Movie review: Pyewacket (2017)

Pyewacket (2017)

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Cast:

  • Laurie Holden as Mrs. Reyes
  • Nicole Muñoz as Leah
  • Chloe Rose as Janice
  • Eric Osborne as Aaron
  • James McGowan as Rowan Dove
  • Bianca Melchior as Pyewacket

Without spoilers

Mothers and daughters can have fraught relationships, and Leah (Nicole Muñoz) and her mother (Laurie Holden) are no exception. Her father has recently passed away and neither of them are dealing with it healthily. Leah has started getting into the Occult, her bedroom is full of books and moody posters, and although it at first seems like a morbid teen rebellion – and quite understandable – after an epic fight with her mum, Leah angrily storms into the woods and starts slicing into her arm, trying to summon ‘Pyewacket’ to rid her of her mother. Bad move, Leah. At first nothing happens, but then odd occurrences start to mount up. Was her ritual successful, or has she really gone off the deep end?

Pyewacket (it’s fun to type!) fully gets that ‘nothing’ is usually scarier and wrings every bit of tension out of that. It’s closer to Paranormal Activity than the more overt Insidious, using shadow and suggestion to creep us out. The camera makes us very intimate with Leah too; we’re often pressed up uncomfortably near to her face, watching her reactions, the snap of her emotions, sucked right into her point of view. Leah seems to feel trapped in the repetitive routine of School, drinking with friends and moping at home, whilst being driven, sulking next to her mother. It’s clear that she’s still very much a child and her efforts to kick her way out of that role sends her down a darker and darker path.

I found Pyewacket fascinating and sad, and can highly recommend it for some deeply uneasy, mostly very subtle, horror. Like Hereditary on a sliver of the budget. Pyewacket requires applying a little empathy – but then most good horror, the kind that stays with you, does. If demons really exist, then please don’t mess with them. Their deals rarely turn out the way you hope. Just steal your mum’s credit card instead.

WARNING MASSIVE Spoilers in the section below that make more sense after you’ve watched it:

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Movie Review: Devil’s Chair (2007)

Movie review: Devil’s Chair (2007)

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Cast:

  • Andrew Howard as Nick West
  • Pollyanna Rose as Sammy
  • David Gant as Doctor Willard
  • Louise Griffiths as Melissa
  • Elize du Toit as Rachel Fowles
  • Matt Berry as Brett Wilson

Without spoilers:

Some films are so bad they’re good (or good enough). This distinctly odd low-budget feature is one of those. Starring Izzy from Hollyoaks (Elise du Toit), the money-lending bad guy from Limitless (Andrew Howard) and the now very established Matt Berry, I’d been aware of this film for a long time and always intended to see it. Back in 2006, I’d been intrigued by the original trailer that promised a nightmare inducing monster and plenty of gore. Now that I’ve finally caught it for 99p, over ten years since its release, I’m caught between acknowledging it’s kind of awful, but impressed that it mostly delivered on what I was hoping for.

It centres around an unwise investigation into an insane asylum. A bunch of academics and a survivor investigate the ‘devil’s chair’ which apparently caused a big mess several years ago. The characters bicker constantly – it’s always a fine line between that attitude being fun, and making me hate the characters. In this case it leans towards the latter. Particularly annoying is Matt Berry’s ‘Brett’ character (named for Alien’s Brett perhaps) who takes ‘entitled rich arsehole’ to new levels. Maybe it’s more grating because I’ve seen him in other things, but in Devil’s Chair he tries for the funnybone, intentionally or not, and it’s quite jarring compared with the rest of the cast’s efforts. His magnificent voice actually works against him in this case.

In contrast, Nick West’s constant narration about how much he hates the university schmucks drags the whole story down, bashing on and on with his repetitious contempt – we get it, you truly loathe the academics and think you’re better than anyone else there – but it does, at least, serve a purpose.

If you can get past the awkwardness of its presentation, there’s plenty here for gorehounds. Clocking in at 91 minutes, it doesn’t overstay its welcome, and gleefully straddles that awkward, camp-yet-nasty area that the Human Centipede movies squirm around in. Whilst its monster is pretty great, and the twist even greater, this is definitely not a GOOD flick. But if you can get past the smug-bastard voiceover – which does ultimately serve a purpose – then it’s a bloody good ride into low-budget madness.

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The devil advances. Might be best to watch in a darkish room. Light is the enemy of horror film watching!

Review with SPOILERS below – going to go into detail here about events in the film, decisions of characters. Do not proceed further unless you really want to know what happens. Also don’t read its wikipedia entry, which summarises the entirety of the plot for some reason.

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Friday Fictioneer 100 words: Auntie

Who’s that scratching at the window…?

Joanna K Neilson

Well, I took the image below as inspiration, but the image I’ve added underneath quite nicely sums it up! Thanks to Rochelle for hosting these 100 word challenges, as always.

ice-on-the-window

Auntie waited by the window all winter. Her drool left frozen dark brown streaks as she scratched at thick frosted glass, her yellowed teeth gnashing. Weeks passed. Auntie watched. As I reluctantly chewed up my last shred of beef jerky, and penultimate multivitamin, birds began to squawk and chirp outside. The pane had turned from grey to deep blue. Curiously, I squinted beyond. The snow was dotted with green shoots, and Auntie had become a pile of meat-flecked bones under the window. Excited, I finally prised my way out of the cabin, to explore what was left of the world.

Thank you for reading, comments are welcome!

For more Friday Fiction by other writers, please click on the little blue frog…

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Friday Fictioneers 100 words – Keep Your Eyes Peeled

I feel that this is a proper 100 words for horror fans this time, enjoy, my Eyeballers 🙂

Joanna K Neilson

My Friday Fictioneer entry for 11th March – thanks to Rochelle for the prompt as always!

Warning: This went a little dark, I reckon – I saw that huge glossy shadow in the lower section and was totally drawn into it….

Prompt from Emily L Gant Prompt from Emily L Gant

Keep your eyes peeled, girl.

They move between dark places when the shadows shift. Between buildings. Inside homes.

My neighbour was left with a cave for a face.

They spread in shadows, their domain increasing as storms get fiercer, knocking out power, soaking firewood. They caused that too, of course. Moment they landed here the bastards were blotting out our sun.

So never blink. Be vigilant and you’ll catch a lifesaving glimpse. A spidery leg here, a scuttle at the corner of your eye. Shoot the bastards.

Keep ‘em peeled, girl. Here’s a razorblade. I can help, if you’d like?

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Friday Fictioneers 100 Words: Kaylee, Benji and KB

What horror can be wrought from a bunch of batteries? Please read on…in my entry for Friday Fictioneers.

Joanna K Neilson

Thanks for the link at Friday Fictioneers!

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Image: Copyright Sean Fallon

Almost alone on a semi-deserted junk world, Kaylee badly missed her beloved Benji-dog.

But she’d finally found a new friend within the scrap heap.

The dusty robot gratefully consumed all the batteries she’d scrounged. He sucked thoughtfully on each one, his red headlamp eyes growing brighter, and his spiny fingers twitched and rusty claws flexed.

“KB is ready,” KB finally announced in a scratchy, staccato voice.

“So we can play?” she said.

“Yes, Kaylee.” said KB. “What shall we play?”

Razor sharp teeth chomped the last cell.

“I have a great game,” she grinned, “Huntin’ the varmints who murdered Benji!”

*****

Find more Friday Fiction 100 word stories below!

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Friday Fictioneer: When Ben Burned Down the Bandstand

Friday fictioneering, Bandstand Burn!

Joanna K Neilson

A strangely psychotic piece this week – think it was partly prompted and crystalised by everyone’s shock, including my own, at the hideous air crash where the pilot apparently very calmly flew himself and 150 other people into a mountain – for no good reason (all will probably be revealed, I suppose). Still, fucking unbearable to think about. Shudder.

This act of senseless brutality freaked me out and filtered its way into my story, though it’s also still inspired by the band picture. Apologies to the band people btw 😉 At least this guy has a clear motive for his dreadful actions, however dreadfully weak.

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Friday Fictioneer By Dave Stewart

Bandstand Burn

When Ben burned down the bandstand, he didn’t seem the chap. He’d always been a nice guy,  we’d never heard him snap. But his one true love was music, and he had longed to play. But talent at it…

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Sunday short story: 100 Words – Green

The Green. Accidental alien invasion? Or malfunctioning alien technology…

Joanna K Neilson

Started as a Friday Fictioneer, but as it’s now Sunday, I’ll just say it’s a piece of writing inspired by the photo from here:

The inspiration. All I saw at the first glimpse, was the green... The inspiration. All I saw at the first glimpse, was the green…

Green

An alien ship died overhead, spraying bright juice from degraded bowels. Hungry fluid chewed all life it touched. Insatiable green turned the trees to bone sculptures, fuelling a fast-growing, acidic moss that spread faster than I could ever hope to evade. Clothes burned to nothing. Everything suffocated. Holding my breath, I dived in the fountain. Water thickened with alien weeds. Moss clambered around my spine, flowers bloomed atop my screaming lips. Planets burst behind my eyes. Emerald stars burned my lungs. I swallowed the universe. Green was warm. I wondered numbly, nerves dissolving, if there were worse ways to go.

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