Here comes another horror movie courtesy of Netflix. This one had a lot of promise and potential.
Based on Adam Neville's novel 'The Ritual', this flick has its ups and downs but for the most part isn't half bad.
Four men go on a hiking trip, despite the fact that none of them are exactly experienced. However, the trip is bittersweet as one of their group was recently killed in a horrific robbery, unable to attend alongside his buddies. For some, this trip a way of honoring him. For one in particular, who was there during the alteration and did nothing, is his way of coping with the enormous burden of guilt and regret hovering over him like a dark cloud.
However, while they expected brisk walks and soothing talks, mixed in with tents and basic food, something more ominous and supernatural comes their way. An unseen foe preys on their personal fears and weaknesses as they delve deeper into these woods. After a few strange and unexplainable incidents, the men quickly become unsettled and on edge. Tensions rise in the group as a result of the bizarreness following them, and their own issues. All the threads come loose.
One aspect of the movie I just couldn't get away from was the awkward and clunky conversations. I feel the scriptwriter tried too hard to create a macho vibe that came across as uncomfortable. Some dialogue was forced, as if to create a testosterone-fuelled weekend with beer and farting, when it made the characters appear two-dimensional and stereotypical. Yet, as the movie progresses, these archetypes become real people with genuine fears and problems. The initial awkwardness fades, to an extent. This is disappointing, as the actors are quite talented, I just feel that maybe the script or direction lacked during the filming process. I was especially impressed with Rafe Spall (Luke), who I instantly recognised from Hot Fuzz, though he played a drastically different character in this. Robert James-Collier (Hutch), straight from Downton Abbey, was the voice of reason and strength within the group. And Sam Troughton (Dom) showed his true colours as a highly nervous and stressed out character who cracked under pressure.
Although, the movie did have some strengths. The videography was excellent. Some shots of the wilderness were nothing short of majestic and elicited that tingly feeling. I found myself mesmerized by the scenery explored through a variety of angles.
The soundtrack was simple but fitting. It stirred up jumps and scares while producing a tense and unnerving atmosphere that I enjoyed. In some instances, silence was the best soundtrack they could administer to scenes of dread and suspense.
On a psychological level, the movie had meaning. It delves deep into their psyche and has their worst nightmares come to fruition. These tough guys became feeble, shivering wrecks after experiencing extremely graphic night terrors that toyed with their view of reality and fiction. For me, it was this intriguing exploration of psychology that maintained my interest and kept me hooked until the end. Not to mention, I wanted to know how they would end this tale. A bad ending can leave a bitter taste in your mouth and ruin the whole movie. Especially when the film had its obvious flaws from the get-go.
There are thousands of horror movies set in the woods with similar plots. It takes a truly great cast and director to bring something new to the table. What can they explore that hasn't been explored before or hasn't really been touched on, on a significant and detailed level?
Now then, the ending. Despite the problems in this flick, the ending more than made up for it. The speed dials up. The action becomes more fulfilling to a hungry audience. It becomes edgier and much more satisfying than the first forty minutes or so. There is one common and strange denominator in the suffering of these men, and that's a strange and large object. This explodes in the ending. While there were drawbacks, the ending perked me up and left me with a pleasant feeling. The flaws, in the grand scheme of things, were minor in comparison to how well the ending was executed.
Netflix is really upping their game this year by buying shows that stand out. Channel 4, a British network, produced this surprisingly superb series. It has unique scripts, professional and impressive effects, and great actors.
'The End of the F*cking World' is a hit.
What first drew me to it was that it's British, as am I. This comes across in the countryside scenery and the decor of homes, which I personally found to be nostalgic and overtly English. But secondly, I was drawn due to the elements of horror. After watching the trailer and discovering that the show explores a young boy who strongly believes he may be a psychopathic killer, I instantly added it to my list.
A young boy (James) is following the typical serial killer path: killing animals, doesn't 'do' emotion or socialize well, and the big give away: he yearns to kill something bigger.
In school, he keeps to himself. He blends in and avoids drawing too much attention to himself. He doesn't have time to deal with high school drama, he has bigger fish to fry. Or, if speaking technically, bigger living creatures to kill: humans.
A young girl takes a liking to him, a rather candid and brash young lady. She is outspoken and bold, to say the least. They begin an unlikely and unconventional love affair, which takes a dark turn. However, it does not turn out the way you think it will. The tables are turned on the viewer.
Throughout the series, the characters develop remarkably. You get two completely different people who grow on each other. They identify their differences and push past them. On a road trip to find the girl's father, they find themselves in a spot of bother on more than one occasion.
I found the lead actors, Jessica Barden (Alyssa) and Alex Lawther (James), to be impressive. They suited the characters fantastically.
Jessica portrayed Alyssa as this misunderstood girl who speaks out to deflect from her insecurities, behaving self-destructively. I went to school with girls like this, whose first response to most situations was anger, stemming from feeling uncomfortable, stupid, or misinformed. The performance came across as genuine. Although she made me uncomfortable on more than one occasion, I can't deny the authenticity of her performance.
Whereas Alex plays James as a quirky, odd individual who hates 'feelings' and is awkwardly stumbling through adolescence. We all knew, or were, someone like this. They were nice yet reserved, shy yet always there to offer help. However, James seems to merely want to blend into the background and prefers to monitor human behaviour, rather than partake in it.
Against all wishes, he begins to get 'the feels'.
The voice overs (internal dialogue) was needed with such characters that don't often speak. This aided character development and often their exterior didn't accurately express their inner anguish.
As the story progresses, we see glimpses of actual people with souls within these archetypes, creating a need to know who these people really are and how this horrible journey will affect them. Who will they turn out to be?
There are some adorable yet uncomfortable scenes that remind us what it's like to be that age, having these feelings and not sure how to handle them. It also reminds us we have all behaved embarrassingly as youngsters, acting out for attention, or as some form of a coping mechanism.
The pace was fast, but not rushed. Scenes were sharp with no 'filler' moments. Everything was essential to character development or the plot. And if anything, the show continues to strengthen as it progresses. These opposite characters start to form a bond, shockingly. Everything falls into place after that. Things get darker and darker as their twisted road trip continues, putting them face-to-face with danger.
I found the twists to be exciting and unexpected, none of which I saw coming. I'd say this fits in the middle of comedy, horror, and has definite 'indie' vibes. The production is top-of-the-range without being all flashy and Hollywood-esque. You are taken on a ride that's unnerving, inappropriate, entertaining, and bizarre.
Overall, I'd give this a 9/10. My only problem, which has nothing to do with the content but rather it's length, is that the episodes are super short. Each clock in at around twenty minutes. I sincerely hope there will be a season two. I can see this show sprouting off in so many directions.
2017 was an incredible year for horror movies. But some stood out more than others. Here are what I consider the cream of the crop for horror offerings in 2017.
A crazy man with multiple personalities? Oh yes!
2) GET OUT.
A literal mind-f*ck. A strong psychological horror.
Stephen King + Clowns + other creepies = nightmare fuel.
4) ANNABELLE: CREATION.
An excellent prequel that was far superior to 'Annabelle'. This gave us chills, jumps, entertainment, and ultimate horror.
Jennifer Lawrence delivers a spectacular performance in this one-of-a-kind horror/suspense flick. See it!
6) DEATH DAY.
She is destined to die over and over until she figures out who keeps killing her.
7) 47 METRES DOWN.
Shark Cage? Really? Disaster waiting to happen.
8) THE BABYSITTER (NETFLIX ORIGINAL).
A perfect blend of horror, comedy, and wittiness. A horror movie that doesn't take itself too seriously. I loved it!
9) RESIDENT EVIL: THE FINAL CHAPTER.
An excellent way to close out a sensational franchise.
10) ALIEN: COVENANT.
Yes. Yes. Yes. Aliens are back, baby.
If you happened to miss any of these 2017 treasures, get on that immediately, if not sooner.
Netflix has recently been doling out some excellent horror goodies. Make sure you don't miss out on them before they leave.
1) CREEP 2.
Original. Quirky. Suspenseful.
An amazing series about a man who is destined to see people for who they really are (monsters) and kill them!
3) FREDDY VS JASON.
A horror/comedy for some easy watching.
4) CAGE DIVE.
You're in a shark cage when the boat it's attached to is flipped over by a huge wave. Sound terrifying?
5) 30 DAYS OF NIGHT.
The scariest vampires onscreen since The Lost Boys. Vampires viciously attack a town that has 30 days without sun.
6) THE BELKO EXPERIMENT.
Odd. Exciting. Interesting.
7) INSIDIOUS: CHAPTER 2.
A horrifying sequel. This'll give you goosebumps for days.
8) VAN HELSING.
The second season has finally graced our Netflix accounts! A woman with a strange gift that could save the population from hordes of vampires.
9) THE GRUDGE.
A remake of a truly chilling Japanese movie starring Sarah Michelle Gellar. I can hear that neck-cracking sound right now... and that awful moan...
10) OPEN HOUSE.
A new Netflix original about a series of strange occurrences in an open house...
What are you waiting for? Get started!
As 2017 comes to an end, it's time to get excited about what horror movies 2018 is going to bring! Here we go.
1) Conjuring 3.
Ed and Lorraine Warren are back again to battle the forces of darkness.
2) The Nun.
Speaking of which, remember The Conjuring 2? Can you recall that creepy-ass nun? Well, the scary b*tch gets her own movie... Oh crap.
3) Insidious 4.
Keys for fingers, now that's horrifying! Lin Shaye comes back to the franchise to tackle some key-fingered evil.
4) Cloverfield 3.
Back into the movie series for a third installment of extra-terrestrial badness.
5) Purge 4.
So far, these movies have been great and touched on a real fear in many people of what may happen in the future with the wrong president and a corrupt government. This movie will be a prequel that explains the events leading up to the first purge and how it came to be. Excited? Hell yes!
Jesus Christ! Here it comes, the new Jaws. Only in this movie the shark is slightly bigger than Jaws, believe it or not. And with Jason Stratham, it's sure to be a kick-ass film.
7) Goosebumps; Horrorland.
One for the younger generation among us. I don't know about you guys, but I loved the books and the TV show, and the first movie. So I am stoked to watch this sequel.
8) Strangers: Prey at Night.
A sequel to The Strangers, a family staying in a mobile park for one night are pushed to their limits by a bunch of masked psychopaths.
9) The Crooked Man.
Another baddie from The Conjuring 2 that is getting his own spin-off film. He gave me goosebumps in The Conjuring 2, so no doubt this film will be pure nightmare fuel.
10) Deep Blue Sea 2.
Now this shocked me. I love Deep Blue Sea, so I was understandably hyped to hear they were creating a sequel! A billionaire gets ambitious and experiments on bull sharks. Doesn't sound like a good idea to me.
It's that time of year again. Even horror fiends like to get all festive and add some tinsel to their movie selection. So, if you want to be festive, but not compromise your horror-loving ways, this list is for you!
1) Better Watch Out
This is a new one. One cold, snowy night an intruder breaks into Levi's home. His only defense? His babysitter!
Another fairly recent one. Don't be bad kiddies or the Krampus will come for you!
3) Black Christmas (2006)
One of my personal Christmas horror faves. A psychotic man with a disturbing past takes it out on a group of sorority sisters living in his childhood home. Stop it, Billy!
4) Silent Night (2012)
It's silent. Everyone is asleep and resting. Everyone, that is, but a killer dressed as Santa. The ultimate disguise. No one would expect Santa to axe them to pieces!
5) Rare Exports: A Christmas Tale
Deep in the Korvatunturi mountains, lays the secret of Christmas. It's about to get dug up! But is that something they really wanna do?
6) Jack Frost
You thought he was dead. You thought you were safe. Guess again. He is back... as a snowman!
7) Gremlins (1984)
Don't let them eat after midnight. Keep them out of the sun. And whatever you do, don't get them wet! A classic that I am sure most have seen but deserves a mention on this list.
8) Nightmare on 34th Street
This is brand-spanking-new! Santa does exist. He comes to 34th street to tell three horror stories that will change the way you look at Santa for good!
9) Krampus 2: The Devil Returns
He's back kiddies. You'd better behave!
10) Holidays (2015)
An anthology of short horror films set around the holidays.
What are you waiting for? Get the hot chocolate, the gingerbread men, the fluffy blanket, and sit by the tree for some great Christmas horror movies!
A Christmas Horror Story
Among the red bows, tinsel finished furniture and neatly wrapped presents were the shocked faces of the Dawson family. Surrounded by bells, mistletoe, gingerbread scented candles and a tastefully decorated Christmas tree, was the spoilt little child known as Bruce. He stood glaring maliciously at his parents, throwing the mother of all temper tantrums. Legs stomped. Arms flailed. His voice screeched. Liza, his younger sister, wept at his remark. Leonard and Lucy: their parents, were outraged at Bruce's behavior. They had no idea what had possessed him to act so selfishly. Normally this little child was one of the most respectful and polite young boys ever to have graced the planet. But tonight, consumed with greed and impatience, a self-centered little shit had surfaced. It was a family tradition at the Dawson's residence to open one present on Christmas Eve, so sticking with tradition, Liza and Bruce had unraveled one present each. Liza had torn delicately, a magic glow in her eyes. Whereas Bruce had ravaged through the paper, tossing it aside and opening the box to his present. There was no magical glimmer in his eyes. Instead, pure gluttony. Liza had been overwhelmed with her teddy bear, mashing it against her face in an adorable fashion, immediately naming it Fred. Bruce, on the other hand, was disgusted at receiving a puzzle; despite him having asked for it months earlier.
"What the hell is this?" he spat.
"Bruce, watch your tone!" Leonard had warned with a firm finger wagging.
"This is crap!" he screamed, launching it into the tree. The puzzle had skidded into the green bristles, catching on the lighting and ornaments, wrecking the tree as orbs plummeted to the cream carpet. Colourful bindings of tinsel came undone, shedding strings of shimmering colour, tiny figurines thumped onto presents and flipped onto the floor. It rained tree ornaments for several seconds.
An awkwardness swept through the living room. The cream interior of the classic American home froze in anxiety. Lucy didn't know whether to laugh or cry. And Leonard trembled with anger, wanting to smack the petulance from Bruce. Liza clung onto her new teddy, uncomfortable.
"Santa isn't even real!" he bellowed.
That sentence had stripped the vocal ability from the remaining family for several seconds, not quite sure how to respond. Neither his parents or sister could believe he would scream that with such malignancy. Why was he so mad? Lucy wondered. She'd never seen her little prince like this.
Leonard held back the instinct to bash his head in, choosing instead to get to the root of the problem first. Liza wept, hurt that he would even suggest Santa doesn't exist.
"Come here my sweet," Lucy whispered to Liza, beckoning her over with open arms.
The young girl toddled over in her red pyjamas, blonde hair tied in a bow.
"It is not true, Santa is real," she promised, rocking Liza on her knee.
"What is the matter with you? To say such a thing, and in front of your little sister Bruce!" Lucy asked, annoyed.
Bruce simply shrugged, appearing inconvenienced.
"Go to your room," Leonard ordered. He figured that was the safest place for him right now, Leo wasn't sure how much longer he would be able to still his temper.
"But I didn't even get to open a good present," he complained, with a patronizing look burrowed into his face.
"Go upstairs now or you will get no presents at all tomorrow and I will come upstairs with my belt!" Leo threatened through gritted teeth. Bruce scampered upstairs in his snowman pyjamas. Although he dashed away in fear of receiving the belt, his face was scrunched in anger.
The little brat stormed upstairs, huffing and puffing. Leonard fixed the tree and took the puzzle away, hiding it in the kitchen. "The little shit," Leo muttered, reaching the puzzle on to a kitchen cabinet too tall for anyone but him to see or collect.
"What are we gonna do?" Lucy fretted, whispering.
"There is nothing we can do now," Leo responded, disappointed and sad, retrieving a bottle of whiskey from the fridge.
"But he denied his existence, Leo!" Lucy spoke with force but restrained volume.
"Shhh! Maybe they didn't hear, just take care of Liza," he advised, pouring himself a generous serving of liquor to settle his nerves. Lucy reluctantly carried her daughter into the living room while Leo took a secret swig from the whiskey bottle.
Lucy rocked her daughter, soothing Liza until she became sleepy in her arms. In her red silk nightgown, resembling Mrs. Claus, Lucy carried her little angel to bed. Meanwhile, Leonard put out milk, cookies and carrots for the reindeer, hands trembling as he did so.
While his wife tucked in Liza, he cradled a glass of whiskey in his leather armchair. He tried to shrug off his son's attitude and his worry of the consequences and get back in the Christmas spirit. After all, the living room was magnificently embellished. An explosion of reds, golds, ornaments, globes, miniature snowmen and gingerbread men were scattered on the fireplace, coffee table, and window sill. The walls and photo frames were bordered in glittery stretches of various fabrics, and that was just the living room. The theme of Christmas spilled throughout the house, drenching every room in various forms of festivity. It was a result of a family working together to bring Christmas cheer to their home. Beneath the rage of his son's inexcusable behaviour was a nagging disappointment munching on his stomach as it squirmed uncomfortably. Leo hadn't raised Bruce to behave in such an unforgivable manner. Not once had Bruce even come close to acting out like this in the past. So Leo questioned his son's motives. Or was hitting the teenage years finally taking its toll? Either way, regardless of the reason, his outburst could turn out fatal. Draining the last of his whiskey, Leo hung his tumbler in the dishwasher and headed to bed. He had a good mind to rip Bruce a new one, but truthfully, he was exhausted. In a few short hours the kids would hopefully be up and begging their parents to wake so they can play the routine of 'has Santa been?' The innocent, naive children had no idea just what they were asking for when they asked if St Nick had been.
The whiskey would help send him straight to slumber, to take full advantage of the short window of opportunity to catch some shut-eye. So Leo wandered into he and his wife's room and collapsed into bed, falling into a deep sleep only minutes after his head was cushioned by the pillow.
Listening intently, ear pressed against the bedroom door, Bruce waited until he was sure everyone was asleep. His father had begun snoring, sister gently wheezing in the room next door, and his mother was a silent but heavy sleeper: she could sleep through a violent earthquake. The air was chilly, various festive scents slithered down the halls, from potpourri, candles, and scented sticks. Bruce creaked open his bedroom door and crept through the hall, wading through cherry-plum coated dimness. His hands smoothed along plastered walls, occasionally tickled by garnishments. As he neared the stairwell the buzz of the Christmas tree zinged up the stairs. Other than that, and the odd passing car, silence seized the household.
Exploiting this, the child delicately declined the steps, placing a great deal of weight on the wooden banister spiraled in gold and red tinsel, as to minimize any moans from the steps. His feet went from fluffy carpet stapled to the stairs, to wooden beams of the foyer, back to snugly carpet in the living room. Multiple scents continued to grow; they were nauseating. Mum had gone way overboard with the candles this year! Cherry, cookie cream, gingerbread, peppermint and other sweet aromas soaked the interior, swimming in the air. The smells were so overpowering they even washed his palate; each bud of his tongue cleansed in sickly sweetness. He almost choked, but kept swallowing and chose to breathe only through his nose.
Bruce pranced through the living room, creeping by the bay window with velvet burgundy curtains drawn, and made for the tree. Lights battled the darkness, winning and bringing tinted colours into the room. Red, green and yellow lights that strangled the tree, emanated a magnificent glow. Everything was rinsed in a warm sprinkling of colours. These marvelous surroundings were lost on the boy, as his only concern was the presents awaiting his twitching fingers.
Bruce was only metres from the tree, sliding along the back of the couch, when a chunk of guilt lodged in his throat. He knew it was selfish, greedy, and he would be severely punished, but he wanted to open his presents now. The various patterns of paper that concealed his presents were just dying to be torn to pieces. Reindeer, candy canes, snowmen, sleigh bells, trees, elves and such; each called out to him. They pleaded with Bruce to be freed so the child could see his presents. At the thought of what gifts awaited him, the hint of remorse dissipated and was replaced with selfish excitement. Which is when he was pleasantly surprised to see even more presents in a huge black bag, propped against the fireplace aside the tree. It overflowed with perfectly wrapped gifts, bound in bows and name tags dangling from each one. Bruce couldn't wait any longer and rushed to the bag. He did briefly question how this had gotten in the living room. His parents hadn't had time to go upstairs and bring it down as Bruce had been listening intently the whole time. Unless his father got it from the basement while everyone was upstairs. The greed stole any further curiosity or anything hindering the unraveling of gifts.
After having seen the black sack, Bruce toddled to it, reaching out, with wide plate-like eyes. He yearned to slash the paper from each present, but he knew better than that. The ruckus was sure to wake Leonard and Liza. So instead, he gently untied the bows and delicately tore the paper. As his hands worked at freeing the present, his eyes wandered inside the sack. A mountain of presents lay inside as if it was a bottomless pit of gifts. Too good to be true. Among the finely wrapped items was a pair of angry-looking eyes, staring at Bruce from inside the sack.
Bruce jerked backwards, thumping to the ground and letting the half-opened gift skid along the carpet and join other presents under the shining tree. Something rustled from inside the black sack. Ripples traveled through it, along with a rumbling of laughter. Abrupt lumps deformed the bag, joined with 'na' noises. As if whoever or whatever was inside, aggressively shoved the boxes aside. The bulge indicated the creature's whereabouts; they were rising to the top, coming close to escaping. Bruce was sprawled on the floor, terrified. He shuddered in his snowman pajamas. A hat sprang from inside, similar to Santa's, with a white bobble on the end, but green. A band of white fur was squeezed around the forehead as the face loomed before the spoilt child. Bruce trembled ferociously. A pale forehead covered in lines and bushy chocolate brows appeared. So far it looked human, perhaps someone dressed as an elf. Bruce was slightly relieved and wiped mousey hair from his face. But when the eyes came, the boy knew this was something harmful. Vertical slits, like that of a cat, coloured a toxic green. They burned through the boy's flesh and terrified his soul. Idle tears ran down Bruce's face as his lips quivered. More of the frightful features arose from the bag: a huge gnome-like nose, more wrinkles scratched across the snowy skin, and a rather large mouth. The nose and mouth were disproportionately bigger than the remainder of the thing's face. And so were the long sharp teeth that held a restless wriggling tongue. "I'm hungry," it hissed.
Bruce somehow gathered the gall to scamper away from the bag. In a spider-like fashion, he backpedalled across the carpet, panting. In one swift movement, the creature sprang from the sack and landed on the floor. The speed of his spring was inhuman, an ivy blur still lingered behind. Bruce's vision caught up and focused on what stood before him. To the best of his knowledge, he stared at an evil elf.
The boy gasped in terror, still scurrying from it, palms burning against the carpet. Beads of sweat ran down Bruce's forehead, seeping through his brows and burning his darting eyes. "Please don't.." Bruce whispered.
"Don't what?" the elf asked in a demonic rumble that sent shivers rushing throughout Bruce.
"Don't hurt me," he wept, tears joining the stream of perspiration. His face was a damp, hot mess.
"I am not, I am just going to eat you," a tongue ran under the keen-edged teeth that were more comparable to narrow fangs.
"No, no, no," Bruce chanted, relentlessly pushing backwards.
The elf approached him, chuckling. Its fingers played an invisible piano as he reached out, saliva drooling from each corner of his mouth. Bruce came to a stop when he bashed into the closed living room door. I can't remember closing that. Bruce slumped onto his back and looked up at another devilish elf hovering above, grinning.
"Dinner time," the second elf muttered, equally as horrifying.
Bruce curled into a ball, squeezing his eyes shut in the vain hope it was all a dream.
"Not so fast little ones," a voice loomed from the room. It didn't have the strange lispy vocalizations of the other elves; it was powerful and threatening.
Bruce immediately felt the heat from the elves fade and the smell of mouldy gingerbread vanish.
Bruce, caught in the throes of curiosity, peeled open his peepers. For a second he stared at the ceiling, and the chandelier adorned with yet more tinsel. It was as if the gold light fixture was growing red furry mould. With the golden stems sprouting from the bulbs, was a reflection. The tiny elves were scuttering to a heavy-looking man in a red suit, strips of white broke up the cherry tones of a velvet jacket and baggy trousers. Huge black boots bounced light from the Christmas tree. Bruce actually smiled. Santa is real. The young boy became giddy and began to stand eagerly. Star-struck and tingling with anticipation, he paced to Santa. The red hat had a white ball on the end, matching his bushy beard. A pot-belly bulged from underneath his top. It was all true. Bruce spasmed in excitement on his approach. The harmful elves evaded his mind; his only thought was of Santa.
"Santa?" Bruce asked with a huge grin stretching from ear-to-ear.
The man, whose head was looking down at his elves, raised. The enthusiastic smile soon disappeared. Completely black eyes, dull dark flesh and an abundance of fangs at the gums; Santa was scarier than anything Bruce's nightmares could concoct.
"Yes Bruce?" he sneered, voice warbling: low and unquestionably demonic.
"Wh..." Bruce stumbled for words, frozen to the spot, aside the Christmas tree. Heat from the many lights warmed him. But there was no level of heat that could warm the frosty terror in his gut.
"I believe you denied my existence, young boy? That was very naughty!" he scolded.
Bruce wanted so badly to run, yet was glued to the carpet. Sweat also glued the pajamas to his skin. Fright had stolen all motor functions, save for his unsettled bowels and frantic pulse.
"It's time you were punished for that remark!" he winked.
As he wasn't going anywhere anytime soon, Bruce tried to speak through a stiff throat.
"Pl...ple...please don't....I....a...am sorry," he stuttered in a high pitch.
"Understood, but the rules of North Pole state you must be punished Bruce," Santa explained.
"Are you going to kill me?" Bruce spurted out, needing to know. His intrigue overtook any fear for that moment.
"Oh no, of course not," Santa assured the young boy.
Bruce should be happy, but those black orbs where colourful eyes should be were horrifying. Not to mention the boy couldn't stop gawking at the razor teeth. Why does he have teeth that look sharp enough to shred anything?
"She is!" Santa pointed behind Bruce as a stale breath brushed his neck.
From the bristles of the tree, crept Mrs. Claus. The elves bowed in respect while Santa had a wicked grin smeared from cheek-to-cheek, ruffling his beard. She snuck behind the boy, bony hands waggling towards him, overgrown nails only inches from his mousy locks. Bruce broke from his fear-coma and spun to face her head-on. He instinctively yelped. Mrs. Claus had skin just as haggard as Santa, if not more so. Brown spots and deep lines were burrowed through layers of epidermis. Shadows exposed various lumps and bumps. Moles were scattered on the well-worn flesh, sprouting hairs. The eyes resembled Santa's black pools of darkness, above a hideous grin with more shreds of keen-edged fangs. Thinning grey hair hung limp and lifeless. A torn rosy dress covered the no-doubt saggy and revolting body. The material was frayed, blemished with many rips and stains.
"Merry Christmas," Mrs. Claus cackled, like the most wretched of all witches.
A reek of decay wafted toward the young boy, who was regretting his outburst a few hours ago. What would become of him? Just as Bruce was readying his legs to run, a swarm of elves surrounded him. Each had the grip of a superhero, strong and merciless. Bruce didn't even have time to think up a plan B before she swiped at him. A slash hit his stomach, fast and deep. Blood specs leapt to the chandelier, pokadotting the gold. A searing pain erupted in Bruce as his teeth clenched tightly. The second hacked across his chest, lopping off both nipples. Bruce screamed behind a stern jaw, shaking. More crimson liquid showered the living room. The upholstery became dotted in redness as the hag known as Mrs. Claus continued to scratch away at the petulant boy. Soon strands of skin were dangling, swinging from bone, leaking blood onto the carpet. A pool of redness was at Bruce's feet as if he'd pissed himself. All the elves did, besides holding him in place, was chuckle. Like children snickering at the back of a classroom, they were highly amused by the flaying of the young child. As muscle was also damaged, underneath the barely-attached skin, Bruce struggled to stand. Mrs. Claus noticed this, grinning with those heinous black eyes.
"Let him down," she ordered.
Without skipping a beat, each elf let him fall. Bruce thudded into the carpet, laying in his own fluid. The boy would have been disgusted, had it not been for his declining consciousness. His sight showed Mrs. Claus; the mischievous elves, and Santa, had stomped to her. Despite knowing his life force was draining, he was still terrified. It was like staring at demonic versions of Santa and his Mrs. Blood rushing to his head slowed, and the beat drumming on his temples was quieting; senses were drifting, to Bruce's relief. The many wounds had been enormously painful, so a natural anesthetic kicking in was welcomed. Bruce could taste his own blood, that was the only strong sense still present: a metallic tang painted his tongue. Sounds were hazy and distorted behind his drumming pulse. They all watched him, presumably inheriting great pleasure from the slaying of the boy. Yet when his eyelids began to shut, Mrs. Claus reached over and slapped his face. This brought a fresh burst of consciousness and new lease of discomfort as he instinctively sprang up slightly. A new injection of pain burst into each gash as he flopped back to the carpet. A siren of whirs loomed in his skull.
"Not so fast my boy," Santa coughed.
Bruce looked up, straight at Santa. The poor boy was totally discombobulated.
"You think death is your punishment? Oh no, that is far too merciless," he explained.
"Let me tell you what Christmas is really about my son. You want to know why people change their homes with 'decorations' as humans call them? To worship me. You want to know why you leave out milk, cookies and carrots? Not for me to snack on while doling out presents, that’s for sure. It is an offering so I don't get hungry and eat the children." Santa continued.
Bruce, only just holding on, had an uncontrollable impulse. "Then why do you bring us presents?"
Santa's head knocked back a little, shocked at the boy's outburst. They all laughed at his question, looking to each other. Bruce felt like an outsider, not being let in on an inside joke.
"You see the presents as a gift do you not?" Santa asked smugly.
Bruce's voice box couldn't take the assault of any more speech, so he nodded subtly. The slight nod caused him to cough up a drizzle of blood, running down either side of his mouth like a vampire. His once nipples stung mightily as a result of that cough. Bruce felt fresh blood seep from his two severed nipples, now nothing more than bloody stumps circled in crimson-stained areolas.
"The presents are a curse."
Bruce's brows furrowed. He didn't speak, only moaned, clearly perplexed.
"Me, Mrs. Claus, my elves and reindeer have been around for thousands of years. We will never die. Humans were like that once upon a time: immortal. Then their greed for more stuff consumed them. They knew the risks of summoning me each year; that I could potentially kill or eat their children. Along with the unknown danger of the presents being cursed, and little by little giving them mortality and certain death. Yet parents don't seem to care. By giving me offerings and getting bags of presents in return, it saved them money. All humans care about is that green paper," again, they all chortled.
"So every year I bring presents to the houses that worship me and accept the offerings. But some few thousand people around the globe will forget to put out offerings. Either they don't believe in Santa or have another religion. Whatever their excuse, I eat their young. And all humans know that by doing that I have the right to devour their children. Which is exactly what I do," his voice growled, as if the vocal chords themselves were hungry.
It took Bruce a gathering of seconds, but he eventually understood.
"And anyone that denies my existence will receive heinous torture of my choosing," Santa gloated.
As if Santa could read the boy's mind, he answered a niggling question of Bruce's.
"Yes, your parents did know that once you denied my existence I would more than likely be coming for you. They are all now in a deep sleep, under my spell. When they wake, all memories of you will be gone, along with any evidence or traces that you ever existed."
A huge pang of regret struck Bruce. Why had he suddenly been so selfish to say such a thing about Santa? What had come over him? His emotions were usually in check. Now he was going to be punished for an out-of-character remark.
"Kill....me..." despite Bruce not wanting to die, he would sooner just get it over with than prolong the inevitable.
"Oh no child, you will live forever," Mrs. Claus announced in a scrawny screechy voice that grated against Bruce's ears.
Utter perplexity made his dreary features spark to life, but huffed confusion, brain and body exhausted. At this point, Bruce would rather die, they were toying with him, and he sensed they were fully aware of that fact. Mrs. Claus lowered to him, stinking of decomposition. The black eyes and narrow teeth were all the boy could look at as his eyes darted between the two. Mrs. Claus reached behind her back while Bruce's eyes were glued to her horrific features. From behind, came a candy cane. Mrs. Claus held it tightly as if it might fly away. A red and white striped stick that curved at the end. It was larger than any he'd seen before; at least twelve inches. More befuddlement came, until Mrs. Claus revealed that the base of it had been whittled to resembled a dagger. As nervousness rumbled in his stomach, the hag stabbed Bruce. It sank into his stomach. The candy cane stopped halfway, as it hit bone. Blood immediately bubbled from the belly, soiling the snowmen that were stitched onto the festive pajamas. Bruce could smell his own blood, stirring with the rancid odour pulsing from Mrs. Claus.
"But..." was all that Bruce managed to say, until everything went black.
Bruce awoke sore and nauseous. He lay on a smooth glossy surface. The foyer? Had it been a dream? Was that my punishment and now I am back? Impatient thoughts rushed before the boy even opened his eyes. When he did, he saw his living room. The cheery trimmings, stockings, candles, tinsel and so on. Crumbs from the cookies sat on the porcelain plate his father had put out. A white lacquer coated the inside of a tiny tumbler where milk had once resided. And tops of carrots were dispersed among another plate. All of which were on the coffee table. I thought I was going to be eaten? Had Santa changed his mind? Looking down at himself, he realized he was still wearing his snowman pajamas; they were clean. No rips or blood spatters anywhere. Another oddity was the lack of smells. With the abundance of scented items in the living room, Bruce should feel sick from the abundance of festive scents. Instead, there was nothing. Also, no sound. No buzzing from the tree-lights, purrs of passing cars, or wind spiraling outside. The silence was disconcerting. Bruce rose to identify the mysteries when the ground beneath him shook and sent him reeling. The boy slipped backwards and crashed against the polished floor. The whole room seemed to shake. After brushing off minor hurts he sprang to a seated position and looked ahead. Before him, sat himself.
But as Bruce flinched, so did the other Bruce: a reflection. From where? Bruce steadily got on all fours and crawled around. Everywhere was a translucent layer: the ceiling, walls, floor. Everything was solid and clear. When Bruce gathered his bearings, clarity came. From the position of his viewing point, the unstable surroundings, and see-through layer all around, it was clear where he was: inside a bauble on the tree.
Just as the earth-shattering understanding strangled his intestines, Mrs. Claus' nightmarish appearance came in the reflection. Bruce flew back, backpedaling from her. She was even more horrifying than he could recall. Those damn eyes! "Brucey Brucey," she sang in a hushed volume.
"You shall live forever Brucey, inside this," she laughed, which shook the bauble.
The boy tightened his posture, becoming queasy.
"Why?" Bruce spat, his voice unintentionally warbling as a result of his new home trembling.
"You will see your family every day for the rest of their lives, living without you, happy. Until they age, wither and die!" Mrs. Claus shrieked, suddenly consumed with rage.
Bruce slapped palms to his ears, creasing his face.
"Farewell my child," she whispered before the reflection gradually vanished like a disappearing cloud.
Bruce wailed, banging on the glass, an entourage of salt water trailed his face. Somewhere he figured it can't be that bad. But it was, oh it was. Every day his family laughed and shared experiences and enjoyed life, without him. His existence had been wiped from all their minds, along with photos, birth documents, and any other records. As far as they were concerned, they only had one daughter. Bruce did, as Mrs. Claus had said, watched them die. For the rest of his life, he watched families from their start to end, unable to ever be involved in the joy, knowing it would all end and he would have to watch it over and over again for eternity. Despite the Christmas season only lasting a month, Bruce wasn’t sure how he could always see his family, and then the new ones after their passing. Was he in a time warp of some kind? Whatever the case, from his viewpoint, it was always Christmas. He was always looking from inside a bauble, at happiness and love, which he could never again experience. His fate was sealed.
From then on, hearing the words 'Merry Christmas' from future families, truly was a curse.
Message from the Author
Merry Christmas, and a happy new year to all. I hope you enjoyed this Christmas horror story. For more short horror stories check out the entire blog: http://wesleythomasshorthorrorstories.blogspot.com/
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It's the most wonderful time of the year, for horror buffs!
Some of these movies are even child-friendly, SOME!
1) Halloween franchise.
What's better than Jamie Lee Curtis fighting off a serial killer who also happens to be her brother? Babysitters, and anyone else beware. Michael Myers is on the prowl with a butcher's knife and he's feeling stab-happy.
2) Adams Family.
Quirky. Unusual. And oozing Halloween vibes. A unique family living in a Gothic manor with a witchy grandmother, a hand that's alive, a servant that resembles Frankenstein, and two kids determined to kill each other. Let's not forget the undying romance between Gomez and Morticia. A great family horror movie.
3) Hocus Pocus.
You knew this was coming. I have seen this movie countless times and it never grows old. Three witches are awoken from their slumber. A young man, his sister, and friend, along with a man trapped in the body of a feline, are on the run from these cacklers. Another one to watch with the family. Funny. Exciting. Creepy. Not to mention there are some catchy tunes in there too!
Certainly not one for the family. Terrifying. Intriguing. Disturbing. A young boy has the ability of dream-traveling. Only, he travels too far and is stuck in some other dimension with ghouls and monsters. His father has to venture into this land, tapping into his childhood horrors, and save his son.
This is one of the scarier ones I've seen. Multiple chilling moments. Fantastic acting from the entire cast. A family moves into a new home to find it isn't unoccupied. A sinister history haunts this house, and that's not the only thing.
6) Nightmare on Elm Street.
Come on, who hasn't seen this classic horror gem? We all know it, a serial killer who invades his victim's dreams and slashes them to pieces with the infamous blades of his glove. A successful franchise by my favourite director Wes Craven, R.I.P.
7) The Craft.
A witchy tale of high school girls playing around with magic. But this is a dark flick as they abuse the magic for their own personal gain. The lure of the black arts can be seductive. These ladies know that all too well.
Pining for nostalgia? This will do it. Ghosts inhabit a house in a most hilarious way. This one's fun for the whole family! Including some bizarre moments.
Whether you go with the original or the remake, fun will be had for the whole family. A bunch of individuals save the city from ghosts and ghouls and goblins. At least now you know who to call.
Another classic. A ghost, friendly? With his siblings living up to the terrifying hype of ghostly entities, they struggle to understand his kindness. He doesn't like scaring people, not one bit. He's a friendly ghost. Can he influence his brothers to tone down the scares?
After a disappointing first movie, I was highly sceptical about the prequel. But the trailers and teasers rolled in, and I became excited. Could this outdo the first movie? Could this be better? Would this give fans the prequel they deserve that links The Conjuring to Annabelle? Then came the word of mouth reviews that the movie was 'great', 'awesome', 'chilling', 'creepy', and 'better than the first one by far!' After hearing these - and more positive comments - I set up a date to go watch this movie in the hopes that I'd walk out of the theatre satisfied and pleasantly spooked.
And that's exactly what happened!
I'll start with the best policy: honesty. The first fifteen minutes are somewhat slow-paced, building the story, establishing a pace, introducing the characters and their relevance and history. So don't be impatience, give it a minute! But I assure you, after those fifteen minutes, you'll be begging for a rest from the jumps and creepiness.
The story, explaining how Annabelle came into light, is set in the home of Samuel Mullins and his wife Esther who live in desolation, away from the prying eyes of people. Even years after the sudden death of their daughter, they are still grief-stricken, and as it turns out fear-stricken.
Sam kindly opens his home to Sister Charlotte and six young girls who would have been left homeless after the closing of their orphanage had it not been for their generosity. But from the very first night, it is clear something is not quite right. There is a room forbidden to the young girls. But, being curious, one girl happens to go inside, despite specific orders not too. This starts the endless hauntings and unexplainable occurrences.
We have moments of chilling terror, quick jumps, and pure eeriness. I was impressed with the diversity of the scares. While obviously the bulk of the horror is focused on the mysterious doll found in a locked bedroom, there are other entities out to scare us sh*tless!
The atmospheric buildup in this is superb, I have to say. Props to the director (David. F. Sandberg) for bringing a fresh lease of life into the 'possessed doll' sub-genre within horror. David is a fairly new director. You may have seen 'Lights Out' which was also an impressive flick that had originally been a short film, made into a full-length feature.
The acting, from the entire cast, was excellent. They brought genuine characters to the story. They showed confusion, frustration, and fear, flawlessly. We had conflict and confrontation among the young girls, as expected when living together 24/7. But they all banded together upon the realization that something in that house was out to get them.
This movie had every ingredient necessary for a great horror movie, and they were mixed deliciously. We have brilliant acting, moments of sheer terror, tense atmospheric buildup, and an original story. Overall, us horror fans were given a respectful prequel that links well to the Annabelle movie, and the Conjuring franchise. And the ending will have the true horror buffs geeking out, trust me on that.
I'd rate it a must-see horror movie.
Seriously, why are we excited for Stranger Things season two?
Could it be the sci-fi/horror vibe that is reminiscent of a Stephen King movie adaptation where a group of kids are the leads? That has to be one of the reasons. I love the perfect blend of science fiction and horror it has. I am eager to see if they can maintain that feel for the second season.
Perhaps it is that the show takes place in a much simpler time in American history? There didn't seem to be as much hate and prejudice back then. Or maybe it was just concealed better? But there are no cell phones, tablets, advanced computers, and laptops. Kids have to go outside to fill their evenings and weekends when they aren't at school. While I am in my twenties, I am still at an age where I spent most of my youth playing outside, traveling by bike. I am glad the era of social media hadn't taken over everything at that point. We took the time to get dirty, and to enjoy the time, not be obsessed with sharing it with the entire online world.
Maybe it is the kids? The kids are equally kooky. They are great comrades, sticking together through thick and thin. They are entertaining in their hilarious quips and views on the world. Who is your fave? Who can't you wait to see come back? Don't forget to let me know in the comments box!
It could quite possibly be the acting chops of one Ms. Winona Ryder. A stunning lady, with remarkable acting skills. I can't wait to see her face filling my screen again. Her portrayal of a suffering and frustrated mother in season one was magnificent. How will her character develop in this second season?
Let's not forget that awesome soundtrack. Talk about nostalgia! If anything makes you think of a certain era, it's music. And the carefully chosen music for this show shoots us right back to the 80s!
It may be reminiscent of an old sci-fi/horror movie, but this show is original. Netflix has truly made a one of a kind series that is loved by many. It feels as though the show has been ongoing for many seasons. We have to stop to remind ourselves that this is only the second season! I hope there will be many more seasons to come.
Whether we look at the kids or the adults, there is no weak link when it comes to acting ability. They all pull their weight. All actors contribute meaningfully to their characters, and ultimately, to the show.
Maybe you are feenin' to see more monsters? I am curious to see what foes they'll battle this season. The special FX and makeup team sure did a great job with the first season. From the pictures the official Facebook page has posted, we have an idea that this time the evil will be much bigger and more ominous.
I don't know about you guys, but I really want Barb to come back. I love her! Come on guys, bring her back. We miss her. She's cute. She's adorable. She's amazeballs!
But another character millions of fans are hoping make a return is Eleven! That young girl plays an awesome role in the show. The acting chops on such a young lady is unbelievable. If she does come back, I am eager to see how her character will develop this time. Will she develop the same craving for Eggos? Will she learn to control those pesky nosebleeds? Who knows? But after being out for Halloween last year, and seeing half of the costumes being Eleven, we need a comeback, surely? Bring Eleven back! Bring Eleven back! Chant. Chant. Chant. You get my point.
Anyway, if you are anywhere near as excited as me, you are looking forward to all of the above. This show broke new ground, meshed genres, reminded us that child actors aren't to be taken lightly, and that originality is very much still a part of TV. This show gave me faith that there are still new storylines that can be tackled and executed with brilliance. So here's to season 2. It premieres on Netflix on Halloween! How perfect!
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