I’m sure La Cueva doesn’t mean In Darkness We Fall, but what would film industry be without inspired translations of films? I wish this was my only complain in the review of the second film I saw during this year’s London Film Festival. But it’s not. The title isn’t even a problem when you think about this film, or rather, this too-long footage of people crawling around in a cave. I thought everyone was bored with found footage anyway, but I guess this is what’s called the circle of life- it begins with Rec (I know it doesn’t, it begins with Blair Witch Project or even earlier) and ends (hopefully!) with La Cueva. And I’m a fan of found footage horror.

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Before I get to the review itself, I just want to say that this year’s London Film Festival line-up is brilliant. People have probably been trying to tell you that for a long time, but I just want to confirm that you will not regret spending money on it this year. It’s the best line-up ever.

Now, back to La Cueva. I used to watch a lot of horror films and horror used to be my second favourite genre after genreless films. In the recent years, however, I have been living in England, where horrors don’t seem to get distributed as often as they do in Poland. So I missed a lot, a lot of films. My summers were sad and my DVD collection shrunk to pale sentiments. So I’m not very up-to-date with what’s good and new in horror genre. But I can bloody say when I see a film which just can’t be bothered to entertain.

Yes, horrors are all about entertainment. It might be a weird form of entertainment, but it’s comparable to a rollercoaster. So when a film which is supposed to belong to this genre is pure boring for the majority of it, it just fails to fulfil the major requirement. And I pass. La Cueva is boring.

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And I know what you’re going ti say- Blair Witch Project is kind of boring, too. And Paranormal Activity. To be honest, a lot of people are skeptical about found footage horror because most of them are pretty boring. But hey- Blair Witch Project is still entertaining. It’s short enough for us to care about what’s happening and so weird that we stay on the edge of our seats throughout trying to figure out what exactly happened. And yes, the characters are annoying, but they’re annoying because they’re scared. We can tell that we would probably act the same. And they are trying to do something. They are thinking. Whereas in La Cueva, this is the major issue. Our ‘heroes’ do not think.

I’m sorry, I have no empathy for someone who is basically begging to get into trouble. So we have a group of friends…or no, let’s actually start from the very beginning.

At the beginning the camera is normal. There’s none of this found footage crap. Just a normal camera showing us around an unidentified scenery of water and trees. And then the tents! The tents are empty! CUT!

And off to hand-held camera film. Why? Why even bother with the beginning? Ok, I know the end does it, too. But why? There’s really no point whatsoever. So now, we are stuck with our annoying bunch and by annoying I mean, holy shit, let me out annoying. For a very long time we have to watch them party, and they party hard so we get all the gross details we don’t need to see. I literally saw someone’s asshole. And if it wasn’t a Lars Von Trier’s film, there’s no excuse for that sort of closeness.

They drink, they drink and they smoke pot. They throw up and they have sex and they prank each other and it’s all very…boring. Yes, it’s really boring because I don’t know them and I was promised a horror film so kill someone please?

Finally the hangovered morning comes and one of them (Jaco? I think) says, hey guys there’s a big cave let’s go. Ok, few things here:

it’s a cave you don’t know anything about. Will it collapse? Should you take something with you? How far are you planning to go into it? Should you actually make some sort of plan?

This is where I lose my hope. Our heroes just get up and go. They have:

a couple of flashlights, a phone, and half a bottle of water.

They wear:

whatever I’m wearing right now.

And that’s why I have no sympathy. yes, do die. I will be very shocked if you don’t. Who does that? And guess what, they just continue walking into the depth of the cave that seem to go on forever! They also go through the thinnest crevasses the cave has to offer and at some point one of them says, hey does anyone know where we are? Maybe we should just go back? But Jaco says, no, no, let’s go I know everything (HOW?) and they just blindly follow him (WHY??)

And then they finally realise that they are getting really tired, one of the girls (Bego? I think) is hangovered as hell and let’s go back guys whoops we’re lost. Because we didn’t mark the fucking route. Also, we have no water and our flashlights are kind of crap. So hey, how about dying?

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But they don’t die just yet. First we have to crawl with them around the cave, some bad parody of Blair Witch Project and then listen to Bego dying unglamourously making a sound of Frodo dying in the scene where he gets stabbed by the Nazgul. Apparently this is what dehydration sounds like.

People get irritated, especially Jaco who turns out to be some sort of psychopath who doesn’t like anyone and wants everyone dead so I have no idea wht he hanged out with this bunch at the beginning. Finally he suggests they draw shoelaces and sacrifice someone for the good of all. The other girl, Celia, the only girl with some sort of motifs, protests but they do it anyway and Bego gets killed and eaten. What comes after is just a mess. There’s simply no reason why these people had been friends before what happens to them and we are just glad the film is leading to its end.

La Cueva is pointless, boring and badly made, but it’s biggest problem lies in the script- it’s a mockery of real found footage horror films and the characters are flat as my feelings towards this film. It will be forgotten.

I’ve mentioned to you before that my plan was to broaden the victims of my reviews to books and now it’s the perfect time, since I’ve just received a novel I would never buy to review. But instead of doing it like I did before, in a quick, tradition way, I have decided to spend some time on it and give you a much more detailed look into it. And this is just the first book of many because I’m starting a new section on Midnight Review. It’s called I Read Because I Can because I couldn’t come up with anything better.

The idea of reviewing books in this way is inspired by an amazing blog, Zombie Samurai which you can only read if you’re Polish. It’s hilarious, witty and covers important life issues, but every so often Paweł Opydo, its writer and editor, sits down over a bad book and does a live stream review of it. I’m not doing a live stream (yet!), but I will give you my reactions as I read the book instead of looking back at it. What do you think? It’s like reading but annoying.

Now something about the book- I have no idea who Kathy Reichs is and I don’t know if this is a part of the series of some sort. I don’t read crime and yes, I am just a little prejudiced towards it, but hey! Maybe I will be nicely surprised. So let’s begin!

6:18      I open the book and first thing I see is the list of ‘Other Books by the Author’. I mean, ho-ly shit. Kathy Reichs clearly never sleeps. The list is too long to be bothered to count the books but it includes such titles as Bare Bones, Cross Bones, Bones to Ashes, Break No Bones, Devil Bones, Bones Are Forever, Spider Bone…I see a pattern emerging…

6:20     “The air was cool and smelled of sun-dried leaves- I assumed”.

               So did it or not? I mean, what’s there to assume? Are there leaves? Has she ever smelled one? Well, I assume she knows then if this is or this isn’t the smell you’re smelling.

6:25      “No problem”- Except for the kettledrums in my ears and the fire in my throat”.

               She’s a dragon.

6:26      “I glanced at the wall clock. 7:58. Seriously? Only I had arrived on time?”

                Who arranges a meeting to start at 7:58?

6:29        Ok, now we finally got some background. She, meaning the main character and the narrator, works as a forensic (I think) at the Crime department of Police station with a long name like they always do in the US. She deals with “not so recently dead”. Interestingly, this seems to be exactly what Kathy Reichs used to do before she decided to dedicate her life to writing about bones and stuff.

6:34         It’s like the most important thing in this book is what everyone’s wearing.

6:35         “Tinker regarded Slidell with eyes as gray and bland as unpolished pewter”.

                  There’s a lof of that. A lot.

6:37       “Like everywhere else on the planet, North Carolina has its share of interagency rivalries. Sheriff’s, campus, airport, and port police versus local PD’s. The state versus the city boys. The feds versus the world”.

I’d say it’s an overstatement. Everywhere else? Really? Even where the police is just a tool in the government’s hand? Which seems to be most of the cases?

6:38      “His gaze was up now, aimed at Tinker with the kind of expression normally reserved for pedophiles and mold”.

                The hell. Not only is there an expression RESERVED for pedophiles but there are cases where it’s acceptable for others to reserve it? Say what?

6:39     “Did the hostility go beyond turf issues? Did Slidell share history with Tinker? Or was Skinny just being Skinny?”

And most importantly: What does the fox say?

6:40     “His voice was deep and gruff, the kind you associate with white cheddar”

Is she high? 

6:43     So what’s happening is: there was a meeting about a new case which just got submitted to the Po-lice. A girl found dead, a young girl with no forensics to analyse. It took us about eight pages to get here during which I learned the layout of the building and what everyone’s wearing. The writing isn’t bad, but it’s not good either. There’s not much tension going on, it feels more like a political drama but there’s no politics and no drama. Our main hero remains nameless. Everyone else has stupid nicknames so maybe it’s better. There’s a lot of annoying similes. A lot.

6:50    Our heroine is very telling when it comes to everything and everyone around her. She’s judgmental, critical and making little smirky comments. But when she sees the victim, she says nothing about it. Just typical procedure. If Kathy Reichs decides to use it as the character’s trait, then bravo, I like it. If not, then I will assume that the dragon lady is a spoiled sociopath.

7:00    “Felt the flutter of adrenaline hitting my gut”.

This is where ‘not so bad’ writing became ‘bad’.

7:02     I think I would enjoy this book more if it was a workshop on criminal recognition instead.

7:04   Chapter 2: Trying to identify the killer I guess. I feel like watching this crime tv show where they talk a lot in lingo but nothing makes sense to me.

7:07   “What makes you think this one woman killed both of the victims?” and the reply is one long list of exactly the same things in both crimes. And when I say the list is long- there’s no space for any differences really. So hmmm…what makes him think that?

7:08   

7:10    “The sound of silence brought me back to the present”.

Oh God.

7:12    “I studied the face. Not young, not old. Hair ash blond but showing gray feelers. Eyes emerald green. Revealing what? Grief? Rage? Congestion and fever?”

Ok, our narrator is a spoiled sociopath then.

7:14   ” I felt adrenaline flutter anew”.

I’m going to have nightmares about these cliches.

7:30   I don’t know, there’s so many names. Argh

7:31   “I glanced down at my watch. Reflex. I knew the time”.

I knew it! Another pointless sentence. I am more interested in how she knew what the time was.

7:35   I think I know what my problem with this book is. People talk so much and do so little. Don’t tell me everything. Do something!

7:36    “The burn of embarrassment also colored Rodas’s cheeks. Or something did”.

What? What something?

7:37   Our telling character whose name I still don’t know for God’s sake is thinking “Ryan and I share more than a murder. We share memories, affection. We once shared a bed”. Basically a big middle finger to all of those who believe in ‘show not tell’ rule. How about she just tells me the whole book already?

7:38  “My heart felt like a lead, my throat like hot gravel”.

Somebody please call the ambulance here. I’ve been reading about her symptoms from the start of this book and I’m getting genuinely worried. Is there a zombie outbreak coming ?

7:39    “Otherwise, the place was quiet as a crypt”.

20 points for Gryffindor for yet another most predictable cliche ever!

7:41    “The steady dip dip dip of the bathroom faucet. The soft scree scree of a magnolia branch scraping the screen. The rhytmic prrrr of air flowing past Birdie’s vocal cords”.

But otherwise, APART FROM ALL THESE SOUNDS, the place was quiet as a crypt, I guess.

7:42    “Journey burst into song. “Don’t stop believin…”

as a crypt…

7:44     “the guy has IQ of lentil soup”.

I wonder…what sort of IQ does lentil soup have?

7:46    “Did the girls died of starvation? Abuse? Loss of will to live another day in hell?”

I’m going to die of loss of will to read another chapter of this book.

7:47  

7:48   And the Sun is a giant yellow ball…oh God

7:54   So now, in the middle of things, our heroine, still nameless as a phone pole, decides to visit her mother. I guess to give us some sort of background as to whom she is. How about starting with a name?

7:56   So this whole story about her Mum’s mental illnesses isn’t so bad. It’s interesting, but somehow there’s not much to think about/feel towards. I begin to understand why crime books generally read so quickly. This one doesn’t require our emotional involvment. Katharsis is not an option

7:57    The voices of different characters aren’t very distinctive. The Mum says ‘gentleman’ instead of ‘man’ and our heroine is just self-commenting all the time. That’s how we distinguish them

8:00    “When she was fifty-eight and emerging from a particularly cavernous funk, I bought my mother her first computer, an iMac that cost much more than I could afford”…

I hear you, bro

“I showed her how to use e-mail, word processers, spreadsheets, the Internet [...] Mama took class after class. Learned about ITunes, MySpace, Facebook, Twitter, Photoshop. Eventually, as was typical, her mastery of the new sport was way beyond mine”.

right…

“I wouldn’t call my mother a hacker.”

Me neither. I don’t think anyone would. I don’t see Instagram or Tumblr in her list of classes…

8:01     It’s happening. This mother hacks someone’s email just because she took a class.

8:03     “She was short and round, but not too short and round”.

What? What is that supposed to mean?

8:05     “I don’t sleep well on planes. Believe me, I try”.

Why do we care?

to be continued…

 

Let me know what you think. Is this way of reviewing something you enjoy? What are your opinions on Kathy Reichs novels? Leave your comments in the box below or even better, on the Facebook page. Cheers!

by Amelie

 

I want to be Emma Stone. And that’s the only thing I got out of Woody Allen’s new feature, Magic in the Moonlight, a film which existence cannot be explained. Yes, it is quite pretty to look at. People dancing around in mid 20s style in mid 20s costumes. Beautiful. I was satisfied for a very long time actually just staring at the scenery I can’t live in in times I should have been born in. But is in enough to keep the audience entertained? No. No, No, No.

Magic in the Moonlight can be summoned in two words: Yes-No. The whole film revolves around the idea of real mediums being a possibility and then…I won’t spoil it for you even though the ending isn’t really satisfying in any way, no matter what the answer would actually be. So there is a grumpy sir Colin Firth who plays a magician and medium debunker and stunning Emma Stone who is a very successful medium, so successful she’s managed to persuade Colin’s best friend that she aint do no tricks. So Colin is sent to see her in action. And he’s very impressed, which you’ve probably seen in the trailer.

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To be honest, you’ve seen most of it in the trailer and there’s nothing else to say. Magic in the Moonlight is generally pleasant, but jokes lack charm and it seems like Woody Allen takes advantage of his name expecting the audience to see witticism even when there’s none. The jokes are too simple and witticism is solely based on the characters’ speaking in an absolutely cliche british manner which is quite annoying. There is also an ongoing joke about Sophie (Emma Stone, the only character the name of whom I cared to remember) eating too much and please somebody explains to me where it leads. So throughout the whole film, nothing is happening. Absolutely nothing. Posh people are saying: Wow, this Sophie is one hell of a medium. And we see her during seance once. And Colin says: Bloody hell, she can’t be real because she can’t be real! And other people say: But look, she’s so pretty. And he says: Aha! That is just the reason why she’s not a real medium because it’s easy to be pretty. And they say: yes and he says: no until he says: yes and you realise that this whole arguing was just a waste of the time you could spend watching something actually good.

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But Emma Stone is amazing. With her big, possessed gaze and over-the-top hand movements, she is completely stealing the film which has unfortunately nothing to steal. Such a shame, because I wouldn’t hesitate to support her in Oscars’ nominations. And she is addictive to look at. So if this will do for you, I guess you can spend 90 minutes staring back at her. I found it quite indulging.

Overall, it’s a borefest. A beautiful one, but still a borefest. There’s no magic in Magic in the Moonlight. Oh well