How are you all enjoying ‘Women in Horror Month’? I am really enjoying celebrating women writers, directors and more, as well as having my socks scared off daily!  As part of my daily challenge, here is my ghostly short story ‘Reborn’.


He tried his best to contain his excitement as the small bundle was pushed into the cave, but the little squeal that started deep in his stomach burst past what passed for his lips, alerting the others. Soon, seven little ghosts were looking at the dozing baby, wrapped in thick woollen blankets to stave off the chill of the cave.

‘A baby,’ whispered one of the ghosts, slowing stretching one of her rainbow coloured tentacles towards it. She screeched as the stinger of one of her companions penetrated the tentacle. The rainbow colours rapidly dulled to black and it hung uselessly against her gelatinous body.

‘Don’t touch that child,’ her attacker warned. He was shaped like a foot, with three large toes, each with a sharp stinger on the end.

A third ghost moved between them, his two frilled antennae gently separating Rainbow and Toes. The antennae were attached to a spherical, clear body in which bobbed an ever watchful eye. The Watcher spun his antennae gracefully upwards, mindful not to touch the dripping walls of the cave.

‘Now, we must not disturb the child until the decision is made.’ His eye spun and one of his antennae whipped out at one of the ghosts who dared get too close to the child.

A bell-shaped ghost edged towards the group. He rippled as he spoke, the oily surface of his skin reflecting what little light penetrated the cave, ‘But which of us is it to be?’

Rainbow swatted the Watcher’s antennae away and drifted closer to the child, the others ready to pounce on her if she touched the pink, warm skin. ‘It should be me. My son needs me,’ she said, her voice breaking a little.

Bellringer pulsed as he laughed, ‘Your son’s been dead for generations, you stupid witch. Your pathetic attempts at magic were no more effective than that fools attempt to kill a god.’

The antennae folded around the Watcher. ‘I would have killed him, had I have had more men,’ he huffed.

A worm-shaped ghost with a spotted crest inched closer. ‘Your army was washed away by the same god you were trying to kill.’ Her crest quivered as she giggled.

‘His plan was no more ludicrous than taking a life just so you can keep your bath filled,’ a small, furry ghost muttered.

The Worm writhed angrily. ‘You mock me? I was trying to keep my youth. You were taking body parts to try to rebuild your deceased mother. That’s ludicrous,’ she shrilled.

The ghosts froze as the walls of the cave shifted, dislodging stones, dust and salt residue that the dripping water left behind. Several of the ghosts cried out as the salt hit them, causing their skin to sizzle and peel.

‘Be quiet,’ hissed a diamond-shaped ghost, the small spikes which covered his body clicking in agitation. ‘Any more loud noises will kill us all.’

The ghosts watched in silence as the dust slowly floated down, each all too aware of the nature of their prison. Only when the constant dripping of the water from the walls had resumed and the last particles of dust had hit the floor did they dare to speak.

‘The child is mine,’ proclaimed the Watcher, ‘I have had time to realise my mistakes and will not make them again.’

‘Which mistake is that? Attempting to kill a water god by stabbing the water?’ mocked Bellringer.

The Watcher snorted. ‘No. I need more men. Then, I’ll kill the water gods.’

Toes flexed his toes and flicked out his stingers. ‘Pah! You talk of killing a god. I plan to resurrect one! I was one kill away from my thirteenth and then my dark lord would have arisen from his fiery pit.’

‘It should be me,’ said the Worm. ‘I meant no harm, merely to bring beauty to the world. My beauty.’ Her crest rippled, the spots reflecting the dull light.

The hairs on Fuzzball bristled. ‘No! I should go. Mother needs me,’ he whined. The Watcher slapped Fuzzball with one of his antennae, sending him spinning dangerously close to the salt-covered walls. Fuzzball hissed in anger but dared not move closer to the group.

‘I had ‘em running scared, those filthy whores. Let me go back so I can finish the job. I can still remember the feeling as my knife gutted ‘em. Gotta cleanse the streets. Vermin they are, running around spreading disease every time they spread their legs. I’ll slice ‘em up real pretty with my knife.’

‘Please, you don’t understand. My son is at war and I need to keep him safe. If I continue making the sacrifices, he comes home to me,’ begged Rainbow.

The ghosts huddled together, arguing. Their movements causing a blur of colours until it was difficult to discern one from the other.

A short, sharp whistle brought them all to a stop and they turned to see Diamond-spike floating near the dripping wall.

‘You pathetic creatures. You argue and fight for the right to be reborn, for your petty beliefs or desires. You all want a chance to return and continue doing whatever ridiculous thing it was that got you sent here. But me? I was born evil they said, never had a chance to go topside.’

‘You mean, you’ve never….’ Rainbow trailed off.

‘If you’ve never been up there, then what right do you have to claim the child?’ demanded Toes.

Diamond-Spike spun lazily, his spikes grazing the wall but he didn’t flinch as the salt burned his skin. A slash of a grin appeared on one side of his body. ‘I seen a lot of your types come and go. All have their reasons for killing, for pleasure, for pain, their gods to serve or sacrifice. Some got ideas about purifying their race, others about keeping loved ones alive. But me?’ Diamond-Spike let the question hang in the air between him and the other ghosts. The others drew closer to him, eager to know his reasons for being sent to the cave. Diamond-Spike’s grin grew larger.

‘But me?’ he repeated, ‘I got a plan.’

He spun, flinging the droplets of salty water which had accumulated on his spikes at the other ghosts. They all howled and screamed as their bodies began to smoke.

Diamond-Spike floated down to the baby who had begun to stir with all the noise. The child gazed at the tiny speck which bobbed in front of its eyes. However, it let out a scream as Diamond-Spike forced himself inside its nose. The child thrashed its chubby arms around as a small droplet of blood dribbled from its nose and across its face. As quickly as it had started crying, it stopped, its blue eyes turning to black with tiny blood-red flecks. A thin grin spread across the baby’s face and it disappeared leaving the other ghosts in complete darkness.


If you enjoyed this short story, check out to my other free fiction. Feel free to add links to your short stories below or on my Facebook page.

Movie Review: The Babadook (2014)

The Babadook movie poster 2014

Synopsis: A widow and her son battle with an evil entity in their home. Don’t invite in the Babadook!

Director: Jennifer Kent

Starring: Essie Davis, Noah Wiseman

Review: I first watched the Babadook when my daughter was first born and I remember being terrified. I couldn’t watch it all in one sitting and had to watch the rest during the day whilst the baby slept as I was too scared to watch it at night.

So, I wondered how I would feel, watching it nearly four years later with the benefit of dealing with my own little bundle of trouble (although thankfully no Babadook!).

Well, I was still terrified! In many respects, my situation is completely opposite to that of Davis’ character but I have a definite feel for the exhaustion felt by a mother when you’ve got a child who hasn’t slept for an extended period, coupled with the demands of a job, keeping house and all the other pressures both external and internal.

Davis has rightly been lauded as she gives a fantastically nuanced performance of an exhausted, stressed and overwhelmed single mother caring for a troubled child whilat also grieving for her husband. Her character is trying to manage so many things without support from her family, no real friends and a child with very specific needs. Her son, played by Wiseman also deserves huge praise for excelling is a very challenging role. I’m always impressed with child actors who are able to display a maturity in their performance well beyond their years and should he continue to follow an acting path, then I expect we’ll see more stellor performances from him.

However, the kudos belongs to writer and director Kent.  This project was born from a 10minute short caleed ‘Monster‘ she wrote and directed. Nearly ten years later the story was still nagging at her and she expanded it to create ‘The Babadook’. Kent’s other credits include directing an episode of a TV show, acting and producing. She truly has a rounded knowledge of the industry and this is evident with the slick delivery of ‘The Babadook’.

From the first instant, the movie has you on edge and it doesn’t release you until the final few scenes. Kent’s use of different colours to signify moods works well, with the bright sunlight of time spent outside in contrast to the blues and greys of their home. This lighting lends itself well to the scary scenes which are light enough to see the action, unlike some horror movies where I have no idea who is running in terror etc as it’s too dark to see anything.

The script, for the most part, is sharply written and Kent’s observations of looking after a child, as well as pressures placed on parents both by society and themselves are dealt with well. The scene where the group of mums are sympathising with Davis’ ‘Amelia’ whilst also silently judging her is spot on and something I know a lot of mothers have endured. Amelia’s isolation in this scene, reflected both in the fact that the colour of her dress is different to the muted colours of the ‘popular’ mum gang, as well as having her seated whilst the other mums are standing at the opposite end of the table is a scene which has stuck in my memory. It’s not overtly horrific but it’s one of the more run-of-the-mill daily encounters which resonated with me, and one which I experienced more the second time I watched it because like ‘Amelia’ I’ve had to find my voice to stand up to others who have judged my parenting style.

It’s an intimate movie in many ways, with the bulk just playing out between Davis and Wiseman. Keeping other characters at arms length works well to help build up the tension of what lurks in the house as well as the sense of isolation felt by ‘Amelia’. The creepiness of the book as well as the lack of explantion as to where the Babadook comes from is works well. Sometimes the over-explanation of where the ‘big bad’ is from slows down the pacing and doesn’t add anything so it’s lack allows speculation and for the viewer to create their own scary ideas.

Overall, I loved this movie. There were a few minor niggles I had but then, everyone’s a critic and they didn’t stop me from enjoying this movie. It’s one I’ll definitely be watching again, although hopefully not from behind a pillow!

If you’ve enjoyed this review, have a look at the other movies I’ve reviewed.

Women in Horror Month: Tuesday Team Ups

Welcome back to my Daily Challenge for Women In Horror Month. How are you enjoying it to far? Today we’re looking at ‘team ups’. I’ll be honest, when I thought of this prompt, I was in the midst of a ‘Supernatural’ rewatch and had planned to post assorted photos of the Winchester brothers (as an aside, are you Team Dean, Team Sam or Team Castiel?).

For some reason, women in genre often fall into different categories: the slut, the geek, the survivor, the frenemy, the bitch, stereotypes lampooned somewhat in ‘Cabin in the Woods’. I get frustrated that so few movies reflect the friendships I have and see all around me. We’re not all the bitchy, underwear flaunting, ditzy, serial killer fodder were portrayed. In my experience, my girlfriends are supportive, funny and I know they have my back. Having worked on the collective project ‘Girls’ Guide to Surviving the Apocalypse’ I also know that we can work together to create something fantastic without resorting to bitchiness or pillow fights in our undies.

However, I got thinking: whilst I could name half a dozen male ‘teams’ in horror, sci fi or fantasy, I struggled to name a team of women who joined together to beat the big bad so my focus shifted and here we are, celebrating women’s friendship in the midst of terror!

It’s not an exhaustive list, so feel free to add your favourites below.

Sidney Prescott, and Tatum Riley (Scream). Poor Sidney has been going through a tough time since the murder of her mother but her trusty friend Tatum has been at her side, fiercely protecting her whilst also giving her a shoulder to cry on.

Buffy Summers and Willow Rosenberg (Buffy the Vampire Slayer). One of the most formidable teams on my list, a Slayer and a witch but these two girls were firmly bound by friendship. What I also love is that twenty years later Sarah Michelle Geller and Alyson Hannigan are still friends!

Julie James and Helen Shivers (I Know What You Did Last Summer). First they work together tocover up their involvement in a hit and run, then join together to find the serial killer targeting their group. What else are girlfriends for?

Hongryeon and Jangwan (A Tale of Two Sisters). I love this movie as you can see from my review. Sisters don’t always get on, but when joined in a battle against an evil step mother, they do well.

Katniss Everdeen and Rue (The Hunger Games). Many in the Capitol grew uncomfortable when Katniss volunteered to take her sisters place in The Hunger Games but it was when she teamed up with Rue that the seeds of revolution were firmly sown. Fans of Suzanne Collins book and the film will celebrate this poignant but beautiful friendship.

Harley Quinn and Poison Ivy (assorted, most recently DC Comics).  These are two of my favourite femmes, even if they have been criminally underused in the assorted Batman franchises. I really enjoyed the juxposition of the unstable Harley with the studious and serious Ivy I’m the most recent comic release. That these two are now a couple is definite trouble for our favourite Bat, but brilliant for readers  I can’t wait to catch up on their adventures!

I’m sure I’ve missed loads of great female team ups so sound off in the comments below. And because I can’t help myself, here’s a picture of the Winchester brothers….

Movie Review: Hollow Creek (2016)

Hollow Creek 2016 cover

Hollow Creek 2016 cover

Synopsis: A horror novelist and his lover escape to a remote cabin in Hollow Creek whilst he works on his latest novel but it’s not long before spooky occurrences put a strain on the lovebirds

Director: Guisela Moro

Starring: Guilsela Moro, Steve Daron, Burt Reynolds

Review: I’ll be honest, the reason I watched ‘Hollow Creek‘ was that I was curious to see what Burt Reynolds was up to nowadays. Given the low score on IMDB I wasn’t overly hopeful but I was pleasantly surprised.

As well as directing and starring, Moro also wrote the screenplay (with Daron collaborating). There’s a lot going on in the movie, with the relationship challenges between Moro and Daron, Daron’s writer’s block, missing children and more. In some respects, having so much backstory for the characters makes for a slightly muddled and unevenly paced movie but I understand the writer’s choices for including it. It’s said that an author’s work contains elements of themselves and I think this is true of this movie, with certain comments reflecting a conservative, Catholic upbringing.

I liked the colour palate Moro used and it definitely added to the atmosphere of the movie in my opinion: hues of blue for Daron, Green for Moro and darker greys when there are supernatural occurrences or danger. Moro proves herself an adept director, especially given this is only her second directorial feature and there are few of the unnecessary or wasted shots more experienced directors are guilty of. I would say that I found the ending a little cliche and silly, but given the build-up, I’m unsure of how else they could have ended the film.

The acting can be patchy, including from the leads and this is highlighted by Reynold’s restrained performance. The scenes with the police officers, in particular, I found annoying and wishing they were over. I’m not sure if this was due to the acting or the cliched writing, but they did slow the pace of the movie. The scenes involving Daron’s editor also slow the pace and I don’t feel add anything to the film. Despite the uneven acting, it was still watchable and viewers should not be put off.

I can understand why there are a number of people for whom this movie didn’t work: there’s no gore, limited violence and much of the supernatural aspects are kept to a minimum, although they do provide a ‘jump’ when they happen. It’s also a real mixture of relationship drama, supernatural horror, crime and mystery. I feel the low score it’s been given on IMDB is unfair, as there are higher rated movies which do not have the care that Hollow Creek does. As I said above, there’s a lot to cram into a movie just shy of two hours. However, it definitely worth a visit to Hollow Creek.

Make it Monday: Monster Tissue Box

One of my favourite things to do on a lazy day with the Lamb is to look briefly at my ‘Toddler Craft’ board on Pintrest & see what project she chooses.

Last week she was really taken with this photo of ‘tissue box monsters’ (apologies, I’ve looked to see if there’s a link to a website but can’t see one). 

It was super simple and it was lovely to see the Lamb’s imagination run wild. Firstly we gathered our materials, and we were very lucky that it was the day before the recycling was collected so we had plenty of egg boxes and tissue boxes to use, plus some pipe cleaners, felt balls, paint, paper and glue.

The Lamb kept referring back to the original photo but her imagination really ran wild as she painted the mouth black, added fuzzy balls inside, wanted yellow horn and chose bobbly eyes for him. It was really fun, messy and creative. I was surprised at how long it took as the Lamb took a lot of care painting and considering what to add next. 

And now her monster is pride of place on the mantelpiece. 

Have you made a tissue box monster? What decorations are you making for Halloween? 

Movie review: Lost Creek (2016)

Director: Colin Adams-Toomey

Starring: Oliver Stockman, Henry Stockman, Brynna Bartoo and Lisa Coruzzi

Review: I always like to give independent movies a try because you do frequently find a hidden gem with original stories and genuine jumps. Sadly, that’s not quite the case with Lost Creek. That’s not to say it’s a bad movie, just a bit, well, Lost.

Stockman plays ‘Peter’, the new boy in town, struggling to make friends and deal with the fall out of his parents divorce with his only friend ‘Bill’ played by Stockman. One night he goes for a walk by the creek and meets ‘Maggie’ played by Bartoo who warns him about creatures in the woods. It’s not long before the creatures are no longer confined to the woods and people around town begin to disappear.

Elements of ‘Stranger Things’ and Stephen King novels have obviously influenced the writers but unfortunately a number of factors mean ‘Lost Creek’ does not live up to expectations. The young cast do pretty well but do not have the polish of other child actors (it should be noted that this is their first feature film and I hope they all go on to great things as all show good potential which is sadly not achieved here). However, it’s the adult actors who let the movie down and I actually cringed when Peter’s mother, played by Coruzzi was on screen.

The story itself is a little all over the place and I think this is due to the number of ‘monsters’ they want to use – from school bullies, ghosts, monsters in the woods, who are the audience supposed to be afraid of? It’s this lack of unfocus, along with lingering on shots for too long, plus the ‘twist’ being obvious from the beginning which leaves Lost Creek wallowing in a damp bog. There is good stuff here, which with some tighter editing, the removal of Coruzzi and more focus on the ‘monster’ it could be a classic, but as it is, it’s sadly easy to get lost in the muddled stories of Lost Creek.

The Silence

It’s been a long week. To differing degrees we’ve all been ill (even the pup,) and we’re shattered. Hubby has gone to bed early, taking the pup with him and the toddler passed out, still clutching her favourite book, hours ago. I’ve just finished watching a silly horror movie and should be working on the review, but as I turned off the TV it hit me: The silence. 

It’s not totally silent, the heating is doing that low hum, the clock next door which hasn’t told the right time in months is ticking and I can hear people and cars outside but I close my eyes and it’s so quiet.


And yet…..

A new set of voices has been nagging me recently, demanding I tell their tale. There’s been muttering, waking me in the night with a snippet of dialogue, a name or an action scene, a delicate whisper whilst making tea or a shout as I prepare our bags for the day.

And tonight, in the silence, their voices are a roar. I’m hoping tomorrow I’ll be able to make sense of the assorted post it notes I’ve written on, that half-formed ideas will percolate and be brewed overnight and things will be a little more cohesive. They’re whispering their names, shyly letting me know their preferences, twirling their costumes and sharing their voices. They’re coalescing, becoming more real (or as real as the Lamb’s assorted imaginary friends). I’m learning their wants, desires and mostly their challenges. This band of beaten women who want me to tell their story, now have an enemy to face and it will be a hell of a battle!

Movie review: Darkness (2002)

Director: Juame Balaguero

Starring: Anna Paquin, Lena Olin and Iain Glen

Synopsis: A family move from the city to the country but there’s more than mice roaming their new home and making things go bump in the night.

Review: So, your average 2.4 family moves to the country into a large gothic style house. It’s not long before the children start noticing strange things going on, (the parents become angry for no reason, the beast under the bed steals colouring pencils, the little boy is doing the same gruesome drawings over and over again etc.) but as usual all their fears are dismissed by those older and wiser.

It’s a slow-build movie, which I’m normally a fan of. However, with a slow-build the reason they are enjoyable is because you grow to like the characters yet there’s not much to like as they are all two-dimensional. The mother is distant, while the father goes from loving to aggressive in moments while the young boy scribbles drawings with his pencils. And then there’s the teenage daughter, played by Paquin. As an actress I like Paquin and I think she brings a depth to her characters like few actresses her age can, but in this, there are too many cliches for her to battle against (honestly, there’s only so many times you can say ‘It’s this house’ in a breathless manner before people become annoyed).

There’s also an eclectic mix of accents in the movie which was one thing I found really distracting about this movie (it’s the little things which annoy me), including Iain Glen’s poor attempts at an American (?) accent. If part of the storyline was he was estranged from his father and moved to a new country, why couldn’t it have been England where his weird accent wouldn’t have been noticed? And also, if you lived in a house which suffered so many electric failures, wouldn’t you carry a torch with you all the time?

A few glimpses of spectral figures, a record player which starts playing on its own, prank ghostly telephone calls and a grim warning from an old man are not enough to spooky stakes. It’s slow, boring and the twist in the tale is obvious after about 10minutes.