365 Days of Horror, Day 14: Black, Episodes 1 & 2

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black kdrama korean drama

source: yodrama.com

Netflix has been quietly serving up some great offerings on the Kdrama (Korean drama) front. This is one of their ‘originals’ (though that term seems to cover just exclusives to Netflix that weren’t commissioned by Netflix, such as Riverdale). Black is one of those exclusives to the UK, and I was hooked from the first couple of scenes.

Before you scroll past, take heed that this genuinely is a good show to watch if you either don’t think you’re into Kdrama, or you’re not interested in soppy romantic girls yelling ‘oppa!’ at her love interest. This one is different – I promise.

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365 Days of Horror, Day 10: The Exorcist, Season 1

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This is a bit of a cheat, but I technically watched the last few episodes of season 1. I’d wondered how they were going to fill the last few episodes after Pazuzu had been banished from one of the girls, but we get hit with a right hook with Angela/Regan’s possession – much like Regan’s mom, who gets her neck fatally snapped before being tossed down the stairs.

I’d like to go on record as saying I hate the insult ‘stinkpot’, though. Pazuzu would have infinitely worse things to say.

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365 Days of Horror, Day 7: Channel Zero: No-End House [2×01]

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channel zero no-end house syfy

source: tvseriesfinale.com

I have waited for this. I was so excited. And the first episode of SyFy’s blindingly brilliant horror anthology series Channel Zero did not disappoint.

No-End House is the only Creepypasta I’ve ever read – I’ve not even read the famous ones like Slenderman or Jeff the Killer – but, much like Candle Cove before it, this expands on the source material in a faithful way, while reaching new heights of trippy, creepy production design.

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365 Days of Hallowe’en, Day 6: Tales from the Crypt 3×05: Top Billing

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Starring both Jon Lovitz AND John Astin (with a cameo from Sandra Bernhard on the day that I was just thinking, “Whatever happened to her?”), this ended up being one of my favourites, not least because its creepy undertone and series of reveals reminds me of about a  dozen cheesy horror stories and urban legends I voraciously consumed when I was a teen.

In “Top Billing“, episode 5 of season 3 of Tales from the Crypt, the former – a curious mix of a smug, pretentious yet failing and mediocre actor – answers the latter’s ad for an amateur production of Hamlet. Marginally more successful fellow actor Winton (Bruce Boxleitner, a name I’ve always enjoyed reading) shows up to audition just to try piss Lovitz’s character off, and piss him off he does.

Events take a predictable turn – then…

(SPOILERS AFTER THE JUMP)

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random review: Santa Clarita Diet [season 1]

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For me, Drew Barrymore‘s presence can always be relied upon to make a dull project bearable. It brings me great glee, then, to see her in something that is not only smile-inducing but is also a Netflix Original – properties that have continued to surprise in their diversity and willingness to take risks.

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31 Days of Hallowe’en, Day 22: Black Mirror; Season 3, Episode 2: Playtest

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With all the horror I’ve consumed lately, a concern has been festering in the back of my mind: what if nothing scares me anymore? A message board post I recently read admitted that the author felt sad that he can’t enjoy horror movies the way he used to, because of this very reason. Maybe, like my recent favourites Don’t Breathe and Train to Busan, I can appreciate the tension those two use that is usually reserved for action movies and thrillers, rather than the lingering dread that the monster might crawl out of the screen and follow you home. Or, with my 2016 favourite The Windmill Massacre, perhaps I can just appreciate the creature’s design, the well-paced story and the creative gore.

I just won’t be scared.

black mirror 2016 season 3 playtest

But now, on the trotting heels of its prophetic Prime-Minister pig-fucking nostalgia, along comes Netflix’s Season 3 of Black Mirror. Hoorah! The show that I’d been forcing everyone under the sun to see finally has a third season on the bingewatching mecca of the interwebz.

Given the length and utter mindfuckedness of past episodes, I’d actually recommend against binging. Each episode follows you around for at least a day or two, and your brain needs time to push it back out. This one, based on Reddit comments, is one that requires just such a moratorium. (For me, it was Episode 3).

“Playtest”, Episode 2, plays with the very idea of what fear is, and how far it can be pushed to commodify it. Wyatt Russell (a curiously watchable genetic mesh of Kurt and Goldie) plays Cooper, a young American backpacker. Low on funds, he  answers an ‘odd job’ ad to beta-test a well-known company’s augmented reality game – which concerns itself with pushing the limits of fear.

In my trademarked quest to avoid spoilers, I can only say that of course it gets more twisted from there. Prepare to be suitably unsettled.

black mirror 2016 season 3 playtest

It actually throws some good bits of tension at you before the inevitable ‘nothing could possi-blye go wrong’ trope’. But from there, it genuinely gets terrifying to the point of downright uncomfortable. I can’t remember the last time I gasped out loud at a screen. This is some fantastic storytelling. The fright in any episode of Black Mirror is the unease around seeing your contemporary surroundings on screen, with just one small element futurised, amplfied, and cloaked in gloom. It’s very possible that these things could happen. And, unlike a surprisingly creative serial killer or unbeatable ghoul, the ‘villains’ in Black Mirror aren’t a single entity – it’s a plausible concept spun out of control in its influence and potential to devastate. And isn’t that just some eye-watering, spine-tingling, stomach-sinking beautiful mindfuckery?