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Showing posts from 2019

Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark (2019) review (video script)

This is the script for my YouTube audio review of André Øvredal’s Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark (2019). There will be spoilers, including images from the film.

Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark is Øvredal’s first film since directing The Autopsy of Jane Doe (2016). That film was R-rated and featured a good deal of suspense; it hid its monsters as much as it showed them. By comparison, I’d argue that Scary Stories has the superior monsters, but it has no idea how to present them, let alone tell a scary story.

Written by Alvin Schwartz, the original books weren’t effective because of the words; they were effective because of the artwork. Produced by artist Steven Gammell, the illustrations disturbed parents so much the books were banned for years. When publishers tried to restore the books, they removed Gammell’s artwork, replacing it with pictures fans did not like or want. After many years [in 2017], the books were finally re-released with Gammell’s pictures intact.

Gammell has a u…

Midsommar (2019): Review

When I watched Midsommar (2019), I found myself comparing it to Hereditary (2018). That movie took its time, introducing its characters inside a single location, which then became the the film's main setting. Midsommar, by comparison, rushes the tragedy. I'm not against having an opening accident, one the heroine must retreat from to heal elsewhere. This approach worked in The Descent (2005) because Sarah's woes weren’t so easily escaped; they followed her into the caves. 

The opening tragedy in Midsommar hardly seems to matter at all. Most of the movie takes place inside a village in Sweden. The deaths that occur at the start involve people we never meet, who die in their sleep. They are never mentioned; we don't know their names. In other words, they’re not the crux of the drama; there is no drama. There are suggestions of drama, but these are rare and frustratingly brief. When the boyfriend chooses the village for his thesis project, his friend—another PhD student—is…

The Dark Crystal: AoR - The Good, the Bad, the Ugly

For October, I'm doing weekly write-ups on  The Dark Crystal: Age of Resistance (2019). This week is my final write-up (for now). In it, I wanted to explore what I liked, disliked and hated about the show. Spoilers!

Note: Originally this article was meant to be titled "Criticisms," but after some consideration I realized I couldn't think of enough criticisms to merit an entire article! That's not to say that I don't have problems with the show. Just, after watching through it twice—and sporadically peeking into individual episodes after that—I haven't come up with much. So this article might be a little lopsided.

The Good

Believe it or not, my favorite aspect of the show is the photography. There were certain action shots (with the Arathim in particular) that involved a lot of digital effects. However, the camerawork did less to highlight that issue and more to emphasize how real everything looks. Closeups occur generously throughout, framing the puppets (a…

The Dark Crystal: AoR - Sexuality, Women, and Queer Identity

For October, I'm doing weekly write-ups on  The Dark Crystal: Age of Resistance (2019). This week, I wanted to explore the show's portrayal of three separate facets: sexuality, women, and queer representation. Spoilers!


Unlike violence, sex in AoR is merely implied—largely through the presence of different Gelfling family groups. Curiously, Rian's mother is out of the picture; Brea's father is never mentioned; and Deet has two fathers, but no mother. All the same, Rian and Mira were an item, kissing much like any couple. Sex is certainly present, but only for a moment, and nowhere near to the same pointed degree as the violence and gore.

I've always found that curious—what's forbidden and what's allowed, and how sex is generally taboo when violence is not. And some pretty awful violence occurs in AoR, make no mistake about that. In terms of sex, the raciest bit is an off-screen kiss between Rian and Mira. Their conversation leading up to it is loaded wit…

My Two Cents: An Interview with Ahdy Khairat

Hello, everyone! My name is Nicholas van der Waard. I have my MA in English Studies: the Gothic, and run a blog centered on Gothic horror, Nick's Movie Insights. However, if you follow Ahdy Khairat's channel on YouTube, you probably know me as "the two cents guy." With this post, I wanted to interview Ahdy himself and talk to him about his work. But first, a bit of history...

March 25th, 2018. It was a dark Manchester night. I was wearing a Cthul-aid t-shirt and standing in the kitchen of my student-provided flat. Holding my phone in my hand, I was making myself some dinner (rice, eggs and soy sauce—a student diet if ever there was) after a seminar earlier in the evening. I had on my headphones and was listening to some nightly music—some subscribed content on YouTube when Ahdy Khairat's latest remaster, "Call of Ktulu," popped up.

This caught my eye; I had several of Ahdy's remasters on my iPod, and enjoyed his work. However, I also knew he …

The Dark Crystal: AoR - Appetites

For October, I'm doing weekly write-ups on The Dark Crystal: Age of Resistance (2019). This write-up concerns the theme of appetites—how the show presents and explores them. Spoilers!

Age of Resistance is, amongst other things, a show about appetites, food. Multiple scenes portray gross consumption by the Skeksis. During these opulent gluts, they shamelessly gorge themselves, their tables sagging with endless essence, food and incense. Much of it is exotic, dressed up for optimal succulence. However, more of it is domestic, pilfered from the land around them. There is no limit to what they consume.

More to the point, the show connects appetite with its characters' individual wants and desires. Consider this conversation between the Chamberlain and Rian; both sit inside a carriage, winding towards the Castle of the Crystal:

Rian: "You killed Mira!"

Chamberlain: "All things kill. Is z'nid bird evil because it eats crawling nurloc?"

Rian: "Birds eat to li…

The Dark Crystal: AoR - Horror Themes: the Gelfing

For October, I'm doing weekly write-ups on The Dark Crystal: Age of Resistance (2019). There will be spoilers—lots of them. Last week, I explored horror as centered on the Skeksis. This week, I wanted to study it through a less likely but equally productive source: the Gelfling. 

The Gelfling are an interesting source for horror, but produce it differently than the Skeksis. From a practical standpoint, they are uncanny. Unlike the Skeksis, who are deliberately fashioned to be hideous and ugly, the Gelfling are made to appear cute. However, they are also, at times, doll-like; there is a very real limit to their cuteness, which pushes up against the technological constraints manifest in dolls. The faces are cute; the eyes inside are lifeless ("A shark has blank eyes, a doll's eyes.").

This is a practical issue. Eyes are complex. They swivel in their sockets; the pupils contract and the irises change color. Or, at least, they should. Gelfing eyes do not. This problem is…