Tag: Horror


Kevin Mathews 7:30 am
The Turning movie poster

After viewing The Haunting of Bly Manor on Netflix, a loose adaptation of Henry James’ Turn of the Screw and other short stories, it seemed appropriate to check out yet another Turn of the Screw adaptation – The Turning.

The Turning is an updating of James’ classic ghost story. Set in 1994, the premise is maintained, i.e. a young governess is hired to watch over two children after their parents’ deaths. Strange things ensue …

Same old story?

Mackensie Davis and Brooklynn Prince in The Turning.

(Spoilers follow….)

The cast of characters should be familiar to anyone who has read Turn of the Screw or seen its numerous adaptations. There is the unnamed governess (Kate Mandel, in this latest iteration – played by Mackensie Davis). She is of course the protagonist of the story as the plot is centred on her decisions and actions.

There are the two orphaned children, Flora (Brooklynn Prince) and Miles (Finn Wolfhard) and the housekeeper Mrs Grose (Barbara Marten). The previous governess Miss Jessel had mysteriously disappeared and there is also the deceased Mr Quint, a former employee.

Mackensie Davis is Kate Mandel in The Turning

In The Turning, Mandel is given a back story in the shape of her institutionalised mother. This provides a suggestion, nothing more, of mental illness within Mandel’s own psychological makeup.

Nothing new under the sun

Finn Wolfhard is Miles in The Turning.

Plot-wise, The Turning is faithful to Turn of the Screw up to a point. Miles returns to the family home after expulsion from boarding school but almost instantly takes a dislike to Mandel and terrorises her for the rest of the movie.

Like horror? Check out our review of Sinister!

Apart from Miles’ bullying behaviour, Mandel encounters various strange events, which may either be supernatural or a product of Mandel’s disturbed imagination. Basically, she discovers that Miss Jessel may have been raped and drowned by Mr Quint but that is never confirmed as a fact. Mr Quint also terrorises Mandel but once again, it’s unclear whether any of what Mandel experienced is real or not.

Making a right mess of things

That’s the whole problem with The Turning. Everything is left up in the air. The narrative is ambiguous and it’s difficult for a viewer to make head or tail of it all. The final act is the worst of all as an entire sequence is revealed to be a vision of Mandel’s, experienced by her after she looked upon artwork sent by her mother.

Then, rather abruptly, Mandel is affronted by the children as she confronts them about the ghostly presence of Mr Quint before inexplicably being trapped in her own mind. Mandel finds herself at her mother’s institution and is terrified by something the audience is not privy to.

In the final analysis …

A senseless denouement which simply falls apart. Having done quick research, it does seem that originally the project had Steven Spielberg’s involvement. The famed director pulled his participation from the project due to dissatisfaction with its development.

Subsequently, a new director was hired and new script was written but apparently with Spielberg losing interest. The result is this unsatisfying mess. Avoid.

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still there’s more


Kevin Mathews 7:30 am
Sputnik movie review

Sputnik is a Russian scifi horror-thriller released this year. Set in 1983, the story revolves around a young psychiatrist’s efforts to help a cosmonaut who had bonded with an alien creature while in space. Sputnik channels a seventies scifi movie vibe and is loosely influenced by classic alien horror like Alien. Please note that this Sputnik movie review contains spoilers.

Psychology matters

Sputnik movie review

The main character in Sputnik is Dr. Tatyana Klimova (Oksana Akinshina), a young psychiatrist recruited by Colonel Semiradov (Fyodor Bondarchuk), the officer in charge of a military base holding cosmonaut Kostantin (Pyotr Fyodorov). Klimova is tasked to find a way to separate Konstantin from the alien creature.

Horror fan? Check out Don’t Look Now (Explained)!

Nice and easy

Sputnik movie review

While the plot is uncomplicated, its details are slowly revealed to the audience in a clever way so that the protagonist has to alter her decisions and behaviour to adapt to the new information.

Klimova goes from co-operating with Colonel Semiradov to conspiring against him due to his unethical methods. She also takes greater risks as the movie reaches its final act, in order, to save Konstantin, whom she has fallen in love with.

Retro scifi-horror

As mentioned earlier, Sputnik has a very strong seventies scifi movie vibe. A very deliberate pace and realistic tone keeps the audience guessing throughout. We are able to identify with Klimova as her emotions and motivations adjust to the evolving circumstances. Especially in the final act, when drastic action needs to be taken by Klimova and Konstantin.

The setting (Cold War era Soviet Union) is reflected in many of the character’s motivations. Konstantin sees himself as a national hero and appears to have a narcissistic tendency. Colonel Semiradov views the alien creature as a potential weapon to serve the communist cause. Klimova is above these concerns, her main goal is to help Konstantin and hopefully separate him from the alien creature.

No happy endings

The dark ending is again aligned with an early 70s movie vibe. A poignant though-provoking denouement that eschews the American penchant for positivity. Also, considered the genre trappings, the movie is clearly a standalone work, with no hints of any sequels to continue the story. Highly recommended.

Let us know what you thought of our Sputnik movie review at our Power of Pop Facebook page. Check out our other story analyses.

still there’s movie


Kevin Mathews 3:33 pm

Brightburn is a 2019 American superhero horror film directed by David Yarovesky, written by Mark Gunn and Brian Gunn, and produced by James Gunn and Kenneth Huang. Starring Elizabeth Banks, David Denman, Jackson A. Dunn, Matt Jones and Meredith Hagner, the plot follows Brandon Breyer, a young boy of extraterrestrial origin reared on Earth who realizes he has superpowers. Upon learning of them and being activated by his spaceship, Brandon rejects his humanity and turns to evil, opting to terrorize his hometown, including his parents.



Kevin Mathews 7:00 am
Nothing is as it seems.

Us is a 2019 American horror film written and directed by Jordan Peele, starring Lupita Nyong’o, Winston Duke, Elisabeth Moss, and Tim Heidecker. The film follows Adelaide Wilson (Nyong’o) and her family, who are attacked by a group of menacing doppelgängers. (Wikipedia)



Kevin Mathews 7:30 am
The Passage
Lone wolf and cub

The Passage is an American scifi horror thriller television series based on the trilogy of novels by Justin Cronin. It spans years in the life of Amy Bellafonte, as she moves from being manipulated in a government conspiracy to protecting humankind in a post-apocalyptic vampire future. (Wikipedia)



Kevin Mathews 12:13 pm
Velvet Buzzsaw

Velvet Buzzsaw is a 2019 American satirical black comedy horror film directed and written by Dan Gilroy and starring Jake Gyllenhaal, Zawe Ashton, Rene Russo, Toni Collette, Daveed Diggs, Nitya Vidyasagar, Tom Sturridge, Natalia Dyer, Billy Magnussen, Mig Macario, and John Malkovich.