Tuesday, September 27, 2016

The Sin Reapers (2015)

It wasn't too long ago that the Forte brothers brought to my attention their Sin Reapers project. Check out my review of their pilot and other short film Anna, here! Since then they've created three more episodes to follow their innovative web series idea.

The Sin Reapers
Each episode is roughly 7 minutes long and is surprisingly jam-packed with an alarming amount of violent ideas and vengeful lust. I'm quite happy to see the direction this show is going - creeping away from the "Oh, that's pretty messed up" world into the "Oh man! Dying from strangulation by your own intestine! Savage!" world.

I think this collection of ideas so over the top they just might work mixed with the hate and frustration we all feel at being helpless, will do very nicely for the future of this series. The writing and dialog is interesting, invoking intense inner perspective while also being violently blunt and yet strained at times.  I had conflicted feelings about this - as I feel I know where they were going but the delivery of said dialog was not always as powerful as expected. 

After watching all four episodes a couple times I invited my non-horror loving Husband to watch them with me. "I just want to see how you react." I said, bringing him a beer. He cringed, tilted his head, looked away more than I thought, wasn't always impressed with the acting but made a point when he was, and at a couple scenes he asked me to pause the show "...to walk it off..." (he said and did). The content this series revolves around is very disturbing - too real world issues disturbing.  He found some of the scenes and topics alarmingly graphic and I feel many would feel the same. That said, I also think this is a sign of of a well-made horror show: tapping into what makes us most uncomfortable while also delivering a powerful, often times meaningful message. My Husband believes this can all be done through implying. I see his point but I also see where implying may not always work. I think the graphic nature worked here.

I've had a curious time trying to categorize or even pinpoint a crowd that would appreciate Sin Reapers (the main reason I asked my Husband to see it). I think that may be because there isn't one yet - or at the least it's in its own infant stages of cult. One could say this series is going through growing pains but in all the right directions. To be perfectly honest, I've grown quite attached to this show and I'm looking forward to where it goes. I hope to see it continue to monopolize on it's strengths (story line, graphic tough subjects, innovation) and hone in on it's acting and delivery. 

Last but not least, I've also come to appreciate the ghostly make-up of the spirits. At this point it feels like a signature and it would be a shame to change it now. I don't totally understand it, but again, if it was changed I would be disappointed.

Keep it up you guys, keep it up everyone. You've got a great subject and a great way to relay it. I look forward to seeing more. It's captivating and have not seen anything quite like it.

You see all episodes (and more!) on their Forte Films Entertainment YouTube page, but to get you started on the first of a series of three I present Ciara:

Wednesday, September 7, 2016

Night Chill by Jeff Gunhus (Book Review)

Several months ago I was asked if I would be interested in reading the first of the Night Chill series by Jeff Gunhus: Night Chill.

Absolutely! Particularly since my book reading theme this year is horror (I've spent the last several years reading  mostly 18th and 19th century classics, it was time for a change). 

From the very beginning I was delightfully amazed at the pace. Sharp, vigorous, and deliberate: first thoughts that came to mind. My delight turned to horror-stricken awe as the story blossomed into a bloody mess of shocking brutality and gore, and that's not even a quarter of the way in! It's safe to say this story had me at the detailed death by lightning scene.

You may be asking yourself then: "Why did it take a book worm several months to read such a fun and intense book?" Well, roughly halfway through I experienced a heartbreaking death in the family and then was diagnosed with a rare cancer. Ironically this book revolves around these very matters (death, disease). 

Good news though, worst Summer of my life is nearly over and the cancer is now gone. Bonus, I have new ironies to laugh about now. 

Night Chill follows the Tremont family (husband, wife, two little girls) who move back East to start a new life only to have it disrupted by an ancient evil lurking there that has decided to target them. Needless to say they are having a pretty bad season as well. Overall I enjoyed these characters. Relateable, kind, honest, and willing to do anything for their family. A reader is ready and willing to cheer this family on without a nagging feeling of cheesiness or unoriginality. 

Then there's the evil. The evil in this story is pretty evil, to say the least. Violent, unforgiving, supernatural, and intensely mentally and physically damaging. Much like cancer, frankly. The evil, and the evil characters who play a role here are surprisingly sadistic and wholeheartedly aggressive in their means to an end. Don't be surprised at being surprised...

The story then weaves through the trials the Tremont family experience trying to stay safe and together as they battle unseen forces and a world that doesn't believe them. The pace slows down just a hair here, particularly as it introduces a few new characters and divulges on the secrets behind the ancient evil.

It's also at this point that I have my only criticisms. Although detailed and what seems to me surprisingly researched (in land descriptions, family dynamics, etc.) I had to re-read the sections that referenced a photograph from the 1820s several times. Did they mean the 1920s? No, it appeared as if 1820s was intended. A time when a photograph such as the one described would not have existed. Here is when I had to just sit back and laugh at myself. It's a novel. A fun novel. An outrageously intense horror novel. If a horror story is not providing at least some suspension of disbelief then the story is lacking and I'm taking it unnecessarily too seriously. 

I moved on and ran into a couple descriptions that gave me pause (e.g., "Indian magic"). Not something I've quiet heard before and I grew up in-between two of the nation's largest reservations. Also, the mind of a teenage girl was revealed rather clumsily. That said, speaking from experience, it's a clumsy time...  

Again: novel - suspension of disbelief - fun - why so serious.

The novel cascaded into one of the most intense endings I've ever read. I was quite literally on the edge of my seat. I have fellow morning commute bus passengers to attest to this. Loud, dynamic, intense, and breathtaking. Just as the story began with such force, so it ended and then some. 

Jeff Gunhus certainly has his own horror voice and I think it's rare to find such a mentally/visually interactive one that also has the dynamics of a firecracker. I enjoyed this novel, and the fact that I read it during one of the most turbulent periods of my life and was able to connect with it says a lot about the book itself. 

You can find this book on Amazon, and if you're a Goodreads junkie such as myself then you can learn more about the book, read more reviews, and learn about the author there. 

This is Horror Habit's first book review, and I hope you enjoyed it. Again if I hadn't made it clear earlier I was asked to review this book in my own time and if I wanted to. I was not paid to endorse or promote. I happen to be a published author as well (non fiction). I understand the blood, sweat, and tears that goes into publishing but I also respect honest responses and reviews.

Thank you and good luck Jeff Gunhus, you provided my horror fan heart with a genuine escape. Readers, if horror novels are your thing then I highly recommend checking this one out.