Posts Tagged ‘witches’

Well, I’m back at this again, with an odd film for my third outing. You see, I watched this film last July, and I even wrote a review. So why am I watching it again and making it part of the Rewatch Review series? Well, here’s why:

WHAT’S IT ABOUT: A Puritan family is forced to move out into the wilderness and start a farm on the edge of a forest. There, a witch sets into motion events that will change the fate of this family, especially the teenage daughter Thomasin, forever.

WHY I DIDN’T LIKE IT: Well, I actually did like it. I gave the film a 3.8 out of 5. That’s a good score. However, I went into the film with different expectations based on the title (the titular witch is actually very peripheral to the story), and I had a hard time without subtitles understanding what anyone was saying, which affected my enjoyment of the film.

WHY I REWATCHED IT: Over the past year and however many months, I’ve thought a bit about this film, and how my enjoyment of it was skewed by the fact that I had totally different expectations going in. I wondered if maybe, f I rewatched the film knowing what it’s really about–not the witch, but the family she affects–I’d enjoy it more. So when I decided to do this series, I put this film on my list.

THOUGHTS: I guess I did enjoy it a bit more, but I wouldn’t raise that 3.8 any higher.

The Witch is a good film, and I go into detail why in my review. It’s faithful to the time period in all the best ways, the psychological aspects are handled very well for a first-time writer/director, and the actors are all good in their roles. With great setting and music, it’s a pretty damn good horror flick. And if you watch it with the subtitles and don’t get miffed by the witch only being in the film for about two or three minutes, you’ll enjoy yourself thoroughly.

I did notice this time though that sometimes the lighting makes it hard to make out what’s going on, though. Like seriously, I know you’re in the middle of the woods, but maybe still use some lights so we can see the characters? Thank you!

JUDGMENT: My opinion doesn’t change, but I’m glad I watched it the way it was meant to be watched. It’s still a good movie, and if you get the chance, check it out. Just remember: subtitles! Those thick accents will puzzle you to death if you allow them to.

 

Well, that’s all for this entry in the series. Honestly, it was shorter than I expected it to be. The next one will probably be a bit longer, at any rate. After all, I’m watching one of the first slashers ever. That’s right: The Texas Chainsaw Massacre. Bring it on!

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I swear, this is the last time I’m posting about my Boston trip. Unless I actually did capture ghost voices (or EVPs, as believers prefer), in which case there will be another post. Don’t worry though, that’ll take a while to accomplish, so don’t go to the unsubscribe button just yet. Also, this post will be a quick one…I think. I’m saying that while still writing it, so who knows?

Anyway, as you can tell from the title, this is about the souvenirs from my Boston trip. On Instagram I broke these down by type of souvenir (book, toy, etc), but here I think I’ll separate it by day or location. Why? Just makes more sense that way, it seems.

Independence Day souvenirs.

As I said in my last post, I went into a Harry Potter shop and a comic book shop on that day. I’m a Slytherin (mostly because I’m pure evil), so I bought some Slytherin gear from the Harry Potter shop. Specifically, a sticker and a tie.

The ancient and noble House.

I’m wearing this the next time I wear a tie.

From the comic book store I went a little crazy. In addition to some more stickers, I bought a couple of those Funko Pop dolls. Those who know me won’t be surprised which franchises I bought dolls from.

You know it’s true.

Looks great on my laptop.

My first, and probably my favorite Doctor.

Moonies forever!

Including all the anime figurines I’ve been collecting, I’m building quite the doll collection. And I’m not ashamed to say that.

Salem souvenirs.

It won’t surprise you that most of the souvenirs here are witch-related. They’re also all books. Well, there is a print of the House of the Seven Gables under a creepy moon, but it’s copyrighted, and the last thing I want is a copyright lawsuit on my hands, so forgive me if I don’t post a photo of that here.

Looks cool.

I’ve always been curious.

You knew this was going to be coming home with me.

This will make a great reference material.

I swear, it’s another reference book. I’m not going to do anything evil…probably.

At least you can’t say I won’t get bored or go without reading material for a while.

Lizzie Borden souvenirs.

Luckily, I went easy on the souvenirs here. And of course, they are so totally me.

Because I’m on a true crime kick lately.

 

Not going to lie, this doll creeps even me.

So that’s all my souvenirs. Pretty cool, huh?

That’s all for now…on Boston, anyway. I probably won’t post anything new until the weekend so you don’t get sick of me, but if something big comes up, I’ll probably have to talk about it. In the meantime, I’m going to work on Rose for a little while. Wish me luck, and good night, my Followers of Fear. Pleasant nightmares!

I came across this book while looking for something new and scary to read. It looked and sounded good, and it apparently had only just come out in the US, so not many people were talking about it yet. I figured I’d give HEX a try.

And it definitely didn’t prove boring.

So, what’s it about? HEX is about the small town of Black Spring, New York, which is under the curse of an apparently immortal witch named Katherine van Wyler, who wanders around town with her eyes and mouth sewn shut (nightmares right there). Anyone who lives or moves to Black Springs is trapped there by the witch, with attempts to leave longer than a week or two leaving residents feeling depressed and suicidal. With every attempt in history to get rid of Katherine meeting with tragedy, the town has isolated itself from the rest of the world, with the HEX office controlling who moves into town and what Outsiders see when they visit, as well as monitoring the witch’s movements at all times using the latest and greatest in technology. Unbeknownst to HEX and the townsfolk, however, some teens in town are trying to study the witch with the hope of breaking the curse and leaving town. The results of that meddling cause a chain reaction leading to something no one in Black Spring will ever forget.

I thought that HEX had a lot going for it. For one, Heuvelt tells the story beautifully through the POVs of four of the townsfolk: Steve Grant, a doctor and father who tries to live in a rational world despite the fact that there’s a witch in his town; his eldest son Tyler, an idealistic youth and YouTube vlogger who leads his friends to study the witch; Robert Grim, HEX’s irritable leader (whose description in the book makes me think of Mitch Pileggi of X-Files fame); and Griselda Holst, a woman with a past who practically worships Katherine as much as she fears her. They’re all very well-written characters, and you really come to sympathize with each and every one (though occasionally I wondered if Griselda might use some therapy).

Heuvelt also knows how to tell a story, taking it in directions I didn’t think the story would go, and making the surprises genuine, even if some of them, in retrospect, could be seen coming. He also manages to create this atmosphere and dread that sticks with you and makes you want to know more, punctuating it with these moments involving the witch and her magic that really gets you.

I can’t really think of anything bad about this book. Nothing about it particularly struck me as bad or as needing improvement. I could nitpick that it may be a little too perfect, or that it could’ve dealt a bit more with the social media aspect of the story, but like I said, it’d be nitpicking.

The interesting thing about HEX is that the English version is really the second version: Heuvelt is a Dutch author, and HEX was originally published in Dutch with Dutch characters and a Dutch setting back in 2013. But in the acknowledgments section at the end of the book, Heuvelt explains that he was asked to make some changes for the America edition, and he ended up doing a sort of HEX 2.0, as he called it, rewriting the novel in English (apparently he’s fluent), giving it an American setting with American characters, and even a new ending.

So of course, one would wonder after reading the English version what the Dutch version is like. Well, Heuvelt won’t tell. His only advice is to “go bribe a Dutchman” (and oh darn, mine just happened to disappear in a flash of bright light). But even if you never find out what the Dutch version is like, you can be satisfied that the English version is pretty awesome as well.

All in all, I’m giving HEX a 4.3 out of 5. It’s creepy, has a great premise and characters, and is brilliantly written. I highly recommend it to anyone looking to read something new and different and scary and happens to see this on the shelves.

That’s all for now. Remember, today’s the last day to submit questions for a Q&A in honor of my five-year blogging anniversary (details here). You’ve got till midnight, and then I’m working on that post.

Until next time, my Followers of Fear!

So this film has had some buzz around it for a while. It was made on three-million dollars, earned forty-million at the box office, and apparently scared the likes of His Royal Scariness, Stephen King. Naturally, when it hit theaters back in February, I wanted to see it, but no theaters near me were playing it. When I found out last month that it was on DVD, I immediately went to my library’s website to reserve it…only for some punk to steal my copy when it came to me (a curse upon them, preferably involving witches!). But this week I got my copy, and I sat down over dinner to see what the big deal was.

The movie follows a family of 17th-century Puritans–parents William and Katherine, teenagers Thomasin and Caleb, and twins Mercy and Jonas–as they’re banished from their Puritan settlement because apparently Will’s interpretation of the Bible is too extreme for the community (not sure how that is, but maybe I’m too Jewish to notice). They settle in a field on the edge of a vast forest, unaware that there’s a witch living in the woods.

What surprised me most about The Witch is how it differs from other horror films. It’s not a traditional film, in the sense that there’s a central evil that’s pretty obvious and the majority of the horror comes from that villainous evil. In fact, the titular witch is pretty peripheral in the story, acting more as a catalyst for the horrors of the film. I actually struggled to find the terror in the film until I realized that it wasn’t the witch that was the source of the terror (though she is pretty powerful, visceral, and primordial), but the family itself. Once the witch interferes with this family, they start to slowly implode upon themselves. It’s a really dark, psychological descent into hatred, fear, and suspicion, with the occasional intervention of the witch and a lot of heavy Bible speak. And it is scary to watch what happens to this family.

I also really liked the attention to detail. The filmmakers went to great lengths to find a remote location for the setting, and from there hand-build the house and farm, as well as the clothes the actors wore, and just about everything else. They even had museums consulting on this project, which goes to show their dedication. The authenticity, coupled with sparse lighting and the dirty feel of the place, adds to a very creepy atmosphere. And the music, usually involving a fiddle or zither, invokes 2001: A Space Odyssey in its ability to place us in the story.

Despite how scary it was and the research that went into the film, The Witch did have its problems, though. There are some scenes that felt more like they belonged in a novel, rather than in a movie, quiet moments where characters are thinking and not speaking, and we can’t read their minds.It’s in these scenes that we have trouble connecting to the characters, which is bad when this film is so reliant on its characters to begin with.

There’s also an unresolved subplot involving Caleb and his relationship to his older sister Thomasin that’s never really resolved, and I would’ve liked to see where that could’ve gone.  And like I said, it took me a while to realize what sort of horror film this was, though maybe that’s just me going in with certain expectations and being confused that they’re not being met.

And the old-fashioned dialect, plus the heavy accents and sometimes raspy voices, can make it difficult to understand what they’re saying. I had to turn on the subtitles about ten minutes in just to make sure I wasn’t missing anything.

Other than those points, though, The Witch is a terrifying descent into religious mania and terror in a dark situation, with supernatural twists and a lot of religious overtones worthy of discussion by theologians (which apparently has happened). I’m going to give this film a 3.8 out of 5, and recommend you watch this one with the lights on while you’re at it. A wonderful debut from writer and director Robert Eggers. I hope I get to see more of his work in the future.

That’s all for now, my Followers of Fear. Make sure to read about the giveaway and submit your questions and comments for the Q&A happening on August 2nd (details here). I’ll check in again very soon, believe me. In the meantime, a good night to all.

Hopefully free of supernatural beings, right?

It’s Friday again, so you know what that means! It’s #FirstLineFriday! It’s also been a full week of work at my new job. I’ll have to blog about that at some point, if I’m allowed (government work, you need to be very careful when you talk about what you do with them).

Now if you don’t know what #FirstLineFriday is, let me explain. On Fridays, you:

  1. Create a post on a blog entitled #FirstLineFriday, hashtag and all.
  2. Explain the rules like I’m doing now.
  3. Post the first one or two lines of a potential short story, a story-in-progress, or a completed or published story.
  4. Ask your readers for feedback and encourage them to try #FirstLineFriday on their blogs as well (tagging is encouraged but not necessary).

Ever since I moved into my new apartment, I’ve been feeling more creative than I have in months. Oh, the number of new ideas I’ve had since I started living on my own! So picking just one story to do an entry on was a hard choice. In the end, I went with on I came up with last weekend, inspired partially by a story I read recently, about an online campaign of witches to cast a hex on that Stanford student who only got six months for rape (yes, both of those are a thing. Crazy, right?). Along with some recent events, I was able to come up with something original and strange and hopefully creepy. Enjoy:

Sometimes you can only take so much from the world before you just decide to strike back. And yesterday was the final straw.

Thoughts? Errors? Let’s discuss.

And while you’re at it, why not try #FirstLineFriday on your own blog? It’s easy, a lot of fun, and if you’re a writer, you get great practice for openings in your own stories. In fact, I’m going to tag someone. Let’s see…I pick Ryan M. Church of The Way of the Storyteller. Ryan, you’ve been tagged. You must do your own #FirstLineFriday either this week or next. Good luck!

That’s all for now. Packed weekend after work, so I hope I have time to check in with the latest. Until next time, my Followers of Fear!

It’s Friday, so you know what that means. It’s #FirstLineFriday!

Here’s how this works, in case you’d like to do it on your own blog: every Friday I write up a post titled #FirstLineFriday (hashtag included), explain the rules like I’m doing now, and then post the first one or two lines of a potential story, a story-in-progress, or a completed or published story. After that, I ask my readers for their thoughts and suggestions.

In the past couple of weeks, I’ve been doing #FirstLineFriday posts with stories relating to Halloween (because you know I love the spooky holiday season). And since tomorrow’s the big day, I’ve saved a very special first two lines for last. This excerpt is what may or may not start a very interesting book series, the events of which take place all on a single Halloween night. Yeah, that’s the story I have in mind. Let’s hope I get to write it before I’m old and grey, right?

Anyway, here’s the excerpt. Enjoy:

Chloe held up her witch’s costume in front of her and looked in the mirror. She knew it, too much pink and purple.

Starts innocuous enough, but get’s very strange and dark later on.

But what do you guys think? Any errors in grammar, punctuation, etc? Too innocent and YA-ish to start a horror series? Let me know.

That’s all for now. I’m currently muddling through a cold, so I don’t know if I’m going to be out celebrating at all this Halloween. I’ll consider myself lucky if I get out to see a scary movie. In the meantime, I want you all to have a fun and scary weekend (more than I probably will, anyway).

Have a good one, my Followers of Fear!

What do you call a writer cut off from Wi-Fi, has too much time on his hands, and a lot of stories he wants to get out of his head and into the heads of others? If you guessed Rami Ungar, you are correct. Last night the Wi-Fi was still out, so I decided to work on rewriting one of my short stories where I was really dissatisfied with the first draft and wanted to change things up. The result was that this morning I finished rewriting Streghe, with phenomenal results.

Now if you don’t know about or remember Streghe, let me give you some background: during my last semester at Ohio State I took a class on the history of witchcraft to fill out the last requirement of my History major (yes, a class like that was offered, and it was awesome). One of the witch mythologies we studied in that class was that of the streghe, which comes from the Umbrian region of Italy. Now in Italian streghe means “witch” and comes from the word for owl, but in that region the word takes on an entirely different meaning. Rather than involving women who assembled to worship Satan, eat the flesh of children, and cast spells with the help of demon familiars as in traditional European witchcraft mythologies, Umbrian streghe usually worked alone or in pairs, did not consort with demons that often, if at all, drank blood from children as a form of sustenance like vampires, and had their own powers, including the power to transform into owls, which normal witches were said not to have (and that is your free history lesson for the day).

Hearing this mythology, I was inspired immediately and wanted to tell a story based on it. So over the last month of school or so, when I wasn’t busy with my thesis project, I wrote a short story that grew to the size of a novelette. And when I finished it, I found that I hated it. The story was way too long, the plot was all over the place, and at times the story actually felt like it was dragging itself along just to get to the ending. During the writing of the first draft I went back several times just to try a different angle, so I knew something was off even then.

I decided to let it sit for a few months and work on other projects and see what ideas to fix the story to me. Well, something did come to me recently, thanks to time and some Lovecraft stories I’ve been reading recently (I’ll have to write a blog post about that later when I’ve read more of his work). So as soon as I finished editing Video Rage (which was two days ago, by the way), I decided to dive back into Streghe and see what I could do with it.

The result was fantastic. I cut the story by about half to just under five-thousand words, reduced the backstory of antagonist Tom in favor of expanding protagonist Sarah’s backstory (he’s an ass anyway, so I don’t think people will care if they don’t know how he became that way), as well as reducing the number of characters in the story, and added more elements from the original mythology, among other things. And as of this morning, I feel I have much tighter, creepier, and more exciting story than what I had before. Maybe in a draft or two I get it published in a magazine (I know of one that might be interested in this one, depending on the final word count).

For now though, I think I’ll let this one lie for a little while, so that when I edit it I can look at it with fresh eyes. In the meantime, I think I’ll recharge my batteries a little before I tackle my next project. If the Wi-Fi’s back when I get home tonight, I’ll probably watch some Netflix and YouTube and plan that trip to Munich. If it’s not, I’ve got a couple of books, including one from my boss at the office, so I’ll dive into that.

In the meantime, I’m feeling pretty good about myself and about life. I’ve gotten a lot written and edited, I’m gaining valuable work experience and some language skills while here in Germany, and even if this job doesn’t last beyond the three months, I have some more prospects I can look into, so there’s plenty to be hopeful for. Things are going well for me lately, and I plan to ride that good wave for as long as possible.

Until next time, my Followers of Fear. Ein schonen tag!