Wednesday, December 17, 2014
Tuesday, December 2, 2014
In 2013, a film was made that looked into this phenomena aptly entitled Shadow People. This under-the-radar film starred the always affable Dallas Roberts (The Walking Dead) and Alison Eastwood. Roberts stars as Charlie Crowe, a radio personality who works nights and usually listens to simpletons discussing their various woes of life, resulting in him making fun of them, somewhat in the vein of Howard Stern but with a little less maliciousness. One night Charlie gets a phone call from a young man who claims that someone has been watching him. The boy is obviously scared out of his wits, but Charlie brushes it off at first. Until a day or so later he learns the boy has passed away in his sleep, forcing Charlie to confront the idea that the boy might not have been as crazy as he sounded.
Blamed on Sudden Unexpected Nocturnal Death Syndrome (SUNDS), many victims of shadow people before their untimely deaths had spoke of a presence around them - someone watching them, an entity they saw out of the corner of their eye that waited until they were almost asleep and then paralyzed them with fear, essentially scaring them to death.
Some folks have woke up from a deep sleep only to have relentless pressure on their chest, making it hard to breathe.
Whether or not you believe in shadow people, the film of the same name does boast some startling images and creepy moments. Dallas Roberts, who usually plays supporting characters, holds his own quite well here and his escalating fear of the unknown makes his paranoia palpable and weirdly engaging. The dark, shadowy sets make for some great atmosphere, and the subject matter ought to make more than one person go clamoring for their laptop to google Shadow People. Which, if we're keeping score, is a win for the makers of this film. So watch the movie, then do your research. Maybe you've already seen a dark shadow in the corner of your room - or felt an unseen force causing pressure in your chest....if that's the case, then perhaps you've already met the shadow people....
Friday, November 28, 2014
Co-written by Jeremy Berg and John Portanova and blending elements of sci-fi, horror and let's face it, family drama, director Berg's The Device moves away from conventional films in several directions. I'm not an especially big sci-fi fan, but when it's done right I enjoy the hell out of it and count Alien (1979), Invasion of the Body Snatchers (1978), and 2009's Moon as three of my most favorite films, any genre. I also really enjoyed the recent Dark Skies (2013) and am one of the biggest fans of The X-Files perhaps ever. So though I don't exclusively seek out science fiction, I do love sci-fi done well.
The Device teases us with the possibility of aliens, but doesn't base the film on the search for extraterrestrials like so many films before it. It first wounds our emotions and forces us to care about the people involved in the story, instead of just throwing some little green men our way. We come to have a vested interest in who may be getting hurt by what is going on, instead of trying to find out where they came from and what they want. This change-up in format and technique is welcome and leads to a more personal film, despite the scares.
When Rebecca discovers that the device is in the cabin, she freaks out and starts saying they should not have brought it back with them and that she wants to go home. Calvin and Abby privately discuss how they can help Rebecca face her demons and move on, as a family. But that night Abby has a vivid yet eerie dream in which Rebecca warns her they must leave the cabin, disturbing her enough that the next morning they pack up and head home.
The actors in The Device are totally capable and come off as people you would be friends or neighbors with, in particular the two female leads. They are quite convincing as sisters trying to reconnect and more importantly deal with a long ago trauma that led to their separation. Their angst about this crossroad in their relationship is one of the best parts of the movie.
The Device is yet another solid film from The October People, combining unnerving sci-fi elements with a depth of characters you will actually care about when they face the dreadful circumstances thrown at them for not following their gut instincts and turning back, deciding instead to pry into worlds unknown, with a devastating outcome.
Wednesday, November 26, 2014
Monday, November 24, 2014
Join us again for another round of Fusions of Fright, Fascination With Fear’s monthly music article!
“No artist is ever pleased.
There is no satisfaction whatever at any time.
There is only a queer divine dissatisfaction;
a blessed unrest that keeps us marching
and makes us more alive than the others.”
A Blessed Unrest is a mostly instrumental album that aims to capture the tone of Victorian spiritualism, among other things. The album was inspired by Margaret Yayanos’ interest with Victorianism and its darker aspects, such as its attitude towards death and the afterlife and its ideas concerning “female hysteria”. An excerpt from their website says that, “Many of the pieces composed or co-composed by Yayanos are conscious riffs off (t)rapping of Spiritualism and lingering concepts of the “monstrous feminine”.
|Photo by Audrey Penven|
“The Lady of the House of Love” is a song of madness, or perhaps the struggle to prove one’s sanity. The ferocious driving riff gives away to sorrow, desperation and turmoil. It was a rustic, folky and Eastern European sound that sets it apart from the rest of the songs. A music video for this song was supposed to have been made but never seems to have been completed.
|Poster by Ellen Rogers|
“Sheol” is another favorite of mine for its strange and powerfully atmospheric qualities. A particularly eerie track, it is composed from the theremin, a brilliantly creepy instrument that is controlled without even having to be touched. The sound is incredibly unique and is an automatic mood-setter. The scene I have pictured in my mind for “Sheol” is an empty and vast field covered by a night sky black and sequined with stars. But there aren’t just stars up above… you find yourself gazing up in awe, transfixed by the flashing colors of light and the sweet, though unsettling, sounds that echo over the land, wondering—and secretly fearing—that you aren’t as alone as you think.
A Blessed Unrest is a beautiful and haunting debut album from The Parlour Trick, and hopefully not their last. You can stream their entire album for free at their bandcamp (http://theparlourtrick.bandcamp.com/album/a-blessed-unrest), and learn more about them on their website (http://theparlourtrick.com/). You can watch the video for “Half Sick of Shadows” below.
The Parlour Trick: "Half Sick of Shadows" (Starring Rachel Brice) from Theremina on Vimeo.
Saturday, November 22, 2014
As we were watching this, my husband quickly said that was exactly what he would do, because if someone breaks into your home, they mean you harm. And I agreed. Gone are the days in which people would try to call the police or see who the intruder is before killing them. Nowadays it's just BAM! It's all about protecting your family and home. Shoot now, worry about the consequences later.
Confused and torn, Richard realizes something isn't right. The man he killed was NOT Ben's son, and now the cops are obviously hiding something and trying to cover it up. So he rushes out and pulls Ben off the tracks just in time. He takes him to his father's secluded cabin, waits until he comes to and proceeds to tell him the unlikely story. At first Ben reacts with complete disbelief - until he accompanies Richard to the cemetery where they unearth the body of what Ben thinks to be his son. Upon the discovery that the man in the grave is unknown to him, Ben believes Richard and they start to devise a plan to uncover the truth.
This is a film that at first feels a lot like Cape Fear, until it doesn't. I'm not saying it morphs into 8MM, but it's obvious at the beginning of the movie that Richard's family is in danger from Ben, who is anxious to rectify the death of his son. But then the tables turn and the two become allies in a conspiracy that will drag them into the dark bowels of the human condition.
I loved seeing Michael C. Hall in a role that allowed him to show true emotion, instead of being just a cold-blooded, soulless serial killer. He is as skilled at playing a run-of-the-mill family man as he is a heartless murderer, and he's got wonderful range to go along with his expressive eyes and talent for speaking without saying a word. Sam Shepard is his usual low-key self, which serves him well when addressing Hall's character with a cold, unfeeling vengeance, yet he is able to turn a corner and befriend Richard when he realizes he's a good man who was taken advantage of just as much as he was. And what can I say about Don Johnson that hasn't already been said? It's so fun to see him play a bombastic character like this. He's always able to rein in the swarm just enough to be utterly engaging and likeable.
If you like films like the aforementioned Cape Fear, A History of Violence, and the more recent Prisoners and Blue Ruin, you're bound to enjoy this pulpy thriller. I can't wait to see what Jim Mickle has in store for us next!
Monday, November 17, 2014
Today we turn our eye to photographer Christopher McKenney. I couldn’t turn up any information on him other than he is a horror surrealist photographer from Pennsylvania. No matter, we will let the faceless apparitions in his photos speak for themselves.
Hooded figures and cloth-cloaked spectres lurk in the fields and forests of McKenney’s work, and they are plotting something evil. Don’t follow their beckoning finger, don’t listen to their raspy words, no good can come of it. But it can’t hurt to just stop and look… right?
You can see more of Christopher McKenney’s work at his website,HERE.
|The Righteous Will Be Saved|
Thursday, November 13, 2014
So when Jessabelle was making the trailer rounds, I was intrigued and perhaps even excited to check it out. I never get my hopes up in watching a new horror film - though I still can't get enough of them - that way if it turns out to be good I am pleasantly surprised. There haven't been a lot of surprises lately. Hmpf! Jessabelle doesn't do a whole lot to make the movie feel fresh at all, and in using the same old rhetoric and plot devices it fails to evoke any serious scares and falls well short of the aforementioned films. That said, there was enough going on within the hour and a half running time to keep my interest and semi-enjoy it.
Her mother died of a long illness when Jessie was a baby and even though she hasn't set eyes on her father Leon (David Andrews) in years it is him that she is forced to call to pick her up at the hospital upon discharge. Leon takes her back to his house deep in the Bayou and sets her up in her mother's old room - which has been strangely blocked off with a large cabinet for a seemingly long time.
Apologetic in the morning, her father presents her with her mom's old wheelchair and warns her that the tapes are not good for her to watch and that her mother had crazy ideas. After he leaves for work Jessie is alone in the house and starts to experience some strange, even paranormal events. When a therapist comes and helps her into the tub for a bath, Jessie falls asleep but is awakened and pulled under water by a malicious female spirit, who then seems to be screaming at her in every reel from then on.
She finds another hidden videotape and scares herself silly when she realizes her mother was either correct about someone being in the house - or she actually was crazy. Maybe a little of both. Her father is furious to find her watching another tape and he takes them outside to burn them. Things go awry and somehow he ends up in his work-shed with a raging fire all around him. At his funeral (its' really not giving anything away to mention his death), Jessie reconnects with an old high school boyfriend, Preston (Mark Webber). She starts to tell him about the strange events and they begin doing some research into the past. It's obvious Preston still has a thing for Jessie, but just when you think they are going to quickly couple up we are introduced to his wife.
Preston continues to help her despite the scowls and torments of his wife, and their search leads them to a grave on the other side of the bayou on the property. When they uncover the name, and it says Jessabelle - with Jessie's exact birth date, it's clear that malevolent forces are at work here.
I wanted to love Jessabelle. I really did. But now I know I am destined to only just tolerate this recent venture into voodoo. All things told, it really incorporated too many different ideas in one film - I had way too many unanswered questions. Was Jessie's mother a voodoo priestess? A witch? Do voodoo practitioners use Tarot cards? Why were there evil spirits? Was the house itself haunted? Or was the apparition supposed to be a demon? Was someone possessed by the devil or was it a voodoo possession - which is allegedly a good thing in voodoo? Did I not pay close enough attention and miss something profoundly important?
Sarah Snook, for being an Aussie, does a pretty good job of spinning that cajun accent, and does emulate well a frightened young woman with all kinds of questions and nothing to lose. But there just wasn't enough actual voodoo. I was looking for loads more secret rituals, inexplicable transformations - maybe even a few zombies for pete's sake!
But instead all I was left with was hopes and dreams for the next voodoo film that comes along.