Midsommar: Review by Hollie Bareham

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Just over a month ago I was at the cinema to watch a movie and the trailer for ‘Midsommar’ played during the previews. I was instantly excited – it looked interesting, scary and something a little different which is everything I look for in a horror movie. The fact that it was made by the people who made ‘Hereditary’ didn’t put me off. I didn’t hate ‘Hereditary’ it just wasn’t what I’d been hoping for.

For those who haven’t seen the trailer or heard of the film the basic plot is that Dani and her boyfriend Christian have a very strained relationship. Just as he’s working up the courage to end things a family tragedy occurs leaving him feeling like he should stay with her. When Dani discovers Christian and his friends are planning a trip to Sweden to attend a once-in-a-lifetime midsummer festival Christian guiltily invites her along with them. However the carefree holiday soon takes a dark turn when the insular villagers invite their guests to partake in festivities that become increasingly disturbing.

The moment tickets dropped for this film I messaged my friends Becca and Jess asking if they wanted to go to the 8PM showing on the opening night. They’re both horror fans too so they were up for it and soon we were off. And Jesus wept, I was not prepared.

By that I don’t mean I wasn’t prepared for the scares because really there weren’t many. The film was rated 18 and due to this it was a bit gorier than a 15 rated film would’ve been but in terms of things like jump scares there weren’t really any. Which would’ve been fine because I’m not really a massive fan of films that solely rely on jump scares to make themselves scary but other than the gross and gory scenes it wasn’t particularly scary.

In fact, I found parts of it absolutely hilarious and it wasn’t just me – Becca was weeing herself with laughter and there was one particular scene that had me and most of the audience in absolute tears because it was so bizarre. I won’t go into immense detail but there’s an extremely strange sex scene that I couldn’t for the life of me take seriously. I’m not sure if the director wanted us to laugh or what we were really meant to be feeling in that scene but I was genuinely crying, I couldn’t contain it.

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The things I hadn’t liked about ‘Hereditary’ were that it was quite slow and that I just didn’t fully understand it at the end. I don’t necessarily like everything being wrapped up in a big bow but equally I don’t like feeling completely confused. For example, ‘Us’ was a confusing film but I still feel relatively satisfied with its ending. Unfortunately I think the negatives from ‘Hereditary’ were passed onto ‘Midsommar’.

The film was quite long, it was about two and a half hours and that’s mainly due to it being just so slow. It takes a good while for them to even reach the Swedish commune and takes longer still for anything creepy to begin happening. Then when the disturbing events did begin to occur I just feel like there was too long of a gap between each event to keep up the atmosphere. I wasn’t scared, I was just left waiting.

Then there was the confusion aspect. I just have a lot of questions. Maybe that was the point of the film, I don’t know, but I feel like a few things were thrown in and then not really explored making me wonder what the point was. I feel like the director was just going for shock value which like was definitely delivered, parts of it were quite… Odd, which is putting it mildly. But was there anything beyond that? I’m not sure there was.

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Also this is probably quite nit-picky but I hate the over the top crying that occurs both in this film and in ‘Hereditary’. At the start of the film when the family tragedy occurs Dani cries whilst Christian comforts her and it’s so over-the-top that I don’t really believe it’s genuine. It was how Peter cried during ‘Hereditary’ and it just absolutely drove me up the wall. I know Dani was obviously very distraught but I’ve never heard anyone cry like that in real life and it makes me wonder why they keep putting this in the films as it just feels so out of place.

The rest of my review will contain spoilers so please stop reading if you don’t want to see them!

Some character deaths were just a bit annoying and almost too easy if that makes sense? For example Will Poulter’s character Mark was having dinner with his friends and the rest of the commune when a girl approaches him and says “Come, I will show you” and then… That’s it. He’s dead. We don’t see his death he’s just gone from the rest of the film. Of course we did see his face carved out and placed on top of somebody else but that’s the only indication we have that Mark did die. Similarly Simon and Connie, the British couple who decided to leave as they’re too disturbed to stay, they’re just sort of disposed of. I’m not saying every death had to be on screen but the fact Mark was led off by a Swedish girl and then didn’t go to bed that night or appear at breakfast the next day and his friends were just like ‘ayee I bet he’s having fun’ was just so stupid.

As mentioned, there were tons of things thrown in almost just for the sake of it. For example they have a deformed child (I think it was a child?) who they consider an oracle but there’s not much explanation as to why or what that was even about. This kid just paints pictures and the elders or whatever study them. Why? I don’t understand why.

To be honest I think I’d have enjoyed this movie more if it was shorter. So much of it just felt so unnecessary and like I said, the gaps between anything weird or spooky happening were just too long to keep me interested. I also just got the overall sense that they were like “yeah let’s do a weird folk festival movie” and decided to film it before they actually figured out what they were doing – if that makes any sense?

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Overall I am glad I watched it as it was certainly something different. I’m unlikely to watch it again due to the length and how slow it is but some scenes were interesting and worth the watch. That sex scene alone was hilarious and I’d recommend watching that but scenes like the dance to become the May Queen were interesting as well. So I’d recommend watching it just once but be prepared for a long and slow ride.

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Harry Potter Films: Worst to Best

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It’s no secret that I’m a massive Harry Potter fan and since watching Cursed Child my love for the Harry Potter universe has only intensified. So I wanted to put the Harry Potter films in order of my least favourite to my most favourite. I won’t be taking into account the books at all because that would be a completely separate list. So, here goes nothing!

8. Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part One (David Yates, 2010)

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I used to absolutely despise this film because what actually happens? Not an awful lot. When I went to an eight film Harry Potter marathon over the span of a weekend I was dreading re-watching this film but to be fair, it wasn’t as bad a second time. But it’s still definitely the worst film out of the series because it’s just building up to something that’s not delivered because it all happens in part two. Although I wouldn’t go as far to say I hate the film anymore it’s definitely the worst one in the series.

7. Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part Two (David Yates, 2011)

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Part 2 is massively more interesting because there’s the battle of Hogwarts and generally just a lot more going on but it’s still towards the bottom of my list. Probably because although I did like the Deathly Hallows movies I still prefer the films that are set completely at Hogwarts, showing lessons and general student life (and obviously Harry, Ron and Hermione’s adventures). It’s also the end of the series which is just generally quite sad.


6. Harry Potter and the Half Blood Prince (David Yates, 2009)

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I know I said I wasn’t going to bring the books into this but actually the book helped me enjoy the film. When I first saw this movie I don’t think I really understood it (I was 12 I think when it was released) and I hadn’t read the books. Years later, when I turned 19 I finally got into reading the Harry Potter series and found myself feeling deflated when I got to the Half Blood Prince book – I was surprised when I ended up really enjoying the book. So I gave the film another chance and ended up enjoying it this time!

It’s still not one of my favourites because I think I enjoyed the book (I keep breaking my own rules) a lot more but I still appreciate this as a film and love it a lot more than I used to. I love that there’s more Luna in this film since she doesn’t enter until the fifth film and she’s one of my favourite characters. I also love the scene where Harry’s taken the liquid luck and goes to Aragog’s funeral with Hagrid and Professor Slughorn. So yes, it’s definitely a film I love more now that I’m older.

5. Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone (Chris Columbus, 2001)

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It’s crazy that I was five when this film came out and that for a while this was the only Harry Potter film to exist. I remember owning it on video and I’d rewatch it over and over again. I tried to get into the books but I just couldn’t do it at the time but I was more than happy to sit and watch the film. I think it’s one of those that because it’s been around for so long though that I’ve seen it so many times that I couldn’t say it’s my favourite. I actually haven’t seen this one in a while, I wouldn’t mind rewatching it.

Ultimately, how can you not love the first film? The film where we’re introduced to Hogwarts for the first time and are introduced to all our iconic favourite characters. This film is a classic and I don’t think a day will ever come where I dislike it.

Quick story – I was at work and told my colleague, Sue, who sits next to me that I was going to see Harry Potter and the Cursed Child at the theatre and she told me she’d never seen a Harry Potter film. I was honestly horrified and was even more horrified to find out my other colleague Shirley hadn’t seen any either. I thought this was weird but I was even more horrified when I asked our seventeen year old apprentice Kelsey what her favourite Harry Potter film was and she replied “I actually haven’t seen any of them.” What are you guys doing? These films are absolute gems!

4. Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban (Alfonso Cuaron, 2004)

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I remember going to see this at the cinema when it was released and it was probably the first Harry Potter film I’d seen at the cinema. Unfortunately I was probably a little bit too young to appreciate it at the time and I remember getting a bit bored so I ran up and down the aisle pretending I was riding a broom stick like Harry (then came home and borrowed our brush so I could carry on pretending in the garden, haha!). Now that I’m older I love this film and fully appreciate it.

There are so many things to love about this film; Harry riding on Buckbeak just looked absolutely amazing, getting introduced to the marauders, Harry casting his first patronus, time travel… There’s just so much to love! This is another film I really want to rewatch now; I haven’t seen it for ages.

3. Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets (Chris Columbus, 2002)

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For a long time this was my favourite film from the Harry Potter franchise but unfortunately I think it’s one that I watched too many times. I do still love it obviously but I don’t know. I’m not even particularly sure what made it my favourite, it just was. Interesting fun fact for you all even though this book was the second shortest it is the longest Harry Potter film. It’s just one of those films that you can’t help but love – until you watch it too many times. But it’s definitely still one of my favourites.

2. Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire (Mike Newell, 2005)

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When I ask people what their favourite Harry Potter movie is most of them say this one and I can see why. It’s packed full of adventure and it’s sort of the last light-hearted one before everything goes to shit and Voldemort comes back and all that jazz. There are so many iconic and funny moments in this one and I never got bored of rewatching it. Also it’s got a lot of Cedric Diggory in it which is always fun – until the inevitable happens and then it’s just sad again.

Every Harry Potter fan always agrees this movie is awesome and it stays pretty true to the book so it’s a good one to watch!

1. Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix (David Yates, 2007)

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Back when I’d only seen the films this one was my favourite. I’m not really sure why, I liked the beef with Umbridge and the secrecy around creating Dumbledore’s Army – it was really exciting! It’s been my favourite for ages and most people argue with me and say it’s boring but I completely disagree. It’s definitely my number one favourite.

Due to it being my favourite film I was looking forward to reading the book and this book is my favourite too. However it’s sort of made the film a bit disappointing. This is the longest book and yet this film I believe is the shortest. I suppose a lot if had to be cut ‘cos it does have a lot of side plots, what with Hermione starting SPEW and Ron joining the Quidditch team but even if they’d given these side plots a little nod that would’ve been enough if they didn’t have time for the entirety of it.

Well there you go; those are my favourite Harry Potter films from worst to best! Feel free to leave a comment of your favourite Harry Potter movies.

Favourite Movies

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I was originally going to write a list of my favourite five films but in the end I had to choose six because I just couldn’t eliminate one from the list and I also made the decision not to include any horror movies because I already wrote about my top ten favourite horror films here [x]. So this is a list of six films I love, in no particular order that I am happy to watch again and again and again.

The Maze Runner (Wes Ball, 2014)

I think this is on here because Death Cure came out not long ago and I’m not over it to be honest but I did love the first film a lot. I’m pretty sure I went back to see it at the cinema about four times. The sequel ‘Scorch Trials’ came out just before I went to university and I remember seeing it with my three best friends the day before I left. Then if I was having a shit day at uni and needed to get away from my flat mates I’d go and watch ‘Scorch Trials’ until it eventually left the cinema. I love this series.

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The Maze Runner is about a boy called Thomas who wakes up to find himself in a community of boys with his memory erased. He soon discovers they’re trapped in the middle of a maze and joins the ‘runners’ to try and find a way out.

To be honest when the original film was released I remember not being all that interested but because Becca had enjoyed the books she dragged us to see it. Immediately I was pulled into the story and a few weeks later I did try to read the book but I couldn’t get interested. I think I donated my copy of the book which I now regret because I want to give it another go so I might need to buy another copy. They’re great films and I could watch them over and over again without getting sick of them.

Into the Woods (Rob Marshall, 2014)

I don’t know if it’s just me but I didn’t see any advertising for this film like at all? I think when I went to see it I hadn’t even seen a trailer for it. I’m going to be completely honest with you and admit that I only knew about this film because at the time I was completely in love with Chris Pine and it was listed on his iMDB page. So when I noticed it was on at my local cinema I invited Jess and off we went.

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Into the Woods is a musical about a baker and his wife who are desperate to have a child but discover they can’t because a witch has placed a curse on their family. They’re tasked with finding items from classic fairytales to reverse the curse.

It’s a musical that has a lot more songs than speaking which I don’t normally like but Into the Woods is an exception. I love the soundtrack so much that I burned all the songs onto a disc so me and Jess could listen to it in her car. It got to a point where me, Jess, Hirst and Becca knew all of the songs and we all had our own parts to sing on long car journeys. This film is amazing with a brilliant cast and it’s definitely my favourite musical. This one I saw at the cinema about six times. I’d love to see the stage version one day even though I’ve heard it’s extremely different.

My Neighbour Totoro (Hayao Miyazaki, 1988)

I could’ve included a ton more Studio Ghibli films but I had to go for my favourite which will probably always be ‘My Neighbour Totoro’. I didn’t actually like it that much when I first watched it because although I thought it was sweet I didn’t really see the point. But after rewatching it I soon began to love it and it became my favourite.

This film is about two young girls Mei and Satsuki who move to the countryside with their father to live closer to their hospitalised mother and the adventures they have with the forest spirits who live nearby.

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This is a film I love to stick on whenever I’m sad or having a bit of a shit day and it cheers me right up. I love everything about it, especially the soundtrack. I’m going to Japan later this year and if I don’t go to the Studio Ghibli museum I might be sad for the rest of my life. If you haven’t seen a Studio Ghibli film then you’re missing out, they’re truly magical.

Coraline (Henry Selick, 2009)

I feel like the majority of my list are children’s films but this is a film I would think twice about before showing to my children. I must’ve been at least 12 or 13 when I first watched this but I was still creeped out. Even now it gives me the creeps. The book is amazing too and just as scary.

Coraline is about a girl who moves to an old house in the middle of no where and feels bored and neglected by her parents. She finds a hidden door and crawls through to find a parallel world where things are more interesting and everyone has buttons for eyes. When the Other Mother invites Coraline to stay there forever she refuses and soon realises the alternate reality is just a trick to trap her.

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I doubt there are many people who haven’t seen this film and I think it’s honestly really good. Every so often I’ll get a craving to re-watch it and each time it’s just as good as I remembered. I was actually lucky enough to meet Neil Gaiman and now I have a signed hardback copy of Coraline – which I can never read because it’s too pretty so I had to go out and buy a paperback copy too so I could actually enjoy it.

My Sister’s Keeper (Nick Cassavetes, 2009)

I first watched this film in Science because we were learning about designer babies or something and I enjoyed it but it didn’t leave a lasting impression on me or anything. I’m pretty sure we watched it again in Religious Studies, but again not much impact. Then I went out and bought a copy for my Mom because she’d sounded interested when I’d told her about it. The more I’ve watched it the more I’ve fallen in love with it and now it’s one of my favourites.

My Sister’s Keeper is about Anna Fitzgerald who was born with a particular purpose – to save her sister Kate who has been diagnosed with cancer. But when Anna turns eleven she files for medical emancipation so that her parents can’t force her to donate her kidney to her sister. Soon she is caught up in a legal battle against her own mother.

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My description doesn’t do the film justice but it is amazing and I always cry absolute buckets whenever I watch it. The acting is brilliant, especially from Sofia Vassilieva who played Kate. There’s nothing about this film that I don’t love and it’s a must watch.

Room (Lenny Abrahamson, 2015)

I always forget about Room whenever someone asks me what my favourite film is but it’s probably this one. This is another film that makes me cry absolute buckets and I just think it’s so beautifully done. I haven’t seen it that many times because I keep forgetting I own the DVD but I still think it’s my favourite film.

Room is based on the book by Emma Donoghue (which is also amazing) and is about a young boy named Jack who has grown up in the confines of a small shed with his Ma. He has never left Room and knows nothing about the outside world. But as Jack’s curiosity grows and Ma’s resilience reaches breaking point they hatch a risky plan to escape Room.

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I’d actually never heard of the book at the time and I learnt about the film from Jess who wanted to go and see it. I liked the look of the trailer so the two of us went to see it and I loved it. I loved it so much that I saw it two more times at the cinema and then bought a copy of the book. The book is also amazing but different to the film – sadder but more realistic. Overall I think I prefer the movie. This is another where the acting is amazing, Brie Larson 100% deserved her Oscar and Jacob Tremblay did an amazing job of playing Jack. If you haven’t seen Room then I honestly can’t recommend it enough.

So there we go, there are six of my favourite films in no particular order! Feel free to leave a comment with your favourite films, if you have any recommendations then send them my way.

The Boy: Review by Holly Bareham

The Boy

I’m long overdue on several reviews including The Other Side of the Door and The Witch but I’m going to write this one first and I’ll explain why in a second. I’m pretty sure I have a book review to write as well… I will get round to all of this, I’m just having a bit of a writer’s block at the moment!

Just so you guys know, I’m thinking of writing a spoiler version of this review soon so be sure to look out for that but I’ll try and get my other reviews out first…

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So I have been driving my friends crazy about this film for the past couple of months. I saw the trailer on Facebook ages ago and I have been counting down the days until its release. You would honestly not believe how mad I was going for this film. When it finally arrived in cinemas I was prepared to be disappointed. That might sound daft but after imagining this film for months and months, the anticipation, the build-up, even if the film was good it surely wouldn’t meet my expectations?

I’m so glad I was wrong.

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For anyone who hasn’t seen the trailer, ‘The Boy’ is about an American woman named Greta who comes to England to be a nanny for a wealthy families eight year old son. When she arrives she’s shocked to find that the eight year old boy is a doll that the family treats as if he’s alive. However, when the parents leave she starts experiencing a supernatural presence and starts to believe that maybe the doll is really alive after all.

I’ve seen a lot of people comparing this film to Annabelle, which I wrote a review about a while ago, and I think the two films are completely different. ‘Annabelle’ barely felt like it was about the actual doll whereas ‘The Boy’ is definitely centred on Brahms (the doll). I wasn’t too impressed with ‘Annabelle’ whereas I found ‘The Boy’ to be everything I love about a horror film: atmospheric, creepy and my personal favourite, an amazing plot twist.

I’m gonna talk more about the plot twist in my spoiler review, assuming I write it, because obviously I don’t want to give anything away but I honestly did not see it coming. I went with two friends, one didn’t see the twist coming, the other kind of guessed it but wasn’t sure. However, when the reveal came, all three of us were honestly terrified – I was holding hands with one of them. I’ve been reading through the iMDB forums as I do and a lot of people have been complaining that the plot twist ruined the entire film but I completely disagree. I think it was the best, most reasonable ending it could’ve possibly had. But again, I’ll talk more about that in my spoiler version.

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One thing I hate in a horror film is when they include random jump scares that aren’t even necessary to the plot. Now, while The Boy did this I feel like their jump scares were almost a foreshadowing of what was going to happen so I can forgive them. There was one jump scare that really terrified me – I admit that I jump a lot in horror films but this one really got me, my heart was pounding for a full five minutes afterwards.

Anyway, I cannot stress to you how good I thought this film was and I urge you not to listen to the negative reviews and just judge the film for yourself. Before watching it I was told by my Mom “It has really bad reviews” to which I replied “I didn’t expect anything more”. It was honestly better than people are saying it is, just trust me!

I almost forgot my fun fact! The cast members used to prank each other with the doll until one cast member got so scared during one prank that they threw the doll out of their trailer window and a replacement had to be made. Hooray for fun facts.

Go and watch the movie!

Snervous: Review by Holly Bareham

Snervous

Right, so those of you who read my review of Binge [x] know that although I’m not a massive fan of Tyler Oakley I do like him. And I figured since I’d done a review of Binge it might make sense to watch Snervous and write a review of that too. Since it was on Netflix I decided to give it a watch and now here I am writing this review.

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So after reading Binge I’d heard stories of Tyler’s childhood and more stories about his YouTube life etc etc but I didn’t know much about his fan base or the community he’s created because really I don’t see them. I don’t follow any Tyler blogs on Tumblr; I don’t see their tweets… Occasionally I look at the comments section on his videos but to be honest I can’t remember what they said. So yeah, I didn’t know much about his fans other than that girl I once met who told me she’d kill a man for him. That’s where Snervous came in.

The documentary starts off with Tyler going on his UK tour, which I totally would’ve gone to if I’d known it was coming to the UK but as I don’t particularly keep up with what he’s doing I didn’t know so I missed out. I’m gutted because it looks like it was amazing and the atmosphere seemed like it was really friendly and fun. It was interesting to see how the meet and greets and everything backstage was from Tyler’s point of view – although I didn’t attend this show, I did attend Dan and Phil’s so to see what it’s like going on behind the scenes is really interesting.

We don’t just see Tyler’s fans obviously. In Binge Tyler talked about his Father wasn’t accepting of him being gay when he first came out and that’s talked about more in Snervous when we see Tyler meeting up with his Dad and there’s an interview with his Mom. That’s just one of the emotional moments in Snervous that really get to you. I can’t imagine what it’s like to watch it as a die-hard fan because even just as a casual fan I was getting all emotional at certain points.

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Obviously it’s not all doom and gloom, there are some funny moments too! Especially the moments with Korey, he is honestly so funny. As is Tyler’s Mom who is completely fabulous. I think it’s so nice that Tyler has let fans into his life and that he’s so open with them. I also loved his honesty when talking about meeting fans and not cutting out the bits where he got stressed or annoyed. It’s good for us to see that YouTuber’s aren’t superheroes who can just keep going without getting emotional, they’re people too!

Also, can we all draw attention to this please because I think it’s really important?

Tyler Oakley

So Tyler if you’re reading this, don’t like and leave next time! Tell me what you thought! Please?

Anyway, my personal recommendation to anyone reading this is that you should get your butt onto Netflix and start watching. It’s definitely worth it!

The Forest: Review by Holly Bareham

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So I saw the trailer for this film and was told one thing by my friend – “Apparently it’s really shit.” To be honest the trailer didn’t look that bad and Natalie Dormer was starring in it so although I hadn’t thought it’d be the best film ever I was kind of surprised to hear that. I’m not one to judge a horror film based on other people’s opinions (ironic, being a reviewer) and I wouldn’t miss out on a brand new horror anyway so I went and saw it.

The basic storyline is that a woman named Sara travels from the US to Japan to look for her twin sister Jess who went into Aokighara forest, a forest in Japan that’s known for the mass amount of people who go in to commit suicide. Sara believes she can ‘feel’ that Jess is still alive so she goes into the forest to look for and is soon taunted by a supernatural presence.

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I’m gonna admit it straightaway, I did find this film scary while I was watching it. There were some good jump scares and a creepy atmosphere. If it had managed to maintain that for the entirety of the film it probably would’ve been good. However, the ending of the film suddenly became rushed and quite frankly completely stupid. Especially the last five seconds which really ruined it for me – there was no need to throw in one last jump scare, it was creepy for a second and then it was just ridiculous.

Because people kept saying the whole film was shit I was actually more impressed with it than I perhaps would’ve been if people hadn’t said anything about it all. I was expecting a complete train wreck of a film but I actually felt it was pretty decent. My only problem was that I kept imagining plot twists in my head so to reach the actual ending was kind of disappointing. I’ve seen whole theories on iMDB that Jess and Sara were actually the same person but personally, I don’t think the filmmakers put that much thought into the film for it to be possible.

Time for my fun fact: Natalie Dormer actually went to visit Aokighara forest and went five meters off the path to take pictures but her Japanese driver refused to step an inch off the path.

Overall, this film is good if you want a few scares. It’s better than Krampus but it’s definitely not the horror film of the year. On the bright side there were some trailers for other horror films and I am so looking forward to ‘The Boy’! Wait for that review!