Tag Archives: horror

Until Dawn review

I got Until Dawn on some sale or other and had been meaning to play it for ages. Then Skyrim VR came out and I thought I had better clear some room on my hard drive by finishing some games. 10 hours and several adrenaline-spiking scares later, and I was done. It was definitely worth it – Until Dawn is a superb game.

The game takes nearly every horror film cliche and turns it into a long movie. Actually, it is more like a ten-episode TV show, complete with ‘Previously on Until Dawn’ recaps.

The story begins with a load of horny, drunken teens in a remote ski lodge that can only be reached by a knackered cablecar, and they do this in winter, at night. There is a tragedy and horror, then it cuts to the actual proper story a year later and the game begins in earnest with the same teens turning up at the same place to do the same stuff. All in order to get over what had happened a year before. Which turns out to be a really bad idea. Cue psychopaths, strange beasties, serial killers, scary clowns, abandoned mental asylums, haunted mines and so on.

The teenagers behave the way they always do in horror films. At first, they go to even more remote spots to have sex, take baths in the dark with headphones in, play with Ouija boards and etcetera. Then, when it turns out there is a genuine threat, they insist on splitting up to explore scary as shit places.

Until Dawn’s story, although cliched, is actually pretty fun and varies depending on the choices you make thanks to the much mentioned ‘Butterfly Effect’. This is actually pretty cool and depending on how you play, you can save everyone, although this is hugely unlikely on your first go. I only had two deaths. Normally when you watch a horror film, you shout a lot at the screen and the stupid choices of the main characters. Well, now you can make those decisions for them and see how you fare. The vast majority of the time, if you have been paying attention, you can save a character just by making a logical choice based on in-game clues. Which is a nice touch.

It doesn’t make you any less jumpy, however.

What also helps is that Until Dawn is really well-made game.  It is moody and dark with a cold and menacing atmosphere. The characters are stereotypes but are well-acted stereotypes using professional actors and advanced motion capture. They are still in the ‘úncanny valley’ but only just and I was able to recognise several of them easily. There is the vaguely unsettling guy from Fargo, the hot blonde cheerleader from Heroes, Agent Ward from Marvel’s Agents of Shield, and the dude from Mr Robot. I don’t know why I can’t remember names but can still accurately quote alien dialect from Star Wars, but there you go. The acting really helps lift the game and adds to the whole cinematic feel.

I really enjoyed Until Dawn and thoroughly recommend it. It isn’t perfect – there can be annoying camera angles and cut scenes followed by a bit where you have to suddenly press a button or die – but on the whole, it is a superb game and a lot of fun. Recommended if you don’t have heart problems and posses a strong sphincter. Here is a trailer:

 

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Until Dawn: Rush of Blood review

I finally got my PSVR headset (about a month ago) and have been loving it. So I thought I might as well review one of the few games I have played thus. Until Dawn: Rush of Blood is a lot of fun for the price. Not brilliant, but certainly enjoyable and a good intro to VR. Costs vary but I paid around £15, which seems about right.

Here is the plot in as much as there is one: You are on a rollercoaster on your own and some crazy guy injects you with a drug, possibly, that makes you see crazy things. And there are psychopaths loose around the ride. And there may be ghosts. You also might be descending into Hell. Alright, fuck it, there isn’t much plot. I haven’t played any other Until Dawn games so frankly, I have no idea what is going on.

Basically, Rush of Blood is a horror shooter on a rollercoaster. I highly recommend using Move controllers because they make the shooting experience more immersive, interactive, and a lot more fun. There are quite a few jump scares and a lot of gore, so if you don’t like either then maybe this isn’t for you. To be honest, I am not that bothered either way when it comes to scares or blood, yet I really enjoyed myself. The controls are responsive, the visuals are clear and sharp, and the shooting itself is immense fun. Even at the start, where you are mostly shooting at balloons and pottery, it is a pretty good laugh. Things just amp up from there.

I have played a couple of other PSVR games and have enjoyed them all to various degrees. It is possible that if I was more experienced in VR then Rush of Blood might be less impressive. As it is, if you are a newb, then give it a go. I wouldn’t pay much more than  £15 and if you can get it for less than that, definitely go for it. There are a few moments where the roller coaster speeds up that might give you motion sickness, but I didn’t find any problems. Possibly because I was focussed on keeping an eye out for zombies, bats, or giant pigs.

To conclude: I don’t think Rush of Blood is a classic in any way but if you are looking for a new game to try out VR, then it is worth a go. Here is a trailer:

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Ghost Stories review

Ghost Stories at the Duke of York

We decided to see this the other day as we had an evening free and happened to walk past the Duke of York theatre where it was playing. If you are a Londoner this can be a recommended way of going to see a play as you can get massive discounts at the box office a few hours before the play starts. We got premium seats and instead of of paying £70, we both got in for £45. Bargain. I just mention this to gloat and be helpful.

Jeremy Dyson and Andy Nyman

So, the play. ‘Ghost Stories’ was written by Andy Nyman and Jeremy Dyson. Nyman is best known as Derren Brown’s co-conspirator and he helps write a lot of his tricks and stage acts. He was also superb as a sweary TV producer in Charlie Brooker’s genius zombie series Dead Set. Dyson is best known for writing The League of Gentlemen, a genuinely creepy and darkly funny show. So both are good writers and no strangers to a decent foreboding atmosphere.

The tension starts the moment you walk into the theatre. The walls are covered with cobwebs, police tape, and ominous chalk numbers. The whole place, inside and out, is lit by flickering lightbulbs. Even the voice telling you to make sure your mobile is off is pretty damn creepy.

The play begins with the superb Andy Nyman giving us the audience a lecture on Parapsychology. Specifically ghosts. He then introduces us to three chilling ghost tales – ones that he thinks deserve further investigation. He links these stories as part of his lecture. I can’t say much more without giving things away.

I have to say, I loved this. It was great fun and once you have seen the whole thing and think about it, you appreciate how brilliantly crafted the experience is. Everything is linked and builds to the ‘shock’ ending. I watch a lot of horror films, often on my own at 3am to maximize the scare factor, and am pretty immune to genuine fear induced by entertainment. God bless desensitisation! I do feel tension, suspense, shock and enjoyment, however, and these are present in abundance.

If you are easily scared, and want to be again, go and see it. If you are a hardened horror fanatic and enjoy the genre, go and see it. It’s damn good fun.

Below is the trailer and you can see audience reaction. I can guarantee that these aren’t faked reactions. There are some real jump out of your seat moments and they could get footage like this any night. I almost spilled my gin and tonic at one point.

http://youtu.be/ZQ0Yhq_v4b0

 

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The Human Centipede

WARNING! DO NOT READ THIS. THIS IS DISTURBING! IF YOU READ THIS HAVING JUST IGNORED THAT WARNING AND THEN WANT TO COMPLAIN YOU CAN’T, BECAUSE YOU ARE A MORON WHO WAS WARNED.

Until I make my millions, I am forced to work in the TV industry. It was an awesome job at first but now it is growing increasingly tedious. A lot of the trials and stresses come from the material we are forced to watch. I work for the BBC, the Syfy channel, Disney, Discovery, music channels and more. With such a broad scope, the 12 hours of TV I have to watch can be a bit hit and miss.

Mega Shark versus Giant Octopus. Who wouldn't want to see this?

Sometimes it can be a daft but strangely fun film like ‘Mega Shark versus Giant Octopus’, sometimes it can be an awesome documentary about space or war, sometimes it can be Micky Mouse. At one place I am supposed to watch three channels of cartoons and three channels of soft porn. Which slowly but surely breaks your brain.

An example of the trials I stoically endure occurred the other night when I was working at the Syfy Channel. I got in and did all my checks and work and then settled down to watch the movies. The first was ‘Evil Dead’. The legendary Sam Raimi directing the always awesome Bruce Campbell in a low budget horror. With chainsaws and zombies. Absolutely brilliant. Gory, cheesy, B-movie fun.Evil Dead. Sheer genius!

The next film was different. It was called ‘The Human Centipede’. Quite frankly, it was awful and disturbing. I think the most disturbing things are: someone thought it up, then wrote it, then directed it, found actors to be in it, somehow got people to pay for it, and finally managed to get it on the Syfy channel where I had to watch it. The horror.

Here’s the premise. Two young, attractive, fairly stupid American girls are on their way to a club in Germany. Their car breaks down on a remote road. They wisely decide to leave the car and wander aimlessly through the woods at night. They see a house and head toward it. The door is opened by one of the scariest looking Germans you have ever seen. They ask if the insane looking man can phone up a car rescue service and if they can come in. The obvious psychopath asks, ‘Are you alone?’ They wisely inform the nutter that they are alone and lost and tourists and then follow him in.

They then get drugged and wake up in the basement. There’s already a guy there strapped to a bed but the Mengele wannabe decides the guy isn’t right and takes him out and kills him. He then pops out and comes back with a drugged and bound Japanese guy. Which is apparently pretty easy in remote Germany. It is once he has returned that one of the girls tries to escape. In fact, she decides to make a run for it while he is in the room, as opposed to all the opportunities she had before. Brilliantly she manages to get out but then returns to try and get her friend. I tell you this not to ruin the film, which is impossible, but to warn you of the sort of intelligence displayed in the film.

The German mad doctor fellow turns out to be an expert in separating Siamese twins. Unfortunately he is also insane and secretly wants to join people together. By the ass to mouth method. Apparently the film is 100% medically accurate. What they mean is that it is possible to stitch someone’s mouth to someone’s arsehole and make them eat their crap. Which is probably possible. After about an hour of this tedium, the three get turned into – THE HUMAN CENTIPEDE!

The 'science' behind the premise

The 'science' behind the film

If you have read this far, then you have pretty much experienced all the film has to offer. This film is awful. The script is dire but it often is in films like this. It isn’t particularly scary or gory. It isn’t clever or interesting. It really doesn’t seem to have anything going for it apart from the main grossout idea. The ‘Evil Dead’ is gorier and cheesier but it has a certain amount of charm and is well directed and has Bruce Campbell with a chainsaw and an evil hand. Compared to a shock film like the first ‘Saw’ movie ‘The Human Centipede’ just comes across as stupid and pointless. The original ‘Saw’ was a horrible idea, but it was clever and watchable. This just isn’t. I love horror films and thought this was pointless.

If this hasn’t been enough to put you off, here is the trailer. It is probably better than the film and you will get nothing more from the film in the way of shocks or entertainment. I just don’t want you, dear reader, to waste your life watching this. I, at least, get paid.

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