Saturday, 15 April 2017

Finally Reading James Dashner's The Maze Runner

I love Dylan O'Brien, star of the Maze Runner films but such is my level of literary loyalty, I made myself read the books before watching the films. Fast forward three or so years and I've finally finished the first book in James Dashner's Maze Runner series. Sad, I know.

I enjoyed the book, unable to put in down in the final chapters as Dashner delivered devastating shock after shock in the build up to the finale. Strangely enough, I can see why so many people found the book to be average but I really enjoyed it. I loved how Dashner gives nothing away and it was everything I could do not to go seek out spoilers or, indeed, read the prequel The Kill Order.

Many people have complained that Thomas shows little character development in the book but I found Dashner's representation to be extremely realistic. In fight or flight mode at the height of a crisis, you're just trying to get through it, to survive. That goes for anything we go through as human beings. The personal growth comes later and it is only as you work through what's happened that you realised how much you've changed. I thought Dashner's writing of Thomas's feelings, perceptions and reactions to the events in the book were really well written.

Will I read the rest of the books in the series? I'd say so, I'm already a quarter of the way through The Scorch Trials where everything has changed. Perhaps I can reward myself sometime this weekend by finally watching the films.


Monday, 20 March 2017

Horror Film Review: Don’t Knock Twice (2016) ★★★★★

Dont Knock Twice Poster

There is a legend about a woman, some would say that she's a witch. She never leaves her house but they say that you should never knock twice on her door. "Once to wake her from her bed, twice to raise her from the dead". Knock twice and she's coming for you. 

What if it's not just a legend? What if she really existed and everyone knew that she once took a child? You can’t believe everything you hear but you better pray she doesn’t answer.

Katee Sackhoff in Dont Knock Twice

Jess is a successful American sculptor, recently returned to the UK on finding fame and recognition. She is fighting to regain custody of her daughter Chloe, now a teenager, after she was forced to give her up as a young child. 

Chloe was just a child when her friend Michael disappeared. Now her boyfriend Danny is missing too and she agrees to go live with Jess, thinking she can keep her safe. 

Katee Sackhoff and Lucy Boynton in Dont Knock Twice

Desperate to rebuild their relationship, Jess puts Chloe's increasingly erratic and dangerous behaviour down to anger and resentment at being abandoned. But what if she is wrong? Very soon Jess is forced to consider the involvement of a vengeful supernatural force and she must give everything she has to ensure that she and Chloe survive. 

Directed by Caradog James (The Machine) and filmed almost entirely in Wales, Don't Knock Twice is a British supernatural horror starring Katee Sackhoff as Jess, NIck Moran (Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows) as Detective Boardman and Lucy Boynton as Chloe.

With a rare horror trifecta of brilliant, twisty plot; fantastic acting and moody cinematography, Don't Knock Twice is one of the best horror films I've seen in years and certainly one of the scariest. There are genuinely terrifying scenes of supernatural mayhem, each made all the more convincing by Katee Sackhoff and Lucy Boynton’s superb performances as repentant mother and horrified daughter.

Each twist is revealed against the backdrop of James Edward Barker and Steve Moore’s chilling electronic score and just when you think it’s safe to emerge from behind the sofa, the finale delivers the biggest shock of all. Dare we hope for a sequel?

Pooneh Hajimohammadi in Dont Knock Twice

I give Don't Knock Twice a superb five out of five stars and would highly recommend to fans of British supernatural horror.


 Don't Knock Twice is in cinemas and on demand 31 March and on DVD 3 April


Thursday, 16 March 2017

Horror Film Review: The Eyes of My Mother (2016) ★★★★★

The Eyes of my Mother

I have an ongoing argument with my friends and family. They simply cannot understand why I am so fascinated by horror and in turn I despair at the relative lack of horror fans in my chosen circles. I’ve often mentioned that I enjoy horror because it is exhilarating but sometimes I watch a film like The Babadook or Open Grave and I realise there is far more to the story.

Horror asks the questions that other genres are too afraid to ask.

Horror is bold and speculative, diving deeper into the darkest psychiatric depths than The Silence of the Lambs could ever hope to reach.

Every so often I watch a horror film that truly moves me, that sits in my subconscious for days after I watch it, worming its way into my dreams (and nightmares) and colouring everything that follows.

This is how I feel about Nicolas Pesce’s debut masterpiece The Eyes of my Mother and nothing I say here can possibly do this film justice. At just 76 minutes long, it is an incredibly complex film, delving as deep into the creation of evil as it is possible to go. I imagine this as the prequel, the backstory that many other horror films fail to divulge.

There is an old stereotype in horror films, the psychotic old woman driven insane by grief and misery whose only respite is to devour your soul, or worse. On those rare occasions when her story is told, usually in the form of an ancient text, we’re given only the briefest of glimpses into a terrifying mind.

What if that woman was once a girl? What if she loved and was loved in return? What if she experienced an unimaginable horror at a very young age and spent the rest of her life trying to stanch the flow of a desperate, suffocating loneliness?

Francisca (Olivia Bond) lives with her parents on a farm in the middle of nowhere in rural America. One day she lets in a stranger and her life changes forever. So does his. But where is the horror? Does it lie in the events of that day or in Francisca’s slow, exacting pattern of revenge? Who is evil and who is the victim?

Filmed entirely in monochrome, The Eyes of my Mother is a stunning debut and an incredibly beautiful film. From the opening scenes there is the constant juxtaposition between the life of a beautiful young girl on an idyllic farm and the horror that lie in wait.

Olivia Bond and Diana Agostini in The Eyes of My Mother

The Eyes of my Mother is a film about loss and loneliness, but it is also a film about the dispassionate distance of a surgeon from death and the consequences of adopting that mantle at such a young age. It is an ambiguous and tricky film, one that will no doubt surprise you as you find yourself cheering for the wrong person. Cool and calculating, this is a film that offers a unique anatomy of evil and the making of a monster.

Kika Magalhaes and Paul Nazak in The Eyes of My Mother

At times the film is surprisingly tender, focusing on the power of touch and human contact. The cast is small with just seven characters but each of the actors gives a nuanced performance. Kika Magalhaes takes over from Olivia Bond as the adult Francisca and she has a powerful presence on screen. This is a film that depends on sound and visuals but just as much happens off-screen as on-screen.

Kika Magalhaes in The Eyes of My Mother

It is easy to see why The Eyes of my Mother has lit up film festivals worldwide and it is reaping in the awards nominations, including a win for Best Feature Film at last year’s Fantastic Cinema Festival. This is a film that has definitely gotten under my skin and will assume a place amongst my favourite horror films of all time.

I give The Eyes of my Mother a superb five out of five stars and would highly recommend to fans of American Gothic and art-house horror.


A Park Circus Future Classics release, The Eyes of my Mother will be released in UK cinemas on 24 March 2017.


Thursday, 23 February 2017

Pam Jenoff's The Orphan’s Tale – Q&A and Giveaway


The day is finally here and I am delighted to announce that I am taking part in The Orphan’s Tale blog tour for the release of the latest novel by Pam Jenoff. I am featuring an exclusive Q&A with Pam and I also have a copy of this poignant and moving novel to give away below.

The Orphan’s Tale follows the story of seventeen-year-old Noa who was cast out by her family in Nazi-occupied Holland when she fell pregnant. Forced to give her baby up at birth, Noa discovers a train carriage full of babies destined for a concentration camp. She saves one of the babies and is soon on the run, eventually landing up at a German circus. There they take her in on the condition that she perform for them as part of the trapeze act. Can she and the star trapeze artist Astrid learn to trust each other before their first performance? Whatever the outcome, it soon becomes clear that those in the circus cannot hide from the war forever.

The Nightingale meets Water For Elephants. The Orphan’s Tale is a powerful story of friendship, love and sacrifice loosely based on several true stories from World War II, uncovered by Jenoff in her research.

Q&A With Pam Jenoff, Author of The Kommandant’s Girl and The Orphan’s Tale

I asked Pam six questions and was thrilled with her fascinating and detailed answers. Thank you for taking part Pam!

The Orphan's Tale is a complex story about trust and loyalty set against the backdrop of a travelling circus during the Second World War. Can you tell us a bit more about how you got the idea for the book and how the story evolved?

The novel, though fictitious, was inspired by two real events: first, the little-known account of the rescuer’s circus, an actual German circus that hid Jews, including rival performers from another circus. Second, the train of unknown infants was drawn from an actual, horrific event during the war. There are also elements of the book that were drawn from real life. For example, the instance of a German military officer being ordered to divorce his Jewish wife was true. Also, a real-life romance between a Jewish woman in hiding and a circus clown provided the idea for Astrid and Peter’s relationship in the book. Finally, while researching I was amazed to find a rich history of Jewish circus dynasties in Europe, which also helped me develop the story.

I found these remarkable stories in the Yad Vashem virtual archives which document the Righteous – people, often not Jewish, who saved Jews during the war.

The detail in the book is often quite startling. How long did it take you to research the book and can you tell us a bit more about that process?

Pam JenoffSome of my research is done before I write the book, other bits contemporaneously with the writing. In any event, armed with the stories from Yad Vashem, I began to dig deeper. I found a book on Jews in popular German entertainment and that book provided more detail about the rescuer’s circus and introduced me to Jewish circus dynasties in Europe. From there, I needed all kinds of research, about Jewish life and life in general during the war, in both Germany and France, where the circus travels. I needed to understand how they were able (and permitted) to keep performing, if at all during such grim times. I used a variety of sources: books, internet, periodical and photos from the time period, correspondence and other first-hand accounts.

Then there was the research about the circus in general. European and American circuses are different and I tried hard to get the details right. Interestingly, there are many websites devoted to historic circus arts. Finally, I had to learn about aerialist arts, such as trapeze. I began with books and videos and then consulted an aerialist, who taught me what was and was not possible. But first I had to understand enough to even know the right questions to ask.

Which character did you identify with the most in The Orphan's Tale and why? Was there a character you didn't like or who didn't turn out as you had intended?

This was one of the first books I’ve written with two narrators, Noa and Astrid. I would not say I identified with one more than the other. I like to write about the gray areas in people: no one is all good or bad, but rather we are a spectrum of our choices in particular circumstances. That for me is a key message in all of my books.

What was your hardest scene in The Orphan's Tale to write?

Hands down, the scene with the infants on the train. It is the opening scene and I knew that from the start, but I waited the longest time to write it. I knew that I had to put my own children on the train in order to do it justice. It is the reason I call this the book that it broke me to write.

As a prolific author, much of your body of work is set during the Holocaust. Would you say that now is more important than ever a time to write about the dangers of fascism and identity politics?

The Orphan’s Tale is particularly important in these tumultuous political times, when people in the United States and across the globe are wrestling questions of moral responsibility for refugees and victims of genocide and other human rights violations in Syria, Africa and elsewhere.   By taking readers into the unprecedented setting of a circus-as-sanctuary and examining choices of individuals and the collective to act for the greater good at their own peril, I’m attempting to use fiction to shine a light on these questions through the lens and lessons of history.

Your readers are always very keen to know when your next book is coming out. What would you most like to write about next?

My next book, still untitled, is about twelve young British women who went missing in Europe during World War II while working as spies, and the woman who goes searching for them – and who might or might not have betrayed them.


The Orphans Tale

Enter using the Gleam widget below to win a copy of Pam Jenoff’s The Orphan’s Tale.

Pam Jenoff's The Orphan's Tale Giveaway

Where Next? The Orphan’s Tale Blog Tour

Wondering where to go next? Follow Pam Jenoff and HQ Stories and check out the blogs below for more exclusive content and giveaways.

Pam Jenoff The Orphan's Tale blog tour

Be sure to subscribe to Addicted to Media by Email for more competitions plus film, TV, music and books news and reviews.

More competitions at ThePrizeFinder

© 2005 - Mandy Southgate | Addicted to Media

This site uses cookies from Google to deliver its services - Click here for information.

Blogger Template Created by pipdig