Movie Review – 12 Years a Slave

12 Years a Slave (2013)
Written by John Ridley
Directed by Steve McQueen

In 1841, freeman Solomon Northrup, a resident of Saratoga Springs, New York was tricked by two white men into joining them as a traveling violinist. With his wife and children away for work for three weeks, Northrup sees an excellent opportunity to make a little money on the side and travel. Instead, his companions drug the man and sell him to a slave ring. A journey begins that brings Northrup to New Orleans and into the ownership of a plantation owner where our protagonist experiences just a taste of the hell that his life will become. From there he ends up at the cotton plantation of Epps, a drunkard and a brute who sexually abuses one slave in particular, Patsey. Northrup tries to keep his hope alive while watching those around him become brutalized and eventually murdered in some instances. Eventually, he will be free again but forever changed, terrors and evils scarred into his mind that he will never forget.

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Comic Book Review – Gideon Falls: The Black Barn

Gideon Falls: The Black Barn (2018)
Written by Jeff Lemire
Art by Andrea Sorrentino

Father Wilfred has been reassigned to a new parish after issues with drinking. His new home will be the rural town of Gideon Falls, where their last priest went missing and is presumed dead. His first night in the priest’s quarters of the church leads to an encounter with the absent father and the corpse of Mrs. Tremblay; the church secretary/housekeeper found bled out in a cornfield. Wilfred swears he saw a black barn in that field, but the police find no traces of it and suspect Wilfred was involved in the murder. Meanwhile, in a city far away a paranoid schizophrenic man named Norton scours the back alleys and dumpsters for fragments of charred wood and rusted nails. Norton believes the city is revealing a larger cosmic truth to him, that all of these pieces when assembled will make a construct that answers questions he has repressed. The stories of these two men living great distances from each other slowly become entangled and promise to lead to genuinely dark places.

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Movie Review – Us

Us (2019)
Written & Directed by Jordan Peele

Years ago young Adelaide was visiting the Santa Cruz Boardwalk with her parents when she became separated from them. Wandering inside a funhouse of mirrors the girl has an encounter that continues to haunt her into her adult years. Present day finds Adelaide, her husband Gabe and two children Zora and Jason are on the way to their lake house in Central California. Gabe has a new boat and their plans to meet up with some friends across the lake. When Adelaide finds out they are going to the beach, right off the boardwalk, she freaks out but eventually relents. Strange coincidences occur with a sense of impending doom coming for our protagonist, images harken back to her childhood trauma, and something she has repressed for so long begins to leak out. That night a strange family appears at the end of the lake house driveway which will lead to Adelaide and her family descending into hell.

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Comic Book Review – PTSD Radio Volumes 1-6

PTSD Radio Volumes 1-6 (2018)
Written & Illustrated by Masaaki Nakayama

Urban landscapes are profoundly haunted. Cities are built on the ruins of villages and small towns, turning those who lived there previously into ghosts that linger in the corners. PTSD Radio begins as a series of disconnected horror stories, an anthology centered around tormented spirits, but then patterns start to emerge. The presence of hair and dark figures tugging at the scalps of sleeping victims are recurring motifs. Slowly but surely we uncover a story about a rural village where cultural changes led to the destruction of a primitive idol. This, in turn, unleashes a quiet evil that permeates the lives of the people who grew up in this village, following them into adulthood.

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Movie Review – The Hole in the Ground

The Hole in the Ground (2019)
Written by Lee Cronin and Stephen Shields
Directed by Lee Cronin

Sarah has moved to a wooded corner of Ireland with her son Chris to restart their lives. Something terrible happened months ago leaving Sarah with a concussion and scar. She is worried about Chris who doesn’t want to talk about but otherwise seems like a normal nine-year-old. While exploring the woods nearby, Sarah comes across a frightening large bog, a sinkhole that is slowly swallowing the earth around it. She warns Chris to stay away, but one night it appears he sneaks out of the house. The next day his behavior has changed and slowly but surely creeping paranoia sets in. It doesn’t help that Noreen, an elderly neighbor suffered a complete psychological breakdown decades earlier, reportedly screaming about her son not being her child, but something else, something sinister.

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Movie Review – Border

Border (2018)
Written by Ali Abbasi, Isabella Eklöf, & John Ajvide Lindqvist
Directed by Ali Abbasi

Tina lives a secluded life, markedly different from everyone around her from a chromosomal abnormality compared to the humans that populate her world. She has a pronounced brow ridge and protruding teeth recalling images of long-extinct Neanderthals. What makes her valuable to people is her ability to smell guilt and shame making her a perfect customs agent at a Swedish port of entry. After years of ferreting out contraband, she eventually meets a man who shares her facial deformities and seems to be beyond her ability to detect evil. There is an attraction between them that develops and leads Tina to discover the truth about her past and the lies she has been told her whole life.

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Movie Review – The ‘Burbs

The ‘Burbs (1989)
Written by Dana Olsen
Directed by Joe Dante

The quiet cul-de-sac of Mayfield Place has been shaken up by the arrival of the Klopeks, a reclusive family who has allowed their house and property to fall into decay. Their neighbor, Ray Peterson has the week off from work and has decided to peter around the house which allows him to fall under the influence of his friends Art and Rumsfield. They are convinced that the Klopeks are murderers, Satanists, mad scientists, or some combination of these things. Ray is continuously pulled back down to earth by his wife Carol who implies this isn’t the first time her husband has allowed himself to be carried away with wild fantasies like this. She is determined to convince him the Klopeks are perfectly reasonable people. However, then something strange happens: the homeowner at the end of the street, Walter vanishes without a trace, and all signs point to the Klopeks.

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