Nightmare Fuel

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I’d been looking forward to this evening all day. I’d given my new mattress time to expand and settle and my god was I ready for a great night’s sleep.

The evening shift had been a nightmare, so walking through my house I swear my bedroom was almost glowing, my new mattress sitting proudly on the bedframe. All it needed was the new duvet set I’d bought as a payday treat.

‘Bella!’ I call for my cat to join me, she loves biffing at the sheets as I make the bed, diving inside the duvet and refusing to move when I’m finished playing.

No response. Typical.

As I grab the new sheets from the hall, I can see that she’s had a to-do with the old mattress. It’s leaning against the wall, only now it has fallen victim to my mini predator, innards and safety tag laying on the floor nearby.

Making a mental note to clean it up later, I move into the bedroom to set up my paradise for the evening.

As I begin to unravel the bedsheet, I hear something moving in the hallway.

‘Bella, leave it alone’ I sigh, assuming she’s gone back for another fight with the mattress.

Turning my attention back to the bed, I lean across to pick up the corner of the mattress, and I hear the door creak open - not unusual when your cat has privacy issues.

The light flickers, and I turn, expecting to see Bella.

Instead, all I see is Him.

He has no name, yet he’s always there in my dreams. He has an expressionless face, wears black overalls, and chases me each time through the same old farmhouse. Yet this isn’t a farmhouse and I’m not asleep.

I’m just standing there, looking at him. I pinch the outside of my thigh, to check I’m definitely awake, the pain snapping my brain back into action.

Most adults would probably confront an intruder, not me. Like a child, I dive onto my bed, and pull the duvet up to my face.

A few minutes go by, and I hear movement in the hallway again.

I bring the duvet down to my neck, to see if I’m delirious or if this is really happening. I slide off my new bed and take a step towards the door, leaning to see into the hallway.

He’s ripping open my old mattress.

Rings (2017) Review

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So. First you watch it, then you die...
Credit: IMDB

This newest installment in the Ringu franchise is a confused, and ever so slightly boring foray into the depths of Samara's Well with a weak script and mostly unknown actors that can't carry the film's lack of originality.

We start off on a plane with a man giving an in depth explanation of the doomed tape, presumably to catch the new generation of teens up on the storyline (well, The Ring 2 was released in 2005). When Samara catches up with him, the tape starts to play on all of the screens across the plane, which makes me wonder - did the plane crash? Did all of those passengers get their 7 days? I'm supposed to be concentrating here - let's get back to the review.

Moving on, we see Johnny Galecki and a gloomy looking girl acquire a VCR from a garage sale with a brief shout out to the dearly departed plane guy we just saw. As you can predict, inside the VCR is a copy of the tape - he points this out to Skye (the aforementioned gloomy girl, played by Aimee Teegarden) and here we find out he's a Professor named Gabriel.

Long story short, he watches the tape.

But wait, here's another cut to Julia (Matilda Lutz) and Holt (Alex Roe), a couple of teens in love spending their last few hours together before he goes off to college and she... stays at home for her mother? This isn't really ever expanded on.

You can see where this is headed. Holt goes off to college and tells Julia about his Modern Biology class but that the rest of his classes are uninspiring. After not hearing from him for a while, she's woken up from a sexy dream by a video call, oops it's Skye calling!

Julia travels to find Holt, and after some sleuthing, finds her way into Gabriel's lab (well, it looks like a 90s hacker den crossed with a nightclub) where we see distorted images and countdown timers against people's names (yes, Holt is one of them). Looks like Prof. Gabriel is conducting some scientific research into Samara and the afterlife (where did that funding come from?!) - don't get your hopes up though, this exciting new take on the story is short lived.

We see Skye freaking out because of the tape, and Prof. Gabriel tells her to calm her shit, make a copy and have someone else watch it.

Julia ends up back at Skye's house and manages to get in touch with Holt who tells her to NOT watch the tape. Samara comes to bump off Skye (and is a flickery mess whilst doing so) and Holt turns up to explain everything to Julia (including that he's watched the tape himself).

As is expected, Julia secretly watches the tape in order to save Holt and receives the ominous phone call on an old house phone (do people still have these?), coming away with a burn on her hand. We travel back to Prof. Gabriel who explains his research a little more and tells Julia to make her own copy. As they try to copy the file, we find out it's too big to duplicate because more video has been added (how or why, we never find out), a video within a video... videoception.

Here is where any interesting premise the film may have had, disappears and we begin the long, boring journey of watching a samey remake of the 2002 film starring Naomi Watts. We see some casual grave desecration, a bit of chatting to a weird blind guy and breaking and entering into a Church.

Along the way we see some attempts at introducing some scares (because a CGI-heavy scene involving Samara has done nothing to cause any alarm) with a Don't Breathe esque mad-man, that doesn't quite hit the spot. A few cheap jump scares here and there (umbrellas, eels - you catch my drift) do nothing but annoy when their source material (The original Ringu (1998)) is so frightening.

It soon becomes apparent that Samara will be saving our main character from harm so that she can give Samara her freedom. Do we just gloss over the fact that Samara has killed many, many people prior to this? Surely we're not feeling sorry for this sodding wet villain... right?

Oh, I spoke too soon, after a brief shower scene involving a hair ball, Holt finds out the burn on Julia's hand is actually braille and turns to the internet to decipher what it means. We see Samara's true plan and right on cue, the tape is sent via email to hundreds of people and a few comments back about 'uploading' the video right away. Finally, a 2 second reference to the age of technology that we live in. Really, in a world with a powerhouse like Youtube, we'd all have seen that tape before the movie even began.

I just hope we don't have another of these to sit through in the future (but we probably will get one anyway).

Credit: IMDB


The Dark Tapes (2017) Review

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3.5/5 STARS
There have been many trends within the horror genre: teen slashers; zombie invasions; vampire bloodsuckers and the trend that's possibly enjoying its swan song - the found footage film.

We've seen it all right? 

Michael McQuown's The Dark Tapes hopes to breathe fresh air into the lull of quality found footage horror (The Gallows anybody?), and for the most part, achieves its objective.

The film features three tapes played between a wraparound story (the wraparound directed by Vincent J. Guastini).

The first tape The Hunters and the Hunted" begins as generic found footage101 but when the action really gets going, BAM!, a brilliant topsy turvy set of events will leave your mouth wide and your head nodding in approval. 

The acting here is the poorest of all of the tapes but if you look past the performances, this one really does well to flip the generic Paranormal Activity trope on its head.

Up next, Cam Girls centres on Caitlin, this one filmed through a laptop screen focusing on the her video conversations with friends and clients. A slow burner at first, this tape does well to unnerve and I found myself watching through my hands towards the end. 

This tape brings some good ol' horror sex appeal and great acting from Emilia Ares Zoryan.

Rounding out the trilogy is Amandas Revenge - the best of the three films by a mile, with strong acting all round. 

After a party gone wrong, the tape's title character begins to experience terrifying activity through the night and when attempts to best the villain(s) fail, she begins to train her new found strength into escaping their unwanted attentions. With a touching relationship between the two main characters, this tape left me wanting more - and could easily be expanded upon as a standalone film.

The three tapes are nestled into the wraparound tale, which is both confusing and fantastic. It evokes paranormal frights and a creature feature in one, managing to keep the frights coming thick and fast right until the end. 

McQuown has created a great anthology here and has done well to break away from the tide of low effort found footage frights (not the good kind) that we've seen of late.

If you're stuck for a friday night film, this one will do the trick.

The film is available in the USA on Google Play, Vudu, inDemand , Dish TV, Amazon, Vubiquity, Xbox, Playstation, Sling TV, and Vimeo. 

For outside the USA you can watch on and is coming soon on iTUNES, Google Play, Xbox and Playstation.