Get Out: A Film Deserving of the Hype

Horror cinema is an ideal format for illuminating and discussing mass anxiety. Zombie film comes to mind as one representation of “fear-of-the-crowd”, i.e. the fear of being engulfed or overtaken. In 1976, George Romero’s Dawn of the Dead was shot in a shopping mall replete with lumbering zombies whose sole purpose was to consume. In the 2004 remake, the zombies returned to the shopping malls in which they spent their human lives; but they were super-charged and stronger than ever. 21st-century zombies lack personal agency, wit, and intellect like their slower-moving predecessors; but you can be sure they own and can operate their cell phones.

Get Out , a break-out film written and directed by Jordan Peele has been classified as horror, thriller, and comedy and I’d say it’s a type of zombie film. (You may remember Key & Peele–a sketch comedy television series featuring Jordan Peele and Keegan-Michael Key).  Peele’s film has been a sensation: Rotten Tomatoes gives it a 99%!   Although you won’t find prototypical, grey-faced zombies mindlessly lumbering through a mall, the main protagonist must fight for his life….and his brains. If we look at Get Out in terms of how it fits into or critiques the culture and society that produces it, what current social or cultural issues might be present? (The inimitable Nina Simone sums it up well: “You can’t help it. An artist’s duty, as far as I’m concerned, is to reflect the times.”) What cultural or social issues does Get Out bring to the forefront or interrogate?

Cinema that enables viewers to experience life from the perspective of another is powerful. As a white woman, I watched Get Out  from the point-of-view of a young black male. In watching from this perspective, I stepped into the shoes of Chris, the lead character. You will certainly sympathize with Chris (played by Daniel Kaluuya), as he begins to unravel how his white girlfriend’s family (The Armitage family) and their affiliates are entangled in a twisted and evil operation. Get Out  presents an ominous view of human nature and confronts issues of overt and subtle racism.  Despite some much-needed moments of comic relief (after all, comedy is often a medium for acknowledging & coping with the absurdities and injustices of life), the tone of the film is decidedly morose.  Early on, viewers watch as a young black man is kidnapped–a foreshadowing of chilling and disturbing events to ensue. Horror cinema–unlike Rom Coms or even Drama (in my opinion) most effectively acknowledges and critiques society and culture. Horror effectively conveys and validates terror in a way that no other film genre has been able to do.

In a similar vein as Invasion of the Bodysnatchers, a supplanting operation of the creepiest kind is underway in Get Out  when Chris notices how strangely his black contemporaries are behaving. The speed of the film coupled with the unmistakable feeling  that something horrifying looms in the not-so-distant future contributes to the paralyzing anxiety experienced by Chris as he meets his white girlfriend’s parents for the first time. I was not surprised to learn that Peele was heavily influenced by Stanley Kurbrick as Get Out presents several bizarre and anxiety-producing scenes in which you’re not exactly sure what’s going on, but your gut tells you to get out! Subtlety itself takes on a very important role and purpose in this film: sometimes the most terrible realities are wolves in sheep’s clothing. Subtle terror creeps in undetected (but not unfelt, necessarily) until it’s too late. Like Chris, viewers begin to feel a bit crazy as self-doubt sets in. After all, the Armitage family initially appears relatively harmless; but their ignorance is also immediately palpable.

Get Out  effectively uses cinematography, scoring, acting, and directing to produce an undeniably paranoid & distrustful atmosphere. You see and feel what Chris feels. Every detail in this film was carefully considered — even down to the opening song, Redbone, by Childish Gambino: “Well, first of all, I love the ‘Stay Woke’ [lyric] — that’s what this movie is about,” he (Peele) explains to HipHopDX Editor-in-Chief, Trent Clark. “I wanted to make sure that this movie satisfied the black horror movie audience’s need for characters to be smart and do things that intelligent and observant people would do.

This film is not just a run-of-the-mill horror flick designed to give you a thrill: it sticks with you. We don’t do a good job of collectively discussing issues racism in this country, but this film prompts another discussion. The Director stated poignantly in an interview: ” ‘Part of being black in this country, or being a minority in this country, is about feeling like we’re perceiving things that we’re told we’re not perceiving,” said Peele. “It’s a state of mind. It’s a piece of the condition of being African American, certainly, that people may not know. They may not realize the toll that it does take — even if the toll is making us doubt ourselves.'”

When  your fellow human beings experience something on a mass scale, listen to them. Listening–not denying & not being silent–is revolutionary.

 

 

 

 

Universal Harvester by John Darnielle

I just finished listening to John Darnielle read his book, Universal Harvester, on CD. I am left asking myself, “What just happened?” I liked it. I think I would like to re-read it, this time in print.

The book is about a young man named Jeremy Heldt who works at Video Hut in Nevada, Iowa in the mid-nineties. He is a down-to-earth guy, having lost his mother to a car accident six years prior. As a relatively responsible twentysomething adult, he isn’t sure what to do when he discovers that some videos have been returned with strange footage spliced into them. It is unclear to him whether the scenes are a goof, or if someone is getting hurt and sending out a cry for help. Also, his boss at the video store may or may not have become personally entangled in whatever it is.

I was first drawn to listen to this book because I read in a Booklist review that it is set in small-town Iowa. Not knowing anything about author John Darnielle, I thought, “I want to find out how he portrays an Iowan. I want to hear if he’s going to butcher the way we talk.”  I was admittedly skeptical that I wouldn’t find his portrayal of an Iowan to be silly, maybe a little bit insulting. Often it seems to me that nonnatives perceive us all to be rubes. Sometimes actors portray our manner of speaking in a way that more resembles a southern drawl than the intonation of an actual Iowan. I was pleased to find Darnielle’s main character sounding like some Iowans I know, albeit the ones who have also spent time living out west. This made more sense to me once I looked up a little more about Darnielle online and learned that he grew up in southern California and lived in Portland, Oregon briefly after high school. He did live in some of the Iowa towns where the events in Universal Harvester take place, though it is unclear when and how long.

My opinions of the writer/reader’s dialect aside, this book is a hard one to categorize. Some libraries in our system have classified it as fiction; others put it in the horror section. I am not usually a reader of horror books, and when I realized it was considered that, I thought “Uh oh. What am I getting myself into?” As I got further into the book, I kept bracing myself for something gory or horrifically disturbing. When I think horror, I think gore. However, there isn’t anything terribly gory in this book.

It turns out I was just as mistaken as the folks who think Iowans speak with a drawl. I came across this great article from The Horror Writers Association and learned that horror can take as many forms as the people who read it. After all, not everyone is horrified by the same things. I happen to find gore horrifying, some people are just as horrified by the unknown. Death is perhaps the biggest of the unknowns, but there are also a myriad of other unknowns throughout life.

There are many unknowns in Universal Harvester. If you like a plot that gets neatly tied up at the end, this book is not for you. However, if you appreciate great writing and a story well-told that makes you think and ask questions, then you should check this book out. It would be a great book club selection, because there is plenty here to explore and discuss. (In fact, if you know me, please read this book so we can talk about the details together! I’m still not sure what just happened.)

Next, I am going to check out some Mountain Goats CDs. The author of this book is in a band called the Mountain Goats, and he has been hailed as one of the best living lyricists. Judging by his novel writing ability, I’d say that’s likely a fair assessment. Happy reading and/or listening!

New Horror in September

Featured new additions to DPL’s Horror collection! Click on the title to place a hold. For more new books, visit our Upcoming Releases page. As always, if there’s a title you would like to read, please send us a purchase suggestion.

9781250058515The Walking Dead: Search and Destroy by Jay Bonansinga and Robert Kirkman – For one brief moment, it seemed like Lilly and her plague-weary band of survivors might just engineer a better tomorrow. Banding together with other small town settlements, they begin a massive project to refurbish the railroad between Woodbury and Atlanta. The safer travel will begin a new post-apocalyptic era of trade, progress, and democracy. Little do they know, however, that trouble is brewing back home. Out of nowhere, a brutal new faction has attacked Woodbury while Lilly and the others have been off repairing the railroad. Now the barricades are burning. Adults have been murdered, children kidnapped. But why? Lilly Caul and her ragtag posse of rescuers will soon discover the chilling answers to these questions and more as they launch a desperate mission to save the kidnapped children. But along the way, the dark odyssey will take them into a nightmarish series of traps and hellish encounters with incomprehensible swarms of undead.

grant_feedback-hc21Feedback by Mira Grant – There are two sides to every story. We had cured cancer. We had beaten the common cold. But in doing so we unleashed something horrifying and unstoppable. The infection spread leaving those afflicted with a single uncontrollable impulse: FEED. Now, twenty years after the Rising, a team of scrappy underdog reporters relentlessly pursue the facts while competing against the brother-and-sister blog superstars, the Masons. Surrounded by the infected, and facing more insidious forces working in the shadows, they must hit the presidential campaign trail and uncover dangerous truths. Or die trying.

15e8208c7b85c4e0bf47dcc0fabd8d3aChildren of Lovecraft edited by Ellen Datlow – Howard Phillips Lovecraft’s stories shaped modern horror more than any other author’s in the last two centuries: Cthulhu, the Old Ones, Herbert West: Reanimator, and more terrifying nightmares emerged from the mythos of this legendary writer. Dark Horse teams up with Hugo and Bram Stoker award-winning editor Ellen Datlow to bring you this anthology of original prose stories that are “inspired” in theme and plot by Lovecraft’s mythos. Featuring work by Richard Kadrey, Brian Hodge, A. C. Wise, Siobhan Carroll, Orrin Grey, and many more, with a cover art by Hellboy creator Mike Mignola.

9781250057181The Motion of Puppets by Keith Donohue – In the Old City of Québec, Kay Harper falls in love with a puppet in the window of the Quatre Mains, a toy shop that is never open. She is spending her summer working as an acrobat with the cirque while her husband, Theo, is translating a biography of the pioneering photographer Eadweard Muybridge. Late one night, Kay fears someone is following her home. Surprised to see that the lights of the toy shop are on and the door is open, she takes shelter inside. The next morning Theo wakes up to discover his wife is missing. Under police suspicion and frantic at her disappearance, he obsessively searches the streets of the Old City. Meanwhile, Kay has been transformed into a puppet, and is now a prisoner of the back room of the Quatre Mains, trapped with an odd assemblage of puppets from all over the world who can only come alive between the hours of midnight and dawn. The only way she can return to the human world is if Theo can find her and recognize her in her new form. A Library Reads October pick!

creepypastacollectionThe Creepypasta Collection: Modern Urban Legends You Can’t Unread – There are stories that scare you. And then there are the dark and disturbing creepypasta stories that will leave you seriously freaked out. The Creepypasta Collection is an unsettling anthology of terror, full of nightmares and dangerous creatures – from unearthly supernatural beings to the murderously disturbed. So, lock the doors, check under the bed, turn up the lights, and get ready for an unforgettable, up-all-night journey into the heart of darkness.

 

jack-sparksThe Last Days of Jack Sparks by Jason Arnopp – It was no secret that journalist Jack Sparks had been researching the occult for his new book. No stranger to controversy, he’d already triggered a furious Twitter storm by mocking an exorcism he witnessed. Then there was that video: forty seconds of chilling footage that Jack repeatedly claimed was not of his making, yet was posted from his own YouTube account. Nobody knew what happened to Jack in the days that followed — until now.

New Horror in August

Featured new additions to DPL’s Horror collection! Click on the title to place a hold. For more new books, visit our Upcoming Releases page. As always, if there’s a title you would like to read, please send us a purchase suggestion.

25174916Betrayals by Kelley Armstrong – When Olivia’s life exploded–after she found out she was not the adopted child of a privileged Chicago family but of a notorious pair of convicted serial killers–she found a refuge in the secluded but oddly welcoming town of Cainsville, Illinois. Working with Gabriel Walsh, a fiendishly successful criminal lawyer with links to the town, she discovered the truth about her parents’ crimes in an investigation that also revealed the darker forces at work in the place that had offered her a haven. As if that wasn’t enough, she also found out that she, Gabriel and her biker boyfriend Ricky were not caught in an ordinary sort of love triangle, but were hereditary actors in an ancient drama in which the elders of Cainsville and the mysterious Huntsmen who opposed them had a huge stake. Now someone is killing street kids in the city, and the police have tied Ricky to the crimes. Setting out with Gabriel’s help to clear Ricky’s name, Olivia once again finds her own life at risk. Soon the three are tangled in a web of betrayals that threatens their uneasy equilibrium and is pushing them toward a hard choice: either they fulfill their destinies by trusting each other and staying true to their real bonds, or they succumb to the extraordinary forces trying to win an eternal war by tearing them apart.

24060543Black Tide by Patrick Freivald – To Matt Rowley, augmentation is something that he will have to learn to live with, for the rest of his life. As cults spring up in worship of the demonic beings freed by the last of the nephilim, the United States calls on Matt Rowley to meet the threat. His unnatural powers returning with every passing day, Matt becomes the only weapon able to withstand eldritch forces older than time and darker than the blackest sea. When his wife and infant son are taken in a violent attack on his hometown, Matt falls into a vast conspiracy that could destroy his family and his very soul. They want Matt Rowley’s powers and will kill everyone to get them.

25894017The Demonists by Thomas Sniegoski – There is more to our world than meets the eye–darker things, crueler things. Exorcist John Fogg and his wife, psychic medium Theodora Knight, know what lurks in the shadows. But even they’re not prepared for the worst Hell has to offer… It was supposed to be a simple exorcism, a publicity stunt to firmly establish John and Theodora’s thriving paranormal investigation empire in the public eye. But something went wrong, leading to an on-air massacre that unleashed a malicious host of demons and left Theodora catatonic, possessed by countless spirits. John sets out on a desperate quest to find a cure for his wife, but his obsession brings him face-to-face with an even more terrifying problem: Theodora’s possession is only one piece of a deadly plot that is threatening the entire world. Because an ancient evil is about to make Earth its battlefield–and without John and Theodora’s intervention, there is no chance for salvation.

51wxKrCdygLThe Devil’s Evidence by Simon Unsworth – The man with no memory of who he was or what led to his damnation is now in command of the Information Office of Hell. This power has only inspired new, deadly enemies like Mr. Tap, the cunning leader of a shadowy organization known as the Evidence. Fool alone has survived the wrath of both demon and angel, and now he faces his most thrilling and complex challenge. Troubling and deadly fires are spreading throughout Hell, and it is Fool’s job to sift the ashes and find their source. The clues he finds are mysterious and unsettling, implying something different from the usual litany of cruelty he sees. But one fact is the most disconcerting: the fires have left his masters at the Bureaucracy terrified. In the midst of the chaos, Fool is sent to accompany a political delegation to Heaven. It is unprecedented for a condemned human to enter the land of the elevated, but Fool is protected as one of Hell’s own. When his arrival coincides with the discovery of an impossible murder, he faces a catastrophic paradox. Violence, corruption, and fear are Hell’s currency; how does one investigate evil where those concepts cannot exist? Impossible or not, the killings are real, and the evidence leads Fool deep into the contradictions of a visionary landscape, where danger can present itself in any form, and to the heart of a conspiracy with the power to upset the balance of Heaven and Hell.

27276264The Hatching Ezekiel Boone – Deep in the jungle of Peru, where so much remains unknown, a black, skittering mass devours an American tourist whole. Thousands of miles away, an FBI agent investigates a fatal plane crash in Minneapolis and makes a gruesome discovery. Unusual seismic patterns register in a Kanpur, India earthquake lab, confounding the scientists there. During the same week, the Chinese government “accidentally” drops a nuclear bomb in an isolated region of its own country. As these incidents begin to sweep the globe, a mysterious package from South America arrives at a Washington, D.C. laboratory. Something wants out. The world is on the brink of an apocalyptic disaster. An ancient species, long dormant, is now very much awake.

 

Faker by Mike Carey

fakerWhat if you woke up one day and no one recognized who you were? What would you do? Would you think it’s a practical joke? Would you think something was seriously wrong?

What if you had lived your whole life hiding from memories of your past; terrible, horrible memories that you’d blocked from your mind? What if you had secrets you wanted no one else to know, be they good or bad?

What if all of a sudden someone else knew all your secrets, all your previous actions, and thought those memories were actually theirs? What would you do?

All of the above scenarios happen in Mike Carey’s graphic novel, Faker. In Faker, readers follow the lives of five college students: Yvonne, Marky, Sack, Jessie, and Nick. Jessie shows up a few days before the semester begins to meet with teachers and get everything sorted before the semester begins. After all of her friends show up and the house has been reunited, they decide to head out and party. Yvonne, Marky, Sack, and Jessie end up drinking in one of the science labs in the college with Marky mixing up drinks for them. Soon they all end up violently ill, throwing up everywhere, and passing out until morning when Nick finds them all incoherent on the floor. Thinking they are just hung over, all four go on with their lives.

Things quickly start to escalate out of control when people start not to recognize Nick. People that knew Nick from last year, people he worked with, people he even hooked up with have no clue who he is. Nick also seems to have access to memories that aren’t actually his. Everyone in the group starts throwing around ideas about what could actually be wrong with Nick, while some decide to do their own investigations. This graphic novel is a psychological horror story involving memory drugs, pharmaceutical labs, government conspiracies, and the strength of friendship as all hell breaks loose when no one knows what the truth really is. The beginning of Faker had a bit of a slow start for me, but toward the middle and definitely at the end, I was thoroughly hooked in the story and the conspiracy that was threaded through everything.

172 Hours on the Moon by Johan Harstad

12860573I read a lot of  YA dystopia. A lot. I’m huge fan of the genre, but after so many trilogies of teens fighting the system, rising to fame, falling into a forbidden love and/or making terrible decisions, I’d become a bit bored of it. So when I came across 172 Hours on the Moon by Johan Harstad and skimmed the book flap – in 2019 three teenagers are selected from a worldwide lottery to go to the moon in the hopes of making space travel more popular and, for the teens, to gain fame for a punk band, to forget an ex or to escape strict parents – it seemed like the same old thing. But, faced with a long stretch of being TV and Internet-less, I finally gave it a chance.

And, man oh man, was I wrong.

Forget about fighting the power, forget the love triangle. This book is one of the best straight-up no-blood horror books I’ve read in quite a while (no surprise the author is Norwegian, where some of the best stark horror novels come from.) Its classification as young adult is unfortunate, as many horror fans might turn their noses up at the genre.

The novel does begin with the usual teenage angst: Mia, from Norway is worried that her punk band will fall apart before they can reach fame; Midori feels suffocated by her life in Japan and Antoine is suffering from an exceptionally bad breakup. The trio is sped through three months of training and are soon launched to the moon, accompanied by three experienced crew, to spend a week living and conducting experiments in the previously abandoned moon base DARLAH 2. As soon as they arrive, of course, things start to go very, very wrong. Damage to key systems that appears to be sabotage, vague references to the ill-fated first moon base DARLAH 1 and its crew, and impossible sightings of spacesuit-clad others walking about the surface all combine to heighten the paranoia and terror of the group. Back on Earth, a former astronaut struggles against dementia to spread a dire warning to the world – that we should never have gone back to the moon, and – if the current crew survives – what we may bring back. Throughout the book, Harstad offers little pieces of memorabilia – blueprints of the DARLAH stations, heavily redacted mission reports and the text of strange transmissions received from an unknown source, lending an eerie reality to the story.

This is a novel that, after a bit of  slow beginning, grips you tightly with icy hands. The background of the three teens isn’t as developed as it could have been, but that only increases the feeling of watching something horrible happen from a great distance. The ending, while not an entirely happy one, left me desperate for a sequel.

The Southern Reach Trilogy by James VanderMeer

Annihilation_by_jeff_vandermeer

Area X. Engulfing an ill-defined swath of land, sea and sky in the southern U.S., it appeared suddenly, cutting off all connections – human, animal and otherwise – from the rest of the world. The government sends team after team – scientific and military – into Area X. Some disappear without a trace, others return badly damaged and still others return seemingly unharmed, only to die weeks or months later. Most communication and recording instruments are rendered useless once the border is crossed, the footage that does survive only deepens the mystery – and the growing horror – of Area X. Still, the agency that oversees each of these doomed expeditions – The Southern Reach – prepares a twelfth  expedition.

Authority_(Southern_Reach_Trilogy)_by_Jeff_VanderMeerVanderMeer’s Southern Reach Trilogy opens with Annihilation (February 2014) as four women – an anthropologist, a surveyor, a psychologist and a biologist – are sent into Area X. Neither the author nor the narrator (the biologist) use names, instead the characters are defined only by their professions, lending a clinical and dispassionate air to the narrative. Even though we observe the others and Area X through the biologists’ eyes, even she remains somewhat removed from us and from her team. But instead of alienating the reader from the narrator, it lends an odd kind of intimacy that continues throughout the trilogy. The second book, Authority (May 2014) is told from the point of view of a man called only Control, who has been put in charge of The Southern Reach soon after end of the twelfth expedition –  and the investigation into its fate – as Area X appears to infiltrate (or contaminate, depending on your perspective) the world outside its borders. The third book, Acceptance (September 2014) returns us to Area X and the similarly inscrutable organization attempting to oversee, explain and control it.

Acceptance_by_Jeff_VanderMeerThe language VanderMeer uses is  deeply atmospheric and complex, at times, maddeningly so*, although here in Area X it is entirely appropriate. Area X itself defies explanation and even description, as if our view of it through the eyes of our semi-anonymous characters was obscured, with unseen or unknowable dimensions hovering right at the edge of our perception. This dawning horror of the unknown creates and maintains a nearly intolerable level of suspense as layer after layer  is peeled back – at times reluctantly – exposing and obscuring Area X and the people drawn into its influence.

This series is one of those that you’ll want (or in my case, need) to read more than once and even then, it stays with you. It reminds me of Stephen King’s short story Crouch End, or anything by Lovecraft. Even the cover art on the paperback editions is worth studying – and then hiding safely away, lest Area X escapes.

~ Allison

* In the middle of reading Authority, I came across this word and had to share it.

10006109_10204247464529226_578602301698060360_n

DVDs Coming in April

APRIL 1

anchorman2Anchorman 2 – Will Ferrell, Steve Carell, Paul Rudd, Christina Applegate, David Koechner

Ron and Veronica’s romance falls apart as the duo anchors a weekend broadcast at a New York-based network in 1980. Ron is fired for being the worst anchor anyone has ever seen and so he leaves Veronica rather than live in her shadow. So he re-creates himself at a CNN-type network in the eighties and accidentally invents the soul-sucking brand of non-news that now rules cable as he tries to win back Veronica’s love. Rated PG-13

APRIL 8

hobbit smaugThe Hobbit – the Desolation of Smaug – Ian McKellen, Martin Freeman, Richard Armitage, Orlando Bloom, Evangeline Lilly, Stephen Fry, Lee Pace, Benedict Cumberbatch, Cate Blanchett

Bilbo Baggins continues on in his journey with the wizard Gandalf and thirteen dwarves, led by Thorin Oakenshield, on an epic quest to reclaim their lost Dwarf Kingdom of Erebor. Rated PG-13

 

homefrontHomefront – Jason Statham, James Franco, Winona Ryder, Kate Bosworth,

An action-packed thriller about how far one man will go to protect his family. Widowed ex-DEA agent Phil Broker retires to a quiet Southern town with his ten-year-old daughter and discovers that the idyllic setting is riddled with drugs and violence. When a riveting chain of events forces him to face off with psychotic local drug lord Gator Bodine, Broker must retaliate using the fearsome skills he hoped to keep in his past. Rated R

 

paranormalParanormal Activity – The Marked Ones – Andrew Jacobs, Molly Ephraim, Richard Cabral

The same malevolent demon who claimed Kristi and Katie is back. Jesse starts experiencing several disconcerting and indescribable things after his neighbor’s death. As he looks into these occurrences, he discovers that he has been chosen for possession by this malicious demon. It’s inevitable that he will be under its control; it’s only a matter of time. Rated R

 

august osage countyAugust : Osage County – Meryl Streep, Julia Roberts, Chris Cooper, Ewan McGregor, Sam Shepard, Dermot Mulroney, Juliette Lewis

The dark, hilarious, and deeply touching story of the strong-willed women of the Weston family, whose lives have diverged until a family crisis brings them back to the Midwest house they grew up in, and to the dysfunctional woman who raised them. Rated R

 

 

APRIL 15

philomenaPhilomena – Judi Dench, Steve Coogan, Sophie Kennedy Clark

In 1952, a young Philomena was sent to the convent of Roscrea in Ireland after giving birth to her first child. When her son became a toddler, the nuns sent him to America for adoption. Philomena then spent the next fifty years seeking for him in vain. Rated PG-13

 

 

secret life of walter mittySecret Life of Walter Mitty – Ben Stiller, Kristen Wiig, John Daly, Gary Wilmes

Watch the classic story by James Thurber, about a daydreamer who escapes his anonymous life by disappearing into a world of fantasies filled with heroism, romance, and action. When his job along with that of his co-worker are threatened, Walter takes action in the real world embarking on a global journey that turns into an adventure more extraordinary than anything he could have ever imagined. Rated PG

 

flowers in the atticFlowers in the Attic – Ellen Burstyn, Heather Graham, Kiernan Shipka, Mason Dye, Dylan Bruce

A gothic story of four siblings who, after the death of their father, are torn from a peaceful life and subjected to abuse resulting from a dark family secret. Abandoned by their mother and forced to endure unimaginable treatment living in the attic of their grandparents’ mansion, the children form their own family unit. But as the oldest boy and girl come of age, they are entrapped by their family’s sordid past as they try to survive and escape the harsh living conditions.

APRIL 29

47 ronin47 Ronin – Keanu Reeves, Hiroyuki Sanada, Ko Shibasaki

Kai is an outcast who joins Oishi, the leader of 47 outcast samurai. Together they seek vengeance upon the treacherous overlord who killed their master and banished their kind. They embark upon a quest that challenges them with a series of trials that would destroy ordinary warriors. Rated PG-13

 

 

legend of herculesThe Legend of Hercules – Kellan Lutz, Gaia Weiss, Scott Adkins

In ancient Greece, 1200 B.C., a queen succumbs to the lust of Zeus to bear a son promised to overthrow the tyrannical rule of the king and restore peace to a land in hardship. But this prince, Hercules, knows nothing of his real identity or his destiny. He desires only one thing: the love of Hebe, Princess of Crete, who is promised to his brother. When Hercules learns of his greater purpose, he must choose: to flee with his true love or fulfill his destiny and become the true hero of his time. Rated PG-13

 

gimme shelterGimme Shelter – Vanessa Hudgens, Rosario Dawson, Brendan Fraser, James Earl Jones

Based on inspiring true events, a teenage girl flees life with her drug-addicted mother to find the wealthy father she’s never known. Tells the extraordinary and courageous tale of one girl’s fight against the odds to find redemption and, ultimately, to create a family she can call her own. Rated PG-13

 

 

The Cabin In The Woods

I can’t believe I’m about to recommend a horror movie. This feels weird. But The Cabin in the Woods is the kind of movie that creates a lot of confusing emotions, and I bet that’s the kind of praise that producer and co-writer Joss Whedon would hope for. Five college kids enjoy a road trip to an isolated mountaintop cabin, complete with a peaceful lake, sinister locals, and a cellar full to bursting with creepy memorabilia. If it sounds too much like a stereotypical slasher, that’s because it is: this cabin is being controlled remotely by a full staff of suited, vaguely government-looking people who are manipulating the kids’ behavior the way the Gamemakers manipulated The Hunger Games (Push the red button for more fire, pull the green handle to unleash monsters, that kind of thing).

This film was shot in 2009 – well before the success of Thor and The Avengers made Chris Hemsworth bigger than his small but hilarious role as the not-so-stereotypical jock – but it wasn’t released until 2012. If you’ve remained unspoiled since then, somehow, I won’t ruin your fun in watching this movie unspoiled. But I will say: it’s darned surprising. Every time you think you have this film figured out, you find out it goes just a little bit further, and gets a little bit better, than you’d imagined. But this recommendation comes with a warning: The Cabin in the Woods is funny, and smart, and satirical, and downright fun, but the fun of lampooning horror movies can’t be had without actually showing a horror movie, so there are lots of seriously graphic scenes here – definitely stay away if you can’t handle on-screen violence. But if you can, and if you’ve ever wondered: “why?! Why on earth do people like these dumb slasher flicks? What are we, as a society, and as an artistic culture, getting out of it?!” here’s a well-made movie that will offer some interesting answers.

From Page to Screen: Spring 2013 Edition

Did you rush out to the theaters to see Beautiful Creatures, Warm Bodies, and Safe Haven after reading the novels?  Here are even more upcoming films based on books.  Visit the library to check them out before seeing the movies!

admissionAdmission by Jean Hanff Korelitz – “Thirty-eight-year old Portia Nathan, a Princeton University admissions officer, must decide whether or not to confront the truth when a life-altering decision from her past resurfaces.”  The movie stars Tina Fey and Paul Rudd and hits theaters on March 13th.

The Host by Stephenie Meyer – “A member of a species that takes over the minds of human bodies, Wanderer is unable to disregard his host’s love for a man in hiding, a situation that forces both possessor and host to become unwilling allies.”  The bestselling follow-up to Twilight stars Saoirse Ronan and is in theaters March 29th.

greatgatsbyThe Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald – “Jay Gatsby had once loved beautiful, spoiled Daisy Buchanan, then lost her to a rich boy. Now, mysteriously wealthy, he is ready to risk everything to woo her back.”  The film, directed by Baz Luhrmann and starring Leonardo DiCaprio, Carey Mulligan, and Tobey Maguire, is in theaters May 10th.

Odd Thomas by Dean Koontz – “‘The dead don’t talk. I don’t know why.’ But they do try to communicate, with a short-order cook in a small desert town serving as their reluctant confidant.”  Starring Willem Dafoe and Anton Yelchin.  In theaters April 5th.

all book descriptions from publishers