I was nominated for The Sunshine Blogger Award!

 

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Thank you so much to Kasey for nominating me for the Sunshine Blogger Award! This award is given by bloggers to bloggers who inspire positivity and creativity in the blogging community, so it was a lovely notification to receive and it put a big smile on my face. I’m so happy you like me and my lil blog enough to nominate me, it means a lot! You can follow Kasey over on Twitter @Bandraoidh and on her blog, The Black Rabbit Society

The rules for accepting this nomination are as follows:

  • Thank the blogger(s) who nominated you in the blog post and link back to their blog.
  • Answer the 11 questions the blogger asked you.
  • Nominate 11 new blogs to receive the award and write them 11 new questions
  • List the rules and display the Sunshine Blogger Award logo in your post and/or on your blog

Kasey’s Questions:

What is your favourite way to unwind and destress?

Nothing relaxes me more than a nice bath (usually featuring lots of Lush products!), a glass of wine, and a good TV show or YouTube video. Bath time is undoubtedly the best time to catch up with your favourite show or content creator, because you can lock yourself away and not be disturbed!

What is your favourite book or author?

My all-time favourite book is The Silence of the Lambs (no surprises there, right?), but my favourite author is actually Stephen King. I don’t think I’ve ever read a bad book by him!

Why did you get into blogging?

Originally I got into blogging during a long period of unemployment, as a way to set myself a new routine and not get bored whilst I was waiting for responses to my job applications. But I’m happy to say that it’s become a huge part of who I am, and I love sharing my love of film and TV with likeminded people. I now feel like I’m part of this brilliant community of all ages and interests, and I interact with new people every day.

What is your favourite word in the English language?

I don’t think I have a favourite word to be honest! It’s not something I’ve really considered before. But I suppose, unoriginally, I am a big fan of ridiculous words such as antidisestablishmentarianism and hippopotomonstrosesquippedaliophobia (the fear of long words… how ironic!), though I’m yet to get them into an sentences.

What kind of advice is your go to for any situation?

I don’t like to throw quotes around for the hell of it, but this one has always reminded me to do what’s right for me, accept when I fail, and not allow myself to be judged unfairly. I think it’s a good reminder for people during a difficult time and can be applied to lots of different things:

“You can please some of the people all of the time, you can please all of the people some of the time, but you can’t please all of the people all of the time” – John Lydgate

What is your current binge-worthy Netflix show?

It’s so hard for me to just choose one Netflix show as I love so many, but the one I recommend to everyone is BoJack Horseman. (which I’m yet to review, actually!) You may struggle to see the appeal of an animated horse and his friends, but honestly, it’s one of the best TV shows I’ve seen in my life and it isn’t afraid to discuss taboo topics. Plus the satirisation of Hollywood /  celebrity culture is spot on. Go watch it!

What is one item of clothing that always makes you feel good?

My leather jacket. Not sure why, but a good jacket can just make you feel so cool and confident no matter what you’re wearing underneath!

How do you keep yourself healthy, physically and mentally?

Physically: I do my best to eat plenty of fruit and veg, drink water and green / fruit tea, practice yoga, and go for walks. I can’t drive which means I’m more likely to motivate myself to walk somewhere. To be honest I could do a lot more though!

Mentally: I remind myself that it’s okay to not be okay, and to take time out when I need to. I have a great support network too, and they always help me to rationalise things when I need it. I’m lucky and grateful to have them.

Where do you see your life going?

That’s always a pretty tough question, but I’d like to get married, have a couple of kids and have a successful career in copywriting / marketing. Other than that, I just want to enjoy the time I have on this Earth and experience as much as I can!

Do you feel a connection with an object?

I have a teddy bear called Bedtime Bear who I’ve had since the day I was born. I’m definitely attached to him!

What would you spend £1,000 on?

I would definitely put it towards a lovely holiday for myself and my boyfriend. I haven’t had the opportunity to leave Europe yet, and there’s so much of the world I’d like to see!

My Nominations:

Note: All my nominations are bloggers whose content I personally enjoy, and are not limited to just film blogging / close friends! I believe the below people are a wonderful part of the wider blogging community, produce some great things and are really cool people. 

  1. JD from Film Dude Blog: filmdudeblog.wordpress.com@EIPJD
  2. Zoe from Zobo with a Shotgun: zobowithashotgun.com @ZoboWithShotgun
  3. Moonsomnia: moonsomnia.com@moonsomniablog 
  4. Amy from Amy Quite Contrary: amyquitecontrary.wordpress.com@amycontrary
  5. Charlotte De Lacey: charlottedelacy.co.uk  /  @Charlotte_Dee1
  6. Stephanie from Fork My Piehole: forkmypiehole.com / @StephanieJay_UK
  7. Mitch from Shock Street Horror: shockstreethorror.com /  @watchfiresmitch
  8. Amy from Amy Clarke Films: amyclarkefilms.com / @amyclarkefilms
  9. Iain from IainIsCreative: iain.is@IainIsCreative
  10. No Limits Real Life Ramblings: nolimitsrealliferamblings.wordpress.com@NLRLRBlog
  11. S and B at La ‘Cine’e Bella: lacineebella.wixsite.com/lacineebella / @lacineebella

My Questions:

  1. What is your favourite film genre?
  2. Who inspires you?
  3. What do you enjoy most about blogging?
  4. If you could only eat one thing for the next month, what would it be?
  5. Do you have any bad habits?
  6. Tea, coffee, or neither?
  7. What would you do if you won the lottery?
  8. Do you consider yourself to be an optimist or a pessimist?
  9. Could you survive a week without any internet connection?
  10. Do you have any pets? If not, do you want any?
  11. If you could travel to any time or place, where would you go?

Thanks again for nominating me, Kasey. There’s no obligation for anyone take part in this but it would be cool to see some of your answers!

– Lucy

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“They’re all gonna laugh at you!” – Social Anxiety and Blogging

 

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The above quote was taken from Carrie (1976). I thought it was fitting. 

I appreciate this blog entry is different to my usual content, but I wanted to share a little more about my personal life with you all. For those who also suffer from social anxiety, you’ll definitely understand that it interferes with your life in many ways. It can’t be switched off, and even on a good day, it’s always there in the background waiting to over analyse something. Social anxiety is something I’ve been dealing with for many years now, and it’s a long and gruelling process.  It can definitely be invisible at times, because I’ve had people tell me they had no idea I even had it and that outwardly I appear to be “bubbly and confident”. It’s good that I’m able to hide it when I need to, but my internal monologue can be very different to how I look on the outside.

Because of this, it can often be very difficult to put yourself “out there”. Blogging is no exception, because it allows you to reach people all over the world, many of whom you don’t know in real life. It’s a terrifying thought, that someone could be sitting there judging you and you don’t even know. It’s easy for someone to tell you to just ignore it, but it isn’t always that easy to stop yourself from overthinking and considering the “what if’s?”. I often find myself asking loved ones if I’m doing okay when I’m in a social environment, or on the journey home I’ll ask if I embarrassed myself. This constant fear of causing people to dislike me is exhausting, but something that is gradually getting better thanks to the support of counsellors and loved ones.

Whilst I haven’t had any direct hate towards me in relation to my blog, I’m always worried that one day I will. I’ve had people that disagree with my opinions, but that’s different because it’s not “hate”, it’s just a different point of  view. Which is completely fine, and I actively encourage. But my social anxiety often prevents me from wanting to post anything at all, out of fear that I will be mocked. The internet can often make you feel vulnerable as people can be granted anonymity, which makes hateful comments that much easier to create. It seems silly to fear what hasn’t even happened to you yet, but mental health is rarely rational and can cause you to worry about the tiniest things, regardless of their plausibility.

I suppose the reason I’m writing all this is to really be honest with all of you, and offer my support to those who struggle with similar issues in their day-to-day lives. I’ve put together a few positive affirmations that have helped me to overcome my fear of posting and interacting with fellow bloggers. Maybe it will help someone else.

 

1. This is something I’m passionate about, and I deserve to enjoy it.

Life is too short to pretend to like things that you don’t, or take up hobbies that just aren’t you. Ever since I can remember, I’ve adored films and filmmaking, so writing about films (and recently TV) is something I genuinely do enjoy. I don’t do this for money, or because someone’s holding a gun to my head, I want to watch stuff and write about it. So why shouldn’t I? Some people might roll their eyes when I call blogging a hobby, but to me it is. It’s something that motivates me, even when times are tough.

2. I have people who support me, and like what I write.

This one is perhaps the most surprising to me, considering I usually have zero faith in anything I write. Though my following is small, both online and offline people have told me that they enjoy my content, and I’ve even had people submit their short films for review on my Short Film Saturdays section. That has to mean something. No matter what you love to do, you will have someone who will support you. Maybe you’ll have many people. Regardless, it’s your life, and it’s important to embrace the things that make you happy.

3. You can’t please everyone, so stop trying.

Though difficult to fully comprehend when you’re dealing with social anxiety, there is no magic pill to make everyone like you and want to be your friend. There are people out there who won’t like you no matter what you do. Even if I deleted the blog, someone would dislike something else about me, and even if I changed that… well, you get the point. Staying true to yourself is the best thing you can do, and the right people will stay by your side and cheer you on. You’ll be happier because of it. Do people that thrive off negativity and making you feel bad really matter? Absolutely not. 

4.  Listen to criticism, but don’t let it consume you.

Constructive feedback is an important part of life, and it’s something you can grow from. I ask people I know in real life to read my content and give feedback, and sometimes there’s a lot of things to be done. Don’t take it to heart when you make mistakes; they can be learned from and corrected, in order for you to do better next time. Provided you can take something away from negative comments, that can be flipped on its head to become a good thing. If someone turns around and says “your blog is shit” and doesn’t say why, it’s likely they’re just wanting a reaction from you. Don’t give it to them.

 

If you made it to the end of this long post, thank you for reading. I’m so grateful for everyone who supports me in doing this, all my friends online and offline, and all the bloggers I’ve connected with along the way.  You help me to keep going even when I think everything I write is awful and people are cringing at me. I never thought I’d be brave enough to share something like this, but I did it today.

I’m proud of that.

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The Sinner: My thoughts on Netflix’s popular “whydunit”

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Rating: ★★★★

Over the Christmas break, my boyfriend Josh and I settled down in front of Netflix with copious amounts of festive treats. Our watchlist is about a mile long but we eventually decided on The Sinner, an intriguing mini-series with the following tagline:

Everyone knows she did it. No one knows why.

 
The crime genre isn’t exactly lacking in content these days, but straight away this sounded like something new and exciting, so we sat down to watch. In the first episode, we see young mother Cora stab a man to death in the middle of a crowded beach and seems baffled about the reasoning behind it soon after. This event forms the rest of the series and the creates the question on everyone, including Cora’s, lips: “why?”. We’re all too familiar with the concept of “whodunit”, where characters and spectators alike are trying to piece together a puzzle and find the culprit, but The Sinner makes it painfully obvious that Cora committed the crime in the first half an hour of episode one. The frustrating part for everyone is uncovering the motivation behind it.

The central performances by Jessica Biel and Bill Pullman are addictive, they pull you in and have you fully engrossed in the narrative. Biel’s portrayal of a tortured young mother trying to work out why she murdered someone is haunting, and Pullman’s obsessed detective with his own dark past is the perfect accompaniment. They’re an unlikely duo, and one that would never have formed had she not been arrested.  One of the things I loved about this show is the fact that every character is three-dimensional and has huge amounts of depth to their characters. When you have a script that focuses mainly on the protagonist, you do run the risk of everyone else being pushed into the background. In The Sinner, every character is important, and everyone we see has a part to play in the story.

Stylistically, it’s a beautiful watch despite the fact it’s also incredibly bleak.  The locations are beautiful, yet haunting, and the camerawork is often uneasy and intrusive. Sometimes you feel as though you shouldn’t be watching what you are. You want to turn away, close your eyes, but you don’t. We get a real insight into character’s lives over the course of each episode, and eventually, just when you think you might have it figured out, the truth is revealed. I, for one, did not see that motive coming at all. I won’t spoil it for you, as it’s best you go into it with as little context as possible for the full experience.

It’s an incredibly dark story with some disturbing scenes, and narrative themes such as religion, motherhood and emotional repression. It’s an uncomfortable watch, but absolutely necessary in order to push the story forward. We ended up binge watching all eight episodes in two days, and we would have probably done it in one sitting if we didn’t have an early start the next morning! The Sinner is the kind of show that pulls you in and refuses to let you go until the credits of the final episode roll. Even after that, it’ll stay in your mind for a while.

 

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Black Mirror Season 4: Ranked from Best to Worst

 

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The time has come to start reviewing TV shows on here, and what better place to start than Black Mirror? I’ve been a fan of the show since day one and it’s been amazing to see Brooker’s anthology series doing so well internationally, after being picked up by Netflix. I might go back and review Series 1 – 3 at a later date, but as 4 was the most recent I was really eager to give my thoughts on it as soon as possible. I’m going to avoid obvious spoilers as much as I can but I will have to outline certain plot points to make my points clearer. If you’d rather go into all the episodes completely blind, stop reading!

Because each episode is an entirely different story with different themes, I’ll be reviewing them all individually. I’ll be starting with my favourite episode, then working my way down to my least favourite. Overall, I did think it was a solid series with some great concepts across the board, but some episodes were certainly better than others. I thought the quality of acting across the board was exceptional, and I was introduced to some brand new talent that I’m definitely going to keep an eye out for in future programmes and films!

 

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1  – Black Museum

I’ve chosen this episode as my favourite because it completely blew me away, and brought me to tears by the end. It’s an emotionally charged episode that keeps you on the edge of your seat. Despite its longer runtime, it’s a well paced episode that doesn’t drag anything out or present us with unnecessary scenes. It’s the only anthology episode, as it has three self contained stories that all link back to contents of the museum. Interestingly, the first of the three stories was originally written by magician Penn Jillette who then worked with Charlie Brooker to include it in a Black Mirror episode… as if this couldn’t get any better. (I’m a huge Penn and Teller fan!) This one is highly recommended, and best watched after you’ve seen the other episodes.

 

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2  – USS Callister

I’ll admit, when I saw the posters and promos for this one, I didn’t think I’d enjoy it. Whilst I’m partial to a bit of sci-fi, I am incredibly picky with it. After deciding to watch the episodes in the order they were listed on Netflix, I wasn’t expecting to be wowed straight away.  As it happens, this episode is my second favourite and it was absolutely nothing like I’d expected it to be. Centering around virtual reality gaming and those in charge of the programming behind it, this episode explores the dangers of taking it too far. I won’t say much more than that, but I guarantee you’ll be pleasantly surprised by this episode, even if sci-fi isn’t your go to genre.

 

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3 – Hang the DJ

After the recent success of San Junipero, I was interested to see how Black Mirror would handle another romance-themed episode. Focusing on a dating program that puts an expiration date on relationships, this episode explores the flaws in dating algorithms and what happens when people start to question a system that promises it will eventually deliver the “perfect match”. Whilst it’s a little predictable in places, it’s an enjoyable watch with a heartwarming story and lovable characters. It’s an episode I could happily return to without getting bored, even though I know how it ends.

 

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4 – Arkangel

This episode explores the paranoia and pressures around motherhood, something that Black Mirror hasn’t fully delved into yet. After nearly losing her daughter in a public place, a mother invests in a technology called Arkangel that allows her to track, monitor and censor things in her daughter’s life. From the minute the technology is installed, you know it’s going to backfire horribly, but you’re not sure how. It’s a cautionary tale about wrapping your children in cotton wool, directed by the always wonderful Jodie Foster. With the popularity of technologies like Find My iPhone, I found the events of this episode to be eerily plausible in a not too distant future.

 

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5 – Metalhead

Out of all the episodes this season, Metalhead was definitely “the Marmite one”. I’ve seen so many conflicting reviews and opinions on it, I had to take my time deciding what I thought. Eventually I concluded that it was an okay episodebut it could’ve been so much better. My biggest problem was the lack of context, I came away from the episode with more questions than when I went in. Sometimes that can be a good thing, but I personally felt it needed a more concrete backstory considering it was set in a post-apocalyptic environment. In my opinion, you can’t just say civilisation has crumbled and leave it at that. I thought the “dogs” were incredibly creepy, it was well directed and in parts it felt like a home invasion horror film, but sadly it wasn’t enough to make me rank it higher.

 

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6 – Crocodile

Though it pains me to say it, this episode wasn’t only the weakest of the season, I thought it was also the weakest Black Mirror episode to date. I really didn’t care about the protagonist at all, and the twist ending was too implausible to take seriously. (You’ll know what I mean when you see it) I appreciate it’s set in a future with advanced technology, but even so, it felt too far fetched for my liking. The premise itself isn’t bad; but the events that lead to Mia’s eventual downfall contain several plot holes that could have been avoided. The only redeeming features here were the stunning cinematography and overall quality of the acting, but other than that it was very disappointing and felt out of place amongst the other episodes.

 

What did you guys think of this season? How would you rank the episodes? Feel free to leave your thoughts below, I love hearing different opinions!

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New Year, New Goals: My plans for the blog in 2018

 

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Happy New Year everyone! I hope you all had a lovely holiday season, whatever you got up to. I definitely did, and I’m excited for all the things 2018 will bring.

One of my big goals this year is to stop neglecting the blog as much as I did last year. In order to make sure I have plenty of content to share with you guys, I’m creating a schedule that I’d like to stick to.  Currently, I intend to post every Friday. Yes, that’s a lot of posts but there’s still so much I want to do, and so much I want to share with you. If enough people are interested, I’ll also continue to do Short Film Saturdays on a semi-regular basis (dependent on the amount of films I have to watch / review).

Through the power of scheduling posts, I should be able to get posts out even when I’m not at my laptop. I’m moving away from just focusing on film reviews and I’ll now be including TV and occasional video game reviews so there’ll be more variety. I’ll be able to showcase more of the things I love, without making any drastic changes. The name of the blog will stay the same as I’m rather fond of it now!

Although I’m just doing this for fun, I would love to grow the blog and build more of a community. I’m currently only at 35 followers on here and 596 on Twitter, and I’m so grateful for all of you considering I didn’t think anyone would really want to read what I had to say! It would be fantastic if I could meet more bloggers and TV, game and film fans throughout the year.

If you’d like to submit any films for review, my inbox is always open. I also love the idea of any collaborations with other film/game bloggers, so please do get in touch if that would interest you. My email is: lucybgoestohollywood@gmail.com

Thanks so much for reading!

Lucy

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“Ha ha ha! What a film, Mark!” A review of The Disaster Artist

 

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“Just because you want it doesn’t mean it can happen.”

Rating: ★★★★

I was first introduced to The Room during a college Film Studies lecture as a perfect example of how not to make a film. Everything about it was atrocious, but I also found it weirdly compelling. Since then, I’ve made a real effort to follow everything relating to Tommy Wiseau and this bizarre film of his. It’s become a cult classic in recent years, drawing a crowd of dedicated fans to the Prince Charles Cinema in Leicester Square for monthly screenings, and Q&A’s with cast members.  When I found out that James Franco was creating a film adaptation of Greg Sestero’s novel The Disaster Artist: My Life Inside The Room, the Greatest Bad Movie Ever Made, I was so excited!

I was lucky enough to see the film during its opening weekend at the Prince Charles Cinema, which actually made my experience even better. Being around a crowd of The Room fans who knew the film like the back of their hand was hilarious, because they recited familiar quotes along with James Franco, and it was clear the entire audience was having a blast from start to finish. I honestly can’t remember the last time I laughed this much at a film. Everyone involved made a real effort to recreate the scenes that we know and love, whilst giving us a glimpse into what life on that film set was really like. It’s possible to forget that you’re watching The Disaster Artist and not The Room at times, because the performances are so spot on.

Once again, James Franco’s ability to take a real life person and bring them to life on a screen shone through. I always refer to his performance as Aron Ralston in 127 Hours as one of his best, but his portrayal of Tommy Wiseau certainly comes a close second. He nails the mannerisms, the accent, and that weird laugh that Wiseau has become well known for. You can tell he has dedicated a lot of time and effort to the project, and it’s paid off. Praise must also be given to the rest of the cast for perfectly emulating the characters. Josh Hutcherson as Denny was amazing; even when he was just sitting there that ridiculous wig was enough to make the audience cry with laughter, and Seth Rogen’s script supervisor character delivers these amazing one liners that show his frustration at Tommy’s ridiculous ideas.

Whilst clearly hilarious, this film is not without its fair share of tragedy, mainly around Dave Franco’s character Greg Sestero. His friendship with Tommy required him to make huge, unimaginable sacrifices both professionally and personally, ultimately causing a rift between the two.  Greg is a classic example of a man chasing the allure of fame, and failing miserably. You can’t help but sympathise with him as he tries his best to keep those around him happy whilst trying to attain life changing career goals. The film also shows a darker side to Tommy Wiseau, as he treats the cast and crew around him very badly. He’s so wrapped up in bringing The Room, his “real Hollywood movie”, to life that he neglects the needs of those around him. There are some highly charged emotional moments in this film, which are perfectly balanced with the comedic moments. Without these serious scenes, the film just wouldn’t have been the same.

The Disaster Artist is a must-watch for fans of The Room, and those who want to learn more about the utter chaos that happened on set. It’s funny, intense, emotional and a one of a kind experience from start to finish. Make sure you sit tight until after the credits too, as there’s an extra scene that you don’t want to miss!

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The truth will set you free: My thoughts on Jigsaw

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“You know what happens if we don’t play by the rules.”

Rating: ★★★

If you haven’t heard of the Saw franchise, you’ve probably been living under a rock. Spanning over eight films, two video games, and a few theme park attractions, it seems like we can’t get enough of it. To this day, the first film is one of my favourite horror films and one that I’ve revisited several times. The recent instalment in the Jigsaw Killer’s legacy is set ten years later, and John Kramer has been dead ever since he got his throat slashed by Jeff Denlon in Saw III. (remember that? Seems like so long ago) The problem is, more bodies keep washing up and everyone’s finger is pointing toward Jigsaw. But that’s not possible, is it?

So, what did I think of Jigsaw? I’ve taken a while to sit down and properly consider this, and I’ve decided that whilst it’s an enjoyable film, it’s nothing special either. It’s one of those films that finds itself being placed into the “good, but not great” category. I can’t bring myself to completely rip it apart, but I don’t want to give it too much praise either. I’ll do my best to explain myself throughout the review.

In classic Saw style, our newest victims are flawed, selfish and full of hidden sins that they do their best to hide. Unfortunately for them, in this universe you can’t even ignore a parking ticket without Jigsaw and his gang grabbing you and finding some way to punish you. It’s a rough world to live in. In a way, this film reminded me of Saw II, as we see multiple victims waking up in the same place, yelling at each other, and figuring out how they’re going to make it out alive. Praise has to be given for the use of flashbacks and the way character’s stories and flaws are revealed to us, as it keeps you guessing throughout and wondering just how innocent these people really are. I was disappointed in some of the acting but I tried not to let that bother me too much and focus on the story instead.

For most Saw fans, the thing that gets you the most excited is the new traps. Throughout the previous films we’ve seen an array of terrifying creations built by Kramer, and the grisly results of being placed within them. Whilst these traps were interesting and the reasoning behind them well explained through tapes, they were nowhere near as good as their predecessors. I didn’t like the way the film cut away to the investigation halfway through traps either, as I felt that made it less unsettling for the viewers. For me, part of the reason why Saw is such an effective horror franchise is because it doesn’t cut away from the action and leaves you feeling uncomfortable, squeamish and forces you as a spectator to be part of the games. Cutting away from that certainly doesn’t have the same effect.

Jigsaw’s character is the main reason why I’m giving it three stars instead of two. To this date he’s one of my favourite horror antagonists and his dialogue is always well thought out, chilling and perfectly delivered. Tobin Bell is the perfect guy for the role and always impresses me with his performance, even if it is just his voice. This film was no exception and it was great to hear that oh-so familiar voice throughout the tapes. It’s his voice and his words that are a central part of the story, and I’m glad they were given as much attention to detail as they were across the rest of the franchise.

Finally, I felt conflicted about some of the special effects in this film. In some places, it’s really well done (and got a unanimous “ewww” from the audience in my screening), but in others the CGI is just awful. It seems a shame that there’s some inconsistency here as sometimes I found myself smirking at just how awful it looked, as opposed to feeling genuinely grossed out. I think the filmmakers got too ambitious, and perhaps should’ve adopted a “less is more” approach rather than trying to go all out and failing.

If you’re a long time fan of the Saw franchise, I’d definitely recommend you go and see it because it’s an experience and worth seeing. I don’t regret buying a ticket, but I won’t be rushing out to buy it on DVD any time soon either.

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Lucy Goes to Film Screenings: My thoughts on “Charismata”

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Rating: ★★★★

Recently, I was invited to a private film screening in Soho. I’m grateful that I got this opportunity and that I got to talk to some of the people involved with Charismata. It was a lovely evening and I want to say a huge thank you to the cast and crew for having me!

I went into Charismata completely blind, all I knew was that it was an independent horror film. In a way that made it more exciting because I had absolutely no idea what to expect; horror is incredibly diverse and can be blended with most other genres. As it happens, this particular film was half crime half horror. It follows the story of Detective Farraway who has been assigned to a difficult case involving ritualistic murders, and how this case starts to take a toll on her. The iconography of this film is reminiscent of gritty crime films like Se7en; especially some of the crime scenes we get to witness. The special effects department did a wonderful job here, and I was blown away with how they accomplished so much on such a small budget. There’s some exceptional talent attached to this film, both on-screen and off.

I was impressed by all of the performances in the film as the quality of acting was very high. Sarah Beck Mather plays the protagonist incredibly well and I got a Clarice Starling vibe from her with the way she plays a strong, independent woman in a police force dominated by men. She’s absolutely fascinating to watch and I loved the way she brought this character to life. Similarly, Jamie Satterthwaite’s portrayal of arrogant businessman Michael Sweet is almost Jack Nicholson-esque – keep an eye out for that unnerving smile, you’ll know exactly what I mean when you see it. Each character felt like they had purpose, nobody came across as two-dimensional or irrelevant. Even the minor characters were engaging, particularly the members of the police force who perfectly embodied British humour and stereotypes. It’s definitely a typically “British film” and it was wonderful to see areas I know well captured on screen.  Some of the scenes are very intense, and the actors performed them perfectly. There’s a particular scene starring Johnny Vivash’s character that I complimented him for in person, because it was so well acted. I will refrain from posting any spoilers but I think you’ll know what scene I’m referring to.

Whilst Charismata isn’t a film with constant jump scares, I was certainly on edge for a lot of it. It is a psychological horror and messes with your head; they’ve done a fantastic job of building suspense and making the audience feel uneasy. A criticism I often have of the horror genre is that it can get repetitive and predictable, but this narrative was filled with pleasant surprises. My predictions throughout the film were wrong, and I was glad. I especially didn’t see the third act coming, and the final scene left me stunned. It’s refreshing to see an entry to the horror genre that doesn’t cash in on horror cliches and obvious endings. It is truly a unique film in its own right.

My only real criticism of Charismata is that the first act was a lot weaker than the others. I felt like the dialogue could have been a bit more polished here, and it felt a little too scripted and unnatural. But please don’t let that put you off watching it; the acts that follow are brilliant, and hard to believe they come from an independent film. Everyone involved has clearly worked so hard and it’s paid off.

The film is currently doing the festival route, so if you get the chance to see it I’d definitely recommend that you do. I will repost any announcements about the film on my social media pages so you can stay in the loop about what’s going on.

I wish everyone involved with Charismata the best of luck and I’m looking forward to seeing more of their work in the future!

Charismata Twitter   Loose Canon Films Twitter

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Short Film Saturdays: “Dinner”

 

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Synopsis: Dinner is a short film directed by Sarah Appleton and produced by Talbot House Films. The film stars Victoria Fitz-Gerald and Matthew Carney as their characters April and Jason come to the end of their second date, as it all starts to go horribly wrong. A role-reversed tale of manipulation.

Length: 5 minutes

Rating: ★★★

I was sent a screener copy of this film by director Sarah Appleton. First off, thank you so much for trusting me and allowing me to review your film! It always makes me happy when a new film finds its way into my inbox.

Something I really admire about Dinner is the fact that it takes huge risks as a film. It’s often difficult to keep people engaged with a dialogue heavy narrative, but this is something Dinner does incredibly well. Both Victoria Fitz-Gerald and Matthew Carney do a fantastic job in their respective roles, and perfectly embody the overall message of the film. If pulled off badly, this ran the risk of being a film about two people have dinner with no real hook. But thankfully, it’s much more than that.

It’s a film that certainly makes you ask questions, and further challenges the double standards that we have in modern society. I love how uncomfortable we’re made to feel as spectators, with the intrusive nature of the camera and the awkward body language of the subjects. In terms of audio, I would have liked to hear more of a soundtrack and I felt that some of the sound did cut off abruptly at points which can often feel quite jarring.

Overall, I believe that Dinner can teach audiences a lot about the way we behave, and that it’s a necessary watch. It’s a clever idea that is well executed and it’s evident that so much effort went into this indie production. I wish them all the best with any festival entries and I hope audiences can take a lot away from this film. It’s short but impactful.

Follow these accounts for more info about Sarah, Dinner, and any upcoming projects:

@SarahAppleton_ @TalbotFilms  @caprisarfilms

 

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Personal Essay: Why I’m Proud to be a Horror Fan

 

 A Q&A with director Adam Green, and freebies from Film4 Frightfest 2013

Sometimes, when you tell people you’re a huge fan of horror films, they give you a look as if to say “…why?”. Some people are a lot more vocal about it and will openly tell you that they find it weird. The fact the genre gets such a bad name is pretty disappointing, and even though you’re entitled to your opinion, the fact you’d make someone feel bad for enjoying a particular genre baffles me. I’m not entirely sure where the stigma comes from, and whether people genuinely believe that everyone who enjoys horror films is some sort of deranged serial killer (spoiler alert: we’re not). But whatever the reasons are, I thought I’d talk about why I’m proud to be a part of the horror community.

Part I: The Genre

Horror is complex and branches out into so many subgenres that it’s impossible to list all of them here. Common examples are horror sci-fi (Alien, The Thing, Invasions of the Body Snatchers) and horror comedy (Scream, The Cabin in the Woods, Shaun of the Dead) The fact horror can be integrated into pretty much any setting fascinates me, and leaves room for endless opportunities. Horror writers can get very creative and scare you in ways you never thought were possible. Some films will parody others, some are set in a completely incongruous environment that you never thought would ever be scary, and some are exactly what you’d expect of a horror film. Whether writers stick to classic genre conventions or completely challenge them, I’m always excited to find out how they make it their own.

With that in mind, I believe that horror is very difficult to write. It’s a genre that, if done badly, can become a laughing stock. Horror writers are under a lot of pressure to get it right, and there are so many bad horror films and novels out there. With this genre, it’s imperative that you generate the correct responses from your audience. You want to scare people, but you don’t want your story to be two-dimensional either. If you opt for cheap jump scares and bland characters all the time, you probably won’t get very far. The characters within horror films are important, and you need them to have substance. The villains within these narratives can take many forms, whether that’s a monster, a ghost or a human being. I’m impressed by the way writers can conjure up a human who is just as scary as any monster under the bed. So many infamous on-screen villains are humans (eg: Hannibal Lecter, Michael Myers, Norman Bates) and at one point in their life, were probably considered “normal”, even if it was only for a brief period. Psychology plays a huge role in horror films, particularly when dealing with the antagonists. It’s fascinating how the mind can be warped, and it’s something I love researching.

Your antagonist in particular needs to be well written, and in some cases, your audience will often sympathise with them which causes them to become uncomfortable. An example of this is John “Jigsaw” Kramer in the Saw series. He does unspeakable things to his victims, yet, his backstory is so upsetting that you’re forced to feel sorry for him. It’s a very clever tactic, and something I’ve always admired about the genre. It places the spectator in some rather uncomfortable situations, and makes them think. It’s a genre that doesn’t spoon feed emotions to fans, and leaves things open to discussion and interpretation. I really love that.

Visually, horror films continue to impress me. When you’re making a film, you don’t just turn on a camera and go, every shot has to be carefully planned and executed. Horror is no exception: you have to think about how your audience is going to feel scared, uncomfortable or nervous. Point of view shots are incredibly popular in this genre, where we get to see things from the perspective of a killer. Here’s a great example.  The use of sound is important too; you need to know what music you’re going to use and when, and where silence is needed. Silence in horror films is a perfect way to build suspense because viewers are expecting something to jump out.

Even if you’ll never be a horror fan, you can at least appreciate the amount of effort it takes to actually scare or disgust people. It’s harder than it sounds, you need to do your research and ensure your characters, sounds and visuals are on point. Unless you want to go down the horror-comedy route, the last thing you want is for your viewers to laugh at your attempts to scare them. There’s so much more to the genre than people realise, and when you start researching it more, you realise how complex it can be.

Part II: The Community

In contrast to the nature of the genre, people in the horror community are some of the nicest people I’ve ever met. I’ve met so many great friends through my love of horror films, and quite a few of these were at FrightFest 2013. I’m gutted I haven’t been able to attend a film festival since, but I’m definitely going to aim to attend more now that I’m living and working in London. There’s always events for horror fans and the organisers are so generous; we get preview screenings, guest speakers, freebies, merchandise, the opportunity to submit your own short films, the list goes on. It’s the perfect way to make new friends and learn as much as you can about all things horror.

Horror attracts people from all walks of life and I believe the community is very inclusive and accepting. It doesn’t matter where you’re from, what you look like or what you identify as, the horror community is always there. When you’re in the horror community, there’s so much to talk about, and everyone will have their personal favourite films and sub-genres. I love seeing people get excited about the things they love, and having people to get excited with is such a wonderful thing. It’s important to nurture your passions and surround yourself with those who will encourage you to do so.

I think it’s important to separate films from their fans, and realise that we as spectators view horror as fiction. We aren’t violent or nasty people. Film is often considered as a form of escapism, and the films we love allow us to move away from everyday life for a bit and experience new and exciting worlds. There’s nothing wrong with that, and you shouldn’t condemn fans for it. The notion that simply watching horror films makes people violent is stupid, and we need to challenge those stereotypes.

The Film4 FrightFest 2013 short film awards, and my festival pass

There’s so much more I could say about horror and why I love it, but I’d be writing for days. I hope I’ve been able to sum it up properly, and that you can understand why I’m so proud to be a fan. In the future I’m hoping to write more about specific genres and films, so that will provide a lot more insight. There’s so much more that needs to be explored!

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