DARKMATTERS - The Mind of Matt

You met me at a very strange time in my life...

Read my novel: COMPLETE DARKNESS

Saturday, March 06, 2021

Barb And Star And Matt Go To Vista Del Mar

 

Barb And Star Go To Vista Del Mar


Dir.  Josh Greenbaum

Reviewed by Matt Adcock (@cleric20


Star: We used to have fun. Remember that one time we went on a haunted hayride?

Barb: And we got chased by that man with a Jack-o’-lantern head and a chainsaw. 

Star: And then we heard later he wasn’t an actor. He just escaped from the local prison. 

Barb: He was a real killer. 

Star: Killer. He was trying to kill us!

If like me you love the work of Kristen Wiig (Bridesmaids, Saturday Night Live etc) then you should be excited for Barb and Star go to Vista Del Mar as it showcases her at her funniest and coolest playing dual roles opposite her co-screenwriter Annie Mumolo.

Lifelong friends Barb (Mumolo) and Star (Wiig) embark on what just might be the adventure of a lifetime when they decide to leave their small Midwestern town for the first time ever. These two middle-aged wonders are superb comic creations. Barb - is a kind of everywoman riff on Melissa McCarthy's SPY character whilst Star is the positive energy nexus of lost hopes and dreams.

What follows is the kind of madcap movie that genre hops at ease - buddy comedy/romance/spy spoof thriller and erm part-time musical - there is something for every open-minded movie watcher on the planet here... Wiig hams it up as the baddie 'Sharon' - an albino with revenge on her mind... 

'ordering cocktails from the pool'

Jamie Dornan is on hand as her shmuck agent, he's blinded by his love for her but she's just using him for her nefarious schemes. Sharon's other hench'man' is Yoyo (Reyn Doi) who steals many of the scenes he's in. As Barb and Star's vacation in Vista Del Mar, tangles them up in a crazy adventure, they both kind of find love, and a villain's evil plot to kill everyone in town. 

Dornan puts in some of his best-ever work here - singing, dancing and romancing like his life depends on it! He certainly wins the hearts of Barb and Star which causes some friction both between the sheets and in their friendship. And the comedy is everywhere - a personal highlight was musician Richard Cheese who is the restaurant entertainer, sitting at his piano and singing some slinky lounge-jazz songs that sound jolly but the lyrics are entirely about how much he loves 'boobs',

'you'll believe man can fly'

Throw in surreal elements like 'Morgan Freemond' as a monologuing crab, an Andy Garcia cameo, a swarm of killer mosquitos and a women's talking group which is run with a severe iron fist by Debbie (Vanessa Bayer). It all adds up to far more than the sum of its parts...  

I picked Barb and Star for my B'day film this year - we watched it under the stars in a cosy cinema pod igloo which as superb fun and it really delivered. My wife laughed and grinned throughout and called it a 'joyous romp from start to finish' - hey I'll do the film reviews thanks.

Out of a potential 5 - you have to go with a Darkmatters:


ööööö

(5 - Essential viewing, a joyous romp from start to finish!!)


Awesomeness öööö – Really excellent scripting and plot elevates this romp

Laughs ööö – Darkly funny throughout

Horror ööö – Violent and menace aplenty

Spiritual Enlightenment öö - Can you say 'reprehensible?'


maybe click below to find out about my dark sci-fi novel...

https://www.amazon.co.uk/Complete-Darkness-Darkmatters-Matt-Adcock/dp/0957338775


Saturday, February 27, 2021

Matt hangs out with the New Men (review)

New Men: Bonds of Brotherhood


Mario Dell’Olio (@DellOlioMario)  

Reviewed by Matt Adcock (@cleric20)

“The new men at NAC seemed to be a different breed. There always seemed to be some drama brewing among them. The guys were incredibly forward with their desires and sexual preferences. They called out hypocrisy or any perceived injustice that may have occurred…” 

What happens when the will of ‘God’ and the heart of men collide? Could there be anything better than to be in love in Rome, one of the most romantic cities on the planet? Where though does it leave you if your ‘love’ is regarded with bigotry and disdain by those who you are learning to call ‘brothers’… in the seminary where you are training to be a priest?

So many questions and much to ponder as the destinies of the young men Anthony, Kevin and Miguel are intertwined here in New Men: Bonds of Brotherhood. How does one deal with falling in love with your best friend but having to hide it from the world? For Miguel, in particular, his love comes at a price. Miguel never thought he’d meet the love of his life while studying but when he falls head over heels for the vibrant young woman who greets her life with such a sense of adventure it changes everything.

If you’ve enjoyed the fiction of André Aciman you’re in the right place because much like Call Me By Your Name, New Men is a multi-layered treat.

'everyone's a critic'

Mario Dell’Olio writes with a sizzling mixture of passion, theological insight and heartfelt descriptive skill. He makes what could be a trite ‘the homophobia from the church and society is evil’ message is handled with a light touch and witty tale of idealism and hope. It’s an impressive skill to blend a cross-genre romance that keeps fizzing along whilst bringing plenty of historical fiction, and no small amount of insider knowledge of life in a seminary too.

The struggle of being gay and Catholic is one that doesn’t often get explored in such a backdrop of training for ministry but Dell’Olio blows the doors off the intolerance and hypocrisy that the young heroes find themselves facing. The book is a powerful testament to how those who preach ‘love your fellow man’ don’t like when you take them literally…

I might be a straight guy, but this book was a fascinating romance-against-the-odds and I’d recommend it to anyone who is LGBTQ+ friendly and ideally beyond as there is real spirituality to be found in these pages.

The best seminary set novel I’ve experienced – and that’s from someone who spent 7 years working for a theological college!?

Out of a potential 5 - you have to go with a Darkmatters:

ööööö

(5 - A vital joy of hidden romance and struggle)




Click the banner below to check out some dark sci-fi...

https://www.amazon.co.uk/Complete-Darkness-Darkmatters-Matt-Adcock/dp/0957338775


Wednesday, February 24, 2021

Matt Cares A Lot about I Care A Lot (review)


I Care A Lot (15)


Dir. J Blakeson 

Reviewed by Matt Adcock (@cleric20)

“Caring, sir, is my job, my profession. All I do every day is care…” 

Marla Grayson (the always excellent  Rosamund ‘Gone Girl’ Pike) cares. She cares a LOT but not about the old people she is made the legal guardian of – no what she cares about is money, as she makes clear she want the cash to finance a lifestyle of the super-rich.

How her scam works is that her dubious doctor friend will recommend certain older people can no longer look after themselves and do paperwork to that affect. Marla sweeps into court and is granted licence to ‘look after their interests’ which in her case means selling off their assets while they are detained in a care home – potentially against their wishes.

A “cherry” is an oldie with significant assets but no family but Marla picks the wrong one who turns out to be the mother of the very nasty and scary mafia-type Roman (Peter Dinklage). Cue carnage as the two evils smash head on in a contest of wills, threats, violence and all manner of dastardly deeds…


'she's not kidding'


When Marla realised that the life of her partner and lover, Fran (Eiza González) is at risk the stakes escalate because she hates to lose – no matter the cost. Roman’s mother Jennifer (Dianne Wiest) tells her she is “the worst mistake you’ll ever make” and so the scene is set of the kind of crime craziness that is somewhat reminiscent of the Wachowskis’ Bound.


Brit Director Blakeson delivers a slick and cinematically indulgent ride, keeping the action crisp and the tension frosty. I Care A Lot is a film that you just can’t look away from and as such – a rare treat which would have been great to witness on the big screen!? 


Dinklage is superb channelling more than a little Tyrion - chewing scenery and sucking smoothies – which he is liable to throw at his lackeys when upset. What follows is an extremely fun rollercoaster of thrills, spills and plot twists that is liable to leave you shaken at just how awful people can be…




Highly recommended viewing!


Out of a potential 5 - you have to go with a Darkmatters:

ööööö

(5 - Delicious. dark and masses of fun)

Awesomeness öööö – Really excellent scripting and plot elevates this romp

Laughs ööö – Darkly funny throughout

Horror ööö – Violent and menace aplenty

Spiritual Enlightenment öö - Can you say 'reprehensible?'


click below for some dark scifi reading...

https://www.amazon.co.uk/Complete-Darkness-Darkmatters-Matt-Adcock/dp/0957338775


Sunday, February 21, 2021

Matt lives in a time of DRAGONS (review)

Living in Times of Dragons: The Remnant King Book One

John A Pretorius (@JohnAPretorius1


Reviewed by Matt Adcock (@Cleric20


“I don’t pray a lot for myself. You can say that’s my default setting. I don’t like admitting that I have no control and the events of the past months only underscore this. The idea, the Christian idea, that we have no control over anything has always scared me.” 


Dragons eh? Next to magic might just be the most overused fantasy trope – with seemingly every author putting a dragon into their stories these days to channel the huge fan base these legendary creatures have. So when picking up Living in Times of Dragons I was expecting another standard dragon-em-up mixed with magic and set in an alt near future South Africa. What I got was a fascinating remix of the standard lore, some interesting characters and an injection of Christian faith into the tale too. 


We get to join American ex-pat, father and widower, Roger Rommel – your average guy with issues, one thing is sure though – he didn’t believe in dragons. And so as Pretorius says in his blurb - unfortunately they did not return the sentiment.

Roger finds himself in South Africa after a self-imposed exile and runs headlong into a confrontation with dragons who it turns out are real and want to kill us!? Our ‘hero’ though has something up his metaphorical sleeve - a dream crafting ability which allows him some foresight into the future (although I don’t think he saw the dragon danger). Might he be the one person who can stop them?


Turns out the man vs dragon conflict has been raging for thousands of years old out of sight of most of us and Roger and his son are in serious danger. Who will survive and what will be left of them?


I’ve got to know John a bit on twitter over the last few months – both writing books at the intersection of the spiritual and fantastical gave us pause to check out each other’s tomes. I asked John about his thoughts on writing his, he told me:

 

“The inspiration for my book Living in Times of Dragons is not a linear line, but the basic kernel for it came when I was trying to find a story for private detective I thought up called Roger Rommel.


“The dubiously named Roger was created around the time I began to explore film noir and American detective fiction by the likes of Raymond Chandler, which happened after leaving school. It was also around this time where I first encountered CS Lewis (whom I never read as a child), GK Chesterton and the somewhat forgotten American author James Stoddard, all whom lit a fire in my imagination. Originally I wanted to use Roger for a noir novel with him as protagonist, but that went nowhere. I then began a second, more fantastic novel that I got further in, but which also went nowhere. On and off I tried stories with him and other characters, and those books never got off the ground


'there are all sorts of different dragons!'


“I ended up thinking about the character visiting an office of a rich prospective client, setting up your usual case of dames and blackmail. Roger would get distracted and look out the window, only to see a dragon flap its wings over the Pretoria skyline. After circling, the dragon went to attack them, singling out Roger. This scene does not even appear in the final book or any of its drafts, but it served as the seed for a series projected to be four books long, of which three are in a state of completion.


“Major literary influences are all over the map, but there are three major sources. I was definitely influenced by Lewis' more adult fiction like his Cosmic Trilogy and JRR Tolkien's Lord of the Rings, but it definitely drew its tone from two separate sources: Raymond Chandler's The Big Sleep, and Gene Wolfe's The Book of the New Sun cycle. Like in the latter, the book is written as a memoir of fantastic events, told at a definite time and place for the character, looking back on climactic events in their lives. Only difference is, Wolfe gives a definite ending for his character at the end of the first chapter. The Big Sleep, and Chandler on the whole, was a huge influence on the general tone Roger takes in narrating events..


“The biggest influence was probably GK Chesterton's The Man who was Thursday. Despite being written in the early 1900s, it feels like what you'd get if the Monty Python gang tried to write a Christian allegory in the form of a James Bond parody. A mindscrew of epic proportions, it has many thematic overlay with the Remnant King saga, and also has a character named Doctor Bull for good measure. Although it keeps its meaning oblique, a study of the text indicates that the novel was written out a frame of mind of depression, of someone trying to make sense of a chaotic world.


“Finally, two other influences that are not very apparent, is the Bible, particularly the Book of Job and the Book of Jonah, as Roger is something of an amalgamation of the two, just cast as a detective.”



Living in Times of Dragons does a lot of world-building as it is the first in a planned franchise. I found that at points the dialogue gets very detailed in places which might put off those who enjoy a faster-paced romp. But it weaves an interesting tale and is hopefully the start of series that will ratchet up in pace as it goes on.


Pretorius writes with an interesting style and the book has some great flourishes including a map, some visuals and font play which I’m a fan of so grab the paperback if you have chance. Overall if you’re looking for a modern dragon fantasy – this is a solid addition to the genre that brings enough new thinking to the party to be worth taking a look.





Out of a potential 5 - you have to go with a Darkmatters:

öööö

(4 - Dragons can still be relevant in this remnant)

Click the banner below to check out some dark sci-fi...

https://www.amazon.co.uk/Complete-Darkness-Darkmatters-Matt-Adcock/dp/0957338775

Trigger Warning: Downrange vs Carnage Park

 





Trigger Warning: Downrange vs Carnage Park

The premise of an unseen shooter picking off targets isn't necessarily a new one but it can be an effectively ghastly one. There are a number of films that have elements of this: Netflix’s Red Dot has the titular scene of a couple menaced by the laser sight of a sniper set against a beautiful snowy landscape. Then there’s the sickeningly powerful final third of Full Metal Jacket which sees crack US marines helplessly pinned down by a lone sniper. In Brit thriller Towerblock the plot effectively brings a ‘retribution through sniper’ motiv and Targets back in ’68 riffed on the average guy snaps – buys lots of ammo and starts shooting random people. Let’s not forget the claustrophobic Phone Booth either which took the location and minimised it.

Baddie snipers can be found in Jack Reacher, Dirty Harry films and American Sniper to name but a few. Horror auteur Ti West explore the trope in Trigger Man and there are a seemingly never-ending number of entries in the Sniper movie franchise where it’s the hero with the long barrel gun.

Here though I’m looking at two real gut-punch horror flicks – the ‘new fresh prince of horror’ Mickey Keating’s Carnage Park which my favourite description of is ‘the hills have eyes and they also have a sniper rifle’ and the cinematic tour-de-force and incredibly violent Downrange from Ryûhei Kitamura…

So let our sniper-em-up showdown commence:

 

Downrange (18)

Dir. Ryûhei Kitamura

Reviewed by Matt Adcock (@Cleric20)

“Sergeant, we have a shooter in an elevated position. Request state assistance as soon as possible.”

The fear of the unknown is a primal one. The fear that somewhere in the aforementioned ‘unknown’ is a maniac with a high-powered rifle who wants you dead is even worse… Hold that thought.

Country road trips can be taxing – but they’re generally less fun when you get a tire blowout. Meet Todd (Rod Hernandez) and his girlfriend Sara (Alexa Yeames) a young couple giving a ride to their pals Jodi (Kelly Connaire) and Keren (Stephanie Pearson), Eric (Anthony Kirlew) and Jeff (Jason Tobias). All is fine with flirty banter and small talk until one of their SUV’s tires explodes. As the youngsters struggle to change the tire and Sara tries organise a group selfie a muffled gunshot fizzes out of nowhere blowing most of her head apart.

From that moment on Ryûhei ‘Azumi’ Kitamura's Downrange changes from being just another teen road movie into a nail biting survive-em-up which amps up the tension along with the body count.

'I spy with my little eye...'

The bogeyman sniper is a fearsome enemy. Well positioned, relentlessly accurate and in no hurry to rush through his latest batch of victims. It’s a simple but hugely suspenseful set up that sucks you in with powerful cinematic scenery and likeable victims and won’t let you go until the final girl tries to face down the killer.

There are plenty of other horror tropes mixed such as the ill-fated occupants of another vehicle bearing a family happen along, I don’t fancy their chances... And then the police arrive – will they save the day or are they too going to be walking target meat bags?

'things get a bit out of hand...'

Downrange is a visually visceral experience, it is not a film for the easily shocked or those looking for some light-hearted entertainment.  If you thought Kitamura's nihilistic No One Lives was his darkest work, think again. Here is a sniper bogeyman for the ages, the terror and tension engage on a primal level and the level of savage glee on display is purely disturbing in the best possible way.

Out of a potential 5 - you have to go with a Darkmatters:

öööö1/2

(4.5 - Wrong place, wrong time, grim but fun)


Click the banner below to check out some dark sci-fi...

https://www.amazon.co.uk/Complete-Darkness-Darkmatters-Matt-Adcock/dp/0957338775

 

Carnage Park (18)

Dir. Mickey Keating

Reviewed by Matt Adcock (@Cleric20)

“Well, sir, some folks might get mad... some folks might even wanna take a little revenge. 'Cos idle hands, Well... They're the devil's playground. The Bible says so, so it must be true. But... Either way, out here - there's one thing that's certain. God don't pick no favourites.”

What happens when a deranged Vietnam Vet is left to create his own psychotic ‘carnage park’ in a dusty stretch of hell? Here we have a film that is part ‘true crime’ shot through Tarantino filter – bank heist gone wrong / turns into kidnapping / then goes full gnarly gore-fest.. You have to give props to a film that bears the title card: ‘The film you are about to see is perhaps the most bizarre episode in the annals of American crime.’

'dem country folk have odd ways'

If you’re getting Texas Chainsaw Massacre vibes then you’re on the right (twisted) path. After a monologue from our sniper gun lovin Veteran Wyatt Moss (Pat Healy) we get to join a calamity prone duo of felons named Scorpion Joe (James Landry Hébert) and his partner in crime Lenny (Michael Villar). Lenny’s not doing so good - bleeding out in the backseat of the getaway car whilst unwitting hostage Vivian’s (Ashley Bell) screams echo from the trunk. So far, so Reservoir Dogs, but this is merely a prelude to the insanity and ‘carnage’, which forms the main part of the film.

'get away car'

Vivian is a survivor you see but for a good part of the film its her versus Wyatt in a savage battle of cat-and-mouse shot though with a heavy dose of insanity and some very nasty deaths. The lean, mean plot works to the film's advantage, and the gruesome tour around the killer’s bunker of body filled mineshafts is a hark back to ‘70s massacre films in the same way that Rob Zombie worships those heady days of horror.

Taking a trip to Carnage Park is a rollercoaster of thrills, spills and heavy-duty shocks.

Out of a potential 5 - you have to go with a Darkmatters:

öööö

(4 - Shoot em all - let God sort them out...)


Click the banner below to check out some dark sci-fi...

https://www.amazon.co.uk/Complete-Darkness-Darkmatters-Matt-Adcock/dp/0957338775


Both Downrange and Carnage Park are well worth checking out for those who like to test themselves  – and would make a seriously ‘killer’ double bill!?

 

Sunday, February 07, 2021

Matt isn't himself, Ringer (review)

 

Ringer 

D.T. Wilby (@davidtwilby

Reviewed by Matt Adcock (@Cleric20

“Ultimately, could his replacement do a better job of being him than even he could? Had they copied him verbatim, or was this monster an upgrade? A better friend? A better son? A better lover? The myriad of questions their encounter prompted were both intriguing and disconcerting.” 

What would you do if there was another ‘you’ out there? One that believed it was the ‘real’ you and that you were an imposter. It knows how you think, it can anticipate your reactions and moves and most of all, no-one will know the difference if they meet this ‘other you’… 

I love this concept which I first read in the 1846 novella The Double by Fyodor Dostoyevsky where a man is driven to breakdown when his life is usurped by a doppelgänger – so I was delighted to find a cool sci-fi restyling of this nightmare premise. 

The core premise of D.T. Wilby’s techno-horror Ringer is that a high-tech company might one day be able to create clones of us, a freaky ‘what if’ that worms its way under your skin and grips like a fishhook – tearing through your nerves as it builds to a killer twisty climax. 

Told from the point-of-view of a guy named Will, this is a guy on the edge, suffering night terrors and a fear that something isn’t right. Unfortunately for him, he’s right thing are pretty freakin far from alright.


I asked D.T. Wilby about his writing inspiration for his book. He said: 

“In terms of some background to writing Ringer, I find that a lot of the stuff that I come up with is what I'd call small scale, more 'kitchen sink' sci-fi. It's not about the end of the world, but might be about the end of someone's world. What I like to try and explore is how technology may impact on individuals, both positively and negatively. Another trend I've picked up on in my writing so far is isolating my protagonist, cutting them off from any support network while they deal with the challenges facing them. 

There's also a lot of 'Monster In The House' too, as Save the Cat would have it. The concept of sleep paralysis/night terrors was something that I've never experienced, so it was interesting to explore that. I also wanted to look deeper into the sense of individualism and self - how that will stand up to the technology coming down the tracks, how it could undermine someone mentally to have that sense of uniqueness chipped away at gradually.” 

The good news is that the research has paid off because Ringer is a page-turning sci-fi treat. As the nightmare action cracks along it keeps you on edge throughout. Wilby writes with a compelling narrative and lots of authentic dialogue that doesn’t feel forced. You might not have a full-scale mental breakdown reading this but you’ll sure be entertained by this grim spectacle and you might start to look twice at that person over there who looks a bit like you!?

Out of a potential 5 - you have to go with a Darkmatters:

ööööö (5 - does another you want your life?) 





Read more Sci-fi!! 

Click this banner to find out more about my near future nightmare cyberpunk novel (soon to be a comic too)...



Sunday, January 31, 2021

Matt tries to #stoptheglitch (review)

#stoptheglitch

Chris Malone (@CMoiraM

Reviewed by Matt Adcock (@Cleric20

“The train carriage is filled with people gripping their phones as if their lives depend upon them. Ironically no one is making an actual phone call; it is all internet and social media. Glancing over the legs of the passenger seated across the aisle ahead of me, I marvel at their deft fingers, swiping as if born with the skill.” 

Pause for a minute and imagine if our mobile phones, tablets, consoles and computers couldn’t be trusted. 

Ok stop screaming, it’s not real, (yet) or is it? 

This is the world foreseen/dreamt up by novelist Chris Malone in her kick-ass tech thriller #stoptheglitch. If you want to test your tolerance for how bad things might get – take this trip with the believably resourceful Robin who fights to survive in this nightmare scenario. Aided by some and crossed by others, this oh-so-near-future tale where tech in unreliable and cannot be trusted mixes MPs with codenames (Miranda) with a plucky bunch of conspirators: Glyn the intrepid educator, Thomas and Maria, the brave survivors, the cheerful little Poppy, Gid, the ferocious, Eva, the peace-maker, Nathan, with youth and ingenuity on his side… 

There is also a tangible sense of threat – you think cybercrime won’t affect you? Imagine if it wiped your entire data history, finances and all... Mix it all together and you get a fun and fascinating read which romps along at a good pace. 

I asked Chris for her thoughts about the book and publishing it in this covid-tastic world we find ourselves in. She said: 

'Following the publication of #stoptheglitch, readers have said they like the way in which the pandemic is referenced, but doesn't dominate. As we all rely increasingly on tech solutions to lockdown challenges, #stoptheglitch is particularly relevant. 

'the author wears the glitch'

I have been busy writing a sequel, now complete at the draft stage, which focuses on action following #stoptheglitch and further develops the dynamic between Robin, and Miranda. Imagine post-pandemic campaigners, isolated communities connected by an ethical competitor to Amazon, a hijacked general election, and a heroine who realises she has been living a lie. That's a taste!' 

As a parent of two boys in their early 20’s I know that they would be devastated if the digital realm that currently provides so much of our entertainment, communications and work suddenly glitched out. It’s bad enough if our Wi-Fi goes down for more than a minute at home!? 

But maybe, just maybe there is more to life? How long would it take to put our dependence on modern tech aside? It’s a question that forms a good basis for this mystery that traverses the UK from Oxford to the wilds of Wales. 

Malone writes with clear, business-like prose that is easy to digest but will often leave you pondering what you just read for some time afterwards. #stoptheglitch is a read that will appeal to anyone looking for a book that will entertain and make you want to find out what happens next.

Out of a potential 5 - you have to go with a Darkmatters:

ööööö (5 - fear the glitch) 





Read more Sci-fi!! 

Click this banner to find out more about my near future nightmare cyberpunk novel (soon to be a comic too)...

Wednesday, January 27, 2021

Matt is Raised By Wolves (Season 1 reaction)

 




Raised by Wolves – Season 1 

Reviewed by Matt Adcock (@Cleric20)

‘Alright, now, listen carefully. A malfunctioning android, a Cleric, and a cat walk into a brothel. The malfunctioning android requests an android whore with mechanical skills. The Cleric requests a virgin with the knowledge of the Mithraic mysteries. But the cat... the cat can't decide what to ask for, so he turns to the malfunctioning android and the Cleric and asks for suggestions. The Cleric turns to the malfunctioning android and says, "How is it a cat can speak?" To which the malfunctioning android turns and says, "I am malfunctioning. None of this is actually happening. The cat doesn't exist, and neither do you." To which the Cleric then says, "Thank goodness. For a minute there, I thought I was losing my mind." You see, it's a paradox. I have many jokes tailored for geniuses like yourself. ”' 

I love sci-fi, it’s possibly my fav genre, so eagerly lapped up this HBO series from Ridley Scot the creator of Blade Runner and Alien. As high-concepts go, having a story centre around two androids, Mother (Amanda Collin) and Father (Abubakar Salim), tasked with escaping earth and starting humankind anew on a far-flung world of Kepler-22b is a decent one. 

'come to mummy'

As per many future predictions, we have managed to ravage our home world by going to war over religious disagreement – and now the plan of the Atheists is to try and raise a new colony unbridled by any religion. What follows is a fascinating philosophy-em-up that incorporates many elements from existing theologies, borrows liberally from other sci-fi films and books and blends it all into a compelling mix. 

Some have pondered that Raised by Wolves is actually based on one of the ancient Hebrew apocalyptic texts ‘The Book of Enoch’ that was deemed too wacky to make it into the standard C of E approved Bible. It’s not actually impossible when you look closer… The Book of Enoch features angels that fell from heaven in ‘The Book of the Watchers’ – the ideas around heaven and hell as places of isolation with communion between the inhabitants limited to antipathy such as the passage: "And these spirits shall rise up against the children of men and against the women because they have proceeded from them. From the days of the slaughter and destruction and death of the giants, from the souls of whose flesh the spirits, having gone forth, shall destroy without incurring judgement." etc etc… 

By the end of the series, it doesn’t seem to be a huge stretch to envisage Kepler-22b as some prototype Garden of Eden – especially when you take into account the form that the offspring takes at the end of the series!? 

'we can't help ourselves'

But even this pseudo-religious posturing doesn’t undo what is actually a kick-ass show, the characters are well developed, the danger and threat levels sustained and the possibilities to be explored in season 2 are fascinating to ponder. Mother is set to be an iconic sci-fi character, she certainly was my favourite thing about the series so far. Part battle angel, part nurturing guardian – all ass kick, screams-that-make-you-explode weapon!! It would be quite brilliant if Scott introduces elements from the Alien timeline into this series – both sharing lots of android action and xenomorphic wildlife… 

Raised by Wolves is a great series that I hope gets the chance to run and run – unlike my possibly fav sci-fi show FireFly which never made it past one season…

Out of a potential 5 - you have to go with a Darkmatters:

öööö1/2

(4.5 - Quality sci-fi, much to chew on)

Awesomeness öööö – Spectacular set-pieces and general high narrative production

Laughs ööö – Father brings the funny

Horror öööö – Violence and scary stuff in places

Spiritual Enlightenment öö - God is the cause of all problems?


click below for some dark sci-fi reading...

https://www.amazon.co.uk/Complete-Darkness-Darkmatters-Matt-Adcock/dp/0957338775

Monday, January 18, 2021

Matt finds himself Stuck That Way (review)

 


STUCK THAT WAY AND OTHER QUANDARIES

Julie Kusma (@JulieKusma

Reviewed by Matt Adcock (@Cleric20

‘Huge chunks of fleshy meat covered the bottom of the tub. Sawed bone protrude, and muscle and veins dangled from the edges of the hacked carcass…’ 

I love a good spooky short story – so what better than a collection of them like: Stuck That Way and Other Quandaries which contains several. These short tales of terror were initially published in multiple pieces (bit like the fates of some characters) when the author Julie Kusam (who is known as The Queen of Horror) was a content writer for an online publisher. 

I asked her how it came about and what her inspirations were – she said: 

‘I compiled several, adding an unpublished piece, and created this paranormal, horror collection. The title story, “Stuck That Way” is based on a conversation I had with a friend. We were discussing energy, chakras, and one’s ability to control their personal vibrational quality. I wondered, what if in the afterlife you become manifest corporeally when your frequency slows? This story is full of spiritual irony, with a playful dose of the age-old adage about making an ugly face and getting stuck that way.

The second story, “Something Lurking” is based on the woods behind my house and the strange behaviour my dog often displays at night. I’ve heard noises emanating from the woods. It can be frightening on starless nights because one never knows what might be lurking.

“By Induction” is a personal favourite based on the magical practice of freezing individuals out of your life. Except the main character’s belief in her power to affect life while ignoring life leaves her most significant impact yet. Irony is one of my favourite literary tropes. 

'ho ho ho...'

“That’s Creepy, Santa!” is the fourth short story, and yes, it is horror. So, if you’ve never read a Christmas horror story, you’re in for a scary treat. A couple, excited to spend Christmas Eve home alone, finds an unexpected present left at their front door, and what waits inside has different plans for their evening.

“Relevant Evidence” is a story written around contest parameters, which included someone who gets lost and cannot find their way back, and a sock. This story popped in my head. I didn’t make the final round, but I ended up with an interesting story and an unusual POV. The final short story is 

“Devilish Games” and was inspired by an antique chair adorned with brass devils. This piece of furniture became the basis for this story as I wondered if an ancient god could become trapped inside an object. You’ll have to read it to see.’ 

I enjoyed my read through these tales – each brings its own unnerving vibe and all are worth a look. My favourite was ‘That’s Creepy, Santa!’ which brings some festive bloodshed to the mix. Julie writes with a direct style which can creep you out with a minimum of fuss or any need for bloated prose.
 
Whatever your personal fav way to get scared, there is likely to be something here to tingle your spine. Some of the stories are stronger than others but this short anthology is worth seeking out for all those who relish the darkness that can make the synaptic jump from a page to the imagination.

Out of a potential 5 - you have to go with a Darkmatters:

ööööö (5 - feel the darkness!) 





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Monday, January 11, 2021

Matt meets The Wolf Master of Iron Mountain (review)



The Wolf Master of Iron Mountain (The Witch of Appalachia Book 1) 

Francesca Quarto  (@FrancescasMagic)

Reviewed by Matt Adcock (@Cleric20)

‘My father was a Celtic Mage, a wizard, by any other name, a practitioner of Magic. He was versed in the secret arts of the ancient mystics and the healing powers of the Green Mother.’ 

Meet Cathleen O'Brien – a 24year old who hails from an Irish immigrant family. Along with her dog Ollie, she as something else that sets her apart from others, her father inducted her a clan of Celtic Mages with Magical roots going back to the Dark Times. So not your average young woman… 

After she is left some money, Cathleen takes over WHIP Radio, a station serving the remote ex-mining town of ‘Iron Mountain.’ It quickly becomes apparent though that something isn’t right amongst the old Appalachian town’s populace. Before long, an uneasy and slightly sinister vibe hangs over this beautiful mountain setting and Cathleen seems to be drawn into the mix. A late-night confrontation with a roaming gang of wolves is just the start of this adventure… 

'beware the woods'

Could it be something to do with the stories of how town folk and visitors often disappear off the local trail? When Cathleen investigates, she discovers the hunky town sheriff, Jason who seems very keen to help. Together they work to uncover the secrets behind the shadow of violence that hangs over the town. The historic Indian Folklore about werewolves in the area seems like it might be pertinent. However, there are things that make Cathleen wonder if her trust and attraction for Jason are a mistake. Might he be the ‘Wolf Master’ and if so what is his plan? 

The fantasy elements are handled really nicely – with shaman and giants in the cast along with monsters… The romance is zippy enough to not get your hackles up if you are worried it might all be a bit Twilight? Cathleen’s Celtic Mage background and powers are fascinating – in a Spiderman-like way she lives a mostly normal life, keeping her talents hidden. But what if she’s not alone in hiding beyond human powers – who can she trust as the body count rises along with the danger… 

Wolf Master of Iron Mountain is a very readable book that should appeal to all readers from young adult upwards and would make for a great TV show!!

Out of a potential 5 - you have to go with a Darkmatters:

ööööö (5 - A fantasy trip worth taking!) 





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Friday, January 08, 2021

Matt faces Death - Grinns and Bears It (review)

 


Death, Just Grinn and Bear It

Christopher Hooley (@ChrisHooley2020)

Reviewed by Matt Adcock (@Cleric20)

‘What do you mean I’m dead?’ said the half-naked corpse hanging from the ceiling. ‘Well… I don’t really know another way of putting this so try and keep up, you’re dead. Wait actually this is another way of staying it… your life has ended…. How about this? Your time is up?’

Dear reader – thank you for your application to become a Grinn and Bear It representative, we are a well-established business which is thriving despite, or maybe even because of the current unstable situation the world finds itself in.

Death is the universal, it was what Disney referred to as ‘a tale as old as time’ – oh wait – according to my legal team that might not actually be true. But death is certainly something of a growth business that’s for sure. I’d like to introduce you to Jack, he’s one of our employees and he’ll be your buddy / guide as you get to know the job.

Jack: ‘Hey reader, you’re going to love this well-paid job, being a ‘Grinn and Bear It’ rep is what’s more commonly known as a ‘Grimm reaper’. Think of it as the ultimate afterlife induction facility – simplified to just picking which door you want to step through into eternity…’

'Don't feat the reaper'

The mastermind behind this whole set-up is the literary deviant Christopher Hooley who has taken a winning idea and written up some kind of adventure that is not far from the wonderful tomes of Douglas Adams. Getting to meet characters at their deaths makes for a fun and somewhat poignant ride. If you’re a prude, then best note that there is an adult tale, and the adult characters do adult sexy things to each other, there is all sorts of sweaty sensual ‘action’, oh they also cuss in realistic ways so be aware of what you’re getting into!?

One might call Death, Just Grinn and Bear It a rom-tragi-com with spooky overtones (due to the sheer subject matter). It’ll make you laugh, it might make you cry and it will certainly keep you amused and engaged throughout.

Hooley is great writer, shaping his tale with more thought and nuance than the outlandish plot devices might initially warrant. If you enjoy the macabre end of contemporary fiction – sprinkled with some spice and wrapped around a heart - this really should be your next read!

Out of a potential 5 - you have to go with a Darkmatters:

ööööö (5 - Choose the door marked 'READ THIS BOOK') 





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Friday, January 01, 2021

Matt feels the love of the XENOCHRIST (review)


XENOCHRIST (Of Man & Machine) 

N.H. Weber (@NHWWrites

Reviewed by Matt Adcock (@Cleric20

‘…the screen was cracked in multiple spots and barely lit. There were no images visible, just an old tech cursor flashing in place and one word repeating in place across the text field, "Hell?”’

XENOCHRIST is a great hard-boiled sci-fi/cyberpunk thrill ride set in the year 2503. 
We get to hang out with Kravac Alntar and Wixspin Atlicke two corporate pals who are struggling to deal with the apparent suicide of one of their closest business partners (and friends) Volz Shimmel. The plot amps up as the two leads investigate the untimely death, was her suicide an accident? If not why did she want to die? And maybe more importantly - why is her data drive playback a vision of Hell?

Kravac and Wixspin are likeable double act but even more fun is their sometime companion - the heavily armed battle bot X-5 or ‘Fives’ as he’s known. Fives is a superb ass-kicking robo who deserves his own spin off! Weber writes with style and has a knack for building cyber-worlds. If you’re a fan of cyber action virtual reality adventures - think The Matrix meets a trippier Blade Runner - you’ve come to the right party. 

"this is Five's brother surely'

Encompassing weird and wonderful ‘Deep Web’ entities, a massive conspiracy involving rebel operatives, religious fanatics in a closed-off country (as a result of a FOUNDATION / Unification War) and a personal army of enhanced soldiers hunting for our two heroes means that there is never a dull moment. But none of these are the threat level of the being called Xenochrist. Kravac & Wixspin tale becomes one of survival at all costs as their paths cross with new allies as well as a host of enemies. 

What we have then is a unique treatise on what does it actually mean to be human, where does an AI entity cross into our physical realm and even - is there a god or deity, and if so what is the criteria for being one, and if one does exist is it truly a good, moral, and just deity or can they be some malicious entity? 

For those only looking for a quick easy read, XENOCHRIST isn’t that, this is a book which requires dedication and tolerance of heavy-duty sci-fi. My advice is to step up for this metaphysical adventure and then look forward to revisiting this world again when Nate Weber brings his next novel Lord of Poison out later this year. 

Out of a potential 5 - you have to go with a Darkmatters:

ööööö (5 - Let the XENOCHRIST into your life!) 





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Monday, December 28, 2020

Darkmatters Top 10 FIlms 2020

 


Matt’s Top Ten Films 2020




10. Color Out of Space

Director Richard ‘Dust Devil’ Stanley is a fascinating guy. After making the superb robo-terror flick Hardware and following up with an excellent supernatural serial killer in Dust Devil he got fired from the troubled H.G. Wells adaptation of The Island of Dr Moreau in 1996. He hasn’t made a film since. But now he’s back and he’s come back strong with a freak0ut sci-fi horror based on a weird short story by H.P. Lovecraft.

"the remake of 'The Colour Purple' was extreme'

Color Out of Space is a cosmic tale of what happens when a meteor lands in the grounds of ex-artist Nathan Gardner (Nic ‘Mandy’ Cage)’s rural alpaca farm. The titular ‘Color’ is slowly unleashed and proves to be an extra-terrestrial organism that spreads madness and violence.

The results are a mash-up of grisly body-horror and psych-out – shot through with laugh-out-loud humour. Basically, this is a perfect Friday night entertainment. 




9. The Droving

When Martin (Daniel ‘Hex’ Oldroyd) returns from the military to search for his missing sister Meg (Amy Tyger), he gets caught up in a strange traditional folk festival called 'The Droving', nothing good can come of it…

Based on the actual Winter Droving event that takes place in Penrith – this newest entry into the growing Folk-em-up horror genre that includes classics like The Wicker Man and Midsommer adds some revenge motive violence to the mix.

'stunning use of scenery'

As the second feature from indy production company Rubicon Films, this is an exciting slice of high tension that slow burns with a voodoo menace right up until the occult climax. Other reviewers have cited the excellent Dead Man’s Shoes as a reference point and I totally get that, I’d add Ben Wheatley’s Kill List too.



8. Mank 

Gary Oldman delivers a screen-eating performance as Herman ‘Mank’ Mankiewicz, spitting cynical wisecracks from his motel bed, where he is holed up with a broken leg, trying to finish the screenplay for Citizen Kane. Fincher brings his A-Game loading the cast with excellent female talent too such as long-suffering wife (a great turn from Tuppence Middleton), his female muse Marion Davies (Amanda Seyfried) and Rita Alexander (Lily Collins), the prim British secretary assigned to take his dictation. 

'harsh audience'

It’s an irresistibly watchable film, told with a heartfelt drama as Mank struggles first with his creation whilst often under the influence and then to get his ‘writer’ credit on the final production. Let this film take you back to a golden era of Hollywood and it’ll warm the soul of any creatives out there! 



7. How to Build A Girl

This year’s diamond in the rough comedy-drama is set on a Wolverhampton council estate in the 1990s - which I was not expecting… Telling the tale of sixteen-year-old Johanna (Beanie ‘Book Smart’ Feldstein) loves her family but is desperate to outgrow the confines of secondary school. Things look up when she’s hired by a prestigious, male-run music magazine, but she has to reinvent herself with the pen name ‘Dolly Wilde’ - a flame-haired uber harsh critic in a top hat and corset. 

'this is me...'

Johanna might live in council-housing ignominy in the British Midlands with a feckless father (the always awesome Paddy Considine), a postnatally depressed mother (Sarah Solemani) and her confused brother. But the film flies when Feldstein riffs on the material - and there is an excellent Carter USM poster in one scene that made me grin! 


6. Queen & Slim

As Empire says: ‘Of all the films released in 2020, Queen & Slim was perhaps the 2020-est.’ It’s the tale of Queen (Jodie Turner-Smith) and Slim (Daniel Kaluuya) who meet on a Tinder date and get plunged into a nightmare when a cop pulls them over. 

'on the wrong end of police attention'

Queen & Slim deals in brutality, injustice and beauty amidst an exciting and heart-breaking exposure of an all too authentic feeling Black experience. Packed with stunning visuals this is a road movie with a ton of heart.




5. TENET

Christopher Nolan tore up the rule book of plotting with this spy-em-up palindromic pulse-pounder / brain-scrambler. A super smart and slightly feverish time-travel action flick that delivered some unforgettable set pieces which simultaneously blew the doors off and threw down the gauntlet to the dormant-Bond franchise.


'I can vouch this is a great place for a honeymoon btw'

The cast go about the rum time-bending business with aplomb - lots of credit to David Washington, Robert Pattinson, Elizabeth Debicki and even Michael Caine, and Kenneth Branagh. Tenet is a film that can be enjoyed even more when watched again and is another excellent addition to the Nolan-verse of thrillers. 




4. The Lighthouse

Seafarer beware the beguiling light of The Lighthouse – this new tale of sinister goings-on, superstition and madness from Director Rober ‘The VVitch’ Eggers is salty fare.
Telling the tale of two Lighthouse keepers or ‘wickies’ who both have dark secrets. Ephraim Winslow (Robert Pattinson) is a broken former lumberjack, whilst the grizzled experienced keeper Thomas Wake (Willem Dafoe) seems to be unnaturally possessive of the upper light chamber... This mismatched duo must man the lighthouse on a strange grey islet off the coast of late-19th-century New England, but all might not be so straight forward as the last assistant wickie killed himself citing influence from bad omens and enchantments. 

'secrets and lies'

Folk tales work when the set-up is simple, but the underbelly is deep, packed with creeping dread, unnatural events and sights and sounds that will unnerve you. The Lighthouse is a brilliant but very odd film, presented in black and white on 35mm – immediately evoking David Lynch’s 1977 cult classic Eraserhead. The similarities don’t end there as both films take the viewer on a sensory assault, where at times you don’t even really know quite what’s going on…



3. Bad Boys for Life 

The infamous Bad Boys are back in town some 25 years since Bad Boys hit the cinema. Much has changed since then but this 3rd outing is kinda awesome in that it brings the wise-cracking, whiz-bang buddy cop formula up-to-date and makes it feel fresh again for whole new audience.

The 'boys' are back...

Of course, that’s not entirely true, as a huge fan of the original I’m sensing that the record-breaking box-office of this threequel is largely due to many other like me who have been waiting to see Mike
(Will Smith) and Marcus (Martin Lawrence) hit the streets again.



2. Jo Jo Rabbit

World War II really wasn’t a laughing matter but Taika ‘Hunt For The Wilderpeople’ Waititi somehow manages to deliver a superbly funny WW2 satire that tells the tale of lonely Hitler Youth enthusiast Jojo (Roman Griffin Davis). Jojo lives with his wildly independent single mother (Scarlett Johansson) in Germany as the end of the war approaches – and he is aghast to find out his mum is hiding a young Jewish girl (Thomasin McKenzie) in their attic. 

"if you're Nazi and you know it - jump"

Jojo has a secret, an idiotic imaginary friend, Adolf Hitler himself no less (played by Waititi) – who stokes the young lad’s ideological indoctrination. 

This comic Nazi-em-up might sound like being in poor taste but it goes full-throttle hilarious from the off and you’ll be caught up in the infectious madness before you know it. The premise is liable to make viewers uncomfortable as it makes fun of the horrific fascism, but clever writing is spot on and makes lots of really good points about the horror of war.



1. Possessor Uncut

The boundary between jaw-dropping sci-fi and freak-out horror is one that this extreme psychological thriller bursts through with style. One of the single most disturbing and brilliant viewing experience I’ve had for ages. Directed by son of the body-horror maestro David ‘Videodrome’ Cronenberg, Possessor a seriously unsettling contract-killer-em-up that delves into the psyches of people - expounding human nature in all its brutality. You see in the near future we have the ability to commandeer the minds of anyone and use them to commit crimes. 

'interlinked'

Andrea Riseborough is Tasya Vos, the best mind jumping killer out there - but she’s losing her grip much to the concern of her supervisor Girder (Jennifer Jason Leigh). When her next Colin Tate (Chris Abbott) manages to fight back control of his body and vow vengeance on her after his girlfriend Ava (Tuppence Middleton) and her father John Parse (Sean Bean) are targeted - things get very grim...

Do not approach if witnessing ultra-violence isn’t something you can do - Possessor is a pitch-black darkness that will haunt you after viewing. Highly recommended!





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