Book Review – Omega Days by John L. Campbell

Omega Days
by John L. Campbell
Release Date: May 6, 2014
Publisher: Berkley Trade

Omega_Days_Final_Cover

Zombie fiction just never gets old to me. I’m not sure why, but it might be because I love reading all of the different visions of how a zombie apocalypse could go down. Some authors depict a post-apocalyptic world as horrific; others show it as only a minor nuisance. But one thing they all seem to agree on is that the zombies will be hungry! OMEGA DAYS is a new entry into the zombie genre, but it has a lot of bite (pardon the pun). This novel is a force to be reckoned with, and much like George A. Romero, I bet John L. Campbell will soon be a name that is consistently synonymous with the term ‘zombie’.

If you are not familiar with OMEGA DAYS, here is the plot synopsis courtesy of Berkley Trade:

When the end came, it came quickly. No one knew where or exactly when the Omega Virus started, but soon it was everywhere. And when the ones spreading it can’t die, no one stands a chance of surviving.

San Francisco, California. Father Xavier Church has spent his life ministering to unfortunate souls, but he has never witnessed horror like this. After he forsakes his vows in the most heartrending of ways, he watches helplessly as a zombie nun takes a bite out of a fellow priest’s face…

University of California, Berkeley. Skye Dennison is moving into her college dorm for the first time, simultaneously excited to be leaving the nest and terrified to be on her own. When her mother and father are eaten alive in front of her, she realizes the terror has just begun…

Alameda, California. Angie West made millions off her family’s reality gun show on the History Channel. But after she is cornered by the swarming undead, her knowledge of heavy artillery is called into play like never before…

Within weeks, the world is overrun by the walking dead. Only the quick and the smart, the strong and the determined, will survive—for now.

If you’re not familiar with the Greek alphabet, ‘omega’ is the last letter. In the Bible, God refers to Himself as the ‘Alpha and Omega’, or the beginning and the end. Thus, the title for this book is very fitting since it details, basically, the ‘end days’ of humanity.

OMEGA DAYS is written well, with simple prose and non-flashy sentences. I enjoy the writing style Campbell uses because he is descriptive but not overly so. I never once felt bogged down with too much information. On the flip side, I never needed more elaboration, especially when it came to the action. Campbell is a straight-forward writer, which makes for a pleasant reading experience.

The characters are vivid and believable, and I particularly like how they are not all stereotypical ‘survivalists’. A priest, a college freshman, and a gun show reality-star…they just don’t get much more diverse than this. But these unique individuals make the story even more believable, as they are everyday people who are thrust into a horrifying scenario.

And speaking of the characters, I really like how Campbell weaves a lot of human drama into the tale. In many places, the zombies are just a backdrop to the drama that is taking place between the characters. This is very reminiscent of THE WALKING DEAD, and therefore one of the huge draws for me.

OMEGA DAYS is a heck of a zombie debut, and I highly recommend giving it a look. The book hits store shelves next week, so make a note.

MSB

Movie Review – Death Do Us Part (2014)

Death Do Us Part
Directed by Nicholas Humphries
Courtesy of Anchor Bay Entertainment
Release Date: April 15, 2014

Death-Do-Us-Part-DVD

If you are married, there’s a good chance you are familiar with the intense stress that comes from planning a wedding. The tension usually weighs more heavily on the bride, which is a key element to director Nicholas Humphries’ recent release, DEATH DO US PART. In this film, bride-to-be Kennedy is whisked away with her fiancee and some friends to a cabin for a weekend stag party. But the party’s over pretty quickly, and the body count racks up fast. This fun and entertaining slasher will keep you guessing, right up to the very end.

If you are not familiar with DEATH DO US PART, here is the plot synopsis courtesy of Anchor Bay Entertainment:

Kennedy Jamieson, a wealthy socialite, has waited her whole life to have the perfect wedding. Engaged to the charming Ryan Harris, the young couple is just a week away from the big day but hasn’t had a chance to celebrate their respective bachelor/bachelorette parties. Ryan’s best man Chet books a remote cabin in the woods to throw them a ‘Jack and Jill’ stag that they’ll never forget. Out in the middle of nowhere, things take a horrifying turn as members of the group are brutally picked off one by one. What started out as a celebration quickly descends into a bloody nightmare. Friendships are ripped apart and accusations fly in this blood filled psychological horror with a whodunit twist.

I am happily surprised by this film. I hadn’t heard of it prior to seeing the press release, so I wasn’t sure what to expect. The director’s resume is hefty on short films, however this is his first full-length feature. But I’m glad to report Humphries does an excellent job with this debut. The movie is made well for the most part and delivers on several levels.

DEATH DO US PART is shot well and appears to have a high production value. The acting is superb with Peter Benson and Julia Benson (who are married in real life) heading up a great cast. Peter and Julia play off of each other with amazing ease, probably due in part to their real life relationship. The rest of the cast does a great job as well, although I have to particularly single out Emilie Ullerup. I have been a fan of her work since 2008 when I first saw her in the Syfy Channel show SANCTUARY, and she certainly does not disappoint here, either. I hope to see more of her in the future.

The story is a lot of fun, and I especially like how the intrigue hangs in the air for the duration of the film. The characters have to deal with the killings, but they also have to figure out who is behind them. Is it the creepy caretaker? Is it someone in their own group? The paranoia is high, which keeps the audience guessing and makes this film a thrill-ride of epic proportions. I have to applaud the script writers for the ending, as well…I can honestly say I did not see it coming.

Although DEATH DO US PART is very entertaining, I do have two minor complaints that I must voice. First, there is drastic lack of continuity in the opening shots regarding the vehicle in which the group is traveling. The truck is a light shade, like white or tan, and at various times, it is so splattered with mud that you barely see the paint; but in the next scene, it’s been through a car wash and no mud is visible. But then we transition again and see the mud is back. This is a small thing to mention, but it really stands out since the vehicle is a light color.

Second, the special effects were a little on the weak side. At one point, a character gets a couple of fingers chopped off. This person turns to look at the stump of hand, which should be awesome…but a flashlight beam catches the hand and the light goes through the rubber, illuminating the hand like a Halloween pumpkin. This obviously looks very fake, although again, it is a minor point.

Still, DEATH DO US PART is a load of fun, and I highly recommend it to anyone looking for a good slasher or even thriller. There’s a lot to be thankful for here, and I can’t wait to see what director Humphries does in the future. This film is available now.

MSB

Movie Review – Scream Park (2014)

Scream Park
Directed by Cary Hill
Courtesy of Wild Eye Releasing
Release Date: April 22, 2014

screamparkDVD

Nowadays, it seems as if the trend in slasher flicks is not to push the envelope of creativity, but to take us back to their origins, back to the early years when they truly started to flourish. Many of the press releases for slasher films that I receive tout these films as ‘throwbacks’ or ‘homages to the glory days’, which usually means they are low-budget and low-quality. This is all fine and good, and don’t get me wrong: I enjoy many of these films as much as any horror fan. But I’m starting to crave originality. SCREAM PARK is one of these films that attempts to capture the spark of vintage slashers. And while it is entertaining in a few aspects, the film as a whole doesn’t meet up to my expectations.

If you are not familiar with SCREAM PARK, here is the plot synopsis courtesy of Wild Eye Releasing:

The Fright Land amusement park is on the verge of closing its doors forever. But the park’s owner, Hyde (Hellraiser’s Doug Bradley), has one last plan to sell more tickets… murder. Hiring two backwoods maniacs to break into the park and hack and slash all his employees, Hyde thinks these killings will create a media sensation, but he has just unleashed a horror that no one can survive. Also featuring Skinny Puppy frontman Nivek Ogre.

Horror flicks that are set in amusement parks or carnivals are a special treat for me; I love the concept of terrifying and/or horrific events happening at places that are supposedly renowned for good times and fun. I guess the contrast itself is what draws me. There’s a lot that can happen in one of these places, not to mention a lot of different ways to kill off characters!

Unfortunately, SCREAM PARK doesn’t offer very many interesting ways for its cast to die. Sure, there’s a body count…but I wanted to see people run over by bumper cars or slung from the Tilt-a-whirl into piano wire. The killers could have sprinkled the funnel cakes with Comet or even used someone’s head as a test-your-strength platform. The options in an amusement park are endless; sadly, the production team for this film didn’t look into them.

I do like the killers in SCREAM PARK, though; they are ambiguous and sinister, just like the bad guys in a slasher flick should be. Not only that, but they wear freaky masks, too. This heightens the sense of suspense for the audience, as it makes the killer appear less human and therefore more terrifying.

I wish I could say some positive things about the cast in SCREAM PARK, but I simply cannot. This film has some of the worst acting in a low-budget feature that I’ve ever seen. Some bad acting is forgivable; this is not. The only actor worthy of being called such is Doug Bradley, who fright fans will know as Pinhead from the HELLRAISER series. Much to my chagrin, Bradley is only onscreen for about five minutes in the whole film, which makes me want to scream “False advertising!” to the person that designed the DVD cover (his name is at the top of the cover, making it seem like he’s the star).

Still, with all of the negatives aside, SCREAM PARK managed to be slightly entertaining. I stopped looking at it from an originality standpoint and started looking at it as a simple, B-grade slasher film; doing so helped me actually enjoy a bit of it, especially once the killers start stalking everyone. Oh, and there is a pretty nice twist at the very end that made me smile.

All in all, I will say SCREAM PARK is a watch-at-your-own-risk horror film. Some of you will like it, but many of you will hate it. I say check it out and make your own decision. The film is available now.

MSB

Book Review – Upon My Worst Enemy by Mike Wellins

Upon My Worst Enemy
by Mike Wellins
Release Date: January 27, 2014
Publisher: Freakybuttrue

Upon

I can’t recall if I’ve mentioned this or not, but I love historical horror. The concept of inserting a terrifying story into living history takes a true talent, but I’ve read several stories and books over the years that pull it off with ease. Such is the case with UPON MY WORST ENEMY, a recent release from author Mike Wellins. In this novel, Wellins uses World War II as the backdrop for his horror yarn, one of my personal favorite time periods in history. And although the books is not perfect, it is a hell of a read and one I highly recommend.

If you are not familiar with UPON MY WORST ENEMY, here is the plot synopsis:

Toward the close of World War Two, a foundering, lone German Uboat runs aground on a tiny nameless island in the North Atlantic. Just miles below the arctic circle, the German U-boat captain finds himself and his surviving crew stranded on a hostile rock in the middle of the frozen, pitching sea. Their ship destroyed, their supplies ruined, the German sailors quickly discover that they aren’t alone on the barren island. A small squad of Navy engineers, the working Seabees were already on the tiny island to build a small radio repeater station for the allies. With no place to retreat to, the two foes will face off in a brutal battle of attrition on the inhospitable island. The only hope for the Germans and the Americans alike is to survive long enough to meet the ship that is scheduled to pick up the Seabees, once their task is completed. The American squad is outnumbered, but far better prepared for battle and the deadly conditions. Neither side, however, could ever have been prepared for the third inhabitant on the god-forsaken rock.

I’m not sure what it is about horror stories set within wars that enthralls me, but there’s something about the idea that sets my interest ablaze. Maybe it’s because war is such a horrific thing to begin with, and adding another terrifying element to that compounds it so; or maybe it’s because war can bring out the best and worst of humanity, which makes the perfect companion to the premise of a horror tale. I don’t know. But regardless, I enjoy the concept greatly, and this book is a welcome addition.

UPON MY WORST ENEMY is written fairly well, although I will confess there are bits of clunky prose here and there. The storyline is fluid, however, and the plot never bogs down. Wellins writes with a unique voice, an attribute which deepens the immersion-factor into the story. I particularly like this aspect, as it allowed me to fly through the book and finish it within two days.

The characterizations are sufficiently in-depth, and I never once balked at the actions of any of the soldiers. Wellins creates original and well thought-out individuals, not stereotypical personas that readers can find in thousands of other books. This is yet another big plus and one more reason to enjoy this title.

My sole complaint about UPON MY WORST ENEMY is the editing. I ran across several missed edits, including commas in the wrong place, omitted words, and words used incorrectly (i.e. ‘son’ instead of ‘sun’). This is, however, very forgivable in a self-published piece like this; authors cannot necessarily afford to hire an outside editor, therefore they have to do the cutting and fixing themselves. And I speak from personal experience when I say editing can be a very difficult thing to do, especially if you are dissecting your own work.

UPON MY WORST ENEMY is a great book and very enjoyable read. I recommend it to fans of horror or anyone looking for a nice, temporary escape (the book measures in at 230+ pages, and it’s a fast read). It is available now in a variety of formats.

MSB

Movie Review – Escape From Tomorrow (2014)

Escape from Tomorrow
Directed by Randy Moore
Courtesy of Cinedigm
Release Date: April 29, 2014

Escape-From-Tomorrow-2D

After I sat down and watched this film, I decided to get online and read a few reviews. Interestingly, people are mostly very adamant about either loving it or hating it…I didn’t find too many reviews that were neutral. I can see why some might balk at the idea of this film; after all, it basically ‘attacks’ a wonderland that is dubbed ‘the happiest place on Earth’. But what many of the naysayers may not realize is that the movie is a parody, and it is not meant to be taken literally. This is even discussed in a ‘Making Of’ featurette in the Special Features. I personally loved the film, and I’m recommending everyone out there give it a shot, if anything to see what all of the discussion is about.

If you are not familiar with ESCAPE FROM TOMORROW, here is the plot synopsis courtesy of the Cinedigm website:

An epic battle begins when a middle-aged American husband and father of two learns that he has lost his job. Keeping the news from his nagging wife and wound-up children, he packs up the family and embarks on a full day of park hopping amid enchanted castles and fairytale princesses. Soon, the manufactured mirth of the fantasy land around him begins to haunt his subconscious. An idyllic family vacation quickly unravels into a surrealist nightmare of paranoid visions, bizarre encounters, and an obsessive pursuit of a pair of sexy teenage Parisians. Chillingly shot in black and white, Escape From Tomorrow dissects the mythology of artificial perfection while subversively attacking our culture’s obsession with mass entertainment.

As an independent filmmaker myself, I have to tip my hat to director Randy Moore. He shot the film guerrilla-style inside of Disneyworld and Disneyland, and as a result, was able to achieve a monumental feat. If you are not familiar with the word, ‘guerrilla’ in terms of filmmaking basically means he didn’t have permission to use the location or images he was filming. He and his team bought tickets to the parks and then quickly shot their scenes amidst all of the visitor chaos. The finished product is a remarkable testament to working hard to chase a dream.

ESCAPE FROM TOMORROW is shot surprisingly well, considering most of the footage was obtained using Canon DSLR cameras. I am impressed with the lack of shakiness in each scene, especially those filmed on the rides. This makes the movie so much more enjoyable and allows the audience a deeper immersion into the film.

The acting is very good as well. Roy Abramsohn and Elena Schuber do a great job as the bickering parents, but the kids really steal the show for me. Katelynn Rodriguez and Jack Dalton portray the couple’s two children, and they do an excellent job with their roles. Granted, they are not the focal point of the film, however they are involved in almost every key part and do a phenomenal job as such. I particularly commend Dalton, for this is his first movie role (if his IMDB page is correct).

But the dreamlike story is what wins me over with ESCAPE FROM TOMORROW. Describing this film as ‘trippy’ certainly does not do it justice, but that’s exactly what it is. There are moments in this film where you don’t know whether to hide your eyes or rewind what you just saw. Certain elements of the plot play off of urban legends related to Disney, while other pieces are simply just way out there. But regardless of where the bizarreness comes from, it definitely entertains.

ESCAPE FROM TOMORROW is a big win for me, and I suggest you give it a look. Be ready to either love it or hate it, though…and make sure you can back up your decision because it is a good bet you’ll be asked if the film ever comes up in discussion. It will be available next week.

MSB

Movie Review – Mr. Jones (2014)

Mr. Jones
Directed by Karl Mueller
Courtesy of Anchor Bay Entertainment
Release Date: May 6, 2014

Mr Jones

Before I sat down to watch MR. JONES, I purposely made sure not to research the film or even look it up on imdb.com. Although other people’s opinions, especially those of esteemed critics, do not hold any sway in my personal assessment of films, I did this primarily because the plot was so intriguing that I wanted to be completely surprised. And let me tell you, I was definitely impressed! This treasure of a film from the Tribeca International Film Festival is an excellent horror flick, full of both originality and suspense.

If you are not familiar with MR. JONES, here is the plot synopsis courtesy of Anchor Bay Entertainment:

Scott (Jon Foster of Stay Alive) and Penny (Sarah Jones of “Sons Of Anarchy”) just moved to a remote cabin to escape the pressures of the world and breathe new life into their art. They will soon discover they are not alone: an infamously reclusive artist – known only as ‘Mr. Jones’ – lives nearby. He doesn’t like to be disturbed, and only comes out at night when he drags his strange, sinister sculptures deep into the woods. But when Scott and Penny’s curiosity leads them to venture too close for Mr. Jones’ comfort, he plunges the young couple into a nightmare world of mayhem, madness and mind-bending terror. Diane Neal (“Law & Order: SVU”) and David Clennon (John Carpenter’s The Thing) co-star in this startling tale from debut director Karl Mueller (writer of The Divide) and from the producer of the Sundance hit The Pact.

In a genre full of overused ideas and tired concepts, I find it extremely refreshing when a film like this comes along. The plot is not complex, but it is one of those you definitely have to focus on to stay up with the film. And while the concept is simplistic in nature, the movie will take you in a wildly entertaining ride.

MR. JONES has some great cinematography, although the majority of it is shot from a first-person perspective (some is third-person, when one of the characters sets the camera down). But this is not your run-of-the-mill found-footage video. The shots in this film are carefully crafted and give major credibility to the authenticity of the frights. As a result, the camerawork is a big contributor to the chilling atmosphere of the film as a whole.

The acting is first rate, with Jon Foster and Sarah Jones heading up the small but talented cast. I am particularly impressed with the way Jones conveys fear with her eyes; many actresses try to accomplish this, but it usually comes across as forced. Jones, to her credit, pulls this off with ease. The result is a much more immersive (and therefore frightening) movie experience.

There’s not really any gore in MR. JONES, but the special effects are incredible nonetheless. I am speaking in particular to the ‘artwork’ that Mr. Jones creates. These vivid yet simple pieces are powerful in their presence onscreen, and just looking at one by itself for a moment is enough to invoke chills. I would love to own one of these props personally, as it would make a heck of a conversation piece!

MR. JONES is a major win for me, and I highly recommend it. The film is a unique, surrealistic nightmare that ends with a nice twist I didn’t see coming. In short, it’s a perfect horror flick. Give this one a look in a couple of weeks when it hits theaters; or, if you’d prefer to watch it at home, the DVD/Blu-ray version will be released shortly thereafter. Regardless of where you watch it, make sure you’re not alone…

MSB

Movie Review – Locker 13 (2014)

Locker 13
Directed by Bruce Dellis, Jason Marsden, Matthew Mebane, Adam Montierth, & Donovan Montierth
Courtesy of Arc Entertainment
Release Date: April 29, 2014

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When I first read the press release for this film, I didn’t pick up on the fact that it is an anthology. Like V/H/S and its sequel, this film weaves several horror shorts into one overarching storyline. And again, like V/H/S, this film is an outright hit. If you like THE TWILIGHT ZONE, TALES FROM THE DARKSIDE, or TALES FROM THE CRYPT, then you’re going to love LOCKER 13!

If you are not familiar with LOCKER 13, here is the plot synopsis courtesy of Arc Entertainment:

Skip, the nighttime janitor in an Old West theme park, delves into the mysteries surrounding an old locker. His sage supervisor recounts chilling tales that underscore the importance of making the right choice. The recollection includes an aging boxer who is given an opportunity to become a real killing machine, a young man seeking membership in a secret society who experiences an initiation with deadly consequences, a would-be suicide shaken to his core by a menacing member of a very special club, and a hit-man for hire playing a devious cat-and-mouse game with three women who have a score to settle. The stories suddenly come into play when Skip makes an unsettling discovery and faces a life-or-death situation of his own.

This film blew me away; I was hoping it would be good, but I didn’t expect it to be this good! It pulled me in from the opening scenes and never let go. As a result, 95 minutes flew by, and the credits were rolling before I even knew it.

Each segment of LOCKER 13 is shot well and looks great onscreen. And despite the fact there are five directors, the pieces of the film are sewn together with such precision that it’s difficult to tell who directed what. The fact that there is no noticeable difference in directing styles is a true testament to the talent of the creators.

The acting is top-notch as well. I particularly enjoyed Ricky Schroder’s performance as the boxer, Rick Hoffman as the hit-man, Jon Gries as Archie, and Jason Spisak as Skip. The rest of the cast does an excellent job in their roles as well, and it is nice to see such a diverse group of actors in a project like this.

The stories in LOCKER 13 are the real winners here, though. Each one kept me guessing until the end, especially the main storyline involving Archie and Skip. I had no idea what to expect, but I was certainly not disappointed when the ending came about! The writers of this film (and the shorts) are all to be commended. I will definitely be keeping tabs on their future works.

LOCKER 13 is a major win for me and highly recommend giving it a look. Even if you’re not a horror fan, you have to check this one out if only for the originality of the writing. The film hits store shelves in a bit over a week, so make a note.

MSB

Movie Review – The Boogens (1981)

The Boogens
Directed by James L. Conway
Courtesy of Olive Films
Original Release Date: 1981
DVD/Blu-ray Release Date: August 7, 2012

the boogens

If you know me or if you’ve been following Shattered Ravings for a while, you’ll know that creature-features are one of my favorite sub-genres of horror. And within that category are many, many older but classic features. THE BOOGENS is one of these gems that I have heard about for a good part of my life but simply never checked out, primarily because I had difficulty finding it. Well that all changed yesterday when the fine folks at Olive Films saw fit to grace me with a copy. I’m sure glad they did because this is a heck of a film, and it’s one every horror fan should own.

If you are not familiar with THE BOOGENS, here is the plot synopsis courtesy of Olive Films:

In a small town near Denver, two young men begin to explore a long-abandoned old mine recently re-opened by a group of miners. When one of the men is discovered missing, his friends begin a search that leads them to horrifying consequences. They’re all unaware of the evil that’s been unleashed and soon, one by one, a monster that no one has seen snatches up the townspeople. Suddenly, the grisly truth is revealed and a young couple is forced to confront the unknown in order to save their lives… and the entire town.

When watching this film, you have to keep in mind it was made over 30 years ago. And obviously, as such, the clothes, hairstyles, and other trends are very dated. But the frights and the gore both stand the test of time with ease.

The acting in THE BOOGENS is good, above what you would typically expect from an 80s horror flick. I particularly like how well the cast plays off of each other. The ribbing and banter flows from each character like they all grew up together. This, therefore, puts the viewer at ease and forces them to lower their guard.

And that’s when the knockout punch is delivered. As the creature starts picking people off, the intensity skyrockets. The suspense is built as as we see through the creature’s eyes, AND as we glimpse through the terror-stricken eyes of the victims. The film kept me on-edge the whole time, and I loved it!

THE BOOGENS has some decent creature effects for its time and boasts one of the most original (albeit bizarre) monsters out there. I was both repulsed and mesmerized when I finally got to see what it looked like. The image of this thing will linger in your brain long after the film is over.

I’ve tried to find a fault with THE BOOGENS, but I simply cannot. It’s an excellent horror flick with a lot of light-hearted humor (I love Tiger the dog and how much we get to see his ‘antics’ in the cabin) and some straight-up terror. If you’re any kind of fan of horror, you must check this one out. And be sure to give it a look on Blu-ray; you will definitely appreciate the HD picture and sound. The film is available now in a variety of formats.

MSB

Movie Review – The Facility (2012)

The Facility
Directed by Ian Clark
Courtesy of Cinedigm
Original Release Date: 2012
DVD Release Date: March 4, 2014

the facility

Drug-testing has always interested me for some reason. I guess the concept of people volunteering to take an unknown substance and see what could go wrong with their bodies both terrifies and fascinates me. Some people do it for money, while others do it as an attempt to help mankind. But regardless of their motives, the possibility for tragedy is always there. THE FACILITY is a film that asks what might happen in the extreme case if a drug were to cause reactions way beyond the scope of what is expected. The results are both chillingly realistic and terrifying.

If you are not familiar with THE FACILITY, here is the plot synopsis courtesy of the Cinedigm website:

At a remote medical facility, a group of seven strangers begin a clinical trial for the experimental new drug: Pro-9. As the untested drug begins to course through their veins, unexpected side-effects start to take hold and several of the volunteers are sent into an uncontrollable murderous rage.

I wouldn’t really classify this film as horror so much as a thriller. It has quite a bit of blood, although not much gore to speak of; it’s also not very graphic in the violence department, either. But it’s definitely got some intensity and some creepy moments.

I like the location that was chosen for THE FACILITY. The place looks just like I would expect it to. Not to mention, it is remote but in a scenic, wooded area. I’ve heard places like this are chosen by drug companies to help promote a sense of peace. But there’s no peacefulness to be had in this film.

The acting is great with Aneurin Barnard heading up a top-notch cast. I enjoy Barnard’s work, and have ever since I reviewed him in THE CITADEL last year (click here to read that review). Likewise, his supporting cast do a great job in their roles.

But even though I enjoyed this film, it still lacks a bit, particularly in regard to the plot. We are never told what the drug is for, nor are we technically given any resolution at the end; all we get are tidbits of information in written form. Also, the characters aren’t quite fleshed out as much as I would have liked, although that is just a minor observation.

Still, with my reservations aside, THE FACILITY is an entertaining flick and certainly worthy of watching. I recommend giving it a shot if you’re in the mood for a quick thriller. The film is available now in a variety of formats.

MSB

Book Review – The Troop by Nick Cutter

The Troop
by Nick Cutter
Release Date: February 25, 2014
Publisher: Gallery Books

The Troop

I have officially read the best book of 2014 thus far, and it is THE TROOP by Nick Cutter! The book is only 350+ pages in length, but I tore through it in two days…it is that good! The author, Nick Cutter, is actually a pseudonym of Canadian writer Craig Davidson. But regardless of what name he uses, the man can definitely write terror and write it well!

If you are not familiar with THE TROOP, here is the plot synopsis courtesy of Gallery Books:

Once every year, Scoutmaster Tim Riggs leads a troop of boys into the Canadian wilderness for a weekend camping trip—a tradition as comforting and reliable as a good ghost story around a roaring bonfire. The boys are a tight-knit crew. There’s Kent, one of the most popular kids in school; Ephraim and Max, also well liked and easygoing; then there’s Newt the nerd and Shelley the odd duck. For the most part, they all get along and are happy to be there—which makes Scoutmaster Tim’s job a little easier. But for some reason, he can’t shake the feeling that something strange is in the air this year. Something waiting in the darkness. Something wicked…

It comes to them in the night. An unexpected intruder, stumbling upon their campsite like a wild animal. He is shockingly thin, disturbingly pale, and voraciously hungry—a man in unspeakable torment who exposes Tim and the boys to something far more frightening than any ghost story. Within his body is a bioengineered nightmare, a horror that spreads faster than fear. One by one, the boys will do things no person could ever imagine.

And so it begins. An agonizing weekend in the wilderness. A harrowing struggle for survival. No possible escape from the elements, the infected…or one another.

Part Lord of the Flies, part 28 Days Later—and all-consuming—this tightly written, edge-of-your-seat thriller takes you deep into the heart of darkness, where fear feeds on sanity…and terror hungers for more.

I love this book for many reasons. The story is great, the voice is unique, and the characters are vibrant and alive. Not to mention it has some excellent gory descriptions and truly horrifying concepts. You really can’t ask for more in a horror novel.

THE TROOP is written well and moves at a nice pace. I never once felt the narrative was bogged down, nor did I ever feel it was rushed. The prose is carefully constructed and flows nicely as the story moves along.

The characterizations are spot on, and I found a nice level of believability in each one. Cutter turns the conventional stereotypes of young boys on their ears and instead gives us realistic youngsters that could very well live next door. As a result, the reader actually cares for their well-being and is therefore actually disturbed when bad things start to happen to them.

But the story…oh, the story itself is the real winner here. THE TROOP is a horrifying tale that could be ripped from today’s headlines. And it showcases the harsh realities that science can and will inflict upon society from time to time. The book is also a warning, as it gives a dark example of what mankind’s pursuit of perfection might one day bring about.

THE TROOP is a massive win for me, and I am proclaiming it to be the best book I’ve read in 2014 so far. If Cutter or Davidson or whatever name he chooses to use can keep producing this kind of intensity, I will be a lifelong fan of his work. Whatever you are reading now, put it down and go pick up a copy of THE TROOP; I will wager you will be thankful you did.

MSB