Archive for Supernatural

Love Horror: The Calling Review

Posted in Love Horror with tags , , , , , , on February 3, 2015 by Hayley's Horror Reviews

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A Slow-burning, supernatural crime chiller starring Susan Sarandon and Topher Grace.

Check out my 4 Star Review over on Love Horror.

Hayley Alice Roberts

Hayley’s Horror Reviews.

Before The Conjuring….There Was….Annabelle! A Look at the 2014 trailer.

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , , on July 18, 2014 by Hayley's Horror Reviews

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The Conjuring’s creepy doll Annabelle is to take centre stage this October in her very own movie. The sinister spin-off’s first trailer was released yesterday documenting the mysterious entity’s origin’s prior to being locked in the museum of Ghosthunters Ed and Lorraine Warren. The brand new teaser is packed with  tense moments much like James Wan’s 2013 supernatural hit that its based from. In what seems like an idyllic suburban setting, a young couple with their lives ahead of them are terrorized by a demonic presence disguised in the seemingly innocent Annabelle doll sending shockwaves through the community. The film looks set to fright and delight audiences, reminding us why Annabelle gave us the chills last time round. John R. Leonetti is named as director, his past credits include cinematography work for The Mask (1994) and Insidious: Chapter 2 (2013) as well as The Conjuring.  According to imdb there’s a UK release date of 10th October, perfect timing for Halloween! Let’s hope this prequel will deliver something atmospheric and eerie, defying expectations. Annabelle is set to be more than just a ‘killer doll’ movie.

Check out the trailer below:

Hayley Alice Roberts

Hayley’s Horror Reviews.

‘The House That’s always been waiting for you!’ A Review of The Hanover House (2013).

Posted in Horror Festivals with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on April 4, 2014 by Hayley's Horror Reviews

The Hanover House (2013) is the debut feature film from Bonfire Films and director, editor and co-writer, Corey Norman. Since 2009, Norman and his independent production company have produced several genre shorts of a high standard including the recent, Natal (2013). Now with The Hanover House; the team can demonstrate their talents with an extended run-time compared to their previous work.

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A disturbing, psychological and supernatural horror/ thriller, The Hanover House is focused on the grief process and how a man must come to terms with the death of his father while placed in an extraordinary situation. Robert Foster (Brian Chamberlain) is recently married with a baby on the way. Following the devastating news of his father’s death, he and his wife Shannon (Casey Turner) return to Hanover to attend the funeral. Following a difficult encounter with his estranged mother Martha (Anne Bobby) and her lover Fred (David Shaffer), who is also Robert’s uncle, Robert and Shannon set off home. During the car journey they are involved in a freak accident which sees Robert run down a young girl. In a desperate search for help, the couple are separated and Robert stumbles on an old, gothic house which unbeknown to him has always been waiting for him. Corey and Haley Norman, the writers of the film deliver a strong script to accommodate the suspenseful and enigmatic plot.

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Shot on a haunted location in Maine, where Bonfire Films are based, The Hanover House is a genuinely creepy ghost story that works on several levels. It deals with family conflict and painful memories that can be evoked through grief which creates high drama. Tonally it is very interesting as the majority of the first act comes across as a social realist film but it soon descends into the paranormal and unknown, from then on plenty of surreal moments are captured.
Echoing classic haunted house films such as The Amityville Horror (1979) in terms of its aesthetics, and taking inspiration from Maine’s most famous genre author Stephen King with references to The Shining (1980), The Hanover House delivers some genuine, thought-provoking scares. The performances from Brian Chamberlain as Robert and Casey Turner as Shannon make powerful viewing as they deal with their individual demons within the house and leave the audience wondering if they’ll overcome them. Flashbacks are used to bring in more depth to the characterizations while eliminating exposition, keeping the blend of supernatural and drama consistent.

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Corey Norman’s editing techniques are one of the most impressive factors within the film. With fast paced cuts consisting of disturbing imagery in place to ramp up the tension during the more frightening sequences. Shot during a blizzard, the wintery setting works in the films favor capturing the coldness of Robert’s character and the darkness surrounding his past.
One of the most significant aspects of The Hanover House is that it marks Anne Bobby’s return to the horror genre. Known for her role as Lori in Night Breed (1990) which recently received restoration treatment and has circulated several film festivals all over the world, her character in The Hanover House, Martha is a far cry from what horror enthusiasts have previously seen her in, demonstrating her versatility as an actress. Martha is Robert’s self-indulgent mother, whom he has had a difficult relationship with. She is the film’s loose cannon and representative of Robert’s unhappy childhood, providing a sense of complexity and impacting on his relationship with Shannon.

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The farmhouse used as the film’s main setting allegedly holds a few real spooks of its own. The crew reported seeing the figure of an old man lurking around as well as shadow people. This certainly would have created an atmosphere on set and incorporates a lot more unease when viewing the film.

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The effects provided by set designer Eric Matheson are of a high quality. They complement the slow-burning pace of the film and come in at unexpected moments, heightening the suspenseful nature of what’s on the screen as well as the creepy style of the house itself. Beginning subtly, the special effects build up gradually becoming more impressive as they go on. There’s even some gory elements in place which is done satisfyingly without going overboard, in order to leave the viewer with an uncomfortable queasiness as the film goes into extremely dark territory.
With the makings of a classic haunted house flick with added emotional depth, The Hanover House will pull you in and keep you in its clutches from beginning till end.

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The Hanover House will be receiving its world premiere on May 9th at the Dead at the Drive-In Horror Festival 2014. If you’re around the Saco drive-in in Portland between the 9th and 10th of May I highly recommend attending the screening.

Visit the official website for more details: http://www.thehanoverhousefilm.com/

For my interview with Corey Norman regarding the behind-the-scenes of The Hanover House, click here.

Hayley Alice Roberts.

Abertoir Horror Festival 2013: The Top Feature Films.

Posted in Horror Festivals with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on November 16, 2013 by Hayley's Horror Reviews

Zombie-fied is one way of describing how I feel after attending six long yet enjoyable days at the Abertoir Horror Festival, located in my hometown of Aberystwyth last week. Abertoir celebrated its eighth successful year which saw regulars return as well as some welcome new faces. 2013 was a special year as the festival celebrated the centennial of the truly wonderful Peter Cushing and presented a broad showcase of his career and his contribution to the genre as a whole. This included a Hammer film The Mummy (1959), two poignant talks by Peter Hutchings, Madhouse (1974) in which he co-starred with horror icon Vincent Price and a television episode Silent Scream (#1.7) from The Hammer House of Horror series (1980).

The special guests in attendance this year were British actor Richard Johnson and Italian composer Fabio Frizzi, who both took part in individual and a joint Q&A on the Saturday evening which was a doubly exciting treat for fans. Mr Johnson and Mr Frizzi had both worked with Lucio Fulci on his 1979 cult, gore-fest Zombie Flesh Eaters, yet had never met in person until the festival which is something Abertoir can be very proud of. A screening of Robert Wise’s classic The Haunting (1963) followed, in celebration of its 50th anniversary. This demonstrates Abertoir’s versatility in reminding audiences why we love horror films in terms of going back to its roots as well as nurturing new and upcoming independent films. Abertoir also doesn’t just stop at the films, festival-goers are also treated to a pub-quiz,  a theatre performance and live music events.

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Another exciting aspect of Abertoir is getting the opportunity to see the latest and best in genre movies from all over the world. This year provided an eclectic selection which saw spine-chilling hauntings, sex-crazed vampires, intelligent science-fiction, misfit ghosts and supernatural cheerleaders to name a few. Abertoir screened Discopath, Chimeres, and Painless, three of my favorite offerings of 2013, however as they’re part of my recent Celluloid Screams coverage I won’t be including them in this list of top features.

Once again, these are my views and do not reflect the overall audience vote on what films won in the best features category.

6. All Cheerleaders Die (2013)

  • Directed By Lucky McGee and Chris Sivertson
  • USA

All Cheerleaders Die is a self-remake from directors Lucky McGee (May, The Woman) and Chris Sivertson (The Lost, I Know who Killed Me). Judging by the names involved, it certainly had a lot of promise. Originally McGee and Sivertson shot a non-budget movie of the same name back in 2001 therefore it could be argued that their 2013 remake is an example of improving on their own work following a more recognizable career path and a bigger budget. Their original All Cheerleaders Die is an incredibly hard find however the 2013 reboot will hopefully generate fan interest if nothing else.

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The film is a revenge flick and a teen movie with supernatural elements that come across as slightly surprising. All Cheerleaders Die incorporates an infectiously funny yet shocking opening sequence that goes right for the jugular, bringing in a great deal of promise in terms of setting up the events to come. That sequence is the main moment that wreaks of Lucky McGee’s brutal, indie style. If anything, the film is reminiscent of mid-to-late 90’s teen flicks such as The Craft (1996) and Jawbreaker (1999)  but also stands out in its own right.

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Maddy Killian (Caitlin Stasey) sets out to destroy the high school cheerleader squad and the Captain of the football team. Its fair to say that it shouldn’t be assumed what is going to happen as Maddy’s revenge takes a turn for the unexpected which spirals out of her control. A typical way of describing All Cheerleaders Die would be “The Craft meets Bring it on!” but then again its so much more than that. Its an interesting film however feels conflicted in terms of its tone, but that does seem intended. Its a blood-curdling, thrill ride that’s definitely worth-watching! It concludes just as it opens, with a huge, slap in the face of a surprise! Check it out for something different from Lucky McGee. ★★★

5. Kiss of the Damned (2012)

  • Directed By Xan Cassavetes
  • USA

Kiss of the Damned is a throwback to the euro-sleaze movies that emerged from the 1960’s and 70’s. With a lavish production design and plenty of melodrama thrown in, Kiss of the Damned is what vampire movies should be all about. With the right blend of comedy and goriness, the film proves an enjoyable watch.

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With the makings of a supernatural soap opera, the film tells the tale of a beautiful vampire named Djuna (Josephine de La Baume) who becomes attracted to a charming, young human screenwriter Paolo (Milo Ventimiglia). She attempts to resist his advances but soon they give into passion and Djuna turns Paolo into a creature of the night like herself. Living in undead bliss, a spanner is quickly thrown into the works when Djuna’s seductive, unhinged younger sister Mimi (Roxane Mesquida) arrives, threatening to sabotage Djuna and Paolo’s relationship as well as the entire vampire community.

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Once Mimi’s presence is made, it comes across as pretty obvious of what direction the film’s heading in but still plays out as thrilling and suspenseful. The characters are easy to engage with especially Djuna as she fights to stay strong for all she stands for within the vampire community. The dialogue and performances in general aren’t played straight, there’s plenty of entertaining and hammy one-liners which work well. On the whole, its beautifully shot and shows off its gothic locations. In the hands of a female director, the sex scenes are tastefully done without being exploitative, shot in a way that are appealing to both women and men. Another welcome element of the film was having the female turn the male into a vampire, subverting the usual vampire-human romance that’s been popular in mainstream, teenage-fiction in recent years. Campy, sexy, sleazy and bloody, Kiss of the Damned is a film worth taking a bite out of!  ★★★

4. The Machine (2013)

  • Directed By Caradog James
  • Wales

A visually intoxicating science-fiction/horror hybrid. The Machine is one of the main reasons Abertoir provides support for films with a Welsh connection. Much thought and care has been put into creating a film that really gets under the skin, questioning the future of humanity itself. Whereas the majority of science-fiction films focus on giant threats to the world as we know it, The Machine gives the genre a sense of intimacy. Its surprising to discover the film was made on a small-budget due to its mesmerizing visuals.

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Echoing back to the conflicts of the cold war, the UK and China are locked in a futuristic, technological battle. Scientist Vincent is in the process of creating machinery which will improve the UK’s weaponry. At the same time he is determined to discover a cure for his gravely ill daughter. His prayers seem to be answered when he begins to attempt to replicate the brain-patterns found in his lab-partner Ava’s mind leading to the two of them creating the first piece of sophisticated and self-aware artificial intelligence. But nothing remains straight-forward when the MOD get their hands on Vincent’s creation and begin to use it as a deadly weapon against their Chinese opponents.

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The Machine tells a compelling story of what would happen if we were able to create artificial versions of ourselves and what would that mean for our future. Inspired by the classic Blade-Runner (1982), The Machine evokes some interesting ideas and imagery, with strong performances. Its no surprise that its a Bafta, award-winning Welsh film. Profound, dark and occasionally funny, The Machine holds a lot of promise for the future of Welsh cinema. ★★★★

3. Chanthaly (2013)

  • Directed By Mattie Do
  • Laos

Chanthaly is a groundbreaking film for two reasons. Its the first Horror film ever made in the country Laos and also the first female directed film.As Laos is a communist country, director Mattie Do faced restrictions when making her first feature which meant she was unable to include any gore and on the whole had to be careful on how she approached the project. It was the first genre film approved by the Laotian government however her original cut faced several issues due to it featuring elements such as suicide and disrespect towards parental figures which are not accepted within their culture.

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Chanthaly is a haunting, ghost-story that focuses on a young woman who lives a sheltered life with her strict father. She suffers from a life-threatening heart condition that she monitors daily with pills. Chanthaly (Amphaiphun Phimmapunya) never knew her mother as she passed away during childbirth due to the same heart-condition. She soon begins to see the spirit of her deceased mother as well as memories of her from childhood. Dark secrets threaten to blow apart Chanthaly and her father’s already fragile family life as she searches for the truth surrounding her mother’s death.

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The film is a slow-burner, allowing the audience to really empathize with the characters. The performances are very naturalistic as they pull the viewer deep into the story. I respect Chanthaly a great deal for providing something different to a sub-genre in horror that is reliant on loud noises and frequent jump scares in order to frighten the audience. Chanthaly doesn’t do this, instead it brings in some subtle scares that get under the skin and are long-lasting in the mind. Mattie Do has created a beautiful, chilling ghost story as well as a character study and an examination of her culture which is a strong achievement. On the whole Chanthaly is Asian, supernatural horror at its best and I am eagerly anticipating seeing much more of Do’s work. ★★★★

2. Forgotten (Aka. Du Hast Es Versprochen)

  • Directed By Alex Schmidt
  • Germany

Du Hast Es Versprochen became an unexpected festival favorite that leaves the viewer astonished and thought-provoked. Part ghost story, part fairy tale, part psychological thriller, part drama and part mystery, Du Hast Es Versprochen is a chilling, genre-bending rollercoaster ride that keeps the audience on the edge of their seats until the credits roll.

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Du Hast Es Versprochen is a tale about childhood friendship and how the past can literally come back to haunt us. Reminiscent of Nicholas Roeg’s The Witches (1990) in tone and setting and sharing similarities with Ingmar Bergman’s skin-crawling Persona (1966), Du Hast Es Versprochen tells the dark story about regret, the innocence of children and a horrific tragedy. As children, Hanna and Clarissa were inseparable and spent every holiday together in a summer house on a small, isolated fishing island. By chance, they are re-connected in later life as adults, Hanna’s marriage is in trouble and Clarissa has also suffered a trauma of her own, the two set off on a journey down memory lane along with Hanna’s young daughter to the the place they shared happier times. They become reminded of a third friend named Maria which evokes unexpected terror and truths they did not wish to uncover.

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With the sense of no escape and a claustrophobic setting, the film pulls the audience in one direction and pushes them in another, it takes the concept of twist and turns to a whole different level. By the end its difficult to decipher which character to empathize with. Well-acted, directed and shot, Mina Tander as Hanna has a startling screen-presence, while Laura De Boer’s Clarissa is reminiscent of a young Winona Ryder. The child actors in the film are phenomenal in terms of bringing in the creep factor. With some startling scares, Du Hast Es Versprochen is one of the best psychological/supernatural thrillers to emerge in a long time. ★★★★★

1. Ghost Graduation

  • Directed By Javier Ruiz Caldera
  • Spain

Ghost Graduation is one of those unexpected gems that ended up being the ultimate festival film of Abertoir 2013, and rightly deserved. Ghost Graduation is the kind of genre film that holds a commercial appeal outside of Horror audiences. It could be fair to argue that it isn’t strictly a horror film but more of a heart-warming comedy that happens to feature supernatural elements. The film opens with a perfectly choreographed dance sequence at a high school prom to non other than Whigfield’s huge 90’s hit Saturday Night, on that alone I think the audience was sold! Changing to the slower number of Bonnie Tyler’s Total Eclipse of the Heart, we meet our protagonist Modesto (Raul Arevalo) who is treated as a misfit due to his ability to communicate with ghosts, which paints him as a bit crazy to us normal folk! Fast forward to the present day and Modesto struggles to hold down a teaching job due to his special gift.

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Modesto’s luck changes when he is offered a position at a failing, prestigious school by harassed headteacher Tina  (Alexandra Jimenez) who has the school board constantly on her back. When he accidentally stumbles on an old abandoned library, he meets five spirits of former high school students who were tragically killed in a fire in  1986. With unfinished business on earth, Modesto makes it his incentive to help the teens cross over by helping them finally graduate! There’s also an entertaining sub-plot where Modesto frequently visits a hapless psychiatrist who is under the watch of his disappointed father creating plenty of comedy.

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It’s so easy to misjudge this film based on its marketing which makes it appear like a standard American Pie-style sequel and won’t initially come across as the most conventional choice for a horror audience as it doesn’t have a scary bone in it’s skeletal body! Ghost Graduation is filled with John Hughes shaped nostalgia and pop-culture references. It’s endearing, funny and is guaranteed to place a massive smile on your face. The ultimate feel-good semi-horror movie. ★★★★★

So that’s Abertoir done for another year and what a fantastic festival it proved to be once again. A huge thank you to Gaz Bailey, Nia Edwards-Behi, Rhys Fowler and Rebekah Smith for programming a brilliant selection of films for genre fans to enjoy. Caitlyn Downs and I have been working on video coverage which can be found here with more on the way! .

Visit: http://abertoir.co.uk/

Hayley Alice Roberts.

Rip Your Heart Out: A UK Review: Supernatural #8.4 “Bitten”

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , on July 22, 2013 by Hayley's Horror Reviews
  • Directed By Thomas J. Wright
  • Written By Robbie Thompson
  • Original Air date 24th October 2012

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This review is dedicated to fellow writer/reviewer and Supernatural fan Jorge Solis (@JSolis82).

Supernatural has made a demonic return to our UK TV screens, broadcasting in double bill formats on Sky channel Living every Wednesday from 10pm. Thus far, Season Eight kicked off with Dean (Jensen Ackles) (minus Castiel (Misha Collins)) escaping from purgatory following a deal with a vampire named Benny (Ty Olsson), whom he resurrects. Once reunited with Sam, who this time has decided to get on with his life instead of hunting for Dean’s whereabouts, they go on a quest to find Kevin (Osric Chau), a prophet who has been chosen to translate a tablet deemed The Word of God. The tablet is said to contain spells that can ultimately unleash every demon imaginable on this earth through opening the Gates of Hell which Crowley (Mark A. Shepperd) has sinisterly discovered. It also has the reverse effect and could potentially close them, which provides us with the Winchester’s main quest for this season. The brother’s relationship is once again strained full of angst and conflict, Sam has had a mysterious relationship with a vet named Amelia during Dean’s absence, which he addresses to Dean and the viewers that it has ended, so far under unknown circumstances. The youngest Winchester now has a taste for a normal life and toys with the idea of giving up hunting for good. But, can Dean survive going solo? This is the aspect I’m mainly looking forward to the writer’s developing as the eighth season unfolds because the dynamic between Sam and Dean is the heart of the show. The season’s plot focusing on closing the gates of hell is sure to be a captivating watch and could prove the Winchester’s most difficult task yet. 

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The long-running horror series is famed for its stand-alone, monster-of-the-week episodes. Following a two-part introduction to the main focus of the season in We need to talk about Kevin (#8.1) and “What’s up, Tiger Mommy?” (#8.2), the subsequent episodes return to this well-known, established formula. Episode Four titled Bitten which is the subject of this review came as a surprisingly experimental and gripping stand-alone addition to the Supernatural-verse. Taking characteristics from the found-footage sub-genre, it almost felt like a horror short from an anthology such as V/H/S rather than an installment of Supernatural. This type of episode has refreshed the show to a degree and demonstrates that straying from the expected structure can work successfully. Bitten is an example of how television these days is becoming more cinematic through expanding on trends within the horror film genre, bringing in recognizable traits and styles for fans. The show has previously attempted a type of found-footage format with Ghostfacers (#3.13) which satirized ghost-hunting style shows e.g. Most Haunted balancing humor and all out creepiness really well. Werewolf mythology has always been a frequently re-visited fixture within the show (as has its close relatives Shape-Shifters) particularly the episodes Heart (#2.17) and All Dogs go to Heaven (#6.8), Bitten crosses over previously seen narrative styles that Supernatural has depicted over the past eight years.

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Rather than focusing the episode on Sam and Dean investigating a horrific incident, normally linked to the occult, Bitten has them in the background, making short appearances throughout. The Winchesters are firmly placed in the eyes of the viewers as they watch a video taken from the perspective of film students Brian (Leigh Parker) and Michael (Brandon Jones) after entering a blood-soaked crime scene. There are themes present which emphasize the rise of technology in the modern world as Brian and Michael mess around with their cameras, searching for a subject to create a movie on. It demonstrates that so many people in today’s society have easy access to the world of film-making with found-footage particularly being a popular trend, suggesting that anyone who can pick up a camera can think they’re a filmmaker.  The same sequence discussed also introduces Kate (Brit Sheridan) who becomes Michael’s girlfriend. Strong character development is then defined between the trio, setting up the later conflict that will be seen within the episode. Considering these young actors have to hold their own in this episode away from Sam and Dean, they do a tremendous job and play well-rounded, engaging characters.

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Brian displays jealousy towards his best friend’s new found relationship and hints that he is also in love with Kate. When Michael is bitten by the lycanthrope, he becomes stronger and even more appealing in Kate’s eyes which causes Brian to fixate on wanting to be just like him even more. The episode takes a dark turn as expected, heightening the blurry lines between human and monster in the werewolf mythos and how the individual doesn’t have the choice, bringing in a heart-breaking effect similarly to Sam’s decision to murder his werewolf lover in Heart.

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Milo Green’s What’s The Matter has a strong presence throughout adding to the devastation as it echoes back to the happier times when the trio first met. It was refreshing to see the perspective of the victims and how they view Sam and Dean.  As they eavesdrop on their investigation they refer to them as just a couple of  unconvincing FBI agents with nods to The X Files (which comes at no surprise as director Thomas J. Wright worked on the show). They misinterpret the brother’s relationship as romantic, echoing back to the earlier seasons, adding humor within a dark, twisted storyline without going over the top with meta referencing i.e. Wincest.

Bitten is a beautiful, thought-provoking episode with an engrossing storyline. Its left open-ended, therefore I’m hoping it will at least be followed up or referred to later on. Bitten experiments with Supernatural’s format, yet returns to what the earlier seasons conveyed. I can definitely place this episode as one of my favorites and it goes to show why Supernatural is still one of the most popular genre shows on television today.

Hayley Alice Roberts.

More Supernatural From Me: “The Grieving Process”- A Review of “Adventures in Babysitting” (#7.11)

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , on January 10, 2012 by Hayley's Horror Reviews

**WARNING** CONTAINS SPOILERS.

  • Directed by Jeannot Szwarc
  • Created by Eric Kripke
  • Written by Eric Kripke and Adam Glass
  • Original Air Date: 6th January 2012

Following an emotional farewell to beloved father-figure Bobby in the  stunning previous instalment “Death’s Door” (#7.10), “Supernatural” returned with “Adventures in Babysitting” dealing with the aftermath of initial grief. Dean is on a revenge-driven spree, with absolute determination to destroy the Leviathan’s once and for all, his one problem is figuring out the what the numbers Bobby spent his last moments insuring them was a key to the Dick Roman-led monsters actually means. The focus of the episode does however distance itself from the main storyline and takes the audience back to what “Supernatural” was first about two brothers who hunt evil and save the greater good. During the opening it appears Dean has lost this incentive as he resorts to wallowing in grief and alcoholism. Sam struggles to reach him, conveyed by scenes of them sitting in complete silence. Dean’s worst fear is realised as he has lost two significant people to him in a short space of time and he and Sammy are left behind to keep fighting. As Dean struggles, Sam discovers a new case they can work on, helping a young girl find her missing father who also happens to be a hunter. Interestingly when Sam first meets Krissy, the audience sees him in a point of view shot from her perspective, he reassures her and potentially the audience that she can trust him, considering Sammy’s history was this possibly foreshadowing what’s to come? The episode is ultimately about reconnecting therefore the brothers must once more go their separate ways before achieving it.

The episode allows Dean to go through the grieving process, via an enlightening journey where by the end he finds a sense of peace and impacts two lives in a positive way. Prior to this he once again encounters Frank, an expert in government secret identities and friend of Bobby’s. Dean and Frank don’t initially see eye to eye and both could be considered “loose canons”, with Dean’s lack of fight and Frank’s extreme paranoia. The episode title apart from the obvious where Dean has to take Krissy on the hunt with him, could also be applicable to the Frank and Dean scenes as they both act as liabilities to each other and argue more than work together at first. Frank is also an example of what Dean could potentially become. Frank’s wife and daughter had been killed years before and Frank has faced life alone, he is an amalgamation of what Dean could be one day, he soon realises he does have one drive left that will keep him going, he’s not totally alone, he has his brother and once he discovers Sam’s in trouble again his instincts kick right back in.

Krissy was an interesting character and demonstrated a new direction for Kripke in relation to his female characters. Its no secret that female characters on the show, even the strong ones are either evil (e.g. Ruby, Meg) or get killed off (e.g. Jo, Ellen); Krissy surprised the audience by coming across as a hindrance and “the annoying kid” stereotype to begin with, it was then refreshing to see a young, tough female character who can look after herself, however it is depressing to see such a young person already taken in by a life of hunting as Krissy acts more grown up that she should be. She also rescues Sam and Dean which considering the level of grief they are both consumed in demonstrates their current state of vulnerability and that sometimes they need to be saved. The ending is fitting and bittersweet, Sam and Dean walk away knowing they have impacted two lives by encouraging Krissy and her father to walk away from the life, as they can both relate, seeing their younger selves in her. The final image of Dean driving away was powerful as he manages to reach some kind of resolution and gives out a sense of fear and optimism towards the future.

“Adventures in Babysitting” was a welcome mid-season return for “Supernatural”, with leviathan’s left to kill and the brothers now having to make it on their own, fans are in store for a hell of a ride!

Hayley Alice Roberts.

Mrs Sam Winchester: A Review of “Season Seven, Time for a Wedding….”

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , on November 22, 2011 by Hayley's Horror Reviews

…and some thoughts on the latest season as a whole…

**SPOILERS INCLUDED**

  • Directed By Tim Andrew
  • Created By Eric Kripke
  • Written By Daniel Loflin & Andrew Dabb
  • Original Air Date: 11th November 2011

When “Supernatural” gets more surreal than usual, fans know they’re in for a treat! “Season Seven, Time for a Wedding” (#7.8) does exactly that. The episode title is tongue-in-cheek and ironic; continuing the notion of placing the “Supernatural”-verse into a real-life context or a meta-fiction/reference, intelligently demonstrating how self-aware and referential of itself the show is. This sub-plot within the show began back in season four with “The Monster at the end of the Book” (#4.8) where Sam and Dean discover there is a series of books based on all their endeavours that has a small cult following , “The Real Ghostbusters” (#5.9) came next and poked fun at fan fiction and conventions; and then there was the previous season’s “The French Mistake” (#6.15); where Sam and Dean actually discover that they have been on a Television show the entire time and are really played by two actors named Jared and Jensen! Thus far “Supernatural’s” seventh season has featured a great balance of horror, comedy, surrealism, drama and backstory. With the unfortunate demise of Castiel the show has stayed strong and returned to its original roots with some exceptional stand-alone episodes; most memorably the Jensen Ackles directed “The Girl Next Door” (#7.3) and fan favourite “Shut Up, Dr. Phil” (#7.5) that saw a reunion between “Buffy” and “Angel” co-stars Charisma Carpenter and James Marsters. “Season Seven, Time for a Wedding” is the episode that sews up loose ends within the storyline and eventually acts as a re-connection for everyone’s favourite hunters!

The episode opens ambiguously with Dean drowning his sorrows in a Las Vegas bar while acting flirtatiously with an attractive blonde. Considering his recent behaviour in terms of avoiding his issues; the audience are almost led to believe that he may be about to do something completely out of character, say get married! However this is not the case as it is soon revealed that Sam Winchester is about to marry his biggest fan, Becky Rosen who made her debut in Season Five’s “Sympathy for the Devil” (#5.1). The tone of the episode is completely perfect for the Seventh Season’s relatively light-hearted approach in comparison to previous seasons darker storyline’s and if anyone is going to wed the youngest Winchester brother there is no one better in terms of a comic context than Becky! Evidently not all is as it seems; Dean’s reactions are priceless mirroring exactly what the audience is thinking along with pure frustration at his brother; whereas Jared Padalecki underplays Sam’s decision well giving a sense that he is actually serious instead of the over-the-top route both the writing and acting could have gone in; further emphasising the episode’s surrealism.

One of the most enjoyable factors of the episode is the “old-school” feel the show has returned to, with the standalone, “monster-of-the-week” formula making a welcome return as well as the re-invention of one of the show’s most iconic monsters; the cross-roads demon. It was definitely interesting to see the cross-roads demon in a vulnerable position against Crowley-The King of Hell. His character becomes much more complex as he acts partly on the side of the Winchester’s through his hatred for the leviathan’s following his prior humiliation in an attempt of forming an alliance with their leader  in “Slash Fiction” (#7.6); however it still demonstrates Crowley is always out for his own means; choosing the side that will be beneficial to him and using that to the full effect. This sets up some exciting potential of what the rest of the season has in store; and a test for Sam and Dean; will they take advantage of his manipulation?!

Its the character-arc’s within “Season Seven, Time for a Wedding” that are most impressive. Dean is in a position of self re-evaluation as he comes to terms with the fact that he is mostly alone. Bobby isn’t around as much, he has suffered the loss of Castiel and on the surface Sam is behaving as if he is “okay” without him and attempting to move on. The introduction of Garth, who even though was an entertaining character still proves to Dean that he is still a strong, determined hunter all by himself. Becky’s character is delved into further, there is a manipulative streak in her which is an unlike-able character trait in terms of how she “drugs” Sam with an elixir in order to get what she wants. However her motivations to an extent are understandable as the writers lead the viewers into her backstory of how she was bullied during high school and just wanted to show everyone that she was no longer insecure, in that sense she is relate-able and does come through in the end reluctantly accepting she has to let Sam go. Throughout the episode Dean is mostly paired with Garth, who was recommended through Bobby while Sam is with Becky; these two characters actually compliment each other well, as both are slightly geeky and act as hindrances to the protagonists. It also shows metaphorically how Sam and Dean are more alike than they like to believe. By the end of the episode the hunters have mostly re-connected. Its unexpected and has more impact that a comic episode supports this idea rather than a darker episode featuring epic fight between them as it uses subtly well.

Even though the episode is not the strongest or the best in terms of writing; it still features some great moments and storyline continuity; with a great balance of drama and comedy. Thus far I am enjoying the witchcraft-based episodes in the season as its an interesting direction to take, however I am looking forward to seeing more leviathan’s and the return of Dean’s “baby”- the Impala in future instalments!

Check this out for more “Supernatural” from me: https://mshayleyr1989.wordpress.com/2011/09/23/carry-on-wayward-sons-a-look-back-at-some-classic-supernatural/

Hayley Alice Roberts.

“Carry On Wayward Son’s”- A Look back at some classic “Supernatural”

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , , on September 23, 2011 by Hayley's Horror Reviews

With the seventh season premiere fast approaching; here’s a look at some classic episodes of a dark, sexy, scary, gory show known as “Supernatural”.

“Provenance” (#1.19)

  •  Directed By: Philip Sgriccia
  • Written By: David Ehrman
  • Original Air Date: 13th April 2006

Who is she?

“Provenance” is very atmospheric and conforms to the horror genre well. The plot of the episode centres on Sam and Dean investigating the latest in a series of murders in upstate New York. During the first season the hunter brothers relied on their father’s journal to guide them from case to case and this was exactly the character motivation that led them into this latest scenario. The creep factor was conveyed superbly and genuinely gave out a few scares. Personally, from a young age I have always been unnerved by old paintings; “Provenance” realised these fears as its hard not to be superstitious in thinking the eyes are moving and watching! The atmosphere creates heightened tension throughout; pulling the audience into safe and scary places from one moment to the next; from gory murders to the usual Winchester banter. “Provenance” concludes in an unexpected twist, insinuating the message of “things aren’t always what they seem”; the climax is intense and effective cutting back from scenes of Sam and Sara battling the evil force and Dean’s attempts to defeat it. Another element that appeals in this episode is seeing some brief character development from Sam and playing with the possibility of another love interest other than Jess. Sara suits his character well as they bond over their separate tragedies. This romance is something I’ve always hoped the writers would re-visit as he just didn’t meet her at the right time. I like seeing old school Sam and his more sensitive side pre-Lucifer, Ruby, Demon Blood and no soul along with Dean’s complete disbelief that an attractive woman would be interested in his “geeky, younger brother” over him. “Provenance” demonstrates an equal balance of horror, humour and has some nice moments thrown in. In terms of season one as a whole its one of the stronger episodes as its not as predictable as earlier instalments such as “Bloody Mary” (#1.5) or “Hook Man” (#1.7) which of course are based on well-known urban legends. At this point the show was still establishing itself so the formulaic horror premise’s can be forgiven.

“What is and should never be” (#2.20)

  • Directed By Eric Kripke
  • Written By Raelle Tucker
  • Original Air Date: 3rd May 2007

The ideal family image.

Regular readers will be aware that I’m a great fan of “alternate reality” concepts in my favourite shows. “What is and should never be” is thought-provoking and deeply emotional. Jensen Ackles is presented with the opportunity of performing incredibly gritty material as he portrays Dean’s conflicts between his reality and the alternative life. What if he never lost his mother? What if he and Sam were living in normality?  For fans; the episode is an intriguing insight into what the protagonists may have become if the “Supernatural” universe had not become part of their lives. The tone for the majority of the episode feels contrasting in comparison to usual “Supernatural” instalments. The horror conventions are limited until the conclusion. The “normal family” scenario plays out as a soap opera among the tensions and issues between the Winchester Brothers. The episode therefore uses the post-modern ideology of a generic hybrid. Scenes featuring Dean’s excitement over the chance to participate in normal activities such as mowing the lawn and flicking through television channels are both endearing and bittersweet. Dean’s typical bravado is stripped away and he appears childlike in certain moments. He enjoys his idyllic alternative world. The episode depicts this through its mise-en-scene featuring stereotypical imagery of the perfect family home; a white picket fence and a freshly mown lawn. His speech by John’s grave when conflicted of whether he should give up playing the hero and embrace his true happiness is powerful and emotional. The notion of a romantic relationship for Dean is toyed with. Carmen is an example of Dean’s ideal woman, we later discover as he admires her image in a beer advert in a magazine. Possibly unintentional foreshadowing is occurring but in terms of appearance Carmen is similar to Lisa Braden. Both characters represent Dean’s ideals of the type of woman he can see himself having a future with, of course under normal circumstances. The distance between Dean and Sam is compelling viewing and gives a taste of what’s to come during season 4 and 5. The concept of the Winchesters leading separate lives that exclude each other feels depressing. Sam’s character feels unfamiliar and more uptight than usual; it’s interesting to see how different he would have become without being a hunter and exposed to Dean’s influence. His trait of wanting to take control however still remains. The core of the episode focuses on Dean growing as a character, displaying true strength when making the tough decision to sacrifice his wishes for the greater good. I also enjoy the references to “The Wizard of Oz” and the nods to earlier episodes e.g. “Phantom Traveler” (#1.4) and “Playthings” (#2.11). Dean’s powerful and emotional journey and strong character development is the reason this episode is one of my favourites.

“Changing Channels” (#5.8)

  • Directed By Charles Beeson
  • Written By Jeremy Carver
  • Original Air Date: 5th November 2009

Supernatural The Sitcom?

“Changing Channels” delivers “Supernatural’s” humorous side at its best. The episode is vital as it enlightens viewers regarding the Winchester’s up and coming roles in the impending apocalypse. An important character development is also revealed as the audience discover the Trickster’s true being. Typical conventions are challenged as on the surface, “Changing Channels” appears as a “filler” episode.  This “filler” is soaked in humour, and acts as escapism for viewers from the darker storylines in the show. However, the episode holds more significance than what is usually expected. The episode was also important as it makes an interesting comment on American Television; taking satires of medical shows e.g. “Grey’s Anatomy” and Police orientated programmes such as “CSI”. Dean makes a valid point when he states that there are far too many cop shows on television these days and they are all the same. The concept of intertextuality is used in a tongue in cheek manner throughout. Surrealism is a key theme. Scenes that depict this notion well include viewing Sam and Dean in a sitcom scenario; it’s almost as if they are caricatures of themselves; these scenes overall are hilarious. They also support “Supernatural’s” consistent methods of self-awareness and referencing; used previously in “The Monster at the end of the book” (#4.18) and in the following episode “The Real Ghostbusters” (#5.9).  Another example is where Dean describes “Doctor Sexy” as compelling viewing due to the fact it includes ghosts. Even though to an extent the characters are taken out of context; they still remain in sync with the usual flow of “Supernatural”. Sam still behaves awkwardly especially in the “Herpexia” commercial scene, providing laugh out loud material. During the hospital sequence where Sam keeps being referred to as a “brilliant coward” by another “doctor”; it appears metaphorical in relation to the fact he broke the final seal and must let Lucifer’s form into him. The Trickster is a fascinating character; personally the episodes his has featured in have to be some of my favourites. His character takes an unexpected and refreshing turn as it is revealed he is much more powerful that initially assumed. He is given a higher purpose in order to fit in with the show’s angel mythology and I only wished he would have stuck around a little longer. The hybrid of humour, horror, drama and darkness is strongly conveyed which is why “Changing Channels” is one of the most popular episodes. It is also groundbreaking as a statement on modern television.

Hayley Alice Roberts.