Staring at the Moon

It is a cruel light that paints the angles of my face

In bitter lines.


Worry slices bits away while sleep fades

Like angels’ faces in church puddles.


Violets hiss and fizz in the cold air. A cheap perfume.


Nothing can be done at times like this.

The smallest transgressions writhe and swell

Until I’ve made them monsters that devour me whole.

My familiars.


Shadows pull at the corners of my cheeks.

Perhaps they want to pinch my eyeballs out.

Make a monster of me too.

Too late.


I belong here in the floating mists

That disappear before the bell tolls for morning.

Not safe in darkness but connected.


The moon is a splinter of bone. A broken tooth.

It watches my darkest thoughts and coaxes them forwards.

I’d like to tear it apart but I’ve been staring up too long.

My neck hurts.


Beware those cold, lying tendrils. Those sharp knives of false light.


My nose bleeds as I list my sins

Over and over and over…


Autumn Leaves

My leaves are yellow: sickly and sorrowful.

Never feel right like this but

Soon they fade to nothing.

Nothing worse. A curse I wait for.

Live for. This defines me.

All I am.


My leaves were green: full of youth and beauty

I couldn’t see. Easier to pick fault

When confidence isn’t allowed.

My flowers were jewelled sunlight:

Intoxicating mysteries I let go.

They fell to earth unwanted stones.

Rotted at my command.


My leaves turned red: a warning.

Everything ends so I sent them falling

While the choice was mine. I found

I had no space for nests or beautiful adornment.

Consumed by fear.

Self-loathing laid me bare.

I chose this.


All my leaves will die.

They always do. I thought I’d be ready

But every year I dread the moment

The last leaf falls and I’m exposed

For what I am.

I need this.


Tell me I’m wrong.

A Stange Awakening

He woke up to the most astonishing headache. His vision swam and his stomach churned: it must have been a really excellent night. Lucien tried desperately to access the memories of how he got to this bed that was quite clearly not his own, but his brain was just as rebellious as his innards. The high ceilings of the room were hidden above a thick haze of incense that smelled of poppies and violets. Its purple fingers caressed the heavy silk curtains that lined the bed with a touch that was both lustful and loving.

There were certainly worse places in which to wake up, mused the swordsman. To his left, a beautifully jewelled butterfly mask lay hastily discarded. A vase of peacock feathers waved gently in a breeze he could not feel. Lucien stretched luxuriously and noticed the soft warmth of two sleeping figures next to him. He could not see their faces but a profound sense of tenderness overtook him. It was good when family made up after an argument, he thought, but he had no notion of why that might have sprung into his mind at that moment.

A nagging sense that he was supposed to be somewhere forced the reluctant S’forza out of bed, but not before he had left a tender kiss on the cheeks of both sleeping figures. His favourite duelling shirt and breeches lay freshly pressed on a chaise longue at the end of the bed. As he pulled them on he felt the pleasant tingle of peppermint caress his skin; clearly he was in the care of a benevolent host.

The air in the hallway was cool and fresh, cutting through the haze of the bedroom. A figure stood at the doorway, hooded and dark. He was dressed as if ready for the hunt, but he made no move to depart. Lucien wondered if he might be a guard, but as the thought entered his mind, the figure threw his head back and laughed, as if tickled by the idea. Nothing helpful to be gained here, he thought, and moved on, aware at the periphery of his senses that the shadowy figure watched him leave with a predatory smile.

“Where are you going, friend? Perhaps you travel my way.” The voice had the same deep, resonant quality as drums made of hide, and yet had a sibilant edge that reminded Lucien of soft footsteps in the forest. He stopped, and without turning, addressed the figure behind him.

“I have always preferred to walk with friends. If that is what you are, then I would appreciate the company. In truth, I do not know where I am.” It seemed at that moments like the shadows in the corridor pulled in towards the swordsman, flickering appreciatively. Again, a nagging sensation fluttered like a trapped bird in his gut. He felt that he knew this figure, but the name sat just out of reach.

“Then follow me. There is someone who wants to see you.” Lucien obliged, as he experienced the sense that perhaps he owed the figure something, but in any case a warm sense of trust had settled upon him. It was the right thing to do. They walked up stairs and through great halls, seemingly endless in number, until Lucien wondered if all his life had been following this shadowy figure. They talked of everything, and of nothing at all; it was a comfortable, reassuring closeness normally born of many years’ friendship, and yet occasionally Lucien would catch a sideways glimpse of that predatory smile. At those times it seemed that the figure was simply waiting for the moment to strike. Still, he could not shake the feeling that they belonged side by side.

Finally, the corridor opened out into a grand banqueting hall. At the far end sat two thrones at the head of the long table laden with food. Roasted venison steamed in silver bowls making Lucien realise just how hungry he was: it took all of his self-control not to reach out and grab a whole quail and stuff it onto his mouth. Fruits from every corner of the forest glittered and sparkled, enticing him with their plump softness.

It took a moment before Lucien realised that a woman sat in one of the thrones. He tore his gaze from the bountiful table, unwilling to appear discourteous in front of his host. Hosts, he realised, as his guide moved towards the second throne. The woman was dressed in the finest Estragalian silks, their voluminous folds accentuating rather than hiding her gentle curves. She was clearly and very proudly carrying a child. Her face glowed with beauty and kindness but was streaked with tears of sadness; Lucien realised too late that he was staring. At her feet, mushrooms and autumn leaves shook gently as if agitated by a forest breeze. A nagging, tugging sensation in his chest. It felt as if those leaves had been by his cheek just moments ago, and he had the overwhelming urge to lie down at her feet and fall asleep.

Anger flashed across the woman’s face when she saw Lucien. She stood as if to strike him and a great wind howled through the banquet hall. The air was thick as if gathering together for a storm, and the floor trembled violently. The man dressed for the hunt stepped firmly but gently between Lucien and the woman, bowing with deep and sincere respect.

“This one is mine. He walks in my shadow: do you not see how the darkness lurks around him? When I gathered him up he had led a great hunt: one of the greatest of this age that brought down a quarry so powerful that the songs of Estragales, and Lyonesse, and all the world changed in an instant. His song is discordant and dark, but so is mine. He knew that final hunt to be more dangerous than any before and still he ran to it. He fell with sisters and brothers he loved because he knew in his heart it was right. And the hunt before that? The hunt which causes these tears now to flow? I sounded the horn. If you strike him, you must strike me too.”

A bolt of lightning exploded from the sky in a blinding flash that drained all colour from the room. Thunder boomed all around in a crescendo of rage and pain. Wind howled through the room, tearing food from the table and hangings from the wall. And then, in an instant, it was peacefull. Dappled sunlight fell softly through the windows and birdsong swelled happily from the trees. The woman wiped away her tears and walked towards Lucien. Taking his face in her hands, she looked into his eyes. It was an experience unlike any he had ever felt: exquisite and searching and all-consuming. He opened his mouth to speak, but closed it again as he realised she knew all there was to say. His eyes sparkled with tears too: not of regret, for there was none in his heart, but with understanding of the pain she felt. He savoured the feeling and did not fight against it. She kissed him gently and held him close.

It seemed that Lucien’s body started to fade. For the very first time, real fear was written across his face. As his form slowly melted away, he stood and adjusted his shirt. He bowed deeply to the woman then turned to the hooded man and knelt in deference, presenting his sword with the greatest respect before a soft wind blew through the room and he was no longer anywhere to be seen.

It may have been simply a trick of the light, but it seemed, just for a moment, that the eyes of the hooded man flashed purple and black. He turned to the woman.

“It is better when families do not fight or impose their wishes without thought for the other. You must do what you know to be right.”

Review: Jigsaw

I was supposed to be at AC last night, but Bang Bang was on painkillers and antibiotics, so I couldn’t leave him. My normal response to being grumpy: get some horror on. I chose Jigsaw as it’s new on Netflix. Spoilers ahead.

I should preface this by saying I’m not really fond of torture porn horror, so there will be bias. I frequently find it to be poorly directed, badly acted and unbelievable in terms of plot, focusing too much on graphic violence and too little on any sort of character development. That said, if you want an example of this subgenre done really well, watch the original Saw. It deals with some reasonably complex themes like guilt, power and the human desire to inflict pain (and watch pain being inflicted).

I have a lot of time for Saw as it’s intelligently directed and has at least some intellectual merit. The violence was shocking at the time it was released not only because it was one of the first times we had been exposed to such graphic depictions, but also because it explored the psychology of bodily autonomy, it blurred the boundary of self/other and it looked at what could be most painful without necessarily causing death. I didn’t hugely care about the victims, but they were obvious metaphors for recognisable aspects of myself which made them effective vehicles for increasing my personal discomfort.

Jigsaw is the other end of the spectrum: it’s easily the worst in the franchise, which is quite an achievement. The plot is overly complicated, given that torture porn doesn’t need much apart from a reason why a person/people are trapped: making the entire thing a flashback is really unsatisfying. The reveal that Jigsaw is still alive is so predictable and never sufficiently explained. He doesn’t even look ill: I’d have expected a bit of makeup at least, not just the same gaunt actor looking healthy. The reason the final woman is selected is also really unnecessary. Deliberate demonisation of a really debilitating mental health condition only furthers dangerous stereotypes, and great horror does just the opposite. It’s also unclear: are we meant to hate her for killing her baby? Given that she dies and torture porn is *all* about catharsis, I suspect we are, but all I felt was real sadness for people who experience post-natal mental health breakdowns.

So to the violence itself, as this is really why anyone watches this sort of film. Absolutely the worst I’ve seen for a number of reasons. Firstly, graphic violence is always worse when it forces you to think about a real human experience. Hostel, for example, is effective because it explores the horror of being subject to the whims of a person who enjoys watching human suffering. It plays on our fear that nothing we do can stop someone else taking away our bodily autonomy. Jigsaw does not link to any such underlying theme: it is just violence for violence’s sake, inflicted on characters we cannot care about.

The second aspect of making graphic violence successfully shocking that the original Saw did so well is to make the victim complicit in their own disfigurement through fear of death. It’s the same thing that makes dramatisations of people getting trapped and having to cut their arm off with a pen knife effective: we make the decision that we would try to do the same, so we experience the emotional disfigurement vicariously. Only one point in this film comes close, where the usual “I can survive by asserting my white, middle aged maleness over this… oh wait: I can’t” character has to sever his own leg, but it’s not fear of his own death, but the desire to save the other two victims, which seems massively out of character. It ruins the catharsis and removes identification, as most people would like to think they would have acted earlier.

Finally, it’s just not that scary because some deaths feel unavoidable rather than inventive or rooted in subversion. The motorbike one was not possible to survive, so I lost interest and just got irritated by the screaming. The horrifying contraptions that violate the body’s boundaries in previous films are not present: all the threat is external rather than the weird human/death machine hybrid which positions the threat within the self. This malevolent technology as a metaphor for tech anxiety is highly effective: the fear that machines are inherently evil mixed with the fascination we probably experienced as kids learning about medieval torture devices reminds us that the only reason we fear machines is because we worry they will be as malevolent as we are when they achieve human intelligence. Torture porn is, at its best, an exploration of the inherent evil of the human condition and the fragility of the human body. Jigsaw is none of this. It is just a set of unlikable characters getting hurt.

Awful, awful film. So bad that I didn’t bother with the next one on the list and just put Ultimate Beastmaster on.

The Calling Home of Haralan and Farren

The sight had stopped her dead. The air in her lungs caught between a sob and a scream and her legs felt drained of life, as if they might give up walking and grow roots, for here was everything that mattered, and here it would stay. At her feet, Haralan lay peacefully, his head haloed in dead leaves and cooling blood. All struggle was gone and the words of love and kindness once so freely given from his lips now drifted away on the wind, nothing more than a memory.

“Farren! Move! You do not have the luxury of grieving here!” She was aware of a voice and an insistent pressure on her arm that dragged her away from that fateful place. All around, the sound of battle was muted, as if far away or under water. She looked down at her arm and along at the one dragging her to safety. Confused and heartbroken, she did not understand how it should be that she saw the face of her fallen friend.

“Come on. Pull yourself together. You’ve got to be strong. I believe in you. I always did.” His smile was just as strong and confident as before, but it was just a lie now.

“You’re not real!” The little priest screamed, her heart shattered into dust and smoke. “You left me! I thought you’d never leave!” The smile melted into nothing and all that was left was Bartos dragging her away from the most immediate danger.

Farren saw the arrow long before it struck; she simply did not have the will to dodge it. She looked down at the blood pouring from her chest and let the world go dark. Her eyes opened too soon, not to the blessed fields of the afterlife but instead to see a different childhood friend kneeling above her, pouring healing magic into her crumpled form. She saw the worry in his eyes, and although she felt her strength return, she lay on the cold ground unable to move. The sky above seemed made of stone: it leeched all colour so it seemed to the little priest that the world had turned to ash.

Her Erinian friend dragged Farren to her feet. He said kind words and smiled softly, but it all washed over her. She was numb. To the right, the remaining Ashrai stood awaiting the order to charge. She smiled to see their beautiful, beloved faces and knew what she had to do. To the front, a wall of enemies stood tens deep, with shields and spears ready. Magic crackled and hissed in the air, sending allies flying burned and unbreathing to the ground as it arched from the hands of corrupt mages.

Farren gathered the Ashrai together. Not a soul said a word, for none was needed. They all understood what had to happen next. And so, the little priest in green led the charge, her spear aimed at the heart of those that stood in her way. She tore through the line and did not stop. To the left and the right, enemies fell under the almighty power of her wrath and loss. Her rage cut a channel and the Ashrai pored through, followed by the full might of the warhost.

And still she did not stop. She ran and ran, hacking down anything that moved, until colour returned to the world. It was soft and calm, and flowers blossomed in her footsteps. Farren looked around. Behind her, in the grey that was starting to fade into dark shadows, a body lay on the floor. It was of no consequence any more. Farren turned to look forwards, knowing what she would see. The trees bowed to her, their blossoms shining with hope. And there he was.

“I told you to carry on, Farren. What are you doing here?” His face was sad, but no anger lived there.

“I know, but I wasn’t strong enough. I couldn’t do it without you.” Tears ran down her face and where they fell to earth, bright lillies burst forth.

“But you did, Farren. Look! You paved the way!” And as she looked back again, Farren could just make out figures that filled her heart with joy surging to victory through broken lines.

“I’m tired, Haralan. Shall we find somewhere to rest?” He nodded gently, and holding hands, they walked into the light of the sun and the twisting shadows. The battle behind them transformed into nothing more than the song of the stars.

No-one ever knew for sure how lillies had come to line the paths away from the battlefield, but all who walked away from that field felt the love and peace that radiated from them. The Hunter and The Goddess walked hand in hand down that same path, blessing those flowers to live forever in tribute to what had been freely given.

Lost and Found

Small and forlorn.

Lying by itself in the road

A sock cries out

To me.


Never wanted separation

From its partner.

Powerless to stay.

Praying for someone to see and intervene.


Rain soaks the wretched thing.

Lying alone,

Unknown and homeless.

What caused such violent separation?


Not discarded. Now not needed.

Object of idle curiosity.

Some creature who never knew its value

Might take it away.


Never meant enough

For them to come back:

A smack in the face

After all it’s given.


Saving toes from winter snow

Or sloshing through puddles in

Leaky wellies.

Never complained.


All it’s done forgotten now.

Out the window.

Has losing it

Made the other useless?


Destined for the dustbin.

Irreplaceable? Imperfect.

Worth nothing

Unless reunited.


Limp and forgotten by the gutter.

Being seen like this

Might be worse

Than quietly




The path was one no human foot had ever trodden. Hidden beyond the tangled edges of the forest, it wove further in than the silent glades where time stood still and far beyond the swamp where laughter and sorrow rippled across the water. It was not a path seen with the eyes, but one felt by the heart. Today, Faeolan’s heavy heart led him down the path to the hidden clearing.

Such hurt in the world. Since joining the warhost, Faeolan felt like he had become so full of love for all his new family he might break apart, but that he might be torn apart first by the anger between them. It was so hard to understand. He loved them all: why could they not love each other?

This horror in Madjaz was just another dreadful chapter in a war that should never have happened. Faeolan felt sick. He ached with sadness at the pointlessness of it all. But then, he was starting to understand. His heart was starting to accept that sometimes there must be reprisals. Sometimes conflict must occur. But today he needed safety, love and beauty, so further into the forest he strode.

Finally, he saw the jewelfruit bush that marked the entrance to one of his favourite places in the world. Here were beings he understood and who understood him. Here were souls filled only with love and innocence. Faeolan inspected the highest branches to find the perfect gift for Mrs Softpaw. He always brought her the best fruit and today would be no exception.

As if on cue, there she was. The tiny squirrel tapped her paw on the dirt as if to remonstrate with the giant satyr for being late. “I am here, and you have no way of knowing if I am late or not, yes, so you can stop all of this tapping. I have brought you your favourite snack too, yes, yes!” Faeolan crouched down low to offer his gift to the squirrel who ignored it entirely, instead leaping onto his shoulder and running laps around his chest.

Out of the bushes ran the rest of the family and soon enough, Faolan was writhing on the ground in laughter as he was mercilessly tickled by the lot, save for the youngest who sat in his hand, covered in jewelfruit juice and smiles. The sun beamed down happily and Faeolan felt a little of the burden he carried slip away.

They played games all afternoon, and all the creatures of the forest came to join in. The starlings swooped and dived through clouds of dandelion clocks blown by the dormice and even the ants danced cheerful patterns in the mud. A pair of pine martens worked tirelessly to plait flowers of every colour into Faeolan’s hair. All was laughter and love. As night fell, the satyr followed the sound of his friends the crickets towards the river.

The moon rose full and gold sending shimmering ripples across the surface. It was so peaceful that Faeolan wondered if he had come to the wrong place. But then, from the opposite shore came the unmistakable clicking of his other friends, as fin by fin, snout by snout, the dolphins waved hello.

“I have missed you all so much, yes yes! It seems forever since I was last here…” A huge wave interupted whatever was to come next by splashing straight into Faeolan’s mouth thanks to a pair of dolphins thwacking their tails in perfect harmony. He emerged spluttering river weeds and launched himself bodily into the water to create an even bigger splash directed at the pair. The others danced delightedly in the waves and were soon joined by all the animals of the river and its edge. The night sparkled and shimmered as otters raced back and forth, sliding expertly down the muddy banks until everyone had won. Salmon jumped up towards the moon, their scales a dark and beautiful rainbow.

At some point, Faeolan had lay down in a patch of reeds and closed his eyes. The soft blue night blanketed his still, quiet form, and his friends tucked in close to keep him warm. A deer nuzzled against his head until it sat like a pillow under his neck, their breathing synchronised. All manner of good, kind creatures drew close to show their love: even the hedgehog pressed its nose in close, careful not to disturb the sleeping form.

As dawn broke, the morning chorus sang joyfully, putting on a display of plumage more wonderful than had ever been seen before. Every colour burst into life as the sun embraced the children of The Goddess. Faeolan stretched luxuriously, standing carefully so as not to wake his sleeping friends. As he left, he noticed the jewelberry bush glittering in the morning sun even more beautiful than it had been the day before. He was happier than he had been in so long and his heart sang along even as the birdsong became muffled and distant.

And then it struck him. Not a single soul had spoken to him. Normally they would talk nonsense into the early hours, and while it had been the perfect night, not a single word had been said. And Mrs Softpaw: she would always talk his ear off and spend hours saying thank you for her present, but even though the look on her face had said everything he needed to know, there had not been a word.

By the time he realised, Faeolan had passed the silent glades and the swamp of laughter and sadnesd and could just see the tangled edge of the forest. He turned back in fear, searching for the path he had just walked. It was not there any more. He was no longer the innocent creature from before and he no longer spoke the language of his friends. He had needed to return one last time, and he would treasure the memory forever, but he could never come back. This was no longer a place for him.

Tears streamed down Faeolan’s face as he realised what he had lost. What he had given up when he joined the warhost. He gave thanks that he had been allowed to know true joy one last time and prayed that it would give him strength for what must come next.

Of Faith and Tactics

Smoke billowed across the hill and down into the valley. The Warhost of The Laughing Star stood silently at the crest of the hill, awaiting the sighting of the enemy and the order to engage. Taeneas shifted slowly from one foot to the other. He needed both mind and body to be alert and he was keenly aware that the soporific hush of the Erinian forest was working against him.

The plan was simple, but as a seasoned commander, Taeneas knew this meant nothing at all. Plans rarely survived contact with the enemy and he would need to react quickly. There was so much at stake, and so many bright, happy lives relied on his actions to keep them safe. Well… as safe as is possible when lined up willingly against a stronger foe.

Hold the flank. Do not allow the line to break. Easy enough to say, but Taeneas knew what was coming. He had told only those who needed to know exactly what to expect: no sense in creating hysteria. There were too many moving parts already to consider without adding in blind panic.

These moments of calm before an inevitable engagement filled Taeneas with an odd feeling. He could feel his blood rising: the raw, untamed aggression of The Hunter strained to be released, waring with the cold tactical maps laid out so clearly in his mind. Meanwhile, at times like this he could not avoid a very fatherly feeling of tenderness and care for those he led. That was dangerous though, as today he would need a cold, sharp mind unclouded by emotion.

The Goddess tempered his warlike spirit with care and love. Sometimes it felt like a burden, as the most efficient tactics revealed themselves to be entirely without compassion; this was not his way though. In victory and loss, Taeneas would always choose the path of considered goodness. He could be ruthless, for sure, but he was not a man for whom the end necessarily justified the means.

The sound of crunching leaves announced the return of The Spears. Their footsteps were fast but not frantic: before even a word was said, Taeneas knew that the enemy had been sighted due west, not yet close enough for engagement. There were a few minutes yet. He spoke in hushed tones, carefully instructing the skirmish force to wrap around and leave the main body of fighters.

A breath. The wind picked up, rattling through the trees like a warning. The sound of marching filled the glade, rhythmic and full of threat. They emerged through the treeline: the full might of a Praetorian battle company, its front line full of powerful old fae. The time had come. Taeneas had selected the perfect spot: a glade which would squeeze the approaching enemy into a thin line between dense foliage. Their overwhelming numbers would count for less here.

And even though he knew it would not be enough, the warleader of the Warhost of the Laughing Star roused his fighters to action. To falter was not in his nature, nor theirs while he led. With a sickening crunch the fine steel of Estragales met the unwavering might of the Praetorian guard.

All was chaos. The Spears had wrapped around to take the flank, but found themselves caught defending their own from a surprise attack. The main force started to crumple as the fae army exerted its will over Taeneas’ force. He muttered a prayer to The Hunter before driving his sword through the chest of his nearest foe and calling the order to retreat.

On the floor, wounded fighters lay bleeding into the parched Erinian soil. A cry caught in the warleader’s throat, but now was not the time for weakness. For the plan to work, he would have to have faith. Now was the time to keep calm and ensure the fighting retreat maintained order. Eyes full of pain and anger accused him of leaving good people to die, but none broke ranks. Eyes full of hurt and judgement.

And then, in the distance, a figure in gold and purple strode into the clearing. Sunbeams danced around him like halos, as if The Goddess herself blessed his steps. Butterflies danced in his wake, and glad thankfulness filled the heart of the warleader. Alejandro knelt by the body of each fallen fighter, administering blessings until they were able to run to safety. The agreement had only ever be that he fight alongside the Praetorians; nothing had been said about healing his own.

The battle lasted many hours. It was hard fought, and enemy numbers proved overwhelming. They had not been able to save the tree nor those who guarded it, but that day, not a single Algaian soul was lost, for the plan had been simple, and Taeneas had held his nerve. He probably owed Alejandro a drink, but that smug S’forzan was going to be unbearable now and he needed a drink himself.

Review: The Babadook

It’s absolutely not worth the hype. It’s less frightening than comparable films like Insidious although it is reasonably tense. It’s poorly structured and seems uncertain about who you should actually like. The kid is unbearable at the start, with clear behavioural problems which vanish as he becomes increasingly more angelic.

It’s also unclear whether the monster is a representation of the child’s mental health problems or the mother’s or both. If the monster was just the child’s inner demons, the story would be powerful, as it would make sense that the mother’s struggle to cope would be part of the same thing but when it gets wound up with the mother’s grief and depression it feels messy and over-complicated.

The bit where the mum kills the dog is pointless and adds nothing: it’s a lazy trope designed to be shocking but which distracts from any psychological tension. The end section feels rushed and unbelievable and the incidental characters like the crash guy and the social workers are utterly unbelievable. I get that the mum is meant to be isolated and unable to ask for help but that could have been achieved with half the ham and been more believable.

Had the potential, and the mum’s depiction of grief and not coping with a difficult child is very compelling, but it’s a bit of a wasted opportunity. I’m assured that the film is terrifying by my friends who have young children, but I’ve no intention of finding out if they’re right.

Review: Creep (2014)

Overall, I liked this film a lot, which is quite surprising given that the premise seems set to fail. It’s a found-footage film, which tends to put me off as it’s been done to death (pun totally intended) consistently badly ever since The Blair Witch. It sort of feels like watching an episode of The Office in the horror dimension which again is odd because I hate The Office. It works though, and the tension is almost unbearable at points. It’s the first film I haven’t been able to watch in places despite the fact that nothing was actually happening.

The main character is entirely compelling and believable: a very well-developed bad guy. The videographer falls into the usual victim cliches which is irritating but at least it seems self-aware. The jump scares are highly effective and the plot is compelling. I feel like the sister is a weak point, and added in simply to create unnecessary tension: I was already tense enough.

The ending left me unsatisfied with the big “but why?” hanging over it. Perhaps that’s because I was so invested, though. Overall, I liked it enough to put the sequel straight on though. Not quite The Visit perfect, but not far off.