Alien (1979) Review

Alien (1979) Review

Directed by: Ridley Scott

Written by: Dan O’Bannon

Starring: Sigourney Weaver, Tom Skerritt, John Hurt

Rated: R

Run-Time: 1h 57 min

Genre: Horror, Science-Fiction

Rotten Tomatoes: 98%

Availability: HBO Max

After a space merchant vessel receives an unknown transmission as a distress call, one of the crew is attacked by a mysterious life form and they soon realize that its life cycle has merely begun. (IMDb)

When you really take the time to think about it, there aren’t that many films that stand the tests of time, especially when it comes to science-fiction. Alien is one of the few that thoroughly holds up and does not suffer from details that come across as dated. Of course, viewers may not spend to much time considering the few aspects that are due to the ongoing thrills of this film. 

Whether you view this movie as your standard alien horror or slasher flick, Alien is a terrifying movie. The titular alien is a literal killing machine who kills for sport more than anything else. It’s invincible, quiet, and very good at hiding. One could be in the same room as you, and you may not notice until its too late. 

If you don’t have anxiety, this film may give it to you. All the while you’ll be rooting for the original horror-movie badass Ripley, who almost single-handedly takes badassery to another level. 
Alien is a near-perfect film that’s hard to pick apart without turning into a nitpicky asshole. Its an overall well-rounded film with great acting, special effects, and direction. After 40 years it remains untouchable, even with the more recent attempts to reboot the series. Alien is a once-in-a-lifetime masterpiece.

Subjective Rating

Rating: 5 out of 5.

Objective Rating

Rating: 5 out of 5.

Final Rating

Rating: 5 out of 5.

The Invisible Man (2020) Review

Directed by: Leigh Whannell

Written by: Leigh Whannell

Starring: Elisabeth Moss, Oliver Jackson-Cohen, Harriet Dyer

Rated: R

Run-Time: 2h 4min

Genre: Horror, Science Fiction

Rotten Tomatoes: 91%

Availability: HBO Max

When Cecilia’s abusive ex takes his own life and leaves her his fortune, she suspects his death was a hoax. As a series of coincidences turn lethal, Cecilia works to prove that she is being hunted by someone nobody can see. (IMDb)

Over the past couple of years, there has beem a renaissance of horror with many films going back to the roots of the genre. Films such as Get Out and A Quiet Place break the monotony of jump-scare heavy horror and revitalise techniques long underutilised. 

The Invisible Man does what 2017’s The Mummy tried to and with a much lower budget. For a while now, Universal has been trying to bring back the classic horror icons with the hopes of creating a creature-verse comparable to Disney’s MCU. The Invisible Man is their second and successful attempt at doing so. 

Despite not having the best trailer, The Invisible Man is hands down one of the best films of 2020 with utterly exceptional acting and atmosphere. The film shows considerable restraint, taking its time to build up to real terror. The audience is forced to experience the film in the protagonist’s, Cecilia’s, point-of-view; sympathising with her while being kept partially in the dark about what’s really happening. Even then we’re told what is happening, you can’t be entirely sure. 

This film wears many masks as well. Not only is it a revival of a classic of the same name, but it’s also an examination of domestic violence. At one point, the film becomes less of a psychological horror movie and more of a revenge flick. All the while, it is a prime example of how the legal system can neglect the victims of domestic abuse. 

This is a must-watch film, really, don’t argue with me. Of course, as with most horror, beware the potentially triggering content.

Subjective Rating

Rating: 5 out of 5.

Objective Rating

Rating: 4.5 out of 5.

Final Rating

Rating: 4.5 out of 5.

Parasyte: The Maxim Season 1 Review

Parasyte: The Maxim Season 1 Review

Now streaming on Netflix and Hulu. Rated TV-MA.

Its been quite a while since I’ve been able to sit and enjoy an anime: and considering the fact its October I thought it was the perfect time to start a horror anime. Maybe because I am fascinated with body horror that I choose Parasyte.

This show is full of many highs and lows. There are times where the story is well-paced and exciting, but also just as many where it’s neither. The majority of the show is overall well done, but it’s its lulls that are it’s downfall. 

My most significant complaint comes from the tonal shift that happens early in the series. The show starts with a fair amount of morbid humour that is later thrown entirely to the wayside. Of course, for this story, this makes sense to an extent, but the sheer speed of this change is whiplash-inducing. 

Parasyte, like all horror, offers more than creepy visuals. Parasyte’s inherent nature opens it up to allow a substantial amount of contemplation over the human condition. We are given essentially three prospectives throughout the series: that of the human, that of the semi-human, and that of the inhuman (in the form of the parasites). This series becomes less about the spectacle of the parasite’s morphing ability and quickly takes the more philosophical route of the broader implication and nature of the relationship between parasite and human. The story delves into the deepest motivations of life, and the things that make us, well, human. The series philosophical endeavours alone, make up a lot for its shortcomings. 

If you are going to watch this show, which I recommend you do, don’t go into it expecting it to be non-stop action. This show boasts a fair amount of action, but the real highlights are the time it takes to contemplate what it’s set out to explore. This often leads to long lulls in the story that could have been handled differently, but ultimately serve their purpose.

Subjective Rating

Rating: 3 out of 5.

Objective Rating

Rating: 3.5 out of 5.

Final Rating

Rating: 4 out of 5.

The Girl with All the Gifts (2016) Review

The Girl with All the Gifts (2016) Review

Directed by: Colm McCarthy

Written by: Mike Carey

Starring: Sennia Nanua, Fisayo Akinade, Dominique Tipper

Rated: R

Run-Time: 1h 51 min

Genre: Action, Drama, Horror

Rotten Tomatoes: 86%

Availability: Netflix

A scientist and a teacher living in a dystopian future embark on a journey of survival with a special young girl named Melanie. (IMDb)

Much like the previously reviewed Cargo, The Girl with All the Gifts is a unique zombie film that plays with the overdone sub-genre and creates something new. 

Based off a book of the same, The Girl with All the Gifts delivers a truly philosophical look on zombies with the addition of the second-generation zombie. Something rarely seen in related films. It takes the concept of a dystopian future, and rather as seeing it solely as the end this film depicts the end of the world as the start of a new era. It paints the character who would traditionally be the hero into the villain and forces the audience to sympathize with the “other.” 

None of this wouldn’t have been possible without the exceptional preforming of the cast, who do well to present realistic characters. The star of this film is film is Sennia Nanua, who as a young actor manages to make the traditionally horrifying zombie into a sympathetic creature. She manages to show both the humanity and inhumanity of zombies, making them into a new iteration of humanity. Her youth allows her to have an unbiased view of the situation before her, as she is fond of the humans caring for her but also wants to help her fellow second-generation zombie children. 

This film is beautiful and raises a lot of questions that may make you rethink what you would do in a zombie apocalypse. For those who enjoy the action of your standard zombie movie, this has that for you, but those who enjoy the more intellectual horror of the current renaissance will find this film an excellent and thought-provoking watch.

Subjective Rating

Rating: 5 out of 5.

Objective Rating

Rating: 4.5 out of 5.

Final Rating

Rating: 4.5 out of 5.

Jaws (1975) Review

Jaws (1975) Review

Directed by: Steven Spielberg

Written by: Peter Benchley, Carl Gottlieb

Starring: Roy Scheider, Robert Shaw, Richard Dreyfuss

Rated: PG

Run-Time: 2h 4min

Genre: Adventure, Thriller

Rotten Tomatoes: 98%

Availability: HBO Max

When a killer shark unleashes chaos on a beach community, it’s up to a local sheriff, a marine biologist, and an old seafarer to hunt the beast down. (IMDb)

So, yeah, I’m reviewing the classic Jaws. Not because it needs to be reviewed, it’s a masterwork of film that could only be achieved by the incomparable Spielberg, but I recently realized than many people of my generation and younger haven’t seen this film. How is that possible you ask? I have no clue. 

If you’re not aware of this piece of film history you need to go check it out, and if you’re aware of it and haven’t watched it recently I recommend doing so. This film is 40 years old and holds up better than many films from the ’70s and truly revolutionized the film release schedule with its status as the first blockbuster flick. It is practically ageless, with the aspects that age it is minimal. The thrills, all achieved through practical effects still managed to strike fear in viewers. Because there isn’t much scarier than the real-life terror of great white sharks. 

I could go on and on, essentially rehashing everything every reviewer, film professor, avid-film watcher has every said; but I’m going to make it easy on you: JUST WATCH THE DAMN MOVIE.

Subjective Rating

Rating: 5 out of 5.

Objective Rating

Rating: 5 out of 5.

Final Rating

Rating: 5 out of 5.

The Barren Grounds Book Tour: Review, 15 Thoughts While Reading, and Fan-Art

The Barren Grounds Book Tour: Review, 15 Thoughts While Reading, and Fan-Art

By David Alexander Robertson

Publisher: Puffin Canada

Print Length: 256 pages

Release Year: 2020

Genre: Middle-Grade Fantasy

Avg. Goodreads Rating: 4.25

Available on Amazon and Barnes and Noble (and always be sure to check your local library/Libby)

Morgan and Eli, two Indigenous children forced away from their families and communities, are brought together in a foster home in Winnipeg, Manitoba. They each feel disconnected, from their culture and each other, and struggle to fit in at school and at their new home — until they find a secret place, walled off in an unfinished attic bedroom. A portal opens to another reality, Aski, bringing them onto frozen, barren grounds, where they meet Ochek (Fisher). The only hunter supporting his starving community, Misewa, Ochek welcomes the human children, teaching them traditional ways to survive. But as the need for food becomes desperate, they embark on a dangerous mission. Accompanied by Arik, a sassy Squirrel they catch stealing from the trapline, they try to save Misewa before the icy grip of winter freezes everything — including them. (Goodreads)

Special thanks to Puffin Canada and Hear Our Voices Tours for allowing me to participate in this tour.

I don’t often read middle-grade for no particular reason. There are a number of books on my TBR that actually happen to be middle-grade but for whatever reason, I’ve continually put off reading them. The Barren Grounds quickly reminded me how great these books can be, even if they’re intended for an audience much younger than myself. 

I thoroughly enjoyed this book, and am going to get the negative out of the way by saying there is none. This is an amazing book, with amazing character development and world-building. It also serves as an introduction to indigenous culture for those who may not as familiar with it. This book had me in tears at one point, and I was so invested in the world. The books does have some similarities to the classic Chronicles of Narnia, but I personally found this much more interesting and engaging.  

I learned some new things about indigenous culture from this book that sparked an internet deep-dive into the history of many First Nations people, their beliefs and cultural practices. I found my eyes opened to a culture, that I was aware of but never truly saw. This book opens the readers to a fantasy world, yes, but it also opens a part of our world so often forgotten or overlooked. I want everyone to read this book, be moved by the story, and be inspired to learn more. I recommend reading this book, and then going out and finding out more about the beautiful stories that inspired this one. 

Subjective Rating

Rating: 4 out of 5.

Objective Rating

Rating: 4 out of 5.

Final Rating

Rating: 4 out of 5.

15 Thoughts While Reading

  1. I was glad to find that Morgan and Eli seem to have been placed in a truly caring foster home. I understand that that is not always the case, but this particular home has great potential. I also realized how much more meaning this had to me as an adult who is old enough to have children. 
  2. I learned about some First Nations dishes, which lead me to research more about the culture, particularly cuisine. 
  3. It was easy to draw immediate parallels between The Chronicles of Narnia and The Barren Grounds; which the portal to Misewa being opened through a drawing and one of the portals to Narnia being opened through a painting. 
  4. I learned about fishers. Prior to reading this book, I had never heard of such an animal. 
  5. I found myself often relating to Morgan in her feelings of disconnection to her heritage and the anger that made her feel. 
  6. I found myself contemplating the ethical conundrum that Ochek was faced with when he and the children came across Arik. And wondered what I would do in such a situation. 
  7. I noticed the allegory against colonizers in the description of the antagonist. It reminded me how truly wasteful modern society is, and how we take advantage of nature. 
  8. Robertson does a good job setting up a mystery surrounding Morgan’s origin, as well as Eli’s in a sense. I want to know more about how they got in the foster care system, and if it had to do with legitimate concerns or one’s based on discrimination and ignorance. 
  9. I was very interested in the character of Mahihkan, and wanted to know more about him. Especially whether or not his presence held more weight that I may have noticed. 
  10. With the mentions of North and South country, I became more curious about the stories that could be set in this world. So much was set up, with things only mentioned hopefully with the intent to more fully explore. 
  11. I was reminded of how beautiful the indigenous languages are with the book’s inclusion of Cree words. It makes me want to cry knowing that these languages are in danger of dying out. 
  12. Learning one of the stories behind what we call the Big Dipper was a beautiful experience and during this scene in the book, I cried quite a bit. 
  13. Morgan truly grew in this book, that was a beautiful thing to see. She and Eli found a home not only in Misewa but in each other.
  14. The way time worked in this story fascinated me, especially in the final conversation between the kids and Arik. Could they have sat there and talked for a literal eternity?
  15.  The final poem was so beautiful. I read it more than once. 

Fan Art

Portrait of character Arik

The Cup and the Prince Review

The Cup and the Prince Review

By Day Leitao

Publisher: Sparkly Wave

Print Length: 256 pages

Genre: Young Adult, Fantasy

Release Date: October 15, 2020

Special thanks to Sparkly Wave for providing me with an ARC.

Available for pre-order on Amazon.

One prince wants her out.

Another wants her as a pawn.

Someone wants her dead.

Zora wants to win the cup and tell them all to screw themselves.

Yes, 17-year-old Zora cheated her way into the Royal Games, but it was for a very good reason. Her ex-boyfriend thought she couldn’t attain glory on her own. Just because she was a girl. And he was the real cheater. So she took his place.

Now she’s competing for the legendary Blood Cup, representing the Dark Valley. It’s her chance to prove her worth and bring glory for her people. If she wins, of course.

But winning is far from easy. The younger prince thinks she’s a fragile damsel who doesn’t belong in the competition. Determined to eliminate her at all costs, he’s stacking the challenges against her. Zora hates him, hates him, hates him, and will do anything to prove him wrong.

The older prince is helping her, but the cost is getting Zora entangled in dangerous flirting games. Flirting, the last thing she wanted.

And then there’s someone trying to kill her. (Goodreads)

If you haven’t noticed by now, I’m a sucker for fantasy that promises a strong female protagonist, and this book delivered. Other than a propensity to randomly cry, Zora is a competent woman. And while her motivation is not as noble as that of other female protagonists, it is a legitimate one. After all, nothing is more dangerous than I woman scorned. 

I enjoyed the book well enough to read it through and to have an interest in a sequel, but it’s evident that this book has much more potential than what was delivered. The plot is solid, but the world wasn’t. We are introduced to a magic system that is never explained and the world with rules and laws that seem arbitrary. As a result, certain stakes just don’t hold the weight that they could. 

The major downfall of this book is over-simple writing. The writing is not that of a final book, not even a second draft really. There are many scenes that would benefit from being drawn out that just aren’t and at times the writing just seems incomplete. It’s a quick read as a result, which isn’t necessarily bad, but it’s just missing something. 

I enjoyed the book, I’m interested to see more. I feel like first books in YA fantasy series are allowed an amount of leeway for the author to focus on what they think is the most important thing to set up, in this case, that was the characters and plot. I’m open to a sequel in the hopes that it fleshes out this world more because there is definitely great potential.

Subjective Rating

Objective Rating

Final Rating

Gantz: O (2016) Review

Gantz: O (2016) Review

Directed by: Yasushi Kawamura, Keiichi Sato

Written by: Hiroya Oku (manga), Tsutomu Kuroiwa (screenplay)

Starring: Daisuke Ono, M-A-O, Tomohito Kaku

Rated: TV-MA

Run-Time: 1h 35m

Genre: Animation, Action, Horror

Rotten Tomatoes: 66%

Availability: Netflix

After being brutally murdered in a subway station, a teen boy awakens to find himself resurrected by a strange computer named Gantz, and forced to fight a large force of invading aliens in Osaka. (IMDb)

What did I just watch? Like seriously. When I woke up this morning I did not expect to watch a movie that includes a “monster” alien-thing made of up a bunch of naked women forming a giant naked woman. Really, that happened.

Adapted from the Osaka arc of the manga Gantz, Gantz: O is a convoluted visual spectacle that only boasts beautiful game-like visuals. Otherwise, this film has a veil-thin plot and forgettable characters. For those not familiar with the source material, this film is a boring series of events that don’t quite add up. For those familiar with it, this film may be more entertaining, but the experience of watching this film is more like watching someone else play a video game than playing it yourself. There is some semblance of fun there, but it could be so much better. 

In a single sentence, I sum up this film as a visually well-done waste-of-time. The only thing I enjoyed was the Final Fantasy-esque animation that is beautiful but does not lend itself to truly emotional story-telling with the eerily dead eyes and flat expressions.

Subjective Rating

Objective Rating

Final Rating

Cargo (2018) Review

Cargo (2018) Review

Directed by: Ben Howling, Yolanda Ramke

Written by: Yolanda Ramke

Starring: Simone Landers, Martin Freeman, Marlee Jane McPherson-Dobbins

Rated: TV-MA

Run-Time: 1h 45m

Genre: Drama, Horror, Science Fiction

Rotten Tomatoes: 88%

Availability: Netflix

After an epidemic spreads all over Australia, a father searches for someone willing to protect his daughter. (IMDb)

Cargo is a unique zombie film, one that breaks the monotony of the modern zombie flick by bringing something refreshing to the table. With a character-driven story, Cargo is less about the scares and more about how much you grow to care for the characters. Whenever they are faced with a challenge, which is definitely plentiful, we fear for the character’s lives but the deeper implications of their deaths. 

This movie, as mentioned above isn’t particularly scary in the traditional sense. You’re less scared of the zombie’s themselves and more scared of the events that would follow being bitten. This film manages to avoid the gory horror that is so prevalent in zombie films and settles for a low key storyline. 

The film also tackles a lot of important themes: such as the injustice towards the aboriginal people of Australia, and the process of death, illness and mourning. And while the film manages to have a happy ending, it’s more bittersweet than truly joyous. You’ll find yourself relieved, but also mourning. 

This is a film that is more accessible to a wider audience due to its character-driven storyline. I wouldn’t go so far as to call it a “family-friendly” horror film, but its close. If you like horror but can’t really handle extensive gore and violence this film is a must-watch. For those who like those things, this movie should have enough to satiate your zombie craving.

Subjective Rating

Objective Rating

Final Rating

10 Horror Movies to Stream on Netflix US

Here’s yet another list of great films to give you the right amount of spook for October. Some are more extreme then others, but I tried my best to create as well-rounded of a list as I could. Hope you enjoy.

Hush (2016)

A deaf writer who retreated into the woods to live a solitary life must fight for her life in silence when a masked killer appears in her window.

The Platform (2019)

Two prisoners per floor, wondering how much they’ll get to eat that day. One inmate has had enough of not getting enough. It’s time to send a message.

Gerald’s Game (2017)

When her husband’s sex game goes wrong, Jessie– handcuffed to a bed in a remote lake house– faces warped visions, dark secrets and a dire choice.

The Girl with all the Gifts (2016)

As a virulent fungus turns humanity into zombies, a band of survivors flees with a curiously evolved zombie girl who may hold the key to a cure.

Cargo (2018)

Amid a terrifying pandemic, a father searches the wilds of Australia for someone willing to protect and care for his infant daughter. 

Would You Rather (2012)

In need of cash to help her sick brother, a young woman agrees to take part in a lethal winner-takes-all parlour game hosted by a sadistic millionaire.

Horns (2013)

Accused of murder, Ig Perish wakes up one day to find he’s grown a set of horns– compelling people to confess their sins to him.

The Autopsy of Jane Doe (2016)

A father-son team of small-town coroners performs an autopsy on an unidentified woman with mysterious injuries and a terrifying secret.

The Perfection (2018)

In this twisty horror-thriller, a once-promising music prodigy reconnects with her former mentors, only to find them taken with a talented new pupil.

13 Sins (2013)

A man agrees to appear on a game show with a $6 million prize. But as the challenges become more extreme, he realized he’s made a grave mistake.

All descriptions are taken for Netflix US.