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The Blatherings Of A Blitherer

Review: “Attachments” by Kate Wilhelm

January4

“Attachments,” by Kate Wilhelm, is the opening story in the Nov/Dec 2017 issues of “Fantasy and Science Fiction,” which is one of my favorite magazines. According to the novelet’s introduction, Wilhelm’s first story in F&SF was in 1962. She’s an established, experienced writer and it really shows in this piece.

“Attachments” opens with a a young woman in a creepy/picturesque ruin in England. We soon see that she’s from the USA and that she’s there with a friend… and also that something is horrifically wrong. As the story unfolds we see that it’s a ghost story, both literally and figuratively. Drew, the protagonist, has 2 ghosts attached to her who want her to do things for them; Drew’s abusive ex boyfriend lurks in the background, a constant threat to her both mentally and physically. Drew has to figure out how to deal with the ghosts on her back, how to solve their problems, and then how to solve the problems in her own life.

It’s a well written story. Drew is interesting and we get glimpses of her life, both current and past. The ghosts’ plan is flawed, but desperate plans often are. She, and they, need to be creative in coming up with a solution. The metaphor isn’t THAT obvious, but it’s there… Drew is asked to free ghosts from a prison, and must also free herself from the ghosts of her past.

It’s a fairly gentle story with a bit of menace that’s quickly neutralized.

“Attachments” is a solid piece that leaves me curious about Wilhelm’s other work.

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Weekend in Review, and a Request

September10

My sister-in-law is getting married in October and her wedding shower was on Saturday. Internets, I dressed up. I wore makeup. I wore a skirt. I wore hose. I wore cute shoes. I wore jewelry and perfume. My mother-in-law came to pick me up and I scampered out, and just as I was about to get into her car I realized DUH I’d left the gift in the apartment. So I scampered back. And just as I reached the door, SEARING FUCKING PAIN KNIFED THROUGH MY FOOT OH MY GOD WHAT THE HELLLLLLLLLLL.

I’d stepped on a screw.

The screw punctured my cute shoe, my hose, and the arch of my foot.

I hobbled inside and took stock.

The first thing I realized was that my shoe and hose were no longer wearable because they had holes punched through them and one of them was bloody. So I stripped them off and stood around with my hairy legs thinking what to do next. When I say I have hairy legs, I mean I could pass as a Satyr relatively easily. A female Satyr. Just give me some pan pipes and cute little horns on my head and drop me in a sylvan wilderness and I’m good to go. All methods of hair removal can trigger a skin condition I have where I just HA! HA! sprout abscesses for no discernible reason, so I pretty much go about hairy all the time. I had no other tights that would hide the hairiness of my legs. So! Skirts were out. I pulled it off and tossed it aside. Pants it was. But what pants? Every single pair of slacks I own are clownishly big on me, baggy and awful. I opted for black skinny jeans, black trouser socks, and a different pair of cute black shoes that pinched a little bit and had a slight heel.

I was really under dressed.

In retrospect, I should have put on a fancier shirt.

Or knocked over a bank so I could have bought actual party clothing that actually fit.

You know. One or the other.

About a month ago, a few days before we took Niko to “Day Out With Thomas,” I opened the freezer door and a pound of frozen, cooked ground beef in a hard plastic container came rocketing out and slammed into my big toe with such force that I spent several hours convinced it was broken. The bruise only cleared up a few days ago. I guess it was time for the other foot to be injured in a ridiculous and improbable manner right before a big event involving a lot of standing and walking.

I’m incredibly glad I got a DTaP booster in 2008. That’s something I don’t have to worry about. I’m also glad NIKO didn’t step on that screw, or that it didn’t end up in Nesko’s tire because new tires are really expensive and we already had to get new tires twice in a one month period because he picked up screws somewhere.

Anyway, here’s the request.

My sister-in-law is getting married, as I said, and is expecting about 200 guests at the reception and also about 40 at a pre-wedding event at her home. She will have a wedding cake, and has asked some family members (including me) to also bake desserts. So assuming ~250 eating ~3 servings each, that’s 750 servings.  I’m estimating she’ll have about 5 people baking which works out to about 150 items per person. Assuming that she wants fall-themed single-serving desserts, what would you recommend making?

I have some ideas on pinterest if you’d like to check them out and offer suggestions, advice, feedback, etc. I’ve baked off large batches of things before, mostly cookies and cupcakes, so I’m not overly awed by the scope of the project. Preferably, the things I make will be things I can make ahead (possibly freeze) and most of them won’t require refrigeration (although I might make 50 or so mini-cheesecakes). I could also just do 3 varieties of cupcakes with frosting roses or something. Oh, and I want to do at least one batch of things that is egg free, because at least one person there is allergic to eggs.

I haven’t sat down with my SIL yet to discuss her preferences.

Book Review: “Corambis” by Sarah Monette

April10

It was a positively epic struggle to even GET this damn book, as I needed to get it from Borders so I could use up Borders gift cards, and only 3 Borders in the Chicagoland area actually had the book in stock. And of those three stores, one was in freakin’ INDIANA. Nothing against Indiana, just, fuck. That is not near me, you know? Anyway, one email and three phone calls later, I was able to reserve the book and Nesko and I drove out to OAKBROOK (fucking fuck) to pick it up.

“Corambis” is the fourth and final book in Sarah Monette’s Doctrine of Labyrinths series. It follows the main characters, Felix Harrowgate and Mildmay Foxe into their exile far far far from the city they call home. Of course, Mildmay has already been exiled from the neighborhood he grew up in and was comfortable in, and Felix’s “home” was more about people than a place and the main person was murdered in the previous book. So this is just exile atop exile, a physical remove in addition to the psychological isolation they both already experience.

And that’s the crux of the final story, actually. While there is action and events unfolding, the main thrust of the book is both Felix and Mildmay’s physical travel to Corambis and also their psychological change; healing and maturing and coming to a new and better relationship with each other and with themselves. This book is both less intense than the previous three (action! mysteries! madness! stuff going on! torture! intrigue! another mystery! ghosts! assassinations! evil wizards!) while also more internally intense (character growth! change! maturation! journeys of the spirit!).

This was a solid end to a solid series, and I’m sad that it’s over. I’d love to read more about the characters and also the world, and hope Monette will revisit them someday. I look forward to reading anything else she writes, though, especially more of her Kyle Murchison Boothe stories.

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Book Review: “Fathom” by Cherie Priest

April4

I have a baby. I have a baby who doesn’t always like to sleep, because apparently he is a jerk, which I’ve been maintaining for awhile now. Sometimes he can only sleep when I’m curled up on the couch holding him with his ear against my chest so he can hear my heartbeat. It’s cozy and cute and he’s absolutely adorable, but it’s also boring as all hell, and right now I have a cold and every time I cough he freaks out and flails because OMG WHAT WAS THAT NOISE PANIC. On the plus side, I’ve had some time to do some reading. With “Corambis” coming out, I’m re-reading the first three books in the series. I have them in paperback, so I can manage them easily with one hand.

I also have a superbly awesome friend who sent me a copy of “Fathom” by Cherie Priest.

“Fathom” is not out in paper back yet. HOWEVER, I had a three hour wait at the doctor’s office so I was able to read quite a bit of it in one steady chunk, and read the rest of it mostly while hiding in the bathroom. “NO YOU HAVE TO MIND THE BABY I AM TRYING TO READ THIS BOOK POOP.” My clever ruse worked.

Cherie Priest is an awesome writer who write the Eden Moore books, a trilogy about a young woman (who is NOT white WAIT WHAT main stream horror fic with a non white protag? NO WAY) with a mysterious family past and equally mysterious abilities. It’s horror, it’s Southern Gothic, it’s really cool. She also wrote “Dreadful Skin” which I’ve been enjoying but keep picking up during tumultuous times so I haven’t finished yet and keep starting it over, and “Those Who Went Remain There Still” which I haven’t read but which has a great title.

“Fathom” is in the style of her other works. It’s steeped in the South, in specific places that have personality and presence and heft. There’s magic and elemental powers at work. There’s a young woman pushed to the limits of her strength (physical, mental, and emotional) who is forever changed by her experiences. There’s horrific stuff going on. There’s excellent writing.

The basic plot involves cousins who barely know each other, murder, a Sea Witch who wants to destroy the world, gods and their constructs, and the Element Decay (who apparently was Death until he got demoted or laid off and found a new job) who wants to save the earth. The Sea Witch and Decay both toss their pieces onto the board, and the book is a tightly plotted story about who will win and why.

Nesko and I are gearing up to move in a few months, and we’ve been talking about renting a storage unit and stashing a lot of our crap there… including all of our books except for one box. Which means I’ve been going over our shelves mentally picking out the “take with us” books. “Fathom” is going to be in that pile.

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Book reviews? What book reviews?

September18

Oh hey, guys! Remember when I used to do reviews of books I’ve read? Those were some good times, huh? Yeah. I have like 20 reviews I need to write and put up, but I’ve been really lazy lately. Among those books have been Scott Lynch’s “Red Seas Under Red Skies,” Sarah Monette’s “The Mirador,” and Philip Pullman’s “The Golden Compass.”

Lots of good books.

I’ve been spoiled by good books lately.

I also read a book about private life in medieval Europe and ancient Rome, and about Little People, and about “The Science of Vampires” (this one sucked), and some other stuff. So! Reviews to come. Possibly tonight.

But I do want to briefly mention/natter on about “The Golden Compass.” Some people might smirk at me and say “Aw, Brigid, you’re only reading that because there’s a movie coming out based on it.” The sad truth is, people have been recommending the books to me for YEARS, and also there’s a moving coming out based on it so the first book was on sale pretty cheaply.  And I liked it! A lot! It’s a good book, and very solidly what I think Young Adult literature should be– exciting, compelling, well written, with fully realized characters and an interesting world and mythology. It’s the kind of book an adult can pick up and read and enjoy and also the kind of book a kid or teen can pick up and identify with. Good stuff.

So I started wondering why I hadn’t run across this book when I was a kid. Because I was a huge reader and, duh, still am. Moreover, I’m one of those types of readers who will go to the library and just pull books randomly off the shelves, which is how I’ve found some really great stuff. So how’d I manage to miss “The Golden Compass”?  Frankly, the first book came out in the USA when I was 16. And at that point, I’d moved pretty solidly beyond YA literature. Too bad it didn’t come out ten years earlier; it would have been one of those books that entered my psyche, like Zelazny’s “Amber” series, or the Damar books, or “The Dark is Rising” series.

Speaking of Amber, and this is a total tangent which is partially inspired by reading Monette’s “Doctrines of the Labyrinth” series,  but the Great Pattern? Is totally a labyrinth. Go ahead and laugh, I’m sure you all came to that realization a decade or two ago. Whatever. It’s amusing that some of my favorite books/series involve labyrinths given my history with them.

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Review: “Stanley’s Kitchen & Tap”

July24

I know what you’re thinking. You’re thinking “Gee, Brigid, it’s been awhile since you’ve talked about food!” Ok, ok. It hasn’t really been awhile since I’ve talked about food. But it has been a while since I’ve talked about restaurants and I got lunch at a restaurant today so I’m going to talk about it.

Stanley’s Kitchen and Tap is a few blocks away from where I’m currently working, which is the reason I went there the first time. I got a burger on dark rye, that had diced up green peppers mixed in with the beef. I was not disappointed. So when I found myself lunchless today I headed over there a second time. Once again, not disappointed.

The bathrooms at Stanley’s are nicer than my last apartment. You might think I am damning them with faint praise, but really, the bathroom (at least the ladies’ room) is really swank. The sinks are in the toilet cubical which really sang to me because I have an irrational fear of other bathroom users judging my hand washing. This, really, was ideal. The sink knobs were those big clunky cross-shaped white ceramic ones, and the toilet cubicals were made of old wood with a really nice patina. Just… swank. I could live in that bathroom if it had wi fi.

Service was a teensy bit slow because they were understaffed, but if my waiter hadn’t said anything I wouldn’t have noticed because I’m plowing my way through a book. This time around I got a pulled pork sandwich and mashed potatoes. I kind of wanted the fried chicken, which some other diners were eating and which smelled just fuck all good. But fried chicken isn’t the healthiest option out there, so pulled pork it was.

The pulled pork was like a punch to the mouth. A good punch to the mouth. It was vinegary and a little sweet and very good. The mashed potatoes had chicken gravy and were salty and kind of made me want a beer, but were also awesome. They tasted really home made. Unlike a lot of pulled pork I’ve had, this wasn’t oily. No, I don’t mean greasy, I do mean oily. It was really good. I ate, read a bit more, paid my bill, and waddled back to work.

I really really want something sweet now, but am too full to really be jonesing. If you’re in the area, I recommend heading down to Stanley’s. I’ve been there twice and had good food and good service both times. Oh, and they also are good with water and refills, especially when it’s hot. There’s just… I don’t know. A kindness to them.

A+++++++++ would eat again.

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Review: “X-13D” Experimental Flavor Doritos

June19

Nesko and I were at the grocery store the other day, shopping while hungry. This is always a dangerous thing to do, as it leads to absolutely gut wrenchingly stupid purchases of fatty fatty fat fat snack foods and frozen food stuffs. Hot Pockets sound like a completely rational and adult purchase when your stomach is clawing at your backbone, as do 4 bags of chips, several loaves of bread (oh, carbs, how I love you), and multiple novelty ice creams. As we browsed the snack food aisle we saw that not only were Doritos on sale, but there was some crazy promotion going on with a black bag of mystery flavor Doritos. “X-13D!” it proclaimed. “Experimental Flavor!” it shouted. Well! How could we pass that up? We bought it, and a bag of Cool Ranch (now even Ranchier!). And then we went home, realizing we were about to purchase several pounds of gummi worms when neither of us even like gummi worms. Shopping while hungry! Always a bad move.

We got home and started unpacking our stuff while also heating up the oven for whatever frozen thing (probably pizza) we’d gotten for our instant dinner gratification. We also tore into the bag of X-13D Experimental Flavor Doritos. We each took one triangular chip and nibbled, and then looked at each other.

It tasted like lettuce.

Gerry wandered out, or was summoned. “Look what we got!” We showed him the bag. He admitted that he’d seen them also, considered getting them, and then rejected that idea as he had no clue what they tasted like, and what if they tasted like a butt? Seriously. Who’d be dumb enough to buy a thing that might taste like ass? Obviously, those dumb folks are me and Nesko. We offered him the bag.

We stood around in the dining room eating chip by chip, perplexed look on our faces. It tasted like lettuce, and something sweet. And… oddly beefy. Beefy? Beef flavored chips? It was an incredibly familiar flavor, but none of us could place it. It reminded me, very vaguely, of the Taco Bell Taco Flavored Doritos that later were called just Taco Flavored and then, I think, discontinued. “Taco Bell” resonated with the taste, though, and I ate another chip trying to connect the two.

It was Gerry who placed the flavor.

“It tastes like a Big Mac,” he pronounced. We made faces of disgust and then ate some more Doritos. It did, in fact, taste like a Big Mac. That lettuce flavor, the odd beefiness, the sweet tang of “special sauce” (thousand island dressing. seriously.). A Big Mac in Dorito form.

What the hell, people?

We eventually finished off the bag, helped in part by our jerky habit of thrusting the bag at people and saying “Taste this. No, seriously, taste this. What does it taste like? No, really, come on. Taste it. Just one. Try it. Try it.” It was only after they were all eaten that we got around to reading the ingredients list and discovered that the chips were made with beef tallow, which only made them all the more disgusting.

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31 Days of Horror: Hiatus

October29

I have a sick kid, so haven’t been able to watch movies lately.

He’s not worryingly sick, just sick enough to stay home from school (first with a stomach bug, then with a cold).

If he were 10 or older I’d try to find movies to watch with him/around him. But he’s 5, and my review of “Curious George And The Big Halloween Boo Fest Of Ridiculous Circumstances” would only devolve into a rant about colonization and the 1%.

I’ll finish up reviewing 31 movies total, but alas, it might not happen until after October is finished.

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31 Days of Horror: “V/H/S”

October19

“V/H/S” is a movie that exists in the world.

One of the problems with “V/H/S,” and there are many, is that it came out in 2012 and features people recording things on digital cameras (or directly onto a laptop), but then other people watch those recordings on VHS tapes. Like, what? Really? Seriously? These folks couldn’t have found a DVD or website or something? It’s a conceit that would have worked 10 or so years ago, but now? One of the video vignettes is specifically dated in the 1990s, and it makes sense that it’d be on video tape. But it’s hard to find excuses to have people continuing to record while horrific things are happening around them, so two different vignettes use a headcam… one of which is disguised as a pair of glasses.

If you’re unfamiliar with “V/H/S,” it’s an anthology of 5 short horror films within a framework of a bunch of dickbags robbing a house looking for a special VHS tape. “You’ll know it when you see it,” they’re told. Why do I say they’re dickbags? They make a living assaulting women in parking garages and restraining them while they pull their shirts up and videotape them struggling, naked breasts exposed, and selling the footage to “reality porn” websites. They also record sexual encounters without the partners being aware of the recording. And they record themselves smashing up peoples’ homes for larks or whatever. I don’t know what any of their names are. They’re violent, they’re sexual predators, and I don’t give a fuck about them. I don’t care that they broke into a creepy dark house with a dead body in it and continued to faff about watching VHS tapes in the presence of the dead body and gathering up all the other VHS tapes that were stored in the basement far away from the multiple television screens for whatever ridiculous reason. Each vignette (watched by one of the B&E dudes) is framed by spooky stuff happening to the guys. But… I don’t care about them. So big deal.

The first vignette is about a group of dudebros who have made a pair of fake glasses that takes digital video and sound. They decide to go pick up a woman and have sex with her and record it, without telling her. Again, this is the second time “videoing a woman having sex without her permission” comes up as a plausible, possible, good choice of action. They go to a bar, get super drunk, take two young women back to a hotel. One of them passes out while a guy is trying to initiate sex. His friends laughingly advise him not to rape her. He turns his attention onto the other young woman, who is pretty creepy. She turns into some kind of vampire ghoul thing and eats everyone. This is actually an interesting idea, and I’d love to watch a movie about a freaky vampire ghoul thing that looks like a human woman and eats dudes. But about 75% of the vignette is the dudes wobbling around getting drunk and bro-ing it up and just generally boring the piss out of me. Also, there’s the troubling idea that a group of men try to take advantage of a woman but she is a violent monster who eats them so everything’s ok.

The second vignette is a video of a young couple on a second honeymoon road trip. You know how people groan about other folks’ vacation photos? Remember how old sitcoms used to feature vacation photo slides as like the most horrific boring thing in existence? Imagine watching an excruciatingly dull video of two strangers on a road trip as they record the scenery dribbling past and make small talk. It was like experiencing death. There’s a creepy part where the couple goes to bed and then at night the camera clicks on and pans over the dude asleep in his bed and then it continues panning over to the gal asleep in HER bed, and the videographer strokes her ass (clad, of course, in a lace thong) with a switch blade. It was a very creepy scene, very fantastically done. Later on the same videographer comes into the room at night and records herself killing the dude and then making out with the gal, because they planned this murder-thing for whatever reason. Killer records herself making out with New Widow, and we hear New Widow asking for reassurances that the footage had been erased. Earlier, her husband tried hard to coerce her into getting naked on camera for him. I mean, he really put the pressure on. He also recorded her changing her clothing without her knowledge/permission. So again, this is the third piece that involves filming a woman without consent.

The third vignette is about a young woman who lures a group of people to an isolated vacation spot to act as bait for the serial killer/boogeyman that killed her friends previously, so he’ll come out and she can kill him. She fails. The special effects were good– he (she? it?) didn’t show up on the recording except as glitchy static-y artifacts. There was a LOT of wasted time, irritating characters, and general bad acting. As with the previous two vignettes, a woman is a predator. The guys also take close up video shots of the breasts of the other woman in the group, and constantly refer to her as a slut.

The fourth vignette is a skype/webcam exchange recorded directly to a laptop. Why the fuck would it be on a VHS tape? It’s about a guy pretending to be the long distance boyfriend (and almost a doctor!) of a young woman he’s known since childhood. She is concerned about a lump on (in) her arm, and possible ghosts in her apartment. The lump is a tracking device and the ghosts are actually aliens who’ve been using her body to host alien/human hybrids… one of which we see the fake doctor boyfriend carve out of her body. Although the fetus is pretty big, she didn’t look pregnant at all. He arranges things to have her fake-diagnosed– and medicated– as shizoaffective, leaving her even more emotionally reliant on him. She was unaware he recorded all of their conversations, including her taking off her shirt and playing with her breasts. As he closes a conversation with her, he opens another one with a different woman that plays out exactly the same way: she takes off her shirt and plays with her breasts, then picks at her arm while complaining of a lump. This is actually an interesting story with serious pacing issues, mediocre acting, and a very low believability. The set up is too complicated, the removed fetus is too big, etc. And, again, this is the fourth vignette… the fifth piece over all… that records and displays a woman’s breasts without her consent.

The fifth vignette is about a group of guys who are headed out to a Halloween party, in costume. They wander into the wrong house and although it’s extremely obvious they’re in the wrong place they explore all the rooms and then head upstairs where they see some kind of ritual involving a tied-up woman and a knife. There’s some great scary special effects, but the set up (dudes in costume wandering around what is obviously the wrong house) is so ridiculous and the guys so bland and boring not even the effects could save it. To their credit, they try to save the woman, but it turns out she’s evil and kills them. Again, woman as predator.

I watch these movies and I take notes on them as I watch. I’ve noticed that the more I like a movie, the fewer notes I take. I took 2 pages of notes for “John Dies at the End,” and 3 pages of notes for “Pontypool,” but most of those notes were ruminations on the nature of fear and zombie movies, not the actual movie. “V/H/S” resulted in six pages of notes, including notes in the margins. This is time of my life, both watching and reviewing this movie, that I’ll never get back. This time has been utterly wasted.

The acting throughout the anthology is very uneven. Characterization is almost entirely absent. When it’s present, the characters are unrepentant assholes who sexually assault women for money or fun. The editing is very poor… most of the vignettes could have stood to be half as long, literally, as they were. I get establishing a sense of normalcy and complacency before whipping out the big horror guns, but tedium is not the way to do it. “Pontypool” handled this really well, and the contrast is striking. Women are overwhelmingly treated as sexual objects, victims, or monster predators (often all three) and not human beings. A lot of the special effects are great and there’s some genuinely creepy/scary moments, but they are overwhelmingly lost in utter tedium and banality. There’s a lot of really great things like this on YouTube, but for free, and better in every possible way.

I give this movie 1 out of 5 stars.

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31 Days of Horror: Apartment 1303

October12

“Apartment 1303” is a remake of a Japanese movie, set in Detroit, about very sad white people.

The movie opens with a young white woman (Janet) walking down a city street enthusing over the phone about the super great awesome apartment she just rented. The young white woman she’s speaking to (Lara) scolds her for taking the very first apartment she sees. Janet is undeterred, and apparently using Lara’s money for the deposit, even though she’s got a full time job that pays her money. Janet, without enough money of her own to pay her own deposit + first month’s rent, hires a moving company to pack and move her stuff for her. She hauls her own little wheeled suitcase into her building, which is covered in graffiti and has abandoned, trashed furniture littering the lobby. What a GREAT apartment! Janet, you make the BEST life choices. Did you actually visit the apartment building, or just hear about what it looked like from the leasing agent? Do decrepit buildings filled with abandoned furniture and graffiti usually HAVE leasing agents? She sees a white girl in a school-type uniform in the lobby as she’s taking the elevator up to the 13th floor (her floor). As she gets off the elevator she sees the same girl, who she hails as “little girl.” The girl, Emily, tells her to clear out.

If you’re wondering why I’m harping on race in this review, it’s because Detroit is over 80% Black, with most white people living in the affluent suburbs and not in down town. However, most movies set in Detroit feature predominantly white casts, just as most news articles about Brave Bold Gentrifiers and Urban Gardeners etc focus on white people and not the Black folks who’ve lived in Detroit for generations. The folks who made this movie made a choice to 1) set it in Detroit and 2) center the story on white people. They made a lot of other frankly baffling choices as well.

Janet dismisses this and lets herself into her apartment, which is incredibly Japanese-looking (paper screened walls, etc), has appliances from the 1970s, and a view of an industrial corridor (“a great view!!!”). She puts some framed photographs of herself and Lara (her sister) onto the kitchen counter/island and tries to open a bottle of wine but doesn’t know how to use a corkscrew. She eventually sorts her shit out and gulps down a massive glass of wine while crying.

Janet spends most of her time in the movie whimpering or crying.

The lights go out twice her first night, her landlord tries to creep on her and force his way into her apartment, her boyfriend is nasty to her. She has nightmares, takes sleeping pills, dreams that she’s literally thrown around the apartment. The next day she talks about “all her bruises” and a coworker/friend comments on facial bruising and accuses her boyfriend of abusing her, and her of lying about the abuse which is… not a tactful or effective way of speaking to someone dealing with Intimate Partner Violence, y’know? Janet denies it all, and calls her sister to cry and talk about how she’s going to stay in a hotel. Lara says not to, because she (Lara) doesn’t have any money/has maxed out her credit card. Again, Janet is a grown woman with a job, relying on her sister to pay her bills.

I should note, here, that Janet and Lara’s mom (Maddie) is an abusive, alcoholic musician whose career is apparently on the decline. She’s had a DUI and is unable to drive, so Lara runs errands for her. Janet moved out because Maddie, while drunk, assaulted her… although Maddie claims Janet walked into her while she (Maddie) was playing guitar and got hit with the guitar. There is literally no reason for there to be an abusive back story for Janet and Lara. Like, Janet is a young woman living in a depressed economy. It would be totally normal for her to want to go out, rent her first apartment on her own, and not want to be some gross sad sack who goes running home when she gets creeped out living on her own. Nope! Women can’t exist in movies unless they are being abused in some ways. Right? Additionally, Maddie asks Lara if she’s been taking her medication because “you can do some sick things when you’re not on your medication.” So we’ve got a GREAT dose of lolcrazycaeks going on.

Long story short, Janet is killed by the ghost, her boyfriend is secretly an undercover cop, and Lara moves into Jan’s old place. A police detective dressed in street clothes who doesn’t bother showing her a badge leaves a file about the apartment with Lara, which is a totally realistic thing to do. He talks about the history of the apartment, implying there’s ghosts, except he totally doesn’t believe in ghosts. Secret-Cop-Boyfriend-Mark who was AT BEST distant towards Jan is incredibly concerned about Lara and spends the night with her several times “to protect her,” blowing off his ex-wife and his kid. Lara’s mom takes out a restraining order against her, yet continues to call her and also visits her. The ghost kills both Mark and Maddie, leaving Lara to get blamed for it. Emily and the superintendent are both ghosts. Blah blah blah. The end.

There’s no charm or subtlety to this movie, there’s a lot of ACTING, and all the women are weak sobbing victims or abusive and insane. I have a feeling the Japanese movie (and book) this is based on is a lot better.

I give this movie 1 out of 5 stars and will keep an eye out for the Japanese version.

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