The Cloverfield Paradox (Netflix Review)

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15 – 102mins – 2018


 

CREATING CHAOS

“We’re definitely not in Kentucky anymore.”

You certainly cannot accuse the burgeoning Cloverfield cinematic universe (for that undoubtedly is what it now is) of resting on its laurels. Ten years and three films in, we have been treated to three distinct and intriguing genre pictures released in three distinct and intriguing ways. For those who thought 2008’s ground-breaking viral marketing-tease and 2015’s quick-drop cinema rollout too longwinded, Paradox dropped onto streaming giant Netflix just FOUR HOURS after its trailer debuted during this year’s Super Bowl. Wow.

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Dracula Untold (DVD Review)

15 – 92mins – 2014


 

SON OF THE DRAGON

In my post-cinema analysis of last summer’s Tom Cruise-headlined reboot of The Mummy (read my review HERE), I openly acknowledged my enjoyment of the film in spite of its skew away from horror and more towards a supernatural action-adventure. However, it seems audiences (or a lack thereof) were more critical; just one entry in and Universal’s newly-rebranded Dark Universe is already in trouble. But The Mummy wasn’t always to be the opening chapter of this Monster Movie Expanded Universe…

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The Ritual (Cinema Review)

15 – 94mins – 2017


 

FEAR THE FOREST

While big money genre tentpoles like Blade Runner 2049 and It will always garner the most fanfare, sometimes the real cinematic gems are the smaller features released with only minimum fuss and which, sadly, often leave theatres before word of mouth has had a chance to take full effect. Say hello to The Ritual, which at time of typing is clinging on at my local Cineworld with just one late screening in only its second week. However, if you read this in time I cannot recommend this creepy chiller enough, so please hot-foot it down to your local picture house and take a walk in these woods…

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King Arthur: Legend of the Sword (Cinema Review)

12A – 126mins – 2017 – 3D


 

THE MAN FROM C.A.M.E.L.O.T.

The sword in the stone, the Lady in the Lake, the Knights of the Round Table… You think you know the legend, but certainly not told like this. Lock Stock and Snatch director Guy Ritchie brings his own, erm, ineffable and idiosyncratic style to the oft-told story of the medieval British leader whose historical biography has long been entwined with mythical embellishments, magic and Merlin.

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AMERICAN GODS, 1.1 – “The Bone Orchard” (Amazon Prime Review)

Amazon Prime – From Monday 1st May 2017

Written and developed by: Bryan Fuller and Michael Green

Based on the novel by Neil Gaiman

Directed by: David Slade


 

THE DOMINANT PARADIGM

Influenced by a wave of public anticipation, I knew I wanted to watch this heavily-hyped Starz/Amazon Prime fantasy drama series despite having zero knowledge of the 2001 Neil Gaiman novel upon which it is based. After the hour long pilot premiered online this Monday I’m still not convinced I’m any more clued up on the premise than I was before, but I do know that showrunners and screenwriters Bryan Fuller and Michael Green have me curious to know more about this violent and muddily mythologically-inspired present day parallel America.

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The Bye Bye Man (Film Review)

15 – 96mins – 2017


 

VISION MESS

Purportedly based on the real-life anomalous phenomena detailed in the chapter “The Bridge to Body Island” from Fortean Times contributor Robert Damon Schneck’s book The President’s Vampire, this supernatural horror adapted by Jonathan Penner is an admirable attempt to conjure up a modern-day bogeyman in the same vein as Freddie Kreuger and Candyman. Sadly, director Stacy Title’s film was crucified upon its theatrical roll-out in January, so it seems quite likely that the legacy of The Bye Bye Man will die out sooner than anticipated.

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SiREN (Film Review)

15 – 82mins – 2016


 

BEAUTY IS THE BEAST

Spun off from “Amateur Night,” my particular favourite strand of horror anthology V/H/S (2012), Gregg Bishop’s SiREN tells a far from original story (despite deviating from the scant source material), but what it does it carries out with a surprising amount of verve and panache.

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Jason and the Argonauts (DVD Review)

U – 101mins – 1963


 

ZEUS-TROPOLIS

Presented in dazzling technicolour so rich even the shadows are blue, this mythological stop-motion extravaganza is a feast for the eyes and the imagination, even if Ray Harryhausen’s once ground-breaking claymation effects work has dated somewhat in the intervening 53 years.

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The Monstrous Child (Book Review)

Written by: Francesca Simon

Illustrations by: Olivia Lomenech Gill

Published in the UK by: Faber & Faber and Profile Books, 2016

287 pages 


 

HEL HATH NO FURY LIKE A TEENAGER SCORNED

Embarrassed by her parents, peeved at her violent brothers, lonely, hateful and self-deprecating, Hel sounds like any normal teenage girl… except her father is a god, her mother a giant, one brother a wolf and the other a snake… Oh, and she’s half rotting  corpse! Meet Hel, Queen of the Dead, ruler of the Underworld and general cynical soul.

This curious genre-mashup of dysfunctional family drama, growing pains memoir and biblical fantasy comes from the rebellious mind of globally-bestselling Horrid Henry author Francesca Simon. The Monstrous Child is her first book for the booming Y.A. demographic.

With short pages and a large font type, the near-300 pages fly by – the swift pace accelerated by some scathingly wry black humour from Hel’s first person perspective. This is her tetchy testament and she demands you listen as she moans on about being banished from Asgard to the depths of her own self-named kingdom of ‘Hel’.

“I spent an eternity of hating… I spent eternity lying on a stinking bed. Sunk into myself, plotting and moaning and… dying.”

Dividing her time between fawning after the only person she has ever felt any feeling of love and joy towards (the charming but already-married Baldr) and moaning about her agonising eternity of isolation with only a dragon, a monstrous howling mutt and two near-static slaves for “company”, the book’s rapid tempo does little to enforce Hel’s timeless torment as the ages creep by towards The End of Days.

It’s also fair to say that as clever as the concept is, the novel does begin to feel a little repetitive at times, with Hel’s fixation on her niggles and teenage tendency to mope in her chamber with her bed hangings drawn (which she has sarcastically nicknamed Glimmering Misfortune) occasionally slowing down the procession of her life(less) story.

Essentially a diary of a teenage goddess, The Monstrous Child is a decent and well-observed experiment which will certainly leaving you smirking at its cruel, pitch-black sense of humour. However, it does also feel like more of a one-joke short story concept spread painfully thin – even if the hardback release does look glorious.

CR@B’s Claw Score: 3 stars