August: Psychological Horror


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August: Psychological Horror

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Jul 31, 2015, 10:15am

I didn't see that this month's topic had been started yet, so I thought I'd get the ball rolling. I'm planning to read one or two Gillian Flynn novels this month: Dark Places and Sharp Objects. I was not a fan of Gone Girl, but I'm willing to give her another chance.

What is everyone reading?

Jul 31, 2015, 5:30pm

I have three I'd like to read - Asylum by Patrick McGrath, Psycho by Robert Bloch, and Ghost Stories of Henry James.

Editado: Ago 3, 2015, 2:23am

>1 sturlington: Thank you for starting this thread! :) I forgot it's already August. I haven't read or seen Gone Girl, but I do own Dark Places and Sharp Objects. Great suggestions! And best of luck if you read both. :) I haven't chosen anything yet for this month. I'll have to do a tag search and see what my options are first.

ETA: I found one that's been on my shelves awhile: Skin by Kathe Koja.

>2 Moomin_Mama: Good ones! :) I read Asylum when it came out and really liked it, though I wasn't crazy about the POV. The movie's pretty good, too, imho.

Ago 3, 2015, 5:30am

>1 sturlington: >3 saraslibrary: I've read Gone Girl and seen the film. The film was okay but I really liked the book, but more for the satirical take on modern relationships, which I thought made it a lot more interesting than your normal thriller. I will at some point try her other books.

>3 saraslibrary: Skin looks interesting.

Editado: Ago 3, 2015, 7:29am

I'm continuing to read The Shining, which I'd started in July. Wow, it's really scary ... I'd like to watch the movie when I'm done, but I'm not sure I'll have the nerve.

Great suggestions here in this thread!

Editado: Ago 4, 2015, 4:12am

>4 Moomin_Mama: I'll try and make a point to read the book first (Gone Girl, that is). Usually I "cheat" and watch the movie first.

Skin's ok so far (I'm maybe a dozen or so pages into it). It's a little hard to get into, because Kathe Koja's writing is a little more weird and artistic than most books I've read. Some of her books could've easily fit into our Pulp/Weird category back in June, judging by some of the reviews and tags. I've only read one book by her (Strange Angels) and was a bit disappointed at first, but it's somehow stuck with me after all these years, probably because it was one of the few books I've read on schizophrenia and major psychological problems.

>5 mathgirl40: Stephen King books take me a long time to read, too. :) Well, unless it's Cycle of the Werewolf or something similarly small. Which movie do you plan on watching? I just realized there are a couple versions of it. I've only seen the one with Jack Nicholson in it and that was when I was a kid. Probably not the best thing for an elementary school kid to be watching. ;)

Ago 4, 2015, 9:23am

>6 saraslibrary: I hadn't realized there was more than one version of The Shining! I only knew about the Jack Nicholson one. I had to look the others up, and this 30-second animation with bunnies is pretty awesome.

When I was in elementary school, my parents didn't supervise my TV viewing very well. I recall watching The Reincarnation of Peter Proud and it scared me for days.

Editado: Ago 4, 2015, 1:04pm

I'm going to read American Psycho or at least try to this month. I've been holding off on it for a while but I guess now's a good time to start...or maybe this might be more appropriate for the October read.

Ago 4, 2015, 6:15pm

>8 JuliusC: American Psycho is a good choice for August, I'd say - unless you want to put it off for longer.

Ago 15, 2015, 6:36pm

>6 saraslibrary: and >7 mathgirl40: They redid The Shining with... shoot, I can't remember the actor's name, but it was a tv miniseries. The actor was - previous to that - in a tv show where he was an airplane pilot and I can't even remember the name of the tv show. Sigh... I'm picturing him... Jeff someone, maybe? I'll have to look it up!

Ago 15, 2015, 6:36pm

I'm likely going to read The Ruins by Scott Smith this month (I hope I can get to it!). I'd hoped for Doctor Sleep by Stephen King, but there are too many holds on it, I won't get to it.

Editado: Ago 15, 2015, 6:38pm

>10 LibraryCin: It was a tv mini-series in 1997 with Steven Weber (not sure where I got "Jeff" from!), who had previously been on the tv show Wings.

Ago 15, 2015, 8:51pm

>12 LibraryCin: There was another Stephen King miniseries starring the other guy from Wings, Storm of the Century. As I recall, neither was very good.

I finished two Gillian Flynn books, Sharp Objects and Dark Places, both of which I liked better than Gone Girl.

Ago 16, 2015, 12:42am

>13 sturlington: Of all those Gillian Flynn books, I think I liked them all equally as much. If I'm remembering correctly, they all got 4 stars from me!

Ago 16, 2015, 12:43am

>13 sturlington: And that one sounds vaguely familiar, but I can't remember for sure if I've seen it or not.

Ago 23, 2015, 12:14am

>9 Moomin_Mama: half way through and so far pretty graphic, makes me cringe in some parts

>11 LibraryCin: I enjoyed reading The Ruins. It's one of those books you'll either love or hate looking through the reviews but as long as you keep an open mind it should be a fun read. I also enjoyed A Simple Plan which I think is a better book by Scott Smitt.

Ago 23, 2015, 12:32am

>16 JuliusC: Definitely a love-it kind of book for me! I just started today and am about 3/4 of the way through already. It's going to get a high rating unless something goes terribly "wrong" in the last bit of the book! Plot-wise, lots can still go wrong, but you know what I mean! ;-)

Ago 23, 2015, 2:42am

>7 mathgirl40: Thanks for linking to the bunnies version of The Shining! :) I'd never seen that version before, but it pretty much sums up the movie. :D Or at least what everyone quotes from the movie.

You're lucky to have such easy parents! I'd never heard of The Reincarnation of Peter Proud before (that I'm aware of anyway), but I checked it out on IMDb and Amazon and decided to wishlist it. It looks fairly interesting. Thanks! :)

>8 JuliusC: Best of luck with American Psycho! :) I watched the movie before reading the book, so I was constantly comparing the two in my head. Let us know what you think.

>10 LibraryCin: & >12 LibraryCin: Yes, Wings! :) I got to your post about a week too late, but I remember that show. I don't remember the actor's name, but I do remember watching that series when it aired.

>11 LibraryCin: Good luck with The Ruins! :) (The same one that was turned into a movie, right? If so, I think I remember seeing that one before.The one with talking plants or flowers in a jungle or something?That's not much of a spoiler, I know, but you never know who might get upset about revealing too much about the plot.)

>13 sturlington: Wow, that was fast! :) And it's good to know those two are solid reads.

Editado: Ago 23, 2015, 12:19pm

>18 saraslibrary: I didn't know it had been made into a movie, except for a blurb on the front of the book! :-)

I started it yesterday and am already 4/5 of the way through (easy to figure out that fraction as I read about 400 out of 500ish pages already). Really liking it. I'm not sure if I should open the "spoiler" or not! I'll try to remember to come back and read it after. I'm hoping to finish today, but I have plan later, so it might not happen.

Editado: Ago 23, 2015, 3:38pm

>13 sturlington: Good to know about Gillian Flynn's other books. They are on my ever-expanding TBR list.

>16 JuliusC: Oh it's very graphic, but I think it's a good psychological horror because you are seeing from Patrick Bateman's point of view throughout the book.

Ago 23, 2015, 3:37pm

Asylum - The story of a doomed affair between a mental patient and a psychiatrist's wife, told by the psychiatrist who is treating both of them. A fairly short book, very well written (will definitely read more by Patrick McGrath) but grim and depressing. 4 stars.

More on my thread but SPOILERS!!! Avoid if you want to read it yourself.

Ago 24, 2015, 4:03am

>19 LibraryCin: Wow, good job plowing through The Shining! :) I doubt if I've ever read that many pages in one day.

>21 Moomin_Mama: I'm glad you liked Asylum. :) I really liked it, too.

I'm still stuck about halfway through Skin by Kathe Koja. I like it, but it is hard reading. Her style isn't my norm, plus not a whole lot is happening plot-wise, so I may not finish it by the end of the month. I'm shocked it's taken me this long to read 100 pages.

Ago 24, 2015, 9:25pm

>22 saraslibrary: Oh, sorry! I was unclear! I was talked about The Ruins! And I did finish it on Sunday (yesterday), but still have to write my review (it's getting at least 4.5 stars!).

Ago 24, 2015, 11:21pm

>23 LibraryCin: Ok, gotcha. No worries. :) Man, that must've been an impressive read for you to read it so fast and to give it a 4.5 stars. That's kind of the fun thing about category reads: you find new books that you sometimes fall in love with. :)

Ago 24, 2015, 11:57pm

The Ruins / Scott Smith
4.5 stars

When four friends take a holiday in Mexico, they meet a few others and decide to go after their new German friend's brother, who has followed a girl out to an archaeological site. What they find at that site, however, will leave them fighting for their lives.

Wow, definitely creepy! I was on the edge of my seat for most of it, wanting to know what was going to happen, so I wanted to just keep reading. I was happy to finish the 500 page book in two (weekend) days.

Ago 24, 2015, 11:57pm

>24 saraslibrary: Well, this one was on my tbr, anyway. :-) I originally had hoped to read it around Halloween last year, but it just didn't happen then.

Editado: Ago 25, 2015, 6:25am

>22 saraslibrary: Thought Asylum was a great read - dark, moody and tragic. I loved the way it was written and the only reason I didn't give it a 5 are explained on my own thread, as I don't want to spoil the plot for anyone. There's no great twist as such but it's a compelling story because the characters are fascinating and it's not obvious what's going to happen to them.

>25 LibraryCin: The Ruins sounds a good read - I'm sold! I thumbed up your review.

Ago 25, 2015, 6:44am

I also couldn't put down The Ruins, read it in two days on vacation. I really liked Asylum when I read it too. Sounds like we are picking some good books this month.

Editado: Ago 25, 2015, 12:38pm

You guys got me. I'm here at the library, wandered over to the S section and grabbed The Ruins. Now I have a pile of 4 books!!! Recently read Smith's more famous, A Simple Plan and found it to be quite good. Hope this one lives up to your rave reviews!

Oh and if you like Asylum, you have to read Dr. Haggard's Disease. I've read all of McGrath's novels and I think it's his best. The Grotesque is good, too and follows the more gothic work he's famous for.

Ago 25, 2015, 5:17pm

>29 Bookmarque: Thanks for the recommendation, Bookmarque.

Ago 25, 2015, 7:25pm

>27 Moomin_Mama: Yay - thank you! I hope you end up liking it!

Ago 25, 2015, 7:26pm

Oh, and >29 Bookmarque: - Enjoy!

I'll have to take a look at A Simple Plan, as well, I think!

Ago 26, 2015, 3:25am

>26 LibraryCin: Even better! One less TBR book off the pile. :) Halloween or not, at least you got it read. That's what counts. And that you enjoyed it. :) Btw, have you seen the movie made of it? If so, what'd you think of the two (the book vs the movie)?

>27 Moomin_Mama: I'll have to pop over to your thread to find out more what you thought of the book. :) I was really into "dark, moody and tragic" books at that time, so that was one reason I really loved the book. I didn't particularly love the POV, but I think I still gave it a 5. Or maybe a 4. I don't remember. It's been ages since I read it.

>28 sturlington: I'm glad you liked Asylum too! :) I totally agree--not a whole lot of duds, I've noticed.

>29 Bookmarque: Hee hee. I think we call them "book bullets" or something like that here on LT. It's hard not to walk out of the library with that many books--or more!--after being on here. :)

Ooh, I'll have to look into Dr. Haggard's Disease, as well as Grotesque. I think the only McGrath book I own that I haven't read is Spider, which I had wanted to read this year, but we'll see. Thanks for the rec! :)

Ago 26, 2015, 7:53am

Oh Spider is soooo good. I bought it when it first came out. Hooked me on McGrath for life.

Ago 26, 2015, 9:52pm

>33 saraslibrary: No, I haven't seen the movie, so I'm afraid I can't compare. I didn't know it was a movie except for the little blurb on the cover of the book (which I only picked up because I'd already planned to read it! :-) )

Ago 26, 2015, 11:46pm

>34 Bookmarque: I saw the movie first (I really had a thing for Ralph Fiennes back in the day) and had no idea it was based on a book until years later. That's good to know the book is so good. Thanks! :) I really love McGrath's writing, too, even though I haven't read as much of his books as others.

>35 LibraryCin: If I remember right, the movie version of The Ruins isn't a major must-see, but it's not terrible either. But then, it's been yeeears since I've seen it, so don't trust my memory about that one. ;) As a general rule, most books are better than the movie (except maybe a few: Legends of the Fall turned out better than the story it was based on; ditto with Secretary (the one with Maggie Gyllenhaal in it) and Brokeback Mountain, etc).

Ago 26, 2015, 11:52pm

>36 saraslibrary: haha! Good to know! Even though I enjoyed the book so much, I'm not sure I'm going to seek out the movie. We'll see. :-)

Ago 29, 2015, 3:38pm

Been such a busy month that I won't get round to one of my books (Ghost Stories of Henry James), but I think I can be forgiven as I went to Frightfest for the first time this year! I've had no excuse as I live in London and I only went for one day (yesterday) but I will definitely do it again next year. You can see more on the films I saw here:

Ago 29, 2015, 10:59pm

>18 saraslibrary: If you do get around to seeing The Reincarnation of Peter Proud, I'd love to hear your thoughts on it. It's probably not as scary as I remember, but I'd like to rewatch it again myself. I did enjoy the book by Max Ehrlich, which I read a few years ago.

>38 Moomin_Mama: Frightfest sounds like a lot of fun!

I finished reading The Shining and thought it was terrific. I was impressed by how well King conveyed the thoughts of both Jack and Danny. It was very realistic, which made it all the scarier.

I also finished Solaris by Stanislaw Lem. This book is considered a science fiction novel but it feels very much like a psychological horror story and reminded me of Jeff Vandermeer's Annihilation. It's about a sentient planet that causes a scientist in an orbiting research station to see a recreated version of his dead wife.

Set 1, 2015, 3:28pm

I have one for you! Just finished Wylding Hall by Elizabeth Hand. It's a novella and available as a kindle book for less than $4 (at least it was yesterday). Told from multiple points of view in the present day, the story the speakers relate is set in England in the 1970s. A band in need of a break is living in an old manor house to work on their next album. There's a mysterious girl, pagan practices and someone ends up dead. A lot of the very creepy is saved to the end, but there are some excellent touches of horror and foreboding throughout. All in all very good, but then I like Hand's writing.

Set 3, 2015, 5:50am

>37 LibraryCin: No worries. :) There are better movies out there.

>38 Moomin_Mama: Yes, we'll forgive you. This time. ;) I've never heard of Fright Fest, but it sounds like fun! I'm glad you were able to go!

>39 mathgirl40: I just ordered it yesterday, so it might take a week or so to get here and maybe a few more days for me to get around to watching it. We'll see. And, yes, I'll let you know what I thought. I know what you mean about movies not being as scary as you remember. A lot of times it's just the time or place that you watch it that makes it scary. The younger you are especially; the scarier it is. :)

Oh, and congrats on finishing The Shining and Solaris!

>40 Bookmarque: Good one! :) I've never heard of it, but going by the reviews, it looks very good. I noticed a lot of netgalley tags. Is that a site or something for ebooks? Just curious, because I'm trying to get into ebooks, but it's slow-going for me (old dogs, new tricks). So far, I've tried a few free ones on and here on LT (Early Review wins).

Set 3, 2015, 6:00am

Even though I haven't finished my August book, I went ahead and got the September thread up and going: . Feel free to add your books there. :)

Editado: Set 3, 2015, 4:39pm

I started Ghost Stories of Henry James but will read them at my leisure and report back when I've finished. I've only read The Turn of the Screw and The Friends of the Friends before and found both of them creepy - perfect autumn and winter reading, so I'll probably dip in and out of it over the coming months, as the evenings get darker.

>39 mathgirl40: >38 Moomin_Mama: FrightFest was a lot of fun. It's a horror film festival that's been going for about 16 years now, and it's gotten bigger each year. This year there were about 70+ movies being shown. I got a day pass which gives access to the main screen of your choosing, or free access to lower budget films being shown on smaller screens. There's so much choice - I'm still kicking myself for not giving 'Hellions' a miss on the big screen for a low budget Argentinian horror called 'The Rotten Link', but pleased I stayed for what turned out to be one of the more popular films of the weekend, a low budget Fulci-esque film called 'We Are Still Here'. If you're of a certain age and have an affection for low budget late 70's/early 80s horrors, you'll love it.

>40 Bookmarque: Wylding Hall - another interesting sounding book. There's no way I'll get round to all the books recommended this year by other members but at least I won't be lacking in choice next year :)

Editado: Set 3, 2015, 4:29pm

>Psycho - So far this book has scared me more than anything else I've read this year. I had to put the book down very early on and keep the lights on, and I read the whole book expecting to be terrified at any minute. Yes, we all know the story but the pacing is different and Robert Bloch writes in such a short, snappy way that the scares come out of the blue. This is the polar opposite of the slow, creeping, ambiguous horror of Henry James, more like a quick stab with an ice-pick. The middle of the book slows a bit when the detective shows up and reads more like a thriller, but the book is short enough that this doesn't become boring. 5 stars.

My notes will definitely spoil the book if you haven't read it yet.

(This may be the oddest way to end a post but I must share - I'm writing this with a flatulent cat on my lap and I can't help wondering... he's a carnivore, right? So why does he smell like cabbage?)!

Set 3, 2015, 9:28pm

>42 saraslibrary: Thanks for setting that up! I've already started my book, but didn't even think to do that!

Set 3, 2015, 9:31pm

>44 Moomin_Mama: LOL about your cat!

(And I commented on your Psycho notes in your thread, but only skimmed them, so I don't think I picked up on anything I shouldn't have...)

Set 7, 2015, 12:25pm

>29 Bookmarque:
>32 LibraryCin:
Loved The Ruins but I liked A Simple Plan better. Both definitely kept me on the edge of my seat but I've never watched either of the movies.

Been so busy lately so it took me a while to finish American Psycho. Probably a 4* for me. I must admit I've never read a book this graphic before. I watched the movie many years ago so I knew it was gory but the book is way over the top lol. Made me cringe in some parts. The only thing I didn't like was the authors take on music albums. Didn't care for it and I don't feel that it really progress the story line. Doesn't add any value to the story. I don't want to give away the story/scene and I'm not sure how to do a spoiler filter but let's just say the amusement park (I think that's what it is) was hard to take in for me. There were definitely no barriers in this novel.

Set 7, 2015, 2:05pm

>47 JuliusC: I thought the film version of A Simple Plan was excellent.

Set 7, 2015, 2:58pm

Had to DNF The Ruins. Reviewed what I could stomach though. A Simple Plan was much, much better.

Editado: Set 7, 2015, 3:03pm

>47 JuliusC: Good to know about The Ruins and A Simple Plan! Thanks!

>49 Bookmarque: Sorry you weren't able to finish! :-(

Editado: Set 8, 2015, 9:46am

>46 LibraryCin: Glad you only skimmed, as not knowing what to expect is part of the fun! It's short enough to read straight through which I think would be even scarier, but I had to keep putting it down.

>47 JuliusC: For me the music critique was funny and part of what made the book more than just a gore-fest. Patrick really is pompous and thinks everything he does and thinks is important, even though his life and interests are incredibly shallow. Constantly having to return video films, his attempts to avoid his gay colleague, and his daydream of skipping hand-in-hand with his secretary are hilarious too. Well, I thought so...

Out 17, 2015, 11:28pm

>7 mathgirl40: & >39 mathgirl40: Oh, man, is this a super-late post, but when I ordered The Reincarnation of Peter Proud, I realized I didn't have a blu-ray/region 2 player. *facepalm* (I bought an import of it; it's a pretty hard movie to find. Long story short: I had to buy the machine as well--lol!) Anyway, I'm only about 30 minutes into it, but I can definitely see where it wouldn't be suitable for kids. It's not gory or horrific (so far anyway); it just has lots of nudity. But it is fairly fast-paced with scenes maybe averaging 1 minute long. Probably my only complaint (other than the horrific closed captioning--lots of spelling errors, words left out, etc.) is it's a bit hard to tell when it's a dream and Peter's real life. But maybe that's the intent of the movie? *shrugs* I may have to give the book a try, too. So far, it's an interesting movie. Thanks again for recommending it to me! :)

Out 18, 2015, 7:11am

>52 saraslibrary: Glad to see your initial review, and I'll be interested in hearing your thoughts when you're finished and/or if you decide to read the book. I'll have to seek the movie out to do a rewatch too, though hopefully I won't have to buy a new machine to do so. :)

Editado: Out 19, 2015, 2:56am

>53 mathgirl40: I just finished the movie tonight after work and really liked it (4 out of 5 stars). I forgot to mention how silly the cover does look. You kind of wonder if it's really a nightmare he's waking up from and what he's grabbing on to.Did I remember right that he was castrated?I had this sinking feeling the ending was going to be all happy-ever-afterwith Marcia dying and Peter marrying his daughter, even though he's already married.

I don't know if you knew this already, but when I was IMDb'ing the movie earlier, it looks like they're doing a remake due out in 2016. But nothing's set in concrete. If it does happen, I could see how it could be churned out into sequels because of how the movie ends.

Anyway, I'm sure you'll be able to find an affordable copy to watch. :) There are some VHS and DVDs available via Amazon (where I bought mine).

Out 19, 2015, 7:42am

>54 saraslibrary: Sorry, I don't remember enough details to comment on your spoiler question. I'll definitely have to watch the movie again, and it's interesting to hear that a remake is in the works!

By the way, on the topic of hard-to-find psychological thriller movies, have you ever seen the 1989 TV series called "Mother Love" starring Diana Rigg? I thought Rigg was brilliant in that show ... and very, very scary.

Out 19, 2015, 7:51am

As for psychological horror flicks, with a much deeper subtext, has anyone seen The Babadook?

Out 20, 2015, 3:46am

>55 mathgirl40: No worries. :) I think they mention something about castration, but it's not super important to the plot. Good luck rewatching it. In my experience, movies are never as good as we remember them as kids; but that's just my cheap two cents. ;) I thought the possibility of a 2016 remake was interesting, too. I've got my fingers crossed it comes through.

No, I don't think I ever watched Mother Love. Sorry. :)

>56 .Monkey.: Another strike for me: nope, I haven't seen The Babadook, though I do want to watch it eventually.

Out 20, 2015, 4:32am

I thought it was very good. If one wishes, they can fairly easily watch it at surface level as a quite creepy (and quite well done) horror flick. But if one is so inclined, they can look past the surface level and also get something much deeper, something that "polite society" does not like to talk about or acknowledge. It's like two great movies in one! xD

Out 20, 2015, 6:54am

>58 .Monkey.: I haven't seen The Babadook yet. It sounds like a good one!

Out 21, 2015, 1:39am

>58 .Monkey.: *is quite interested now* What doesn't "polite society" want to talk about? You can do the spoiler code if you want.

Out 21, 2015, 4:16am

I will copy what she's said from Wiki (which isn't really spoilery, but the one partial statement is sorrrrt of slightlyish maybe):
The writing of the screenplay began in around 2009 and Kent has stated that she sought to tell a story about facing up to the darkness with ourselves, the "fear of going mad" and an exploration of parenting from a "real perspective". In regard to parenting, Kent further explained in October 2014: "Now, I’m not saying we all want to go and kill our kids, but a lot of women struggle. And it is a very taboo subject, to say that motherhood is anything but a perfect experience for women." In terms of the characters, Kent said that it was important that both characters are loving and lovable, so that "we (audience) really feel for them"—Kent wanted to portray human relationships in a positive light.

Also of note (and more spoilery, I feel):
Writing for the Daily Beast, Tim Teeman contends that grief is the "real monster" in The Babadook, and that the film is "about the aftermath of death; how its remnants destroy long after the dead body has been buried or burned". Teeman writes that he was "gripped" by the "metaphorical imperative" of Kent's film, with the Babadook monster representing "the shape of grief: all-enveloping, shape-shifting, black". Teeman states that the film's ending "underscored the thrum of grief and loss at the movie’s heart", and concludes that it informs the audience that grief has its place and the best that humans can do is "marshal it".

Out 22, 2015, 11:01pm

>61 .Monkey.: Ooh, gotcha. Yeah, I can understand where a lot of people would shy away from talking about that; but I think that's cool they brought it up. Sometimes I do like horror movies that make you think. I'll have to give that one a try soonish. :)

Out 23, 2015, 7:27am

Yeah, it's pretty unique I think, most horror tends not to be very "intellectual," even the non-slasher puzzle-solving who's killing everyone?! sort only really keep you "thinking" in terms of trying to figure out whodunnit. So for one to really try and tackle a big issue and say Hey, this thing should not be such a big deal to talk about, people deal with this, it's okay!! while at the same time being a really fabulous creepy horror flick, it's pretty awesome! :)