killing Mr Griffin (1990), Stranger With my Face (1990), Down a Dark Hall (1975), and Summer of Fear (1976).

And, of course, Hallowe’en, or All Hallows’ Eve, or Samhain. I have a huge fascination with history, especially the history of religions and holidays. And I am fascinated by Pagan and Celtic history. I was never much into the trick or treating aspect of the modern holiday, although the few times I went as a kid were good fun. But I’ve always loved the atmosphere of the time, the idea of a thinning between the worlds.

Annnnd that’s all I can think of for now. What do you love during October?

Film Review: Friday the 13th (2009)

I’m definitely not a fan of gore-horror. And yet for some reason I’ve still seen a good number of them? I don’t know. I’m easily grossed out and scared, but sometimes I’m also in the mood for an over the top kind of flick. So today I decided to rewatch Friday the 13th (2009). I’m not really into the franchise (again, I like my horror spooky, not gore-y), but I like the casting of this film: Jared Padalecki, Danielle Panabaker and Ryan Hanson are all fantastic, so I sort of endure the gore.

I think Jason is probably one of the scariest film villains of all time. Like, I have absolutely no desire to watch Freddy V Jason. I am a wimp. But I previously watched this one when it first came out because I was watching Supernatural at the time and I made a point of watching all of Jensen Ackles’ and Jared Padelecki’s filmography. I also watched My Bloody Valentine 3D (2009) right around the same time. And it’s funny that I’m so scared of horror given that Supernatural was my favourite show of all time when I was younger. But I suppose half the fun of watching a horror movie/show is scaring yourself. And this one is certainly frightening!

What I like about Friday the 13th (2009) is Clay’s determination to find his sister. I really like those kinds of characters. I didn’t care much for any of the other characters apart from Clay, Jenna and Whitney, but they’re in the majority of the film and bring good characterisation to an otherwise nonstop gore fest, which is a plus.

I’m not sure if this made me inclined to see the original, but if you like terrifying movies with lots of screaming, this might be up your alley. I’m mostly just glad I watched it during the day time and not while staying at a cabin by the lake.

3 Mini Audiobook Reviews: The Legend of Sleepy Hollow (1820), Nick and Charlie (2015), Serpentine (2020)

The Legend of Sleepy Hollow by Washington Irving

It is remarkable that the visionary propensity I have mentioned is not confined to the native inhabitants of the valley, but is unconsciously imbibed by every one who resides there for a time. However wide awake they may have been before they entered that sleepy region, they are sure, in a little time, to inhale the witching influence of the air, and begin to grow imaginative, to dream dreams, and see apparitions.

Oooooh, at last! What a perfect October read. I’ve seen the film, of course, but I haven’t ever got around to the book. So glad I finally did. I also recommend the audiobook. The narrator’s absolutely class and it’s a great hour-long Gothic horror bit of escapism. 

Nick and Charlie by Alice Oseman

This was my first Alice Oseman read and now I’m going to have to start all of her others asap! ♡

Serpentine by Philip Pullman

I read the original His Dark Materials so long ago that I don’t remember as much as I’d like, so getting back into the world of Lyra with this short story was really nice. I definitely want to reread the whole series again, as well as finally getting to La Belle Sauvage. The note at the end by Philip Pullman is really nice, too. ♡

Film Review: Christine (1983)

I’m one of the many who watches more spooky things in the month of October. I get in the odd mood for horror, but usually I watch the bulk of them in October. I’ve also been trying to watch more classic movies just in general. I’d heard about Christine before, and I know of John Carpenter’s other films, but I never got around to this one. I also didn’t realise it was by Stephen King until after, so that’s a fail on my part. For anyone who’s a fan of vintage cars and classic horror, this one is definitely worth a go.

Some spoilers herein

The film follows Arnie, a high-schooler who is frequently bullied. He’s best friends with Dennis and the pair of them face off against the bullies together. Arnie and his mum have a complicated relationship that only worsens when he impulsively decides to buy ‘Christine’, a vintage 1958 Plymouth Fury. Little does anyone know – except the seller – that the car has a dark history.

Arnie fixes Christine up and soon the car is in pristine condition, but Arnie starts to change as time progresses. He starts getting more confident, bolder. He also starts getting meaner and more violent. Any word against his car sets him off. Things only worsen when he starts to date Leigh. Christine seems almost … jealous. (Yep.)

After Leigh almost dies, she blames Christine and parts ways with Arnie, who won’t hear a word about it. Leigh turns to Dennis, who’s also starting to have his concerns about the car, and the pair decide they have to do something about it.

The soundtrack in this film was excellent, so that has to be mentioned first. Old horror really had a knack for those soundtracks. The CGI is fantastic – I was really impressed by the car fixing itself scenes – and the film relies on soundtrack, atmosphere and surprise more than loud screams, like so many others.

My one biggest nitpick is the standing in the centre of the road. There are WAY TOO MANY scenes where the characters could go literally in any other direction and yet they do not move out of the car’s path. One scene in particular keeps panning out from Leigh as she just … stands there, staring at the car, not moving. For. Ages. Gurl, I get that you’re scared, but move out of the fucking way! Oh my gosh. My partner and I kept looking from the screen, to each other, to the screen, to each other, and still Leigh did not move. It made no sense. Why wouldn’t you move?! The car isn’t even barrelling at her. It’s literally creeping towards her and she watches it. All I could think of is that scene in How I Met Your Mother where Barney is learning how to drive and doesn’t turn the wheel. (Also that scene in Bob’s Burgers where Tina’s learning to drive, but now I’m just wildly off topic …)

That said, overall it’s a really solid film and I’m definitely going to try and watch more John Carpenter soon.

Also, Dennis stole this whole movie. Four for you, Dennis. You go, Dennis!

Short Film Reviews: Toy Story of Terror! (2013) & Toy Story That Time Forgot (2014)

One of my favourite movies this year was Toy Story 4 and I was super bummed that there weren’t any more in the series to watch. Imagine my delight when I stumbled across the shorts!

Toy Story of Terror! is a Hallowe’en tale where our favourite group of toys are watching a horror movie in the boot of the car. The tyre pops and Bonnie’s mum is forced to divert to a motel for the night. Pricklepants is convinced that they’re walking into a horror movie and spooks everyone as things start to unfold in line with his predictions. When Jessie disappears, Buzz and Woody lead the charge to find her, and high jinks ensue!

Toy Story That Time Forgot is centred around Bonnie’s trip to her friend Mason’s house at Christmas time. When Bonnie and Mason ditch the toys for video games, they’re left to fend for themselves amongst Mason’s toys, who have never been played with and don’t know they’re toys.

I was really impressed that these short films were just as good as the movies. The comedy is perfect and the storylines are short and sweet. I totally recommend both. They’re seriously good fun and I laughed the whole way through!

Random Articles I’ve Read This Week

I read so many good articles that I want to recommend to people, and usually I just toss them onto Twitter for anyone who might be interested, but I thought I’d post a few really good ones here to collect them all in one place. In fact, I might actually start doing these regularly, just so I remember which articles to come back to later!

One of my favourite articles recently was Marilyn Manson’s interview with Nicolas Cage on Interview Magazine.I adore Nicolas Cage and I’m sitting here *most impatiently* waiting for National Treasure 3, and I really loved this interview. My other favourite article is, ‘100 Years of Photographs of Gay Men in Love‘, which is just such a lovely collection.

As I was watching a new Turkish drama the other night (Filinta), I ended up doing a bit of research about the history of Turkish television. I read Fatima Bhutto’s article on The Guardian, ‘How Turkish TV is taking over the world‘ and Murat Sofuoglu’s article on Medium, ‘The giddying rise of Turkish television series‘. Both them were so insightful. Also, feel free to recommend any Turkish dramas you like! I’m always here for more recs.

On a radically different note, I’ve been reading a lot about the pandemic’s impact on the world at large. Some really insightful articles that I’ve stumbled across are: ‘Out of Work in America‘ on The New York Times, which is super depressing. So many people are out of work and struggling. My heart breaks for each and every one of them. ‘Manhattan Hits a Virus Milestone: Median Rent Below $3,000‘ just made my mouth drop. Did anyone ever see that old website that listed New York City apartments pictures versus prices? It was insane.

Today’s ‘America hits highest daily number of coronavirus cases since pandemic began‘ on The Washington Post hit me really hard. This pandemic isn’t nearly over and it’s so heartbreaking. Also, in Irish pandemic news, this article today offered some information on pandemic vaccine progress: ‘Pfizer’s Covid-19 vaccine could be available ‘within weeks’ and Ireland would be one of the first countries to get it‘.

Pull Yourself Up by Bootstraps? Go Ahead, Try It‘ is another one that’s really worth a read. That article followed this clip, for context. I’m always so impressed with AOC’s know-how and I just adore her. ‘There’s Something About AOC‘ is another wonderful read. I also read John Cusack’s interview about American politics, which was fascinating, and Jacobin‘s new article was really insightful, too. I also want to recommend: ‘How Americans View Foreign Policy in the Trump Era‘ on TIME, for anyone interested in foreign policy.

Has anyone read any good articles this week? I’d love some recs!

Show Review: Daredevil (2015)

‘This … Elektra, this is a part of me that I need. And you’re the only one who gets it. Without this, I’m not alive. I’m not. Not really. And I know that now, thanks to you. I don’t know what we are together, and if we have any chance in the future … But I … I do know that I’m free with you. Like with no one else.’

I’ve come in and out of Daredevil. I don’t know why, cos it’s amazing, but I just never made it past season one the first few times. And I love season one. I’ve seen it multiple times. But I’ve been wanting to finish it properly, so this time I came in with the arrival of Elektra and my word, I don’t think I’ve adored a star-crossed couple as much as Matt Murdock and Elektra.

This pair, ahh. They are what OTPs are made of.

The storylines of Daredevil are so enthralling and require your full and total attention, and season two is a great mix of a case that’s impossible not to care about – Karen learning about Frank Castle’s past and seeing the human side of him – alongside an epic, heart-shattering romance – Matt’s relationship with Elektra. Their history/flashbacks are so perfect and make them impossible not to root for. Matt and Karen are cute this season, but I really liked watching Karen with Frank and Foggy, and Matt with Elektra and Stick. Those were great trios and made the season nonstop action and anxiety.

I haven’t read the comics, or seen season three yet, so I don’t know where the final season is going, or what’s going to happen in The Defenders, but I’m excited. The fact that Daredevil got cancelled before it got a fourth season is truly gutting, because now I want many, many seasons of Matt and Elektra fighting side by side and being ridiculously perfect for each other. (ˆ⌣ˆ)

A Glimpse into the Gothic

Gothic as a genre is something that’s always intrigued me. I love the idea of dark, spooky manors, of mysteries that lurk beneath, of fog and shadows and whispers. Of course, being named after a Gothic novel – Daphne du Maurier’s Rebecca (1938) – probably has something to do with it, but I’m always wanting more. Give me the ghostly, the haunted, the mysterious, and bring it dressed in pale colours, windswept and chilling. Bring it in gorgeous architecture, in castles and manors, in forests and fields and by the sea, with grey skies and constant rains.

The first novel I ever remember properly encountering and identifying as ‘Gothic’ was Northanger Abbey (1871) by Jane Austen. Then there’s Charlotte Brontë’s Jane Eyre (1847), Emily Brontë’s Wuthering Heights (1847) and Gaston Leroux’s Le Fantôme de l’Opéra (1909), which are probably some of the most well known classics. Robert Louis Stevenson’s Strange Case of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde (1886) is on my list, although I haven’t read it yet. I’ve always known the peripheries of this story, but don’t actually know the finer points of the story, so I’d like to read it properly soon. Actually, add Dracula (1897) to that list as well because even though I’m familiar with the names of Count Dracula, Mina, Harker and Van Helsing, and the ins and outs of vampire lore, I haven’t actually read the novel itself. I’ve started it, but never delved in. Must fix this! Carmilla (1872) and Frankenstein (1818), too. For those who don’t know, Frankenstein is considered the first science fiction novel by many! And I adore Mary Shelly and studied her mother Mary Wollstonecraft for college, so I really must read the whole darn thing at some point. I also want to properly read The Picture of Dorian Gray (1891) as I love Oscar Wilde and I’ve seen the adaptation (2009) with Ben Barnes. I very much recommend that one, by the way!

As for more modern stories, I really want to check out Mexican Gothic (2020) by Silvia Moreno-Garcia and can’t wait to get enough time to actually sit down and read it. I’m also curious about Other Words for Smoke by (2019) Sarah Maria Griffin.

There are also a great many wonderful Gothic films and shows worth checking out. I loved Sleepy Hollow (1999) and Underworld (2003) when they first came out, both bringing a bit of action and horror into the genre. And when The Haunting of Hill House (2018) – based on the book by Shirley Jackson (1959) – first came out, I was immediately intrigued. Of course, I wasn’t able to start it straight away due to a busy schedule, but I loved the look of it. (I’ve since started it and it’s great.) The Haunting of Bly Manor (2020), based on Henry James’ The Turn of the Screw (1898) and other stories, dives right in with a woman telling a spooky tale from the 1980s in England and I’m already on episode three. I’m loving the aesthetics. I’m used to Gothic settings in the 1880s, and seeing it set in the 1980s is a great contrast. I love me some old-timey spookiness, but it’s great to see other decades enter the genre. Crimson Peak (2015) was particularly gruesome, but engrossing all the same. Guillermo del Toro is always good and his signature style really comes through in this one. The cast is also amazing! If you haven’t seen this one yet, I definitely recommend it. Be warned, though, things are twisty in this one! And then of course, Penny Dreadful (2014), which was cancelled much too soon.

I also really like Southern Gothic, which needs more love! True Blood (2008) is a great example, and I really enjoyed the show. When I think of Southern Gothic, the introduction to that show is the first thing that springs to mind. Winter’s Bone (2010) and Mudbound (2017) are also well worth a watch. The Gift (2000), is truly traumatising from what I remember, but it definitely fits the bill of a Southern Gothic! I also watched The Devil All the Time (2020) a couple of weeks ago and it was intense, but definitely engrossing. Justified (2010) could also probably be added to this list, but it’s more Western procedural in my mind. The show is based on Elmore Leonard’s books and it’s one of my top favourite series of all time either way, so if you haven’t seen it, you totally should! The cast is stellar.

There’s so many more books, films and shows that belong on this list, so this is by no means exhaustive!

Do you like Gothic – or a subgenre of Gothic – fiction or romance? Any recommendations? I’d love to know!