Alien: Covenant

Alien: Covenant

Rating: 2.5/5

From IMDB:

The crew of a colony ship, bound for a remote planet, discover an uncharted paradise with a threat beyond their imagination, and must attempt a harrowing escape.

Review:

What on earth happened here? I find it so difficult to believe the same director was behind this movie and the original Alien.

Alien: Covenant was visually stunning but sadly lacked so badly plot-wise.

The set up of the characters were disheartening to say the list. They seem not to have one scientific bone in their bodies, save for the occasional comment scientific-ish character. There was certainly not enough to match to the original one, where Ripley just blew everyone away. I found everyone in the movie so forgettable, except for the androids.

That crew makes the most ridiculous decisions. I don’t understand why they would leave the ship without a protective suit, for one. Let alone all the silliness that ensued. They don’t seem to question anything, save for a remark of how there was absolute silence – no birds, no bugs, nothing – just thrown out there and then quickly forgotten. They just keep hiking along in search of the mysterious sign they picked up while on board the main ship.

I also did not like how the creature that burst out of the host’s chest was changed. Not only was it obviously fake but it made more sense that it would evolve from that worm-like state – it still gives me chills thinking of the discarded skin, like a snake.

The reveal at the end was beyond obvious and I really wish the movie had ended there. But sadly they had to keep it open for a sequel.

The entire movie lacked finesse, tension, build-up. In the end I enjoyed it more due to the psychological horror achieved by Michael Fassbender’s superb performance and the stunning visuals. I am fairly confident that the few glimpses I will save from this film are David’s expressions and postures.

Viral

Viral

Rating: 2/5

From IMDB:

Following the outbreak of a virus that wipes out the majority of the human population, a young woman documents her family’s new life in quarantine and tries to protect her infected sister.

Review:

I am not sure why I bothered to watch this one. I had a feeling it would be more of the same and for the most part it was. However, the main character’s innocence was quite believable and that added an interesting nuance to the film. The family dynamic was also well achieved.

There was one single scary scene and another that was quite tense; the others were just gross or boring. I liked that the build-up was slow because it added to the sense of normalcy prior to the events but I wish something interesting had happened, especially something that had made me connect to the main characters more. Instead it focused on Emma’s attraction towards Evan and nothing is really new. The characters’ decisions don’t make sense for the most part and although there is talk of a conspiracy and the concern of the two sisters for each other, after a while the puppy love gets annoying.

Also, for the entire movie we see infected people turning into zombies, completely blacking out and not being themselves anymore, yet for some reason the main character’s sister is able to control it enough so we can see she is struggling and tells her sister to stay away or it will make her hurt her.

I don’t know, stuff just didn’t add up. I was looking forward to a movie about a parasite that controlled people and their behaviour and there is so much that could have been done with this. In the end I was quite disappointed.

Get Out

Get Out

Rating: 4/5

From IMDB:

A young African-American man visits his Caucasian girlfriend’s mysterious family estate.

Review:

This was pretty good. Unfortunately, as seems to be the norm lately, the trailer had already shown the creepiest scenes but there was still plenty to get freaked out about as Chris descends from his normal life to the craziness going on in his girlfriend’s hometown.

The characters are quite well-developed; this isn’t your regular thriller/horror movie. Chris grows on you and you feel for him. Also, his hilarious friend brings some welcomed contrast and humorous relief to the heaviness imbued in some scenes.

One of the first scenes, that you can actually see in the trailer, when they are driving and something hits the car, as well as the moments afterwards, is quite intense. The detail of image and sound grasps the viewer and doesn’t let go.

There are several moments when the visual and audio artistry is clear – but again, most are viewable in the trailer, which I find a shame.
The soundtrack adds to it, beginning with the opening credits. Boy, that tune freaked me out.

As for the plot… There is some surreal stuff going on in the suburbs. I got the chills for Chris as he slowly realised he seemed to be the only normal person around there. And all his reactions, as well as his girlfriend’s, were believable, which is not usually an easy feat in a horror film.

Pretty much my only criticism is that, especially towards the end, some things were oversimplified, and that took away some of the enjoyment. I craved a better explanation for several scenes. But overall I was thrilled, and I felt that Betty Gabriel’s performance was particularly superb, though everyone was great.

Recommended even if you are not a fan of horror movies, but enjoy suspense and mystery.

Life

Life

Rating: 2.5/5

From IMDB:
A team of scientists aboard the International Space Station discover a rapidly evolving life form, that caused extinction on Mars, and now threatens the crew and all life on Earth.

Review:

I actually watched this movie a while ago but found it so unremarkable that I forgot to write a review.

It started out well enough and the photography was quite enjoyable, as expected. The didactic aspect of life in space is not usually portrayed in films of the sort so that was good. Although naming the alien Calvin was a bit too much, in my opinion.
The familiar environment made the team immediately grow on me and I wish the characters had been further developed. The only one that I did like was the first to die. Go figure.

However, after a point, it was bad decision after bad decision and some reactions felt so unnatural that they completely broke the pace and brought the quality of the movie well down. Also, too many developments require much too much suspension of disbelief and my disappointment only grew. Just a tiny example: the alien just happens to destroy the specific thing that causes communications to the exterior to go kaput. Whaaat??

Also, the description of the alien was creepy but beautiful and yet that thing that was described as being brain and muscle and eye in its entirety, suddenly develops a face and linear vision throughout the film. It’s like everything that was unique about the movie was absolutely wasted to make it fall into the same old clichés of amazing graphics in determent of plot.

The set-up for the ending made no sense and made me anticipate it early on. Kudos for originality but it could have been less obvious.

Alas, Life had a few pleasant surprises but overall it was an unremarkable and forgettable film.

Slade House

Title: Slade House

Author: David Mitchell

Genres: Fantasy | Horror | Paranormal

Length: 233 pages

Source: Purchased

Format: Paperback

Rating: 4.5/5

Premise:

In an alley, there is a tiny iron door that only shows itself on certain times and is only visible to certain people.
If you happen to be one of them, be careful. Slade House has two inhabitants who will want you to stay forever.

Review:

Ok this review is going to be different because I simply have to gush over this amazing cover:

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Not only is it absolutely gorgeous but it also conveys the feeling of the book splendidly.

And inside… Inside you are able to glimpse something that is one of the many secrets of the book in a chilling design:

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Also gorgeous!

Alright, enough gushing, on to the proper review.

Slade House is a difficult one to review. There are some books where you just can’t say much without spoiling the experience because the unveiling of the mysteries at the pace that the author presents them is what gives it such power, and this is one of them.

What I can tell you however is that it is a deliciously magical novel. For me, it was absolutely riveting, fast-paced and most of the time I was completely enthralled by the narrative. And every time I thought I knew what was happening, doh! Nope, the author got me.

I had heard good things about David Mitchell and this was my first experience with him. I can definitely say I would love to read more by him.

There were a couple of things I did not understand and if you have read the book I would love for you to let me know:

If it is said that Gordon did not call the handyman then that means he never left the orison that first time, right? Not like anyone else did. So how did he write the report describing the little door then?

It is said that one of the twins creates the orison and we don’t see much of that one during the interaction with their guest. I got the feeling that that twin does all the work keeping it up and whatnot. However, in some cases both Norah and Jonah appear, especially in the first one with Nathan. So how exactly does it work?

I was confused as to why they had to wait 9 more years after Freya. Does the door only open on that specific day at the end of October?

Norah kept arguing with her brother but I never got what alternative she was proposing. If they left, their bodies would age and rot, so what could they do?

Also, I was not a fan of the open ending and it makes me wonder if there will be a sequel, though it doesn’t look that way.

Other than that, this was an amazing read, highly recommended if you are looking for a magical tale with a chilling touch.
A solid 9 out of 10.

Read from Mar 3rd to Mar 4th, 2017

GR Review

The Eyes of My Mother

The Eyes of My Mother

Rating: 4.5/5

From IMDB:
A young, lonely woman is consumed by her deepest and darkest desires after tragedy strikes her quiet country life.

Review:

Boy, am I glad I watched this in daytime.

To say The Eyes of My Mother was chilling is a gross understatement. To think that a child could evolve into something that morbid is absolutely terrifying and even though this is fiction it definitely had me wondering about all sorts of things.

The fact that the film is entirely shown in black and white added to the isolated and grisly atmosphere. The sounds, especially the wind, had much the same effect. And the way the scenes were filmed, following Francisca around, emphasised her gracefulness in all movements, regardless of whether affection or horror inducing.

Being Portuguese, it bothered me that the mother and child characters did not speak the language well, especially when the grown Francisca was obviously native. However, they were both amazing and I only wish I could have seen more interaction between them.

From then on, most of what happens is very disturbing but also very subtle, requiring you to use your imagination to fill in the gaps. I had not even grasped that Francisca’s mother had died until a couple of scenes later. However, there is also plenty of gore, even if muted thanks to the B&W, and the result of this delicate balance is a gruesome film that I am so glad I managed to watch, as it is truly special. There is such a psychological depth to this movie, and a perfect balance between macabre and normalcy that I never knew was possible in a horror film.

Even if not perfect plotwise, The Eyes of My Mother will surely stay with me for a long time. It is one of the few I can safely say I would like to watch again.

Now let’s just hope I won’t have any nightmares tonight.

The Picture of Dorian Gray

Title: The Picture of Dorian Gray

Author: Oscar Wilde

Genres: Horror | Magical Realism

Length: 165 pages

Source: Purchased

Format: Paperback

Rating: 3.5/5

Premise:

After meeting Lord Henry Wooton, young Dorian Gray engages in a self-destructive lifestyle.
If only his picture, an unparalleled work of art, could take the consequences instead of his youthful body…

Review:

The Picture of Dorian Gray is quite a work of art. From that first chapter I was enraptured, and I found the way our main character and his picture were introduced quite ingenious.
The main characters were quite entrancing, particularly Sir Henry Wooton.

However, at times I found it too philosophic, particularly after halfway or so. Sir Henry’s lines that I had previously enjoyed became overbearing, and the long flowery descriptions about perfumes, jewels, music and christian artefacts caused my attention to wander, making the book’s meagre 165 pages stretch on and on.

Also, I found characters repeatedly telling Sir Henry that he did not really believe what he was saying annoying after a point, and I found myself thinking that there was much talk of sins being committed but not much was shown in that sense. Though I appreciate the level of subtlety throughout the story, I believe further descriptions along those lines would have helped me form a better image of the de-evolution of Dorian Gray.

There is so much more to The Picture of Dorian Gray than a magical painting. Even though the ending was predictable I still think it is worth reading and contemplating. And it is quite amazing how contemporary this theme is, in a society which obsesses over youth and beauty more and more.

Read from Feb 22nd to Feb 26th, 2016

GR Review