Movie review: Mythica series (2014-2016

Synopsis: The adventures of necromancer Marek and her band as they battle to save the world from darkness.

Director: Anne K Black (first two movies) then A Todd Smith (Necromancer), and John Lyde (Iron Crown and Godslayer)

Starring: Melanie Stone, Jake Stormoen, Adam Johnson and Nicola Posener

Review: I said at the beginning of ‘Women in Horror Month‘ that I was going to include science fiction and fantasy because, well it’s my daily challenge and I love all genre movies, books etc. Plus I find that many horror movies including elements of fantasy or science fiction.

One of the things I love about the assorted streaming services is you have access to loads of different movies and TV shows, many independently made which wouldn’t necessarily have wide exposure. There’s a downside in that there is a lot of tripe on there, but as you’ll know if you read my over-excited review of ‘Ink‘ I love discovering a good, independently made movie.

The Mythica series was funded through a Kickstarter fund, which is very impressive. It follows a standard ‘D&D’ idea where a group comprising of a Wizard, Thief, Healer and Warrior must go on a quest, in this instance to collect the shards of ‘Darkspore’ to avoid the end of the world. I’m not going to lie, there’s little originality in the idea and the inspirations behind it, including Lord of the Rings, are obvious.

Don’t let that it’s an independent movie, D&D  movie put you off. Whilst the concept may not be unique, the production is. Given this is a Kickstarter project, the passion the team has is obvious, from the costumes to the score, it’s made with care. As seen with other franchises who have changed director after the first movie, the series is a little uneven and turns strangely steampunk under Lyde’s guidance whilst Smith was a little lighter in tone. However, we’re discussing female directors and in this respect, Black proves competent and with a good eye for making the most of a restrained budget in the first two films. Having viewed the full series, I’d say the first two movies are my favourite, both for the story and direction. Black knows when to go for a tight shot and when to showcase the scenery. The editing is good and I liked the music. There are obvious budget constraints which mean some of the CGI isn’t great but it’s not used to excess, and I did prefer the use of costumes and prosthetics but that is a personal preference and didn’t diminish my enjoyment.

That’s not to say it’s a perfect set of movies. Other reviewers have commented on the uneven acting and certainly, some are weaker than others. As I mentioned above, the different directors bring their own styles, some of which aren’t my personal favourites but that didn’t make the films unwatchable for me. I also found some of the story-telling a little muddled, specifically the relationship between Merek and Teela which didn’t ring true for me. I disliked the distrust and enmity that they held for each other which was never fully explained.

I didn’t fall instantly in love as I did with ‘Ink’, but I enjoyed the premise and I will return to the world of Mythica to give it a rewatch.

The movies are: Mythica: A Quest for Heroes, Mythica: The Darkspore, Mythica: The Necromancer, Mythica: The Iron Crown and finally Mythica: The Godslayer, an extraordinary feat in two years. You can find out more on the Mythica Website.

Bit of fan-girl trivia, keep an eye out for ‘Hodor’ from Game of Thrones in the last movie.  Oh, and Kevin Sorbo from, well, just look at his IMDB profile and you’ll see at least one of your favourite shows that he’s been in.

Movie review: The Boy (2016)

Synopsis: An American nanny is hired to take care of a young boy, the only problem is, the ‘boy’ is made of porcelain. Violating the strict rules his parents said she must follow, she begins to sense the boy is alive, and may want more than just a nanny to care for him

Director: William Brent Bell

Starring: Lauren Cohan, Rupert Evans, Jim Norton, Diana Hardcastle

Review: I wasn’t entirely sure what to expect from this movie. It started with the typical ‘girl takes a job despite it having a dodgy job description to escape her ex’. The family she works for are very odd and their unease, portrayed excellently by Norton and Hardcastle. They ask Cohan to look after their ‘son’ a porcelain doll which is more than a little creepy, and they have a number of rules which must be followed to ensure his care.

Cohan will be known to viewers of ‘The Walking Dead’. The naiveté and winning smile she brings to Maggie Green in her battle against zombies on the show is also evident here (I’ll admit, we’re VERY behind with The Walking Dead so I’m not sure if she’s still smiling) as she plays a fairly likeable character, but it’s not soon before she’s left on her own and ignoring the rules for caring for the Boy. What happens next made me think we were on for a supernatural twist and Cohen plays it well, with a mixture of excitement and unease at caring for a ‘ghost’. Obviously, this idea is boosted by Evans telling her about Norton and Hardcastle’s son who was an odd child and died in mysterious circumstances.

The ending was a cliched surprise. By that I mean, the movie didn’t go in the direction I expected, but as soon as it did, there wasn’t anything new to add, although there were a few jumps. I suppose for me, part of the issue was that, as lovely as Cohan is her, I wasn’t really that engaged with her or any of the other characters. There was also no satisfactory explanation as to why the Boy’s parents had set up such an elaborate ruse. The direction was good in that it’s claustrophobic and made you feel as if there’s something unsettling in the house but at times was a little too light and breezy to maintain the suspense.

The Boy is a good Friday night movie: it doesn’t demand too much and delivers a few spooks and scares, but it needs to grow up a lot before it joins the big boys of horror.