Sunday 16 June 2013

Dark Fiction - Campfires

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By Casey Douglass

Inky black distance melts into spots of flickering light, some shine brighter than others, some dwindling by the second. The glows flicker with the movements of people, bound together in mutual support and dependence. Scuffles and chitterings reverberate in the unseen depths, the darkness too deep for the mortal eye to pierce.

A glow fizzles out somewhere distant, silent screams racking the ether with undulating streams of terror. Golden glows of ignorance in the sea of the Stygian dark, the diminishing dazzles rife with resignation and yet doubts gnaw.

A lone figure stands near one such fire, arms spread in farewell as it walks from the known into the unknown. No cosy death in sparkling decrepitude here, but walking out to meet its demons and show them that it will not bow nor walk the paths the herd otherwise follow. 

A wanderer, a shaman, a true soul is forged.

Saturday 15 June 2013

Dark Review - The Number 23

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Review of the film The Number 23 

By Casey Douglass 


Numbers can be tricky things. When we are children, they baffle us, when we are grown up, they help us keep track of our finances, and when we grow old, they may baffle us again unless we are lucky and hold onto some of our mental ability. Sadly, for animal control officer Walter Sparrow (Carrey) the number 23 becomes bothersome in a more unusual way. It hounds him and follows him. Everything he notices evolves or devolves to 23.

The decline in his mental state starts after a strange dog attack which makes Walter late for meeting his wife Agatha (Madsen). This gives her time to buy him a tatty old book from a second-hand bookshop titled “The Number 23, A novel of Obsession by Topsy Kretts.” Walter is sceptical that it will hold anything more than his passing interest, but soon finds himself devouring the book, mainly due to it seeming to incorporate some aspects of his past, such as his favourite book as a child, featuring “Fingerling” the adopted name of the character in the book. Fingerling is a detective who leads a dark and troubled life, although believes himself to be a good person. Walter imagines himself as Fingerling as if he were seeing the events transpiring through the detective’s own eyes.

The number 23 begins to rear its head more and more, with Walter beginning to doubt his own perceptions, troubled by murderous dreams, and wary of the similarities repeatedly thrown in his face by the book and his own life. To be clich├ęd, things come to a head, but it’s hard to say more about the events of the film without spoiling the story, so I won’t.
The film is filmed in two styles. There are the usual, everyday scenes with Walter and his family or anything that could be called his mundane life. The other scenes are the Fingerling detective scenes, which are shot in minimal colour and take on a very Noir aspect, the streaks of blood or the grey-scale shots of Fingerling’s pained expression on finding yet another body. This works very well and as the film progresses, they muddy into the more mundane reality in a disconcerting way.

Carrey is very good in this serious role. I didn’t expect him to be good at portraying a troubled and conflicted character, or should that be a fully mature adult who doesn’t crack jokes every few minutes. It was a pleasant surprise upon seeing it at the cinema and it still holds true with subsequent re-watching. The other cast members do their job and provide believable foils to bounce his increasing madness off, but Carrey is very much the star.

I rate this film highly because it is skilfully done and takes a good stab at portraying how obsession might develop in someone. If you like noir-esque mystery films with strange books and creepy synchronicities, The Number 23 won’t disappoint. Now if you go back and count the number of lines of this review…they don’t come to 23, sorry to disappoint.

Rating: 5/5

This review can also be on Generic Movie Blog UK here.

Monday 10 June 2013

Dark Review - Gerbil Physics

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My review of Gerbil Physics on Android is now up on Geek Syndicate. A well produced and clever little game with some good replayability thrown in for good measure. The review can be found here.

Saturday 8 June 2013

Dark Review - In Time

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My review of the film In Time 

By Casey Douglass


Have you ever been with someone who continuously checks their watch? I know that time rules all of our lives to some degree, but to keep an eye on it when there is no real need is just pointless. However, if instead of a watch you had a glowing countdown timer on one forearm, that slowly ticks down to zero, and when it gets there you expire and hit the ground…I think I would be watching it too.

In Time is set in a future where people have been genetically altered to stop ageing once they reach the age of 25. This activates the countdown timer which everyone is born with and which already has one year on it. They can earn time by working, but every aspect of life literally costs them time. A coffee might be 3 minutes, a bus trip 2 hours. Everything whittling down those glowing figures on their arms. Time has replaced money in every possible way, except that being broke now kills you instantly.

Will Salas (Timberlake) is a blue-collar worker, never having more than a day on his timer. One night a good deed performed for a stranger sees him acquiring over 100 years. The only draw back is he is suspected of robbing the stranger and causing his death by “timing him out”. A short time later he is unable to save his mother (Wilde) as things conspire against her, and this sets him on a path of revenge. He uses the time to traverse the various time zones of the region and sets out to take everything from the people who have the most. On this journey, he hooks up with the daughter of a man who has more time than a Time Lord.
Her name is Sylvia Weis (Seyfried), and Will proceeds to break her out of her overly safe and restrictive world, first by being different, and then, by kidnapping her when things go badly for him. The rest of the film sees them bouncing between conflicts with her father, the timekeepers, headed by Raymond Leon (Murphy) and Fortis (Pettyfer), the leader of a gang of time thieves called “minute men”.

Now for the opinion part. I felt let down by the film and I am not entirely sure why. I had seen the trailer before going into it, and I was quite excited by the subject matter and the look of the film. I even got over my maybe unwarranted dislike of Justin Timberlake to actually watch it. The acting did the job, even if it wasn’t mind-blowing, and there were some interesting dynamics and twists involving Will and Raymond in regard to his long dead father and questions of morals and ethics. The environment was well thought out, although the stars were the cars. There only seemed to be a few types but they are all suitably futuristic looking and sound like they are run on a mixture of Tesla coil and liquid witchcraft. Everything else felt like typical futuristic dystopia. The occasions where their time counters ran very low certainly added to the tension of the film, wondering if they would die, or if they would find a way to survive a little longer. If any kind of conversation or bartering was involved, it certainly took on a heated and frenetic tone.

Maybe In Time is an action film wearing the mantle of a more intellectual sci-fi showing, but failing to mask its true nature. I don’t know. I enjoyed the film, I just felt it could have been better.

Rating: 3.5/5


 This review is also available on Generic Movie Blog UK here.

Friday 7 June 2013

Dark Fiction - Night Terror

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Night Terror

By Casey Douglass

for #fridayflash

‘Goodwin, my office now please!’ The speaker system fizzled as it fell silent.

Goodwin felt all eyes on him, every cubicle, every desk, the denizens of work group 4B sensing a butt chewing in the air. He stood and slowly left the large room, trying to gauge his walking to a not-worried-but-better-not-dawdle pace. He ran a hand down his front, easing the tie into line with his shirt buttons and checking his fly when he reached the bottom. You just never know.

He passed Wilmer’s secretary at her desk, her spectacles perching on her nose like some kind of bird of prey swooping on...well, a big nose really. She pointed at the large double doors without looking up at him. He reached them and paused, sucking in as much breath as possible before entering.

‘Ah Goodwin, take a seat.’ The bulk of Henry Wilmer made a grand attempt at filling the large floor to ceiling window behind him. On a less obstructed day, there was a breathtaking view of the city. Wilmer moved behind his large antique desk and sank into a plush chair, the leather squeaking in protest.

Goodwin sat in the smaller leather chair in front of the desk, his hands clasped in his lap. ‘You wanted to see me Sir?’

‘Yes Goodwin. You know I am a straight talker, I don’t like to beat around the bush.’

‘Yes Sir.’

‘You’re fired.’

Godwin’s jaw fell at the same time as his cheeks constricted. ‘Fired? Why on earth?’

‘You just aren't up to snuff my boy. Your department is behind every goal set for it, 4C is outperforming you! 4C! The ‘special ones’ that struggle to find the canteen!’

‘But wh-’

‘And then there’s the other stuff...the allegations.’

‘What fucking allegations!’ Goodwin jumped to his feet and placed his hands on the desk, leaning forward to look squarely into Wilmer's sixty year old face.

‘Calm down Goodwin! It’s just some of the girls have made allegations of...inappropriate conduct towards them, you know the thing, brushing past their backsides, starring down blouses.’

‘That’s bullshit! I only have eyes for one woman, you know that, Sophie!’

‘Ah yes, Sophie. Well I spoke to her earlier this morning, she wasn’t impressed.’

Goodwin’s legs began to shake. ‘You told her about this crap?’ His voice raised an octave as his throat tightened.

‘Of course! And might I say, she wasn’t at all surprised, said you’d been doing that while out and about even with her!’

‘No I haven’t!’

‘She thinks you have some kind of sexual addiction and, sorry to be the one to break this to you, but she has gone to stay with her sister until you prove you are getting help with it.’

Goodwin launched himself at Wilmer, his hands gripping the sweating quivering neck. ‘What the fuck is going on! I’ll kill you you fat bastard! You are ruining my life!’

He felt hands grab at his shoulders and was bodily wrenched across the room. Two hulking security guards loomed over him, each slowly unclipping a baton.

Wilmer choked and spluttered, a hand cupping his jowls. ‘Go to work boys, teach this ungrateful swine a lesson!’

They moved in, one of them clutched Goodwin's shirt and heaved him to his feet. A hard slap hit his cheek.

‘Goodwin! Goodwin!’ a female voice was shouting into his face.

His eyes flickered open, a dazzling white light making them sting. A worried looking woman was staring him in the face. ‘I didn’t do it!’

‘What? Captain Goodwin, you are needed!’

He sat upright with a start and stared around him, the sparse clean room, the humming consoles, the alarm. ‘The alarm?’

‘We are under attack Sir, a cruiser class ship with no electronic insignia.’

‘Go! Everyone to their posts, I’m on my way to the command room.’

‘Yes Captain!’

The woman saluted and ran from the room, the sound of the alarm intensifying as the large double doors slid open.

Goodwin got to his feet and stretched, a broad grin on this face. The remnants of the dream slipped from his mind like a fragile spider-web being brushed away, his mind his own once more. He slid into his uniform and sprinted from the room, the first rumble of energy weapons coming to life echoing around the hull of the ship. His ship.


Tuesday 4 June 2013

Dark Review - Faster Than Light (FTL)

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My review of Faster Than Light is out now in this quarters newly released Geek Syndicate digital magazine. A great little space game that puts you in control of your own ship and crew in a brutal universe full of conflict. The new magazine can be downloaded or viewed online here.