Review: Final Girls – Riley Sager

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I received this book in exchange for an honest review.

SYNOPSIS: Ten years ago, college student Quincy Carpenter went on vacation with five friends and came back alone, the only survivor of a horror movie–scale massacre. In an instant, she became a member of a club no one wants to belong to—a group of similar survivors known in the press as the Final Girls. Lisa, who lost nine sorority sisters to a college dropout’s knife; Sam, who went up against the Sack Man during her shift at the Nightlight Inn; and now Quincy, who ran bleeding through the woods to escape Pine Cottage and the man she refers to only as Him. The three girls are all attempting to put their nightmares behind them, and, with that, one another. Despite the media’s attempts, they never meet.

Now, Quincy is doing well—maybe even great, thanks to her Xanax prescription. She has a caring almost-fiancé, Jeff; a popular baking blog; a beautiful apartment; and a therapeutic presence in Coop, the police officer who saved her life all those years ago. Her memory won’t even allow her to recall the events of that night; the past is in the past.

That is, until Lisa, the first Final Girl, is found dead in her bathtub, wrists slit, and Sam, the second, appears on Quincy’s doorstep. Blowing through Quincy’s life like a whirlwind, Sam seems intent on making Quincy relive the past, with increasingly dire consequences, all of which makes Quincy question why Sam is really seeking her out. And when new details about Lisa’s death come to light, Quincy’s life becomes a race against time as she tries to unravel Sam’s truths from her lies, evade the police and hungry reporters, and, most crucially, remember what really happened at Pine Cottage, before what was started ten years ago is finished. – via Goodreads

GRADE 7.5Alrighty, this one was actually good. It is what I expected – entertaining, keeps you reading, reads really quickly, but never actually delves into the psychological aspects of surviving something so horrific. Sure, it touches on it, and uses some abnormal behaviour to showcase it, but it never gets to the guts of it. That being said, I enjoyed this read.

The story barrels along, and between the main story, there are flashbacks to Pine Cottage, telling us what happened to Quincy. They are spaced really well, because it is not frequently enough to rip you from the main story, and gives you just enough to get us wondering what exactly happened on that terrifying birthday trip. I appreciated that. The pacing was also pretty decent. I feel that the book could have been tightened up in places, it felt a little long winded at times, but not so much to make the book a drag.

To be honest, I was not really taken with any of the characters. I found Jeff to be empty and spineless, Quincy to be the insubstantial shadow she was (I suppose we call that good writing right there), and then there was Sam, who was constantly so abrasive I could not stand her. The situations these two women find themselves in is crazy, and yet you are interested to see where it all goes.

I really wished that Sager had delved more into the psychology of survival, but didn’t really expect it, so I was not horrified when it was all there. I thought the novel truly succeeded in not being bland and boring or overly predictable, as it kept you guessing and also showcased some great twists and turns.

SPOILER: I didn’t ever actually buy into Joe Hannen being the Pine Cottage killer because Sager almost tried too hard to sell that, so my back was up. Plus (and this was intended, I am sure) when you read more about him later in the flashbacks, something just doesn’t sit right or ring true about him being crazy like that.

Final Girls was a fine pick, and an entertaining read that I can see becoming rather popular. I can definitely recommend the read, especially if you are into horror. If you aren’t into horror, no worries, there is plenty to keep you entertained here. The book did drag a little strangely in some places, but I enjoyed it. Worth checking out!

Sporadic Scene: The Originals (Season1x06) – Elijah Kills The Witch

Alright, alright, I freaking adore Elijah Mikaelson, this is known. A scene I downright loved was the scene in which Elijah gave his word that Klaus would not kill the witch, Agnes. Klaus was all good and ready to ignore Elijah’s urges not to kill the witch, until Elijah told Klaus he had given his word that Klaus would not kill Agnes, and Elijah is nothing if not short of extremely trustworthy, and even Klaus knows when to back off. Note it looks like Christmas has been cancelled for Klausie and a mutiny is building, but that soon changes to sheer pleasure as Elijah takes control of the situation because really, who the heck would screw with the Mikaelsons, anyhow?

Review: War Dogs (2016)

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“They called guys like us war dogs. Bottom feeders who make money off of war without ever stepping foot on the battlefield. It was supposed to be derogatory, but… we kind of liked it.”
– David Packouz

SYNOPSIS: Based on the true story of two young men, David Packouz and Efraim Diveroli, who won a $300 million contract from the Pentagon to arm America’s allies in Afghanistan. – via IMDB

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GRADE 7You know, I didn’t really know what to expect of this movie going into it. I didn’t read an awful lot on it, or hear a lot about it. My yardstick was some friends of mine tellling me that it was worth a look see, and was pretty entertaining. I have to say that I agree, this was quite a good one.

Jonah Hill is excellent as Efraim Diveroli, what an absolute tosser. He really owned the role and got into it. Miles Teller is a good actor, and he’s a welcome addition to the cast for this. Hill and Teller work together excellently and effortlessly, and just make this a fun watch. That’s another thing; I appreciated how War Dogs gave you enough story for you to understand, but not so much that it becomes a heavy, full-fledged drama. This movie is ultimately quite fun, despite the subject matter it deals with. What a fantastically crazy story!

The pacing wasn’t bad in this movie – it was fast and told you the story at breakneck speed, to be sure, but you had a lot of fun along the way, and got to see enough of what was happening to appreciate and understand it all. I also liked the score for this. There were some issues – I know I say this is fun and all, and it is, but I would have liked a little bit more substance to the entire crazy deal these young men pulled together.

I am not totally sure about the accuracy of this story, and I am sure that tons of liberties were taken, too, but I had fun. It was not great, and there were legitimate issues that were littered across it with characters and events, but it is a light, entertaining watch, and that is all that I could ask for. This is not an area that most people have a lot of knowledge, so it was something new.

Anyway, silly, entertaining, a few truly funny moments, War Dogs is worth a look see, regardless of the actual story, or how this compares.

Review: The Accountant (2016)

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“Aggression, correctly channeled, overcomes a lot of flaws. Tapping into that aggression requires peeling back several layers of yourself.”
– Young Chris’s Father

SYNOPSIS: As a math savant uncooks the books for a new client, the Treasury Department closes in on his activities and the body count starts to rise. – via IMDB

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GRADE 6Well, to be honest, I was hoping for a little more from this movie, and was left a little disappointed. It isn’t a bad movie, not at all, it’s just a really flat movie that never went for the potential that it had.

The Accountant is shot really well, and for the most part the performances are pretty good, too. It also has a really interesting premise – an autistic man who is a math genius, extremely trained, an assassin, and an accountant? Yes, I liked where this was going. Sadly, that was about as exciting as it got. The fight scenes were choreographed well and so much fun to watch – they were gritty, great hand to hand combat and hardcore gun fights, so definitely cool. Christian Wolff was quite an interesting character, too. Heck, there was even some entertaining awkward humour sprinkled throughout this, which I appreciated.

All that being said, there are some issues. For one, the story was pretty weak, and the plot twists were rather obvious. Especially the “very big one”. Also, Affleck didn’t have me convinced more than half the time in his role, which was rather annoying. Bernthal was great to watch though, but pretty much played what he always plays. This is not a bad thing, he’s excellent like that. Kendrick, too, played the awkward character I have come to expect from her. J.K Simmons was good, too, but Cynthia Addai-Robinson didn’t impress me at all.

The movie played it really safe, instead of going for glory, which is why it is a decent movie, but ultimately rather flat and totally forgettable. Messy, flawed, but nevertheless a decent action-thriller flick.

JB & The Chop Do: The Amityville Terror (2016)

Once again JB and I delve into the Crimes Against Humanity section of movie making and take a look at The Amityville Terror. Is it bad?? Oh god yes! Is it the worst?? Well…. I hate to spoil things but that’s coming up soon. I thought this had some passable moments but it wasn’t good by any means. I think it’s funny that this franchise will never die and we’re attached to it despite all of our good intentions. There’s a line in a movie called Reign of Fire where Matty Maconougheyhey says “We have paid a terrible price….” and I think the two of us can both attest to that.

Let’s go!

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SYNOPSIS: When a new family moves to an old house in Amityville, they are tormented and tortured by an evil spirit living in the home while trapped by the malicious townspeople who want to keep them there. – via IMDB

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A perfectly happy family, living in peace on a sunny parcel of land in California receive news that the bank is foreclosing on them and they must vacate immediately. The mother and father ignore these messages and spend their days and nights pounding away at each other; in the bed, on the clothes dryer, in a pool of cold marsala gravy spilled on the floor, etc. The daughter gets sick of this so she spends her days dirt back riding. One day, while she is out in the hills riding her bike and collecting possums, the bank sends a bulldozer to the house, razing it to the ground, killing her parents. Distraught, but happy that all that constant banging is over, she moves in with her aunt in New York where she gets possessed and goes on a sick murdering streak until she is finally gunned down in a Bonnie and Clyde style shoot out on Amityville’s Main Street.

Sound good??? Well, it’s not and, honestly, none of that really happens. What does happen is this:

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Girl and family move to new town… into a house possessed by Satan…

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Girl meets boy…

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Drunken aunt bathes in acid….

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Someone has to deal with Satanic rosebushes…

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Someone gets a blowjob from his own sister then bangs her over the kitchen table….

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Someone somehow turns into some sort of growling witch with white eyes…

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OOPS!! How’d that get in there??

And then it is, mercifully over… or is it????

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I know it’s always fun to rag on a bad movie – and this one is BAD – but it’s not the worst of the bunch. The Amityville Playhouse was the worst of them all. This one is awful, to be sure, but it did have a couple of cool spots in it. Maybe three. The dialogue is pitiful. The CGI is THE WORST. Most of the story makes no fucking sense BUT it was better then Playhouse.

Things like this happen: a fully nude woman is taking a bath. Elsewhere in the house, her brother pours some drain cleaner down a sink. The tub fills with acid! “OOHMYGODOHMYGODIMBURNING!!!” she screams, falling out of the tub, exposing her shaved business. But she’s really not. Psych!

Later, a woman looks at her rose bushes. They are dead. So, as we all would, she starts screaming and moaning and pulls them out of the ground slashing her arms on the thorns and smearing blood all over her face. Quality!

Even later that day, the dad comes home from work after killing his boss in the worst fiery death you’ve ever seen. “I killed my boss today” he says. “How about i make you feel better?” she coos and gives him a blowy. Not satisfied, he pounds on her from behind for five seconds, makes his jizz and goes to bed. Uh oh! His wife is already in bed so he must have just boned his sister! Value.!

Yep – it’s bad. Is it #BazookaList bad? I actually didn’t HATE it like I hate some of these things I watch but it wasn’t good. I wonder how JB will react?

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Are you fucking kidding me? Are you fucking kidding me?! For reals. The Chop and I have been waiting for the release of Amityville: The Awakening in 2017 (maybe, if they ever get done with it). Waiting? Dreading. Sorry. I need to make amends. Anyway, I was minding my own business the other day when I got this:

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I was not shocked when that was followed by:

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I could not believe my eyes! This little movie hopped up out of nowhere and beat Amityville: The Awakening to the punch. ANOTHER FREAKING AMITYVILLE MOVIE, WITH ANOTHER FREAKING TERRIBLE TITLE?! This franchise will never die. Then I went to have a look see, and this is what I saw:

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It’s a freaking free for all! Just look at that! The list below was posted once upon a time in one of our reviews. These were all the Amityville films. Fourteen, if you count the one we are waiting for in 2017. Now? EIGHTEEN, counting the 2017 one. Four just popped up out of nowhere.

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Anyway, after all that, and educating both our readers and ourselves that we (apparently) have a shit ton  more of these crap things to catch up on, I will move on to the actual body of this review.

I totally thought that the one hour, twenty four minute runtime was doable. Heck, shorter than most of the others ones we have trekked through. Goodness, I should have thought about how that same runtime can feel like a lifetime if it is beyond boring. And let me just tell you, The Amityville Terror is less interesting than watching paint dry.

The intro for this movie is godawful, and pretty much set the tone for the rest of the movie. It did not improve at all. In fact, it went steadily downhill, with this silly girl playing the lead, an awkward family, a guy that fucks his sister somewhere along the way (really, they went for gold here guys), families sacrificed for witchcraft (I think), and a right hooker looking woman who has odd nipples that rents this death house out to unsuspecting victims.

The dialogue is super stunted, and made me cringe more often than not. I don’t know people who talk to each other like that, it’s not natural. Besides the dialogue being hinky, the interactions between the characters were utterly unbelievable and awkward to watch. The Amityville Terror knows nothing about finesse, and spends no time setting up a story. No, sir. Let’s just get right into the crazy. Not the good kind, mind, just the ridiculous kind.

The costume design was also something that had me wondering wtf. A lot of the women looked like they could do with a hell of a lot more material in their closets, the teenage girl could totally buy brands outside of Fox, and some people need to check their sizing and go shopping again. Gosh, I know how harsh that sounds, but the people even looked uncomfortable, which made things even worse.

As for the characters, I couldn’t stand any of them. Especially Hailey, that daughter. What a little ingrate man, and how rude can you be?! WOW! The characters took over and desperately tried to convince us that there was a story to be found here, which there totally wasn’t.

This movie suffers from bad, bad, bad, bad, bad writing. It is unforgivable actually. The writers stuffed the movie with shitty characters and nudity to try and hide it, and that was even worse. It was beyond stupid and ridiculous to boot, and features some of the best CGI and acting I have ever seen (PLEASE NOTE: Do not miss sarcasm). Like ho-ly shit. That being said, I can think of way worse movies in this godawful franchise. Not that it makes this one amazing or anything, but heck, it is infinitely better that Playhouse, the Chop is right, that was hands down the most offensive of the lot.

Review: Southern Gothic – Dale Wiley

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I received this book in exchange for an honest review.

SYNOPSIS: Aspiring author Meredith Harper owns the hottest bookstore in Savannah.

Michael Black is her favorite writer—long thought dead—until he mysteriously approaches Meredith with a new manuscript, and a most unusual offer. Meredith can keep the manuscript to herself, or publish it under her own name.

Her decision results in a bestseller, but the novel contains a coded secret; one that will put her on trial for murder and in hiding from “the blood stalker,” proving too late that making a deal with the devil comes at a heavy price.  – via Goodreads

GRADE 2Man, I wanted to like this. But it was a flat and supremely irritating affair for me for so many reasons. The book was messy. It starts off okay, if not a little bland. But next thing you know, it rushes into this woman having a stalker, and before you can blink your eyes and wonder when the tension is going to kick in, she knows immediately it is a famous author she is a big fan of. Uhm… yes. The next time I hear something go bump in the night, I am going to hope some hot celebrity I am into is there.

The pacing was so off. It was ridiculous, and I couldn’t stand it. Don’t get me wrong, the book reads super quickly, but meh. I really didn’t like it. There are absolutely no likable characters. This is not necessarily a deal breaker, provided that there is a solid story to tell. Which there wasn’t. Not even remotely. Also, there is the way this author flips between the actual book that I am reading (Southern Gothic), and then the book within the book (Red Ribbon). Both stories sucked, and it was jarring to read like that because there was seriously no voice to differentiate between the varying chapters. They both sound exactly the same, and that is something I cannot forgive. The dialogue is all over the show, too, and I found the plot to be glaringly obvious.

There is also just way too much sex in this book. I am not talking the super explicit kind like Nora Roberts, but enough to annoy me. It served no purpose, either. And when Michael and Meredith weren’t banging each other, she was constantly thinking about it. Uhm, nope. No thanks. Also, Meredith falls in love with Michael just like that? She doesn’t know him. She loves his literary work, and ignores the fact that there is something distinctly off about him? Puh-lease. Idiot. It isn’t like Michael was doing an awfully good job of hiding his weirdness.

I wanted to like this more, I did, and it could have been more. But Wiley brings no heart to the book. While it is a fast read, it is a hollow, forgettable one that frustrated me while reading, and not one that I can recommend. I see that it has pretty good ratings, but it didn’t work for me on any level.

January Blind Spot Review: Say Anything (1989)

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“What I really want to do with my life – what I want to do for a living – is I want to be with your daughter. I’m good at it.”
– Lloyd Dobler

SYNOPSIS: A noble underachiever and a beautiful valedictorian fall in love the summer before she goes off to college.- via IMDB

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GRADE 8Ah man, this was actually so sweet. I know the iconic image of John Cusack with a boombox, and I know it comes from this, but it was really cool to finally see what this is all about. I really appreciated the fact that Say Anything isn’t overly soppy or drowning under sexual innuendo. Instead it was pretty smart, witty, and had heart.

Obviously one cannot talk about this movie and overlook John Cusack as Lloyd Dobler. He was perfectly cast, and is adorable, lovable, sweet and fun, and I love what he does for Diane. I can totally see him having quite the following. Gosh, they way he was around her, and the way he moved the glass, and… and… there was so much about Lloyd that was awesome. That being said, Diane Court was also a great character. The whole movie pretty much revolves around Lloyd’s love for her, and the drama with her father, and she truly is essential to the story. Also, let’s not forget just how delightful her and Lloyd were together, you root for them every step of the way. It was great just to watch them chill together, to just be, and to see how their relationship develops.

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The relationship between Diane and her father was a good one. They were really open and honest with each other, and Diane could share a lot with him. He was sweet, supportive and yes, he was pushy, too, but he meant well. Unfortunately it seems that Diane was more open with her father than the other way around. Jim Court also respected his daughter, and that is something that scores some major points. Man, what a conflicted character. The movie is so eighties, but I really liked that.

The pacing for this is great. Really. Nothing is rushed, nothing dragged, it comes together really well in that sense. Also, you are captivated from the off. It comes across as honest, especially when you watch the interactions between the characters. The film manages to balance the comedy and the drama, so it isn’t forcing for laughs, but it isn’t wallowing in too much seriousness, either.

Anyway, I really enjoyed this one. It looked great, it sounded great, Lloyd was a sweetheart, and Skye and Cusack had lovely chemistry together. I can see why this was popular, and I am sure that this is something I will rewatch. It is filled with quick dialogue and heartwarming moments, totally worth a look see if you haven’t checked this out already.

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