Disclosure: I know a few people involved with this film and viewed it several months ago for reaction purposes. The review below, written at that time, remains my honest assessment of the piece.
I recently had the opportunity to see Mockingbird, the upcoming Bryan Bertino film from Blumhouse and Universal. You’ll remember that Bertino wrote and directed The Strangers, one of the few mainstream horror successes of the past decade capable of instilling a gut-wrenching, prolonged sense of dread in its audience. Since then he’s been busy with writing and producing gigs, but I’ve been looking forward to his directorial followup for some time.
For a while I had been a little concerned that something had gone wrong. Mockingbird was shot in 2012 and I hadn’t heard much about it since then. Was it some kind of disaster? My fears were eased a little bit when I interviewed producer Jason Blum at SXSW, where he assured me that everyone was happy with the film and that it was more or less a matter of finding the right release date (Note: this date has been revealed as of publication). Still… sometimes it’s hard to stop worrying.
But now? All concern has been mitigated. Not only is Mockingbird not a disaster, it’s pretty much a f*cking knockout when it comes to suspense. While it’s most certainly a filmmaking exercise rather than a straightforward narrative, and lacks some of the studio polish of The Strangers, it actually feels bigger than that film in some regards. At times you’re aware of the experiment at hand, interweaving narrative threads à la Magnolia and Nashville within a found footage context, but it’s almost relentlessly gripping in a refreshingly cinematic manner. Despite even the found footage sub-genre.
In fact, the sub-genre is the only real stumbling block here in the sense that I feel like audiences would have been more primed for this film a year or two ago before the marketplace was glutted with inferior takes on the conceit. I know I’m generally sick of found footage features and you’re probably more than a little tired of them yourself. But my fatigue lasted all of 30 seconds into Mockingbird’s runtime, as the opening of the film more than gets your attention (and raises your blood pressure). After that there’s only a bare minimum of found footage tropes (and even those are healthily justified by the mid-90’s setting). Bertino understands that we don’t need to see every BBQ his characters ever attended to generate empathy for them. He just needs to put capable performers in unbearable situations and let us sweat things out by their side.
One of the things that makes the film work so well is the tone, and the tightrope act it pulls off in achieving it. Two of the three story threads are played out with unrelenting tension, while the third almost serves as comic relief… until you realize where things are heading. While Mockingbird doesn’t necessarily telegraph its ending, you get the feeling that things won’t be ending well and the result is like watching a car crash in slow motion. You can’t look away. So that third thread with a bit of comedy, a thread that would tonally derail most horror films, actually works as an asset towards the escalating sense of dread. And that dread is palpable. I’m mostly desensitized to the genre, but I could actually physically feel the toll of the prolonged suspense here.
Mockingbird’s ending doesn’t fully pay off that suspense. It works in a narrative sense, and it’s not bad by any means. It’s just a bit abrupt and is just “pretty good” while the rest of the film is “really great.” If the entirety of the piece is as intimate and prolonged as a stabbing, the resolution is as brisk as a gunshot. Still, there’s a nice button after you think everything’s been wrapped up that reminds you of the piece’s singularity and reclaims its bleak tone. Make some time for this film when it hits later this year and put aside your found footage fatigue for just one more night. You’ll be glad you did.
This film will be released on Digital HD on October 7th and will be available on DVD exclusively from Wal-Mart starting on October 21st.
Richard Corben and horror comics are synonymous with one another. This is something Dark Horse Comics knows all too well. So in celebrating 50 Years of “Creepy” next week with Creepy #18 they’ve tapped Corben to write an incredible retrospective on the series for the back matter of the issue. Luckily you won’t have to wait that long to dig into the incredible essay because we’ve teamed with Dark Horse to offer it to you here exclusively a week ahead of the release.
This retrospective is layered with insane quotes from some of the most prolific names in comics and horror, Guillermo Del Toro, Mike Mignola, and Tony Moore, just to name a few. So let’s get on with it.
RICHARD CORBEN ON HIS FAVORITE CREEPY STORIES
My favorites among the Creepy stories I’ve done include those that have a special meaning for me. They all come from a time when I was young and had more energy than I knew what to do with.
“The Slipped Mickey Click Flip,” written by Doug Moench for Creepy #54, was a takeoff on all the old horror comics and their often-silly horror hosts. The story didn’t make much sense in a normal, linear way; it was surreal because it kept jumping from the internal story to the external story of the insane host and his psychotic assistant. I joined in the madness, adding many bizarre details. It was a lot of fun.
“As a loooong-time fan of Richard’s, I remember reading this story back in the seventies. Reading it thirty-odd years later, I recall having a glassy-eyed, ‘Whoa, what was that?’ kind of response, and reading it again—but that was par for the course with any work that had Richard Corben’s name on it. I pored over his pages; it was (and is) like nothing else in comics. The last page still amazes me.”—Brian Azzarello
“Lycanklutz,” written by me for Creepy #56, was the first color story I did for James Warren, and I wanted to prove my skills and inventiveness by creating work that was at least as good as that done by his Spanish technicians. Looking back, the story was kind of childish and silly. But overall I wanted to achieve a bright comic-book version of a Hammer horror movie.
“Even though Corben had done some bold black-and-white work for Warren before, it is with ‘Lycanklutz’ that he blooms in all his glory for the first time. Most of his stories can be classified in three categories—funny (slapstick), erotic, or hardcore genre (science fiction or horror)—but this is the rare early example in which he unleashes all three. You find in ‘Lycanklutz’ a veritable Corben primer: his proprietary color palette, his bold, audacious compositions and layout, his memorable characters, and his twisted ingenuity. It evokes at once the lost lands of Clark Ashton Smith, the twist endings of EC comics, and the Technicolor nightmares of Mario Bava and Hammer films.
“But there is much more than that: Corben’s sensuality comes not only from the story lines and themes but from the eminently tactile, almost vinyl-toy smoothness of his characters’ skin, or the taut sensuality of sinew and muscle bulging within. And his humor derives as much from his extreme lensing and the virtuosic execution of his contrasting, psychedelic colors as it does from his O. Henry-esque puns and absurdist scenes and plot.
“His color work—and the insanely complex method he used to achieve it—allowed him to reign, uncontested, over the Warren color universe—he even colored the most astounding Spirit cover, thus relaunching Eisner for a new generation of readers! Corben lives and breathes what he does. He is the sum of his influences, and they pour naturally from within. The man and his art are one. He has been an enormous influence on all of my work. He is the mainstay in my collection of original art and one of the most precise and admirable storytellers in the medium.”—Guillermo del Toro
“The Hero Within,” written by Steve Skeates for Creepy #60, was a story I had a lot of sympathy with. It concerns a young, mistreated child who retreats into a fantasy world where he is a muscular hero saving a beautiful woman from a fantastic dinosaur monster. This was a theme I would return to in some of my own writing. I think the story was written to fit a preexisting Sanjulián cover.
“ ‘The Hero Within’ is a fine example of Corben’s mastery of the form. His art, still containing hints of his underground past, is vibrant and moody, the characters expressive. The writing is literate and works on two levels, telling of the heroic fantasies that live just under the surface in all of us—fantasies that wilt in the harsh light of reality.”—Mike Richardson
“The Raven,” adapted by Rich Margopoulos for Creepy #67, was the first Poe adaptation I did for Warren, and probably the best. In reviewing it now, I especially remember this was when I started using live models to draw from. In this case, another comic book artist and my good friend, Herb Arnold, and his wife portrayed the mournful Poe characters.
“Maybe the straightest Poe adaptation I can remember Richard doing and, really, just about perfect—super respectful of the poem and at the same time it’s pure Corben. Who else would even attempt (let alone pull off) that lit-window/shadow-on-the-snow effect on the bottom of page 4? And the amount of character he gives to that bird just by moving its head around . . . I love that shot of Lenore with that red sky behind her across the top of page 6. Really powerful. The fact that he comes back to that shot at the end, replacing her with her tombstone—as I said, it’s just pretty much perfect.”—Mike Mignola
“In Deep” was a project promoted and written by Bruce Jones for Creepy #83. The color inserts were eight pages long, and Bruce had an idea to do a black-and-white lead-in and finish to a color story so it could be a longer story. He also posed in reference photographs for the lead character of the story. Furthermore, he introduced me to the startlingly statuesque Karen G., who portrayed his luckless girlfriend. Some sharp-eyed readers will recognize her, as this was the beginning of my association with Karen on many later projects.
“Corben was an especially big influence on me. As a kid, I was digging around at my grandparents’ house. Tucked neatly away in the back of a closet were a couple of old brown-paper grocery bags stacked heavy as cinder blocks with a treasure trove of old horror and fantasy comics. This is where I met Richard Corben for the first time. His stark lighting and labored, realistic textures fleshing out expressive cartooning and masterful storytelling, not to mention bold color work with subtle interplay—it was all produced with a level of complexity that is still unmatched today, even by the best in this digital age. The power. The sensuality. The gripping, visceral horror that could stand silent on the page. The first time I saw his work, it was unlike anything I had ever seen in a comic book. I was absolutely blown away and knew instantly what I wanted to see in my own work, which is an artistic pipe dream on my part. But hey, a boy can dream.
“I love that this story is full, lush color in the flashback, bookended by that great stark black and white. As readers, we’re immersed in the flashback, and then we get that final twist of the proverbial knife in that great EC/Twilight Zone fashion that Warren expanded on so well. The story itself is such an intimate experience, and you can become invested in the characters’ plight so quickly, that a few haymaker shots of that great standout gore hit you hard enough to take your breath away. When he looks up from his buoy, and we get the intercut zooms on the wife’s missing eye and the gull who took it, you can practically hear the screeching soundtrack swelling with anxiety, as this is just the preamble to the horror to come. That small stretch of panels is a clinic on storytelling that really gets under your skin and ratchets up the intensity as a good horror hook should. Then immediately after a punch to the gut like that, we’re dropped into a frenzy that leaves us frantically flipping pages until the end, when we’re shocked to the point of sweaty exhaustion. This is the stuff I love. I wish every comic could put me through the emotional paces like this. I guess if I dialed back my reading to only Richard Corben comics, I could get that wish granted.
“As a young comics professional, I had the pleasure to meet the man in the flesh at a small convention in Kansas City, many years ago. It was like spotting a unicorn in the wild. He wasn’t the mass of rippling meat and road-map sinew I kind of expected from the decades of looking at his work, but rather a friendly and quiet older gentleman. I paced, mealy mouthed and sweaty, till the convention was nearly over before finally walking over to introduce myself and shake his hand. He graciously accepted the copies of my own books, which I gave him as a token of my appreciation for his work, when I had nothing else to give. He was kind to me in that fleeting interaction, and I hope when he saw my work, he didn’t take my declaration of his influence as some sort of insult or personal indictment. As an artist, I owe a great deal of thanks to Corben’s pioneering approach to production and profoundly moving storytelling. Newton said, ‘If I have seen a little further, it is by standing on the shoulders of giants,’ and the comics industry, especially where horror stands, owes an unfathomable debt of gratitude to this giant in particular.”—Tony Moore
The cover of Eerie #77, with the girl in the tree portrayed again by Karen G., was my attempt to evoke some of the mood of the jungles in the original King Kong. These stories, including “Within You . . . Without You,” represent my comic work at a time when I was young and determined to prove myself.
“Corben was a heavy influence on me when I was teaching myself to paint. His work vividly stood out amongst everything else I was being exposed to. His striking and bold use of color, the extremes of his exaggerated anatomy, and his unparalleled use of shadow and texture make his work totally unique. It’s his ability to convey texture that really blows me away. When you look at a gnarled tree trunk in a Corben painting, you can almost feel its rough surface and smell the musty odor of the rotting vegetation. Corben is one of those truly great illustrators that not only deliver an artistic technical satisfaction, but also smack you in the face with the visceral power of the image and the world they create.”—Eric Powell
There you have it, an incredible retrospective filled with art that was made years ago and still looks gorgeously unlike anything else in comics right now. Truly a master, be sure to check out our Visions of Horror with Richard Corben for more.
Seth Grossman will take an intervention to another level.
Starring Lara Vosburgh, Morgan McClellan, and Colleen McGrann, IFC Midnight sneaks in some footage from Inner Demons, out in theaters and VOD October 3.
“When the teenage daughter of a religious family transforms from A-student into heroin addict, her parents agree to allow a reality TV crew to stage an intervention and tape her recovery. What they don’t know is that she has been taking drugs to deal with the unnatural, evil feelings growing inside her. When she agrees to rehab, with no drugs to suppress what’s inside, the demon emerges.
A suspenseful and clever reinvention of both the found-footage and possession genres, Inner Demons expertly plays on our culture’s love of reality television. Director Seth Grossman, who worked as a producer on “Intervention,” deftly guides the audience down a path where addiction is just a temporary cure for something much more evil.”
The impossible has become possible; the Hero of Midgard and god of Thunder, Thor, has become too unworthy to wield Mjolnir. With the Earth on the brink of a massive war one of their most powerful allies may prove to be too powerless to help. Beautifully written and illustrated “Thor” #1 is changing the game for Marvel Comic’s universe with the introduction of a goddess of thunder, but will she be too late to take up the mantel?
WRITTEN BY: Jason Aaron
ART BY: Russell Dauterman
PUBLISHER: Marvel Comics
RELEASE DATE: October 1st
Reviewed By Green Bastard
Using wisdom gained from The Watcher, a mere whisper from Nick Fury has left the most powerful god in Asgardia a shade of his former self. Starving, dirty and looking rather homeless, Thor is in the grips of despair as he continuously tries to lift his beloved Mjolnir from the moon’s surface. As his fellow gods circle Thor to view his humiliation his enemies begin to circle him as well. Without his powers Thor strikes out to fight once again, but the task may prove too great for the former thunder god. There must always be a Thor and so there shall be…
In one of a few diversity project Marvel has going, the new Thor is trying to put fresh life into their universe by introducing a female into the role of the Mjolnir wielding god (goddess) of thunder. Will it necessarily work? I’m no psychic but after reading this book I certainly have a lot of optimism surrounding this ongoing.
The intensity of the story is one of the biggest surprises this debut issue had for me, from the opening panels until the brilliantly displayed closing page the pace is break neck and filled with drama. Jason Aaron has been consistently delivering quality Thor books for a while and I have no doubt in my mind that this arc has the potential rival its predecessors.
The quality of the writing aside the other chief factor that this book is such a pleasure to read is the artistic teamwork of illustrator Russell Dauterman and colourist Matthew Wilson. There are many individual panels that stand out in my mind, too many to name in this review, from the opening pages of the frost giants to the final image of the new thunder goddess and everything in between. The images are crisp and vibrant with a realistic style has been always been a preferred one of mine and has been constant throughout the Thor ongoing which is why I keep coming back for more.
Whether or not you agree with the line of thinking that has lead Marvel to switching Thor’s gender, the book is high quality and will leave you salivating for the next issue. There can only be one goddess of thunder and she looks like someone you don’t want to mess with.
In a lot of haunted house movies, the question the audience finds themselves asking is “Why the hell would you stay? Move out, jackass.” A few movies have addressed this problem by having an individual be the one that’s haunted, rather than the house (The Entity, Insidious). Kiwi filmmaker Gerard Johnstone found a more practical solution for his horror-comedy Housebound: the protagonist can’t leave the house or she’ll go to jail. Petulant petty thief Kylie (Morgana O’Reilly) is under house arrest at her mother’s home. When the paranormal begins to rear its ugly head, Kylie has no choice but to confront it.
Kylie is an angry, bitter young woman. For her, being trapped in a house with her mother Miriam (Rima Te Wiata) is a punishment worse than prison. Her stepfather Graeme (Ross Harper) tries to be civil towards her, but Kylie pushes away any attempts at familial compassion. Sipping beer and watching dopey television shows in between her volatile, court-ordered therapy sessions is all she can stomach. When she learns that her mother has long believed their house to be haunted, Kylie initially shrugs off the idea. But when the unfriendly spirits start targeting Kylie, she enlists the help of Amos (Glen-Paul Waru), the laconic security guard keeping tabs on her who happens to have a passion for the supernatural.
Amos and Kylie’s scenes together are fantastic. She’s hostile towards him at first – he is an authority figure after all. As they dig deeper into the secrets of the house, Kylie’s walls start to come down. Through it all, the magnetic Morgana O’Reilly absolutely kills it. Her potent facial expressions alone cut through the other characters and deliver knock out blows of bitterness. The arc she undergoes is entirely believable as well, as she slowly comes to realize maybe everyone isn’t against her. O’Reilly handles it all with fervor and nuance. She’s a regular on some New Zealand TV shows but an unknown here in the States. Housebound will hopefully lead to international roles for her and I damn well hope she does more horror. As for Waru, he’s impossible not to love.
Once Kylie starts playing detective, Housebound plows through a lot of worn horror-comedy ground. However, it does so with so much gleeful indulgence that many of the beats feel fresh. Johnstone knows what a horror audience is expecting and he pounces at all the right moments. There’s a consistent tone that feels like Tales From the Crypt blended with the Kiwis’ deadpan humor. It’s really playful and biting. Even when the mystery starts to unravel and more serious themes are explored, Housebound never takes itself serious enough to ruin the fun and the comedy never takes away from the tense atmosphere Johnstone establishes. In short, the elements are perfectly balanced for its entirety.
Housebound is the first feature for writer-director Johnstone and it announces the arrival of a great new talent in genre filmmaking. He knows his shit and cleverly twists the tropes to create something effectively creepy and wholly unique. Between this and The Babadook, the folks down under are making one hell of an impression on 2014 horror.
We’re about to enter October and I want to bring you something eerie, something creepy, something that will be perfect for creating that perfect Halloween mood. Therefore, I present to you Emit, an ambient noise project out of the UK that also goes by the name Hammemit.
For this example, I’m showcasing the Spectre Music of an Antiquary album, which is a haunting, atmospheric album that recalls much of the early Silent Hill work of Akira Yamaoka.
The description reads:
Not a complete return to Emit’s black noise of yore, but a more eerily haunting passage of Druidical black ambient into the folklore of Southern England.
The thick, smothering and claustrophobic atmospheres that only Emit can create are still haunting and tormenting those dwelling in ruin, abolishing the sun.
Stream the album below and pick up a limited cassette via Bandcamp.
Two can keep a secret, if one of them is dead.
Screen Media Films’ A Good Marriage, adapted from Stephen King’s short story from the collection “Full Dark, No Stars,” opens on VOD and in limited theaters October 3. We now have a batch of images from the thriller that doesn’t look a-so happy…
King wrote the screenplay and Peter Askin directed the film, starring Joan Allen, Anthony LaPaglia, Kristen Connolly and Stephen Lang.
“When her husband (Anthony LaPaglia) of more than twenty years is away on one of his business trips, Darcy Anderson (Joan Allen) looks for batteries in the garage. Instead she discovers the stranger inside her husband. It’s a horrifying discovery, rendered with bristling intensity, and it definitively ends a good marriage.“
Russian website Film Pro is reporting that Marvel will unleash the first trailer for Avengers: Age of Ultron in theaters this winter, attached to prints of Warner Bros. Pictures’ Interstellar the weekend of November 7.
The third Avengers, which battles the extinction of both man and mutant, is set for a May 1, 2015 release.
“When Tony Stark tries to jumpstart a dormant peacekeeping program, things go awry and Earth’s Mightiest Heroes, including Iron Man, Captain America, Thor, The Incredible Hulk, Black Widow and Hawkeye, are put to the ultimate test as the fate of the planet hangs in the balance. As the villainous Ultron emerges, it is up to The Avengers to stop him from enacting his terrible plans, and soon uneasy alliances and unexpected action pave the way for an epic and unique global adventure.
Marvel’s “Avengers: Age of Ultron” stars Robert Downey Jr., who returns as Iron Man, along with Chris Evans as Captain America, Chris Hemsworth as Thor and Mark Ruffalo as The Hulk. Together with Scarlett Johansson as Black Widow and Jeremy Renner as Hawkeye, and with the additional support of Samuel L. Jackson as Nick Fury and Cobie Smulders as Agent Maria Hill, the team must reassemble to defeat James Spader as Ultron, a terrifying technological villain hell-bent on human extinction. Along the way, they confront two mysterious and powerful newcomers, Wanda Maximoff, played by Elizabeth Olsen, and Pietro Maximoff, played by Aaron Taylor-Johnson, and meet an old friend in a new form when Paul Bettany becomes Vision.”
The film was written and directed by Joss Whedon and produced by Kevin Feige.
This week, Don and Justin return with another action-packed hour of talking. Among their subjects are the new movie The Equalizer, and the new Wii U game “Hyrule Warriors.”
Also this week, late-to-the-party discussions of: The Quiet Ones, “Castlevania: Lords of Shadow,” and Public Service Announcements about “Dark Dreams Don’t Die” (a.k.a. “D4,“from the creator of “Deadly Premonition,” and it needs your help!), and “Donkey Kong Country: Tropical Freeze.”
And most importantly, get well soon Tom Chick!
Did you glance at the recommended PC specs for Alien: Isolation or The Evil Within and laugh that maniacal PC Master Race laugh, because the rig you had in 2008 had enough Ghz to power them both at the same time? If you answered yes, then here are some more recommended specs to laugh at, this time for the open-world horror game Dying Light.
As we’ve established, my mind is already so jam-packed with mostly irrelevant video game facts and recipes for late-night meals designed to achieve maximum calories with minimal time and effort, leaving me no room left for me to develop more than a child’s understanding of all this.
OS: Windows® Windows Vista® (SP2) / Windows® 7 (SP1) / Windows® 8
Processor: Intel® Core™2 Duo/AMD Athlon™ 64 X2 @3GHz, Intel Core i5 @2.4GHz
Memory: 4 GB RAM
Graphics: DirectX® 10–compliant, 512 MB VRAM
Hard Drive: 20 GB HD space
Sound: DirectX® 10–compliant
OS: Windows® 7 (SP1) 64bit / Windows® 8 64bit
Processor: quad core CPU @3GHz
Memory: 8 GB RAM
Graphics: Radeon 7900 Series / GeForce GTX 670, >2GB VRAM
Hard Drive: 20 GB HD space
Sound: DirectX® 10–compliant
Dying Light hits PC, PS3, PS4, Xbox 360 and Xbox One on January 27, 2015.
On October 22nd, 2001, electronic artist Richard D. James released Drukqs under the Aphex Twin moniker, the fifth studio album released under this name. It was the last Aphex Twin album to be released until just under two weeks ago when he released a brand new album, Syro.
Featuring tracks from the past several years, as well as a healthy dose of new material, the release of Syro stunned and delighted fans as well as critics, gaining near universal acclaim.
Now, this isn’t a review simply because I never got 100% into Aphex Twin’s previous albums, something that I’m now sorely regretting. Rather, these are my impressions after listening to the album several times.
What struck me the most about this album was the unbelievably vast array of tones and sounds. It’s an absolutely fascinating album from an aural perspective. There are tones that hearken back to the 80′s and 90′s while several sounds are incredibly modern, creating a unique mixture of past and present.
The next thing that stuck out to me was how much of a roller coaster it was on my emotions. From moments of pure beauty to glitched out creepiness, Syro is an opportunity for introspection and possibly even meditation. It drew me in hypnotically, each song a story in and of itself yet somehow relatable and identifiable. I found myself more often than not completely lost in the music, blissfully unaware of the world around me.
But perhaps the most wonderful aspect of this album is that I have listened to it multiple times and it’s still growing on me, revealing new sounds and melodies. Each new playthrough unveils something new, something that I missed out on with each previous listen. I can’t really explain it but I’m drawn to this album time and time again. It’s almost like some strange addiction and I can’t get enough of it.
If you haven’t guessed from this article, I’m kinda in love with Syro. I 100% recommend picking it up as quickly as you possibly can. It’s the kind of album that stays with you and will end up being something you return to year after year.
Let’s take a minute and rewind to August of last year, when the post-apocalyptic shooter The Drowning released on iOS with the promise of making full use of the iPhone’s innards to deliver visuals that would be about on par with console games. It’s an intriguing concept, a mobile horror game with console quality graphics.
With the exception of a few games, like Resident Evil 4 and the fantastic Dead Space mobile game, I haven’t found many horror titles that have been able to keep me hooked for more than a few minutes. Even still, it looked impressive enough for me to give it a try.
After spending a couple hours in its monster-infested world, I decided The Drowning has a lot of style, but it lacked substance. At its core, it’s a wave survival game with free-to-play mechanics that’s light on story and heavy on mildly creepy creatures to shoot.
Apparently, that’s enough to warrant a film adaptation. As Deadline reports, the game will soon move from the small screen to one that’s substantially bigger. It’s being written by Creighton Rothenberger and Katrin Benedikt (Olympus Has Fallen and The Expendables 3), and produced by Ted Field, Mike Weber, and Michael Napoliello of Radar Pictures.
Tom Van Dell and Jason Moskowitz are executive producing.
The only thing that has me cautiously optimistic about this is its eco-horror plot, which follows “a deep-sea oil-drilling accident that causes ancient micro-organisms to be released into the water supply of an island town off the Seattle coast.”
“Last Rites” isn’t quite the course correction I was hoping for, but does prove to be a stronger hour, as the team recovers from last week we make some strides toward the endgame.
Of course some of the episode felt like it was stalling, but at first I was chalking it up to Abraham’s flashback scenes. I was worried they’d detract from the week, but they actually gave some incredible insight into the man’s past, and added one of the most horrific sequences the show has churned out thus far. That whole cave sequence was possibly my favorite ten minutes of the show.
I’m still not convinced Dutch adds anything to the show. I found her return with a huge win, to be nothing if not distracting. She and Fet’s budding relationship is a great diversion from the main pull of the episode but feels forced due to a lack of chemistry between the actors. Even still her idea to broadcast a message doesn’t make much sense in a world gone to shit. Especially a world where technological access has been dead for a little while now, but this is The Strain and it seems plot holes come with the territory.
Gus’ plot felt a little haphazard. We know very clearly that he’s a punk with nothing to prove to anyone, and he’s only out for himself. He’s not interested in saving people, and with the world gone to shit, he fits in now more than ever. But he’s always shown potential to be a force for good and this week we’re reminded of it with the gun toss.
Yet the main pull of this episode was making Nora into a more desicive character. She finally committed to this world and understood what needed to be done when someone is lost. It was a smart and interesting parallel to Abraham’s past, but didn’t serve up the same impact. Plus it was nice to see our Goth rocker from week’s past return from whatever hell he was in if only to off Nora’s mother.
The end of the episode did an impeccable job building excitement for next week’s finale. I’m not entirely sure of where things will go from here, but with Quinlan taking Gus, and the Stonehart story finally becoming more interesting things are at an appropriate boiling point for each story to explode it its own way next week.
I want to take a moment and talk about The Master. As a daunting creature who commands legions of vampires his appearance should define terror. He moves with speed and darts around the room like a horrible apparition. He’s depicted as fluid and moves like water, but when he get close he looks like a retarded puppet. Seriously. Not only that but he moves with a certain stiffness that comes to undermine his appearance in every other scene before it. I just can’t get over how terrible his depiction is, and how goofy the face looks.
Exciting things lie ahead in the final week of The Strain. This has been a rather problematic first season that has really shown promise in it’s stronger weeks. This wasn’t really one of them, but it wasn’t a problem week either. Hopefully next week will end things on a marvelous note before the wait for season 2. We can only hope.
- Zack was finally reduced to only a reaction shot this week, let’s all take a breath of relief.
- Eph was really undercut this week, but I didn’t really miss him.
- I need more Quinlan in the finale, let’s hope we get a dose of his squad with Gus next week.
What did you think of “Last Rites?”
It is hard to write or talk about Neverending Nightmares without elaborating on the development, including its creator’s personal history and struggles. Normally, I would eschew unfurling this kind of backstory as irrelevant to the gaming experience, but Neverending Nightmares — along with maybe Depression Quest and Actual Sunlight — have convinced me otherwise.
Neverending Nightmares is the very definition of a personal game, the product of a single man’s struggles with failure, mental illness, depression, and OCD. It is so much a result of Matt Gilgenbach’s psyche that it is nearly impossible to talk about the game without making some pretty substantial statements about its creator.
After a highly disappointing release for rhythm-shooter Retro/Grade, Gilgenbach’s obsessive-compulsive disorder — which he thought he had mostly conquered — began to reappear, prompting the sorts of invasive thoughts of self-mutilation that more-or-less ended up in the final version of the game. It is through that lens Gilgenbach’s vision for Neverending Nightmares was conceived and produced.
Anyone who has seen a screenshot or trailer can see the game’s most immediate appeal: it looks amazing. There is a hellish storybook quality to it that never quite subsides, and the fact that the black-and-white landscape is spattered with touches of color — mostly red — makes it even more starkly appealing.
It is subtle in a way many games are not with regard to color scheme, and it makes me wonder why more games have not availed themselves of something so simple and yet beautiful.
The final product turned out to be a beautiful, weird, and unsettling game, nontraditional but playable and engaging nonetheless. Like other narrative-based experiences of the last few years — think Gone Home — the point is the game itself, as metaphor, as explanation, as whatever the creator wants it to be. Or, consequently, what the player wants it to be.
In Neverending Nightmares, players snap awake in a pen-and-paper world akin to the art of Edward Gorey, taking up the role of asthmatic protagonist Thomas. Without much (read: no) exposition, players wander the halls of a house worthy of Poe and search for…something. Escape. Your lost sister. It quickly becomes clear, but that’s not the point.
The point is, Thomas is a fearful guy living in a world of nightmares he cannot escape, but that doesn’t stop him from trying.
Without a major objective-based plot to drive players forward, Neverending Nightmares comes to feel very much like an adventure game at heart. And this is how it makes manifest the personal connection to Gilgenbach’s OCD.
In each level, players are presented with a series of hallways, many of them virtually identical, with doors that lead to other, branching hallways, which also look exactly the same, which then makes fastidious gamers like me begin to tense up and wonder how to get back to that original hallway and explore the remaining rooms. The intentional sameness makes it nearly impossible to know just what areas have and have not been explored.
Perhaps you see what I’m getting at with this.
It is frustrating and tedious, but in an interesting way. It gives the players a glimpse into what it must be like to have OCD, but also from a purely horror perspective, it builds tension. Even players who systematically wander the halls will get a stomach-churning sense of deja vu when doubling back to find an item or potential exit. If being chased by a monster of some kind, it is impossible not to feel as though the number of exits have been depleted.
The overly attentive explorer will also feel the tension builds as the possibility for death becomes a reality within the confines of this bizarre other-world.
Speaking of death, it’s not quite like Super Meat Boy, but death is immediate and without many of the normal trappings of dying in-game. The player snaps awake in a bed nearby the last place he left off. However, even with that in mind, stepping out into a world of what I’ll call “identical variety” can be daunting, especially if you’re not entirely sure where you left off.
Also true is the fact that the line between death and progression is often blurred, and death is sometimes necessary to move forward. Players will spend some time problem-solving minor puzzles, but for the most part their trips are unimpeded.
The creatures that wander (and often chase you through) the hallways are extreme metaphors for what the player is experiencing, and they reinforce the tone, which never slides out from under its own dark, unrelenting shadow. There is something to be said for a work that remains intentionally bleak, and Neverending Nightmares manages to do so with only the slightest slivers of actual, outright narrative.
Most of what would be considered story has to be inferred by the player, and that is a risk that ultimately paid off. The game uses its own slight acquaintance with plot in order to augment its surrealistic nature. The music, too, should absolutely be mentioned for adding to the unnerving, bizarre quality of the game without ever attempting to take it over.
If any caveats for Neverending Nightmares exist, they have to revolve around time. Thomas, in his frightened, asthmatic state, moves slowly. Very slowly. He can sprint, but it’s a pretty slow gait, even then, and he wheezes such that it’s almost not worth using. It is an interesting gameplay mechanic, especially where it reveals the main character’s weakness, but sometimes just moving ahead is a slog.
The only other potential drawback is that the game is quite short. I clocked in at just over two hours and was just beginning to feel a groove when the credits started rolling. And though there is an option to replay scenarios, with such experiential games the need for replay is often very low. Outside of streaming it, I don’t see myself replaying Neverending Nightmares.
This is a great fixture in the wave of great new horror games of the last few years. It manages to be scary and meaningful, an interesting statement not just about the creator’s experiences but about the act of experiencing a game, period.
The Final Word: Neverending Nightmares is a game that bridges the gap between interactive story and video game, and it brings not just some provocative art but an attention to subject matter that is often marginalized in the genre.
Once inside the Freak Show, there’s no turning back.
Premiering October 8th, check out two more sweet “American Horror Story: Freak Show” teasers, both putting a new twist on the human anatomy.
The fourth season begins its tale in the quiet, sleepy hamlet of Jupiter, Florida. The year is 1952.
“A troupe of curiosities has just arrived to town, coinciding with the strange emergence of a dark entity that savagely threatens the lives of townsfolk and freaks alike. This is the story of the performers and their desperate journey of survival amidst the dying world of the American carny experience.“
Jessica Lange, Kathy Bates, Angela Bassett, Frances Conroy, Sarah Paulson, Emma Roberts, Gabourey Sidibe, Denis O’Hare, Jamie Brewer, and Evan Peters return from previous seasons. New cast members includes Michael Chiklis, Wes Bentley, John Carroll Lynch, Finn Wittrock, Matt Bomer, Patti LaBelle and the world’s smallest living woman, Jyoti Amge.
Unfortunately, they never did, but IBTrav once again crosses “Scooby-Doo” with a horror film – as it should – and imagines a world in which Scooby and gang come face-to-face with The Monster Squad.
The BEST episode of The New Scooby-Doo Movies was with guest stars The Monster Squad!
Entitled “The Mighty Monster Mashup”, monsters from Dracula to the Wolfman tangled with Mystery Inc and their new friends The Monster Squad. Armed with Van Helsing’s Diary, the gang had to send the creeps back to Transylvania!
There’s only one way to stop a werewolf. Find out below…
This weekend, Fatal Frame V arrived on the Wii U in Japan. As the rest of the world patiently waits to hear something regarding a possible release outside of the Land of the Rising Sun, through the glory that is the Internet, we’re able to live vicariously through the lucky few who have their copies.
YouTuber ka kit has posted a video of the game’s first half hour. I haven’t watched all of it yet, but I’ve seen enough to know that I want this game badly.
If you were worried that, in their attempt to make Bloodborne a more mainstream game, developer From Software would soften the unforgiving nature and steep difficulty shared by the Dark Souls series that inspired it, you can stop that now. Earlier this month, producer Masaaki Yamagiwa and marketer Yasuhiro Kitao took to the stage to reveal some surprising statistics.
As DualShockers reports, of the nearly 5,000 people who played its demo at PAX and TGS, only 60 — about 1% — were able to successfully complete it. That’s promising.
Bloodborne releases on the PS4 on February 6.
Here we are, standing on the precipice of what may very well be the most exciting time of the year. Sept-Nov is a great time to be a gamer, but it’s also a terrible time to be broke, as I usually am. Thankfully, not every new release carries that premium, and sometimes intimidating, $60 price tag. If you’re on a budget, there’s a number of new releases that won’t take as big a toll on your wallet.
This month has seen the arrival of a bevy of indie horror games, including Doorways: The Underworld, Slender: The Arrival, The Vanishing of Ethan Carter, Neverending Nightmares and Kraven Manor. Every one of those games is available now, and none of them will cost you more than $20m but if premium prices don’t scare you, Dead Rising 3 also arrived on Steam.
Now that we’ve established what’s out there, I’d like to know which game(s) you’re playing.
We’re all about horror here on Bloody Disgusting, so the options I have in the below poll are all of the horror persuasion. I’m sure your tastes are more diverse than that, so if you’re playing one or more non-horror games, I’d love to hear what’s keeping you busy in the comments.
For the full schedule of the remaining horror games of 2014, check out our handy guide.
Let’s far it, sometimes we watch horror not because we want to be scared but because we really just want to see some limbs fly, some intestines drop, and unfathomable amounts of blood being sprayed everywhere, right? There’s a rather macabre joy in seeing white walls splashed with crimson streaks. Or what about the times when the innards become the…outtards? [Editor's note: I think I just invented a word]
So let’s take a moment to leave our appreciation for some of our favorite horror gorefests! As per usual, I’ve included a few of my personal favorites below. After you check them out, leave me a comment with some of your own favorites!