Category Archives: television

The Forsaken (2016) – film review

K, lets get one thing straight right off the bat. This isn’t the 2015 western starring Kiefer Sutherland and Demi Moore. Neither is it the 2001 Australian vampire movie starring, well, nobody you will have heard of. It is, in fact, a brand-spanking new release from Justin Price, best known for last year’s Dark Moon Rising. You might say it’s a new film with an old title, but let’s try not to get judgemental. Not yet, anyway. They had to call it something. On review sites and message boards it has been drawing comments like ‘Completely unwatchable,’ and ‘Worst movie ever!’ which kinda piqued my interest a little. Surely it can’t be that bad? Folk on the internet can be really mean sometimes. I thought at the very least, it might fall into the ‘so bad it’s good’ category.

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As a rule I’m not a big fan of possession films. Boring. Every single one of them follows the Exorcist blueprint – Person gets possessed, someone calls a priest, priest unpossesses person. They usually have a touch of difficulty along the way, just to fill the paper-thin plot out a little. There is invariably some swearing, vomiting, flying Bibles, and more often that not, some walking backwards up walls and shit. But in the end, good triumphs over evil, you breathe a sigh of relief, and move on with your life.

This latest Forsaken stars David E Cazares as a priest with jowls and sad puppy-dog eyes, a rebellious daughter, and a gravely ill wife who may or may not be possessed. I know, just what you need, right? I mean, the guy comes home one day and finds his missus cooking pieces of her arms in a frying pan for dinner. Obviously, something has to be done. But this is where the priest gets it completely wrong and starts looking for help in some of the sketchiest places imaginable. There are a few jumpy moments, and for a low-budget flick the make-up and effects are pretty impressive. However, even for one so simple, the plot is a bit muddled. All the flashbacks and dream sequences are distracting and worst of all, sad, puppy-dog eyed priest insists on fumbling around in the dark, whispering all his dialogue and crying all the time. Come on, dude! Put the damn light on, have a shit, shower and a shave, sort yourself out and man the fuck up. In days of old this would be a straight-to-video release. Now it’s probably going straight to your nearest streaming device, where it will no doubt stay, neglected and Forsaken.

This review originally appeared in the FREE Morpheus Tales supplement

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Paranormal TV Shows – Hits & Misses

Paranormal TV shows, eh? There are loads of them. Some good, some bad, some average. Come duck behind the sofa with me as I peruse what the genre has to offer.

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The daddy of paranormal TV has been running since 2004. To date there have been ten seasons, not including spin-off’s and specials. It started small, with ghost busting plumbers Jason and Grant of the Atlantic Paranormal Society (TAPS) careering around America in a van seeking out and investigating supposedly haunted locations. They emphasise the scientific approach, using various pieces of equipment to either gather or debunk evidence. The early seasons were more ‘docu-soap,’ and featured more material from the investigator’s private lives. This was soon phased out. Thankfully.

Ghost Hunters International

As above, only in more exotic locales. Like Australia, Germany and, er, Wales. Premiered in 2008 and ran for three seasons before being canned, presumably because of the expense incurred in sending a bunch of people all over the world looking for ghosts. Plus, there was a really annoying Irish bloke in it called Barry “Can you give me a sign?” Fitzgerald. Was the show being canned enough of a sign for you, Barry?

He is second only to the even more despicable Andy Andrews, who struts around like a smug, know-it-all little prick the whole time. If I was ever in a dark, confined space with him, I’d punch him in the face repeatedly.

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This is one of my favourites, and one of the longest running. Season 11 started in August. Zac Bagans is one of the most confrontational dudes ever. He has the physique of an NFL player and charges around deserted mental hospitals and jails at night with a couple of mates frightening the shit out of the poor resident spooks. Then, if anything remotely paranormal happens, the bunch of them usually run screaming out of the place. They also pick on the chubby shaven-haired dude with a goatee who gets all the worst assignments. “Aaron! Go lie in that festering haunted crypt and don’t come out until we tell you!”

Most Haunted

The British answer to Ghost Hunters. Never been a fan. It all seems a bit contrived and over-dramatic to me. Yvette Fielding is decent, I used to have a crush on her when she was in Blue Peter. But the resident psychics spoil it all, especially Derek Acorah when he was exposed as being a massive fraud shortly before being booted off the show in 2005. To date MH has run for no fewer than 17 seasons and amassed almost 200 episodes, which makes you wonder how many supposedly haunted locations there can be.

Fact or Faked

I dislike this show immensely. What a pointless exercise. A bunch of patronising bellends who choose something like, say, the Loch Ness Monster, then spend the entire show trying to make something that looks like the Loch Ness Monster but isn’t. I could make something that looks like melted chocolate ice cream, that doesn’t mean it is melted chocolate ice cream. It proves nothing.

A Haunting

This features dramatic re-enactments of hauntings, demonic possession, time slips, and all kinds of other weird shit. It ran for four seasons on Discovery Channel, and then took a five-year hiatus before being revitalized on Destination America in 2012. Most episodes follow the same format so it can get a bit repetitive after a while, but it is exceptionally well-made. For the most part, it has also managed to escape controversy and accusations of over-dramatization which gives it an air of credibility sadly lacking in most of its contemporaries. Season eight premiered on Halloween.

Ghost Stalkers

This show, featuring two blokes who both claim to have had near-death experience driving around looking for ‘portals,’ is so over the top and unashamedly dramatic, often it’s LOL time. Produced by Nick Groff of the Ghost Adventures team, who really should know better, it was a dismal failure and I’d be surprised if it is ever renewed for a second season. Instead of stalking ghosts, the two protagonists spend all their time huddled in dark corners talking about their feelings. My favourite line of the entire show was when Chad the wimpy wannabe-surfer dude suddenly started openly grieving for his dead pooch and dropped the immortal line, “It’s weird being human.”

Bahahahahahahaha!

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My Haunted House

Rather than using the investigation format, this show used a mixture of interviews and dramatic re-enactments. It’s basically common knowledge that it’s all made up. Even the interviewees are actors, and they are reading scripts. You know what, though? Once you acknowledge that, and accept that My Haunted House is basically a collection of some excellent horror stories, the show gets a whole lot better. If you are looking for serious investigations into the paranormal, best look elsewhere, but this isn’t such a bad way to while away a few hours.

My Ghost Story: Caught on Camera

Another show mixing ‘eyewitness’ testimony in the shape of interviews interspersed with dramatic re-enactments and video footage this one syndicated through the Biography channel, which at least offered a veneer of legitimacy. Six seasons and 75 episodes after it premiered in 2010 it was shelved. A sad loss.

The Haunting of…

A famous person. Any famous person. I love American TV. Whatever they do, they do it well. Sporting events, chat shows, drama. How can you not appreciate Breaking Bad? I remember when I was a kid watching Miami Vice, then coming back down to earth with a bump with The Bill. The trouble is, after a while most American shows revert to a tried-and-tested formula. It’s fine at first, but then it gets predictable. In this case, a celebrity who claims to have had a paranormal experience revisits the scene of the occurrence with a psychic in tow. There is usually some personal trauma they have to confront and conquer along the way, they invariably cry about it, then everyone goes home better people. Boring.

Haunted Highway

Featuring Jack Osbourne in his goth phase as a spoiled rich kid who goes out looking for thrills with his friends. Give credit where it’s due, Jack always seemed to be able to manufacture a situation where he would be left alone somewhere dark and scary with a hot chick. Not even that could disguise the fact that this show was shit.

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