The Hunger Games Mockingjay Part 2: Review by Holly Bareham

Mockingjay Part 2 Poster

Right then, this is the first type of review I’ve written like this. Normally I stick to the horror genre but I got a request to write about this film and I’m not going to turn down a request. I’m sorry if I completely dash your expectations.

I’ve been a fan of The Hunger Games trilogy since I was about fifteen. Everyone was talking about them on the internet so I bought a copy of the first book. My obsession might’ve ended there but I happened to be friends with someone who also liked the trilogy. She lent me the rest of the books and we went to a screening of the first film on the day it came out. Although I don’t love it quite as much as I did back then I still consider myself a fan.

Hunger Games Yay gif

So this film is the last one in the series and as we can tell from the title, it’s the second part of the film just before it ‘Mockingjay Part One’. At the end of part one we see Peeta attack Katniss after having his memories of the two of them tampered with resulting in Katniss ending up in hospital. It was quite the cliff hanger to leave us on for an entire year.

I’m gonna start with my first point which is that I feel like compared to the other films there was hardly any marketing for this film? Maybe it was just me and I didn’t see it as much but I saw the trailer maybe four or five times and there were a few posters. In past years the release of the film is shown everywhere but this year I feel like I barely saw anything. Which is strange considering it’s the last film in the franchise.

Now I’ve seen a couple of bad reviews about this film but personally I really enjoyed it. When I read the series, Mockingjay was definitely my least favourite book – I felt like I was reading and reading and hardly anything was happening. But I really enjoyed both films. I really expected Part One to be awful to be honest (Like Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part One where nothing happens) but I feel like the filmmakers managed to spread the story out evenly enough across both parts so that enough happens to hold your interest.

I watched this film with my three friends and two of them really liked it but the third one only described it as ‘okay’ and said that not a lot happened and that many scenes were unnecessary. I have to disagree though – I’ll admit that the film was a bit long but I didn’t find myself getting bored or zoning out, I was interested throughout the whole thing. The pacing was good; there was enough action and more relaxed scenes. I really don’t understand the negative reviews; I can’t understand what was wrong?

I don’t think there’s a thing I would’ve changed about the film. I think all the scenes were necessary and they were delivered perfectly. It was also extremely emotional if you’re a fan of the books or if you loved the films so prepare yourself for that. You can see by the way it’s filmed how far they’ve come since the first film was released and it’s absolutely amazing.

So go and see Mockingjay Part 2 if you haven’t already. Don’t listen to the bad reviews, I thought it was amazing!

I should really probably stick to horror movie reviews but drop me a comment or tweet if you have a request!

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The Hallow: Review by Holly Bareham

The Hallow

Look at me, being on time for a review! Posting a review on the day the film came out? That’s a rare miracle!

So, I haven’t seen this film advertised much – I saw a poster in Cineworld and the trailer played one time. It’s definitely not been advertised as much as Krampus (which looks really good by the way). This didn’t stop the film getting a good turnout at the cinema I went to today, the room was nearly full. The basic plot is that a family, Adam, Clare and their baby Finn, move to remote house in Ireland next to a forest that the villagers believe belongs to the ‘Hallow’ and that if you trespass there will be consequences. Of course, as it’s a horror movie, the family ignores this and soon find themselves in a fight for survival against the demonic creatures that reside in the forest.

Phil Scared gif

The trailer looked pretty good and I was counting down the days to finally see another horror movie and then finally it came out today! On Friday the 13th which is obviously a perfect date to release a new horror movie, that’s probably why my screen was so packed – there were only two showings and seeing it on Friday the 13th makes it ten times more fun and scarier.

Except, bad news, the film wasn’t scary. Normally when I go see a horror movie by myself at the cinema I’ve already seen it with a friend to make it less scary, so I know when the jump scares are coming up and stuff. But this was the first horror film where I went to see it for the first time without a friend. And I wasn’t the teeniest bit scared. I’m not saying that to make myself sound brave either, I wanted to be scared so badly. But I just wasn’t.

Okay I will admit that there were a couple of jump scares that got me but if those are the only scares in the film then it’s a pretty shit film. It didn’t keep a creepy atmosphere at all and I think that’s because they rushed it. We’re barely introduced to the characters, we don’t really know why the neighbours dislike the forest so much and suddenly BAM everyone’s screaming and running for their lives and I’m left wondering what on earth is going on. Also whatever the ‘demon’ creatures were, they didn’t look scary at all.

In terms of plot, there wasn’t particularly much of a story if that makes sense. There have been some shit horror films but at least they followed a story with reveals and stuff like that but this just didn’t seem to do anything or go anywhere. I don’t even know how to begin to describe it. It just seemed so pointless.

FUN FACT ABOUT THE MOVIE: The baby seen in the film is a mix of animatronics and twins that were digitally shot in front of a blue screen. There you go. Fun fact for The Hallow, which if anybody didn’t know I’ve started doing for my horror reviews.

Overall, I would recommend this movie if you want a couple of cheap scares. And for them to be effective you have to get scared super easily. Otherwise, it’s not really a film worth watching.

Review: Every Day by David Levithan

Every Day by David Levithan

So if you read my review of ‘Another Day’ by David Levithan then you know that ‘Every Day’ was actually the original published book told from the point of view of A instead of Rhiannon. My review of ‘Another Day’ was positive and as ‘Every Day’ is simply told from a different point of view, surely this one should be positive too. This took forever to write and I’m not sure why but it literally took me about two months so I apologise for it being so late.

First of all, I’m glad I read the story from Rhiannon’s point of view first because I enjoyed having a plot twist towards the start of the story where Rhiannon finds out that A changes bodies every day and ended up in the body of her boyfriend Justin. I was looking forward to reading from A’s point of view because I imagined that someone who changed bodies every day had to be slightly more interesting to read about than the girl who’s dating someone who changes bodies every day.

Hell Yeah gif

I quite liked A’s character in ‘Another Day’ but suddenly, when I was reading from their point of view, I started to get increasingly frustrated with them. I don’t even know why. In ‘Another Day’ it felt like they loved Rhiannon and it was all sweet and whatever but reading from their point of view gave me the impression that they were completely obsessed with her. I agree with everything they say about Justin but that’s not the point!

Equally, it was a bit frustrating because I wanted to know more about the bodies they were in and about all these different lives that they had to live but they kind of skipped over the details a lot of them. I guess if from A’s point of view, it doesn’t particularly matter because they’re used to it and they’d rather think about Rhiannon anyway. So although it makes sense that A wouldn’t go into great detail about each life and perhaps this would’ve got boring after a while, I wish the book hadn’t started with A meeting Rhiannon.

I definitely enjoyed reading the story from Rhiannon’s point of view even if she did annoy me every time she defended Justin. But A seemed to gloss over the details that I was really interested in hearing – like I already said, this makes sense though because Rhiannon would probably be a lot more interested in it. For A it’s just ordinary life.

This didn’t really bring anything new to the table. Which I suppose wasn’t its intention as this was the original book, I just happened to accidentally read them in the wrong order. I did like reading the bits that Rhiannon didn’t know about in ‘Another Day’ like when she’s waiting for A to turn up but they don’t, it’s interesting to know where they were. That’s about it really.

Phil thumbs up Gif

If you haven’t read either of the books then I definitely recommend that you do so. I personally preferred ‘Another Day’ but read them both, it’s interesting to read from two different perspectives and it’s not done that often either. In fact, I don’t think I’ve read a sequel that tells the same story just from someone else’s point of view.

A tip though, if you’re going to read both then don’t read them one right after the other because you are still essentially reading the same story just told from a different point of view and it can get quite boring to reach a conversation that you literally read last week.

But yes, definitely, go and read the books!

Review: Asking For It by Louise O’Neill

Asking For It by Louise O'Neill

I’m so late writing this review, I’ve seen like a million and one people publishing their reviews of this before me. I bought the book on the day of its release but because of university and all that I’ve been incredibly busy between when I finished reading it and now so I’ve only just had a chance to sit down and write my thoughts and opinions on this book! It also took me quite a while to write the review due to the storyline.

So, I wrote a positive review about ‘Only Ever Yours’ by Louise and as most of my readers should know by now I would consider her one of my favourite authors so I picked up a copy of ‘Asking For It’ the day it came out. People had already been talking about it long before then, about how brutal it was but how it was still an amazing read.

Chris Pine crying Gif

This story is told from the point of view of Emma O’Donovan who is eighteen and lives in a small town in Ireland. She’s beautiful, happy and confident. One night she goes to a party with her friends and the next morning she wakes up on the front porch of her house. She can’t remember what happened but everyone else does and there are photos posted on the internet that show in explicit detail what happened to Emma that night. But even when faced with the evidence, people still won’t necessarily believe that what happened to Emma wasn’t her fault.

I don’t know what it is about O’Neill’s books but I often find it hard to keep up with which characters which. It shouldn’t be too difficult as Emma has her three best friends but I even managed to mix the three of them up. The boys were way more difficult. My friend had the character problem with ‘Only Ever Yours’ but she told me she hadn’t had any problems with this one so I don’t know, maybe it’s just me.

However, what I do love about O’Neill’s books is the way she writes with such brutal honesty and she doesn’t try and sugar-coat anything for her readers. That’s what I loved so much about ‘Only Ever Yours’, the ending hit me like a ton of bricks and that’s also true for ‘Asking for It’. The book takes a certain path and you think ‘well okay, it can still be okay-’ and then BAM out of nowhere it’s taken the exact direction you didn’t want it to. And I respect that so much, so many authors seem to think ‘well the audience would like it to go that way so I’ll take it that way’ – No! I want it to go somewhere unexpected and I want to cry and I want to remember this book forever.

Emma is the kind of girl that everyone’s met before and probably hated. She’s the popular girl from Secondary School that you hated, were slightly scared of and maybe privately hoped for her downfall. So it’s no surprise that when Emma’s downfall begins a lot of the girls at school can’t help but enjoy it just a little bit. At the start it was extremely difficult to genuinely like Emma, especially if you were someone that the popular girls in school were prone to bullying (ahaha, I loved school) but as the book continued and you saw what she was going through you started to see a different girl completely. And you knew that neither of those girls deserved what they went through.

This book is brutal but it’s also so important. When we’re taught about rape we’re taught about a stranger dragging a girl down an alleyway and scaring her/threatening her into doing something she didn’t want to do. But it’s not always like that and that’s what we need to understand. We need to talk about rape culture and I’m glad that O’Neill wrote this the way that she did, the brutal, realistic way that forces us to realise that rape isn’t always a stranger, it isn’t always screaming and shouting and fighting someone off, it can be so different to that.

I would recommend this book to everyone, it’s a book that needs to be read and acknowledged. You should be able to find it in your local Waterstones but if not, the internet exists, use it! Go and buy a copy and get reading!

Review: Suicide Notes from Beautiful Girls by Lynn Weingarten

Suicide Notes from Beautiful Girls

I am in the middle of two other book reviews at the moment but now I’m starting this one so we’ll see which one gets finished first!

So this book is about June and Delia who used to be best friends, closer than anything until something happens where they drift apart. Then one night suddenly everything changed. Delia commits suicide. June is devastated. She barely has time to mourn before Delia’s boyfriend convinces her that she was murdered and that they need to find out the truth.

Dan Gasp Gif

I only got this book a week ago and I’ve already finished it so obviously I got into it almost automatically and I did, I won’t deny that. The first hundred pages were good and held so much potential. I loved the mystery, both from June talking about her history with Delia and from June trying to find out if someone, and who, murdered Delia. It’s interesting, I love it when you suspect a million and one people and you’re trying to figure out who did it. Then suddenly, halfway through the book the story completely switches.

I won’t reveal why the story switches but from then on it was very confusing and didn’t make a lot of sense. Lynn threw in so many twists and turns that I just ended up getting frustrated. The point of view shifts threw me off a little too and I’m not really sure what the point of them was, I kind of liked the switch for the last chapter but that was it, there didn’t really seem to be much point for it before that.

Also at first you start out thinking that Delia and June’s friendship is really sweet and I love some of the quotes like ‘Friends aren’t just, dating is just. Friends are the very highest thing.’ However the deeper into the story you get you realise how Delia and June’s relationship was completely toxic and unhealthy. I completely support two girls who need each other after all the shit they’ve been through but this was an absolute joke, their relationship was genuinely concerning but it’s painted to be deep, romantic and beautiful. It was disgusting.

Dan annoyed gif

I don’t know if it’s me being stupid or what but to me the ending seemed to make little to no sense. I don’t get the point that Lynn is trying to make at all. I don’t know what June moved on to do, I don’t understand the relevance, I don’t understand and I don’t feel like that was Lynn’s intention. The impression I got at the end was the answer should’ve been obvious but just wasn’t. After reading other reviews I noticed that like me quite a few people were confused.

Overall, I guess I don’t really know whether to recommend this book or not. I’d recommend it to a friend to get their opinions on it and to see if they understood it any better than I did. The first half of the book is really good so I would recommend that bit but when it suddenly changes and takes a different direction then good luck.

Paranormal Activity The Ghost Dimension: Review by Holly Bareham (Spoiler Version)

PA Ghost Dimension

This is a spoiler filled ‘review’ so if you would like to read the spoiler free version then please click HERE. If you’re happy to read spoilers then please continue reading. If you have want a brief summary of what this film’s about then please have a quick look on the spoiler free review as I’m not going to recap it again.

Right I know this review is later than I said it would be, that is because I started writing it and it was mostly nonsensical ranting and I couldn’t really remember the points I wanted to make so yesterday I went back to the cinema to see it again to clear my mind. If you’ve read my first review then you’ll know this is a big deal for me as I kind of hate this film.

Let’s start with the very beginning of the film, that seems a sensible place to start. This film begins with the ending of the third one and as I had recently rewatched the third one I could remember the ending all too clearly. Which is why I was so shocked when they changed the ending of the third one at the start of this one? It wasn’t a major difference – in the original third ending Grandma Lois takes Katie’s hand and starts up the stairs then pauses to call to Christi. Christi joins them on the stairs, turns around and says “Come on Toby.” The camera shuts off. At the start of this film however Christi doesn’t even make it to the stairs before the camera is picked up and carried upstairs. Okay I’m sorry but no matter how small; you can’t just change the ending of one of the films to fit in with a new one. And if you’re going to do that then please make the film actually good.

We’ll move swiftly into the next part of the film that completely pissed me off: There’s a scene where Leila is front of her mirror saying ‘bloody Mary’ backwards perfectly. I’m not mad that they changed the scene in the film to how it was shown in the trailer because I can accept that, editing decisions were made before the film was released properly, fine. It’s what happens after that that pisses me off. Ryan shows the footage to Skyler and Mike and finds out she’s saying ‘Bloody Mary’ backwards. Ryan is then a lot more concerned that his daughter knows what Bloody Mary is rather than the fact she can talk backwards perfectly.

From when the film takes place his daughter should be eight years old although she looked and acted more like a six year old in my opinion but whatever. Either way, by eight years old I know that I knew what Bloody Mary was. Pretty much every kid knows what Bloody Mary is even if they don’t play it. I find it hard to believe that as an adult Ryan didn’t know what Bloody Mary was either, he had to get Skyler to explain it to him. Also, the fact his daughter was up in the middle of the night talking perfectly backwards into a mirror that somehow smashes by itself should concern him a hell of  a lot more than how his daughter find out what Bloody Mary was in the first place.

I still don’t fully understand why Leila was so special. Like I understand that she was born on that specific day but like, that’s it? There’s nothing else. She just happened to be born on the right day and be in the right location for the coven. How original and creative.

I also don’t understand why Katie and Christi didn’t remember their childhood. If they were raised by the coven and were taught by them what to do and everything then surely it would’ve just been easier and quicker to keep their memories. That way Christi would’ve had her baby and just given it to the coven instead of having to make Katie go and kill her and steal it? Right?

I think you can tell from watching just the first movie that this was probably originally intended to be a standalone movie as Katie talks about something she used to see at the end of her bed and how she used to experience things with her sister. The second film seems to support this. By the third film the pattern has changed though as we see Christi has an imaginary friend named Toby and Katie doesn’t really experience anything supernatural at first. So it looks like they probably changed their minds about what story they were telling by the third film and then maybe again after the fourth one.

So I’ve been reading forums on iMDB ever since this film came out and I have much preferred reading the fan ideas for this film and would’ve appreciated them a lot more than the canon film. I understand there were budgets that they had to stick to and stuff which obviously fans don’t have to think about because they’re just having fun but really, they couldn’t have made a better plot than that?

They shouldn’t have hyped it up in the way they did either with ‘this will answer every question’ because no, it didn’t answer every fucking question, it barely answered any questions. “You will finally see the activity!” You mean that totally not scary black goo? Fantastic.

I’m ending this here because I could go on for the next ten years about what annoyed me in this film and whatever. But let’s end on the worst fun fact ever: This is the first film that Katie Featherston hasn’t been in. It’s not a Paranormal Activity film unless Katie Featherston is in it; she was even in the spin-off, why didn’t they find a way for her to be in this film? Her character was in it as a child but she wasn’t and that will forever annoy me.

Thank you for reading! If you want to know who I’d recommend this film for: pretty much nobody.

Paranormal Activity The Ghost Dimension: Review by Holly Bareham (Spoiler-Free Version)

PA Ghost Dimension

Right, this review is going to be a spoiler free version and tomorrow I’m going to be posting a spoiler version so if you don’t want to read that then please avoid it. The reason I’ve chosen to do it that way is because I have quite a few strong feelings/opinions about this film and I need somewhere to vent it all. So yeah, here we go!

This is the fifth film in the Paranormal Activity series, not including the spin-off ‘Paranormal Activity: The Marked Ones’. In this film we follow the lives of a different family that are completely unrelated to the one that appears in the first three films. This time we see the story of Ryan, Emily and their daughter Leila. Ryan’s brother Mike also comes to stay and there’s a girl named Skyler but I really couldn’t figure out how she was related to the family, please tell me if you know. Ryan and Mike find an old camera in a box that they thought was full of Christmas decorations but this camera can pick up things that can’t be seen with the naked eye. Soon Ryan suspects that something suspicious is going on so he starts recording pretty much everything.

So it’s pretty much a similiar set-up of all the Paranormal Activity movies really which makes sense because obviously we need realism as to why they’re documenting every second of their life. There’s nothing wrong with sticking to that basic plotline, especially as they switch it up between which character documents everything, for example in the first one it was Micah, Katie’s boyfriend, but in the fourth one Alex, the daughter, filmed everything.

I want to start this with positives first: I liked that Ryan and Emily actually worked together and faced what was happening. You have no idea how much I hated how in the first four films, although faced with evidence they couldn’t ignore, there was always at least one character who refused to believe what was happening in the house which seemed relatively stupid so hooray for Ryan and Emily who both just get on with it instead of trying to repress it. I hope that didn’t count as a spoiler?

Unfortunately, plot wise, that’s one of the only positives I have. I, personally, have been a fan of the Paranormal Activity franchise ever since I started enjoying horror films instead of being too scared to watch them. I liked the first four films and I especially loved the spin-off so I was practically counting the days until this film came out. I kept up with the news on iMDB and watched as it kept getting pushed further and further back. I, like most fans, hoped this meant they were working hard to create a quality sequel. Well.

The film doesn’t particularly make a lot of sense. I want to save most of my points for the spoiler version of this review so that I don’t ruin anything but it didn’t fit with the first four films. Well I mean, they tried to make it fit and by doing so they bent the first four to fit this one instead of creating a film that would fit in with the story they’d been telling since the first one. I have a theory that by the third or fourth one they’d completely changed their minds about what story they were telling, possibly so they could continue making more films. It has been stated that although this is the last film following this particular story there may be films set in the Paranormal Activity universe.

Because my review for Poltergeist was a bit crap because I hadn’t seen the film in 3D, only 2D, I decided to watch this film in both formats so I could write a better review and quite frankly I feel like I deserve a reward for sitting through it twice. I watched it first in 2D and then again in 3D and quite frankly, it doesn’t make all that much difference. If you’re on a budget, then just buy a 2D ticket. Better yet, don’t bother going and seeing the film.

As stated in my last review, I’ve decided to start leaving a little FUN FACT on all my horror reviews so here goes nothing: Apparently Demi Lovato was offered a role in this film and it is also the first and only Paranormal Activity film to be available in 3D. There, that’s two fun facts for you.

Now normally I would have something positive to say and I would at least recommend this film to someone but honestly, I’m so disappointed in this film that I just wouldn’t recommend going unless you seriously loved the first four films. If you were relatively critical or sceptical about them then definitely don’t go, trust me. Wait until this film comes out on DVD and then wait for it to be reduced to £5 and even then, think carefully before buying it.