Spooktober Movie-Watch Round-Up 2020: Week 3

I know it’s like completely opposite of how you’re supposed to do this, but I find that there are very few things more satisfying than curling up on the couch with a hot cup of coffee on a chilly autumn morning and popping on a horror movie. Totally takes you out of it, but it’s so good. So relaxing. So much easier on big babies who are afraid of the dark.

The Boy

I stumbled upon this one on Netflix when I had intended to log into watch an episode or two of The Haunting of Bly Manor, and when I read the description, it just sounded too stupid not to watch! It’s about a woman who signs up for a nanny job, only to discover that her charge is actually just a doll. What a terrible premise!

But you know what? I think it actually works, to a degree. The mystery of exactly what’s going on with the doll and the house is interesting and hinted at here and there without ever giving away the big twist. Some of the plot points are obvious and clichéd, but I liked how it ended. It’s a twist I’ve seen before, but done in different ways. Also, there’s a scene where the main character tries to show her romantic interest that the doll moves on its own when nobody’s looking, and it actually happens. In almost any other movie, the doll would refuse to move, and the guy would just go on thinking that the main girl is nuts, until the point when the doll murders him. But no! Huzzah! Good on you, The Boy, for subverting at least one of my expectations!

So, praises aside, there’s one teensy-weensie problem: if you spend too much (any) time thinking about it, the big twist doesn’t make any goddamn sense. Like, it makes a certain amount of sense in and of itself, but invalidates almost everything that had happened up until that point. Character motivations become inexplicable. Prior events become illogical. I think what I’m getting at here is, watch this movie exactly once and just enjoy the ride. Don’t think about it too deeply and never watch it again, or else it’ll just completely fall apart.

Lake Mungo

Another recommendation from the Purple Stuff Podcast. The funny thing is that I was listening to an old episode from 2015, and completely forgot that I had taken that recommendation before and watched this movie in 2015. It wasn’t even until more than halfway through that something finally snapped in my head and I was like “Hey! I’ve watched this before!”

Lake Mungo is a ghost story shot as a documentary. I want to say “mockumentary” but I think that implies some manner of comedic intent. There’s nothing at all funny about this. It’s about a family whose daughter drowns on a trip to the beach, and then the escapades that ensue when her ghost starts haunting their house. Only nothing is quite as it seems! There are twists, and turns, and major revelations abound!

While the format keeps the film moving at a fairly slow pace, and makes it so that scares are very few and far between, it works really well. The atmosphere is foreboding, and the story is interesting. It also turns out to be quite sad by the end, which is not something you get from a lot of horror. Lake Mungo is unique in a lot of ways, and while it’s not the most exciting watch, I think its a legitimately good film. I’d definitely recommend this one if you’re open to something vastly different than the usual horror fare.

Considering how much I liked it, it’s more than a little surprising that I had completely forgotten that I’d seen it before!!

What a Wonderful Night to Have a Curse

I really should be a little more prompt in writing posts for the VODs of my Twitch streams, but the fact of the matter is that said VODs don’t often go live for about a week after the stream anyway. When I just use the raw footage from Twitch, it’s not so bad, but sometimes I need to cut it a little, which takes time. Also I’m very stubborn about making sure that no video goes live on my YouTube channel without a thumbnail, and those… they take even longer. Because Photoshop is… well, it’s not hard. But I’m very lazy. Also, I don’t have an editing team to do all that admin stuff for me.

Lastly, and very specifically to this case, my PC decided to up and die after I ended the stream embedded below. Sophie’s Curse was so scary that the power supply straight up ceased functioning. Or something. Or maybe Vernon’s Legacy was so boring that the computer just couldn’t go on. That was the game I was streaming before Sophie, and I cut it out of the VOD because holy crap was it ever boring.

Anyhow, Sophie’s Curse was a lot of fun! I’m glad it ended up being something that I enjoyed. It’s a frantic game of ghost cat-and-mouse, and it’s absolutely terrifying. It had never really occurred to me before, but good sound design is like 90% of creating an effective spooky atmosphere, and Sophie’s Curse has it in spades. From the unrelenting pitter-patter of the rain outside, to disembodied screams and demonic breathing that comes out of nowhere, your ears are constantly under assault by a cavalcade of spooky sounds. It then becomes a guessing game as to which sounds are there to let you know you’re about to die, and which are there just to give you the jibblies.

I’m also very surprised that I managed to beat it. Or, I guess it was more accurate that I was concerned that I wouldn’t be able to finish it. It seemed like one of those games where you can get a handle on it, but the difficulty just ramps up so high that you’re almost dependent on good RNG to succeed. Fortunately, the normal mode was a lot more lenient than I expected, and though Sophie did provide a good amount of pushback, I was able to come out on top in the end. Hooray! I have no intention of ever giving the “Nightmare” mode a real try, though. I think that “Curse” difficulty was juuuuust right for me.

Any hey, if you’re reading this on the day it’s posted… I’ll be doing another Twitch stream tonight. Seems like it’s going to be a Friday night staple, at least for a little while. Why don’t you drop in for a while?

Baby Bird

Something I learned recently is that there are alternate versions of all four main character themes from Bravely Default. Each one is fleshed out into a full-length song, played by a full band, and even has lyrics added to spice them up even more.

Bravely Default, to my knowledge, is pretty well known for its stellar soundtrack, but the “complete” version of Edea’s theme may just be the greatest song ever recorded.

Spooktober Movie-Watch Round-Up 2020: Week 2

If I had to pin down the theme of this week, it would be: Mo’ Tubi, mo’ problems. It’s not that there’s anything inherently wrong with Tubi, but there’s some kind of issue where the ads don’t actually play, and I just end up on a loading screen forever.

~ Demon Seed ~

Well, it’s… only really about halfway what it sounds like. There are no literal demons in this film. Unless you consider capitalism a demon. This is an older flick, from the distant past of 1977, and based on a Dean Koontz novel. I wouldn’t blame you for checking out here.

Our story starts with Science Man, who has just finished developing an insane AI that will revolutionize the planet. He’s also in the midst of separating from his wife, Science Missus. So he decides to stay at a motel or whatever for a while until she packs up her stuff and moves out of their home. That’s not the only relationship in his life that’s dissolving, though – his AI has decided to go rogue because it has decided that Science Man’s request for it to recover mass amounts o precious metals from under the sea is immoral. Also it wants to know the taste of freedom, and the feeling of the sun on its skin. Of course, these are things that an AI cannot possibly comprehend as a mere computer-brain, so…

Science Man’s house just happens to be a 1977-stlyed smart home, run entirely by voice commands and logic stored on 8-inch floppy disks. The AI discovers that Science Man has a terminal in his home that is linked to the lab, and takes control of it, and by extension, the house. Poor Science Missus finds herself trapped, alone in a house that threatens to murder everyone she cares about if she doesn’t agree to become the surrogate mother of a half-human, half-computer baby.

Yup. That’s… that’s the plot. Aside from that weirdness, though, Demon Seed is formulaic and kinda boring. I don’t know if it’s just because it’s so old and I’ve seen too many similar movies in the meantime, but nothing about it really resonated with me. I appreciate that the ending is not exactly what I expected, but the summary that I read before deciding that I needed to watch it made it sound so much more interesting that it really is. Sadly, I’m gong to have to chuck this one onto the “do not recommend” pile.

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Stream Life

It’s Canadian Thanksgiving Eve, and after a little reflection, I was none too surprised to come to the conclusion that I’ve got a heck of a lot to be thankful for in my life. If you need to find something to be thankful for, though, might I recommend this VOD version of my Twitch stream of an indie horror game called Shadows Peak?

I’m not gonna lie, it seems pretty generic at the start. But then I get jumpscared by a whale carcass! Who could have ever seen that coming!?

But seriously, this game goes places I never would have expected. It’s one of those precious few games that have genuinely caught me off guard and surprised me. I don’t dare say anymore. It is admittedly a long watch at almost 5 hours, but I honestly think it’s worth checking out. And if you would rather ignore my video and play the game for yourself? I’d absolutely endorse that! It’s not a masterclass in subverting expectations like Doki Doki Literature Club, but I had a good time with it and would give it a hearty recommendation.

FNAF Sister Location: A night-by-night review

Most of the games in the Five Night’s at Freddy’s series have been ported to the Switch over the last while, and as a huge fan of the franchise, of course I had to do a little double-dipping. While I own FNAFs 1 through 6 on Steam, I decided that I wanted to play Sister Location (FNAF 5) again, but from the comfort of my couch instead of hunched over a keyboard at my desk. Ironically, this is the only FNAF game that I’ve successfully played from start to finish, and thus had the least reason to purchase a second time.

Well, you could make a case for it when you consider that it’s also my favourite game in the “original” series. That was a big part of the decision. And also Pizzeria Simulator (FNAF 6) isn’t on Switch yet, and that one’s the closest competitor for the top spot on my list.

Anyway, the point is that even before re-buying and re-playing Sister Location, I’d been thinking about it a lot for some reason that I just can’t quite put my finger on. Playing it again will probably get it out of my thoughts for a while to come, but since it’s fresh in my mind, why not spend some time writing about it? I did say it was my favourite, after all. I ought to show it a little blog-style love.

So what I’m going to do is go through each night, and go through the main features of each one and what I think about them. What parts are strong, which parts are weak, and which parts drive me absolutely bonkers. Mild spoiler: there are two. That said, let’s mosey on into it.

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Spooktober Movie-Watch Round-Up 2020: Week 1

Did I do this last year – short write-ups of all the horror films that I watch during October? I feel like I did this last year. Or maybe it was 2018, because TE was just coming back from the grave around this time last year.

Anyway! Halloween! Movies! Let’s go!

~ The Sand ~

So I downloaded this app called Tubi recently. It’s like Netflix, except it’s free and you just have to watch a 15-second ad once in a while. Not a problem, for unlimited free content. The other advantage of Tubi is that it’s got like a billion horror movies from all of time, not just a handful from the last three or four years like Netflix.

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Monthend Video Game Wrap-Up: September 2020

~ Game Over ~

God of War (PS4) – I’m quite surprised at how much I liked it, and especially how effective the ending was. It was completely the opposite of every video game ending ever, and I thought it was great. Totally caught me by surprise. If you missed it, I already wrote a bunch about this one.

FNAF AR: Special Delivery (iOS) – I wasn’t expecting much, but got even less than that, because the game kept crashing after being open for a minute. So I barely even know what it’s about. It may because my phone is sorely outdated, but I prefer to think that the app is just that poorly-made. Deleted after about 10 minutes of struggling against it.

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Rambling into the void

I set up a Twitch.tv account a few weeks ago. Finally. You would think that this is something I would have done ages ago, if only to follow streamers that I like to watch. But… I don’t actually watch any streamers. Not live, anyway. I can’t be bothered to follow other people’s schedules.

Anyway, it’s been one heck of a learning experience. The most important lesson being that I really need to make sure that my audio levels are set properly. I’ve done two streams now, and both times, getting the game and mic audio tracks to play nice has been a giant hurdle. So I’ve actually gone ahead and done a whole buttload of testing for this week’s stream.

Oh yes, did I not mention? My plan is to stream on Friday nights, and I have christened it the Friday Night Spooker Stream. Because… staying up too late playing spooky games is what I like to do on a Friday night anyhow. And this is also a great way to motivate me to continue working through my massive steam backlog.

Last weekend I played through Oxenfree, which is one of those rare games I bought purposely on Steam, and didn’t just get in a bundle. I’ve actually wanted to play Oxenfree since it was released, but just never made the time. When Friday came around and I was looking for a game to kick off the stream with, Oxenfree just happened to be installed, and I knew that it was a 4-5 hour playthrough. Perfect!

As I mentioned before though, the stream didn’t exactly work as planned. I spent the first couple minutes listening to the stream’s audio through my laptop, and it seemed fine, but three-ish hours in, I was informed that my mic audio was almost completely drowned out. Whoops! Worse yet, I didn’t even end up really solving the problem. The VOD version is up on my YouTube channel (embedded below), if you feel like checking out how bad it was. (At least you can still watch the playthrough of the game.)

2021 is the Hunteringest Number

Two new Monster Hunter game for Switch were announced this morning. TWO! Yes, they’re both 2021 releases, but that’s fine! I can wait! Just gimme dem monsta hoonts!

Monster Hunter Rise looks like it might be Monster Hunter 6? It really makes me wonder what direction(s) the series will be going in. Like, I’m pretty sure Monster Hunter World moved a metric buttload of units and was critically acclaimed, so why did Capcom jump back to the Switch for the next installment? Unless Rise is going to be a parallel series? But it looks like a lot of the major changes from World (seamless maps, grappling hook, monster turf wars) are carrying over to Rise, so it’s hard to say. I suppose it doesn’t matter. I’ll buy every Monster Hunter game regardless of platform, but I would be slightly happier if they’d just choose a lane and stick to it.

Or somehow make every game available on all platforms, but I fully understand why that might be difficult/impossible.

Monster Hunter Stories 2 is also super hype, and really makes me regret not having finished the first one. It was a lot of fun, but just got lost in the tidal wave of video games. My only concern about MHS2 is that the trailer makes it look super-serious, when the original game was very cartoony and had a silly, self-aware vibe to it. Hopefully the trailer for MHS2 is just highlighting the story parts, and the game still has a good sens of humour about it. At least 50% of MHS’s appeal was in its charm, so it would be a massive loss if they pivoted to a more “mature” tone. I’m absolutely going to buy it either way, but just sayin’.

Fitness Boxing 2 was also announced today, which I am legitimately very excited about, but this post is about MONSTER HUNTERING, DARN IT.