I’ve always wanted to do an anime review of Wonder Egg Priority and now that this anime is celebrating its one-year anniversary, this is the perfect time! Wonder Egg Priority is a thirteen episode series defined as a psychological horror / drama. And there’s some real emphasis on the psychological aspect of that.
It follows four girls coaxed into purchasing “Wonder Eggs” from a capsule machine, at the behest of two mannequin-esque men. This egg will grant you whatever you wish. And the first one’s free! … But nothing costs more than a free gift.
“Nothing costs more than a free gift.”
These eggs hatch while the girls are dreaming, turning into the the spirits of young girls who’ve committed suicide. And these ghost girls don’t come alone. The trauma that caused them to commit suicide follows them, manifesting as something monstrous. Our protagonists are tasked with protecting these dead girls by defeating their traumas, using ridiculously oversized magical girl weapons.
The premise is utterly surreal. But it works. It’s the mash up of Persona 5 and Madoka Magica that you didn’t know you wanted.
But Wonder Egg Priority paves new ground by dissecting the unique, and often isolating, suffering that comes from being an adolescent girl. The cause of that suffering is often shown to be the adults around the egg-born victims. Adults who either were the outright perpetrator or silent enablers, and how that power dynamic lead so many girls to suicide.
While you don’t need to be a girl to understand, or have experienced, the things that these girls go through… it is spoken through a very gendered lens. But after watching some utterly garbage female representation, Wonder Egg Priority was deeply refreshing.
Wonder Egg Priority provides gorgeous visuals and action sequences, blended together with bright colors and dazzling music, despite the bleak subject matter. The animation is at moments dream-like and sometimes hyper-realistic. This back and forth between dream and reality is intentional and often seamless, sometimes leaving you questioning which is which.
The characters are where Wonder Egg Priority truly shines. We follow four girls, each of which have endured deep trauma that have lead them to their own flirtations with self-destruction. They each have someone in their life that has committed suicide, who they’re desperate to have back.
Each character is unique and likely relatable to someone. Ai, a shut-in who was relentlessly bullied. Rika, a girl suffering through deep negligence at home. Momoe, who struggles with her gender identity. And Neiru, an emotionally detached girl who wants to feel human.
Each of them deal with their trauma in their own ways. From hiding away from the world to lashing out at those who love them.
Over the course of the series, their friendships with each other help heal some of the trauma they’ve been carrying and they develop healthier methods of coping with their own (ongoing) struggles. They also meet the Four Temperament Ensemble trope, which is neat.
So, here’s where Wonder Egg Priority becomes a little… infamous. The first half of the series is impeccable! It’s so easy to devour the first half of the series in one sitting. Which I did.
Wonder Egg Priority is more character-driven than plot-driven… for at least the first six episodes. And it works perfectly, melding character and action. And then it hits its (SPOILER) sci-fi moment (/SPOILER). By episode 7/8, Wonder Egg Priority starts its suicide spiral. Tasteless pun intended.
Until the last quarter of the anime, Wonder Egg Priority has laid so many interesting moments of world-building, so many mysteries. I was invested, despite the sudden-left turn, believing fully that the development team would make it work.
But it’s clear that this is a series that was meant for two seasons but was hastily reduced to one. An issue they attempted to solve with an extra-long episode tacked onto the end, which wasted half its time with a 20 minute long run down of previous events.
The ending is all over the place. It’s universally regarded as terrible. There wasn’t enough buildup for it to make sense, and it fizzles into what can only be described as a lackluster pile of strings. Some of them are tied up, sure. But most aren’t.
Unfortunately, it’s unlikely that Wonder Egg Priority will get a second season, though it’s left us with so many questions.
But what’s far, far worse is that the strong message of the first few episodes (learning to deal with trauma and loss) was completely abandoned. (SPOILERSPOILERSPOILER) Wonder Egg Priority spends so much time contemplating the pain young girls go through because of the failure (or sadism) of adults in their life… only to end with two adult men trying to kill a young girl. And then manipulating the four protagonists through deeply traumatizing trials as a last-ditch attempt to kill this girl, when their own efforts fail. Way to kill your own socially relevant message with some random, vaguely incestuous nonsense. (/SPOILERSPOILERSPOILER)
Despite the extremely questionable last few episodes, Wonder Egg Priority is still worth the 320 minutes~ it takes to finish. It’s a great ride with a rough conclusion, but that doesn’t mean the journey wasn’t worth it.
Anime Review of Wonder Egg Priority Rating:
(trigger warning: sexual assault, references to self-harm, images of healed self-harm scars, multiple references to suicide, references to grooming and underaged relationships.)
The Angry Black Girl and Her Monster (2023), a Film Review
The Angry Black Girl and Her Monster (2023) is an award-winning sci-fi horror film directed and written by Bomani J. Story.
The Angry Black Girl and Her Monster (2023) is a sci-fi horror film directed and written by Bomani J. Story. Inspired by Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein, this unrated and award-winning film stars Laya DeLeon Hayes, Denzel Whitaker, Chad L. Coleman, Reilly Brooke Stith, and Amani Summer. As of this review, interested viewers can enjoy this film from Shudder with additional availability through purchase or rent.
After a sequence of tragedies and loss, Vicaria (Laya DeLeon Hayes) seeks to cure death. Despite her genius earning her a private school education, few take this ambition seriously. Those who see it think of her only as an example of a girl separated from reality. But all that changes when she has a breakthrough. Unfortunately for her, the systemic issues that oppress her neighborhood can’t be solved as simply as curing death.
What I Like about The Angry Black Girl and Her Monster and Recognition Earned
This film received nominations from four separate film festivals. It won Best Narrative Feature by the Calgary Underground Film Festival and Best Horror / Sci Fi from Jim Thorpe Independent Film Festival. In addition, it received nominations for Best Narrative Feature from the Atlanta Film Festival and a nomination from the SXSW Film Festival.
The beautifully shot scenes earn respect, and the cast remains strong throughout. While Laya DeLeon Hayes executes the most demanding role, Reilly Brooke Stith (Aisha) and Amani Summer (Jada) elevate their material.
The Angry Black Girl and Her Monster dips its commentary into several hot topics. While I would have liked to see further exploration, it deals with scientific responsibilities, systemic issues facing Black Americans, and more. Needless to say, this film has ambition.
While particular elements vary in execution, this remains a unique approach to the dehumanization of these racist and systemic issues while telling an engaging story in the process. While I wouldn’t consider this an arthouse film, it dips into that category in many ways.
Tired Tropes, Trigger Warnings, and Considerations
For a better viewing experience, don’t take the film with the utmost realism in mind. An example of what I mean is how easily and unnoticed bodies are moved and hidden. As a metaphor or motif, it works better to serve the overall message.
As mentioned, many systemic issues come to light within the story, with varying levels of depth. Some examples include racial profiling, police violence, and microaggressions that stretch the “micro” aspect of the word. I also want to clarify that the film focuses on Vicaria’s personal story, using these experiences when applicable to the plot.
Drug addiction and gang violence play prominent roles in the plot. As mentioned above, The Angry Black Girl and Her Monster addresses many of the systemic issues that make a thriving drug industry as opposed to dehumanizing those participating in it.
The titular Monster evokes levels of realistic body horror. While it’s not particularly extensive, the rot remains present and vivid. Partly related, the film creates a surprisingly gory story.
What I Dislike about The Angry Black Girl and Her Monster
Several plot points remain underdeveloped or underexplored. This choice might indicate sequel material, but I don’t think that’s the case here. For example, viewers hear about a “body snatcher,” but the narrative doesn’t build the mystery until the end. Perhaps this requires a slightly longer run time, but it also could be cut with some edits to the script.
Her Monster didn’t particularly evoke fear. The rot evokes disgust but not terror. The Angry Black Girl and Her Monster remains more focused on the story than the horror.
For those looking for horror rooted in real issues but not afraid to delve into the absurd, The Angry Black Girl and Her Monster remains a strong choice. While it might not evoke the terror and haunting we horror fans hope for, the bittersweet film certainly provides many reasons to give this film a view.
(4 / 5)
Blood Flower (2022), a Film Review
Blood Flower (2022) is a Malaysian supernatural horror film directed by Dain Said. Originally titled Harum Malam.
Blood Flower (2022) is a Malaysian supernatural horror film directed by Dain Said. Originally titled Harum Malam, the film stars Idan Aedan, Bront Palarae, and Remy Ishak. As of this review, the film is available on Shudder and AMC+ with additional availability for rent or purchase.
After a family tragedy, Iqbal (Idan Aedan) has trouble finding focus as an apprentice healer. His family remains in shambles, and Iqbal struggles to find a purpose in the wake of this change. As his father (Bront Palarae as Norman) finds temporary work helping a family friend, a terrible horror becomes unleashed. Now, Iqbal must overcome his internal turmoil or lose even more.
What I Like in Blood Flower
The horror evoked here has some elements of fabulism with a heavy emphasis on the supernatural component. In general, I like the established world and how this supernatural element connects to the characters’ development.
Throughout Blood Flower, the acting remains consistent and engaging. The relationship between Norman and Iqbal, which provides the heart of the film, remains a particularly well-executed point. Even when the writing falls short, the acting wins me over more often than not.
The film builds up its horror, which elevates the execution and overall effect. I won’t claim that the horror truly haunts the viewer, but it remains unsettling and, even uncomfortable, throughout.
As for the design of the monster, it works. There are points that remain strong, forcing a rather uncomfortable visual or experience that provides an effective execution of Blood Flower’s vision. One especially effective choice is including stop motion in some of the scenes. This visual creates a somewhat jarring feel to the supernatural entity that still lingers in my mind.
Tired Tropes and Trigger Warnings
Blood Flower includes sexual assaults that remain clunkily included in the plot. When dealing with such material, especially when it remains essential to the story, the execution makes or breaks the quality. Unfortunately, the execution feels rushed and more for the shock of the reveal.
Possession-assisted suicide remains an element within the film. While I think the distance between such harm and the context of the film doesn’t rise above confusion, it deserves a mention in this section.
There are general decisions made for the sake of the plot. While this can fall into the dislike section, it’s within a range so as to not completely distract or undermine the viewing experience.
If any of these are deal breakers, then Blood Flower might be a skip.
What I Dislike in Blood Flower
Where this movie falls short is building up some of its elements to their conclusion by the end of the film. The previously mentioned sexual assaults make for a strong example, but another remains the human villain. As they are the reason for the monster, I am surprised by the general lack of attention and presence the character receives.
Iqbal unlocking his power feels underwhelming and lacks any real visuals or style. We have magic and special effects, but his power consists of holding out his hand. The issue lies in the execution, not the actor, as Idan Aedan does everything he can with the given command.
Going into the previous points, a spiritual master helps Iqbal train to become a healer. This person isn’t the one who unlocks their power. I still wonder why so little development on this important point remains in the film.
Blood Flower, or Harum Malam, remains an interesting supernatural horror that drops its execution towards the end. It provides a unique viewing experience with equal parts ingenuity and creativity to provide an effective horror. But it remains a flawed work with some wasted potential. Still, it earns its runtime for those interested in Malaysian horror.
(2.5 / 5)
Night’s End (2022), a Film Review
Night’s End (2022) is a supernatural horror film directed by Jennifer Reeder and written by Brett Neveu, starring Geno Walker.
Night’s End (2022) is a supernatural horror film directed by Jennifer Reeder and written by Brett Neveu. The cast of this film includes Geno Walker, Kate Arrington, Felonious Munk, Lawrence Grimm, and Michael Shannon. As of this review, this film remains accessible to Shudder and AMC+ subscribers.
Recently divorced and looking to start anew, Ken Barber (Geno Walker) passes the time by making YouTube videos. It soon becomes apparent that one of his videos catches something strange. The further he investigates this mystery, the more aggressive this phenomenon becomes. Despite making him an online sensation, it forces him to acquire help from unlikely sources.
What I Like about Night’s End
Night’s End provides the innovation and execution of a film on a tight budget and clear message. It brings out all the best qualities of a B film that understands what it wants to do. The setting remains a perfect example of this ingenuity, containing itself within Ken Barber’s apartment and using Zoom calls to add additional cast members.
Unrelated to the horror, I like the chemistry between Kate Arrington (as ex-wife Kelsey Dees) and Geno Walker. It’s not often we find an ex-wife depicted as a good person character, and when that does happen, it’s usually because he will win her over by the end of the story. This film doesn’t fall into these tropes. A similar point applies to the new husband, Isaac Dees (Michael Shannon).
There’s a psychological component to the horror, which improves the supernatural elements. While it does linger on Ken Barber’s ongoing battle with mental illness, Night’s End doesn’t exactly use this as an excuse to undermine what the viewer sees.
While there are some execution issues I will discuss, Night’s End provides a tight script and quality performance from its cast. Geno Walker’s Ken Barber requires a believable and complex performance for success, and the actor rises to the challenge.
Tired Tropes and Triggers
The biggest disclaimer remains the character’s mental health struggles. While I believe the film refutes many of the dangerous mentally ill tropes, it still allows for some degree of gaslighting. I also think it hints at a few potential issues without exploring any with greater depth. I noted potential alcoholism, OCD, and agoraphobia. But none of these are given too much attention, for better or worse.
Some minor body horror moments might be difficult for squeamish horror fans. However, it hardly makes it a proper introduction to the niche.
If these are deal breakers, perhaps Night’s End won’t satisfy your viewing needs.
What I Dislike about Night’s End
Night’s End goes so far in strategically applying its budget but provides a few scenes with bad CGI. If it had more style, I’d give it a B movie pass. But it’s just not substantive enough for that pass. While some CGI and special effects remain better than others, the film leans on lower quality.
Toward the end of the film, the characters allow the villain to do some random and weird things with little pushback. Only one person consistently pushes back against the growingly strange requests and receives so little screen time. Some of these people are supposedly experts in supernatural affairs or amateur enthusiasts. Regardless, anyone should have issues with some of these requests toward the conclusion.
While the film remains scary at points, it doesn’t terrify its audience. While the final moments pay off the build-up, we don’t particularly linger on the ramifications.
Night’s End provides a charming but not horrifying supernatural thrill. Ken makes a unique protagonist, struggling to overcome his issues as others seek to exploit him and bring about chaos. It remains an uncommon viewing experience but lacks the weight of a haunting horror.
(3 / 5)