Sunday, 14 September 2014

Dark Review - Prometheus: Fire and Stone Issue 1

I take a look at Prometheus: Fire and Stone Issue 1 on Geek Syndicate, a new comic that is set to progress the story from where the film Prometheus ended. I loved the artwork but just found it a little hollow. Click here to read my full review.

Friday, 12 September 2014

Dark Article - Collector's Editions: Are They Worth It?

My Collector's Editions: Are They Worth It? article is now online in the fantastic Geek Syndicate Magazine Issue 11. I take a look at the good, the bad and the ugly of buying those special and limited editions of the games you enjoy and also the damn right crazy. Click here to go to the Geek Syndicate site and either view it online or download the pdf for consumption later.

Thursday, 4 September 2014

Dark Review - As Above So Below

As Above So Below

Film Review By Casey Douglass

Image © Universal Pictures
I have been looking forward to seeing As Above So Below ever since I saw the film trailer. There is a scene where a guy crawling through a very narrow tunnel half littered with bones gets stuck and it starts to collapse. It immediately made me think of one of my favourite underground horrors, The Descent, and piqued my interest. Add in the promise of demonic manifestations and strange happenings and I was pretty much sold, in theory anyway.
Image © Universal Pictures
As Above So Below follows the story of Scarlett (Perdita Weeks) as she searches for the Philosopher’s Stone. This quest takes her and her band of followers below the streets of Paris into the ancient catacombs which hold the bodies of millions of people. The deeper they go, the stranger things become and injury and death become their constant companions.

I love the film’s concept and for the most part, the way it is filmed really builds the feeling of claustrophobia and fear. Narrow stone corridors lined with rumbling ceilings and haunting echoes give the characters a real ‘place’ to run around and fear what is around the next bend. They also react in the appropriate way when the demonic manifestations take on a very personal aspect to those witnessing them.
Image © Universal Pictures
For some, the ‘found footage’ type aspect of everything being filmed on shaky cameras may wear a little thin. I didn’t struggle with it that much and it did actually aid a few scenes in which the characters were fleeing blindly around bends. It also aided in not showing too much of the things chasing them, which is a common bug bear of mine in many horror films. If you show too much of the monster, you decrease the scares.

There were also a few things that I couldn’t help noticing. An example is that one of the companions is afraid to go down there because of a former family tragedy in a cave. Scarlett tells a new companion this, then promptly goes to the scared looking guy and asks something like “ far down do you think we are?” The height of sensitivity I’m sure you’ll agree. There were also continuity things that I don’t usually notice. “Let’s turn our head-lamps off to conserve the batteries!” so some do. The next scene they are all on again. Picky little things but still there none the less.
Image © Universal Pictures
I personally also found the main character of Scarlett incredibly annoying. I think I had decided in the first ten minutes that I hoped she didn’t make it to the end. A bit mean maybe but nothing I saw as the film progressed changed my view. The other characters were less annoying and I felt most sorry for Benji (Edwin Hodge) the cameraman. I felt his acting was the most convincing and authentic.

The scares themselves were sometimes predictable or cheap, but the film did do some great misdirections too which you will pick up on yourself if you see it.

I would give As Above So Below 3.5/5. I loved the concept and setting but there were just some aspects of the character interactions that just left me laughing quietly to myself.

If you like enclosed spaces and hell themes, I think you will enjoy it.

Monday, 1 September 2014

Dark Review - Disease

Review of Disease by M.F Wahl

Review written by Casey Douglass


In my own opinion, the mark of a truly great zombie story is that the zombies aren’t the only threat. To varying degrees, the effectiveness of a tale depends on whether the zombies are more a background threat whilst the soap opera of human interactions plays out in the foreground. The risk with this approach however, is that if you sideline the shambling dead too much, some bright spark will ask “Why did you bother having zombies in it at all?”
I’m happy to report that M.F Wahl’s Disease gets the balance about right. The zombies are an ever present threat and integral to the story, yet the humans and their interactions are just as important.

The story begins with Casey and Alex as they forage in an abandoned house for food and supplies. Of course, it turns out that they are not alone and a frantic fight with one of “The Risen” ensues. This is another great thing about Disease. The skirmishes with the undead are vividly described and paced very well giving you a great feeling of the shit hitting the fan. They also happen plenty of times in the course of the story so any gore fans should find ample here to keep them grinning as they read.

Going back to Casey and Alex. Alex is a young boy who doesn’t speak. Casey is his carer and she looks out for him and worries that something might be quite broken inside him. At times he knows what is going on, at others he ignores things and gets lost in the details of a faucet or the contents of his backpack. As you can guess, someone apparently so switched off is a bit of a risk with zombies around. They are both discovered by a party from a nearby hotel and taken into the folds of a cult-like group which is run by the enigmatic Lot, a devious woman who, with a mixture of religion and fear, has a stranglehold on her followers’ minds.

To say too much more would be to give too much away. Suffice it to say that M.F Wahl has certainly achieved the task of showing that the zombies aren’t the only type of monsters in the world after an apocalypse. M.F also depicts very uncomfortable issues in just the right way, not going too in-depth but showing enough that the reader can read between the lines. I think that this is a great achievement and one worthy of highlighting here.

If I did have any criticisms, one might be that some paragraphs in the book feature shifts in viewpoint between two characters that sometimes worked and other times slightly disrupted my reading rhythm. This is a minor quibble though in what otherwise is a fine book.

I give Disease 4 out of 5. It is well written, interesting and paced in a way that will get you wondering what happens next.

Disease is being released as a serialized novel in six parts. Part One is available from Thursday the 18th of September with each new part releasing every Thursday thereafter until all are out. It is also being released in audiobook format.

You can check out W.F Wahl’s website here for more info and places you can buy them, and also read the first chapter for free.