Posts Tagged ‘tension’

Another summer, and another Riley Sager novel has released. Not surprisingly, they’re kind of best when they’re a once-a-year treat. Still, leading up to getting his latest novel, Survive the Night, I heard a lot of mixed reviews on this one. Some loved the novel, other thought it wasn’t as good as his previous novels. When I got the novel, I started as soon as I could, eager to see what my own opinion was.

Taking on the horror trope of driving with a serial killer this time around, Survive the Night follows Charlie, a college student who loses her best friend in the worst way imaginable. Wanting to get away from school and all the reminders, Charlie signs up to share a ride with someone heading to her hometown in Ohio (woo-hoo!). However, she starts to wonder if her driver might not be all he says he is. If he might be a notorious serial killer. And if she might be his next target.

I’m not going to lie, I didn’t enjoy this one as much as I enjoyed Sager’s previous works.

The opening third is quite good. There’s great setup for Charlie and her situation, as well as some great tension. When Charlie’s mental health is brought into the equation, it adds to the tension (though not in a negative way). And there’s a strong sense of unreality here. What’s real and what isn’t?

Plus there are the usual Riley Sager twists and reveals that we don’t see coming, and some of those are quite good. And the final fifty pages has some great scenes that kept me from putting the book down. Especially the second-to-last reveal.

However, the second and third halves really faltered. Some of the twists and reveals came too early or just felt silly, ruining the tension of the story and making me roll my eyes. One of the early reveals made me say out loud, “Really? Really? Way to ruin the mood!”

Other stuff just undid my suspension of disbelief, especially near the end. And in the early chapters, I felt like there were abrupt changes from past to present tense, which distracted me.

On a scale of 1 to 5, I’m giving Survive the Night by Riley Sager a 3.1 out of 5. Not the best of his work by any means (that goes to Lock Every Door, and I hope the adaption of that book comes sooner rather than later). Still, it’s not terrible. Some of the choices Sager makes in the book that didn’t work for me might work for other readers. And he definitely kept the novel from becoming a cliched story given what trope the story is based on.

And it got me interested in checking out the movie Shadow of a Doubt, which is where Charlie’s name comes from. Can’t complain about that.

It just didn’t work for me as a novel. And while that’s not a bad thing, it is what I’m reporting.

That’s all for now, my Followers of Fear. I’ll surely have two more blog posts out by the end of this week. Hopefully you’re not sick of me crowding your inbox by then.

Until next time, pleasant nightmares and be careful when driving with strangers.


Again, a reminder: I’ll be celebrating my ten-year blogging anniversary next month. To celebrate, I’ll be doing an Ask Me Anything, or AMA, on my blog. And one lucky participant will win a prize for participating! Just submit your question to ramiungar@ramiungarthewriter.com by 11:59 PM on July 28th, 2021. Looking forward to reading yoru questions!

When I saw the original Escape Room two years ago, I liked it. And while I may have revised my original assessment, I still think it’s like a Saw movie for those who don’t like torture porn (like me). I was wondering if they could keep things up with the sequel. So, I headed off to the theater (which was way more packed than I’ve seen it since the pandemic started. You can blame Space Jam 2 for that) to see what the film had to offer.

After surviving the death game of the first film, protagonists Zoey and Ben head to New York to see if they can find Minos, the group behind their trauma. Their goal is to bring Minos down, but the trip quickly turns dangerous as they realize they’re trapped in another death game. One in which all the other participants are, like themselves, survivors of past games. And this time, the rooms are not just deadly. There’s a hidden secret behind them.

Well, I’d say it was worth the ticket price.

The film does have a number of great scenes full of tension. You watch these characters try to solve the problems while trying to preserve their lives, and as time limits kick in, you start feeling a little nervous. The escape rooms are also pretty cool, and the puzzles are rather clever (though I have questions about one feature of the Beach Room). The actors do a good job of simulating terror and dealing with trauma. And I’ll be honest, I didn’t see the twist they wrote into the film.

That being said, that twist wasn’t really a good twist. The ending seems to invalidate the growth of the characters in the rest of the film, and there wasn’t as much development of the cast as I would have liked. I especially wanted to see more of Holland Rhoden (Lydia from Teen Wolf). Seriously, she’s a great actress and her character had an interesting trait that could’ve used some more exploration.

And now that I think about it, there’s a huge plot hole that I only just noticed. But I won’t spoil it here. If you see the film and want to discuss, hit me up in the comments below.

On the whole, I’m giving Escape Room: Tournament of Champions a 3.1 out of 5. It’s fun, but there’s plenty in the third act that I thought could have been different or better. Still, if there’s nothing else and you need to watch something, you could pick worse films.

Check back soon, Followers of Fear. I’ll have more posts this weekend, including a review of the third Fear Street film and marking an anniversary. Until next time, stay safe and pleasant nightmares!


Another reminder, Followers of Fear: I’ll be celebrating my ten-year blogging anniversary next month. To celebrate, I’m hosting an Ask Me Anything, or AMA, on my blog! And one lucky participant will win a prize. To participate, send an email to ramiungar@ramiungartehwriter.com by 11:59 PM on July 28, 2021. I look forward to reading your questions. Hopefully they’re all appropriate for this blog.