DARKMATTERS - The Mind of Matt

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

Read my novel: Complete Darkness

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Sunday, March 29, 2020

New Netflix Films: The Platform vs Mark of the Devil

The Platform (18)

Dir. Galder Gaztelu-Urrutia

Reviewed by Matt Adcock (@cleric20)

“On those high levels you can eat anything you want, but you don't have anything to wait for. Your mind runs wild…”

Welcome to the future. By the way, what is your favourite food? This is one of the main questions asked when you’re assigned (or volunteer for credit) to be incarcerated in a new high-tech prison. Divided into many vertical levels – those at the top get the pick from a huge banquet of food on a levitating platform that moves slowly downwards. As the platform drops, so does the amount of food left and those in the lower levels get nothing – cannibalism is rampant.

If you imagine Bong Joon-ho’s Snowpiercer crossed with Ben Wheatley’s High-Rise you’ll get some idea of the madness on offer here. Director Urrutia goes full ‘dystopian-nightmare’ staring into the gruesome brutal outworking of our inherent selfishness – be warned it gets very violent.

We join Goreng (Ivan Massagué), whose favourite food is snails, signs up to a term in the prison in order to be granted a qualification, he chooses to bring a book with him. His cell mate Trimagasi (Zorion Eguileor) however, brings in a knife – this might not end well for one of them.
The Platform feels very timely in our current panic buying nightmare world. If we heed the message of each of us just taking our share – then there will be enough for all. But survival is at stake here – can human greed be overcome to send a message back to those in control? This is decent sci-fi fare for those willing to test themselves.

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


(3.5 - Future penal justice through food)

Mark of the Devil (15)

Dir. Diego Cohen

Reviewed by Matt Adcock (@cleric20)

“Did you read the incantation?”

Meet Karl (Eivaut Rischen), a man who suffered and supposedly ‘died’ after being possessed by a demon as a child – 30 years later he makes a living as a bad-ass exorcist – apparently packing some demonic superpowers to boot. In Mark of the Devil he has to team up with a junkie priest named Tomás (Eduardo Noriega) when two sisters read aloud from the Necronomicon (yep that book from The Evil Dead and H.P. Lovecraft) – and all sorts of very average devilry ensues.

There is little new in this Mexican horror – the possessed get violent, speaks in ancient tongues, cough up blood etc. It feels like there is a good movie in here trying to get out but alas it all builds up to possibly the lowest budget battle with Satanic forces ever to grace even the small screen.

Horror fans might appreciate some of the creepy cinematic elements but this is one most people can happily avoid.

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


(1.5 - Limited horror thrills)

Click this image for some great dark sci-fi reading !!

– Read what other people are saying about COMPLETE DARKNESS (here)

Monday, March 16, 2020

Matt is a deplorable in The Hunt (review)

The Hunt

Dir. Craig Zobel

Reviewed by Matt Adcock (@cleric20)

“Did you see that article? Every year these liberal elites kidnap a bunch of normal folks like us, and hunt us for sport.”

In these trying times when toilet paper seems to be worth more than gold bullion, here’s a refreshing and insanely gory distraction from the madness of real life. The Hunt is a fiendish, funny, clever and
very dark satire that takes the old ‘rich people paying to hunt poor people’ scenario and injects it with some adrenaline.

"a new action hero in the making"

Director Craig ‘Compliance’ Zobel (also from Westworld, Leftovers and American Gods shows) goes all out unleashing the worst of human behaviour. Before you can say ‘oh an adult hunger games’ a group of working-class Americans labelled ‘deplorables’ awake after being drugged and transported to some eastern European wilderness. They find a crate with weapons but rather than fight between themselves they must try and survive being hunted by better armed ‘liberal elites’ who are paying for the chance to shoot those less fortunate than themselves.

The action is intense, extremely violent and well-crafted – there are some deaths here that you may never forget and horror fans craving bloodshed get plenty to feast on. But The Hunt isn’t really a horror movie – it’s a fast-moving action flick that introduces a superb girl-power heroine to turn the tables on the rich scumbags.

"The poor get no voice"

Crystal (Betty Gilpin) is excellent. Imagine a kind of female John McClane - cool, resourcefully deadly, and quick with a wisecrack. She is the deplorables secret weapon and watching her take the fight back to the elites is a total joy to behold.

Sure the violence is gratuitous but the constant threat of really nasty death keeps the stakes and body count high. The writers do a good job of messing with your expectations and there are some
deliciously paranoid ‘who, if anyone, can trust’ scenes.

The supporting cast have fun in their short-lived roles many with fun names like Vanilla Nice (Sturgill Simpson), Staten Island (Ike Barinholtz) and Yoga Pants (Emma Roberts). And Hilary Swank is great as the big baddie Athena – her one on one fight with Crystal is a classic, set in a well-stocked kitchen.

"Who can you trust?"

The Hunt has angered rightwingers in the States, even Trump himself and the marketing of the film uses the controversy to its benefit. It might be dangerous to venture out to the cinema at the moment but The Hunt is worth the trip if you’re in need of some violent escapism!

"Look out baddies"

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


(5 - Excellent dark action horror fun)

Awesomeness ööööö – Lots of pure class(war) scenes

Laughs ööö – Darkly humourous

Horror öööö – Gets grim in places

Spiritual Enlightenment ööö - Shoot your neighbour?

Click this image for darker sci-fi !!

– Read what other people are saying about COMPLETE DARKNESS (here)

Sunday, March 08, 2020

Matt visits the Greenhills (review)

Tales from the Greenhills – Tommy Dywer 2 weeks in the summer of ’76

Terry Melia (@FromGreenhills)

Reviewed by Matt Adcock (@cleric20)

“his mum told my mum he woke up screaming every night for a week afterwards…”

Choose life, choose 1970’s Liverpool, choose a social realist coming of age tale, choose music, hanging out, sex and drugs… Tales from the Greenhills is a killer trip fusing love, violence and friendship into a pure “must read” nostalgia hit.

Meet Tommy Dwyer a young scallywag trying to survive on the mean streets of his urban hometown of Liverpool. It’s 1976 and life dealing Tommy some tough breaks. His working-class family is dysfunctional, money is tight, his best pal is his dog Butch and his girlfriend has left him. Worse still is the lurking danger of gangs roaming the streets, dealing drugs and smashing faces – this is a powerful, raw and compelling trip to a recent past that channels the ‘This is England’ vibe.

"the only reason I'd thought about Liverpool '76 before now...'

Melia writes with a concise and cool narrative style; at times it almost feels like a diary of reminisces. The details feel ‘lived through’ and whilst not political it makes a great insight into how the world was back in the days before the internet, social media etc.

The best stories give you either characters that you care about and / or a world that fascinates and engages you. Tommy’s adventures in the Greenhills blends both these and explores themes of love and loss, growing up, crime and redemption, as well as masculinity, guilt, peer-pressure and morality.
I really enjoyed the pop references, e.g. the reactions to The Exorcist (see opening quote) and some zen-like philosophy picked up on a Welsh camping trip. There is much to enjoy in this novel and I’ll be keen to see what Terry Melia writes next.

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


(5 - ‘Liverpool gets its Trainspotting...)


Click this image for some darker future fiction

Monday, March 02, 2020

Matt feels the Color Out of Space (review)

Color Out Of Space (15)

Dir. Richard Stanley

Reviewed by Matt Adcock (@Cleric20)

“Alpacas – the animal of the future…”

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.

"a new kind of car advert?"

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. I caught this at the gorgeous old-school London ‘Screen on the Green’ cinema and the crowd lapped it up whooping and cheering at the crazed on screen antics. Only getting a limited cinema run, this is a film to seek out on streaming channels or disc and watch with your favourite tipple in hand.

"Cage mode engaged"

The sinister effects of the space color slowly permeate the farm - mutant flowers spring up, alien insects spawn, blood-like water drips from the taps and a very grotesque tribute to ‘The Thing’ but with alpacas rather than dogs happens in the barn.

Cage leads the line for humanity as only he can. His bug-eyed patented crazed look was made for plots like this. He’s given great support from Joely Richardson who plays his wife and especially Madeleine Arthur as his daughter who thinks pagan rites might ward off the alien color.
Probably not for those of a sensitive disposition, or anyone who really doesn’t like sci-fi weirdness.

I found Color out of Space however to be a stone-cold cult classic that really delivers on the slimy dread. It’s been said that Lovecraft’s tales are pretty much ‘unfillable’ – and this one in particularly as it has descriptions like ‘It was just a colour out of space - a frightful messenger from unformed realms of infinity beyond all nature as we know it’ but Stanley has somehow pulled it off in style.

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


(5 - Full metal freak out)

Awesomeness ööööö – Five star alien invasion

Laughs ööö – Darkly humourous

Horror öööö – Disturbing and icky

Spiritual Enlightenment öö - super weird, don't judge until you've tried it

Click this image for darker sci-fi !!

– Read what other people are saying about COMPLETE DARKNESS (here)

Matt gets Possessed (review) Matt Hunter Book 4


by Peter Laws (@revpeterlaws)

Published by Allison & Busby

Reviewed by Matt Adcock (@Cleric20)

“I thought it was a trick of the Devil. An illusion…”

Demon’s eh? Always causing bother with their horrible head-spinning, blaspheming and swearing coupled with green vomiting hijinks – not really the sort you want possessing you or anyone you know… So, when the UK is hit with an upturn in demonic possession (not actually linked to Brexit) some religious types go mental trying to do DIY casting out these evil demonic entities. But what if the poor folk claiming to be possessed are actually just experiencing mental health issues and are much in need of medical assistance than holy hands?

And where there are confused and mentally unstable individuals, there are often US Pastors looking to cash in – which is very much the case in this brilliantly messed up murder-em-up. Fortunately Possessed sees the return of stoic Professor Matt Hunter (sceptic hero of Peter Laws’ three previous dark crime thrillers) a maverick former minister who lost his faith and helps police investigate religious tinged crimes.

Hunter is called in when a blood-soaked naked man is discovered with the name Baal-Berith carved into his flesh – is this guy an innocent possessed by an ancient evil? Or has he maybe been confused by the ramblings of a deluded local pastor craving more than his local church existence? Whatever the truth it certainly seems like the spirit of blasphemy and murder is out and about as the body-count rises and the media get involved leading to a climactic first live TV ‘mass exorcism’.

I’ve been a fan of the Matt Hunter novels so far but Possessed is absolutely the best yet. Laws has really found his literary groove, his prose flows easily and the plot cracks along with a hard-to-resist page turning pull. It’s not overkill to call this God Tier / next level - 5 star dark crime fiction that will please horror, crime and even religiously open-minded folk (there must be some)…

'Graphic novel version?'

Possessed keeps the tension high and the core ‘is it all in their minds – or might it be real?’ question front and centre. Those who have journeyed with Hunter so far have a real treat on their hands as they will understand the rabbit references and more. Whilst those jumping in at this 4th entry should be able to enjoy it almost as much without the back-reference knowledge.

Refreshing, bold and unforgettable – Possessed is superb, highly recommended reading for those willing to face the darkness!

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


(5 - The power of Christ compels you to read this)...


Read the Darkmatters review of Purged (Matt Hunter book 1)

Read the Darkmatters review of Unleashed (Matt Hunter book 2)

Read the Darkmatters review of Severed (Matt Hunter book 3)

Click this image for some dark sci-fi fiction