Fall Anthems

I’m a lazy toad at the best of times but there is one physical activity that is totally my jam and that’s walking in the Autumn.

It harks back to my time living alone in Vancouver, a very introspective period of my life. While I was doing my ‘single life’ navel gazing, there were a couple of tunes that just kept popping up as I stomped about getting shit done.

I’m a creature of habit really, so if a song makes my rotation, it very rarely gets booted off again. So I’m basically listening to these songs still, my Fall anthems. In no particular order:

  • Edge of Seventeen – Stevie Nicks
  • Everywhere – Bran Van 3000
  • Army of Me – Bjork
  • Be The One – The Ting Tings
  • Maps – Yeah Yeah Yeahs
  • Cheap & Cheerful – The Kills
  • Buffalo Stance – Neneh Cherry
  • Rhiannon – Stevie Nicks
  • Save Tonight – Eagle Eye Cherry

I don’t think these songs need any introduction, I just love them, and feel strong and motivated when I listen them. I actually might go out for a little wander around the park in a bit, those fallen leaves aren’t going to crunch themselves underfoot.

You can have a cheeky listen to my Autumn Jams here:

What are your favourites?

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Autumn TV Recommendation: The Haunting of Hill House

It’s no secret that this girl (me) loves TV. Sue me. I particularly love good television to enjoy during the darker evenings and luckily for me, Netflix has delivered another interesting prospect in the shape of this Gothic beauty.

The Haunting of Hill House (2018)

IMDB Synopsis

Flashing between past and present, a fractured family confronts haunting memories of their old home and the terrifying events that drove them from it. Based on the novel The Haunting of Hill House by Shirley Jackson.

I love this show so much. It’s genuinely one of the best shows I’ve seen in a long time. It doesn’t hurt that I’ve been frantically messaging my friend Matt throughout to compare notes – I think that’s made me love it even more.

While it focuses on the Crain family and their experiences at Hill House, it flits between past and present day, giving us an insight into the effect everything has had on its troubled members. Dad Hugh has a deeply damaged relationship with his children Nell, Shirley, Luke, Theodora and Steve. Their sense of distrust and anger toward him stems from the dramatic night they all fled the house in the middle of the night. The same night they lost their beloved mother Olivia.

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Each has their own demon and as we find out, is haunted by different things. Nell (Victoria Pedretti) has grown up haunted by the continuous appearance of the bent neck lady. Her twin brother Luke (Oliver Jackson-Cohen) sees a tall man in a bowler hat and has a history of substance abuse brought on no doubt by his experiences.

Theodora, Shirley and Steve each have their own cross to bear too. Eldest brother Steve (Michiel Huisman) has cashed in on their childhood by writing a book about Hill House and enjoyed medium success as a writer. This has set him apart from his siblings, particularly Shirley who refuses to take his ‘blood money’ and resents him exploiting the others’ experiences.

As the show progresses we get all the answers we need about what precisely happened at Hill House and to Olivia Crain (Carla Gugino), who we visit in flashbacks and also see from time to time in present day.

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I’m not going to spend any more time on the narrative because I want everyone to watch this and love it as much as I do. It’s tinged with so much sadness and grief but it’s beautifully paced, genuinely frightening in places and perhaps most importantly, gives us well-rounded, flawed characters to fall in love with.

While the whole concept of the haunted house is not a new one, the way this series looks at PTSD, addiction and fractious familial relationships makes it feel really rich and satisfying. As the last episode wrapped up, I cried like a baby. It’s so beautiful with an amazing cast.

Get on it ASAP.

What are you watching?

Autumn TV Recommendation: Haunted

Haunted (2018)

*Mild spoilers*

Netflix has just released this little anthology just in time for Halloween and I’m quite stoked about it.

I spent the majority of Sunday bingeing it in my pajamas and although I will concede that it won’t change your life, it does explore some interesting stories. What makes it especially chilling is the fact that these tales aren’t tales at all but real supernatural experiences told by real people.

We meet a man terrorised by The Woman in White, a women living with a demon called Clarence and another lady who is routinely taken by extra terrestrials in her sleep.

There’s the surviving daughter of a prolific serial killer and a man who’s life was made infinitely better by a trio of ghost children – and a few more.

What strikes me most about these stories is the sadness and isolation that accompanies many of these events. More than a couple of these now adults have spend a great deal of their lives living with a secret and that’s terrifying. Some tried to reach out to their parents who didn’t believe them or worse, punished them for speaking out.

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Oggly boggly!

These lives have been peppered with suffering and pain and it’s hard to watch these ordinary folk tell their stories to a select group of friends and family. The whole set up is a little like an intervention but it’s a safe place with no judgement, thankfully.

The most petrifying thing? Most of these experiences are ongoing. More than one of the ‘afflicted’ has become resigned to the fact that that’s that, they’re still living the experience. I can’t accept that somehow even though I believe in it wholeheartedly.

Imagine living with a real life demon/ghost for the rest of your days, with no control or choice in the matter?

Nope. Nope. Nope.

What are you watching?

Final Girl Friday: Sara, Creep 2

Desiree Akhavan is a force to be reckoned with and has been super impressive in front of and behind the camera with Appropriate Behaviour (which she wrote, directed AND starred in), Girls and The Miseducation of Cameron Post to name but a few. So imagine my delight when she also appeared in the much-awaited sequel to one of my favorite movies, the sleeper hit Creep.

And now she’s the star of this week’s FGF!

*Spoilers – beware!*

The Girl

Sara, Creep 2 (2017)

The Situation

Sara is a videographer and student with a sideline YouTube channel called Encounters, in which she meets up with strangers who leave bizarre ads on Craiglist. Her numbers aren’t setting the world alight and she’s about to call it a day when she stumbles across an ad that really sparks her curiosity.

Aaron (Mark Duplass) is offering $1,000 to a filmmaker willing to document him for an entire day, as long as they don’t scare easily. Figuring she can go out with a bang following a brilliant finale, Sara digs in. She might live to regret her decision though, particularly when Aaron reveals he’s a serial killer.

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Nice wallpaper

The Final Girl

Sara is an interesting character. She’s self-motivated and very much doing all of this for the sake of her passion project. She’s also not afraid to use her feminine wiles to get what she wants, including getting in the hot tub with Aaron when he loses interest in their join venture and wants to kick her out. At one point Aaron also suggests they get the issue of wondering what the other looks like naked out of the way by… getting naked.

Sara outwardly is unflappable, though we realise quickly she’s giving herself pep talks in the loo. And also, for the most part she doesn’t believe what Aaron is telling her.
When it clicks, and she realises she might be in danger after all, she has the cunning to outsmart Aaron – and that’s the main quality required in any good final girl.

Sara was the perfect foil for Aaron, a serial killer just turning 40 and losing his desire to murder anymore. When she arrives, she mixes things up and not only does she ignite a new energy in Aaron, she also keeps the second film in this soon-to-be trilogy fresh and exciting. Where Creep had the real Aaron (Patrick Brice) play alongside Josef (who changes his name to Aaron for Creep 2, keep up), Sara bounces off Aaron (Josef) in a whole new way. And that ending!

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Final Girl Rating

4/5. I would watch the shit out of “Encounters”.

3 Witchy Horrors

None of these are really horror movies and one of them is pretty much a kids movie – but you can always argue that they contain horror themes and that’s enough for me.

I bet you all thought I’d choose Hocus Pocus for this list, didn’t you? I totally nearly did but young Michelle Pfeiffer pipped it to the post. I’ve no regrets.

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Relatable AF

The Witches of Eastwick (1987)

Men are such cocksuckers aren’t they? You don’t have to answer that. It’s true. They’re scared. Their dicks get limp when confronted by a woman of obvious power and what do they do about it? Call them witches, burn them, torture them, until every woman is afraid. Afraid of herself… afraid of men… and all for what? Fear of losing their hard-on. ~ Daryl Van Horne

What do you get when you put three of the hottest women of all time together, and then add Jack Nicholson? You get this charming film about a trio of witches who discover their hidden powers (and sexuality) when the devil comes to town.

There’s just something so delicious about The Witches of Eastwick. I feel as though it really captures a moment in time, the zeitgeist of the eighties. By casting the hottest actresses onscreen at that time, it’s a snap shot of a bygone era of film and I couldn’t love it more. It’s witty, grotesque and it also has a lot to say about grabbing life by the balls, even if the balls are attached to a very bad man indeed. Or indeed are a metaphor for something so much more fulfilling.

I can’t choose my favourite of the three, they’re all so gorgeous in their own ways; Suki (Pfeiffer) is the earth mother, Alex (Cher), the artistic hippy and Jane (Sarandon), the secretly sexual sex kitten music teacher. But together they’re a force to be reckoned with and what’s more satisfying than that?

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Resting Witch Faces

The Craft (1996)

We are the weirdos, mister. ~ Nancy

This is such a bitchy film and I was obsessed with it when it was first released, not least because I was ‘of an age’ (or maybe just a little bit older) that it all made sense. Especially the outcast aspect of the movie which fuels the narrative.

Nancy, Bonnie and Rochelle (Fairuza Balk, Neve Campbell, Rachel True) are three ordinary girls who aren’t particularly successful or significant in the high-school hierarchy. When Sarah (Robin Tunney) comes to town, she seems to be the perfect fourth pillar of the group. A group that needs things a certain way in order to make things happen. Magic things.

Well, it’s all a lesson in being careful what you wish for. After all, with power comes a fuck ton of responsibility and teenage girls aren’t always the most reliable, especially when they can make their bully’s hair fall out with a simple spell.

As things begin to spiral out of control and our friends begin to change (not for the better), one of them has to the tow the line before everything is lost forever. Can she? Also: Oh hi, Skeet Ulrich*swoon*

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The girls’ Bake Off showstopper was going well

Practical Magic (1998)

There’s a little witch in all of us. ~ Aunt Jet Owens

I guess you could say this is a Vintage edition of witch movies since none of them are from this millennium. *Shrug* – I love what I love and that’s that.

Practical Magic is adorable, hopeful and has a banging 90’s soundtrack – so as far as I’m concerned it’s up there with the best of them. Sally (Sandra Bullock) and Gillian Owens (Nicole Kidman) are sisters who come from a long line of witches. Including Aunt Frances (Stockard Channing) and Aunt Jet (Dianne Wiest).

They’re very different people. Sally is a homebody while Gillian is a free spirit with a tendency to disappear for long stretches, usually with strange, sexy men in tow. When Sally loses the love of her life in a tragic accident, she is beside herself with grief and Gillian comes home to be with her and her children, in the house they all share with the Aunts.

Little does Sally know there’s an ulterior motive and the sisters bite off almost more than they can chew when they re-animate Gillian’s latest lover – the abusive and accidentally dead Jimmy (Goran Visnjic) – using old school magique. Shame that neither got the memo that what is dead should probably stay dead, eh? Bit of a pisser too that the cop (Aidan Quinn) who turns up to investigate the mysterious disappearance of Jimmy, also happens to be connected to a very specific spell cast by Sally…

God I adore this movie. Both leads are dreamy as fuck and the Stevie Nicks heavy soundtrack will always have a place on my (outdated) iPod shuffle. *Sigh*

So yes, I could of chosen The Witch, The Blair Witch Project, The Lords of Salem – even The Love Witch for this list – and they are all fine movies – but these are the ones I want to pay tribute to today. Sue me.

What are your favourites?

Ouija: Origin of Evil (Film) Review

I thought maybe I’d seen this movie before but it turns out not to be true. Like exorcism movies, I always get my Ouija board films confused too.

In this case I’m so glad this was new to me because I’ve been binge watching The Haunting of Hill House (2018) this weekend*, which is by the director of this movie, Mike Flanagan. And while I was going through his filmography this popped up, which was already on my 31 Horrors list. Bingo!

*Spoilers*

Ouija: Origin of Evil (2016)

IMDB Synopsis

In 1967 Los Angeles, a widowed mother and her daughters add a new stunt to bolster their seance scam business by inviting an evil presence into their home, not realizing how dangerous it is.

My Review

It’s the swinging sixties and recently widowed Alice Zander (Elizabeth Reaser) has a pretty good fake medium racket going. With the help of her daughters Lina and Doris (Elizabeth Reaser and Lulu Wilson), she is able to convince ordinary folk that their late loved ones are communicating with them beyond the grave.

While some customers are dubious, Alice maintains that they’re offering the legitimate service of comfort and kindness – so who cares if it’s real? I sort of get her rhetoric to be honest. Anyway, the family are still pretty raw over the loss of Roger, the girls’ dad who has recently passed himself.

Ouija: Origin Of Evil (2016)
I’d stick to Guess Who? if I were you, love.

When 15-year-old Lina goes to a sneaky house party at a friend’s house one evening, she stumbles across a Ouija board game, recently purchased by the parents of the household. Cynical about the so-called afterlife, Lina is level-headed when her and her friends sit down to have a play. Everyone’s freaked out but she is adamant that it’s all just a crock of shit.

She does suggest the Ouija to her mum as part of their scam business though and unfortunately for everyone concerned, Alice buys one. She has a little go before sharing with the group and little does she know, she summons a spirit called Marcus. Ooooooooo!

Doris also uses the board alone when she contacts her dad for help following a letter from the bank threatening foreclosure on the house. She is lead to a secret compartment in one of the walls that reveals a heap of money, thus saving the day.

The women then do the Ouija together believing it to be a pipeline straight to Roger. Doris seems to have the most affinity with the board and takes over as the star of the show but soon starts to pay the price. Slowly but surely she is possessed by something horrible. Lina gets freaked out by the change in her sister, particularly when she starts writing frenzied notes in what appears to be Polish.

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“Ouija pass me the salt, honey?”

Luckily, kindly widower Father Tom (Henry Thomas) is kicking about to help the family, and when Lina mentions Doris’ oddness, he comes over under the pretense of chatting to his deceased wife Gloria. He then reveals to Lina and Alice that the Polish shorthand notes are entries written by an immigrant named Marcus (and transcribed through Doris), who was tortured by an evil doctor in the basement of the house during World War II. Awkward.

Meanwhile, Doris just keeps getting weirder and weirder – and is very not okay, hun. Basically the house is rife with evil angry spirits down below and the family have got their work cut out for them. Will they come together when it matters to kick Marcus and his pals’ ghostly arses – or?

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Eye eye, Ouija look at that.

My Thoughts

Hmm. Yes. Yes I liked this very much. It’s a nice period piece loyal to the time period and is genuinely creepy. There are times it’s a little heavy handed on the effects but I didn’t mind that. All three women are convincing and I really enjoyed the climax.

I haven’t gone into it too deeply for fear of spoiling it but it is an interesting lament on grief and longing. Like, wouldn’t we all do similar just to speak to the precious ones we’ve lost? I know I would – and I have. My one and only brush with the Ouija when I was backpacking in Australia was terrifying and I believe it completely. Or at least I believe in the fear and behaviour it can invoke.

If we’re honest, there’s nothing earth-shatteringly new here but something Mike Flanagan does well is characterisation (back to Hill House) and he obviously has a lot of love for the genre, which comes across in his work. I’m a big fan and I really like how he continues to use the same actors across the board. Maybe I’m a bit biased because I love HH so much (*and will be waffling on about it soon) but this was good too.

My Rating

3.5/5.

What does my little demon think of this one? Would she haunt it until the end of time or throw it in the goddamn furnace? Find out here.

Scream Queen Girl Gang (Modern Edition)

These are the actresses I’d most like to have a pint and share eyeliner with because they seem cool. And you know, if we ever happened to get into any trouble, then I’d be confident in their ability to help me fight to the death – which is a pretty good quality to pick in a friend. Just saying.

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Freddy Vs. Jason (2003)

Katharine Isabelle

Horror CV: Ginger Snaps, Carrie (TV Movie), Freddy vs. Jason, American Mary, Torment, Hannibal (TV Series)

I adore Miss Isabelle, not least because she’s the lead in a couple of my favourites (Ginger Snaps, American Mary). She’s Canadian (like me) and she’s lovely – and I just think we’d get along.

According to IMDB there was friction on set between her and the director of Freddy Vs. Jason because she refuses to do nudity – and I like that she’s not afraid to stick to her guns. You do you, boo. I just wish she was in way more – my favourite modern-day Scream Queen 4 lyfe.

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Don’t Breathe (2016)

Jane Levy

Horror CV: Evil Dead, Don’t Breathe, Castle Rock (TV Series)

Jane Levy first popped up in Suburgatory and was the best thing in it. Then the remake of Evil Dead came along and she was brilliant. Genuinely. The film itself took fresh liberties with the story which kept it modern and set it apart from the originals (which are amazing) – plus she was the final girl!

Jane herself has gone on to star in Don’t Breathe, a film I wish I liked more and I Don’t Feel at Home in This World Anymore, which is a GREAT movie that also stars one of the other members of this gang (see below). They incidentally also star together in Stephen King inspired TV series, Castle Rock.

I don’t know, I just think she’s cool and hopefully as sarcastic as some of the characters she’s played. Sarcastic is good.

Brittany Snow stars in Screen Gems' thriller PROM NIGHT.
Prom Night (2008)

Brittany Snow

Horror CV: Prom Night, Would You Rather

I feel sometimes like the world needs a doe eyed Brittany to keep things on an even keel – and without Brittany Murphy (RIP), the crown fell naturally to my girl. This Brittany has done the rounds as a teen icon but she’s so much more than that. She’s so convincing in Would You Rather than I often think about that film and how I’d fare in the same situation. She can also tow the line between popcorn movies (the Pitch Perfect trilogy) and lesser appreciated indies (Bushwick).

Brittany has been quite open about her struggle with depression and self-harm in the past and in 2010 she started the Love is Louder movement to support anyone feeling mistreated, misunderstood or alone – which is awesome.

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Melanie Lynskey

Horror CV: Rose Red (TV Mini-Series), XX (segment “The Birthday Party”), Castle Rock (TV Series)

I love Mel, the Indie Sweetheart. Jill and I are such fans we enjoyed a Melanie Lynskey month on the Blog Collab in 2017 – spurred on by the aforementioned I Don’t Feel at Home in This World Anymore. We both heavily related to her seriously pissed off character Ruth who is driven to drastic action when she’s let down by the feds following a burglary.

Imagine my delight then when she popped up as Mary in the St. Vincent directed segment of XXX called Birthday Cake. Now she’s rocking her part in Castle Rock alongside Jane Levy – and even though I’ve been quite slow on the uptake, I’m enjoying her very much in it.

Melanie is my age so she’d get my pop culture references and she looks like a laugh so I’m confident we’d be the best of all BFFs.

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American Horror Story: Cult (2017)

Sarah Paulson

Sarah Paulson would be our mate from out of town who pops up occasionally to hang out. I don’t need to go into why she’s great as I’ve been banging on a lot about American Horror Story lately, she just is.

And that, my friends is my Scream Queen Girl Gang.

Who would you choose?