It Follows Review

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Mild spoilers included.

It Follows has a brilliant yet terrifying concept, the film makes it easy to share in Jays terror as she is tormented by something pursuing her which goes unseen by all those around her. The real fear in It Follows is generated from the thought that if you were in jays shoes, no matter what, you could never live your life without constantly having to look over your own shoulder, you could never feel safe again.

The opening of It Follows is certain to grab old school horror lovers straight away with throwback style camera work and a spine-chilling score which when used together scream john carpenter while adding it’s own unique flair to the mix. The film as a whole is like a homage to the great horror films of the 80s, which is no bad thing.

Jay Height (Maika Monroe) Is a teenage girl living in the suburbs of Detroit with her sister Kelly and a mother who we never really see, even when we do see her we never get a clear view of her face. Not only this but we also get the impression that she is an alcoholic; this combined with the death of the girls father means that Jay and her sister don’t really have parents who they can rely, in fact, none of the teenagers seem to have any guidance from any adults in their lives.

Jay is dating a guy named Hugh (Jake Weary) all seems to be going well between the two until a moment he sees something strange while on a date. This does not phase Jay, deciding that the relationship is right agrees to take their relationship to the next level but in doing so ends up being passed a sexually transmitted haunting of sorts. “It” takes the form of people, some who jay recognizes but most she doesn’t. The spirit doesn’t speak, all it does is walk, slow enough that Jay can escape and gain respite but she knows it will catch up eventually, no matter how far she tries to run all the running does is buy a little extra time until she needs to run again.

It Follows hinges on one of our primal fears, that something is haunting us, following us and never allowing us to feel safe again. Compared to most recent films within the horror genre this is a fresh new take on some old ideas.

 

8/10

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

True Detective Season One Review (2014).

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This post will contain spoilers.

Air Date: 12/01/14
Writer:
Nic Pizzolatto
Director:
Cary Fukunaga
cast:
Matthew McConaughey, Woody Harrelson, Michelle Monaghan

True Detective deserves every bit of praise it’s ever received, it’s stylish, poetic and an absolute pleasure to watch from start to finish, the only bad part? That it’s only eight episodes long.

Season one of True Detective follows the lives of Rustin Chole (Matthew McConaughey) a smart profiler and Marty Hart (Woody Harrelson) an old style cop; we’re shown their story over the course of a 17 year period, making use of flashbacks to cover this large timescale. Originally the pair were brought together to work on a high profile case which appeared to have occult underpinnings, their lives become intertwined as they attempt to uncover the culprit in the hot murky swamps of Louisiana which seems to get more complicated as the season continues.

As the season progresses the case becomes complicated, Rust believes it goes higher than they first imagined, possibly involving law enforcement and elite members of society. He eventually convinces his partner but nobody else is keen to agree, Rust later uncovers evidence that links a well-known and prominent family to cult murders which have been happening during this 17 year period; the Tuttles, but catching them is the hard part.

True Detective is a mini-series (also called an anthology), each is eight episodes long; seasons will move onto different detectives (season two is currently airing and stars Vince Vaughn, Colin Farrell and Rachel McAdams). The episodes are approximately one hour long, all written by nic Pizzolatto and directed by Cary Joji Fukunaga. Everyone involved seem to have a clear creative goal and it makes for a beautifully crafted series. Everything about this season fits perfectly, the style, the setting, the opening credits and the music all come together so well to craft this intriguing crime thriller which will have you on the end of your seat until the very last minutes.

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Out of the two leads, McConaughy’s Cohle is certainly the more intriguing of the two lead characters, which is due partly of course to the writing of Nic Pizzolatto, as he created such a unique and layered character, Cohle is opinionated and has strange ideas about the world we live in, but, in some ways, he speaks the truth; this goes completely against the grain in this Louisiana setting, especially with his partner; Marty Hart. Cohle has a troubled past and a dark persona; which he himself is well aware of and practically revels in, but he’s not alone; his partner, Hart is also battling his own demons which is starting to take its toll on himself and those around him: mainly, his family.

True detective is slow paced, nothing is rushed, everyone gets their fair share of screen time, Pizzolatto has given the characters room to breathe, we spend enough time with them to almost feel as if we know them. Sometimes Cohle does seem rather ‘out there’ statements such as “I don’t sleep, I just dream” or his remarks on how an area scattered with broken down buildings reminds him of someone’s a faded memory. Harrelson’s Hart manages to bring the tone back down to earth, they’re well suited and the acting from both is phenomenal; they manage to bounce off one another well which in turn adds some much needed laughter into an otherwise serious programme, Harrelson and McConaughey real life friendship certainly helped on this part as they work together magnificently.

In some ways what we’re seeing is nothing new to the other cop shows on TV; what makes it stand out from the crowd is the acting of both Harrelson and McConnaughy alongside a terrific script paired with some beautiful direction by Fukunaga. All this combined makes season one of True Detective one to remember which also begs for multiple viewings.

5/5

Alien Isolation PS4 Review.

Alien Isolation is a horrifying, demanding, and stressful experience, which is what makes it so enjoyable.

Developer Creative Assembly
Publisher Sega
Formats PlayStation 4, PlayStation 3, Xbox One, Xbox 360 and PC
Released 7 October 2014

Alien: Isolation takes so many aspects from the original 1979 film, one characteristic in particular; fear. Creative Assembly have managed to finally make the Xenomorph freighting again. Isolation is more focused on Ridley Scott’s incarnation than the later style of James Cameron’s adaptations. The story follows Amanda Ripley, an engineer who’s still looking for answers to her mother’s disappearance, Ellen Ripley, played by Sigourney Weaver in the first Alien.

Sevastopol is a space station which has recently been decommissioned due to its financial difficulties, this is visible as you explore the dark and desolate corridors. The setting is murky, the technology on the station is outdated, everything creaks and groans as you walk past and everything around you is practically falling apart. The environment of Isolation is nostalgic, it takes much inspiration from the original film, the general look of the space station is similar to The Nostromo, the big chunky PC monitors, the tubing along the walls, the doors, and just overall style has been given such care and attention to detail, it is almost like a love letter to Scott’s original film. Graffiti has been scrawled on the walls; showing how tensions had been rising between the occupants of Sevastopol. There are audio logs scattered around the station; telling the story of those who were living there, trying to survive while some unknown creature began picking them off one by one. This creature is of course the notorious Xenomorph, Creative Assembly took their time to build up the atmosphere before having the alien make it’s grade appearance, it takes a good hour – hour and a half to even see it in the flesh, but from this point on, you know he’s there; you can hear him, crawling in the vents around you, (wearing a surround sound headset creates an even more immersive experience) you can sense his presence. The sound used within Isolation is one of the games main pinnacles, it generates fear, every time you hear a the station groan, footsteps down a corridor, hissing from a nearby vent, you know something could be about to find you at any moment, in Isolation, you rely on your hearing to survive.

Not knowing where the alien is, is undoubtedly the most terrifying element in Isolation. When you are able to actually track his whereabouts, the fear seems to dissipate, but as soon as it jumps into one of the vents or ends up vanishing round a corner that fear hits right back at you and soon enough you find yourself crawling underneath tables and hiding in lockers for a good five minutes at a time, unsure of where the alien has wandered off to. The motion tracker which Amanda finds gives us somewhat of an estimate as to where the Xenomorph may be prowling; although, by using it you are taking a risk, the noise it omits may alert him to your current location which can prove fatal, i.e. – death.

During the course of Isolation you should be prepared to die, a lot. The alien is unpredictable, It’s intelligent, and can supposedly adapt to the way in which you play the game. This also means that you cannot just sit under a desk trying to figure out its movements or hide in a locker looking for the perfect time to leave the area; there is no perfect time, the longer you’re immobile, the more chance you have of the alien dragging you from that pathetic hiding spot where you thought that you might have been safe; in isolation, nowhere is safe. Fortunately for us, Amanda does have a few tricks up her sleeve, as you progress you gain the ability to craft gear on the go, this includes medical supplies, flash bangs, noisemakers, and more. Although you may not be able to kill the alien, you can at least cause distractions which will let you get from A to B that bit easier. While making your way around Sevastopol you will also occasionally bump into other humans (most of who are hostile unfortunately) you can use these encounters too your own advantage, they are the perfect distraction when it comes to keeping the Xenomorph busy.

If it’s not the Xenomorph on your back then it’s more than likely going to be the androids, or as they are otherwise know; the working joes, who, are still wandering around the station causing havoc. They are unnerving and, in general, just look pretty creepy; on the plus side you can at least kill these guys, revolver to the face usually works well (unless the alien decides to join the party that is), but you may not have much in the way of ammo or supplies left once the fight is over, scavenging is the key in Isolation, the more items you find, the easier you’re going to find these encounters.

The save system on Isolation is rather unforgiving, you are required to reach in game saving mechanisms; locations of these are visible on Amanda’s map. Once you reach the machine, Amanda must input a card so you can save your data. This like many other actions in Isolation, takes time, you can’t just high tail it to the nearest one with the alien in hot pursuit as he will kill you; A. before you get there or B. in the process of saving. In my opinion the saving does work in Isolation, most areas pose you with a decision; after doing an incredible amount in one area do you risk it and carry on, which includes the possibility of dying meaning you have to do it all over again? Or do you take the cautious route and backtrack to the save point just to be on the safe side? I backtracked, A LOT. Yes you could die either way, but replaying 30 minutes is better than an hour. The save system keeps the player on edge at the thought of losing all their progress, which in a game like this, is actually a good thing, it makes it challenging, if you could just save and load any part of Isolation you liked, it just wouldn’t be scary anymore.

There are rewire systems dotted around Sevastopol, these, in my opinion, were a bit of a disappointment; they allow you to alter certain states in game (on Sevastopol), for instance you can turn lights on or off, to which the enemy A.I will hopefully go and check on this, giving you a few added seconds to get around them, speakers can work on the alien as it will go and investigate the noise, allowing you to possibly sneak past him, but it only gives a limited window of opportunity, and sometimes it can do more harm than good, as it can put the alien on red alert, as he frantically runs around knowing that someone is screwing around with the rewiring system. I very rarely touched these myself, I found very little use for them and my crafted items worked perfectly fine and the time spent messing with the re-routing was not really worth it. It would have been interesting to have seen this system have a bigger purpose, it’s a fantastic idea, but doesn’t feel like anyone invested enough time in it.

Alien: isolation is most definitely not going to be to everyone’s taste, it’s difficult, and at times, can be frustrating, but that’s why, in the end, it’s so rewarding. Maybe it isn’t fair, but why should it be? It is a survival horror game after all. Isolation doesn’t hold your hand, or tell you everything will be ok, nor does it give you advice when you’re struggling to carry on, no; it throws you in the deep end against an ugly beast you can’t kill and leaves you to fend for yourself, I hope you’re ready, because the alien certainly is.

4/5

Game of Thrones Season 4 Review Part 1

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So we’re now over half way through the season so I thought I’d take a look back at some of the past episodes. Soon we shall reach the end and be sat around itching for a new season to begin and there will be a big emptiness where Game of Thrones used reside, below are my thoughts on some of the episodes so far, this is also from a viewpoint of someone who has read up to and part way through a Dance of Dragons so obviously, beware of spoilers.

 

S04E01‘Two Swords’ 

We have been placed back in King’s Landing witnessing events before joffrey is to marry Margery Tyrell. Considering the way weddings are going at the moment it’s rather obvious this wasn’t going to go down too well.

Plenty of screen time has been allocated to the newly introduced character Oberyn Martell, and quite rightly so, he’s going to be an important piece in the game of thrones this season. We know about his troubled passed and his feelings and attitude towards House Lannister due to his sisters horrific death during the sack of Kings Landing, he reminds Tyrion of this during their tense scene together. It was interesting to finally have some important and significant back story of Westoros, reading the books you learn so much but it’s hard to fit all the information in these hour long episodes.

We are soon back with Deanerys who is sat with one of her dragons(Drogon), her two others appear with a meal, scrapping over the food, Drogon begins to feast on it himself.In her attempt to try and calm him, he soon turns on her. Although she is not harmed, there is a sense that she will inevitably lose control over her “children”.

Back at the wall Jon Snow is having to answer for his ‘crimes’, due to the events in the last season when he went over to the wildlings. Showcasing some of Kit Harrington’s best acting so far, as he defends himself against those accusing him and manages to stay alive by the grit of his teeth – and the backing of maester Amon.

Rory McCann (Sandor Cleagane) has been given some of the most hilarious moments and Maisie Williams (Arya Stark) adds to these perfectly. One of the most satisfying events to happen in this episode was seeing Arya finally getting her revenge and striking a name from her list. This moment feels like it has been a long time coming, the killing of Polliver was intimate and more importantly she had no problem watching him die at her own hand, showing some interesting character development, albeit slightly disturbing.

 

S04E02 ‘The Lion and the Rose’

This episode is one of the important game changers of Season two, The purple wedding, this episode certainly didn’t disappoint, the major aspect of this episode, unsurprisingly was the marriage of joffrey baratheon to Margery Tyrell, and what a wedding it was.

The scenes were absolutely perfect, I watched this episode unfold intently, near the end I just waited in anticipation for what was about to happen practically on the edge of my seat.

Joffrey’s insulting dismissal of the band at the wedding gave an idea of how badly this situation would be turning out for him. And his barbaric depiction of the war of the five kings was tasteless and uncomfortable to watch, especially given the wedding guests lack of amusement or enjoyment. joffrey also makes a public mockery of his own uncle Tyrion – again. As if it wasn’t enough for him to have to watch the public humiliation like the rest of the guests, he is insulted further to join in on the act. And to top it all off, he requests that Tyrion be his cupbearer.

Joffrey’s death so early on in the season will more than likely have had people celebrating all over the world, yes, it was deserved but seeing him, begging for his mother to help could almost make you have some pity on him. But then again, he WAS a monster and at least Margery is saved the future misery of having to be married to him.

Tyrion unfortunately gets the blunt end here, he’s now been accused by Cersi for the murder of her malicious son. But I highly doubt Tyrion would have been stood there red handed if he had actually done the deed. Even so it looks like he’ll be in chains again for the foreseeable future.

Aswell as these gripping events we headed back to see what the rather deranged Ramsey Snow is currently up to, thankfully it’s no longer torturing Theon – I don’t know if I could have coped with that much longer. But let’s be honest, his situation is not improving rapidly. He’s even been given a new name, ‘Reek’ who is fully devoted to Ramsey due to his fear of him – not entirely surprising really, Ramsey isn’t the kind of person you want to be on the bad side of.

On a side note.

Bran is still travelling further north but I don’t feel that his screen time is showing much progress and I feel like Bran is used to just fill out the story

Jamie and Brienne still have some nice scenes together while in Kings Landing and she’s still trying to get Sansa Stark out of the Lannisters clutches.

Hannibal Season one review (2013)

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This TV show introduces us to a Hannibal which had been previously unexplored, the events before Manhunter and Silence of the Lambs. Dr Hannibal Lecter has been brought in to help a struggleing Will Graham, to assist him in keeping stable. Graham is a profiler with a unique ability to step into the mind of a killer, which slowly starts to take its toll, causing him to often rely on Hannibal and his counselling which is questionable from what we know of Dr Lecter.

Mads Mikkelsen’s Hannibal is an extremely intriguing character; he has the ability to manipulate the people around him whilst managing to keep them from suspecting him. Seeing Hannibal before his capture is certainly interesting, he is of course a cannibal but the programme seems more focused on his relationship with Will Graham portrayed by Hugh Dancy, a fragile FBI consultant thrust into the deep end. It’s hard not to feel sorry for Will, his lack of social interactions cause him to be a lonely man who is separated from people in general, living with only his collection of stray dogs for company.

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Hannibal is beautifully filmed; the camera work is fantastic with subdued and faded shades used alongside deep over saturated reds which really stand out against the whites and the dull hues, showing the gritty world these characters are in.

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The show is not rushed, which is something that really makes this programme worth a watch, every moment is filmed with fantastic attention to detail from showing the remnants of a recent crime scene to showing the close ups of intricate objects. Making Hannibal pleasing and satisfying to watch and in my opinion, quite possibly one of the best programmes of 2013.

Hannibal season one is available to buy now and season two airs February 28th

Heart of the Diamond Review

Heart of the Diamond – Carrie Brock

I have to confess, regency romance is not a genre I would usually choose although I will certainly be keeping an eye out for them from now on, this book has definitely changed my opinion for future reading material.

The two main characters are perfect and very well developed, both were intriguing. Nicole (Nicki as she prefers to be called) isn’t your average women and doesn’t want to settle down anytime soon, Blake is cold hearted and out for revenge. At first Nicki seems to be the perfect way to go about it, until it all goes wrong and he begins to fall for her charm. Their interactions are enchanting and often amusing as they both contend with one another as well as their own emotions.

As the story began to unfold I wondered where it would go next, question after question left me guessing as to each character’s motives, sometimes giving me answers I would have never suspected. These questions do not only concern Nicki and Blake, but everyone else around them such as Nicki’s father and step mother who have already come across Blake earlier in life, and Teddy who Nicki seemed to think her one true love and best friend.

I was beginning to enjoy the book so much that to an extent, I was rather disappointed for it to come to an end as I would have loved to see something more from these characters.  There were points in which I did not want to put it down. When I managed to pull myself away, I could hardly wait to read more, I was eager to get back to reading it again.

Carrie Brock has certainly put a lot of effort into this book and I would be interested in reading any future books she releases. I would highly recommend to anyone, and I’ve already been persuading others to take a look.