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The 8th Night is Netflix’s newest Korean horror entry. If Army of the Dead was bubble gum horror, then The 8th Night is a filling, well thought, beautifully and brutally shot, main course. The film builds firmly on character, with award worthy performances from the cast. The world building and set design are both vibrant and Earthy. This isn’t a fantastical movie – you won’t be wowed by CGI, special effects, a billion dollar budget, or lens flare – this is a gritty back to basics story telling event that will suck you in from the first.

Photo courtesy of Netflix (The 8th Night)

The Good, The Bad, The not-so Ugly

There is a lot of good in this film. The plot is interesting, and the vision of pulling the narrative together creates a unique voice. There are parts of the movie that might remind you of X or Y, but the overall flow is strictly singular. Because of this voice and style of craft, the movie is both immersive and worth subsequent viewings. If I had to tie a Hollywood pitch to this, I would say it’s Shutter Island meets The Last Boy Scout. The movie is part buddy film/fish out of water and part exorcism. It’s the juxtaposition between crime drama and buddy film that breathes life into what could have been a very straight path horror film.

One thing to be clear on, The 8th Night is not Train to Busan action-wise, but it’s a damn good rival story-wise.Jim on The 8th Night

There are some horror fans that want action, blood, guts, sharks flying through the air – to be honest, I am in that camp, too. If you are squarely in that camp, then maybe this is not the film for you. The movie has action sequences. However, the movie shines from character exploration done in a world ever so slightly askew from our own. If you are in the horror camp of ‘blood, guts, and ass’ (I think that’s Scary Movie quote) and you want to expand your palate, then The 8th Night might be your ticket into something new. You should give it a whirl and if aren’t convinced by the end of the film, well I hear Hollywood has you covered with the 30th remake of The night of the living zombie jaws – orcist.

Photo courtesy of Netflix (The 8th Night)

A Note on Exposition – we all need it yet so many fail at it

Exposition is a necessary tool for movies. You get 90-120 minutes to tell a complete arc and sometimes that means filling in the shading details external to the main story. Exposition, on a good day, comes out ‘ok’ (think the way Star Wars does it with Obi Won telling Luke about his dad). Most movies force exposition to the point of being cringe worthy (think Suicide Squad….any part of the film). However, in that magical moment when a movie does exposition creatively, it can raise an OK film to stellar (think how we’re introduced to the Deathly Hallows or how the Big Short did any of its exposition). The 8th Night falls squarely in the latter camp. The exposition draws you in – it made me stop everything else that I was doing (damn multitasker here!) and focus on the movie.

If you’re from the MutantFam, then you’ve just come off viewing the Korean horror crotch-kick to your feels that is Train to Busan. One thing to be clear on, The 8th Night is not Train to Busan action-wise, but it’s a damn good rival story-wise.

a woman staring outwards - from the 8th night
The 8th Night image courtesy of Netflix

A life-or-death battle spanning eight days to prevent the breaking of the seal that restrains “That Which Must Not Awaken.” Once awakened, it can cross the stepping stones to wreak havoc on this world.Logline from The 8th Night

The 8th Night – Verdict

The 8th Night is one of the best horror movies I’ve seen this year. If it weren’t for Train to Bustan, I would label it ‘the best horror movie’ I’ve seen this year. I put my money where my mouth is and, to be blunt, this movie made me re-up my Netflix subscription. If you look at Netflix like a date night, then the monthly fee for a new release horror is well worth the price of admission.

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I think Netflix expanding their content from foreign markets is a good thing. I can take only so many Michael Bay explosions in my horror. Ed Warren can tease that Chekhov’s gun so many times without blowing someone’s head off. If movies like Train to Busan and The 8th Night show us anything, it’s there is a whole wonderful world of diverse horror waiting for us. It’s okay to go back to the re-re-remake of Pet Semetary. There’s a place for everything in the horror-verse. As The 8th Night shows, there’s even a place for solid horror entertainment that has feels, smarts, and character. 4.5 out of 5 stars (4.5 / 5)

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Movies n TV

Scary Fairy Godmother YouTube Channel

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Youtube is a great place for those of us who like a spooky story. There we can find a mixture of true tales and cutting-edge fiction. These range everywhere from amateur footage to professionally crafted videos. 

Today, we’re talking about a hidden YouTube gem, Scary Fairy Godmother

The channel launched in December 2014. Since its birth, there has been just one topic of discussion. The fey is not to be trusted, and in fact, is something to be feared.

A still from the Scary Fairy Godmother channel.

Some of the stories on this channel are fiction. But some are claimed as first-hand accounts of dangerous interactions with fairies. 

Now, whether or not we believe in fairies isn’t the point of this review. I am only here to talk about the level of entertainment to be found on this YouTube channel. 

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A recent video titled Melsh Dick (don’t laugh) was a common fairy tale. A girl is lured away from her friends by a boy who claims to be her cousin. He doesn’t give her a name, they never do. Fortunately, the girl escapes. Others haven’t been so lucky. 

A favorite video of mine, being a city dweller, was Urban Fairies. This video consisted of eight encounters with fairies in an urban setting. Many of these encounters are nice. There’s a beautiful swirl of lights seen out of an apartment window. A person is lured into a city park by a lovely young woman who might or might not have been human. And another person receives some personal and sage advice from what looks to be a homeless man while she’s out walking her dog. All of these stories were delightful, reminding us that magic can be found in any setting.

For creepier encounters, we turn to the video House Fairy Horrors. Warning, you might not be as thrilled about the Elf on a Shelf after this one. 

In this video we hear the tale of a goblin that took over one room of a person’s house, chasing out anyone who tried to go in. A young child sings to scare sprites out of their home, only to have them hold a grudge and return years later. There’s even a shadow man who seems to encourage a vegan lifestyle. 

Some of the videos have themes, like frost fairies or encounters with fairy royalty. Some are eerie tales plucked from Reddit, real life or imagined.

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Of course, the creepiest tales are those where people are lured into the forest by the fey. You’ll find several of these stories on Scary Fairy Godmother. It always seems to be in good fun, until one finds themselves lost. 

Cover from Scary Fairy Godmother YouTube channel.

These stories might not seem very scary to us. The tellers of these tales come away without a scratch after all. But consider this. The only time we’d hear about a fairy abduction is if it fails. We do not know what happens to the others, only that they’re not around to tell us.

How many people went missing in your town last year? 

From what we can gather from these videos, we are never safe from the fey. They can reside in our homes, our cities, and our parks. They can even reach us in our dreams. What they want with us may vary. Perhaps it’s just to give us a scare. Maybe they enjoy playing tricks on us. Or maybe they’re vengeful, angry at the disrespect mankind has shown to the environment, and eager to punish us for our abuses. Whatever the reasons, it’s probably best if we steer clear.

The Scary Fairy Godmother YouTube channel is one with staying power. The fan base is small, but it’s growing. It’s a great one to throw on while your hands are busy, or if you just want a soothing voice to tell you a scary story. So if you’re a fan of the creepier side of life, do yourself a favor and check it out. 

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3.5 out of 5 stars (3.5 / 5)

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Gaming

The Last of Us: Episodes 8 and 9: The End

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Sometimes life gets in the way. Maybe you watched the episodes the nights they came out, but then you got your stomach tattooed so you didn’t have the energy to type on your computer, and then you had to work nonstop for six days straight and housesit 20 miles out of town, and then you got into a hit-and-run car accident with your boyfriend (luckily you’re both okay but really very angry at the asshole that just drove away), etc. etc.. March has been a lot, but I finally rolled up my sleeves, made time for my computer and stopped procrastinating the job of writing my final review on HBO’s The Last of Us.

Here we will cover the final events of Joel and Ellie’s saga. Both episodes were directed by Ali Abassi and written by Craig Mazin and, in episode 9, Neil Druckmann. The adaptation continued to cover the story elements of the game, leaving out and/or changing most of the fighting and action scenes. This change is especially noticeable in episode 9, “Look for the Light,” but we’ll get to that in a minute. Let’s first do a recap of episode 8, “When We Are in Need.”

“When We Are in Need”

Ellie is on the hunt for food and comes across a deer, which she shoots down almost effortlessly. It is in this moment that she meets a preacher named David (Scott Shepherd) and his partner, James (Troy Baker, (Joel’s voice actor in the video games)). After a moment of hostility towards the stranger, Ellie agrees to give the deer to David in exchange for penicillin. Shortly after giving Joel the medication, Ellie has to leave again to deter David’s religious crew from hunting her and Joel. It turns out Joel killed a few of David’s men, and the preacher is out for revenge.

The religious group captures Ellie and puts her in a cell, where she discovers David has been feed them human remains. Meanwhile, Joel finally awakes and is stable enough to escape the house and search for Ellie. He tortures two men into disclosing her location, but he is almost too late. David places Ellie on a butcher block and is just about to chop her up when she narrowly escapes. The two fight until she finally has the advantage and takes him down, bludgeoning him to death with an insurmountable fury of vengeance.

“Look for the Light”

Episode 9 begins with a flashback of Ellie’s pregnant mother, Anna (Ashley Johnson, (Ellie’s voice actor in the video games). An infected bit Anna just moments before she gave birth to Ellie. Moments pass, and Marlene finds the two in a pool of blood. She is forced to take the baby and kill her friend. Fast forward 14 years, and Joel and Ellie are almost done with their journey. They finally made it to Utah. Ellie, still processing everything that happened with David, is sad and somber. Joel tries his best to cheer her up, but nothing seems to work.

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Suddenly, the youth sees something and runs off to get a better look. Joel chases her until he stops and stares in awe. The camera pans from him to Ellie inches away from a giraffe. She is her old self again, cracking jokes and asking a myriad of questions. Later on, when Joel reveals that he tried to kill himself after Sarah’s death, Ellie provides him as much comfort as she can. But the fact that Joel can trust her enough to reveal such a secret means is a comfort on its own. He asks Ellie to read some puns to lighten the mood, but his moment is interrupted when a group of Fireflies knock them out.

Joel wakes up in a hospital to see Marleen, who informs him that the doctors are preparing Ellie for surgery to remove the part of her brain that makes her immune. This procedure, however, will result in Ellie’s death. No matter how hard Joel fights, Marlene won’t budge. She instead has two Firefly soldiers escort Joel out of the hospital, but he kills them and everyone else until he finds the surgery room, where he murders the doctor in cold blood. He escapes with an unconscious Ellie and makes it as far as the parking garage until Marlene stops them. The camera cuts to Joel driving a car with Ellie in the backseat.

The End

Ellie wakes up and asks Joel what happens. While he lies to her that there is no cure, the camera flickers back to the parking garage scene with Marlene. He shoots her once. After listening to her begs and pleas, he kills her with a final shot.

The duo have to walk the last few miles to Tommy’s town. At the top of a waterfall, they get a spectacular view of their new home, their new futures. Before making the final trek, Ellie tells Joel about her past and how she saw her best friend die. This lead to watching Tess, Sam and Henry die because of the disease. The fact that they all had to go through such gruesome deaths, only for there not to be a cure, is too much for Ellie to handle. She makes Joel swear that he is telling the truth, and in a beat, he does.

Series Verdict

HBO’s The Last of Us is a remarkable video game adaptation that deserves all the high praise it has received the past few months. From the set design and effects to the filming, screenwriting and acting, the show is a peak example of how to do an adaptation well. It is heart-throbbing and terrifying.

A few issues with HBO’s adaptation is how much they excluded the game play scenes. Despite the world being filled with infected, they were rarely on screen. This is disappointing, especially because it increases the stakes and so much of Joel and Ellie’s relationship builds in these fight scenes. The biggest disappointment was in episode 9, in which the show completely cut out the game’s highway scene. Furthermore, there are numerous creative weapons the show could have included to illustrate Joel and Ellie’s means of survival, from molotov cocktails and nail bombs to the beloved shotgun and its shorty companion.

Despite these small quibbles, the show is arguably one of the best American video game adaptations out there. Pedro Pascal and Bella Ramsey were the perfect casting choices for Joel and Ellie, as was the casting for all the other characters.

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It will be exciting to see where Neil Druckmann and Craig Mazin take The Last of Us 2. I hope they will include more gameplay (aka a little more violence), more screen time for infected, and some creative liberties with the original story while also sticking to the heart of it. We will just have to wait and see what they come up with. Until we meet again, don’t forgot to read about the other shows and games we’re loving here at HauntedMTL.

4 out of 5 stars (4 / 5)

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Movies n TV

Let the Wrong One In, a Film Review

Let the Wrong One In is a horror comedy directed and written by Conor McMahon, starring Karl Rice, Eoin Duffy, and Anthony Head.

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Let the Wrong One In is a 2021 horror comedy directed and written by Conor McMahon, starring Karl Rice, Eoin Duffy, and Anthony Head. This film is currently available per subscription to Amazon Prime (through Shudder) or Shudder directly.

Matt (Karl Rice) and Deco (Eoin Duffy) are estranged brothers, but when Deco finds himself strangely ill, he seeks his brother out. Through obvious signs and tropable behaviors, the brothers realize Deco is a vampire. What follows spirals into a plot of brotherly guilt, passive aggression, and bloody retribution.

Vampire hunter tied up and looking annoyed
Anthony Header as Henry

What I Like

With the titular reference to Let the Right One In, the idea interested me. After the trailer, I realized this film doesn’t relate to or parody the novel or film aside from being about vampires. As a fan of the franchise, it would have been interesting to find a subversion. However, the film can charm a viewer at certain points, receiving a few laughs from me.

Either Let the Wrong One In is a micro budget film or imitates such films. The special effects ensure you know this as intended, if perhaps out of necessity. If you can accept these points, the film might be an entertaining viewing experience.

The chemistry between the two leads is where the film shines. Both Karl Rice and Eoin Duffy feel like bickering brothers. With Deco’s performance as an addict, the film even ties into elements that family members of addicts know all too well.

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Anthony Head (of Buffy fame) also plays his campy and ridiculous vampire hunter role to perfection, even seeming competent in the profession despite the character being more of a joke. Anthony Head can chew a scene, becoming an easy highlight of the film.

I like how vampires are named vampires without the cliche attempt to figure out what they are. It seems to be a rare thing to see on film. When this standard of logic does appear, it helps me believe the characters a little more. Though Let the Wrong One In doesn’t care if you believe in its characters.

Deco looking hungry with fresh blood on his face
Eoin Duffy as Deco

Potential Trigger Warnings or Tired Tropes

The film is a collection of tropes wrapped around a campy and zany direction. I wouldn’t particularly say they are tired or are different enough to have a pass, but one goes into a film like this with these expectations. Don’t expect unique and refreshing subversions.

Addiction plays a role in the film, including the emotional manipulation addicts deploy to control others. The film doesn’t depict these elements effectively or abhorrently, existing as a plot point first and foremost. If this plotline upsets you, perhaps give this film a skip.

There is a point where implied violence occurs on an animal, but it certainly doesn’t take this idea too seriously. In fact, the creature gets a few shining moments. Still, I understand some get squirmy at this.

Brothers in a bunk bed, one laying on the top bung, the other sitting on the bottom.
Karl Rice as Matt and Eoin Duffy as Deco

What I Dislike

Let the Wrong One In falls under the “so bad it’s good” category, though purposely done to be so. It’s a campy and dumb movie for those interested in passing the time. There is nothing wrong with satisfying this niche, but it’s not an enjoyable time for all.

The brotherly relationship should be the center of the film, which might have focused the film more. However, the film has a big bad that feels somewhat out of place and unnecessary. It also adds to the runtime, which isn’t long at 1 hour and 40 minutes. But it feels too long for this plot.

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Again, I wonder why Let the Right One In exists as the film’s namesake as it has no notable connection to the franchise, even in parody.

While I must admit that more jokes landed with me than I expected, most of the zany humor falls flops. This film seems to be a Shaun of the Dead clone but falls far from the other’s success, lacking the focus of its predecessor.

Zeth M. Martinez

Final Thoughts

As mentioned, if you want a horror comedy to turn your brain off to, Let the Wrong One In can certainly be that film. However, there are better examples to pull from. The lack of direction and comparisons to greater options makes this fall even further on the recommendation list. One additional point in the film’s favor is that you will likely know if the film is for you within the first few minutes of viewing.
1.5 out of 5 stars (1.5 / 5)

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