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!

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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

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

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

Personal, Update

Update On My Disappearance

Well, hello there. It’s me again. Yes, you might have noticed that I disappeared again. There just aren’t enough hours in the day to accomplish everything I want to do, so this blog has been a bit neglected since my 31 Days of Horror series.

black and white blank challenge connect
Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

So, one of my goals for 2019 is to create more reasonable goals for myself! I know that Haute Couture Society will still be taking up most of my blogging/networking time, but I want to do a better job at keeping up with this one too. So, to help with this, this blog is going to be a bit more casual. I’m planning to have general updates here about writing projects and information about things I’m liking (books, movies, etc). Some posts may have a combination of a lot of different things.

To get started, here are some things I’m loving this December:

  1. Candles – There are so many great scents that come out around the holidays. Since I have a fake Christmas tree, I have been loving my Christmas Tree scented candle for some extra ambiance.
  2. Krampus – From cheesy movies to funny t-shirts, I have been obsessing over Krampus this year. (If you don’t know who this folklore figure it, check it out here). This is the perfect combination of Christmas and horror!
  3. Reality TV – Vanderpump Rules is back!! I’m a huge fan of all things Bravo, but this Real Housewives spin-off is my absolute favorite!

Here are some things I’m hating this December:

  1. Bumble – Being single during the holidays sucks. I’ve been trying to use the dating app Bumble, but it’s been so discouraging. I just don’t seem to have much in common with single guys in the Cincinnati area.
  2. Vegetables – I’m on a diet and it’s going pretty well. But even though I’m forcing myself to eat more vegetables, I still loathe them…and always will.
  3. Darkness – Despite my love of horror, I still get really sad when it’s dark both when I leave for when and when I’m coming home from work.

Well, thanks for reading! I promise, I’m going to try to do a better job to keep up with this blog, share my favorites, and update people on my writing projects.

Happy Holidays!

-Tiffany

Movie Review

31 Days of Halloween: Opera (1987)

Happy Halloween! I hope you’re planning something spooky for this evening. Thanks to everyone who has been following along with my 31 Days of Halloween. For this final day, I wanted to discuss Opera, a film by Dario Argento and my favorite movie in the giallo tradition.

Opera Poster

IMDB’s Description: “A young opperata is stalked by a deranged fan bent on killing the people associated with her to claim her for himself.”

This year I discovered a new love of a very specific type of horror/thriller film: the giallo. These Italian-made horror flicks blend mystery elements with grisly horror, and I have just been devouring them. Opera has quickly become one of my favorites because of the interesting imagery and unique plot. There are some interesting allusions to The Phantom of the Opera, but don’t expect a grand love story here. Instead, we get to delve deep into the mind of a very twisted murderer trying to recapture something he never truly had.

Thanks again to everyone who followed this blog series! I hope this is a fun, memorable Halloween for you all!

Next up, I plan to return to book reviews for a while – and yes, there will definitely be an emphasis on Christmas books!