<![CDATA[Ginger Nuts of Horror - FILM REVIEWS]]>Fri, 21 Apr 2017 13:49:37 +0100Weebly<![CDATA[FILM REVIEW: CHICAGO ROT]]>Tue, 18 Apr 2017 04:45:21 GMThttp://gingernutsofhorror.com/film-reviews/film-review-chicago-rotBy Joe X Young 

Chicago Rot.
A modern film with an old soul.


A few minutes into the opening sequence on this one and the brutality is exceptional. Les the Ghoul (Brant McCrea) is an alleged cannibalistic psychopathic serial killer who escapes being executed during a Prison transfer and goes on the run. The opening titles are interesting, with a girl singing and playing the piano on the back of a pickup truck. Unusual, which I think is setting the tone nicely for a film in which the ordinary definitely does not apply.

The Ghoul is seemingly indestructible; he’s on a mission to get his soul back. It’s a very quirky film, one which has a lot of lingering shots, surreal sequences and a bit of a ‘Sucker Punch’ vibe to it in the imaginative style but lacking the overall gloss of that particular film it descends into something more akin to Accion Mutante in that there’s little cohesion in the chaos.

I found the music during parts of the film such as the barbarian segment to be far too loud and thrashing, we’re talking headache-inducing here. I’ll forgive it that as some people like that; I’m just not one of them.

If your taste is in the more extreme horror then this could very well be worth your while, the gore is stylish and plentiful as well as imaginative. The scene with the black dildo in particular is something I hadn’t seen done before. There are so many bizarre elements to this film that it’s not exactly easy viewing and to be fair I think it’s a victim of its own style as it appears to be trying too hard to be remarkable.

Did I enjoy it? Not really no. I can see the merit of it, appreciate that it was reaching out with a different concept, and who knows, it may become a cult classic. There’s a 1984 film called ‘Ragewar’ aka ‘The Dungeonmaster’ which this reminds me of heavily. I loved Ragewar back in the day, but Chicago Rot isn’t Ragewar.
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<![CDATA[FILM REVIEW: RAW (2016)]]>Tue, 04 Apr 2017 05:43:28 GMThttp://gingernutsofhorror.com/film-reviews/film-review-raw-2016

Raw (2016)
Dir. Julia Ducournau, France/Belgium, 99 mins

French horror has always had rather a special place in my heart – regular readers of my Film Gutter series will have seen me rave about brilliant movies such as Martyrs and Irreversible, both of which remain top ten all-time movies for me. There are plenty of other pieces from the New French Extremity well worthy of mention – honestly too many to list here – so when whispers of Raw started to reach my ears, I was pretty excited about this one. With a trailer that looked extremely stylish, and a burgeoning reputation as very visceral and shocking – apparently one screening in Sweden lost thirty viewers throughout the running time, including two people who fainted – this was a movie I was buzzing to see.
I had a vague sense of the content, without any specific idea of what the story was or how it would really unfold. Our story centres on Justine, a young vegetarian girl about to start Veterinary College and join her older sister in the teaching programme. She's a relatively shy and quiet type – quite the opposite to her loud, outgoing sibling – and further education certainly presents a challenge. The older students relentlessly haze the new recruits, throwing blood over them at the school photo and forcing the 'rookies' to eat raw rabbit kidney as part of the initiation.
 
It's this moment that sparks a huge change in Justine's life, as her first taste of meat sends her spiralling into a nightmarish world of cannibalism. As the story wears on her cravings become worse and worse, as does her general outlook and behaviour, going from a very innocent teen to a much more mature and sexually aware woman. In many respects, it's a coming of age tale, framed against a dark story and the tale of a dysfunctional family relationship. It's one of those that – despite the shadowy framings of the movie – wouldn't necessarily fit everyone's remit of what a horror film would be. There are only a few moments that genuinely carry anything truly disturbing – although the bar may be set a bit higher in that area – and many moments of the plot are more intimated than they are actually shown.
 
There were a few films this put me in mind of, all in different ways. There was the darkly transformative element of something like Thanatomorphose or Contracted, blended with the cannibalistic angle of Jimmy Weber's Eat. It follows a similar sort of journey, but in many respects stopped short of the boundaries all three of those movies were willing to cross. On a personal level, that was a disappointment, given the language used to describe the movie beforehand – 'visceral', 'shocking', 'disturbing' – compared to much of what has come before I considered it pretty mild.
 
On the upside, it is indisputably nicely shot and the performances are generally very strong. But as a milieu I think there are movies that have done it better – all three of the aforementioned included. The story plods along rather than going at a  really good pace, the whole set-up of student hazing was irritating – just genuinely annoying for me on a personal level, as well as feeling overdone and unrealistic – and when the movie came to an end I was left with a thought of 'was that it'? Usually you can feel a film cranking up towards a powerful crescendo, whereas Raw just seems to fizzle out with a 'twist' that was presaged so early on it was hard to muster up any real surprise. I barely ever pick up a surprise ending, but I had this one pegged from very early on.
 
As is so often the case, the films that really get the hype in a given year are – perhaps – not the ones that live up to that hype. Many great films sneak under the radar practically unheralded, whilst other suddenly explode through word of mouth upon release. It's entirely possible that all the buzz and excitement has set the bar for Raw simply too high, at least in my own mind – I wanted this to be brilliant, mindblowing, spectacular. And don't get me wrong, Raw is good – but that's about as far as I can go. And, given everything that I had expected, that still feels like a little bit of a let-down.

RATING: 5.5/10. The nearest thing I can compare this film to in terms of an experience is It Follows – a movie I was buzzing for, a movie I had bigged up to people before even seeing, a movie that I wanted to be superb. Those of you who've read my review of It Follows will know it was a major personal letdown, and a film I've never seen the fuss about. Raw is better than that, for sure, and is a more interesting come of age story that follows a better logic. However it's not as extreme as I expected, takes place in a deeply annoying and stereotypical environment and doesn't really every seem to go anywhere. Once you have the fundamental concept there's not a great deal of development from there, and the feeling when the credits rolled was rather underwhelming. It has a lot of visual style, and solid performances, but it's not for me a worthy successor to so many of the great French horror films that have come before it.

​Click here for a fabulous round table interview that we were part of  with the director Julia Ducournau 

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<![CDATA[KNOCK KNOCK GINGER:  A GINGER NUTS REVIEW OF DON'T KNOCK TWICE]]>Fri, 31 Mar 2017 06:58:04 GMThttp://gingernutsofhorror.com/film-reviews/knock-knock-ginger-a-ginger-nuts-review-of-dont-knock-twiceIn UK cinemas 31 March and On Demand & DVD 3 April
Don't Knock Twice hits the big screen today and on demand on Monday, to celebrate the launch of this British film we have two reviews for your reading pleasure.  One from regular Ginger Nuts of Horror contributor Joe X Young, and one from Daniel Marc Chant one half of the fantastic Sinister Horror Company, one of the finest publishers of horror in the UK.  You can check out Dan's books here.  

Read on to find out what they they thought of the film.  

DON’T KNOCK TWICE Review by Daniel Marc Chant



Among the most successful horror films of recent years, many have concentrated on the emotional and interpersonal dynamics of their protagonists, with some electrifying results. The Babadook, It Follows and The Monster respectively explored narrative themes of grief, promiscuity, and dysfunctional familial relationships first, and their ‘boogeymen’ second.

Horror has always reflected our emotional and cultural fears, illuminating our collective anxieties, as facing our own inner demons is far more unsettling and horrific than any monster or spirit could ever be.

DON’T KNOCK TWICE draws inspiration heavily from this well, as it tells the tale of Jess (played by the always reliable Katee Sackhoff) attempting to mend the frayed bonds with her daughter Chloe (Lucy Boynton). Chloe has spent the last ten years in foster care due to her mother’s former addiction issues and, on a typically dark and stormy night, Chloe turns up unannounced at her mother’s home to seek refuge.

Chloe, and her boyfriend Danny (Jordan Bolger), had carelessly played chicken with an urban legend about a child-stealing witch and her (now abandoned) house. In a Candyman-style spin, legend says the witch will appear if you knock not once, but twice. And I’ll let you have a guess what they did.
Danny’s subsequent disappearance makes Chloe run to safety, to the only place she knows, her mother’s. And shortly thereafter the family begins to be haunted by a strange gangly witch. The creature, in this case, is a spin on the Baba Yaga legend. A long-limbed and twisted witch played with unnaturally creepy aplomb by Javier Botet (he of [Rec] and The Conjuring 2 fame), who is steadily forging his position as the new Doug Jones.

Director Caradog James quickly and effectively establishes a brooding atmosphere, offering the expected jump scares and typically voguish synth score, with a few nods to both Spielberg and ’70s giallo. It’s therefore a shame that the competent direction isn’t matched by an equally competent script, exposition often clumsily halts any building tension and the mythology it desperately tries to build for its own legend is often undermined by plot convenience, and an attempt to keep things moving hurriedly along.

The cast do the best with what they have, and often the most memorable moments are when they are given room to breathe away from the leaden dialogue. Ultimately the human drama never reaches its potential, despite some promising moments, and the horror elements often fall back on established tropes. If they had just zigged instead of zagged it could have subverted expectations and the genre trappings it creates for itself. With the scares being interesting but rarely effective, it’s refreshing to have two fiery leads in Sackhoff and Boynton, who both wed themselves to their character’s emotions and events with conviction. A pity then that the script doesn’t do the same.

DON’T KNOCK TWICE attempts to blend an emotional family drama with a supernatural witch, and has mixed results. It’s a good-looking film and one with momentum always rolling on to the next scary set piece so anyone finding a quick fix creature feature will find something to enjoy. But any scares are swiftly evaporated thanks to numerous leaps of logic and an inexplicable need to convince you, nay show you, how scary and interesting the witch really is. If this film’s peers have taught us anything, it’s that the emotional and interpersonal dynamics of the protagonists should have been first, and their ‘boogeymen’ second.

DON'T KNOCK TWICE by Joe X Young 

Don’t Knock Twice.

I can’t really knock it that much.


When I first saw ‘Sgrin Cymru’ come up at the beginning of the film I thought something along the lines of ‘Oh shit’, mainly because the Welsh are not known for producing horror films. What’s that you say? Surely there are loads of Welsh horror films! Actually there are relatively few, even ‘Wales Online’ struggled to put together a list of ten, citing such examples as ‘An American Werewolf in London’ as one because the opening sequence was filmed in Wales. They also mention 2005’s ‘The Dark’, with Sean Bean’s dreadful Welsh accent in which he can’t pronounce his daughter’s name properly. It was set in Wales, about the Welsh, it even had possessed sheep, but was actually filmed in the Isle of Man because Wales apparently ‘didn’t look Welsh enough’ for the production team.
So I approached ‘Don’t Knock Twice’ with limited expectations.

The general idea here is that of a haunted house with a door the local kids knock on, but if you knock twice you are basically in a world of trouble because the witch inside will getcha! Oooh… Scary. Standard stuff, after all we’ve seen so many similar ‘urban legend’ based supernatural tales from the likes of Beetlejuice, Candyman and Bloody Mary that it really isn’t all that inspiring. So, I was off to a rocky start, but I have to admit I found it wholly ENJOYABLE.

It’s an above average Creepfest which delivers a lot of atmosphere, and it’s actually a lot more interesting than many of its contemporaries. It does in fact come up with the goods in that there’s a lot of good ideas throughout which are not reliant on the jump-scares to carry it and a couple of scenes which I caught myself wincing at. Never a bad thing.

The acting for the most part is good with Katie Sackhoff as Jess, a Sculptor with a past history of addiction which led to her abandoning daughter Chloe, played by Lucy Boynton in a care home. Both female leads bring an unusual amount of personality to their roles with a credible level of frostiness on Chloe’s behalf and the overall feeling that everything is going to remain tense no matter what happens to them as the now penitent Jess wants to make amends with a daughter who clearly hates her. Sackhoff’s acting in particular is superb, which makes me wonder if she isn’t actually wasted in this film, even though it’s a good film, it just seems as if she belongs in something better. Richard Mylan plays Ben, Jess’s new husband who is not Chloe’s dad. Ben’s a banker who is hardly present throughout most of the film (business trip), which is one of the fallow spots and in my opinion not a wise move as he’s a good enough actor to have had much more involvement; instead he is more of a quite lame plot device.

 Technical aspects are all good with this, the camerawork is excellent, the soundtrack is not intrusive and the score really works well. The special effects are suitably creepy even if borrowing heavily from the likes of Mama and myriad others.

Chloe has a boyfriend, he’s a throwaway stereotype and mercifully he’s not around much, which is for the best as the acting is dreadful. Another one bringing the film down is Pooneh Hajimohammadi as Tira, her character is fairly throwaway, basically there for exposition and for a scene toward the end of the film which really the director could have made a significantly bigger impact with if they’d expanded on it. I won’t give a spoiler; you’ll know it when you see it.

So far it all seems like a ‘mixed bag’, and it is, but that didn’t stop me from enjoying the film, it’s actually one of the better films I’ve seen lately and I much preferred it to the likes of ‘It Follows’ and ‘The Other Side of the Door’. The film does suffer from a bit of an identity crisis, there’s a lot of good content here, in particular the use of doors throughout, but I can’t help thinking that it perhaps should have chosen a single theme and milked it rather than putting so much in that just didn’t feel as if it belonged. Aspects of it seemed as if it were made up of various scenes which had ended up on the cutting room floor from other recent movies. The whole sub-plot with Nick Moran’s defective detective was a near-miss in that the overall concept was fine, the handling was ok, but to be honest it too was also in need of expansion. Too much time appeared to be devoted to things which didn’t really matter much when the focus should really have been on what made this film more interesting than average. All in all it was trying to be too clever and almost… ALMOST pulled it off.

I’m still going to give it a thumbs-up though because it was in fact entertaining, it had some novelty to it, and the acting for the most part was fine. As a horror film it works well. Watch it with the lights off and the doors LOCKED.




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<![CDATA[DAY OF RECKONING (2016) ]]>Wed, 15 Feb 2017 06:21:22 GMThttp://gingernutsofhorror.com/film-reviews/day-of-reckoning-2016
DAY OF RECKONING FILM REVIEW
When it comes to quality filmmaking, the SyFy channel is not normally a production  company that you associate with films containing an iota of artistic merit.  

The home of Sharknado, and countless Shark ( gene spliced with some other animal) V's an even more stupid gene-spliced animal, you know hat you are getting into when you watch this sort of film.  And while they can never be accused of being high art, hell you need a lot of balls to even describe them a low art, they at least have a sense of fun.  Not so much popcorn films, more like "Christ I'm really drunk and find the remote to change the channel film.", you at least could watch them with a sort of post-ironic glee.  

Day of Reckoning  breaks the trend of these low budget, low brow films and attempts a more serious take on their unique brand of horror film.  What a huge pity that Day of Reckoning is such a complete and utter failure.  
Fifteen years after the world was nearly destroyed by a legion of demonic creatures, which spewed forth from the bowels of the earth, society is on the verge of getting back to normal.  Giant military installations guard the big holes from where the creatures escaped from to reek havoc.  

However, a lunar eclipse combined with someone putting a fork in the knife drawer, or some other totally nonsensical omen of misfortune, means that the demonic creatures are coming back, and this they are really pissed off, this time they want to finish us off for good.  

After watching this complete and waste of time film I kind of wish, the demonic army would knock on my door and rend me limb from limb, or at least hide my remote control to my TV so I never have to suffer through such a bad film ever again.  

Day of Reckoning goes for the serious tone and in doing so completely confuses drama and tension for cliche ridden overwrought dialogue and poorly executed action sequences.    Even for a SyFy special movie, the acting is abysmal.  All gruff speeches delivered with a halting stop-start rhythm that would even have William Shatner cringing with embarrassment, or your overplayed screeching woman getting all upset over the realisation that their career is probably over after appearing in this film.  

Dull storytelling, even duller lifeless direction and dialogue that should never be uttered on the screen again makes this a film that fails on every level.  The best way you can view this film is to watch it with a view to spotting the films that they have stitched together to make this moth-eaten flea ridden patchwork quilt of a film.  

Christ on a bike they have have a reworking of the famous Quint speech from Jaws.  Except this version has none of the gravitas of the original. 

One dimensional characters that have been pulled out the stock character cupboard and forced to dance for our entertainment lend nothing to the film.  With zero character development or originality, you will sit there and hope that they all die a horrible death very quickly.  

Of course, we can't review this film without mentioning the special effects.  Remember that scene in Jason in the Argonauts, where he fights stop motion skeletons?  That scene still, even after over forty years this scene still has the power to amaze.  Well it seems the makers of Day of Reckoning took this style of animation as the basis for all of the special effects of the film, the only problem is compared to the Jason film the special effects in this one look embarrassingly bad, and I mean bad, even for the SyFy channel.  

Day of Reckoning is without a doubt a SyFy channel film; it is just a pity that it throws away everything that normally lends these films some degree of watchability and leaves the viewer with a film that surely must be one of the nine circles of hell itself. 
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<![CDATA[DOLL IN THE DARK (AKA:  THE MELANCHOLY FANTASTIC.)]]>Wed, 08 Feb 2017 04:34:24 GMThttp://gingernutsofhorror.com/film-reviews/doll-in-the-dark-aka-the-melancholy-fantasticREVIEWED BY JOE YOUNG 
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Amy Crowdis and Robin Lord Taylor star in a slow burning yet powerful tale about the escalation of grief into madness.

Melanie Crow is a teenager attempting to come to terms with the suicide of her mother, which followed on from her father’s death in an accident, so now Melanie is left alone with nothing but a large partly home-made doll for company. There is a tangible and natural sense of mental isolation working here, with Crowdis providing a character that at no time dips below believable even when she is talking to the creepy doll of the title.

This isn’t a film with jump scares, spooky soundtracks, flashy camera work or even artificially glamorous actors, but is a rather more subdued film in overall tone. It has a very thin plot, which is actually one of the better aspects of this film as it is not relying on the usual crash bang wallop we too often get subjected to. At most basic we are being shown a slice of life, the tragic one that Melanie is currently enduring will no doubt ring true with many of the viewers who have suffered similar losses. There are questions arising from her situation with no obvious answers, these are largely along the lines of “Is Melanie insane?” and “Is the Doll her dead mother controlling her?” Or is it simply that the grief is just too much?

Robin Lord Taylor in a pre-Gotham role provides the perfect degree of balance as “Dukken” an “Emo” Melanie meets in a library. They strike up an awkward friendship, with Dukken proving to be somewhat likeable and patient as he attempts to gain a greater understanding of Melanie. There is definite warmth in his portrayal which perfectly counters Melanie’s stand-offishness.

There are slight hints towards the supernatural here, yet no neon signposts for it as is the norm for other doll-related movies, and I couldn’t even say that it’s a conventional horror film even though there are very real horrors abound. What it actually is, to my way of thinking at least, is a beautifully constructed dark drama.
 
Joe Young.
horror review website uk
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<![CDATA[FILM REVIEW: AGATHA]]>Wed, 25 Jan 2017 04:22:23 GMThttp://gingernutsofhorror.com/film-reviews/film-review-agatha
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Agatha is a short ten-minute horror film that packs in more creepiness, and insidious dread than most movies manage these days.  A simple tale of an 1800's street urchin paid to bring food to a room each day, with the strict instruction, do no venture past the dresser in the in the room. As she brings the food tot eh room, her interest and curiosity are magnified with each delivery.  Who is the mysterious occupant of the room, and why do they like to eat raw meat.  

This is a simple yet highly effective ten-minute film.  Apart from the brief discussion at the start of the film where the owner of the house sets out her instructions to the street urchin, there is no more dialogue in the film.  A clever move as the viewer becomes wrapped up in the sense of wondrous, curious fear that the urchin feels as she goes about her duties.  Why is the person chained, why is room in such disrepair, and why do they only eat raw meat.  

The film cleverly utilises and almost Groundhog day narrative, where we repeatedly are shown a shot of her bring the food in, picking up the used the plate from the day before and then getting paid in pocket change by the owner of the house.  But with each repeat of the shot, we are teased with a little bit more information as to what is going on.  

The film is helped by some excellent cinematography and a great lighting of the set both of which add to the claustrophobic feel of the movie.  Despite not having any lines the young actress gives a strong performance and carries the film admirably.  

The final reveal, while might be apparent to some seasoned horror films is nevertheless satisfying and handled well.   Overall this an effective chiller, that shows a lot of promise for future films from the writer / director.  

A full length version of Agatha should be coming your way later this year, in the meantime keep an eye out for it on the Festival circuits.  
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<![CDATA[BRIAN KEENE'S THE NAUGHTY LIST ]]>Wed, 11 Jan 2017 09:06:08 GMThttp://gingernutsofhorror.com/film-reviews/brian-keenes-the-naughty-list
I apologise for the lateness of this review, every year I forget just how busy and messed up my life can get during the festive period.  However, bare with me, for Brian Keene's The Naughty List , is a film worth watching at any time of the year. 

Based on the excellent short story The Siqquism Who Stole Christmas featuring two of Keene's most enduring characters Vince and Tony, who are like a sort of bizarro / antimatter version of Hap and Leonard and their memorable encounter with the man in red, is everything a short horror film should be. 

High production values and tight direction from Paul Campion, the man behindDevil's Rock  (the very first film I ever reviewed) fight with three excellent performances for the star of the show.  Vincenzo Nicoli is perfect as the world weary Tony Genova, a no-nonsense hard nose gangster, is a perfect counterfoil to the wide-eyed almost innocent portrayal of Vince by Sebastian Knapp,  the weird offspring of Steve Buscemi and Elijah Wood.  The chemistry between the two is electric, and hopefully, with any luck, we will see further adventures from this hapless duo.  

Mac Elsey's Santa Clause mixes ho ho ho charm with a lovely dark streak, you want a Bad Santa, then this is the original bad Santa.  

The Naughty List is a short but captivating watch, ideal for those new to Brian's work, and perfect for those of us who are long-term fans with the nods and winks to some of his other work; I  raised a wry smile when the names of gangsters were rolled off.  

Until watching this A Wish For Wings that Work   was my favourite festive movie, sorry Bill and Opus, you have been usurped, The Naughty List now sits at the top of my list.  

You can watch the full film for free on You Tube by clicking here 
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<![CDATA[Rogue One - A Response]]>Wed, 11 Jan 2017 06:53:12 GMThttp://gingernutsofhorror.com/film-reviews/rogue-one-a-responseby Kit Power 

So then. That happened.

Not a review. Not really a critique. More a brain vomit. Spoilers will abound, so if you have yet to see it, go no further - not least because I’ll be writing in the assumption that you have, and this probably won’t make a whole heap of sense otherwise.

And I mean, I enjoyed it, so let’s start with that. I get that there will be Star Wars fans who prefer this to The Force Awakens, and I get why that’s the case. Like TFA, if feels palpably like a film made by Star Wars fans who are love with the original trilogy and desperate to play with those toys that have captivated them since childhood. And unlike some other sci-fi franchises, it doesn’t feel like the new creators are obsessed with remaking the whole thing in their image (yeah, that’s a swipe at Moffat’s Who, I guess, which I enjoy, but blimey, mate, leave some mystery on the table for the rest of us, eh?).


No, this feels like something else. I mean, sure, there’s the fact that it’s competently made, which elevates it far above the prequels (oops, I guess I have to call them the other prequels now, don’t I?). By which I mean it’s made by a director who understands how to draw out acting performances rather than stifle them, writers who understand pacing and dialogue, and perhaps most important of all, filmmakers who get that the time to use digital is when you can’t do it physically, not all the fucking time. 

But there’s also… well, I feel ridiculous using this word in the context of a Star Wars movie, but actually, there’s a subtlety at work, I think. No, really. The movie has a tightrope to walk, after all. It’s an official Star Wars movie, sure, and it’s part of continuity, but it’s also a bridge between the woeful prequels and one of the most successful movie trilogies in history. And it’s  also not part of the new unfolding story. 

You can feel that conflict from the very opening - we get ‘A long time ago, in a galaxy far, far away…’ but as you brace for the fanfare, starscape and logo, the rug is tugged from under you, and instead, you have a planet and a spaceship. The music is especially telling in this regard, with the score constantly starting familiar themes before moving them into different places, different configurations. It’s a bold choice, and I can only imagine the ludicrous amount of meetings that had to be held to work out how to do this - what do we keep, what must we change - but I think they nailed it. It evoked familiarity, but also sent the message - this is different. This is not your childhood Star Wars. Not quite.

For starters, there’s a darker tone hanging over proceedings from the opening scene, with the Empire, in general, being portrayed as more brutal than in previous outings, I think. There’s a degree to which the moments that Lucas skillfully hinted at back in the original trilogy (I’m thinking particularly of the sinister interrogation droid that menaces Leia with a syringe in A New Hope) are made explicit here, happening on camera. Certainly blackmailing the scientist father by threatening the lives of his family (shortly before executing his wife in front of him) is, while not in any way out of character for the Empire, a significant step up in terms of physical and psychological violence, at least in an up close and personal sense (as opposed to a blowing-up-planets sense). 

In fact, let’s pause here for a moment and talk about themes. Because what Rogue One has in common with the Original Trilogy is that one of the central themes, arguably the central theme, is about fatherhood - more specifically about flawed fathers and their redemption. And I think there’s something to be teased out here about the similarities and the differences.

Vader is pretty much a nightmare dad, for most of the OT. The ultimate authoritarian, second in command of a fascistic military government - oh, and also with the power to choke a man with his mind. Masked, too - apparently emotionless (aside from that constant rage). And, I mean, I have no idea about Lucas and his relationship with his father, but that sounds like a Boomer’s nightmare father, in many respects. I’m not one of those people who lionize the 60’s counterculture generation, but it is fair to say the generation gap may never have been wider than it was for the children who came of age in that decade. There was a moment of profound alienation between parents and children - perhaps best exemplified by a quote from a parent of a child present at the Kent State shooting who said ‘“it would have been a better day for America if the troops had kept shooting”. Leave aside, if you can, the bile that rises at this apparent sociopathy, and instead marvel at how fundamental the divisions between parent and child must have become, to allow someone to say that to a journalist. 

In that context, Vader makes sense. The counterculture must have felt like a rebel alliance; the establishment must have seemed like an Evil Empire (only seemed, Kit?). And even if Lucas was a young Republican and the apple of daddy's eye. He’ll have seen the contours of this conflict all around him, in the eyes and stories of his friends. All storytellers are, in part, a product of their environment. It’s as unavoidable as breathing. 

So if Vader was the nightmare father of his generation, what are we to make of Galen Erso, father to our heroine Jyn? The differences are striking. Galen is a reluctant pawn of the Empire, not a true believer. He goes to work for them only after his family is threatened - more, only after he realises that they can and will get it done without him. Yes, he builds the Death Star, but he also builds into it a flaw - a secret vulnerability that will destroy it. 

I’m reminded of the poem How do we forgive our fathers? by Dick Lourie. Vader’s redemption ultimately comes from his love for his son - when the rubber meets the road and his son is being executed in front of him, something snaps (turns out he doesn’t want the soldiers to keep shooting, after all) and he turns. Fittingly, it costs him his life to do so, but he dies redeemed, and without having to face a messy Nuremberg style trial. Let’s face it, probably for the best all around. 

Galen is a different kettle of fish. If we see Vader as a boomers nightmare father made flesh, then Galen feels very much like Boomer as a father - a counterculture figure who reluctantly joins the evil Empire, not out of conviction but out of a need to feed and protect his family. Which is… complicated. I mean, my parents are boomers, and I love them both dearly. At the same time, the boomers in Western society as a demographic have been pound for pound one of the most catastrophic and destructive generations the species has ever seen. Rampant explosion of the use of fuel sources that are not-so-slowly baking the planet, generational financial theft, gigantic proliferation of the most deadly weapons of mass destruction ever conceived of with absolutely no effort to decommission them after they’d served their dubious purpose -  oh, and the last hurrah of voting for Brexit and Trump by pretty much the margin of victory, almost as a final fuck you to the poor sods who will somehow have to find a way to live in the rubble and flooded planet they bequeath us. I mean to say, talk about an Evil Fucking Empire.

This makes Galen a fascinating figure, to me. It’s like the film is saying that some ‘goody’ boomer father has somehow built a back door, a vulnerability, into this death machine of ‘democratic’ capitalism that seems insistent on strip mining the planet in a bid to leave no harmful substance unburned. Which, please let it be so, but more fundamentally, feels to be over generous to me. I mean, I know they also gave us Star Wars, but come on.

But then, of course, Jyn dies. To be precise, she’s killed by The Death Star, caught in the blastwave of destruction as the Empire tries to prevent the plans from being transmitted. The sins of the father are revisited upon the child, and all her nobility, bravery, and sacrifice can’t save her. Her death-in-victory may represent a redemption arc for her family as a whole, but man, that’s an Old Testament kind of redemption, a long way from the fluffy New Age messaging of the OT. So if we’re looking at Galen as a boomer parent, maybe this is a more damning indictment than Lucas had of his parent's generation. Vader turns at last, after all, and then has the good grace to die. Galen, compromised throughout, does ultimately build the weapon that kills his daughter and threatens the entire galaxy - and its exploitable weakness is only found due to the extraordinary efforts and sacrifice of that daughter.

Shit, maybe it’s a pretty good metaphor after all. The hope may be new, but it’s also fragile and scary. And the notion that it’ll take a generational sacrifice just to give us a shot of righting the ship… Wow - bleak and accurate. Thanks, movie.

That leads me to another thing that gave me pause about this film - the vampirism. I mean, there's a dead man in this film, and he has a sizable part, and that’s just fucking weird. I think I had some notion it was coming, probably thanks to Facebook friends, but in the opening shot, with the character's back to the camera and a shadowy reflection in a window, I thought ‘well, that’s not so bad, kind of touching, actually’, and then he turned around and Peter fucking Cushing is glowering out of the screen at me. I’m pretty sure I jumped in my seat. 

I’m still not sure how I feel about it, either. I mean, cinema has fundamentally always been a medium of ghosts, and if you don’t believe me, watch The Wizard Of Oz sometime, and afterwards reflect on the likelihood that every single person who worked on that film is now dead. I mean, really internalise that down to your boots, and see if it doesn’t shake loose some kind of reaction. This is what ‘immortalised on film’ really means, and always has.

In that respect, this is the next logical step. After all, we’re twenty two years on from the at-the-time-gobsmacking-and-now-embarrassing-to-watch moments when Forrest Gump meets Nixon and Lennon, and before that, The Crow used CGI to finish off after their lead actor was inconveniently shot to death on set.

So why does this feel different? I’ve been puzzling over that since I left the cinema. Because it does feel different - note I do not say ‘wrong’, I’m not yet confident in making that kind of a value judgement - and unsettling. I think it’s because this isn’t a case of interacting with a historical cultural icon (well, Cushing kind of was that, but you know what I mean) or covering for an unexpected death - this was a conscious decision to include a character played by a long dead actor, and then further to have that actor be represented by CGI (as opposed to a living actor - and yes, I know there was a performer underneath the CGI and doing the voice, but still).

And see, bringing back Vader is easy, because with the greatest respect to David Prowse, Vader is The Suit and The Voice (and The Voice - AKA James Earl Jones - is mercifully still with us). It’s also, IMO, far more necessary - Vader is, in a film franchise so reliant on iconic character design, arguably the most iconic of them all. As soon as you decide to make a movie about the building of the Death Star and the Rebel acquisition of the secret plans, the question of Vader becomes when and how, not if. 

But Grand Moff Tarkin? Not that Cushing isn’t great in A New Hope, because he is, and his scenes with Carrie Fisher are especially glorious, but he’s not elemental to the story in the way Vader had to be. And I find myself wondering who made the spectacularly expensive decision to ‘cast’ him in the movie, and how they went about getting permission from the Cushing estate, and, well, why? Rarely has ‘because we could’ felt like a less satisfactory answer. Again, to be clear, I’m not saying it was wrong - but it sure was weird, and not in an entirely pleasant way.

(Side note: for those of you who are yelling ‘but it wasn’t that good, you could tell it was CGI’ I can only quote you one of my friends, who leaned over to me and said ‘Isn’t he, like, a hundred?’. So, not if you didn’t know, you couldn’t, apparently.)

It’s a fucking odd decision, is what I’m saying, and it exerted a gravitational pull on my attention and thoughts throughout the rest of the film. Not that I didn’t appreciate a lot of what else was going on. Jyn, like Rey in TFA, is a believable and engaging lead, with a similarly tragic parental backstory, and her arc is pleasing. There’s a brilliant row between her and Rebel fighter Cassian Andor where they really go at it, about the ethics of what they are doing, the violence of the Rebellion and Jyn’s self preservation, and they’re genuinely both right, and there are no obvious winners, and this is the kind of shit I didn’t realise I’d been missing in my popcorn. Similarly, the provocative moment where the rebels, wrapped up in the turbans and flowing robes of the middle east, open fire on the white armoured storm troopers guarding a tank full of the local natural resource was striking, in an ‘I-can’t-quite-believe-they-got-away-with-this’ way. I don’t want to put too much weight on that - this is at heart a war movie, after all - but still, it was a welcome moment of nuance and ambiguity none of us had any right to expect.

There’s quite a bit of that, actually. The morality of the Rebellion and their tactics is put under unprecedented scrutiny (which is admittedly a singularly low bar to clear), and even if it’s both incomplete and unresolved, it’s was still for me a welcome moment. The introduction of dissent within the Rebellion was also a welcome complication, even as it somewhat mechanistically set up the final act. And I adored the reprogramed Empire droid, with his sideline in sarcasm. A lovely idea, beautifully executed.

But I was left with a suckerpunch that sent me out of the theatre in as much emotional turmoil as my first viewing of The Force Awakens <http://www.gingernutsofhorror.com/film-reviews/the-force-awakens-a-response> did - perhaps even more. It must have seemed like such a cute idea - an uncomplicated feelgood moment to close out the film. And of course, Carrie Fisher must have signed off on it in some capacity. Still, thanks to 2016 swinging the scythe just one more damn time as the year ticked over and out, I’m left, in the final shots of the movie, face to face with another ghost - the ghost of the impossibly perfect nineteen-year-old Carrie Fisher, in full Leia glory. Her closing line, delivered to the camera, about hope, just about finishes me off.

Again, to be fair to the filmmakers, it’s not something that you could have seen coming. But holy shit, it packs a poignant punch that’s almost too much. It’s also not fair to the movie because the feelings it evokes now are very different to those intended. 

But them’s the breaks, I guess when you’re working in a medium of ghosts. Sometimes it’s you that’ll get haunted, in ways you couldn’t have predicted.

And two Christmases in a row, I am left with a complicated mess of emotions by a goddamn Star Wars movie.

What a fucking world.

KP
5/1/17
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<![CDATA[I AM NOT A SERIAL KILLER ]]>Wed, 04 Jan 2017 01:46:38 GMThttp://gingernutsofhorror.com/film-reviews/i-am-not-a-serial-killer
2016 was a year that proved beyond a doubt that Hollywood had no clue when it came to making great horror movies.  Insipid, and regurgitated plot ideas and franchises, if you wanted a horror that challenged or dared to explore new avenues, then you had to keep to the smaller independent movie companies.  

Thankfully the flip side of this was 2016 being a glorious year for inventive, thought provoking and entertaining horror movies.  For every Satanic, and  Conjuring 2, we had films such as Baskin, The Green Room, The Autopsy of Jane Doe, The Eyes of My Mother, and the list goes on and on.  

Which makes this, the first film review of 2107 on Ginger Nuts of Horror, something that hopefully keeps the great work of 2106 flowing into 2017.  Will I AM NOT A SERIAL KILLER maintain the trend for great indie horror films, or will it prove to be the first stumbling block of the year?....
Based on the novel I am Not a Serial Killer  by Dan Wells (you can read our exclusive interview with Dan about the film here),  where John Wayne Cleaver is a slightly unbalanced sixteen-year-old, obsessed with serial killers and a regular helper at his Mum and Aunt's Mortuary it.  So far so normal for a sixteen-year-old.  Which would be all well good, but John is also worried that his obsession with serial killers may turn him into one. So for his own sake and the safety of those around him he lives by rigid rules to keep himself “good” and “normal”.

When somebody starts murdering people in John’s small Mid-West town, he has to investigate and risk letting his dark side out to stop the killer. But without his rules to keep him in check, he might be more dangerous than the monster he is stalking. As the icy winter tightens its grip on the community a deadly supernatural game of cat and mouse ensues...

​Based on the novel I am Not a Serial Killer by Dan Wells (you can read our exclusive interview with Dan about the film here),  where John Wayne Cleaver is a slightly unbalanced sixteen-year-old, obsessed with serial killers and a regular helper at his Mum and Aunt's Mortuary it.  So far so normal for a sixteen-year-old.  Which would be all well good, but John is also worried that his obsession with serial killers may turn him into one. So for his own sake and the safety of those around him he lives by rigid rules to keep himself “good” and “normal”.

When somebody starts murdering people in John’s small Mid-West town, he has to investigate and risk letting his dark side out to stop the killer. But without his rules to keep him in check, he might be more dangerous than the monster he is stalking. As the icy winter tightens its grip on the community a deadly supernatural game of cat and mouse ensues...

I am Not a Serial Killer, is an intelligent and thoughtful horror film that successfully combines scares with a sympathetic look at some emotional images.   Billy O’Brien’s adaptation of the book mixes tonal qualities from such classics as Fargo, Dexter, and Rear Window into a uniquely melancholic character study of Small town America and the oddballs who inhabit it.  With an almost languid direction and sense of pace that at first would seem more appropriate for a much hotter and steamier setting, O'Brien keeps the viewer captivated with a great sense of rhythm and quirky situations.  Even when the film takes a left turn into weird territory O'Brien's strong sense of style prevents the film from falling off the rails.  

His greatest accomplishment with the film is how he managed to maintain the strengths of the source novel.  Strong, unique characters, which are used to explore some sensitive topics, such as where is our place in the world, and how do we fit in, the lengths we would go to be with someone we love, even teenage angst and disenfranchisement are all handled with a sensitive touch.  

One of the highlights of the film is when John confronts the school bully boy at a school dance.  John's speech to him is powerful, scary with allusions to the depth of his unstableness.  And yet it is the sort of expression that everyone who has been bullied or made to feel like an outcast has wanted to give. 

“I've been clinically diagnosed with sociopathy,'  'Do you know what that means?'

'It means you're a freak,' 
'It means that you're about as important to me as a carboard box,' I said. 'You're just a thing - a piece of garbage that no one's thrown away yet. Is that what you want me to say?'

'Shut up,' said Rob. He was still acting tough, but I could see his bluster was starting to fail. He didn't know what to say.
'The thing about boxes,' I said, 'is that you can open them up. Even though they're completely boring on the outside, there might be something interesting inside. So while you're saying all of these stupid, boring things I'm imagining what it would be like to cut you open and see what you've got in there.” 


John's fear of being mentally unstable, and on the brink of becoming a serial killer is adept and treated with a delicate eye for detail.  Despite John's obvious problems, he remains a likeable character, idiosyncratic and gifted with a great sense of dark humour, balanced out by a dark undercurrent of anguish and brooding menace. 

Max Records' performance is hypnotic and mature beyond his age, to the point where he holds his own against a career-defining performance from Christopher Lloyd. Lloyds portrayal of Crowly must rank as one of the great depictions of a murder suspect.  It is both fragile and menacing, as he goes from friendly neighbour to cold black-hearted killer is a joy to watch.  As his story is revealed, the depth of pathos that Lloyd brings to the character is magnificent, to the point where you will be fighting back the tears during the films final acts.  

I am Not a Serial Killer, is a powerful movie, with a hypnotic narrative and a killer cast, it is a horror film that has a lot of heart.  If this is an indication of what is to come in 2017 form the genre then we are of to a fantastic start.  

On DVD, Blu-ray & Digital HD Monday 20th February 2017

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<![CDATA[Walking Dead - Season Seven recap with Kayleigh and Kit]]>Fri, 09 Dec 2016 17:49:39 GMThttp://gingernutsofhorror.com/film-reviews/walking-dead-season-seven-recap-with-kayleigh-and-kit6073371By Kit Power and Kayleigh Marie Edwards 
Season 7, Episode 7 - Sing Me A Song
Welcome to the seventh installment of a weekly column where Gingernutters Kayleigh Edwards and Kit Power take to a shared Google Doc to discuss this week’s Walking Dead broadcast episode in a conversational exchange. Enjoy!
 
Warning: The following conversation contains SPOILERS for The Walking Dead, up to and including the events of Season 7, Episode 7. If you don’t want to be spoiled, please turn away now. For those of you who have seen S7 E7, please join in with the conversation in the comments section.
 
Kit Power: Well now. You wanted more Carl. You surely got more Carl. Happy? :D
 
Kayleigh Edwards: I certainly am! I’ve been keeping my ‘eye’ out for him...
 
KP: Well, hell, let’s start with that - Holy Facial injuries, Batman! I know we talk about the zombie makeup a lot, but how gross/awesome was that eye socket?!?
 
KE: Yeah we know that they’re fantastic with the zombie special effects on this show, but the extent of their skill with wounds was quite… eye opening...
 
KP: That’s a word! Bloody hell, so much going on in this episode. We got Gabriel and Spencer getting all intense, Rick off on a scavenge, Michonne being the very baddest ass, Daryl looking increasingly close to breaking point and sat right at the centre of it all, scene after scene with Negan and Carl, in the buddy movie from hell.
 
Should we start with Carl’s ‘genius’ plan? What did you think about how effortlessly he outsmarted Jesus on the road in? And why in the name of all that’s zombie didn’t he just shoot Negan?!?
 
KE: His interactions with Jesus are hilarious - it’s just the look on Jesus’ face when Carl waves goodbye to him.
 
I think that he’d just thought of his plan in terms of practicality, but when faced with gunning down live people, it was different. I reckon if Negan had been the first person to step in front of him, he would have shot him, but he killed those two others first and then maybe he lost his nerve or something? I don’t think he expected to come out of there alive anyway, and will probably kick himself forever for not shooting Negan when he had the chance.
 
KP:  Loved that wave, and Jesus’s reaction.
 
Well, yeah, not as hard as I wanted to kick him! I found myself thinking a lot about Negan this time - his fearlessness looking down the barrel of an automatic rifle was… something. Though I did enjoy how he kind of used one of his own men as partial cover - sociopathic, but not stupid. Still, I have to say the ‘good guy has baddie bang to rights and doesn’t shoot’ is a personal bugbear of mine in fiction, so it was a bit of a groan out loud moment for me.
 
That said, it’s not the first time the show’s asked me to swallow something a bit dumb/off in the name of furthering the plot, and holy hell we got a ton going on in this episode. Starting with Carl’s grand tour of Negan Central. What did you think about the wider glimpse into the world The Saviours are building?
 
KE: Well if we didn’t know it before, we know for sure now that Negan rules with fear. And it’s been reiterated that there are ‘classes’ of people in Negan’s world, and the lower classes really are living the crap life, even for people in a zombie apocalypse.
 
I was quite interested in his many wives and the set up there. I’ve got to say… I just can’t stand Sherry. I’m sure we’re meant to like her but I just can’t!
 
KP: Yeah, we’re back to the slavery/serfdom model, aren’t we? As to the wives thing, I think I found that scene almost more disturbing than the branding scene, purely because of how it played out up there. It seemed like Negan’s offer for the wife to go back to her man was sincere, so I wonder just how bad that life is that she’s willing to accept enforced prostitution (and the punishment for her former man) to avoid going back. I gotta say, that squicked me the fuck out - especially when she started crying as she told Negan that she loved him. I mean, newsflash: something’s rotten in Saviourland. Still, yuck.
 
I found something exceptionally chilling about Carl being present the whole time, too. Obviously there was a performativity to it from Negan’s perspective - in fact, that’s a really interesting facet of Negan, he’s ALWAYS performing for someone - but at the same time, it created a level of implied threat and an extra layer of squick throughout, for me. What did you think of that? And what the hell do you think Negan’s game with Carl is all about, anyway? Surrogate father figure? Cat and mouse? Something else?
 
KE: I think he’s trying to win Carl’s respect and sort of bond with him as another way to get to Rick. There’s obviously something in Carl that Negan respects (if we believe what the Oceanside residents said about the Saviours killing all the boys over 10, then Negan doesn’t have a policy about murdering teenagers). My favourite moment in the whole episode was when Negan realised he hurt Carl’s feelings and apologised. I kept waiting for a punchline, or for him to make it known that his apology was insincere, but when it turned out that it was genuine I was like ‘ermergerd, dude does have a conscience’.
 
KP: Yeah, that was super weird. Especially when he followed it up by making him sing a damn song under pain of extreme death. Apparently, in Neganworld, terrifying the snot out of a kid is okay (as is murder and mutilation and what have you) but making him cry is a no-no. To add to the confusion, it really did feel like the first time we’ve ever seen Neegan be sincere - that performativity I spoke about, which is absolutely in force at all other times, just… dropped.
 
And I guess this is a good time to talk about Jeffrey Dean Morgan and Chandler Riggs. Because they had a lot of time together in this one, and I was amazed at how well Riggs held his own against that monster of charisma. What did you think of those scenes? And especially the moment where Carl finally snapped and told Negan to jump out of the window?
 
KE: The thing I’ve found most interesting about Carl is that Negan hasn’t broken him, even though he broke Rick almost immediately. Part of that is obviously because Carl isn’t the one who feels the responsibility of everyone else’s lives on his shoulders, so he has the luxury of only really worrying about himself in this situation. I think it’s also to do with him really being a product of the environment he’s grown up in. He’s spent barely any time with anyone his own age, but has spent a lot of time around adults who are constantly killing each other. I wonder if he mouths off to Negan because he doesn’t attach the same value to life as everyone else around him does?
 
KP: Yeah, we talked about that before - this violence is just life to Carl, isn’t it? I mean, I get all that, but at the same time, it’s not too bright, because what he should also realise is that the way Negan operates, it won’t be him, Carl, that pays. Or not just him. I feel like that’s the calculation I don’t get that he isn’t making. But then I flash back on him calmly telling his dad to just cut his hand off. So maybe he does get it.
 
Talking of that calculation, can we talk about Rosita and Eugene? Because our second would-be Negan assassin got her bullet this week, in what was for me another superbly acted scene...
 
KE: Yeah, I think he does get it, but he’s not the only one who doesn’t seem to want to go along with serving The Saviours, regardless of the risk to others? Michonne is on her way to Negan now, surely she also knows that if she effs up whatever she’s doing, someone’s in for a skull bashing? And Rosita knows that too, so I guess she’s not intending to fail. She seems to be thinking her plan through more than the other two.
 
The scene between Rosita and Eugene was brilliant. I like her more and more, I must say! Although I am starting to feel really sorry for Eugene!
 
KP: Michonne isn’t planning on failing, either, I don’t think. And I actually felt Eugene made good points in that conversation - in fact, he was making the arguments I wanted to see being made (the arguments I wish Rick was making, if you want the truth, but there it is). It’s not that you don’t take him out - it’s that you do it right, with and by the numbers, and for all time. This lone wolf bullshit is not going to get it cut.
 
On that, I wonder if that is what Michonne has in mind. She’s clearly furious, and all about doing something extreme, but maybe that extreme thing is not to kill Negan, but make some kind of offer/deal? I dunno, I just have so much respect for that character and her intelligence, I think something else might be going on.
 
And we didn’t talk about Gabriel and Spencer yet. How about that scene? I have to say Gabriel has been a desperately ‘nothing’ character for me, much as I enjoy the actor playing him, but man he got some zingers this time...
 
KE: Yeah, he and Spencer are polar opposites, especially in the way they view Rick, and themselves. Spencer is a selfish little asshole who spends all his time whining about Rick, but he’s probably too weak to lead Alexandria himself. Gabrielle is becoming a brilliant character though! I’m hoping that there are more interactions between the two of them later on!
 
Just quickly, about the ‘lone wolf’ plan that the few in the group seem to have, I agree with you. I don’t think any of them are intending to fail with whatever they’re intending to do, but I do think that they’re not thinking of the logistics - as Rick and Eugene are. They seem to be running on emotion, and some unintended arrogance based on their history of overcoming whatever problem faces them, and getting what they want.
 
What do you think about the difference between the women we’ve seen in Rick’s group, and those in Camp Negan?
 
KP: See, I think that read is correct for Rosita, but not Michonne. I think she’s got something super smart up her sleeve. Though there will be the slight wrinkle that she’s currently being taken to where Negan isn’t, because he’s back at Alexandria (!!!).
 
As to the women, I think those in camp Negan are doing what they have to to survive. I think that subjugation, humiliation, and the constant day-to-day threat/reality of sexual assault have just battered them - physically and emotionally. Negan’s ‘hareem’ is instructive in this regard - the women are austensably in a state of luxury, but of course they have to dress a certain way, act a certain way - and give Negan whatever he wants sexually, I assume. I mean, Negan’s society is basically my idea of hell, anyway - authoritarian psychopath in charge, with violence and willingness to hurt others pretty well deciding the rest of the pecking order. But to be a woman in that world… yeah, no thanks.
 
Whereas the women of Alexandria have agency, passion. They’ve earned their seat at the table, by their contributions to the group, and they haven’t had to deal with the constant threat of abuse on top of the constant threat of zombies and violence from outside. So basically, they get to be functioning human beings in a way the slaves of Negan are prevented from being. It’s one of the things that have made this season of TWD such hard viewing for me personally - this stuff really does push all my buttons, and I’m faintly nauseous whenever Camp Negan is on screen for any length of time.
 
Hmm. That got a bit long. Sorry. Hey what do you think? :)
 
KE: I agree - I just can’t imagine being a woman in Negan’s world - however, I’m still a bit confused about it. He’s got these ‘wives’ and apparently doesn’t want anyone there that doesn’t want to be there, but he knows damn well that the alternative must be worse than these women having to sacrifice being with the men they actually love. He told Dwight that he could have a night with one of the wives but only so long as she was willing, but then he kisses Sherry while she’s having a go at him and giving him the evil eye. Though this is why I don’t like her very much. She called him an asshole or something, and he replied that she liked him anyway. And that seems to be true….
 
KP: Yeah, I really don’t know about that. I think any notion of consent that Negan is holding on to, for whatever reason he’s holding onto it, is pretty meaningless in practise. It’s clearly the most brutal kind of coercion. In that regard, Negan is a pretty brilliantly realised personification of a specific ‘type’ of toxic masculinity - the Alpha Male. He believes he’s so damned attractive in his male brutality that all women want him really, and then generates a state of coercion that bends reality (and the people in it) to fit that self image. I think it ties back into the performativity of him, and that gross self-regarding way he talks, carries himself… I don’t think for a second Sherry really likes him - but I do think she’s figured out that he needs to believe she does in order to survive. I hope that read is right, and I damn well hope the writers do something with it.
 
And as we’ve got the mid-season break hurtling towards us, I guess we should talk about that ending. Negan - babysitter of the year?!?
 
KE: Oh my god, I don’t even know what to make of him with Judith! I think that Rick is going to lose his shit when he gets back and sees him sitting there on his porch holding his baby though! Maybe that will be the turning point for Rick to start hatching a plan to defeat him? I have no idea what the ending for the mid-season finale may be!
 
KP: Thoughts, in no real order - Michonne is heading for the wrong place. Jesus is in the wind, but could provide the location of Negan central. Rick… yeah, bad times ahead for Rick. There will be blood for the blood Carl spilled - or should be, by Negan’s past declarations. Rosita’s bullet may well be present. And Daryl could be on the way home - maybe with Jesus.
 
That’s a shitload of objects in motion! Thoughts? Predictions?
 
KE: Ooh I do hope that Jesus gets Daryl out! Maybe he’s the one who posted the note under Daryl’s door? You’re probably right about Negan spilling some blood in return for the two Carl killed, I didn’t even think of that!
 
KP: That was my thought, but Sherry could be in the frame for the note, also. Or her ex, I guess. And will Daryl take it? And if he does, will he get out? How far is Negan HQ from Alexandria? And, oh, hey, isn’t Carole still technically in this show???
 
Shit. It’s going to be a long week.
 
KE: As much as I love Carol.. If they dare end this part of the season in The Kingdom, I will have to murder someone.
 
KP: Ha! Yeah, I don’t think they’ll be doing that, though I’m sure it’ll feature. And of course we’ll be left hanging, brutally, at some vile Negan centred climax, no doubt. Think Carl is going to die? Judith, even?
 
KE: I really really hope not, but I wouldn’t rule anything out on this show!
 
KP: That’s what keeps us on the hook. Just think, this time next week, we’ll have all new trauma to talk about...
 
KE: I can’t wait!
 

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