Posts Tagged ‘Horror’

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Robert Kirkman’s latest foray into television comes in the form of the new Cinemax horror series Outcast. Based on Kirkman’s comic series of the same name, the show focuses on loner Kyle Barnes (Patrick Fugit) as he tries to live his life out of sight from the rest of his small town community. The episode gives us glimpses of Kyle’s troubled relationship with his mother when he was younger, while at the same time introducing us to another young boy who has started to show some tremendously serious signs of violence and aggression. These mannerisms are quite similar to the ones that Kyle saw in his mother. The local clergyman, Reverend Anderson (Philip Glenister), sets out to help the young boy, which eventually draws Kyle’s attention. It isn’t long until some of the former details of Kyle and the Reverend’s relationship are revealed, as well as Kyle’s abilities to deal with the darkness around him.

The story starts out a little slow, but about midway through the episode, as certain pieces fall into place, it starts to become more and more interesting. As the relationships between the characters are revealed, we figure out that there is a long and sordid history to this story that I can only hope will be unwound as the series goes on. However, one element that is present right from the start is the fear factor. The first scene of this first episode (much like Kirkman’s other TV series, The Walking Dead) establishes that the creators will pull no punches. They’re not going to go easy on their viewers, and I can respect that. The overall tone of this episode remains creepy from that first moment on, with quick cuts, dark settings, and just a generally unnerving feel.

The actors here manage a solid performance. The story obviously focuses on Fugit as Kyle and, for the most part, he plays the downtrodden loner role pretty well. He makes it clear that he would rather be stuck in his home, even if it’s not the nicest of places, rather than out and interacting with the rest of the world. Glenister’s portrayal of the reverend with flaws also resonates here. We can see through those flaws to the man that just wants to do some good with his life before he dies. Even if that good is fighting demons. However, the real standout of this first episode is child actor Gabriel Bateman. His portrayal of the aforementioned violent and possessed child is downright chilling.

Overall, this was not a perfect pilot episode. It took a little while to get going, which I feel hindered it some, but once it got up and running the strong performances of its lead actors really kept it going.

The Verdict for Outcast, Episode 1:
4 out of 5

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Until next time,
Stay nerdy, my friends.

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A new horror series from Dark Horse based on the mansion home of Sarah Winchester, widow of William Winchester (inventor of the Winchester repeating rifle),  House of Penance sets out to explore the popular lore that Sarah felt haunted by the spirits of those killed by her husband’s invention. This supposed haunting led her to the belief that constant building and adding to her mansion would keep the spirits away, so she hired dozens of workers to conduct unending construction at all hours of the day and night.

Writer Peter J. Tomasi crafts a genuinely eerie tale here. Sarah’s apprehension and dread at just about everything is practically palpable. She’s totally paranoid about every little thing, and when she finds something that’s not exactly the way she wants it, or when work stops for just a moment, she begins to panic. Tomasi writes the wandering, rambling, paranoid thoughts in a manner that seems completely believable. Near the end of the first issue, he also introduces a new character into the mix that could have an interesting impact on the story moving forward. The pace of this first issue is a little slow, but I’m willing to stick with it because the story definitely held my attention.

While Tomasi’s writing is great, Ian Bertram’s artwork is spectacular. Each panel resembles a wood engraving, giving the book an aesthetic fitting of the time period in which it takes place. The intricate cross-hatching visible in each page was no doubt incredibly labor intensive, making this issue all the more impressive. To add to this, the characters are drawn in a very unique and highly stylized manner. This level of detail makes the book an absolutely unnerving joy to look at that fits perfectly with Tomasi’s story. It’s almost like reading an old children’s book that took a horrible turn down a dark path in the woods. It left me with a sense of macabre wonder and a desire to find out what happens next.

A creepy story mixed with even creepier artwork, House of Penance #1 is easily one of the most unique and interesting stories that I’ve read this year, and I will certainly be picking up the next few issues to find out where it goes from here. If you’re into old-fashioned gothic horror tales, do yourself a favor and snatch this one off the shelf. You won’t be disappointed.

The Verdict for House of Penance #1:
5 out of 5

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Until next time,
Stay nerdy, my friends.

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J. J. Abrams, the movie marketing master, is back with his newest production, 10 Cloverfield Lane. I’m going to have to be pretty vague with this one, as there are many details that could count as spoilers and I really don’t want to ruin any surprises.

The movie starts off with our main character, Michelle (Mary Elizabeth Winstead) walking out of her home and driving. Shortly thereafter, she is involved in a nasty car accident, which causes her to black out. When she wakes up, she finds herself chained to a bed in a small cinder block room. Frantically, she tries to get out, and is unsuccessful. At that point her apparent captor, Howard (John Goodman), unlocks the door and enters the room, explaining to her that he saved her life and that there has been some kind of attack on the outside world. He tells her the only reason she’s alive is because they’re in an underground bunker. The movie only gets darker and scarier from there with the revelation that there is a third resident of the bunker, Emmett (John Gallagher, Jr.), who subscribes to Howard’s apocalyptic theory.

Campbell and Stuecken’s script is trim, not allowing any frivolity, much like the environment the characters find themselves in. Tension builds as Michelle tries to figure out if Howard is as benevolent as he makes himself out to be, or if he’s a deeply disturbed individual holding her against her will for some sinister purpose. There are a few jump scares throughout the movie, but I genuinely felt a sense of psychological dread and terror for most of it, which trumps the average jump scare any day, in my opinion.

The real bright spot of this movie is the acting. Winstead and Goodman are phenomenal. Goodman’s presence itself is incredibly imposing, and he speaks with an air of unquestioning authority that makes you wonder if his character does have the best interests of the others in mind. Winstead provides the perfect foil to that in that her character never once falls into the damsel in distress role. She’s constantly searching for a way out and thinking about how she’s going to escape.

In all honesty, I didn’t know what to expect going into this one. And if I had to give one complaint about the movie, I would say it is the placement of the musical score into some scenes. I feel like in certain scenes silence, or just background noise would have been better than music. It was almost a little distracting. But seriously, that’s the only nitpicky thing I can say about it. I really enjoyed this movie. If I can give you one piece of advice it would be not to go into the theater with any preconceived notions. Go in fresh, allow yourself to enjoy it, and you won’t be disappointed.

The Verdict for 10 Cloverfield Lane:
5 out of 5

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Until next time,
Stay nerdy, my friends.

 

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Ian Blackport’s novel Those Who Remain tells the story of two sisters, Mallory and McKayla, doing everything they can to survive following the decline of civilization due to a waterborne disease that turns its victims into violent and deadly beings known as “Stricken.”  However, the Stricken aren’t the only thing threatening the sisters, they also have to deal with the survivors of society’s downfall, many of which have also become ruthless and aggressive in an attempt to make it one more day in the harsh wasteland of the former United States.

Blackport’s strongest part of this book is the relationship between his main characters.  Their sisterly bond and love for one another is the primary plot mover here, and there is rarely a moment when you don’t feel the strength of that bond in the story.  The other aspect of this novel that I really enjoyed was the growth and development of both Mallory and McKayla throughout the course of the story.  It’s interesting to watch how they both change in their own ways to become better and stronger people.  It also helps that the change feels natural, never forced in any way.

I did have a couple of issues with the book.  First, after reading it for a while, it tended to get a little repetitive.  I can’t say too much without giving anything away, but Mallory and McKayla seem to talk about the same things more than a few times throughout their travels, and find themselves in similar situations time and again.  My second issue, is that there’s nothing terribly new or interesting about the antagonists that the sisters face.  If you’ve read or watched many zombie stories, you have a basic idea of the creatures as well as the vile survivors that still inhabit the landscape.  It just feels like so many other stories that I’ve experienced before.

Minor issues aside, I would recommend checking this one out based on the strength of the two main characters alone.  The antagonists here are nothing terribly original, but the power in the relationship of the two sisters is strong enough to overcome all of that.

Those Who Remain can be purchased on Amazon.

The Verdict for Those Who Remain:
4 out of 5

If you like this review, or any of my others, don’t forget to subscribe!

Until next time,
Stay nerdy, my friends.