Tag Archives: halloween

a ratched halloween

As the Halloween weekend rolls in and quarantine keeps the trick-or-treaters away, it becomes clear that the beginning of the holiday season this year isn’t exactly brimming with the same excitement you’d expect. And while there are no new horror movies or costume parties to keep you occupied this Saturday, Netflix’s Ratched might just be the perfect binge to have you feeling spooked this Halloween season.

The first season of Ryan Murphy’s Ratched comes with 8 episodes that will leave your gut twisting as you watch Mildred Ratched’s story unfold. From beginning to end, there is never any possibility of guessing what’s coming next or who’s story will be more horrific. While it’s not Murphy’s best work, it still feels like the perfect show to snuggle up with your quarantine buddy to while you drink your pumpkin spice latte and indulge in Halloween candy.

“They really are God’s angels.”

Ratched series – S1 E1

The first episode begins in 1947 and introduces us to Nurse Mildred Ratched, who quickly becomes one of the most unreliable narrators I have ever encountered in entertainment. Within one episode, her ability to manipulate any situation to her liking becomes apparent, and from this moment on you are buckled into a story that will never cease to unsettle you.

The extravagance of costume and setting create an almost whimsical feeling, and the play on colors throughout the first episode alone sets the stage for eight episodes of a very different kind of color theory coming into play.

More than that, though, the soundtrack creates the perfect sense of unease throughout the entire season, so even when nothing particularly bad is coming, you can’t help but watch and wait for the worst to happen.

“It haunts me.”

Ratched series – S1 E3

Dr. Richard Hanover, a secondary protagonist throughout the story, provides the most unsettling storyline, in my opinion, that offers the majority of the gore. Episode three of the first season reveals the haunting backstory that brought him to where he is now in the timeline.

This episode alone is enough to make your skin crawl and your night sleepless. The intensity of the gore, the fear of what was happening in the moment, and the reality of the horror story made it difficult to watch — I actually had to pause and come back to finish it after a break.

Despite the difficulty, I actually found the horror of the episode up to par with the expectations I had going in, and even though it made me uneasy, it offered that gory horror experience I think we’ve all been lacking this spooky season.

“You don’t know what it’s like to be constantly running from who you really are.”

Netflix Ratched series – S1 Introduction

One of the most significant themes to the story is that you can’t run from your past, and that becomes apparent as it follows Nurse Ratched through all her experiences, hinders her love life, and shapes her into a person who cannot be trusted. 

Not only Nurse Ratched though, but almost every character proves at some point they are not who they seem. 

Edmund Tolleson is another complex character in the story, because his mass murder habits played against his inability to kill a rooster for a meal gives the audience the opportunity to feel sympathetic for him, and even question him as a villain in the story as he runs away from all he’s faced and all he’s done. 

He is put in contrast to Dolly, a seemingly innocent nurse-in-training who has the killer instinct Tolleson can’t always stomach. By weaving Tolleson and Dolly’s storylines together, Murphy creates internal distress with the audience that offers less of that horror-driven fear, and more of a slow burn of anxiety as the mass-murderer gains a soul while the nurse-in-training seems to lose hers.

“This little game of cat and mouse.”

Ratched series – S1 E2

Critics seem to think the show is too disjointed and offers a disappointing storytelling experience. The first season only received a 61% on RottenTomatoes

However, as someone who’s not looking at the show from the perspective of what it’s loosely based on, “One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest,” and as someone who recognizes and embraces the unreliable narrator that trends throughout the season, I’d have to give it a much higher percentage.

While not every storyline seems necessary to the plot, the constant question in the back of my mind of; Does Nurse Ratched mean what she’s saying or not? left me sitting on the edge of my seat, clicking “next episode” over and over as I tried to figure out who she really was. This constant questioning and unreliability left plenty of room for several pieces of the story that most of the audience probably would have never saw coming.

Ratched was automatically signed on with two seasons, but I think they could have easily left the story at its current ending. The plot twist and the largely unanswered question of who will catch who first is the perfect unsettling ending to leave the audience with.

It checks all the boxes for a Halloween fright, even if it is a bit too extravagant at times with the editing, and somewhat hard to follow with the main character who does whatever she has to to get what she wants, even if it means confusing the audience.

Overall, season one of Ratched gets 4 out of 5 spooks from me.

Two Witches Are Always Better Than One – “Twitches” Review

Going back to childhood favorites is always risky, yet comforting. But once you get past the basic early 2000s storyline and mediocre special effects, you’ll find “Twitches” is actually not that bad.

It’s spooky season, so a return to those early 2000s Halloween gems from Disney Channel is a must. I begin with personal favorites, “Twitches,” and “Twitches Too.” The series stars Tia and Tamera Mowry as twins separated at birth, chronicling their lives as they learn about each other and their magical origins. It’s a solid premise; one of them delivers on the perfect Halloween. The other is reminiscent of going through your Halloween bag and seeing your neighbor gave you your least favorite candy.

“Twitches”

The second I pressed play and saw Coventry covered in “the darkness,” I felt a rush of happiness and nostalgia, and that stayed with me throughout the film.

Right off the bat, the film is funny and light-hearted. The intro sets up all the backstory we need to know and leaves us with just enough curiosity to want to know more. 

Now it’s time to meet our favorite Twitches (get it? Twin witches), Camryn (Tamera Mowry-Housely) and Alex (Tia Mowry-Hardrict). The film takes place on Halloween, which is “coincidentally” their 21st birthday. 

Twitches | Disney+

It’s the classic, twins separated at birth and going off to live very different lives. One struggling in a low-income household and the other clearly among the upper class. Although, seeing Black wealth is always a refreshing sight.

We learn the girls have two specific talents, art, and writing, but these talents aren’t random. They are subconsciously drawing and writing about Coventry because their abilities tie into their magic. An excellent touch to add depth to their personalities. 

Karsh and Ileana, the protectors, are our comic relief characters, and it’s done well. They constantly bicker, but you can tell it’s from the heart and not hate.

The conflict is very basic, to the point of if this were the conflict in any other film, we’d have a big problem. But this is a 2005 made-for-TV Disney movie, so I’ll allow it. 

The Darkness is the story’s villain and, with the power of light and love, the Twitches must save Coventry. 

The film does have a few complex ideas. 

Alex struggles to accept that finding her birth mother does not mean she has to replace her late adopted mother. Camryn struggles with change and not wanting her adopted parents to feel like she doesn’t love them.

My biggest issue with this film is that the girls are 21. I am 21, and I cannot see myself, or any other 21-year-old, acting the way they do. This does not feel like a film that should center around young adults, it should be about teenagers.

Disney’s “Twitches,” photo via IMDb

The choice was probably made because the producers wanted the Mowry twins to star as they were the only well-established female twins in Hollywood. But the film would’ve worked better with 15 or 16 year-olds.

“Twitches” is a perfect addition to the Disney Channel Halloween era, and the soundtrack with Aly and AJ – chef’s kiss.

“Twitches Too”

If there’s anything Hollywood has trouble making, it’s decent anime adaptations and sequels. Unfortunately, “Twitches Too” is not the exception.

The film rehashes a lot of beats from the original, and it comes off as stale and redundant.

TWITCHES TOO – After discovering they are both twin sisters and princesses, Alex Fielding (Tia Mowry) and Camryn Barnes (Tamera Mowry) try to live as normally as possible in their new surroundings, but a familiar evil darkness continues to threaten their existence and the sisters uncover evidence that suggest their missing father, Aron, may still be alive. “Twitches Too” airs on FRIDAY, OCTOBER 12 (8:00 p.m., ET) on Disney Channel. (DISNEY CHANNEL/JOHN MEDLAND) (RIGHT) TAMERA MOWRY

Karsh and Ileana’s bickering was cute at first, and now I’m wondering if getting married is the best choice.

Once again, the girls are running away at the hour of need, and there’s a speech about sticking together because they’re twins.

Even the villain comes back, which would’ve been fine if the time jump between the two films wasn’t a day.

The new plot point is the girls’ biological father, Aaron. It turns out he’s alive and trapped in another realm. For the most part, this storyline was good, and it ties into some internal conflicts with Alex. 

Disney’s “Twitches Too,” photo via Pinterest.

But, (spoiler) when he does come back, there is no payoff. He’s just there, and he has no more than 3 lines in all his screen time. More time needed to be spent on his return since he was the whole point of the film.

They brought back one character and introduced a new one from the girls’ mortal lives in New York. This was completely unnecessary because they added nothing to the story. Their screen time could’ve been given to the dad.

The special effects got worse. In “Twitches” it was good; in “Twitches Too” it was distractingly bad. I know it was 2007, but “Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix” came out in the same year, and it had great effects.

Now you might say, but that was a big-budget franchise film, and that is true. But do we not expect Disney to put more money into their sequel films to make them look better?

“Twitches Too” had potential, but it ended up being the trick, while “Twitches” was the treat.

Featured image via FlixList

The empty desk at the end of the hall

Rumors circulate around Littlefield dormitory, UT’s oldest residence hall. Does more than just dust float through these nearly 100-year-old halls? Perhaps, even the ghost of Alice Littlefield herself?

I lived in Littlefield dormitory during my freshman year. Things were mostly normal. Mostly.

One memory comes to mind instantly when I recall my time there. For you to be able to understand it though, you have to know a little bit about the layout of the dormitory.

At the end of my hall, a narrow corridor lined with doorways and history , there was a singular desk and a singular chair. I had found it was a strangely peaceful yet eerie spot to do homework or study late a night. When I sat at that desk, the whole world seemed a little quieter, a little colder, and a lot more isolated.

It was rare to see anyone else in that hallway. If I saw anyone at all, they were gone in a moment or two, vanishing into their dorm room or the communal restroom.

There was no one and nothing to distract me. It was the ideal study spot. I couldn’t understand why such a perfect place was always vacant.

One night, I was at the desk, finishing an essay when my phone lit up. A snap from a friend.

On my screen, her face was morphed with a filter. So, as any 21st-century teen would do, I went to send a fun, filtered photo back or at least I tried to.

My Snapchat applied the face filter, just as it should. Except, there was no face in the camera’s line of sight.

A chill went through my body as my phone registered a face I could not see, and then two. The empty hallway before me that suddenly seemed very much not empty at all.

It had to be a mistake or so I thought. I restarted my phone, tried one filter after the next, positioned the camera at different angles but the filtered face remained, staring. It was always staring.

I can’t say for sure the face was Alice Littlefield. I can’t even say for sure it was anyone at all. All I can say is now I understand why no one sits at the desk at the end of the hall.

15 Nostalgic Movies to Binge Before Halloween

Spooky season is upon us. You know what that means: a little less studying and a little more movie marathons!

Here’s a list of Halloween movies from your childhood that you might’ve forgotten about but are a necessity to watch before October 31st creeps upon us.

The Halloweentown Franchise  (1998-2006)

If you were a kid in the late ‘90s or early 2000s, chances are that you’ve heard of this Disney Channel movie series. Throughout the entire series, we see the kids of the Piper family go from finding out about the magical wonders of “Halloweentown” to mastering their very own magical powers. If you want to spend all day binging one series of movies, then this is the series for you.

Where to watch: Disney+ (subscription), Hulu (premium subscription), Amazon Prime ($3.99/ea), YouTube ($5.99/ea), Google Play ($5.99/ea), Disney Now (free with cable)

Hocus Pocus (1993)

‘90s kids, this one is for you. The idea of old spirits having to acclimate to a more modern age of the 90s is always an interesting concept, and “Hocus Pocus” is no exception. A group of kids that save the day with some supernatural help? That’s everything a 90s movie needs! This film just hits you right in the nostalgia.

Where to watch: Disney+ (subscription), Amazon Prime ($2.99), YouTube ($3.99), Vudu ($3.99), Google Play ($3.99)

Casper (1995)

Rewatch for the adventures, and weirdly enough, the puppy love that comes to flourish between Casper and Kat in this 1995 film. If you want a throwback to watching reruns of “Casper” during October when you were a kid, then here you go.

Where to watch: YouTube ($3.99), Google Play ($3.99), Vudu ($3.99), Amazon Prime ($3.99)

Ghostbusters (1984)

Now, we all know this classic, right? Watching this monster hunting quartet defeat some of the most iconic creatures in cinematic history is always a necessary watch for Halloween.

Where to watch: Hulu (premium subscription), Vudu ($2.99), Amazon Prime ($2.99), YouTube ($3.99), Google Play ($3.99), Freeform (free with cable)

The Nightmare Before Christmas (1993)

Whether you consider this classic a Halloween movie or a Christmas movie (or both if you’re feeling crazy), that’s up to you. But, this remains a top contender for Halloween movies for me. It’s safe to say that this is an iconic movie for the 2000s kids.

Where to watch: Disney+ (subscription), Amazon Prime ($2.99), YouTube ($3.99), Vudu ($3.99), Google Play ($3.99)

Coraline (2009)

I think that anyone who has ever watched “Coraline” is either in love with this film or completely terrified (or at least when they were kids). Personally, this is one of my favorite movies to watch (even when it’s not Halloween, sue me). It’s one of those oddball movies that both weird you out, but also make you reflect and learn something. Definitely a top-tier Halloween watch.

Where to watch: Hulu (premium subscription), Starz (subscription), Sling TV (premium subscription), Amazon Prime (premium subscription), YouTube ($2.99), Google Play ($2.99), Vudu ($2.99)

Twitches (2005)

If you were a fan of the Mowry sisters in the 90s and early 2000s, then you probably know this DCOM gem. The long-lost twin story where they come together to save the world, although probably overdone by now, was a crazy plot back in 2005. In this quirky movie, we see Tia and Tamera Mowry save the entire world from darkness on their birthday, October 31st. (I would also recommend watching this movie’s sequel, “Twitches Too” (2007).)

Where to watch: Disney+ (subscription), Google Play ($7.99), Hulu, (premium subscription), Amazon Prime ($3.99), YouTube ($5.99), Disney Now (free with cable)

Child’s Play (1988)

Okay, so this isn’t really a movie that we should’ve watched as kids, but we all did it anyway. This is one of those Halloween movies that we were terrified of when we were kids but laugh at now that we’re older. Also, the SFX of the late 80s is definitely something when you rewatch this movie. Although not really a feel-good movie, it brings back memories of watching this with your friends when you weren’t supposed to.

Where to watch: YouTube ($3.99), Google Play ($3.99), Vudu ($3.99), Amazon Prime ($3.99)

My Babysitter’s a Vampire (2010)

Weirdly enough, I do think this movie warrants a spot on this list. The constant referencing other vampire-centric movies of the time (I’m looking at you “Twilight”) makes this movie a ton of fun to rewatch. Vampire movies are always great to watch, whether they’re more serious like “Twilight” or goofier like “My Babysitter’s a Vampire”.

Where to watch: iTunes ($7.99)

Corpse Bride (2005)

Ah, Tim Burton does it again. That man never really missed when it came to kinda odd, but kinda cute movies (animated or not). I’m not gonna lie, I didn’t watch “Corpse Bride” until a few years ago, but this is definitely one of Burton’s more romantic(ish) movies. This film, although living in the shadow of Burton’s more famous “The Nightmare Before Christmas” (1993), does hold its own if you give it a chance.


Where to watch: Hulu (premium subscription), YouTube ($3.99), Google Play ($3.99), iTunes ($3.99), Vudu ($3.99), Amazon Prime ($3.99), Freeform (free with cable)

Hotel Transylvania (2012)

“Hotel Transylvania” is one of those movies where you might’ve not watched it when it first came out. Maybe you thought you were “too old” to watch animated movies, but it’s actually a very enjoyable movie. Although a bit childish with some jokes, the overall concept of an overprotective dad wanting the best for his daughter will always resonate with the audience, no matter what age.

Where to watch: Hulu (premium subscription), Vudu ($2.99), Amazon Prime ($2.99), YouTube ($3.99), iTunes ($3.99), Google Play ($3.99), Freeform (free with cable)

Scooby-Doo (2002)

I’m not sure if everyone has seen this oddly iconic movie, but this one is a very good representation of everything about the early 2000s. From the wonky CGI to the exaggerated personalities of the characters, “Scooby-Doo” is a trip and a half, to say the least. I would highly recommend watching this with friends who will probably just laugh along with the cheesy storylines and terrible CGI that scared us half to death as kids.

Where to watch: HBO Max (subscription), YouTube ($3.99), Google Play ($3.99), iTunes ($3.99), Vudu ($3.99), Amazon Prime ($3.99)

Spooky Buddies (2011)

Let’s be honest here, who doesn’t love puppies? Watching the Halloween installment of the “Air Buddies” franchise is perfect for Halloween spooky prep. As always, the pups get themselves involved in some mischief that causes problems that they eventually have to solve. If you want just a totally feel-good movie, then “Spooky Buddies” is the perfect match for you.

Where to watch: Hulu (premium subscription), HBO Max (subscription), Amazon Prime (premium subscription), iTunes ($2.99), Google Play ($3.99), YouTube ($3.99), Vudu ($3.99)

Beetlejuice (1988)

Being one of Tim Burton’s first movies as director, Beetlejuice marks the beginning of the odd and weirdly endearing movies for many. Definitely recommended for those who are more into the 80s Halloween movie vibe, but a great movie to watch to really get you into the creepy, spooky Halloween mood.

Where to watch: YouTube ($3.99), iTunes ($3.99), Vudu ($3.99), Google Play ($3.99), Amazon Prime ($3.99)

Monster House (2006)

This movie, while still scary, has the feel-good messages that we all love in kids’ movies. Whether you watched this movie when it came out in theaters or when it was rerun on TV, you’ll love this one when you see it.

Where to watch: Vudu ($2.99), Amazon Prime ($2.99), YouTube ($3.99), Google Play ($3.99), iTunes ($3.99)

Featured image by the city of St. Helens, Oregon

The big budget horror game drought

It’s the spookiest time of the year and for horror fans, ‘tis the season of ghosts, gore and games. However, the horror video game market may be lacking as we near the end of 2019. 

This year is a horror game drought from large gaming studios. These large publishers, also AAA games, are hesitantly testing the waters of the genre. Like Frankenstein’s monster, horror is being brought back to life with the new franchises and quality remakes of classics. The success of the “Outlast” series, “Resident Evil 7” and the recent “Resident Evil 2” remake have introduced new players to old franchises and inspired unique storytelling within the industry. The real success story, though, lies with independent developers.

Large gaming studios, also AAA studios, have had financial success with the continuation of horror series, but indie games have drawn more critical praise. According to SteamSpy, the top selling horror game on the Steam marketplace is “Undertale,” with about 2 million copies owned. Undertale was created by one-man team Toby Fox, indie developer and creator of “Homestuck.” The game was funded through Kickstarter, raising over $50 thousand in 30 days.

The game was one of the breakout hits of 2015, receiving huge critical praise and commercial success. And “Undertale” isn’t a unique story.

“The Room,” a point and click puzzle game, has the most overwhelmingly positive reviews out of the horror games on Steam. This beats franchise titles like “Resident Evil,” “Left 4 Dead” and “Amnesia.” The game was developed and published by Fireproof Games, an 18-person team based in England that rocketed to fame with “The Room” series.

There are countless other stories like this. So, what’s the secret?

A lot of it has to do with the money, money, money. Players are sick of micro-transactions in mainstream games. Let’s face it, no one likes forking over money to big companies, especially after paying $50+ for the game in the first place. Big budget games have to draw a big profit and it’s easy to tell when a publisher values money over the game. Indie developers have smaller budgets, so while lack of resources is an issue, these games are often the passion projects of talented individuals.

Without the money for hyper-realistic graphics and flashy environments, indie games often rely on atmospheric elements to create the tension. This can be as obvious as the monster making a creepy noise or just really going all in on violins in the soundtrack. The science backs this up; simple is better.

According to an article from the Journal on Multimodal User Interfaces, straightforward setups often create unpredictable situations, which provide the best scares. Researchers observed people playing “Slender: The Eight Pages,” another indie game that hit stardom. There’s not much to it; you’re in a forest and you need to collect eight pages before the Slender Man gets you. Easy, right? 

Despite the low definition graphics and simple gameplay, participants gave “Slender” a high fear rating and were in a state of suspense for most of their playtime.

Illustration by Sierra Rodriguez

What was so scary about a bunch of pixels? The sound effects and the music. These elements created a suspenseful atmosphere that heightened the participants’ fear, even when there was nothing disturbing on screen. Visuals certainly play a large role in the fear factor of a horror game, but there’s a difference between a good-looking horror movie and a good-looking horror game. 

Watching a movie is a passive experience. The audience can’t influence the decisions of the characters or follow the story at their own pace. With nothing to do but sit and watch, realistic or interesting visuals are essential to a good horror movie. Within a game, though, the player has an active role and is reacting to everything around them. The game needs an immersive environment so the scares feel real to the player. 

These atmospheric elements fulfill the adrenaline rush we seek from horror games and indie games often add new twists on these elements, providing a more interesting scare. AAA studios may be scratching their heads on how to sell a mainstream horror game but there are still plenty of undiscovered options. 

Looking for your next favorite horror game? Try picking out a title you’ve never heard of before. If anything, you’re guaranteed a horror experience you’ve never had before.