Wednesday, February 28, 2018
Carrion Comfort by Dan Simmons (1989)
Sprawling yet intimate, Carrion Comfort is the sort of novel that earns epic status with a deeply rewarding journey of astounding depth. Unfolding over the course of several decades and spanning the globe, the tale is dense but personal, complex yet infinitely relatable. Inventive and starkly realistic in equal measures, it offers readers a new breed of vampire so distinct that they aren't really vampires at all. Profoundly disturbing and equally brutal, Carrion Comfort dishes out a smorgasbord of woeful surprises and fiendish chills. Simmons can be a bit overwrought, but his attention to detail and his vivid characterizations combine to flesh out a massive narrative with precision and impeccable clarity. His zeal for history manifests itself here in a heartbreaking examination of the Holocaust that is the very foundation upon which this groundbreaking horror opus is constructed. Fittingly, the emotional whirlwind that ensues catapults readers to dizzying heights. This book is shocking and moving, boasting crushing defeats amid occasional triumphs as it veers from fascinating character study to white-knuckle thriller without warning, with frequent descents into outright terror upping the ante even further. No one is safe, and the stakes couldn't be higher in this massive undertaking. Carrion Comfort isn't just a great read, it's the type of novel that elevates the genre, and it should not be ignored by those who enjoy horror--or compelling literature in general, for that matter.
Final Grade: A+
Monday, February 26, 2018
Short Attention Span Review - Thor: Ragnarok (2017)
I don't know how Marvel is doing it at this point. I'm a lifelong fan of their comics, so it should come as no surprise that I'm a big fan of their box office dominance. More importantly, I love the way they've brought their characters to life on the big screen in such remarkable fashion. Yet it's hard to fathom how they keep managing to kick things up a notch. Perhaps it's because they have recently grown accustomed to taking chances, and those chances are paying dividends. Much like Guardians of the Galaxy, this venture represents a major gamble in terms of tone, with comedy being a huge part of the proceedings. Marvel has seen great success with the comic relief they have inserted into their films from the start, but as with GOTG, this one is just as reliant (if not more reliant) on laughs than thrills. However, while I would say that Thor: Ragnarok is 50% comedy, it is also 50% action-packed, and the God of Thunder has never been so badass. Bonus points: "Immigrant Song" has long been my favorite Zeppelin track, and it seems about ten times cooler now. Thor: Ragnarok is a big win across the board. You will laugh, you will be thrilled, you will marvel (forgive me) at the kaleidoscope of color and sound that takes a familiar property on a trippy new ride that goes big often and delivers the goods at every turn. The cast is insanely good--Hemsworth has never been so fun to watch or so damn gnarly, and Ruffalo makes stealing the show look easy no matter what he's asked to do these days. Cate Blancett makes for a nasty villain, Tessa Thompson is ridiculously good as Valkyrie, Idris Elba is Idris Elba (and Idris Elba is cool as shit), Jeff Goldblum has too much fun and slays it, and my man Karl Urban has a surprisingly potent turn as one of the more conflicted characters in the film. I know, I know, I'm gushing, but Thor: Ragnarok is totally fucking rad, dudes. This kind of kooky shit excites the hell out of me.
Final Grade: A+
Tuesday, February 13, 2018
Short Attention Span Review - Annabelle: Creation (2017)
How rare is this? A prequel to a spinoff emerges as a superior film? No shit? No shit, peeps. I liked Annabelle, though it was far from a revelation. I expected a similar approach this outing for the creepiest doll since Chucky, but Annabelle: Creation aimed higher. Quite a bit higher, in fact. It felt a lot more like The Conjuring in terms of scope and impact. Expertly crafted, thoroughly unnerving, and jam-packed with big scares, I'm ready to classify this as one of the better horror films I have partaken of in recent memory. From the somber opening, the dread is palpable, and this is one of those fright flicks that only gets harder to endure as it somehow gets everything right. Good performances, nifty effects, a riveting plot courtesy of a powerful script, an ominous score--it's all there, friends. There's no time for humor and no need for cheap jolts. This gruesome conjuring (forgive me) is creepy as hell from start to finish and offers up a few dark surprises along the way. Bonus points: the inevitable tie-in to Annabelle is executed perfectly. Highly recommended!
Final Grade: A
|Look out! This one has some serious bite, folks.|
Monday, February 12, 2018
Short Attention Span Review: Annabelle (2014)
Annabelle is a basic bitch, truth be told, but that doesn't render her ineffective. In fact, I found a lot to like in this simplistic throwback. A bit classical in its approach, Annabelle doesn't arrive with any grand aspirations. This one didn't aim to reinvent the wheel, and there were no attempts to ratchet up the tension with a hyper-kinetic array of malevolent jolts. No, we're dealing with a straight-forward and measured endeavor here. In that regard, Annabelle reminded me a lot of the claustrophobic character-driven spookshows of yesteryear. Throw in a tough female lead and some quality effects work, and you're in for a good time at the movies. Intriguing and creepy in equal doses, this unassuming addition to The Conjuring family won't take you anywhere you haven't been before. Yet, if you're a fan of the genre, you will get to revisit the old neighborhood in an efficient and moderately unnerving trip into terror. That's good enough for me.
Final Grade: B-
|When things got out of hand, Annabelle's owners reached out to this priest, and he had the situation under control for approximately 90 seconds.|