Review: ‘Scare Me’ is more hilarious than scary, but it has a sting too

Scare Me

I can’t do religious or mental horror. For whatever reason, I get no enjoyment at all from jump-scares, or possessions, or demonic interactions. So when I say I love horror movies – and I really, really do – I definitely mean those films that have an extra action or comedy element. For instance, I can’t wait to find time for my The Thing double-bill (2011 then 1982, for that glorious dog crossover), but I also really want to find space for Sam Raimi’s wonderfully entertaining Drag Me To Hell before Halloween is over.

I always have a little bit of trepidation when starting an unseen horror film – will it strike the right balance for me? So when I began Shudder’s Scare Me, I was wondering how far the premise would stretch before the scares came in. As it turns out, I needn’t have worried; if anything, Scare Me is much more placed as a dark comedy, but it is one that is unafraid to show its love for horror when it truly counts. It’s also one of the best films you could choose to watch for Halloween.

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Oculus Quest 2 is an incredible leap into an untethered VR future, but at what cost?

Oculus Quest 2

It’s hard to properly capture how amazing it is to slip into Oculus Quest 2’s alternative dimension. I’ve owned and play a plethora of VR headsets over the years – from the second iteration of the Oculus Rift years ago at an expo, where the blurry Godzilla-style city smashing game made me sick to my stomach in seconds, through to my own Gear VR, Oculus Go, and PSVR. Each has dangled the promise of VR immersion, but with enough caveats (overheating, low resolution, screen door effect, clunky setups) to stop them from realising the medium’s potential.

So it’s with a mixture of triumph and trepidation that I can tell you, after two days with the newly-released Oculus Quest 2, the dream is finally here. Triumph, because it not only removes those lingering issues but its cable-free, high framerate/resolution experience exceeds even your highest expectations. The store is packed with great games and experiences. Digital delivery is quick and easy.

But trepidation because this is very much a Facebook machine, in ways you maybe hadn’t anticipated, which could very well outweigh its incredible potential.

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VIFF Review: ‘The Town Of Headcounts’ is a bleak, brutal comment on control

The Town of Headcounts

George Orwell’s 1984 has somehow become even more meaningful in the last few years, as those who clearly think it had a happy ending extend their reach through deception and deceit. Its central message has been updated and traced several times onto the current issues of many places. Yet somehow, Shinji Araki’s The Town Of Headcounts uses this same template in a fresh way to paint a metaphor of life in Japan that is as relevant a statement on Japanese culture as Bong Joon-ho’s Parasite was to Korean. The end result is a brutal, shocking parable that will stick in your mind long after the credits have rolled.

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VIFF Review: Beauty Water’s message gets lost in a weak narrative

Beauty Water

Beauty Water‘s central premise holds so much promise for shining a light on the dangerous popularity for constructive surgery among young women. Especially in the film’s native South Korea, women are increasingly putting themselves through regular procedures to attain a vision of beauty incessantly targeted at them from both local and foreign media representations. The idol business is booming, further increasing the pressure. So it’s a real shame that Beauty Water elevates this idea with some significant body horror, only to throw it away with a weak script and inability to focus on the issues in any depth.

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VIFF Review: ‘Special Actors’ will leave you with a feeling of pure, unpretentious, happiness.

Special Actors

It’s not often Matt and I both feel compelled to review the exact same film for the site. In fact, it’s only happened once before, with 2012’s Skyfall prompting two different Bond takes. It takes something truly special for us to feel compelled to both write about it.

Ladies and gentlemen, welcome to Shinichiro Ueda’s Special Actors.

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Game Review: Carrion is a slippery, skittering delight


That horrible feeling that sometimes follows a decent mid-afternoon nap – who am I, where am I, where is everyone – is the starting point for Carrion. Except here you need to add what am I, as your first action is to slop across the floor in a clot of slopping tendrils, with a tiny razor-lined mouth in a perpetual silent scream. And that feeling never fades, instead driving you forward with a singular motivation: get out. 

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Simon’s Favourite Films & Games of 2019

Best of 2019

As 2019 gradually fades into obscurity, it’s time for my yearly tradition of somehow ranking subjective experiences. This year is easier for me, though, as my free time has virtually disappeared (as you can probably tell from my complete lack of writing). As a result, I’m no longer diving deep into complicated experiences until they yield their goods. My metric is simple – is this fun? Does it inspire me? Does it make me feel? And if the answer is no – from a really early point – then it gets pushed aside.

Movies are easier to get through thanks to a much shorter time commitment than a game, so instead, they just get thrown in the outbox. My list of games, though, is more an example of the need for good design throughout – and how a jump in style can put me off forever. So let’s take a look!

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VIFF Review: Feminist Live Reads ‘Some Like It Hot’ has women playing men playing women (and totally rocks it)

Feminist Live Reads: Some Like It Hot / VIFF 2019

Sitting comfortably alongside VIFF for a number of years, Feminist Live Reads reaches through the fourth wall to give an even more intimate experience to the moviegoer set. And their love letter tonight to ‘Some Like It Hot’ was part live theatre, part jazz performance, all brought together by some of the most versatile women you’ll ever hear tearing through Billy Wilder’s electric script.

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Review: A Quiet Place

There’s a section in the second act of A Quiet Place where everyone I could see in the cinema had their hands clamped over their mouth. It’s a strange thing to be in a room full of people sat in total silence, straining to watch a movie that is desperate in its own absolute quiet. This is A Quiet Place, John Krasinski’s directorial debut, at its very best – tension gnawing through the screen, audience in the palm of its hand, waiting for the inevitable snap.

And snap it does.

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Review: Thor Ragnarok

I really miss the sci-fi movies of my childhood. Big, colourful, often funny, always exhilarating; so much fuel for imaginary spaceship battles around my bedroom. I’m sure much of this comes from older eyes and wearier brains, but I find sci-fi these days to be too bland, too unwilling to risk shapes and ideas. The resurgence of Star Wars has taken big steps back to the fantasy side of sci-fi, and Guardians Of The Galaxy got close with its amazing ship design and snappy script, but I often felt myself seeking more of the fun.

Well, not any more. We’ve known for a while that Thor Ragnarok would be colourful and funny – director Taika Waititi’s What We Do In The Shadows is one of my all-time favourite comedies – but what I was not prepared for was Ragnarok having so much more. Far from being all-out comedy, it’s a meaty, gorgeous slice of sci-fi bliss.

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