Archive for Buffy The Vampire Slayer

Silently Within Your Shadow (2015) Short Review

Posted in Short Scares with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on May 26, 2017 by Hayley's Horror Reviews

When it comes to horror movies, the ‘creepy doll’ is a staple and frequently revisited trope. There’s the menacing madness to the likes of Chucky and his subsidiary counterparts in Dolls (1987), PuppetMaster (1989), Dolly Dearest (1991) and Demonic Toys (1992). The concept made a spooky return in horror movies during the 2000’s as well as this decade in the form of Billy the Puppet from SAW (2004-2010), Annabelle from The Conjuring (2013) and of course Billy the ventriloquist dummy from James Wan’s Dead Silence (2007). In the latter mentioned films the position of the demonic doll is used as more of a scapegoat for a greater plot rather than being a central figure.

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The Ventriloquist Dummy has always played a vital part in unnerving psychological horror from childhood fiction in Goosebumps, Night of the Living Dummy (#1.10) (1996) to Buffy The Vampire Slayer’s season one episode, The Puppet Show (#1.9) (1997).

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Indie short film director Scott Lyus of Crossroad Pictures brings the concept back to the forefront in Silently Within Your Shadow, a fifteen minute piece that centers on a young couple driven apart by an ambiguous entity.

What’s always excellent about the idea of ‘the doll’ is it’s rationally nonthreatening presence is creepy enough to trigger irrational fears and heightened emotions. This is exactly what Lyus captures in this short.

Lucette (Sophie Tergeist)  is extremely obsessed with her ventriloquist dummy, Hugo (voiced by horror icon Bill Moseley) that it begins to put strain on her relationship with her irritated but moderately patient boyfriend Jace (Byron Fernandes). But Lyus leaves his audience curious to discover whether the doll is truly alive or an illogical fixation of Lucette’s mindset.

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From a social perspective, the doll is a symbol of Lucette’s conflict between domesticity with her boyfriend and the pull of her career on stage. It’s all consuming with deadly consequences but is presented as a genuinely creepy short, supplying plenty of chills and darkness.

The production quality is a polished effort and highly professional. The cinematography and editing is of a high standard with the film achieving exactly what it needs to in it’s brief time frame. We are in the age of the rise of low budget genre filmmaking and with crowdfunding platforms and accessible technology it proves that a great deal can be reached with limited and less expensive resources.

Lyus has great potential as a horror storyteller, therefore it would be interesting to see what he could bring to a feature film.

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Silently Within Your Shadow is the kind of film that keeps you looking over your shoulder and has an atmospheric tone from the get go. It features a cult icon and believable performances from it’s two leads while engulfing a familiar but fun genre concept. What’s not to love…?

Silently Within You Shadow is available to view on Amazon Prime as of the 26th May 2017 for some late night spooktacular scares.

Hayley Alice Roberts

Hayley’s Horror Reviews. 

**Third Anniversary Review** Embracing the Dark Side: Why We Watch Horror? A Personal Piece.

Posted in Anniversary Pieces, Horror Festivals with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on May 18, 2014 by Hayley's Horror Reviews

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To many of us Horror films are an integral part of who we are. They’re something that has shaped our interests and is a genre that continues to both fascinate and terrify us. There are several types of viewers when it comes to Horror; there’s the casual viewer who will take an interest and perhaps watch out of endurance with the possibility of generating a sense of fear. There’s those who completely dismiss horror due to squeamishness or not realizing  the underlying metaphors beyond the imagery presented before them; and finally there’s the the Horror fan, a category myself and many awesome people I’ve come to know over the passed few years fall into. The Horror fan is passionate about what’s going on in the genre, we adore the classic films that have shaped our knowledge from the Universal Monsters to the Hammer’s Horrors. We have an appreciation for the trends, conventions and tropes and make time to consume the latest in independent film through attending genre festivals. We also may be avid viewers of Sky’s Horror Channel and purchase niche magazines e.g. Scream Horror Magazine and Fangoria. But why is it we have a particular attraction to the dark side? to the macabre? to all things gory? Why is it we watch Horror?

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Don’t fear the Horror Fan!

Many psychologists have concluded that fear itself taps into our primitive subconscious. This insightful article explains Sigmund Freud’s theory regarding our fascination with horror, his interpretation suggested that strange, unexplained images found in the id are suppressed by the ‘civilized’ ego whereas another famous psychologist Carl Jung expressed the idea that there are a form of archetypes deep within our subconscious that are linked with images continually present within the horror genre. Interestingly this sort of indicates the possibility that this is an integral part of everyone however the horror fan seems to embrace their primitive subconscious more than those who object to violent imagery. Over the years I have endured criticism for my taste for the bloodier side of film. “How can you watch something like that? It’s Sick!” is a common assumption and in fairness, how anyone interprets any of imagery is subjective. To suggest that each and every one of us have violent tendencies somewhere in our make up is pretty scary to comprehend however as horror fans, the fact that we subject ourselves to these images on a frequent basis can act as a form of catharsis and as an outlet for our deep-rooted aggression. I am a firm believer that the link between watching horror films and violence in society is incredibly weak and is more than often caused by untreated psychological issues. That said, if that’s all we watched horror films for it would be a pretty tedious exercise and without a doubt Horror holds a great deal of entertainment value.

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One of the most relateable pieces of literature I have come across is Mark Kermode’s ‘I was a Teenage Horror Fan’ which is featured in Martin Barker and Julian Petley’s book Ill Effects: The Media Violence Debate. Kermode discusses how the horror fan deciphers a deeper meaning of the images we see on screen.  Despite coming from a different generation, similarly to Kermode I became fascinated with horror at a young age, as a pre-teen to be exact. My favorite television shows at Primary School age were Buffy The Vampire Slayer (1997-2003)Are You Afraid Of The Dark? (1991-2000) and Goosebumps (1995-1998). I had already been terrified by Nicholas Roeg’s dark children’s film The Witches (1990) and would always re-watch Return to Oz (1985) when it was broadcast on TV. Even when I watched Disney films, the villains seemed more interesting than the heroes/heroines. While originally frightened by the obscure and uncanny, the older I got the more obsessed I became. I would always gravitate toward Horror VHS’s at the local rental shop, curious of the sinister looking monsters that appeared on the artistic covers, Pinhead and Freddy Kruger being stand outs.

Without prior knowledge of Freddy Kruger, this video case in particular appeared unnerving to my younger self.

As Kermode discusses his curiosity with The Exorcist (1973) on its initial UK release in 1974 due to hysteria and word of mouth from those who had seen it, the media hype surrounding these films only encourage that curiosity to grow bringing determination to see the horror on screen unfold for ourselves. For me the films that have caused controversy during my own generation include The Bunny Game (2010), A Serbian Film (2010) and The Human Centipede Films (2009, 2011), I have only seen the latter films mentioned but genuinely feel there has been unfair misconceptions surrounding them, its definitely clear that since the moral panics of the 80’s, not a great deal has changed in certain cases however horror has generally become a slightly more accepted form of entertainment. During my childhood, horror films were always  playground discussions in terms of who had seen what and how terrifying the film was but to my knowledge I was one of the only ones who let that sense of fear and enigma become a life-long interest.

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Kermode mentions that there’s a certain solitude that originally comes with being a genre fan. He recollects his late night visits to grindhouse London cinemas to enjoy X-rated double bills in which he’d be surrounded by like-minded people who in his words would be ‘getting more out of the movies than passing scares, watching them again and again, learning them, studying them’. Whereas I was never fortunate to experience horror in the cinema until at least the age of 15, prior to that I would record endless VHS tapes of the Elm Streets, the Friday 13ths, Scream’s etc. and of course watch them alone with pure enthrallment. I was determined to watch anything that was listed in the TV guide with the tag ‘Horror’ even if I was unfamiliar with its content and would end up watching a terribly bad film. Despite this, being a horror fan meant it was difficult to find other people to relate to back then. It also wasn’t until I studied a Horror module at university I was able to develop different ways of thinking about the films I’d grown up with and always loved.

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Community is a vital part of being a horror fan. It was 2009 when I attended my first full horror festival at Abertoir, which has been an annual tradition ever since. In 2011 I also began to visit Sheffield for Celluloid Screams. Attending these goreific events has allowed me to meet and socialize with others who share my interest. Not only do we watch a selection of brilliant movies but there’s the opportunities to discuss them afterwards and even meet the filmmakers behind them. One of the most appealing aspects of horror fandom is this close-knit community. Filmmakers in general are approachable and happy to give time to their fans and the fans themselves are some of the friendliest people I’ve ever come across.

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Therefore, there are several reasons why horror films are so appealing and why being a fan of them is incredibly important. There’s the enjoyment of the suspense and tense atmosphere, the familiarity of the tropes and conventions displayed, the opportunity to study the genre and discover interesting metaphors that say something profound about our society. There’s the sense of catharsis violent imagery can provide us with as well as the ability to identify with the characters we see on screen in some way or another. We also can’t forget the adrenaline rush a thrill ride of terror can give us, there’s the iconic imagery we come to recognize as well as the wide spectrum of sub-genres on offer from slashers in masks to the spooky supernatural. We keep watching because there’s so much more to discover as horror continues to transform and adapt. While there are times when Horror films may seem tired and repeated there’s always still plenty of underground gems that really blow our minds, Horror still has the ability to shock and scare us and we indulge.

I’d like to say a massive thank you to the amazing horror community that have supported me over these passed three years, it really means a lot and has provided me with some fangtastic writing opportunities that I hope will continue.

Thanks for Reading.

Hayley Alice Roberts

Hayley’s Horror Reviews.

**For last year’s Second Anniversary Review on Urban Legends in Film Visit:**

https://mshayleyr1989.wordpress.com/2013/05/17/second-anniversary-review-part-one-urban-legends-in-films-television/

https://mshayleyr1989.wordpress.com/2013/05/18/second-anniversary-review-part-two-movie-mayhem-the-shocks-behind-the-scenes/

Ghostface Girls Podcast: Episode One, Women in Horror Recognition Month.

Posted in Ghostface Girls, Women in Horror Recognition Month with tags , , , , , , , , , , , on February 13, 2014 by Hayley's Horror Reviews

As I have mentioned a fair bit recently I have been working on a new collaborative project with Caitlyn Downs (scaredsheepless.com) for a fantastic film site called moviepilot.com. Our first contribution to the site has already been uploaded in the shape of our first podcast which is also another contribution for Women in Horror Recognition Month. We have much, much more on the way and will be keeping our podcast’s as a regular feature. Click here to listen to our first entry where we talk in detail about our new project and what Ghostface Girls is all about. Thanks to Caitlyn for editing this piece, overall I can say I’m very pleased with the outcome.

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‘Like’ our Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/ghostfacegirls

Hayley Alice Roberts.

Hayley’s Horror Reveiws.

Something to Die For, Episode One: The Shadow of Death

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , , on August 9, 2012 by Hayley's Horror Reviews

Here it is….Welcome to my new Horror Show; “Something to Die For” a series focused on all things horror from supporting independent movies to horror history and of course festivals. Episode One focuses on “The Shadow of Death”. The opening montage features clips from a few of my favourite horror films of all time! Please feel free to leave any feedback if you have any comments or questions. I really enjoyed creating this project so hope you enjoy!

For More Info Here’s my Facebook Page: https://www.facebook.com/HayleysMovieAndTvReviews

 

Thank You!

Hayley Alice Roberts

Seen it all before? A review of “The Cabin in the Woods” (2011)

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , on April 28, 2012 by Hayley's Horror Reviews

**Note: Apologies for the lack of reviews as of late been so busy with university work and preparing for the Brit Flick Festival coming this May!**

**Minor Spoilers**

On the surface “Cabin in the Woods”  (2011) appears like the every day, traditional horror film where audiences enter the cinema full of prior expectations. Joss Whedon’s pre-“Avengers” cinematic offer subverts the pre-conceived notions while poking fun at the state of recent horror and the stereotypes it has achieved over the decades. He critiques the run-of-the-mill horror movie in a post-modern context  in a similar vein as his successful cult television series “Buffy The Vampire Slayer” (1997-2003).

The plot in brief focuses on archetypal, generic characters aka. The Virgin, The Whore, The Athlete, The Scholar and The Fool who take a trip to a remote “Cabin in the Woods” (as you do!) in an “Evil Dead” (1981), “Friday 13th” (1980) style. Little do they know they’re being monitored by a group of technicians who act as spectators for the horrifying events to come. They manage this through controlling the variables in the environment such as placing in mood -changing drugs to alter the characters behavior. The technicians also place bets on the unfolding progress of the situation in a tongue-in-cheek dig at the “Hostel” (2005) franchise as well as commenting on society’s universal obsession with voyeurism in the media through shows like “Big Brother”. Cleverly the audience act as spectators to the technicians who are viewing the potential victims which heightens notions of watching people’s lives for entertainment purposes.

In parts the film is fun and entertaining as it parodies the ridiculousness of overdone horror concepts and Joss Whedon and Drew Goddard’s dissatisfaction with the genre comes across well. The main issue however is the fact that these conventions have been challenged and satirized many times resulting in nothing new being offered from the film. The “good guys” are one-dimensional that it gets to a point where interest is lost on whether they survive or die. The expectations from these two talented writers was high and it would have been cool to see three-dimensional characters that the audience could connect with like in “Buffy” and “Angel” (1999-2003) as it would have given the film more substance for a compelling watch. On the positive side seeing Amy Acker and Tom Lenk in minor roles and the surprise cameo during the climax were a treat. The monsters looked awesome and genre fans were again treated to the iconic characters that make horror what it is. Its worth noting that the film was initially planned for release in 2009 but was held back due to the studios wanting to bleed out as much money as possible through showing it in 3D, its admirable that both writers/director stood their ground in this instance so audiences would see it for the story and not for gimmicks.

Overall the film is worth seeing for genre fans as it has its moments and the concept is pretty clever. The problem is it just fell slightly flat in parts and the cliches eventually become tiresome.

Hayley Alice Roberts.

**Off Topic**Here is some more info on the Brit Flick Festival 12th & 13th May: https://www.facebook.com/events/285059688204805/ including the screening of independent slasher “The Shadow Of Death“, for more news on the film follow @theshadowfilm on Twitter.**

“You have the wrong girl!”-An Analysis of “Ringer” (2011)

Posted in Old Non Horror Reviews with tags , , , , , on September 17, 2011 by Hayley's Horror Reviews

WARNING: SPOILERS INCLUDED

As a major fan of “Buffy the Vampire Slayer” of course I was interested in checking out “Ringer” the new CW pilot starring Sarah Michelle Gellar and Welsh Actor Ioan Gruffudd. From the get-go the premise is intriguing; focused on a young woman on the run from the mob who  poses as her rich twin sister in order to evade them only to later discover her sister also has a price to pay. “Ringer” appears to hold the possibilities of interesting character development as Sarah Michelle Gellar takes on the challenge of playing two roles; she is however more than capable of this after delivering a fantastic performance in the “Buffy” episode “Who Are You” (#4.16) as a very convincing Faith (normally played by Eliza Dushku). The concept of the “secret identity” holds out much prospect for a titillating thriller. So much is at stake and rides on the pilot episode of any television show so let’s look at what “Ringer” has to offer as well as how the episode is constructed.

The episode opens on a tracking shot of some hideous gargoyle-type figures overlooking a lit-up city; establishing a modern day busy setting. As an audience we are then pulled into the eyes of a young woman who appears both terrified and vulnerable; already we are aware who’s point of view the show is going to be from. Her character is embroiled in a cat and mouse game as she is being chased by a man draped in black; instantly the show throws the audience into the middle of the action resulting in intrigue as to who this woman is? and why is she in this predicament? At this point there is more to discover and I was already engrossed. The use of the song “I Fall to Pieces” by Patsy Cline slotted in nicely throughout the opening sequence emphasising the protagonist’s fear and vulnerability in the situation; with my inner “Buffy” fangirl coming out here I’d also like to add that the same song was used in the episode “Prophecy Girl” (#1.12)! Sarah Michelle Gellar’s character in an attempt to fend off her attacker insists he’s got the wrong person and at this moment we are taken into the story of how this young woman ended up there.

Within the first few minutes of the episode we learn a lot about Bridget Cafferty who we meet in a support group setting; she has many layers which makes her an engaging character; this is later vital as she takes on the role of someone else. As an audience we discover that she is battling addiction but has remained sober for six months, has had short-lived relationships, and has a sister. The impression is given that she is damaged but recovering. She also seems to posses a flirtatious quality demonstrated by the attraction between her and her sponsor (Played by Mike Colter). The next piece of character information provided is that Bridget is a witness to a crime and will have to appear in court in order to testify against an unsavoury character from her past. Along with her minder and FBI Agent Victor Machado (Played by Nestor Carbonell) she goes into a protection zone at a seedy looking motel, the atmosphere feels unsafe then adding to this notion is finding out the man she must testify against is involved in the adult industry. As previously stated Bridget’s character has many layers; she proves more than capable of looking after herself by turning the tables on the man following her.

Bridget’s identical twin sister Siobhan is introduced. Immediately there is a contrast between the two with Siobhan coming across as wealthy and sophisticated. The sisters have been estranged but still maintain a sense of closeness as they hug; but that is as far as it goes. Siobhan is evidently reserved towards her twin admitting her husband (played by Ioan Gruffudd) has no knowledge of her existence. There was a clever shot of the characters framed next to the mirror with a direct line between them, demonstrating their contrasting lifestyles and discussion of forgiveness. The drama really kicks in once Siobhan does a disappearing act; assumed she has taken her own life Bridget makes the rash decision to take over it! This is where the enigma really begins.

Bridget now embarks on a thrill ride of a journey as she unearths secrets and lies revolving around her sister. Following Bridget’s journey is fascinating leaving the audience wondering if she’ll adjust to her new life or whether she’ll unravel after she makes the transition from her harsh reality to a superficial world of wealth. The deeper and more enthralled she becomes in her sister’s life the more disturbing things become. She faces an over-critical, distant husband, and an affair with her best friend’s husband; making her realise she is so far away from her sister’s life. It is indicated that the possibility for Siobhan’s suicide was due to loneliness taking all these factors into consideration and the mystery surrounding a little boy called Sean. With the authorities and the mob believing Bridget to be on the run an intense moment occurs when she is faced with Victor; this scene was the most suspenseful emphasised by a close up focused on Bridget/”Siobhan”‘s face, dramatic music and a fade out; in placr to heighten the tension leaving the audience question will Victor be fooled by her pretence? I loved how Bridget got into character so coolly in that scene. Another clever “red-herring” used was a newspaper article regarding a body washed up on the shore. By the conclusion of the episode there are so many unanswered questions in order to lure the audience to keep watching; in which I won’t reveal!

 “Ringer” definitely holds out a lot of potential. Granted its not the most original idea however it is carried by a very interesting protagonist and displays a sense of edginess. A lot of information is provided in the pilot but there is still so much more to unravel. I’m unsure if “Ringer” will work successfully as a long running series and with its cinematic quality it possibly could be suited more to a two hour film or mini-series. I definitely enjoyed it more than another recent series with a similar premise ABC’s “The Lying Game” (2011) as its aimed at an adult audience and is maturer in comparison. So far; with plenty of twists, turns, secrets and lies my interest is held and I’m looking forward to seeing what else the show has in store.

“Ringer” is shown on the CW network on Tuesday Nights 9/8c.

Like this Page for more information: http://www.facebook.com/ringer

Hayley Alice Roberts.