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Archive for the ‘supernatural’ Category

In the Flesh (2013)

In BBC, Horror, Recommendation, series, supernatural on 27/04/2013 at 2:03 pm

The dead have gone walkabout again on BBC Three, but different. The story of In the Flesh is as follows: there’s been a wave of the dead rising, turning dead and buried people into zombies. Then a ‘cure’ was found: a way to make the dead think, feel and behave like humans again. The story begins when ‘PDS sufferers’ (partially deceased syndrome) are reintroduced into society, four years after ‘the rising’.

In the meantime, militant civilian armies have learnt to protect their communities from the flesh munching dead, and when protagonist Kieren returns to his family, packing contact lenses and make-up, he finds his kid sister (now 18) is one of the most militant in his home town.

The three-part miniseries is refreshing for its new take on the whole zombie apocalypse trend, introducing interesting moral conflicts. The militant anti-PDS crowd are small minded bigots waving guns around, or are they? Can formerly dangerous undead be turned back into humans, despite the flashbacks and their dependency on medication? Is there a point to life if you don’t age and can’t eat or drink? And there’s Kieren, who topped himself in his late teens – he didn’t even want to be alive, so how is going to cope with being only half alive?

It’s also tense, intriguing and well made and acted, so very much worth the watch. Oh, and as with everything BBC Three, yes there is a moral to the story, not that it messes with the drama at all. I think you can guess what it is.

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The Secret of Crickley Hall (2012)

In BBC, Crime, new, out of this world, Recommendation, Review, series, supernatural, war on 04/12/2012 at 7:53 pm

There’s nothing like a big old house that used to be an orphanage as a backdrop for a spooky story. It’s a bit of a cliché, admittedly, but then this 3-part BBC mini do is so tense, intriguing and well acted that it overpowers its obvious setting.

Eve and Gabe Caleigh (Suranne Jones and Tom Ellis) are a happy, busy urban couple with three kids. One day, Eve briefly dozes off at the playground and her young son Cal goes missing. A year later they move to the remote Crickley Hall, where Gabe hopes his wife might be able to start letting go of their son. But, Eve has a sort of telepathic connection with Cal, and she can hear his voice inside the heavily haunted house.

Crickley Hall was a small orphanage during WWII, and all the children supposedly drowned in a flood. However, there’s a complex mystery to be unravelled, especially since Mr Cribben (Douglas Henshall) is spooking about with his cane, terrorising the ghosts of the children as well as all the living people in the house.

The plot is complex, running between present (missing son and family dynamics), past (what really happened to the children?) and past meets present (survivors who get involved). It’s not predictable and avoids sappiness and melodrama, even though the heavy emotions involved easily provoke both. A good watch. Not if spooks spook you out, though. It’s not terrifying, but very intense and absolutely quite spooky.

 

Dorian Gray (2009)

In Amazing, based on novel, Classic Story, Crime, film, Giggles, Horror, period drama, Recommendation, Review, romantic, supernatural on 30/12/2011 at 9:19 pm

This amazingly seductive production is quite a tribute to The Picture of Dorian Gray (1890), that classic bit of praiseworthy cultural heritage from the hand and genius mind of Oscar Wilde.

Ben Barnes is a convincing Dorian: naive in the beginning, arrogant and attractive in the middle and a tormented wolf in sheep’s clothes towards the ending. Colin Firth, as to be expected, is a nothing less than excellent Lord Henry Wotton in this horrific tale about eternal youth, about the glorification of youth and its effect on 19th century London society.

While most films that attempt to tell classic stories like this tend to emphasise only the least interesting bits (the general plot), this one somehow made enough room for the good stuff to shine through (the meaning of the general plot) without being annoyingly explanatory. Plus it is a real treat for the eyes. Not only because Dorian is (necessarily) pretty – all of it is: London, the gentry and their attire, the dark blue skies and… some special effects that do give this surreal tale just that extra bit of oomph.

Lost Christmas (2011)

In feel good, film, Giggles, new, out of this world, Recommendation, Review, supernatural on 29/12/2011 at 1:09 am

This is a very charming little Christmas film you simply must see. Not only because it is small and charming; it also stars one of my all time favourite people: Eddie Izzard.

Izzard’s character has lost all recollection of his life and identity, but he gained something of a superpower: he gets visions of things lost to people when he touches them. He meets a thieving little boy called Goose (Larry Mills) who lost his dog and he embarks on an adventure that seems to unite people and repair relationships. Meanwhile, Anthony (Izzard) hasn’t a clue if that’s his actual name and still needs to solve his own mystery.

The plot is clever and the story is very entertaining, mainly thanks to the young and talented Mills and a perfect display of underacting by Izzard, which creates good suspense. I wouldn’t wait till next year to watch it.

Wuthering Heights (1993)

In Amazing, based on novel, Classic Story, film, period drama, Recommendation, Review, romantic, supernatural on 19/11/2011 at 6:41 pm

Emily Bronte’s famous and influential 1847 novel has been adapted for the screen a number of times and they’ve done it again recently. However, a very reliable source urgently warned me off this new attempt, so I’ll do the same for you and instead direct our attentions towards a worthy adaptation. This 1993 production is an absolutely amazing tribute to the masterful tale of Wuthering Heights. There are also very funky hairdos to admire (they failed to keep the 1990s out of the 1840s, it’s hilarious).

I couldn’t have thought up a better Heathcliff than the young Ralph Fiennes, and what a treat to see Juliette Binoche as Cathy! Heathcliff’s character is frightfully tricky because he is the object of Cathy’s desire as well as the antagonist in the sense that he is a very nasty person. Fiennes and his piercing blue eyes luckily possess the remarkable ability to play absolute bastards and still make you sympathise with them (although I wonder if he has the same effect on straight men, let me know?). Binoche plays both Catherine the mother and the daughter superbly, adding just that little extra charm with a hint of a French accent.

In my memory (I read this classic a very long time ago) Wuthering Heights was a somewhat tragic love story with something about a ghost. This great film revived the entire novel for me, bringing back to life how thrilling, original, dark and generally genius this tale is. It deserves to be read and watched many, many more times.

 

The Tempest (2010)

In Classic Story, film, Review, supernatural on 16/11/2011 at 11:58 pm

You basically want to watch this because Helen Mirren is brilliant as Prospera and you love Shakespeare. If you don’t like those two beautiful people, don’t bother.

This recent adaptation of the 400 year old story of the Duke of Milan – a sorcerer called Prospero – who has been exiled to a remote island with his daughter Miranda (Felicity Jones). Here, the Duke became Dutchess: Prospera, magnificently portrayed by Mirren. Her performance is honest, forceful and balanced, as William would have wanted it to be. Prospera makes a ship containing all her enemies strand on her shore by creating a tempest, thus intending to restore her daughter to her rightful place by marrying her to Ferdinand (Reeve Carney), the son of the King of Napels. Prospera is aided by the enslaved airy spirit Ariel, very charmingly and convincingly brought by Ben Wishaw. Though to my knowledge everyone agreed upon Ariel being male, he sometimes appears to be hermaphrodite.

The language has been for the greatest part left intact by writer and director Julie Taymor and it works well. But there are some reasons you might find certain parts of this production somewhat tiresome, and most of them will be related to Russell Brand as an annoying joker type called Trinculo whose Shakespearean abilities are questionable, Reeve Carney who is the soppiest prince Ferdinand in existence, and depending on your taste, Djimon Hounsou who does a savage slave Caliban that’s a wee bit over the top if you ask me. Also, the costumes are a bit too funky for their time. However well made and classically cut, that many zips combined with all the special effects make it look more like sci-fi than the early 17th century.

Big yes for Helen Mirren, Felicity Jones, Ben Wishaw and William Shakespeare. No to the rest of it.

 

The Fades (2011 -?)

In BBC, Horror, new, Recommendation, Review, series, supernatural on 29/10/2011 at 4:14 pm

Of all of this past year’s new productions, this was the last one I expected to actually be any good. Another supernatural series, now about the undead and an unlikely teenage superhero-in-the-making – uh-huh, good luck. But BBC Three went along and well surprised me: it’s nothing short of very good!

The Fades are dead people who got stuck in this world for no reason. They cannot touch, but they do wither with time. Some people can see them and might have some other powers, they call themselves Angelics. Problems arise when one of the Fades finds a way to come back to life. I won’t tell you how, but trust me: it isn’t pretty.

Young Paul (Ian de Caestecker), an unpopular teenager who is terrorised by his stuck-up sister Anna (Lily Loveless – Skins), is haunted by apocalyptic dreams and he soon finds out that he can see the Fades – as well as do a great deal more. The supposed good guy, an Angelic called Neil (Johnny Harris), does a great job at being a questionable and fanatic human being throughout, and tries to convince Paul to leave his normal life behind and save the world. Another former Skins star, Joe Dempsie, does a superb monster-villain with a story as John, and the series would surely lack depth without the part of Angelic/Fade Sarah (Natalie Dormer).

The Fades is very well plotted, acted and also very tense and not to forget proper horrific. I almost would go as far as to say it is a horror series. It’s very enjoyable nonetheless and I urgently advise against eating anything while watching.

2012 won’t see a new series made due to BBC cutbacks – which is a damn shame.

Camelot (2011-)

In Recommendation, Review, romantic, series, supernatural on 07/10/2011 at 9:04 pm

The BBC made Merlin, that great family adventure drama about the wizard Merlin and prince Arthur, and then just to confuse you, this lot went and made the same thing quite different and it’s called Camelot. This new series’ description should exclude the word ‘family’ as it contains generous portions of nudity (mostly Eva Green’s tits, which as we know from The Dreamers, isn’t a terrible thing at all). If you’ve ever watched series like Rome or The Tudors, you’ll get my drift.

As I said, Eva Green is in it as the young Arthur’s (Jamie Campbell Bower) evil step-sister Morgan, which already makes the cast well starry – but then the (refreshingly not so righteous but tortured) figure who is Merlin is played by Joseph Fiennes. This telling of the myths surrounding Camelot, Arthur, Lancelot, Guinevere and the rest of the bunch is grim and desperate at times, yet highly entertaining, fast-paced and naturally full of intrigue, power-play, romance and magic. It’s expectedly plot-driven (it’s tense because you want to know what happens, not because of the subtle dialogue) but sticks to the rules of good drama well enough to appreciate it as a qualitative guilty pleasure.

Apologies for the disturbingly tacky voice-over on the trailer. That’s due to the US production company Starz who provided the bucket-loads of cash to make this thing.

Being Human (2008 -)

In BBC, Recommendation, Review, series, supernatural on 01/07/2011 at 6:49 pm

Personally I believe that making vampires, werewolves and ghosts interesting and even convincing is generally just a bit ridiculous. The good thing about Being Human is that it doesn’t take itself too seriously.

As a consequence, this is a pretty straightforward drama series about three interesting young friends who are desperately trying to fit into society. They all have certain big obstacles to overcome: Annie is dead (the ghost), so is Mitchell and he needs to suppress his killing and blood drinking urges (the vampire) and George has to keep himself away from others when there’s a full moon (the werewolf). Their constant struggles, inside jokes and above all their humanity make for very good entertainment.

Merlin (2008 -)

In BBC, feel good, Giggles, period drama, Recommendation, Review, series, supernatural on 01/07/2011 at 6:39 pm

It is, I believe, almost impossible not to like this series. Anyone who ever loved a good fairytale is bound to gobble up this delicious children’s series with delight, and it happens to be equally entertaining for grown-ups.

The young wizard Merlin (Colin Morgan) is young prince Arthur’s (Bradley James) servant at the time his authoritarian and magic-despising father Uther (Anthony Head, one of Britain’s greatly undervalued actors) rules Camelot. Arthur is terribly arrogant and treats his servant like dirt most of the time and Merlin secretly saves his master’s behind time after time. Magic is forbidden, so he must tread oh-so carefully. Meanwhile, there are dragons, witches and ancient secrets to be dealt with.
As the series is based on a much loved and million times over interpreted myth – as opposed to historical fact- the retelling is loose. I like that Merlin and Arthur are the same age, even though the legends dictate otherwise. Also, Gwen (Angel Coulby) being a black servant surely makes for good drama.

Season 4 hits the living rooms on Saturday 8 October at 8pm (GMT) on BBC One.