Let’s face it: decent modern horror films are hard to come by. Striking the balance between tension, genuine scares and an original storyline is something that has largely eluded mainstream cinema in recent years, which explains why a lot of horror films fail to make it to the big screen and are fast-tracked to DVD before you can say ‘I’ll just go and check the basement out’.
James Wan has had mixed form up to this point. The Australian is best known for his role as co-creator of the dreadful Saw franchise (and director of its first installment); movies that were huge money-spinners, movies that caught the imagination of the multiplex masses, but not exactly the sort of art that a filmmaker would want to have quoted on their epitaph.
And then along came Insidious. A film that impudently borrowed from the golden age of horror – from the Hammer-style title to the superb Bernard Herrmann-esque score and sound effects – it was a revelation of the modern genre. Not without its flaws, certainly (the last third in particular saw the story majorly lose its way), but it was nevertheless a compelling narrative about a young family whose son’s talent for ‘astral projection’ leaves his body exposed to a host of malevolent ghosts and a scary red-faced demon, all of which want to possess him. Far-fetched? I’ll say, and that’s without going into ‘The Further’, the purgatory-style no-man’s-land where the dead supposedly wander around waiting for an ‘in’ back to the world of the living. Still, the film’s slow-building, creepy nature and multitude of clever jumps made for a hugely entertaining mainstream horror and Wan’s promising work on The Conjuring earlier this year only served to heighten the anticipation for this sequel.
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Part of my job as a music journalist involves reviewing albums. Some of the albums that I review are by Irish artists, some are by international artists. Some reviews are positive, some are good, some are middling, some are negative. The range of positive-to-negative album quality is vast, and I certainly don’t discriminate based on where an act or band is from (I don’t buy into the ‘treating Irish artists with kid gloves’ debate, but that’s a blog post for another day).
I occasionally get amusing hate-tweets/emails from disgruntled fans who have a bone to pick with my negative review, but rarely the actual bands themselves. Recently, I happened to review two Irish albums for The Ticket in relatively quick succession. I didn’t like either album for different reasons, and said so in my two-star reviews of both. What inspired this blog post was the reaction from both acts (who I’m not going to name, because it’s irrelevant). Continue reading »
Originally published in The Irish Times, September 3rd 2012.
Where do you start after a six-year absence? If you’re Grandaddy, you start with the hits. The Californian indie-rock quintet have made Electric Picnic one of the stops on their month-long reunion lap, but rather than forcing new material on an expectant audience, this was a complete exercise in crowd-pleasing.
Opening with El Camino’s in the West, Jason Lytle and Co may not say a whole lot to the crowd, but with tunes like a Now It’s On, AM 180 and The Crystal Lake in your canon, why waste time with niceties?
Aaron Burtch amusingly puffs away on a cigarette hands-free as he drums, and Lytle swigs from a bottle of wine between songs; they’re having fun and it’s like they’ve never been away. How about you stick around a little longer, guys? Continue reading »
Unfortunately, many of my reviews on IrishTimes.com and in Monday’s newspaper were published under the wrong name, so here are the ones that I wrote over the course of last weekend.
My highlight was a gorgeous set by John Grant and the delicious chickpea and spinach stew I had from the tiny Dux & Co. stand. It was ALMOST worth the 20-minute-long queue.
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