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Horror-esque Representations of PTSD in “Recovery”



As our society grows more comfortable with conversations about mental health and the demons that many carry throughout life, it is becoming a well-known fact that the demons our soldiers and veterans saddle on their back during and after combat can be the most deadly of all.

The new suspense-filled indie Recovery does more than offer cheap thrills, it also sheds light on a dark issue: the lack of support for those put through the perils of war when they return. “According to a study conducted by the RAND Center for Military Health Policy Research, less than half of returning veterans needing mental health services receive any treatment at all.” This is an issue that has long gone unsolved and has inevitably led to another issue of self-medication in a variety of methods, causing matters to spiral even further.

Recovery intertwines the two social epidemics of untreated mental illness and drug addiction, painting a picture of our fraught reality, while also foreshadowing a potential future when the pot eventually boils over (mild spoiler: our main character never really receives help that she needs).

The film takes place at a secluded all-female heroin treatment center in the middle of a fierce snowstorm. Stephanie Pearson gives a riveting performance as Ronnie, a young recently admitted addict who has already gone through three tours of Afghanistan in her life and struggles deeply with PTSD, along with self-denial of her illness. Her symptoms include hallucinations and blackouts that often result in violence and a lack of recollection. She is rebellious, impulsive, and quick to pick an argument with anyone in her way.

Her first interactions at the establishment are with Dr. Jessica Barnes (played by Hope Quattrocki), who is stern, yet has a soft spot for Ronnie, most likely due to the fact that her own brother also served and dealt with the after-effects. Ronnie has a series of blackouts resulting in violence during her first days at the center and the head of the facility, Dr. Taylor (Mike Starr) ultimately decides to discharge her but must wait until the police come in the snowstorm. The atmosphere is already tense until mysterious murders start occurring. All fingers are immediately pointed to Ronnie, but things just aren’t adding up in that narrative. Now, let’s get into the meat of it, shall we?

The pros:

The editing had to be my favorite part of the film. There are these infrequent flashes of ominous looking men, most likely from Ronnie’s past military experience, haunting her before she has a violent blackout. If you choose to give the film a watch, the scene where she gets her uniform out truly gave me chills. The directing and editing choices give an authentic moment of blurring trauma-induced imaginings with reality. This happens more than once, with Ronnie’s hallucinations signaling to her that she is in danger, only to have her mind betraying her as she becomes violent with someone innocent.

As said before, Ronnie’s characterization was really well fleshed out and the performance was in tune with her lines. We know her and we understand her. Everyone else’s characters lagged a bit as a result, but I found myself desperately wishing Katherine (Aily Kei) had some lines! She was a phenomenal supporting role as a young woman struggling with addiction all her life and having communication problems so severe that she is almost somewhat mute. Clearly, her lack of lines is necessary given her character, but it was so convincing that I found myself yearning for Aily Kei’s other performances.

Now for the cons:

I really struggled with some of the details of the story. First off, this is not a horror. Yes, there’s blood and gore, but as the horror genre reaches new heights with new thoughts on fear and the psychology of the viewer, this film falls much more in the thriller genre. And though it aims to touch on PTSD and mental health, as well as how these ailments intersect with drug addiction, there is an abundance of unsatisfactory tropes of rehabilitation patients being portrayed as hopeless cases.

The dialogue is lackluster, failing to explain the important background on some of these characters which just leads the way for stereotypes to manifest. In this day and age, we must get deeper with these issues. There is no true depth to anyone but Ronnie.

In conclusion..

Even though the story bored me at points, lines fell flat, and the music was just not the best, the subject matter of Recovery is important and represents a growing disdain for the lack of resources for veterans. Just take a look at the Army tweet that, well, didn’t go so well. If you’re looking for a decent thriller with some dynamic cinematic choices that also connects to relevant social issues, I would give it a watch. Though there is a clear villain in the end, the monster of unchecked PTSD is also a killer here, as well as in reality.

New horror thriller RECOVERY released on June 4th, 2019 in the U.S. and Canada in-stores, digitally, and on demand.


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Joy Ride Is An Extremely Raunchy And Hilarious Comedy



Joy Ride is an extremely raunchy and hilarious comedy that takes the mantle of ensemble risky
comedies that at times, leave your mouth on the floor. Joy Ride focuses on two best friends
Audrey and Lolo (Ashley Sullivan and Sherry Cola) end up getting roped up into a trip to Asia,
they end up on gals pal cross-continent trek to find Audrey’s long lost birth mother so she
doesn’t lose a huge business deal.

The chemistry in this movie is superb. Every character has their moment to shine and there’s
rarely a scene where you don’t get a belly laugh. I was shocked at how crazy and bold this
movie got, continually pushing the line to get a laugh. The movie does a good job of getting to
the point and getting to the scenes that really make you chuckle. There are some editing choices where the story flies by some stuff, and it feels a little incomplete, but never at the expense of really enjoying being around for the journey.

I thought that this was a sleeper for this year and certainly a movie worth watching with your
friends some weekend. It’s great to throw on if you want a laugh and really just enjoy some
great actors riffing off each other. The focus on culture was a nice touch and really elevated the movie to another level. While I would say if you’re easily offended, this movie is not for you – if you’re looking for a no holds barred comedy, Joy Ride is a trip worth taking.

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Who Doesn’t Want To Wear The Ninja Suit Of Snake-Eyes Or Dress Like The Mandalorian?



Hasbro has had their pulse app out for a while now. It allows for access to items to buy, preorder, and a look into future projects and releases. It also allows for a very cool thing most nerds (a group of which I am a proud card-carrying member) have always wanted, the ability to make yourself into an action figure. I’ve contemplated making one for a time but, I finally got my chance to get my hands on one at Comic-Con this year. Now, of course, I had to wait in line as it was a pretty sought-after item. Who doesn’t want to have themselves wear the ninja suit of Snake-Eyes or dressed like a Mandalorian? I was approached by one of the booth staff as I was showing my nephew all the cool ways we could get him his own MIles Morales action figure with his face (as he’s a massive fan) and invited to take a seat and scan our faces into the Hasbro Pulse app with the help of their awesome team and make this dream a reality. My wife was with us, so of course she got in on the fun too. We scanned our faces in and it was very simple and quick. Then we all selected our figures to add our heads to. We all chose Power Rangers(Me as the Black Ranger, my wife chose the pink ranger and the nephew got the red ranger). Then we were told that we needed to wait about 4-6 weeks and we’d have our custom action figure team in our hands. This was a major part of our Comic-Con adventure and definitely, a memory my wife and nephew won’t forget (as it was both of their first Con ever). Thank you to Hasbro for being so generous(also getting me brownie points that home) and I highly suggest checking out Hasbro Pulse and all the cool stuff it has to offer.

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The Last Voyage of the Demeter: Double-knock on wood!  



Adapted and written largely from the Captain’s Log chapter of Bram Stoker’s magnum opus Dracula, The Last Voyage of the Demeter tells the story of Dracula’s journey by ship from Carpathia to London, and what happened to her crew in the interim.

So here we are in Bulgaria, middle of 1897, and Captain Eliot (Liam Cunningham) of the Russian schooner Demeter is here to take on some strange cargo from some unknown client and transport it to Carfax Abbey in London. In need of some extra hands, the Captain sends out his capable Second Wojchek (David Dastmalchian) to scout for some, and initially the roving black doctor and aspiring philosopher Clemens (Corey Hawkins) is passed over in favor of more work-roughened men. The adorable cabin boy of the Demeter, Toby (Woody Norman), narrowly misses being crushed by the mysterious dragon-marked crates being loaded onto the ship, saved by Clemens himself and switched out with the superstitious sailors running from the Demeter like they had been poisoned by the sign of Dracul. And now, armed with some nine or so crewmen, Doc Clemens, and Captain Eliot himself, the twenty-four strange what looks like coffins adorned with dragon signs brought mostly safely aboard, the Demeter can make for open water and the Hell that awaits them there.

The duty of showing Clemens around the ship falls to a cheerful Toby, who proudly shows him the living areas, the Captain’s quarters, the very-large cargo hold, the galley and kitchen where the overly-devout Joseph (Jon Jon Briones) cooks the crews meals, the various above decks, even the sails, and the rigging are all at least touched on, and the livestock pens that Toby himself is in charge of, including the handsome good-boy doggy Huckleberry, or just Huck. We the audience get a very clear feeling of what it’s like to actually be aboard the Demeter, just how large she really is, and what living on a ship for months at sea is really like, the reality and practicality and the dangers of it.

Everyone more or less settles in for a hopefully uneventful voyage, taking mess around the common table and exchanging ideas or aspirations for when they arrive in London early thanks to the fair winds, and receive a handsome bonus for their troubles. But that involves being alive and making it to London to spend said bonus and pay, and the coffin crates spilling dark soil from the motherland and disgorging all sorts of other nasty secrets, have some serious plans to the contrary.

First, it’s the livestock, innocent and shrieking in their locked pens as a monster takes great furious bites out of their necks, and of course, the creature just straight up ruins poor doggy Huck. Then there’s the fully grown girl that gets dislodged from an open coffin-crate, covered in bite scars and as pale as death, she eventually starts interacting and talking after several blood transfusions from Doc Clemens, Toby learns her name is Anna (Aisling Franciosi). And then, as the weather turns foul and the winds begin to be a serious problem, the attacks turn toward the remaining humans onboard the Demeter.

Most people these days are familiar with Dracula, that gorgeous cunning vampire Elder who can supposedly transform into a bat or a wolf, seducing women to voluntarily offer up their veins like an unholy sacrament, a being at once beautiful and powerful, but also horrific and murderous if given half a heartbeat to smell your blood. This is not Dracula.

Instead, the creature that hunts the humans occupying the Demeter is an absolute monster, not a single human feature left to it, barely even recognizable as humanoid-shaped, instead boasting not just full-length bat wings but an entire exo-skin of bat membranes that can be used for feeding, a mouth full of needle-like teeth akin to a predator of the deepest darkest parts of the ocean, those yellowed Nosferatu eyes that will not tolerate light in any way, and of course giant pointy bat-ears. This is a thing, a grotesque straight from the depths of Hell, and no amount of glamor magic can make this Dracula (Javier Botet) seem like anything other than what he, is – a parasitic demon who only wants your blood. There is no reasoning with it, no trapping it, not even really any talking to it (kinda hard to talk when your throat has been ripped out), and, like the much more frightening Dracula stories of old, no amount of pure faith behind a symbol does anything other than give false hope.

Coming face to face with an actual abomination does different things to different people. The formerly delightfully foul-mouthed Abrams (Chris Walley) dissolves into a blubbering mess; poor Larsen (Martin Furulund) didn’t even get to see his own death coming; and it turns out Olgaren (Stefan Kapicic) wants to live so badly, he’ll suffer becoming a blank-eyed Renfield if that’s what it takes. All of Cook Joseph’s purported pure faith didn’t stop him from trying to take the coward’s way out and didn’t save him anyway when the sound of unnatural bat wings descended on him. I find that kind of irony delicious. Dear Anna, resigned to her fate to be eternal food for the horror that terrorized her village, nevertheless wants to try and save whoever is left of the Demeter with her own sacrifice, and there aren’t many. Wojchek of course wants to kill Dracula, but for all his logic and solid practical nature, has no experience whatsoever with this sort of thing, and sure doesn’t want to sacrifice the Demeter, the beloved ship he called home that was promised to him by Captain Eliot himself, in order to destroy that demon. Even poor sweet Toby isn’t safe from the creature’s clutches, and what happens to the cabin boy of the Demeter is what finally sends Captain Eliot over the blooming edge. And who could blame him? For this sort of thing to happen during the last voyage of such a proud, solid ship as the Demeter, is some serious bullsh*t.

To leave such a film open for a potential sequel, especially when called the last voyage of something, was a pretty hefty ask, and somehow the filmmakers managed it. I personally think a different version of Van Helsing, the infamous vampire hunter, teaming up with a certain black doctor who nurses a serious grudge against Dracula, could be a kickass sequel. Until then, experience the doomed final journey of the Demeter and her poor crew in all it’s bloodstained glory, in theaters now!

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