The Curse of La Llorona: Does the ending hint at a potential sequel?

Courtesy of Warner Brothers Pictures

The final seconds of The Curse of La Llorona may actually mean something quite sinister for one of the film’s main characters.

Easter weekend’s biggest new film release is the latest entry into The ConjuringuniverseThe Curse of La Llorona. The movie focuses on the legendary story of La Llorona, also known as the “weeping woman”. She is a central figure in Latin American folklore and her story has been spun into many different variations over the years.

The main similarities through these differing fables is that a woman is overcome with a jealous rage after finding out her husband has been having an affair. She decides to steal from him that which is most precious and drowns their children. In most versions, she is unable to deal with the grief and guilt afterwards and commits suicide.

Continue reading on 1428 Elm.

Book Reviews

Book Review: Fruit of the Gods by William C. Tracey

I received this book for free from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

Book Review: Fruit of the Gods by William C. TraceyFruit of the Gods by William C. Tracey
Genres: Fantasy, LGBTQ+, Fiction
Links: Buy on Amazon | Goodreads
Format: ARC

Source: NetGalley

Sisters Kisare and Belili uproot an ancient box in their owner’s orchard and find a miracle inside: a fifth godfruit in a society that knows only four. It is punishable by death to eat godfruit, so the sisters hide the discovery and plot to escape servitude for good. With the power represented in the box, they could live as nobles themselves.

But Kisare finds her new freedom more difficult than she imagined, and Belili has many secrets she strives to keep hidden. With the help of a people slowly losing their culture and technology to the powerful nobles, the sisters lead an infiltration of the highest levels of noble society.

While Kisare finds she cares for the captured leader of the people helping them, Belili comes to love her noble suitor’s guard—a fierce woman with a similar past to her own. In the end, the fifth godfruit may bring harmony to the world, but the sisters’ only hope of succeeding lies in deciphering ancient mythologies surrounding the gods’ original plan for their people.

Fruit of the Gods is a unique fantasy novel with a surprisingly complex system of magic. It navigates the tropes of the genre with relative ease, delivering a story that bypasses overly predictable beats. For the most part, I was immersed in Kisare and Bel’s world, enriched by the imaginative culture the author created and surprisingly delighted by the fact one of the main characters was gay.

But still, I felt some parts of the book were too dense and it slowed the pacing down to a slog at times. The characters too, were not always as fleshed out as they needed to be. The alternating perspectives between the sisters also made the book far more confusing than it should have been. I wish the chapters were marked with the name of whichever sister would be narrating each passage instead of it randomly switching back and forth.

Still, I appreciate the novel’s ingenuity and I enjoyed myself reading it.


Interview with Black Summer’s Justin Chu Cary

Courtesy of Netflix

Justin Chu Cary, who plays Spears on Netflix’s latest high-octane zombie thriller, Black Summer, chatted with Hidden Remote about the show.

If you haven’t had the chance to watch the new Netflix zombie show, Black Summer, a prequel to Syfy’s Z Nation, then I recommend YOU STOP READING NOW! SPOILERS ARE AHEAD! And also, what are you doing!? Go watch the show right now! It’s a super realistic, gritty and thrilling foray into the zombie genre with a unique spin that sets it apart from other series.

We had the chance to chat with Justin Chu Cary, who plays Spears on the show. You may recognize Cary from his roles on shows like Jane the VirginS.W.A.T., and Lucifer or the 2018 film, Blindspotting.

He chatted with us about his character, Spears’s relationship with Rose, what he hopes for moving forward should the show get renewed (fingers crossed) and lots more!

Continue reading on Hidden Remote.

Book Reviews

Book Review: Beautiful Bad by Annie Ward

I received this book for free from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

Book Review: Beautiful Bad by Annie WardBeautiful Bad by Annie Ward
Published on March 19, 2019
Genres: Fiction, Mystery, Thriller
Links: Buy on Amazon | Goodreads
Pages: 384
Format: ARC

Source: NetGalley

Maddie and Ian's romance began with a chance encounter at a party overseas; he was serving in the British army and she was a travel writer visiting her best friend, Jo. Now almost two decades later, married with a beautiful son, Charlie, they are living the perfect suburban life in Middle America. But when a camping accident leaves Maddie badly scarred, she begins attending writing therapy, where she gradually reveals her fears about Ian's PTSD; her concerns for the safety of their young son, Charlie; and the couple's tangled and tumultuous past with Jo.

From the Balkans to England, Iraq to Manhattan, and finally to an ordinary family home in Kansas, sixteen years of love and fear, adventure and suspicion culminate in The Day of the Killing, when a frantic 911 call summons the police to the scene of a shocking crime.

Beautiful Bad had all the makings of the tense domestic thrillers I typically love. I’m fond of the alternating timelines and Annie Ward is a beautiful writer.

I was captivated from the early pages but then the novel and the plot lost me as it descended into a war-torn story spanning across a decade between a pairing that never had any good reason to be so in love with one another. I mean why was Ian so infatuated by Maddie?

I understand the idea of “love at first sight” but we were given so little to go off of. I was so confused by several parts of the novel that depended me to believe on the emotional connection between the two because their relationship always seemed shallow at best.

Then the story simply dragged on for hundreds of pages without adding to the actual mystery. Large swathes of the writing and scenes could have been trimmed down or cut out altogether in favor of scenes that would have built on the relationship in a more realistic way.

Needless to say, I got bored and Beautiful Bad ultimately failed to leave an impression.


The TV glut: An era of cancellations is upon us

One Day at a Time
One Day At A Time – Courtesy of Netflix

While we’re currently living in the golden age of television, we’re also living in an era of the streaming wars. What does that mean for your favorite shows?

Obviously, television is not the same as it used to be. With streaming being the way of the future, much has changed in terms of how our favorite television shows are delivered to us and viewed by audiences. That means there is also an influx of content, and as they say, too much of a good thing is never actually a good thing.

Recently, Netflix cancelled the critically beloved sitcom, One Day at a Time. It caused quite the uproar on social media with countless hashtags being started in support of the series.

The same thing happened not too long ago when Freeform cancelled Shadowhunters. With the clamoring fans being so intense (the Shadowhunter fandom is perhaps, one of the most impressive fandoms I’ve ever seen in the modern era – even managing to crowdfund their own billboard) why would the shows be cancelled in the first place?

It’s simple, passionate fandoms do not always equate to huge viewership. Often times a show can breed an intense following but it will be still be a small one. As sad as it is, most media conglomerates cannot justify paying for a show just for a vocal minority.

Occasionally it does happen. Lucifer and Brooklyn Nine Nine are great examples of series that were rescued by other networks to be given a second chance at life despite having low ratings. Sometimes it works out and that’s awesome!

But I fear we are coming upon an era that will be rife with one-season wonders or shows being cancelled on cliffhangers. Why? Because there is simply too much television being made.

Continue to read on Hidden Remote.

Book Reviews

Book Review: Silent Sisters by Joanne Lee

I received this book for free from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

Book Review: Silent Sisters by Joanne LeeSilent Sisters by Joanne Lee
Published on April 18, 2019
Genres: Nonfiction, True Crime
Links: Buy on Amazon | Goodreads
Pages: 205
Format: ARC

Source: NetGalley

A deadly secret. A horrifying discovery. For over 20 years, Joanne Lee's mother kept the remains of not one, but three newborn babies hidden in a bin in her wardrobe. She had buried a fourth baby in newspaper and rags in St Helens Cemetery.

For the first time since exposing her mother's crimes, Joanne breaks her silence over her family's horrific ordeal and her fight for justice for the siblings she never knew.
Growing up in chaotic circumstances on Merseyside, Joanne suffered at the hands of a violent boyfriend and controlling relatives, as her mother lapsed into a downward spiral of drinking and casual sex following the break-up of her marriage. But the consequences of her mother's messy lifestyle turned out to be far worse than Joanne could ever have imagined.

She already knew about the baby buried in a shallow makeshift grave next to the family plot. But when Joanne came across a red plastic bin in her mother's wardrobe in 2009, she realized that the family home held an even more sinister secret.

In Silent Sisters, the daughter who was falsely accused of murdering her own baby sister will tell her full story for the first time, detailing her struggle to understand her mother, to piece together the truth and to give the four babies the proper burial they deserve.

Joanne Lee bravely pens the harrowing true story about growing up with a woman capable of hiding dead babies in a garbage bags. If the brutality of that statement startles you, then this non-fiction novel will haunt you as the real tragedy has haunted Joanne Lee for all these years.

If you have heard the name Berndatte Quirk, odds are you are familiar with this story. Bernadette hid four babies in red bin at her home. She claims each one was stillborn, but regardless, hiding their births and keeping their corpses stuffed away like trash is a monstrous act.

I found Lee’s story a heart-breaking and tragic tale of motherly deceit and betrayal. Clearly, Lee has lived both an extraordinary and daunting life. I can’t imagine growing up in those circumstances and I commend her for her bravery in telling the world the truth about her trauma and the trials of living with a woman like Berndatte.

As far as the actual novel goes, it was a pretty quick and engaging read. I did find some segments and stylistic language choice got to be repetitive at times but the material is fascinating, albeit often grotesque. Joanne Lee does not shy away from the gruesome details, but as this is her own experience she is trying to convey, it’s not for me to say if they were necessary or not. It certainly does paint a vivid picture and I feel like she was being true to the horrors she faced in her life.

Film Reviews

Bird Box vs. The Silence: Which one comes out on top?

Courtesy of Netflix

Netflix’s latest horror film, The Silence, follows a family as they try to survive an infestation of monsters attracted to sound.

Chilling Adventures of Sabrina stars Miranda Otto and Kiernan Shipka lead the cast of the new Netflix horror movie, The Silence. The film follows a family as they try and survive a group of prehistoric bat-like creatures known as “vesps” which do not have eyes, but hunt through sound.

Sounds familiar, right? Actually, it’s kind of funny that everyone is calling The Silence a rip-off of A Quiet Place when, ironically, A Quiet Place’s plot is eerily similar to the book The Silence was based on.

The Netflix horror was adapted from the book written by Tim Lebbon, which was published in 2015 — predating A Quiet Place by several years. There were even rumblings of a lawsuit at one point. That said, A Quiet Place is clearly the superior film.

But what about the other Netflix horror film that deals with a civilization being stalked by monsters that limit a key sense, Bird Box? How does The Silence measure up?

Continue reading on Hidden Remote.

TV Reviews

Black Summer: 6 most WTF moments from Season 1

Courtesy of Netflix

What were the most WTF moments from Netflix’s new zombie series, Black Summer? Who died? Who lived? What happened in the end? Find out here.

Zombie fatigue has not struck Netflix as they commission the Z Nation prequel series, Black Summer. However, I give the streaming giant credit for taking a unique approach to the genre. Black Summer is a well-shot, extremely realistic, story of survival. It puts action first and character second. For some people that will be a welcome change, for others, not so much.

I appreciated the intensity of the show and the alternating timelines. We get to see many scenarios from alternating perspective. It’s also worth pointing out the direction of the series, there are some technically brilliant long-shots, the entire eight-episode season is full of them. It adds to the grounded terror of the show. This feels like it could happen.

Let’s recap the 6 most WTF moments of the first season.

Continue reading on Hidden Remote.

Film Reviews

Lifetime’s Secrets In a Small Town Review

Credit to Fella Films

Another Saturday, another Lifetime thriller! Secrets in a Small Town is an intense mystery about a missing teenage girl and a mother’s desperation.

Tonight’s Lifetime thriller, Secrets in a Small Town, is about a frantic mother (played by Kate Drummond), in desperate search for her daughter, Sarah, after she goes out for one night with her new basketball teammates and doesn’t return home.

Supposedly, the movie is based on a true story, although I’m not sure which one since it sounds similar to several different cases. The film was originally titled Nowhere and made it’s debut at a Canadian Film Festival earlier this year.

Let’s recap some of the craziest “television small town” rules we learned about from this movie.

Read full review on Hidden Remote.

Book Reviews

Book Review: The Luminous Dead by Caitlin Starling

I received this book for free from Harper Voyager in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

Book Review: The Luminous Dead by Caitlin StarlingThe Luminous Dead by Caitlin Starling
Published on April 2, 2019
Genres: Horror, Science Fiction, Suspense, Thriller
Links: Buy on Amazon | Goodreads
Pages: 411
Format: ARC

Source: Harper Voyager

A thrilling, atmospheric debut with the intensive drive of The Martian and Gravity and the creeping dread of Annihilation, in which a caver on a foreign planet finds herself on a terrifying psychological and emotional journey for survival.

Instead, she got Em. Em sees nothing wrong with controlling Gyre’s body with drugs or withholding critical information to “ensure the smooth operation” of her expedition. Em knows all about Gyre’s falsified credentials, and has no qualms using them as a leash—and a lash. And Em has secrets, too . . .

Here are 3 reasons why you need to read, The Luminous Dead, an intense psychological sci-fi thriller about a harrowing caving expedition.

The PR team at Harper Voyager were kind enough to provide me with a copy of The Luminous Dead, the debut novel from author Caitlin Starling, in exchange for an honest review.

I was drawn to The Luminous Dead due to comparisons to Jeff VanderMeer’s horrifying sci-fi novel (and film) Annihilation, which blew me away last year. I’m happy to say The Luminous Dead is a worthy comparison and is one of the most tense, atmospheric, and claustrophobic novels I’ve read in a long time. It’s a marvel Starling was able to create such an intense read when the story only contains two characters, and yet it’s never dull.

If you need more incentive to check out the book, I’ve got three reasons for you.

Read my full review at 1428 Elm.