Black Butterfly

Black Butterfly

Rating: 4/5

From IMDB:

Outside a mountain town grappling with a series of abductions and murders, Paul (Antonio Banderas), a reclusive writer, struggles to start what he hopes will be a career-saving screenplay.

Review:

Oh wow this was everything I had hoped and more. I could tell Jonathan Rhys Meyers and Antonio Banderas would act their roles well but boy they were brilliant. Banderas was superb in the role of the drunkard functioning writer and Meyer’s controlled lunacy kept me on edge.

The film has a good balance of tension and mystery, in such an idyllic landscape. The photograph and the way some scenes are shot and cut are very well done.

The twist towards the end was not 100% believable but it was good enough to leave me flabbergasted and the way the scenes unfolded after that was spine-chilling.

As has happened lately much too often, the last scene of the movie ruined it big time. It would have been so much better without that, it was an unnecessary cop-out.

Still, I highly recommend Black Butterfly. Savour it, don’t let a single moment slip away because you will want to review everything in the end.

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.

My Sister’s Bones

Title: My Sister’s Bones

Author: Nuala Ellwood

Genres: Mystery | Thriller

Length: 400 pages | 3605 Kindle locations

Source: Netgalley

Publisher: Penguin UK

Publishing Date: March 28th, 2017

Rating: 3.5/5

Premise:

Sisters Kate and Sally have been estranged for years. When their mother passes away and Kate returns to her hometown, she is faced with all the memories of her childhood and her sister’s degradation.
Sally has become an alcoholic and her husband Paul thinks only Kate can help her. Can she do it? And if so, will she keep her sanity?

Review:

My Sister’s Bones features the mother of all unreliable main characters. Our Kate is a war reporter and to say she has skeletons in her closet is and understatement.

In Part 1, the narrative advances between current events, where Kate is locked up, and the previous week’s, when she returned to her hometown after her mother’s passing. As the story advances we find that Kate refuses to deal with her hallucinations, a result of witnessing such horrors, and that several bad things have happened both recently and as Kate was growing up.

During that first part I found some things quite repetitive and Kate annoyed me both in past and current accounts. Her insistence that the interviewer must not realise the truth about her state of mind particularly irked me because it seemed obvious to me that she needed help.

Towards the end of part 1, about halfway through the book, things start to get interesting and in Part two the narrative is done by a different character. After that I was really invested and wanted to know what came next.

So I didn’t find the stuff that happened in the first half that interesting and I actually had to fight the urge to skim through the text because the unreliability of the character was taken to extreme. I didn’t know what the heck was going on. On the other hand, I found myself exhausted by the book. All the characters and situations were so dismaying.

I had anticipated some of what happened or at least who was responsible but I was still quite surprised at a few revelations.

A solid 3.5 stars.

Disclaimer: I would like to thank the publisher and Netgalley for providing me a free copy of this book in exchange for my honest review.

Read from May 18th to May 21th, 2017
GR Review

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.

The Marsh King’s Daughter

Title: The Marsh King’s Daughter

Author: Karen Dionne

Genres: Mystery | Thriller

Length: 320 pages | 3194 Kindle locations

Source: Edelweiss

Publisher: G.P. Putnam’s Sons

Publishing Date: June 13th, 2017

Rating: 4.25/5

Premise:

Helena grew up in the marsh, not knowing that her father had abducted her mother.
She has managed to make a life for her in the outside world but now her father has escaped prison. She is the only one who truly knows what he is capable of and hence the only one who can stop him. But at what cost?

Review:

Blimey, this was not an easy book! It is extremely psychologically charged and even though I had to suspend disbelief a couple of times, like when Helena mentions she taught herself to read when she was 3 or when she knows how to count out of the blue – and I definitely don’t understand how Stephen could be married to her and not want to know where all the stuff that must have been clearly wrong with his wife came from, the fact is the author managed an amazing balance between making this character interesting while not imbuing her with knowledge she was not supposed to have acquired due to her isolation.

The book starts with an account of a normal day in Helena’s life. She has her jam and jelly home business, a loyal dog and most importantly a beautiful family. Who don’t have the slightest idea of her past. All that is jeopardised when her father breaks out of jail because she knows he will be coming for her.

The narrative is interspersed with snippets of Hans Christian Andersen’s tale and I loved how it related to Helena’s own story. In her account she goes back and forward between her time growing up and her current predicament. The pace succeeds at keeping the reader interested in knowing what comes next on both timelines, especially since Helena makes sure to include both her views as her child and as an emancipated adult.

For me, the novel brings the whole unlikeable character think to a whole new level. I tried to sympathise with Helena but it was not easy to read all the awful things she thought, particularly of her mother, even as an adult. Sometimes she said she understood her actions while others it seemed clear she didn’t. However, this came around more nicely towards the end so I came to terms with her. Overall I find this an extremely well developed character and there was so much that could have gone wrong.

Still, at times Helena sounded so conceited and I especially did not get why she would underestimate her father, like she really expected to best him, just because she won a game – whose rules her father had made. This lack of humility is present throughout the narrative and it was difficult to accept. However, even the things I did not like made sense and she is after all her father’s daughter.

I highly recommend this book but be prepared for some heavy stuff.

Disclaimer: I would like to thank the publisher and Edelweiss for providing me a free copy of this book in exchange for my honest review.

Read from Apr 29th to May 1st, 2017
GR Review

Virginia

Title: Virginia

Author: William Esmont

Genres: Thriller

Length: 57 pages | 796 Kindle locations

Source: Netgalley

Publisher: Devious Productions, LLC

Publishing Date: February 13th, 2017

Rating: 3.5/5

Premise:

Ray Shelby’s wife is dying of cancer.
While visiting her in the hospital, Ray meets a mysterious stranger that gives him a card and tells him to call the number on it because they may help.
Desperate, Ray calls. They can indeed save Virginia… if Ray is willing to pay the price.

Review:

Virginia is an extremely quick read but an enthralling one. You can connect with Ray, feel his desperation towards his wife’s impending death. The coming to terms with her fate but at the same time not being able to perceive a life without her.

And then a stranger opens a door. What if?…

The way Ray is introduced to this mysterious organisation is quite well achieved. The way it develops sort of hints at something paranormal because there are things the organisation’s representative simply had no way of knowing but, as is the way with novellas, we don’t get closure on that front.

I wish Ray had been more curious about some things. Eli is pretty much dragged into a car and it doesn’t even seem to bother him. Not only is he not curious or even afraid for the guy but he doesn’t stop to think what kind of stuff he may have gotten himself into, and goes ahead and dials the number he gave him. Also, where was the contract Eli referred to and Ray admitted he didn’t read? I don’t recall it being mentioned, just the NDA.

There are some things that are justified by Ray’s desperation. Others by his denial. So the author did manage a good balance between keeping the author interested in the story and justifying why we don’t get to know certain things – Ray keeps fighting what is proposed and by the time he wants some answers he is unable to reach them.

Virginia is clever, disturbing and makes you deal with uncomfortable questions like how would you deal with the imminent death of someone who is really close to you and how far would you go to save them.
Recommended.

Disclaimer: I would like to thank the publisher and Netgalley for providing me a free copy of this book in exchange for my honest review.

Read on April 22nd, 2017
GR Review