Web of Darkness
Jim here. Do you like horror with an anthology flavour? If so, check out Web of Darkness, the brand new original series from the T+E channel. Voodoo Priestess and I got our hands on an advanced viewing of the first episode and let’s say this is a program we’re happy to come back to. So, sit back and relax. Let Jimbo drive a NO SPOILERS review of Web of Darkness – the Good, the Bad, the Ugly style!
It’s Quick n Dirty. T+E touts this as ‘bite-sized’ horror and they deliver. Okay, so this isn’t the Bite-Sized Horror podcast Nicole and I are taping, but I do like the concept of something that won’t make your butt cry when you’re sitting down to watch. The beauty of the bite-sized format is that you can watch an episode in one sitting or multiple ones! That’s right! You don’t have to be a slave to your TV when you’re consuming horror.
Got a minute or two? Great! Watch one story. Got a few dozen more minutes? Awesome! Have a seat, we’ve got the popcorn ready for ya!
Plus, a bite-sized horror anthology means if one story isn’t working for you, well, fear not true believers! We got a few more different ones coming at ya.
Production value. We’ve all seen some content that I won’t name that really drags or the editing is goofed or the sound is subpar or the or or or….right? Well, T+E put their stamp of approval on this one and it reflects their brand. You get slick; you get smooth, and you get some scares. The production value rivals larger studios and completely sinks a lot of the made-for-TV stuff. Voodoo and I especially like T+E’s ‘commercial break’ visual concept. I’m not sure if that’s going to be in the aired episode, but it works really well from what we’ve seen.
Variety is the spice of life. Voodoo and I thought maybe the Web was interwoven stories (maybe…maybe not! You’ll have to find out by watching!) but what works well in an anthology is a lil bit for everyone. That is the vibe we get when watching this-it’s a little bit for everyone. It’s family friendly (from what we’ve seen, but please be the judge for your own family). It’s story telling done well.
POV and Voice Overs. First person POV is hard to do in any genre that has an ‘ultimate’ ending. Why? It’s tricky to narrate something if you’re dead. It can be done (see: found footage, or ghosts) but it can fall flat more oft than not. This, along with using voice overs to explain things physically happening on the screen while the voiceover is going on, is a weak spot for some stories. It takes the audience out of the moment and forces to realize ‘oh right, it’s just a show’.
Scare factor. Voodoo and I are hard core horror lovers. We could see where these could be very scary (like I said, the production value is great!) but sometimes the writing falls. There are some interesting parts. There are some creepy moments. There are some good plot ideas. The writing didn’t allow for a full scare, though. It isn’t like a previous movie we reviewed where the third act is missing. It’s more of an audience direction thing. I think little kids would fear this. I think late at night if I were to watch this alone in an old house with a thunderstorm going on…it might work. I would love to see an increase in Scare Factor but I’m willing to give this show a second episode. It’s difficult to gauge scare based on one episode.
Blood, guts, and monsters! I mean ugly in a good way! This, again, goes back to production value. T+E has great taste in effects and the acting, music, and lighting is spot on. Heck, there is one where I wish a far bigger budget item like Game of Thrones had T+E’s lighting sense (you’ll know exactly the episode of which I speak when you see it). This is one reason Voodoo and I not only are willing to give Web of Darkness a second episode look, but look forward to it. We know, jumps or not, we’ll be entertained.
Web of Darkness – The verdict
Web of Darkness is an original series by T+E. As a horror site owner, I push for original content (heck we have an Original content section!). Also, I like T+E so much I pitched a series called Humbug! to them (more on that later…). More horror (in entertainment) in the world, the better. I love hearing from fresh voices and seeing a well loved production. Web of Darkness is all that and more. Yes, it has some flaws (see Voice Overs) and the target audience might be on the younger side—but that’s good! How boring it would be if every TV show were the same? We need new contact for a whole new generation of horror fans and I think Web of Darkness fits. It is fast; it is sleek; it is well done and, as the PR says, it is bite-sized.
My score is a 3.5 out of 5. It’s definitely worth the watch, and I encourage anyone looking for that anthology fix to check this out. If you check it out, let us know what you thought via twitter @HauntedMTL
Until then, boys and ghouls…. (3.5 / 5)
T+E’s new original series Web of Darkness (8×60’) is a dark, modern-day anthology series that pays homage to the classic horror and sci-fi genre. Inspired by horror stories found in the deepest recesses of the web, each episode follows five chilling tales narrated by everyday characters reliving their nightmarish run-ins with the unexplained. From ghosts seeking revenge to encounters with UFOs and a resentful witch bearing a grudge, Web of Darkness accelerates the terror to deliver bursts of fright in a bite-size format. The series shows audiences what could happen if our world ever intertwined with the supernatural, offering a vivid portrayal of modern-day horror stories often caught on camera by the main characters. The world broadcast premiere of Web of Darkness airs Tuesdays at 10 p.m. ET/PT onT+E, starting June 8.
The first two episodes of Web of Darkness include:
• Episode 1 – Not So Scary Now, Are You?
June 8 at 10 p.m. ET/PT
A nurse is plunged into a frightening battle with mysterious patients who infect her with their dark qualities. A farmer is in mortal danger from a “scarecrow” that is terrifyingly more than what it seems. A UFO crash puts a doctor in an impossible and deadly battle with alien lifeforms. When an old theatre reopens, a clown ghost is reawakened and embarks on a frightening rampage. A teen couple are having fun live streaming their explorations of haunted places until they find themselves way in over their heads.
• Episode 2 – The Game’s Just Begun
June 15 at 10 p.m. ET/PT
At a school with a sordid past, a desperate ghost reaches out to an unsuspecting new teacher. On Hallowe’en, a young man fatally misjudges what he thinks are only frightening decorations. Discovering her boyfriend is part of a horrifying offworld experiment, a young woman realizes she’s their next target. The only survivor of an office massacre returns to work, only to be trapped with the killer who died at the scene. Discovering his family’s brutal past when he returns to their old homestead, a tailor tries to outrun ferocious, newly-awakened spirits.
Web of Darkness is produced by Saloon Media, a Blue Ant Studioscompany, in partnership with the U.S.-based MY Entertainment. Michael Kot,Betty Orr, Julie Chang, Joe Townley and Michael Yudin serve as Executive Producers. Paul Kilback and Tara Elwood serve as Series Producers. Overseeing the series for T+E is Sam Linton, Head of Original Content for Blue Ant Media’s Canadian channels. Web of Darkness is distributed by Blue Ant International. Studios company
T+E is a Blue Ant Media specialty channel and the ultimate destination for totally entertaining programming, providing an escape into a world that is brimming with mystery, intrigue, and unforgettable storytelling. As the home to spine-tingling paranormal encounters, T+E combines thrills and chills with fan-favourite cult series and can’t-miss TV events. tandetv.com.
The Dead Take the A Train Review: Queer Magic and Monster Mayhem
“Julie crawled onto the table, straddling her intern, both hands around the knife. She torqued it downward, cursing. Brad shrieked harder.” -pg 57, The Dead Take the A Train by Cassandra Khaw & Richard Kadrey
The Dead Take the A Train is the first book in a duology by authors Cassandra Khaw and Richard Kadrey. It was published in 2023 by Tor Nightfire (like the Scourge Between Stars, which I reviewed here). I was not previously familiar with Kadrey’s work, which most notably includes the Sandman Slim series. However, I was introduced to Khaw through The Salt Grows Heavy (review here), which I absolutely adored in all its twisted, gory glory. Therefore, I was thrilled to pick-up The Dead Take the A Train, which promised similar heart in a modern cosmic horror package.
In The Dead Take the A Train, a magical fixer named Julie must hunt down eldritch monstrosities threatening the lives of those around her. To do this, she has to go up against her shitty ex, a questionable angel, finance executives, and her own sobriety. When an old friend shows up, Julie is terrified to find herself making a retirement plan that doesn’t involve getting murdered by a demon.
The Dead Take the A Train is reminiscent of N.K. Jeminsin’s The City We Became, with both featuring queer characters tackling eldritch horror plots in New York City. In the same way, the novel was reminiscent of a gorier version of Dimension 20’s Unsleeping City actual play series. However, it clearly carves out a space for itself among the droves of cosmic-horror inspired love letters to New York City. For one, it is mostly unconcerned with borough beef, which (not to sound like a curmudgeonly Midwesterner), is so refreshing. The book also has a relatively novel way the world works, which helps it stay memorable.
Overall, I really liked The Dead Take the A Train. First off, the characters are fun and easy to root for. Julie is a mess in pretty much every aspect, but her bad decisions are understandable and she is charismatic. Her romance with her friend, Sarah, also serves to make Julie more likable. It helps that the villains are so easy to hate too. What’s not to hate about rich Wall Street assholes engaging in human sacrifice? Speaking of which, I liked the juxtaposition of corporate Wall Street and cosmic cultists. The actions taken were evil, but more importantly, they were just business.
The prose was flowery, but not quite as much as in The Salt Grows Heavy. So, if you struggled with Khaw’s other works for that reason this may be a much easier read. Personally, I enjoyed the prose in both. There is quite a bit of gore in The Dead Take the A Train, but I didn’t find it to be overwhelming. I think you could still enjoy the book if you don’t love gore, though maybe not if you have a weak stomach.
One of the largest issues I have with The Dead Take the A Train, is the lack of clarity in power levels of the various characters. Especially since all their forms of magic work in different ways, it is sometimes unclear the level of danger present. This can also sometimes create room for plot holes. For example, Julie has a friend who is tapped into anything and everything happening online. This is an absurdly powerful ability (and is used as such). But there were moments where the main conflict probably could have been avoided or solved using that power. It also felt odd that no one else in this thriving magic community felt strongly about stopping a world-ending catastrophe. Because of this, the magic underground of NYC could feel smaller than I think was intended.
Having been familiar with Khaw’s work previously, The Dead Take the A Train clearly feels like a mix of Khaw’s style with someone else’s. This could be a boon or a hindrance, depending on your view of Khaw’s distinct prose and storytelling. Either way, if you are interested in learning more about the process or the authors, check out the interview they did for SFF Addicts Podcast!
I recommend The Dead Take the A Train, especially for those who are fans of modern urban eldritch horror. The book is an even bigger steal if you are looking for danger, gore, and queer characters. Check it out! And keep your eyes peeled for the next book in this duology.
Dolores Roach, A Fillet of Left Cheek
The second season of Dolores Roach started with a bang. The first episode was dark, gristly and in a strange way whimsical. It certainly brought to light new elements of the character.
We begin our story with Dolores somewhere, talking to someone. I’d like to be more specific, but that’s all we know right now.
She tells this unknown person about her flight from Empanadas Loco. How Jeremiah killed Luis. How she, whether she meant to or not, killed Jeremiah. How she then set the building on fire by blowing up the fryer in the kitchen.
Scared and alone, Dolores then ran for the underground. Dragging her purple massage table she runs into a hole in a subway track and finds herself in a whole different world.
Almost at once, she finds a place where someone is living. There’s a hot plate, a kettle and several packets of ramen. Even better, everything has Jeremiah’s name on it, literally written on it. Exhausted and alone, Dolores makes herself a cup of ramen and goes to sleep on her massage table.
She’s woken sometime later by a small man named Donald. He knows her because he knew Jeremiah. Dolores proceeds to tell him an abridged version of events that led up to Jeremiah’s death. And by abridged, I mean she blamed Luis for everything, throwing him under the bus so hard I’m surprised she didn’t pull something.
Donald seems inclined to help Dolores. He tells her that if anyone messes with her she should go further down, down a stairwell that he points out for her.
Dolores thanks him, then tries to go back to sleep. She’s soon woken again by a young woman collecting Jeremiah’s things.
While Dolores has an issue with this, she’s willing to let it go. Until that is, this woman tries to take her table. Then, Dolores does what she does best. Because one thing is for sure. Dolores is going to take care of herself.
One thing I love about this series so far is that our main character, Dolores, is crazy. And hearing her rationalize her crazy is both terrifying and fascinating. I hate/love how sweet and soothing she can be. Even with the rat that she killed in this episode. She cooed at it, encouraging it to come to her, even calling it a subway raccoon.
Then she killed it and started crying.
I also love the underground community. It’s both horrific and whimsical. It reminds me of Neil Gaiman’s Neverwhere, which is full of worlds most people don’t see but are all around us. It’s also horrific because there are so many people that our society has failed, that they’ve gathered underground and made their own little society. That’s not great. There just shouldn’t be that many people who need homes.
What didn’t work
Unfortunately, this episode did have two major flaws. And the first one is a personal pet peeve of mine.
In the last episode of season one, certain things were established. Dolores said she was carefully rationing her weed. She said she didn’t have anything to eat since coming down to the tunnels. She still had her massage table. This episode rewrote a lot of that.
Frankly, I hate when stories do that. It may or not make a difference to the story. It just strikes me as poor planning and lazy writing. This show has proven it’s capable of doing better.
All things considered, I thought this was a great start to the season. I’m invested in the story, curious about the new characters, and worried about the well-being of everyone Dolores comes in contact with. And that’s all as it should be.(3.5 / 5)
By the way, if you like my writing, you might want to check out my latest sci-fi horror story, Nova. It’ll be released episodically on my site, Paper Beats World, starting February 5th.
The Golem (2019), a Film Review
The Golem (2019) is a folk horror film directed by Doron and Yoav Paz, starring Hani Furstenberg and Ishai Golan.
The Golem (2019) is a folk horror film directed by Doron and Yoav Paz. The cast includes Hani Furstenberg, Ishai Golan, Kirill Cernyakov, and Brynie Furstenberg. As of this review, the film remains available to Amazon Prime and fuboTV subscribers with additional purchase options on other platforms.
Set in 1673, a small Jewish community faces hardships from others as the Black Plague spreads. When these hardships reach a boiling point, Hanna takes matters into her own hands. Having secretly learned to read, she seeks to perform a ritual that would create a protector for her people. Yet, this act brings about a steep cost.
What I Like about The Golem
The film received three nominations in 2019. These nominations include Best Actress, Best Sound, and Best Cinematography from the Award of the Israeli Film Academy. While The Golem wouldn’t win these awards, the nominations indicate a strong film.
I won’t claim to know the accuracy and intricacies of the golem in relation to its religious origin, but the film certainly brings to life its concept. The effort to create such a creature and the toll it takes from the summoner create an emotional throughline for viewers to follow.
Hani Furstenberg’s Hanna and Ishai Golan’s Benjamin bring a complicated but realistic relationship to the film. Viewers see the love between them, even as their own society attempts to cast them from each other. They feel like a couple who understand the other’s wants and needs. However, we begin to witness the decaying of this relationship.
Hanna, specifically, provides a complex character that incentivizes the viewers to root for and against her at different points in the movie. Though she navigates blatant sexism and discrimination, she remains far from flawless. These flaws and ambitions establish Hanna as an interesting character.
The Golem can be brutal. This film provides a period-accurate look into antisemitism and systemic oppression, which certainly evokes a different form of horror. However, the golem itself brings brutality through its smiting.
Tired Tropes and Triggers
As the film deals directly with systemic issues of 1673, understand that antisemitism, sexism, and hate crimes remain important elements within the film.
An assault leads to a miscarriage, which seems a point worth mentioning for potential viewers who are sensitive to such points. Fertility and bodily autonomy, generally, also play roles within the provided film.
If any of these are potential issues for your viewing experience, perhaps skip The Golem.
What I Dislike about The Golem
Aleksey Tritenko delivers a wonderful performance for an interesting antagonist, but the role of Vladimir serves limited purposes. In many ways, he’s the representation of his societal antisemitism. While this remains perfectly valid, he somewhat disappears from the narrative until he becomes relevant. His marauders should be an oppressive threat within the society, looming over it with malice.
I can’t deny the lack of intimidation the golem’s aesthetic brings. While some films evoke an eeriness through silent children to horrific effect, this didn’t sit well with me. It should be eerie, but something was missing in execution.
The Golem focuses on a more human horror than the supernatural elements might suggest. While not a direct critique, prepare your viewing expectations accordingly. The Golem remains a folk horror film, using the folk story to represent human evil and flaws. It won’t particularly haunt you with the gore.
The Golem brings the old legend of the golem folk story to life. If you thirst for a human horror that shines a light on the flaws of the people within, The Golem might satisfy you. However, it’s not a particularly frightening film, choosing instead to tell a story of loss and overcoming suffering. (3 / 5)