Wednesday, May 18, 2022

Movie Review – Countdown – what would you do if you knew exactly when you were going to die?

I've been watching a lot of movies about clocks counting down to death recently. First In Time, and now this one.

This film came up on Netflix, and I added it to my list. I can't remember exactly when that was, but I've now watched it!

I will introduce the film, and then we can get into my review!

When a nurse downloads an app that claims to predict exactly when a person is going to die, it tells her she only has three days to live. With time ticking away and a figure haunting her, she must find a way to save her life before time runs out.

My Review!

An app that tells you when you are going to die. It sounds like fun and games, download it and it gives you a random amount of time on a clock. And it is fun, for those who get thirty years, sixty years… but for those that have a matter of days, a matter of hours? Things seem a little more real.

Quinn Harris is a nurse, at a hospital where a patient is certain he is going to die in surgery. When he shows Quinn the Countdown app, she believes it’s just a silly app, and that he’s got himself worked up over nothing. But his girlfriend also downloaded the app, and she died when her clock reached zero. When Quinn tells her co-workers about the app they all download it, to see how long they so-called have left to live. Quinn has two days.

Disturbed, Quinn tries to continue life as usual, until she comes in the next day to learn that the patient has died. And his phone shows that his clock has no more time left. She tries everything to escape the ticking clock that is hanging over her head, but nothing seems to work. Even buying a new phone does nothing, as the app simply downloads itself onto that one as well. After all, you can’t escape your fate.

This was a fabulous film. I don’t think there’s a single moment when you’re not ever so slightly on edge about what is going to happen next, and completely aware that the clock isn’t stopping, but steadily ticking down as everything happens. Quinn comes across as a very real character. She doesn’t simply disregard the app, or completely obsess over it, but it nags at her, the thought of her impending death scares her and there is seemingly nothing she can do about it. She is not sure whether to truly believe it or not, but she has enough information to put her on edge, and she can’t be at ease until she knows the truth – and she can’t know the truth until her clock runs out.

As Quinn starts to learn more about the app, things start to click into place with how it works. It is clear from the first few minutes that there is some sort of supernatural nature to the app, so it is not a spoiler to talk about that, but I won’t go too much into what it really is, and the ins and outs of it. The whole idea (that I’m not going to talk about!) is one I don’t think I’ve come across before, and the way it was carried out was wonderful. It is not just a scary movie, with some scary situation, jump scares, and a couple of deaths, it has depth to it, and while there are some jump scares, I think they worked with the film. It is not the kind of supernatural entity that you can figure out the rules to within minutes, there are layers upon layers of different rules for the supernatural aspect of this film, that will keep you thinking even after you’ve finished watching.

Quinn was a character I really liked. She is not perfect in any way, but she tries her hardest at the things she feels are important. Quinn is the character that spends the most time on-screen, and while there are two other characters who I would consider ‘main’ characters, she is definitely the centre role of the film, so I’m glad I liked her! The other two characters, Quinn’s younger sister, Jordan, and Matt, who Quinn meets at an electronic store, when trying to get the app off her phone, are also very likeable characters. I liked Matt, in particular. He is troubled by his past, and scared of what his future holds with the clock on his phone ticking down. Meeting Quinn seems to be what saves him from completely losing himself in what seems to be his last few hours. Jordan and Quinn’s relationship is strained, Quinn is never around, and they don’t spend time together anymore. And, like Matt, both Quinn and Jordan have an event of the past that troubles them, and as a result of that, a morbid curiosity to know how long they have left.

This is a wonderful thriller, and I can see how this could really freak some people out. The idea of finding out when you are going to die is not an original one, but this way of telling the story is almost fascinating, because it almost seems plausible. A silly free app, that all your friends are downloading for a game, or that you hear about and curiously download. And after that, all you know is the tick, tick, tick of each second of your life slipping away. If you like thrillers, horror, and the supernatural, this is a must-watch!

And done!

This really was a great movie. There are some films that I watch and can just forget about afterwards, but there are some that I have to talk about afterwards because I loved them so much. This was the latter.

Anyway, that's all for now...


Wednesday, May 11, 2022

A Review – Caged Time by Erik S. Meyers

I try to cover a wide range of genres on this blog, with both books and movies I review and the short stories I write. I do not think there are many genres I don't like reading/watching.

That being said, I have sorely under appreciated historical fiction. I think I have reviewed one other historical novel, and maybe one film. This is not enough!

I have been curious about this book for a while, and I was grateful to receive a copy through the review portal I joined (you can find out more/join HERE).

Let me stop rambling, introduce the book, and then share my review!

In 1930s New York, David Tarniss leads a quiet life as a cab driver—too quiet—In reality he is hiding a dark secret, his homosexuality, something for which he will pay dearly due to the unique circumstances of the time.

A fascinating, if disturbing, story about the challenges that confronted gays (and Jews) in 1930s New York.

Amazon UKAmazon US

My Review!

David Tarniss’ life is one of monotony, of reliving the same tasks each week, and coming out of them having gained nothing. He is desperately lonely, but between being shy and gay in 1930s New York, he can’t seem to be himself long enough to make meaningful relationships. No one knows he is gay, and he finds himself living a double life, only truly being himself when he is alone. 

When, at an uncomfortable visit to his brother’s for dinner, he meets Nathan, his brother’s colleague, things seem to look up for David. Nathan has a lot in common with David, and they get on well. A day out together leaves David reeling, desperate to spend more time with Nathan, although not sure if he’s also gay and a potential boyfriend, or just a friend. However, things quickly start to go wrong, David finds himself continuously dropped, and people always seem to leave him.

I was not entirely sure what to expect when going into this book. I have read many historical fiction books before, set during various periods of the 1900s, but never one from the perspective of a gay man, pre World War 2. It is a time when certain things are starting to look up, the economy is recovering from the Great Depression, and people are rebuilding their lives, and yet, David cannot seem to share in the joy that things are getting better because, for him, they are not. Homosexuality wasn’t just frowned upon, it was detested. David can’t be himself for his own safety, he can’t trust people around him to know what he is, and accept him for it. It is very easy to sympathise with David. His life is not what he wants it to be, all he wants is to be himself and for that to be okay, but it is not something that is about to happen for him.

David meets a lot of different people in this book, who all have very interesting perspectives on him and his situation. The first is Millicent, who is the only person who knows he is gay and openly accepts him for it. She has been his best friend for years, and, although they don’t keep in touch as much as they want to, she is always there for him, and ready to pop round if he needs her. I loved Millicent, she was an absolutely wonderful character, and friend, to read about. The second would probably be Nathan. He is a difficult character to place. I wasn’t sure whether to like him or not. While David seems infatuated with him, Nathan never treats David particularly well. The third character I would like to mention is Charles. He is not featured a lot, but he offers the unique perspective in this novel of someone who has learnt someone close to him is gay, and has come to accept it, despite not agreeing with it, nor completely understanding it. 

It is interesting, although heart-breaking, to read about all the struggles people faced just for being themselves. I really did not take the “fascinating, if disturbing” part of the blurb as seriously as I should have. There are some scenes in this book that definitely disturb, covering topics such as rape and suicide. It is difficult to read about people being treated so poorly, and having such thoughts simply because of who they are. 

If I had any problems with this book, it was that I struggled to connect with some of the characters. I empathised with David, but I wish there was more of an insight into his emotions. I was a little confused over why he was so obsessed with Nathan, because there never seems to be much of an explanation as to how David feels when he is around him, other than that he thinks he might have found someone he could have a relationship with. This is unfortunate, because I am certain I could have connected with the characters a lot, as the world-building is fabulous.

This is definitely an excellent read, and a very unique one. I have never come across a book like this before. It is a gripping story, that I read in one day, and I would definitely be interested in reading more by this author.

And done!

I am really happy to be getting back into reading. I keep going through phases of reading nothing for weeks, and then maybe reading half a book before giving up again, but this is now two books in three days. It's a nice feeling.

Anyway, that's all for now...


Saturday, May 7, 2022

Short Story – Intruder

There always was something about getting into your pyjamas at the end of a busy day. Something about rewarding yourself for being so productive by cooking and eating dinner in comfy sleep clothes, rather than wearing your work clothes to do both. 

Not that I could cook particularly well, but I knew how to boil pasta and mix in a ready made sauce. Plus, if you sprinkled enough cheese on anything, it would taste good. I sat in front of the television, a blanket over my lap to add to the cosy, relaxing nature I planned my evening to have. The bowl of pasta was warm, balanced on my lap, and I ate while flipping through channels. Nothing was on, and I couldn’t be bothered to get up and put a film on. 

I left the sound of some sort of cooking show on in the background as I tidied up after my meal. I picked up the bowl I had grated the cheese into. Strange, I was sure I had some left over. I always grated too much. I must’ve eaten it at some point. The only thing better than slices of cheese was a handful of grated cheese. 

I walked back to the television, to pick up the glass of water I had left on my coffee table, but it wasn’t there. I frowned down at the clear table. A soft clink made me pause and turn around, and I stared at the glass on the counter that I had just cleared. The glass that was supposed to be on the coffee table. 

A feeling of dread washed over me, soaking me from head to toe, as I tried to remember where my phone was. It should be on the sofa somewhere. I lifted my blanket, shaking it out and willing my phone to fall out and hit the sofa cushion, but there was nothing. 

My phone pinged from across the house, and I stared at the doorway, expecting to see someone standing there. It was dark through the door, there were no windows in the hallway, and I couldn’t see much past the wall of shadows. I walked slowly back to the kitchen, and drew a knife out of the knife block. My last boyfriend used to tell me I was paranoid, hearing sounds around the house and asking him to investigate, to make sure there was no one there. But this wasn’t just hearing sounds. Things didn’t just teleport across the house. 

I approached the hallway like one might approach a timid animal, as if something was going to jump out at me at any moment. Holding the knife out, I reached for the light switch and flipped it on, jumping back as the bulbs shed light over the shadows. There was no one there.

Slowly, I went through the rooms. The bathroom shower curtain was drawn, I pulled it like that after my shower in the morning, so it would dry off and wouldn’t go mouldy. I was having a hard time trying to figure out whether I would prefer to deal with mould or have peace of mind. I flung the shower curtain back, thrusting the knife forwards, just in case I needed to ward someone off, but the bath was empty.

My bedroom was next, and my heart was already pounding after the shower curtain. I checked my cupboards before taking a deep breath, and kneeling down to look under my bed. I lifted the blanket that was trailing off my bed, looking under, and through to the other side. There was nothing under there but dust.

Just when I was starting to feel a little better, the light clicked off, and my bedroom door slammed shut. I jumped to my feet in the dark, holding the knife out. There was a faint amount of late evening light creeping through the window, enough to know that there was no one in the room with me, but my hand shook as I held the knife up. There was no way this was paranoia. Paranoia turned shadows into people, sounds into dangerous scenarios. Paranoia did not move glasses, didn’t shut me in rooms and turn the lights off. Paranoid didn’t eat my leftover cheese.

I sunk onto the edge of my bed, trying to slow my somewhat erratic breathing. I listened, hearing footsteps along the hallway, and held my breath until I realised what a stupid thing that was to do. Whoever it was knew I was in here, what did it matter if they heard me breathing?

It dawned upon me that there was nothing in this situation I could control. I was in a room with no lock on the door, no way out, no way to call for help… but, I could change those things, couldn’t I?

I dragged my bed across the room, shoving it up against the door. It wouldn’t do much, but I couldn’t think of how else to block the door. I turned to the window. It didn’t open very wide, and I was two stories up, but I could squeeze through, I was sure.

The window creaked as I pushed it as wide as it would go. I could hear my kettle start boiling, and I frowned towards my barricaded bedroom door. Had this person broken into my house, shut me in a room, and sat down to make themselves a cup of tea?

I swung my legs out the window, wiggling through until I was dangling, holding on with just my hands. I made the mistake of looking down, but even the added nausea wasn’t going to stop me. I wasn’t going to stay in a house I wasn’t safe in. I closed my eyes, and let go.

I landed hard on the ground below, in a heap on the floor. I looked up at the sound of a window opening, and saw my downstairs neighbour looking out the window at me.

“Are you okay?” She asked, turning to look across the room when the cry of a baby filled the air. She glanced back towards me.

“Call the police. There’s someone in my apartment.”

The woman brought me inside as she called the police, her baby on her hip as she bounced it around to get it to stop crying. I sat on the edge of one of her sofas, biting my nails as I listened to her talk on the phone.

It took approximately one and a half cups of tea, and six nails bitten down to the quick before the police turned up. An officer knocked on the door of the woman I now knew as Lucy, and sat with me as he tried to get the whole story, although I had to keep backtracking, forgetting things and remembering them after I had finished that part of the story.

I glanced out the window when I saw movement, and watched two police officers flank my ex boyfriend as they led him, in handcuffs, to one of the two police cars parked outside. The boyfriend who had called me paranoid. Paranoid, my ass.

And done!

The post is up a little late today, I know, I know. I forgot to schedule it, and then left the house!

Anyway, that's all for now...