‘Mama’ is a Deeper, Gentler Kind of Twisted Monster

mama

Warning: Spoilers for the film Mama herein, as well as Sinister and maybe Paranormal Activity. I might spoil nine or 10 other movies just because I’m on a role.

Mama, the recently released, Guillermo del Toro-produced horror movie about two feral kids who are rediscovered and brought back to society, certainly has a few missteps built in. The way it handles its monster, however, largely isn’t one of them.

One of the things that most bothers me about many monster movies is the lack of said creature’s ability to actually become menacing.

Much too often, ghosts, demons and other creatures are used in service of Being Ominous. You know — they pop up now and again, or a character turns and what was previously hidden turns out to be hiding something awful. And many times in horror movies, the character will cry out and then blink and the thing will be gone.

That’s dumb. What’s more, it’s irritating.

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Returning to The Shire, Thanks to ‘The Hobbit’

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I heard a lot of negative stuff about The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey before I saw it, and so I lowered my expectations pretty significantly before we arrived at the theater.

It was probably overlong, from what I’d heard, and stupidly pandering to 3-D and gimmickiness with its heightened frame rate of 48 frames-per-second. I would see it that way, as Peter Jackson intended, but I would be bored throughout. But I loved The Lord of the Rings, so I would give it a chance, even if I couldn’t manage to give it the benefit of the doubt.

However, I found the weaknesses of The Hobbit to be greatly exaggerated. In fact, despite the movie clocking in at just under three hours, I had a great time and found myself riveted throughout.

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In the Brainholes: Call of Duty, Works In Progress

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I’ve been playing an inordinate amount of Call of Duty: Black Ops 2 for the last week, both for reviews (I worked on reviews for both the Xbox 360 version and the PC version) and for various other reasons, like helping out Game Front’s video team as they try to make walkthrough videos.

The game is definitely not lacking for weirdness. Its story jumps back and forth between the Cold War and the near future, in which a revenge-driven Nicaraguan drug lord takes out his grudges on America and specific American soldiers alike. The villain, Raul Menendez, excels in being super-powered and apparently capable of seeing the future, and while the story isn’t always great, it gets kudos for going to some really dark places.

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Preparation is Key: 5 Things to Do Before Writing

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It’s always tempting — you come up with a good idea. A cool character. An awesome death scene. A villain who’s not only creepy, but a bad-ass mf’er who also happens to be completely empathetic from his point of view. And you want to just start writing, before you lose that inspiration.

Here’s the thing about that: that high is fleeting. That “inspiration” isn’t actually doing you any favors. Sure, you might get a lightning strike, sit down and hammer out something great.

But then what?

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3 Time Travel stories I think you should read

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Little bit slow coming off the holiday weekend today, so I figured I’d just drop a little reading list action your way.

This particular list is of a few things I enjoyed while doing research for So You Created a Wormhole and beyond, and if you’re already a time travel fiction fan, this likely isn’t new to you. If you’re not, however, these are some that are worth your attention for various reasons. I intend to drop lots more things in posts like this one. This is just a quick post because I’m a bit time-limited.

Without further adieu, three time travel stories I think you should read: Continue reading 3 Time Travel stories I think you should read

In the Brainholes: creepy dreams, Mass Effect, stories

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I’m still feeling out the format for this blog, but I’m taking a lot of inspiration from the work Chuck Wendig does over at terribleminds.com. He has several days of the week where he hits specific blog categories — Fridays he usually throws down a writing prompt, for example. Thursdays are usually interviews. Seems like a good idea.

“In the Brainholes” is my current experiment for Friday blog posts. I’m envisioning it as a rundown of the stuff that’s been on my mind throughout the week. Plus I think I’m going to throw a writing prompt/weekend fiction challenge at the end (and shamelessly steal from Chuck). For the time being, until I decide I don’t like this idea anymore.

So away we go.
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Missing the moon’s first visitor

armstrong on the moon

I was born 16 years after humans first walked on the moon.

It was years before I actually started to understand what the event meant. Two men had walked on a shore so distant, it floats in the sky. They ventured into the Sea of Tranquility and found it alien. They left boot prints upon another world.

The adventures of fictional characters into the reaches of space are among the things that inspired me throughout my life. The exploration of unknown worlds is something with which I’ve always been fascinated, and stories such as those drove me to start telling stories of my own, and the stories of others.

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In My Brainholes: Slenderman, Plus a Short Story

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Slenderman freaks me the hell out.

I’m not sure what it is, exactly, about the notion of the Internet-invented urban legend. There’s just something about him. Primarily it is, perhaps, that he’s an infiltrator; that he appears at will, bends the laws of reality, and pursues relentlessly his victims. Also he has no face. And he’s like some kind of weird spider thing.

Okay, I’m getting ahead of myself. If you’re not familiar, the Slenderman is that guy up there — a creature invented for a contest on the forums at SomethingAwful.com. He’s a creature of sorts, faceless, who seems to have dominion over children and apparently abducts them. Some or all of the rules of the creature are subject to change depending on which interpretation you’re talking about, and at this point there have been a few. Still, there seem to be a few steadfast elements: the Slenderman is tall, man-shaped although not a man, and keyed on sight. If you see the Slenderman, he will hunt you down. Your fate is sealed.

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excuses and restarts

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Sometime around July, I started to write an entry in this blog to restart it. As you might have guessed, I never finished that entry.

That entry opened with a short discussion of lowered priorities, the balancing of making money and writing in blogs that no one reads, et cetera and so on. I also played the “I was writing a book” card, which kind of excuses me, I guess. Except we finished writing that book in April. I’ve had a few short flurries of activity since then in the editing process, concerning copy edits, content edits, cover choices and promo materials, but nothing to warrant not having written here for so long.

Let’s face it. I was lazy. I also read A Game of Thrones, A Storm of Swords (when something becomes a TV show or a movie, that’s often when I find out about it) and some other stuff. I’ve played a lot of video games for work. Skyrim is a thing that sucks up some of my time. I have a lot of excuses, I’ve written a lot of words, and I’ve neglected this thing I’ve created. I have a tendency to do that. I’m a terrible father and an easily distracted god.

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The Enemy of My Enemy – writing in someone else’s world

Office-Cast-1024x786[1] So I applied for this.

It’s a writing fellowship program in television from ABC. Like all things requiring application, I had to punch out a few essays about me, and what I’m like, and why I’d like to write for TV, and what I bring to writing TV that’s special that no one else can.

I also had to crank out a script – an episode of a TV show that was in production in 2009. It’s an exercise in proving you can operate as a writer on a TV show, matching tone and characters in a world of someone else’s devising. The end result was quite an interesting exercise.

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