Movie Review

Movie Review: The Mermaid – Lake of the Dead

I love discovering weird, unique horror movies. Too often while I’m watching a movie, I feel overwhelmed by the familiarity – let’s be honest, most zombie and exorcism movies play out the same way every time. So, I get really excited when I stumble across something different. Last night, I took a chance and watched a lesser known Russian film The Mermaid – Lake of the Dead, and it far exceeded my expectations!

The Mermaid: Lake of the Dead Poster

Here’s the IMDB Description: “An evil Mermaid falls in love with Marina’s fiancé Roman and aims to keep him away from Marina in her Kingdom of Death under water. The Mermaid is a young woman who drowned a few centuries ago. Marina only has one week to overcome her fear of the dark water, to remain human in the deathly fight with the monsters and not to become one herself.”

Honestly, I think that the description does this film a disservice. It’s extremely basic, while the film itself is rife with complexities. Rather than the mermaids I’ve been used to (thanks to Disney, of course), this type of mermaid is actually based on the Russian folklore about the rusalka. Also, the film focuses a lot on Roman’s family, which is very much linked to the Mermaid. His sister is a very dynamic, complicated character (actually, far more complex than his fiance Marina).

I was expecting something extra cheesy, but this was actually quite artsy in terms of cinematography. The repeating images of water (in all types of situation, with all different camera angles) were masterfully done. Originally shot in Russian, this was dubbed in English. I would almost always rather read subtitles, but I was actually pleasantly surprised at how organic the dub felt for this particular film. It wasn’t at all distracting.

In terms of the plot and writing, there were a few clarity issues, but they weren’t glaring. Mostly, if you’re familiar with the rusalka folklore or if you really pay attention to the black and white illustrated prologue which quickly explains the folklore, it should be easy to fill in some of the gaps. While mostly predictable, I still enjoyed the uniqueness of the story and the beauty of the cinematography.

In terms of the scare-factor, this was not the kind of horror movie that’s going to keep you up at night or make you afraid to swim in a lake (though, for the record, I’m already afraid of swimming in lakes – who knows what kind of bacteria is lurking!) However, there are some effective jump scares and creepy imagery for sure. I definitely recommend this film to horror-lovers with a soft spot for dark fairytales!

If you’ve seen this one, I’d love to hear your thoughts too! Feel free to share them in the comment section.

Thanks for reading,

Tiffany

 

Book Review

Book Review: Pet Sematary

I recently saw some previews for the new film adaptation of Pet Sematary and it made me realize I had never actually read it. I have a huge amount of respect for Stephen King and all that he’s done for the horror genre, but his writing style isn’t always my favorite, especially in his longer, more recent books. Still, since this one is Classic King, I thought I’d give it a try before seeing the movie!

30753630

I truly believe that this is one of King’s best! It doesn’t quite reach the level of my top three favorite King stories: It, The Shining, and ‘Salem’s Lot – but it was still a very enjoyable reading experience. Generally, the premise is about a young family that moves to a small town shrouded in local legend about a Native American cemetery with powers to raise the dead. I’ll avoid giving too many details because I abhor spoilers.

Overall, this novel proves that King is a master of suspense and foreshadowing. Coming in at about 400 pages, this book was much longer than it needed to be (which is another trademark of Stephen King), yet just when the story was seeming to drag too much, hints of future horror were dropped in expert fashion. It was absolutely enough to keep the momentum and intrigue.

I was surprised at how long the buildup took before we got to the crux of the story. Much of the beginning half is devoted to intricate character development, which I did like (but which I know many will not). When we finally get to the story’s climax, the rest of the book felt rushed compared to the slow pacing of the beginning, but it still left me with that great eerie feeling long after the last page. Now, I’m super excited to see the two film adaptations as I know this plot really lends itself to a more visual medium!

I definitely recommend this one to readers looking for Classic King nostalgia (before his books became all 600+ pages) and to those who like moderately frightening horror with strong character development!

Thanks for reading,

Tiffany Renee Harmon

Personal, Update

April 2019 Favorites

I can’t believe that April is almost over! It’s been a good month, filled with self-discovery and moving forward. But it also flew by without giving me much opportunity to reflect and blog. Still, I wanted to share my top 4 favorite things for this month:

pink cherry blossom flowers
Photo by Lisa Fotios on Pexels.com

Reality TV

I am such a sucker for the drama of reality TV. After years of getting caught up on Bravo, I can finally say that I have officially seen EVERY episode of EVERY show in the Real Housewives Franchise! My favorite is the spin-off “Vanderpump Rules” (and not just because Stassi liked one of my tweets once upon a time!) RHOBH and RHONY are also amazing!

 

Vogue

Earlier this year, I stopped being a beauty blogger because it had stopped being fun – but I’ll never lose my passion for fashion. Vogue will always be my favorite magazine for exploring the glitz and glam of the fashion world. I like to read the US version as well as Vogue UK, Vogue Paris, and Vogue Italia. In fact, I think that when something fashion or beauty related REALLY excites me, I might just post about it on here since sometimes I still want to share even though I don’t want to post about it five times a week again.

 

Sandals

I am loving the warmer weather (even though it’s been awfully rainy in Cincinnati!) Sandals are my favorite footwear because they show off a pedicure, come in a variety of fun styles, and can include a heel. I just bought two gladiator-inspired pairs and I’m super excited to wear them. I think I also want to get more colored sandals for Spring/Summer instead of just sticking with black and silver.

 

Lavender 

Lavender is one of my favorite scents, and I’ve been gravitating towards it a lot recently. There’s something really relaxing about lavender. I’ve been incorporating it into my life in a variety of ways: scented candles, bubble baths, deodorant, room spray, perfume, etc. My favorites are blends that also include vanilla, like the fragrance in Bath and Body Works’ Aromatherapy Line.

 

Well, those are the things I’ve been loving this month! I’m going to try to post on here a bit more regularly with reviews of books, movies, products, and more (as well as any updates on other writing projects).

Thanks for reading!

-Tiffany

Personal

March 2019 Favorites

Another month is basically gone – I can’t believe how fast this year is flying. I wanted to check in really quick and list four of my favorite things for the month:

  • Tilda Swinton – I realized this month that Tilda Swinton is the common link shared by many of my favorite horror movies: Only Lovers Left Alive, Suspiria, and We Need to Talk About Kevin. She is extremely talented and versatile!

Image result for tilda swinton only lovers left alive

 

  • Cozy Mystery Audiobooks – I adore the fun, lighthearted nature of cozy mysteries where you get to solve a murder alongside an amateur sleuth and a cast of colorful characters set against an endearing, small-town backdrop. Lately, I’ve been making my way through the Magical Bakery series by Bailey Cates and the Needlecraft Mysteries by Monica Ferris.

Spells and Scones (A Magical Bakery Mystery Book 6) by [Cates, Bailey]

 

  • Knitting – Even though warmer weather is creeping in, I’m still knitting away to create hats and scarves for the homeless through the charity Warm Up Ohio. It’s both relaxing and rewarding!
four green yarns on chopping board
Photo by Surene Palvie on Pexels.com

 

  • Kindle Paperwhite – While I love my Kindle Fire, the e-ink screen of the Kindle Paperwhite makes it so much easier on the eyes to read for long periods of time. It’s also so thin and portable that it will squeeze into even my smallest purse – because I obviously need to be connected to my library at all times!
kindle technology amazon tablet
Photo by freestocks.org on Pexels.com

 

Well, that’s what I loved in March! I’m hoping that April brings more adventure into my life 🙂

Thanks for reading,

Tiffany Renee Harmon

Movie Review

Movie Review: Us (2019)

Last weekend, I decided to do something I’d never done before: I saw a movie all by myself. Now, I know that may seem like something really small (I mean, movies are basically just sitting in silence in a dark room – which seems like the perfect solo activity) but this was something I’d always been nervous to do. However, with the release of Jordan Peele’s Us, I really wanted to see it before someone had a chance to slip me some spoilers, so I went out to see it right away!

Us Poster

Here’s the IMDB description of Us: “A family’s serenity turns to chaos when a group of doppelgängers begins to terrorize them.”

A lot of people are very excited about Us because of Peele’s directorial debut Get Out (2017).  While Get Out was a nearly flawless movie filled with great metaphors about race in America, Us is perhaps too ambitious. While I definitely enjoyed Us, it was much messier from a craft perspective than Get Out. I was entertained as we followed this family, and I loved that this was more of a traditional horror story than Get Out (which some critics still refuse to acknowledge was also horror). Still, there were things that made me feel a bit disappointed in the film overall.

Here are my pros and cons for this movie!

PROS:

  • Great cinematography!
  • Superb acting from many characters, especially Lupita Nyong’o (even when the dialogue wasn’t doing justice to the acting).
  • While the plot had many classic horror tropes, it managed to feel like a very fresh take on the genre.
  • The tension continually increased throughout the movie and there were many twists and turns that kept the plot from slowing down in the middle.
  • There were a few moments of dark humor that definitely added to the experience.

CONS:

  • Some of the symbolism and metaphors were REALLY heavy-handed. Whereas the symbolism and metaphors in Get Out served the larger plot and added an element of social commentary that greatly enhanced the movie, the symbolism and metaphors in Us seemed to be the sole driving force with the plot acting in service to the theme of the movie.
  • Other metaphors and symbols of the movie weren’t clear enough, which seemed to take a lot of people out of the movie (based on my experience, the experience of several people I know, and the general eavesdropping I did after the movie).
  • The “twist” at the end added confusion and radically changed how the movie is viewed. While there were elements I liked about the twist (which I don’t want to give away in case you haven’t yet seen the movie), it seemed gimmicky to me. It didn’t make the overall film stronger (the metaphorical parallel drawn between the characters was already clear), but it did leave many scratching their heads and wondering how to literally interpret and explain the feasibility of what they just watched.

Overall, I’m really glad that I watched Us. I think my expectations might have been a bit too high based on how much I loved Get Out, but I’ll absolutely watch whatever Jordan Peele’s next horror movie ends up being…and I’m very excited for his reboot of The Twilight Zone which debuts Monday 4/1.

Have you seen this movie yet? If so, I’d love to hear your thoughts in the comment section.

Thanks for reading!

-Tiffany Renee Harmon

Personal, Update

Where I’ve Been/Where I’m Going

The most discouraging thing about writing is the feeling that my productivity needs to be consistent. I look at writers who are churning out at least a book a year, and I wonder “What’s wrong with me? I can’t even blog regularly anymore.” I’ve finally come to the conclusion that I’m just not the type of person who can always be productive because periodically I have periods of depression that require me to take a step back and recharge and hibernate. That’s where I’ve been this year so far – recharging, rediscovering, relearning. If you would like to learn more about how this feels, or if this is something you go through as well and you want to read something you can relate to, I would absolutely recommend the upcoming book The Radiant Midnight: Depression, Grace, and the Gifts of a Dark Place by Melissa Maimone. This book comes out April 2nd and offers a realistic insider’s perspective on depression.

asphalt dark dawn endless
Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

I’m happy to say that, for now at least, things are feeling better. I’m starting to feel creative again, and I’m cautiously optimistic about the future. I’ve started writing fiction again, and I’m even sending out some short works. In fact, one of my stories “Appendix A” has been accepted for publication in Clever Magazine. I have a lot of things I need to work on both personally and professionally, but I can feel myself moving forward and that’s been really relieving.

So, where am I going? Forward into the unknown.

I’m going to try to blog more regularly. I plan on posting movie and book reviews soon. I want to continue writing and submitting short stories to journals. Maybe I’ll even pick up the novel and the screenplay I started last year. But I know better than to make lofty promises or outrageous goals, so all of this is going to go at whatever pace I can reasonably muster each day.

Thank you for following reading and following along on this journey!

-Tiffany Renee Harmon

 

Movie Review

Movie Review: Summer of 84

Welcome to 2019! As part of my resolutions for the year, I want to make sure I’m posting a book or movie review every Sunday. While I work on my own writing, I think it’s important for me to continue supporting other writers and creators. First up for the year is a movie review of “Summer of 84” – an excellent horror film that is much heavier towards mystery/suspense than gore.

Summer of 84 Poster

Here’s the IMDB description: “After suspecting that their police officer neighbor is a serial killer, a group of teenage friends spend their summer spying on him and gathering evidence, but as they get closer to discovering the truth, things get dangerous.”

I found this film through my Shudder subscription, and I’m so glad I did. What we have here is more of a coming-of-age film than anything else. The band of friends who decide to investigate all of the disappearances are a motley crew of boys all trying to find their roles in the world. They’re dealing with the transition of being children and becoming young adults. It reminded me a lot of “Stand By Me” in terms of tone and the style of character development.

As for the plot, it felt more like an adventure with a dark end rather than consistent horror, and that was a refreshing change for the genre. There’s plenty of suspense and a clear mystery to be solved, but the jewel of this movie is the exploration of character rather than antics of the alleged serial killer.

Without revealing too much, I would like to still comment on the ending. I’m of two minds. On the one hand, it seems very fitting. On the other, there was something that felt too resolved and convenient. Of course, I don’t want to spoil anything since I hope anyone reading this review might choose to watch and form their own opinions.

Overall, this was a really great movie that I think will appeal to both horror lovers and non-horror lovers. It’s a great movie for those just starting out in the genre or those who are fans of dark coming-of-age stories.

Thanks for reading,

Tiffany