AFTERLYFE Movie Review

I haven’t posted a review in a while but when I heard of this short movie, I just had to do one. From Wagyu Films comes their first officially released movie and whilst it’s a short it’s bloody good.

What is it?

AFTERLYFE is a horror movie that pulls no punches and in its 20 minute run down has more scares and excellent world building than most of the crap coming out of Hollywood these days.

Created by a small studio and on a low budget the movie does an impressive job of both looking like a much bigger budget production and fully immersing in the viewer.

A Short Movie with a Tall Reach

It doesn’t pull any punches; its short run time doesn’t allow for that and that is one of its strengths. It wastes no time diving into the action by setting up the scene that is both mysterious and immediately scary.

With all that’s being on regarding the Covid pandemic, the opening shot of a man waking up inside a body bag in a dark hospital room with an oxygen mask on his face taps into the fears over the virus. It also gives the movie a 28 Day Later vibe which I absolutely love.

It’s creepy AF

Our as yet unnamed protagonist frees himself from the body bag to discover that there are people in similar bags all around him. The lightning is excellent as the man leaves his room and begins to explore the oppressively dark hospital.

As he ventures down a corridor, he sees other rooms containing other ‘patients. In one room he encounters a man covered in bandages who gives a disturbing performance as someone who is absolutely petrified.

This is where I have to mention the music in this movie. It’s subtle and creepy rising and ebbing in perfect unison with the tension on screen. The tension builds and a female voice cuts into the eerie quiet, that made me jump. The hero finds a walkie talkie and asks the woman questions about his situation, her answers are vague adding to the sense of uneasiness. We learn that the hero had been in a car accident, but the woman says, ‘this isn’t a hospital’. A WTF moment if ever there was one.

The script is great with the exchanges between the man and woman in particular believable and unnerving. The horror aspect itself is done better than some big budget movies with a particular scene of ‘something’ stalking the dark corridors genuinely creeping me out. It definitely succeeds in its attempts to scare and does it in a way that doesn’t rely on obvious jump scares and over the top gore.

A scene where the hero encounters another ‘survivor’ who is armed is perfect as it subverts much of the audiences’ expectations as we realise this isn’t just another zombie survival movie. In fact, that scene flips things on its head entirely to the point where I then felt concern for the ‘survivor’ more than the protagonist. Needless to say, the thing we saw earlier stalking the corridors makes another appearance and its suitably horrific.

To say any more about the plot would ruin the twist and shocking revelations, in short, the writing was great. There was only one point where I could see the twist coming, which as any writer trying to throw an audience off the scent of a big reveal can attest is incredibly hard to pull off.

If this review has piqued your interest, then watch it below!

Is it worth a watch?

Yes! For a debut movie Afterlyfe is excellent and I can’t wait to see more from Wagyu studios. They plan to release more short horror movies as well as a full length movie called Patriarch that looks very promising.

Final Verdict – 9/10

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Author Interview – PD Alleva

Joining me today is science fiction and horror author PD Alleva.

  • Hi PD Alleva tell us a bit about yourself and what inspired you to write?

I write primarily in the science fiction and horror genres, always mixing in a bit of fantasy, supernatural, metaphysical, thrills and chills into something I like to call alternative fiction. Honestly, the word multi-genre sounds like you’ve got marbles in your mouth so, being a child of the 90’s I prefer the term alternative fiction. I’m also a semi-retired hypnotist and behavioural therapist with a specialty treating trauma and addiction.

I’ve always been a writer. I wrote my first full-length novel in sixth grade and used to write fan fiction as far back as the memory will allow. Just the simple thought of creating a book is inspiration enough to put pen to paper and write a novel. I believe literature marks the time and I’m happy to contribute a voice to the literary community.

  • What appeals to you most about the fantasy genre?

The ability to stretch the limits of the imagination. We can go anywhere we choose, do whatever we want. Build cathedrals in one chapter and burn them down in the next. Spiral across time or duel with a dragon or spiral across time while duelling with a dragon. I could go on and on.

  • Tell us a little bit about your latest project and the challenges you’ve faced putting it all together?

The Rose Vol. 1 has been a two-year long project that started as a short story, a prelude to a trilogy I was writing at the time titled The Indigo Trials. I was writing the short story with the purpose to introduce the superpower in the series, a superpower called ‘the rose,’ which is based on an alchemy meditation practice, although I amped up the superpower to include the ability to transform chemical structures, suspend gravity, and move objects with a thought. However, as I was writing (and having a great deal of fun doing so) it became apparent the story and the characters wanted more and refused to be put in a box as a simple short story.

The story begins after a World War 3 treaty has been signed and follows an unsuspecting American citizen, Sandy Cox, who has been living in a WW3 safety camp for the past few years. At this point in the story human beings are still unaware that aliens exist here on earth, and they are definitely unaware that their own government has conspired with these alien’s in an effort to turn the human population into easily controlled zombies in a diabolical plot to achieve planetary and interstellar domination. Sandy is one of the naïve until she is taken to an underground medical complex and discovers the existence of grey aliens and, even more sinister, a sophisticated species of what I refer to as Dracs, or, the alien vampires.

I had some very specific challenges when writing the book. First, I am a vampire fan, always have been, and introducing a new take on vampires was highly challenging. Not only did I need to satisfy fellow vampire lovers, I had to break open and pen an entirely different although familiar lore behind the Dracs. In addition to this challenge was the alien lore, theories, and conspiracies that I wanted to include in the story, most specifically the lore and mythology behind the Dracs and greys. Any ancient alien theorist will be able to pick up on the multiple theories presented in the story including concepts such as the 12th planet, hollow earth, and Robert Morningstar papers. So, the challenge was two fold, satisfy the vampire and alien lovers while remaining loyal to genre, mythology, and lore, and I tackled this challenge by presenting the dystopian science fiction story through the eyes of the casual observer discovering all the chaos and mayhem that exists behind the scenes. So, just as the unsuspecting heroine Sandy Cox is discovering all these alien vampires the reader is discovering them with her. I hope the end product is not only satisfactory on the intellectual and creative level, but also on the ‘just plain old fun,’ level.

The Rose Vol. 1 was published on October 7th and is currently available worldwide at all major retail stores.

  • What type of characters do you like to write the most and how much of yourself do you put into them?

I enjoy writing villains. There’s just something extraordinary about piecing together an iconic villain, delving into the dark mind and hearts of the truly depraved, insane, and chaotic. Yeah, I like my villains.

  • For any wannabe writers out there what’s the most useful thing you’ve learned?

Write a good book. Great editing is a must and don’t forget that great stories are a collaboration so find an editor that challenges your writing style and remember its nothing personal, its just business. Write to market, and find what works best for you for marketing.

  • What writing tricks do you utilise to hit your deadlines and keep your stories on track?

I rarely work under a deadline, as I don’t agree with pushing the creative process, usually things get lost in the shuffle and when you’re writing stories that require so much detail, lore, and backstory across multiple point of view I just need it to flow the right way and not concern myself with deadlines. Case in point is the horror thriller I’m currently writing, Jigglyspot and the Zero Intellect, which I’ve been writing for the past seven months and it’s close to 140,000 words that was originally going to be a novella (guess Jigglyspot refused to be a short blip on my radar). When I’m knee deep in a project it takes up my full attention, thankfully I’m not on any deadlines. I enjoy going with the flow and putting out a stellar product over meeting deadlines.

  • Are you a plotter or a pantser (make it up as you go)?

Pantser mostly, although I do send myself little emails with thoughts on plot changes and character development.

  • What plans do you have for the future? A new series or perhaps a dip into other genres?

I also write horror novels. I have a horror and dark fiction series titled Beyond the Chamber Door. The first two books are already published (Twisted Tales of Deceit, and Presenting the Marriage of Kelli Anne & Gerri Denemer), with two more in the pipeline (Golem and Jigglyspot and the Zero Intellect). I’m also about to start writing Vol. 2 for The Rose followed by completing the next part of The Rose series (The Indigo Trials trilogy). From there, two more horror novels followed by the third connected series in The Rose, an apocalyptic time travel series titled Winter.

  • With the world the way it is at the moment what sort of tales do you prefer? Ones with heroes where good triumphs over evil or ones that take a darker approach?

A darker approach as always. Every novel I’ve written has dark elements to it, kind of the yin and yang of the universe all wrapped into a neat little package. Plus there’s the whole reality that more often than not bad people win more often, I like to reflect this reality because its not always rainbows and sunshine that life has to throw at us.

  • What’s better, Harry Potter, Lord of the Rings or Star Wars?

The original Star Wars, anything after that is up for debate.

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Author Interview – Eric Shapiro

The woods can be a spooky place at night with the shadows of the trees eliciting horror if you allow your imagination to run riot. Tonight I am joined at the campfire by Horror fantasy author Eric Shapiro.

  • Hi Eric tell us a bit about yourself and what inspired you to write?

Hey, Matthew. I’m the author of a bunch of dark fiction and screenplays and the co-owner of a Silicon Valley newspaper called The Milpitas Beat. As a kid, my mom inspired me to write by instituting a no-boredom policy in the home. If I said I was bored, she’d tell me (lovingly) to write a story. As an adult, I stay inspired by dreaming up characters whose minds I find fascinating and want to explore.

  • What appeals to you most about the fantasy genre?

You know, I think I was thrown at you by my publicist Michael Evan (laughs) even though I don’t specialize in fantasy! The good news is, I have some fantasy stories kicking around in my mind. I also tend to see horror as surrealism, which you could argue is a subdivision of fantasy. Anything psychotropic that challenges the banality of consensus reality is worth looking at. It keeps our minds expanded and healthy.

  • Tell us a little bit about your latest project and the challenges you’ve faced putting it all together?

My latest fiction release is called RED DENNIS. It came out this past March from Independent Legions Publishing, just as the pandemic was starting. It was a challenge in the sense that it was my first proper novel, after having written 5 novellas. This book was almost the length equivalent of 3 novellas. So the challenges were keeping it tight and propulsive, and also staying in one narrator’s mind for that long, particularly since he’s a very troubled person. I started thinking I was him at times. So how’s that for being into fantasy? (laughs)

  • What type of characters do you like to write the most and how much of yourself do you put into them?

I’m almost exclusively drawn to protagonists who are neurotic or psychotic. There’s a ton of me in them. They’re not me, but they’re strong aspects of myself, either latent-shadow elements or more overt representations where it’s just me under different circumstances. The protagonists in my novellas IT’S ONLY TEMPORARY, THE DEVOTED, and LOVE & ZOMBIES sound almost exactly like me, but they’re all individuated – from me and from each other. There are subtle yet huge differences; it’s like I’m an actor playing different roles. The protagonist in RED DENNIS doesn’t quite sound like me, but he’s one door down; he lives in an area I feel awkward and alarmed about. Again, it’s like I’m an actor and each time I draw a protagonist, I’m pulling different points of emphasis but using my own available human materials.

  • For any wannabe writers out there what’s the most useful thing you’ve learned?

The more you practice, the more spontaneous and automatic it becomes. This can be helpful from a productivity and inner-access standpoint (as in having access to yourself and your emotions), but it can be hurtful in terms of finding passion to start something new that’s really special. Once you’re used to the medium and confident in your ability to put out professional work, the bar for what gets you excited gets much higher. So I’ve learned that there’s no replacing ass-plus-seat experience, but as you accumulate it, you might lose a little excitement or edge about the work and have to rediscover or rekindle it.

  • What writing tricks do you utilise to hit your deadlines and keep your stories on track?

I wrote a whole book about this, also out in 2020, called ASS PLUS SEAT. It’s 21 tips for inspiring writers to finish their books and screenplays. The title states the main ethic: You have to sit down and do it. Start writing and then the muse arrives. She’s not capable of making you begin.

  • Are you a plotter or a pantser (make it up as you go)?

A little bit of both, with a strong lean toward pantser. I plot insofar as I have a clear scenario in which to operate, then pants my way through it and usually end up surprised by where it goes.

  • What plans do you have for the future? A new series or perhaps a dip into other genres?

I’d love to do a book series; that’s one of my goals. A trilogy or a saga that expands beyond three stories. I’ve yet to settle on a world or scenario, but I’ll know it when I have it. The whole idea’s set to a simmer for now. 

  • With the world the way it is at the moment what sort of tales do you prefer? Ones with heroes where good triumphs over evil or ones that take a darker approach?

Anything that’s frank or candid goes down well, at all times. As long as it’s not lying to me, I think it’s part of the solution.

  • What’s better, Harry Potter, Lord of the Rings or Star Wars?

Star Wars all the way! I just last night watched A NEW HOPE with my kids for the first time. They loved it. There’s three trilogies, of course: the original, the prequels, and the Disney ones, and major peaks and valleys in terms of motivation and quality, but at its best that’s a ridiculously exciting and inspiring world.

Check out Eric via the links below-

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Review: The Haunting of Hill House

Hi everyone, it’s been a while since my last blog post. A combination of being busy at work (always a good thing!), getting man flu (boo) and facing down the dreaded writer’s block being the main reasons.

In this post, I thought I’d share my thoughts on the Netflix series: The Haunting of House Hill. Now my wife is a massive horror fan, me not so much. It’s not that I don’t like them because they’re scary but often because the writing of horror movies is often terrible and very predictable. Often Hollywood takes one of two routes, either they go all out gore or just plain dumb. So many movies begin well and suitably creepy but then decide to reveal the ‘ghost, monster or whatever else it is and the horror just falls away to be replaced by hilarious situations (looking at you Conjuring).

When we decided to give The Haunting of Hill House a watch I wasn’t expecting much at all but I am pleased to report that this series is excellent. The writing is filled with twists and turns, the acting is done brilliantly by the entire cast (both the children and adults alike) and for once in a horror, I didn’t see the ending coming.

Is it scary?

From the very first episode, the series is genuinely creepy and at times really scary. It has plenty of jump scares but it is also very subtle with the horror too. Sometimes you see figures in the background of a scene, faces in a mirror, shadows moving along walls. In some scenes that on the surface seemed entirely normal my wife actually cried out at spotting something lurking in the distance and when you do spot it you will feel the hairs on the back of your neck stand up.

At the heart of the plot is a family drama and an excellent one at that. I won’t spoil anything but be prepared to be at first confused due to all the time jumps but by the end, it all pays off in an excellent way.

The first few episodes follow the experiences of each of the children and the parents of both their time growing up in the haunted house as well as the impacts it has had on them into adulthood. Even the most seemingly stable of the children grow up to have demons of their own and the show portrays this brilliantly.

The story doesn’t descend into gory or supernatural stupidity like most movies or shows but instead, every single one of the ghostly experiences happens for a real reason and reasons that you can relate too and understand.

Perhaps one of the creepiest examples of this is when the eldest son is talking to his dad about the experiences he had in the house. For most of his adult life, he was adamant he hadn’t experienced anything supernatural until his father calls him out on something seemingly minor. The son tells a story of walking through the house that at the time was full of workmen and says he had avoided a man working on the old grandfather clock. Except, there was never anyone hired to work on the clock, his father says. It was a ghost! This scene is done in such a way that I could believe it 100%.

Overall, The Haunting of Hill House is an excellent horror series and one that is genuinely creepy. However, once you get to the final episode and begin to understand what is occurring the sense of fear disappears. As with anything the fear of the unknown is the biggest fear we all have. Once we see the face of that fear it loses its power over us and in the case of this show the same occurs. Despite the final episode, those that come before are full of genuine scares and I’m not ashamed to admit that I too was hiding behind a cushion a few times!

Overall score – 8/10

An excellent series with great acting and is actually scary…well until the final episode.

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