Ginger Snaps (2000)

Body Autonomy is the hot button topic of the minute. Women’s Rights are being rolled back to the fifties with no signs of slowing down, and, as always, religion is at the centre of the mess.

Religion is only a symptom of the real issue though, because let’s be honest it has always been about misogyny and the fact that old, white, cis men, do not want women to have control over their own sexuality. It comes down to ownership and the idea that a woman is an object, who exists solely for a man’s pleasure, and to carry on his lineage. We are chattel to these people, there to be used and abused, to be silent, and obey their will.

This isn’t a new idea, it’s as old as time; and why religion dominates the arguments for abortion rights, marriage equality and body autonomy – religion is their weapon, citing ‘’God’s Will’’ as their main reason for their sexist ideals, and their refusal to allow our personal freedoms to be equal to their own.

The second a girl begins to come into her own sexuality she is gender taxed. From the scandalous prices of sanitary products, to the price of gendered razors and deodorant, women are discriminated against for compulsory toiletries that their male counterparts get cheaper. Couple that with the gender pay gap, and women are financially worse off through no fault of their own, simply because they are born feminine. The ‘’Pink Tax’’, as it is known, begins at birth, as even nappies, clothes and toys in what are considered traditionally cis girl colours and styles, are considerably more expensive than the male versions, making it more expensive to parent a girl than a boy, from day one.

Capitalism thrives off discrimination – you only have to look at all of the cynically targeted marketing and appropriation of the LBGTQ community, with its corporate sponsorship of Pride, and rainbow product placement, such as Starbucks and their rainbow aprons, Pride cups, and #NoFilter campaign, or the arguably quite offensive (at the very least, off colour) Dr Pepper advert ‘’Top, Bottom, Vers’’.

It’s not about supporting good causes; it’s about harnessing the spending power of what these capitalist fat cats consider ‘’unknown quantities’’. They don’t understand the outrage, and what movements like Feminism, Pride or Black Lives Matter are really about, so they take buzzwords and designs from those movements and turn them into products, so that liberals can feel like they are supporting a cause, when really they are just lining the pockets of these organisations.

Now I have a love/hate relationship with the werewolf genre. When it’s done well, it is a beautiful thing, but the fact is that ninety per cent of the time it is just hackneyed and painful to watch. The werewolf genre is about sexuality and disability, and in this case, is a perfect metaphor for menstruation and the transformation from adolescence into womanhood.

Ginger Snaps is a cult favourite and it isn’t hard to see why. Following the story of the outcast Fitzgerald sisters, who must navigate the metamorphosis of puberty, sexuality, and what happens when you are bitten by a werewolf. It’s about sexuality, and the complicated bond of familial love versus the desire for independence.

Katherine Isabelle and Emily Perkins are totally mesmerising as the morbid sisters, and really carry this offbeat gem. It’s quirky, darkly funny, and very underrated. It’s not your average teen horror, and has an offbeat charm, and witty dialogue, perfectly delivered by the cast.

Independent films always seem to be more adept at creating an atmospheric horror that can seep into your subconscious and give you the genuine chills. Pitting a pure familial bond against the survival instinct, Ginger Snaps delivers on gore, snark and originality. The first, and best of the trilogy, by far. Subversive and clever, with outstanding FX, it turns the lycanthrope trope on its head.

It’s an essential watch for the feminist horror fan; unapologetically bucking the norm of the male dominated werewolf genre, with a creature feature for the modern age. A doomed (platonic) love, a monstrous coming of age, that is both beautiful and terrifying. It’s about taking back your power, embracing your own darkness, and being forced to accept the limitations of your own physicality. It’s raw, imperfect and a bloody good watch. If you were ever an outcast and a loser, then you’ll relate to this morbid, sarcastic tale of gore, and victim turned vixen.

This is one of my go to films for the past nineteen years, that I’ve watched again and again, and never fails to entertain me. Like a fine wine, time has not diminished this indie gem, with age.

Posted in 00's horror, Animal attack, Animal horror, Body Shock, creature feature, critique, feminist horror, fiction, film and media, murder, opinion, pop culture, Twist ending, Uncategorized, werewolf horror | Tagged , | Leave a comment

Cargo (2019)

The most fun thing about the zombie genre for me was always the fact that it was a dystopian version of our society, where the most caricatured versions of our humanity become the protagonists and survival depends on not caving into greed and selfishness. Unfortunately, fiction isn’t as entertaining when you see such stark evidence of dystopia in reality these days, such as White Supremacists in the White House, climate change, human rights being stripped away and the rise of propagandist media online, make the leap to apocalypse not quite so far at all.

On the 15th April, Notre Dame caught on fire, and the world watched on aghast, as such a culturally significant site, falling victim to such a devastating power. Immediately, billionaires and world leaders such as Donald Trump and Theresa May, pledged money to help, and there was even an online fund to donate to, and within twenty-four hours a staggering £1 billion in donations had been raised.

Cool, right?

There’s a lot of things wrong with this in my eyes, and I’m sure a lot of other people’s, though. For starters, the fact that on the same night a fire broke out in Islam’s third holiest mosque, which is over 2000 years old, and the world’s media was silent. There were no huge fundraisers or billionaire pledges for Solomon’s Stables and that is so sad.

There is absolutely no need for billion dollar fund raising campaigns for Notre Dame, as the catholic church is worth an estimated $15 billion worldwide, and although the Parisian landmark is technically owned by the French government and it’s upkeep the Ministry of Culture’s responsibility; a 1905 ruling stated the church should be used ‘solely for the Roman Catholic rite’, so the Vatican should definitely bear some of the financial burden of it’s restoration. After all, they save so much money by not paying their child abuse victims …

It is also galling that Theresa May and Donald Trump are pledging money, since the people of Grenfell have not been rehomed or given proper compensation (despite millions being raised for the victims), and Flint, Michigan still doesn’t have clean drinking water. But, yeah, sure, rebuilding a foreign landmark takes precedence over actual human life.

Private billionaires have proved with this that they have the resources to solve a great deal of the world’s problem’s without even making a dent in their wealth. For an idea of just how rich an actual billionaire is, sixty seconds equals one minute, while one billion seconds equals just over thirty-one years.

The stark contrast of the widely publicised protests of the gilets jaunes, and the hypocrisy of the tax deductible donations for the same landmarks the rich balked at being taxed for, moving their wealth to tax havens, and applying for residencies in other regions to avoid paying back into their own healthcare, government facilities, public services, and amenities that they freely take advantage of.

The hypocrisy of capitalism will be its downfall, and the corporate branding of social issues and events like Notre Dame to advance their public profile, while ignoring real issues, like starvation, poverty, war and the ever growing gap between the haves and have nots is a true dystopian reality, that is worthy of any horror film.

Zombies as a metaphor for the collective delusion and herd like mentality of the capitalist model, and the mindless consumerism it promotes are the reason why these kinds of irredeemable, unsavable, monsters become much more popular in these austere times.

Based on a 2013 short of the same name, Cargo is the story of a father desperate to find safety for his family before the clock runs down. Guided by Thoomi, a young and fierce Aboriginal girl, they find themselves in a race against the inevitable as they navigate their way through the unforgiving landscape to journey’s end.

Cargo is film that isn’t getting much noise but deserves a lot more recognition, a zombie flick that never uses the ‘z’ word, and that feels fresh and interesting in a sea of same old, same old. Bleak and intense, the film makers have cleverly used the undead very sparingly throughout, focusing more on the relationships and human side of the threat of losing your loved ones.

Also, serving as a beautiful allegory about the disconnection of white Australia from the land, with the  zombies draw parallels with our technology obsessed, media saturated society, while masterfully inverting the white saviour trope, Cargo is a modern day fable about racism, capitalism, and the ‘us vs them’ mentality prevailing when it comes to the indigenous people of so called ‘civilised’ societies.

Posted in australian horror, Bush Horror, critique, fiction, film and media, horror, murder, opinion, outback horror, Ozzy Horror, pop culture, survival horror, zombies | Tagged , , , , , | Leave a comment

Cherry Falls (2000)

Apologies for the long break from posting in the past few months, kids,  due to ill health, it has not been possible; but fortunately, my health bar is being gradually restored and normal service can be resumed

Now the term ‘’incel’’ is a delightful addition to the modern lexicon, and we hear it bandied about quite a bit in the current media, but what does it mean? You ask.

Incel is an abbreviation of the term ‘’involuntary celibate’’ and is defined by a group of men denied sex and relationships by women who have the audacity to choose not to consider them as sexual partners. Men who identify as such  often use extremely misogynistic language, encouraging rape and sexual violence as a way of taking from women what they feel they are owed. Racism is another characteristic of the incel, and they have sometimes been described as a branch of the white supremacist community. They consider feminism and the women’s rights movement in general to be the main enemy of their sexual frustration, and often rage about how their governments should be providing them with prostitutes as a right.

Now, you could write off the incel community as creepy, pathetic wannabe rapists who just need to be ignored or ridiculed, but they should not be underestimated.  Mass shootings, and a rise of violence against women have both been attributed to the movement over recent years, notably, Elliot Rodger’s gun rampage on University of California, Santa Barbara, campus, where he left a 137 page manifesto, and numerous YouTube videos, blaming women and their rejection of him for his violent actions; also Alek Minassian, a van driver who mowed down 24 people, killing 10, in Ontario, Canada, announcing on Facebook beforehand that the ‘’Incel rebellion had begun’’.

Murderers like this are lauded by their online communities, where they refer to  pretty girls who reject them and the handsome men these women choose to have relationships as ‘’Chads and Stacys’’, ‘’Beckys’’ are the women they consider less attractive but yet still (mysteriously) do not consider them for sexual partners, and wax lyrical about a ‘’Beta Uprising’’ which will be the violent response to their perceived treatment by society.

Make no mistake, Incels are not to dismissed as men with poor social skills whining about the fact they can’t get laid. They are extremists, and dangerous extremists at that. The white, male, misogynist is a bigger terrorist threat in the West than any other extremist group, and internet communities and subreddits, allow them to embolden or incite each other and celebrate their violent fantasies, which paves the way to implement them in the real world, and pose a very real threat to any women in their lives.

The slasher film is a perfect allegory for the incel, the relentless, often violent pursuit of women, usually using a large phallic object like a knife or machete and based on a deep seated hatred for everything they represent.

Cherry Falls is about a serial killer that stalks the virgins of a small town, forcing the teenagers at the local high school to organise a mass orgy in order to take themselves off the killer’s hit list.

A teen slasher that followed in the footsteps of the overwhelming success of Scream, Urban Legend, and I Know What You Did Last Summer;  it has that glossy, tongue in cheek, chewing gum horror feel that is both terrible and fun.

From the puntastic title, to the silly, salacious humour of the whole NO SEX=DEATH story line, it feels a bit Benny Hill at times, and without the always wonderful Brittany Murphy, I don’t think it would have been half as watchable. There has always been the horror cliché that ‘’sluts get cut’’, and the more promiscuous a character is, then the more horrific their death will be; but I enjoyed the idea of the subversion of the trope, despite not being perfectly executed.

While not being the greatest example of the late nineties/early noughties horror revival, it has a certain camp charm, that makes an entertaining watch if you don’t take it too seriously, but coming from Geoffrey Wright, who directed the excellent Romper Stomper, I would have expected a certain intensity and a more brutal payoff. The twist ending however, is a great one, and something that is reminiscent of those eighties greats like Prom Night or Sleepaway Camp, which in my mind is definitely a tick in the ‘watch it’ box.

However, Cherry Falls is one that fails in a lot of ways, from the stagnant acting to the killings mostly taking place off screen, but if you’re willing to forgive a plot that flogs a dead horse for way too long and doesn’t quite hit the gore spot; it is worth a one-time watch, if only for Murphy’s captivating screen presence.

My verdict is that it is a great idea for a teen horror that just doesn’t quite work on delivery. Rather than being slick, it ends up being cheesy and a little stale.

Posted in 00's horror, critique, fiction, film and media, horror, mental illness, murder, Noughties horror, opinion, pop culture, psychotic killer, rape, rape and revenge, Slasher, thriller, Twist ending | Leave a comment

Unsane (2018)

The rise of the #MeToo movement has unearthed some of the darkest secrets of the entertainment industry over the past few years. From Weinstein to Kevin Spacey, victims of sexual assault are becoming empowered and feel like they are being given a voice. Unfortunately, it is not enough for the abused to speak up, especially when those in power are closing ranks and protecting the abusers. Kevin Spacey is still on the big screen, Bill Cosby is not behind bars, and accusers are still being treated like they are attention seekers looking for their fifteen minutes of fame or a quick payday. Let us not forget, that Bill Cosby’s accusers were only taken seriously after a MAN (Hannibal Buress) started speaking up for them in his stand up act.

Let’s be clear, no one has ever benefited from being raped or groped. Women lose work, lose friends, lose self-esteem, and sometimes lose a part of themselves. This is speaking from personal experience – from being groped, being flashed, to a group of men trying to drag me into a car when I was sixteen, I am not a special case. Every woman, and a few men I know have been victims of sexual violence or harassment, and none of us asked for it.

This week Louis CK, admitted sexual predator and comedian, did a surprise set at the Comedy Cellar club in New York. Now, it’s been around a year since the allegations about his sexual misconduct broke, and him turning up out of the blue, is problematic for several reasons. The main one being he has never really apologised for his actions, and the fact that his accusers have struggled to find work since speaking out against him. If this man has a stage, his victims do not, and the fact that he used this comeback to make a rape joke, shows that he has learned nothing, and has no regard for the feelings of those people he has abused. It is especially troubling that sexual assault allegations don’t ruin men’s lives, they ruin the lives of the women who are brave enough to call them out. And that, sadly, is the reason why so many victims do not come forward and report incidents; because the consequences for the victim can be truly devastating.

The difference between how sexual assault victims vs treatment of perpetrators are treated in society is part of a much bigger problem, as often for the victim, the attack itself is just the beginning of the ordeal. They are forced to prove to society that they are worthy of being taken seriously as a ‘’credible’’ victim, someone who has good standing, does not have drug or alcohol issues, mental health problems, are not sexually promiscuous, or have ties to the sex industry. All these factors make it hard for a judge and jury to believe that the VICTIM (I must reiterate this, because the way these people are treated is that they have done something wrong, instead of being protected and cared for by the system) , is an ‘’upstanding citizen’’ and worthy enough to be believed. The saddest part for me is that being a victim usually causes a lot of these issues, and many choose alcohol or drugs as a coping mechanism. Statistically you are more likely to be a victim of sexual assault or rape, if it has already happened to you before; this is because predators can sense vulnerability and hone in on it. You can not blame another person for what an attacker does to them. If a woman walks down the street naked, drunk and covered in glitter, it does not give anyone the right to touch or abuse her. Let me be clear; it is NEVER the victim’s fault.

Steven Soderbergh’s Unsane is the perfect metaphor for the powerlessness of victims of sexual assault. The story of a young girl who is detained in a mental health unit, where she finds herself at the mercy of her stalker (or does she?). The need to be believed, the gaslighting by the people around her and the claustrophobic power her stalker has over her, makes it  an extremely relevant film for the #MeToo generation.

I enjoyed this film, for all its intensity, but admittedly it was a little unrealistic in terms of medical care and procedure. If you suspend your disbelief though, and let yourself be taken for a ride, Unsane is an enjoyable, if somewhat silly film.

The cinematography is not great, as it is shot on an iPhone camera, and unfortunately the film’s best scenes seem to have been all used in the trailers, but it is certainly not the worst film I have seen. Claire Foy’s acting is the most redeeming quality, and she does a fine job of carrying the film to it’s somewhat predictable and disappointing ending.

If you aren’t looking to be wowed, and more of a way to pass the time – Unsane is a good bet for a average night in. You may love it or hate it, but mostly it made me Meh.

C+, so I’m not quite giving it a failing grade, but needs more work to pass muster.

Posted in critique, feminist horror, fiction, horror, mental illness, opinion, pop culture, psychological horror, rant, stream of consciousness, thriller, Twist ending, Uncategorized, women's lib horror | Tagged , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Green Room (2015)

This week the public racist, and former face of the EDL, ex BNP member, who also helped to develop Pegida UK, (which is  a branch of the German fascist organisation Patriotic Europeans Against the Islamisation of the West); Steven Yaxley-Lennon aka Andrew McMaster aka Paul Harris aka Tommy Robinson was released on bail after his thirteen month conviction for contempt of court. He likes to martyr himself with the title of ‘’activist’’ when in fact he has a very clear agenda. His ‘’Save Tommy’’ website was set up in 2017, well before his arrest this year; where he was filming at the trial of a very sensitive child abuse case, that there was a strict reporting delay on, to protect the identities of the victims and to prevent the outcome of proceedings being tainted. He has a history of convictions beginning with attacking a police officer who attempted to stop him from beating up his girlfriend, and featuring such accolades as mortgage fraud, assault, leading a one-hundred-man football hooligan brawl, and trying to enter the US with a false passport.

In short, Tommy Robinson is faecal matter personified.

Let’s be clear, this is a man who claims to want to protect women and children from being raped and groomed, yet conveniently chooses not to report on those victims who have been abused by white men, some of whom are his previous known associates.  He has a clear agenda, which is stirring up hatred against the Muslim and Asian communities, and along with the support of Nazis and fascists such as Steve Bannon (who provided body guards to Robinson on his release from prison for the benefit of the press), he is given platforms on MSM to spout his hate filled rhetoric.

It’s irresponsible for the mainstream news outlets such as the BBC to give him exposure, as it normalises the fascism of the far right, and gives this common criminal, further chances to martyr himself. He models himself as a political prisoner, by telling fairy tales about ‘’no go areas’’ that are completely controlled by Muslims in the UK, and of prison ‘’torture’’ because of his beliefs. Let’s be clear, there is no such thing as a ‘’no go area’’ in the UK, and I should know, because I am British. As for his tales of being given a cell ‘’directly opposite the prison mosque’’, well, there is no such thing as a prison mosque, as all UK prisons have all faith chapels, and the Muslim community are treated the same as any other prisoner by having to worship there. He has many famous supporters, the lying, hatemonger Katie Hopkins, former UKIP leader Nigel Farage, and Donald (face of fascism and stupidity) Trump, who all have two things in common – they are anti Islam and have a very tenuous relationship with the truth. What makes their message so powerful is that racists have the intrinsic fear that the people they have mistreated and maligned will one day turn the tables on them, and they will know how it feels to be oppressed.

Green Room is about a young punk band who get themselves into a spot of bother on tour when they are booked to play a gig at a venue full of Tommy Robinson supporters, ahem, I mean, Neo Nazi skinheads, and witness a murder. Cue an action packed, blood-soaked fight for survival, featuring Patrick Stewart as a big bad.

It’s a fun horror/thriller that is more poignant with the fact that Anton Yelchin sadly passed away in a car accident shortly after its release. It’s tense, fast paced and sadly very relevant to the rise of far-right attacks and animosity in the west towards Hispanic, African Americans, and Muslims after the ‘’election’’ of President Trump.

It’s gory, funny and has some of the most brutal death scenes in a Mainstream Horror I’ve seen in a while. Yelchin was a promising talent, sadly taken too soon, and Patrick Stewart could play a cardboard box and still be brilliant.

Ugly, gloomy and visually arresting, Green Room is entertaining and has a great musical score – for someone like me who’s very into grunge, punk and obviously violent horror, it’s a dream come true. I realise it has gotten a bit of a hammering from horror fans critically, but what can I say? I loved it.

Music, mutilation and making Nazis bleed … what more can a girl want?

Posted in critique, fiction, film and media, horror, murder, opinion, psychotic killer, survival horror, thriller | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment

Savageland (2015)

This week a US Senator was barred entry to a military facility where the children of so called ‘’illegal immigrants’’ are being held. What conditions these children, ripped from their parents, are being subjected to, is being withheld from the public, and the fact the windows and doors were blacked out is worrying. Despite what Mein Fuhrer said recently, children ARE innocent.

Let’s also be clear that this is not an immigration issue. It is a race issue. This is proven by the fact that the Trump administration is not targeting Polish immigrants, Australian immigrants, British immigrants – hell, they love British immigrants because they give them jobs hosting late night television shows, and they even allow Piers Morgan (aka the slime supreme, who was the editor of a newspaper that hacked a murdered girl’s phone) to work over there. In other words, they are fine, if these immigrants are white. Latino, Middle Eastern and Muslim people are the targets; and their treatment of such by this band of white supremist, creeps is proof, that this is about racism and nothing more.

Trump is taking his policies right out of the Hitler playbook by scapegoating other races, while dismantling every freedom that these supporters of a sleazy, reality TV star and failed business man, like to shout so much about.

Equality is in real decline these days, despite the strides the world has made over the last few decades; African Americans, earn less than their white counterparts, Latin Americans earn even less than that, while at the bottom of the pile are Native Americans who earn around 80% of what their white counterparts are paid. When you strive for equality, you must address every insidious little inequality and micro aggression, that a person of colour must endure in every aspect of their lives, every single day.

For instance, if you want women to earn the same as men, you must first fight for all women and men to be paid equally across the race divide, because only when it is a win for all women and all men; will pay equality between the gender gap, truly be bridged.

Savageland is a clever little faux documentary about zombies, told through the photographs of a falsely accused man, that highlights the treatment of Latin Americans in America, and the prejudices that are held against immigrants, whether legal or otherwise, in the United States today.

Let’s be clear, the zombie theme has been done to death and reanimated and double tapped again. That’s not to say I won’t get excited by every new zombie movie that gets released, but I am often disappointed by the result. Savageland is different though. For one thing, because there are very few zombies in it, and because of it’s extremely fresh take on the genre.

It’s a suspenseful, and often incredibly tense horror/thriller, which is even more impressive when you consider the fact that there are little to no action scenes in the film. The plot is both substantial and unique, giving you a protagonist that you are genuinely engaged with, while using the plot device as an inventive social commentary on the current climate of racism and scapegoating of immigrants and people of colour in the West.

A definite hidden gem in a sea of same old, same old, Savageland is a breath of fresh air, that really deserves more acclaim.  Insightful and creepy, while managing to truly get the audience invested in the outcome;  if you are looking for intelligent and clever escapism, this should be your first pick!

Posted in critique, fiction, film and media, found footage, horror, murder, opinion, pop culture, rant, supernatural horror, thriller, Twist ending, Uncategorized, zombies | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment

Playground aka Plac zabaw (2016)

I am fully aware that I am probably going to cop a lot of hate for this one, but opinions are like assholes, everybody’s got one, some of them stink, you don’t have to find them attractive and this is just mine.

One of the most polarising criminal cases in modern history is that of the murder of James Bulger by two ten year old boys Jon Venables and Robert Thompson, and with the former of the two being jailed again recently, after being found with child pornography on his computer, and two recent documentaries looking back at the case.

Although a brutal and shocking crime, child murderers are not a new occurrence – from Mary Bell to the recent case of fifteen year old Kim Edwards who along with her young boyfriend, violently stabbed her mother and thirteen year old sister to death. The difference between these cases and the Bulger case is how the tabloid manipulated the  public reaction which in turn, influenced the trial, making it impossible for justice to be done.

The Bulger murder happened in Liverpool – now that might not seem like it means something, but the Hillsborough disaster had happened in 1989, and due to vile lies published in The Sun newspaper saying that local people had pickpocketed the dead, no one in this part of the UK has bought the red top rag since (although I’m not entirely sure why anyone would have wanted to in the first place), and most places refuse to even stock the printed toilet paper. What has this got to do with the murder, you ask? Well, no one went harder at printing details of the case than The Sun, making sure that everyone knew what these children looked like, salaciously dragging out every detail of the case under the guise of wanting justice, when really it was a poorly veiled attempt at trying to get the people of Liverpool back on side and buying their papers again. After the sentencing, they even went so far as to print cut out coupons, for people to send to then Secretary for Justice Michael Howard to demand he intervene. Laughable, considering that this newspaper hacked a murdered girls mobile phone and deleted voicemails on it, that both impeded the investigation, and gave her family false hope that she was still alive.

What does a tabloid newspaper have to do with trial two confessed murderers? Why should I care? Well firstly, we must remember that albeit murderers, these were still children; in fact, had the murder been committed a few months earlier, they would not have been tried as adults. Now, I don’t know about you, but there certainly was not much difference between my nine year old self’s maturity in comparison to my ten year old self. You aren’t considered old enough to consent to sex until sixteen, but you can go can join the army and wield weapons? I feel like our country is skewed when it comes to how the law views age, in a lot of ways – you can legally consent to have sex at sixteen but are not considered mature enough to vote. You can be tried for a murder at ten, but can not serve on a jury until you are eighteen because you aren’t considered sophisticated enough to make enlightened choices until then. Huh, when you put it in those terms, it doesn’t seem like the law is playing fair at all, does it?

Now these kids, murdered James Bulger, no question. The problem that I have with the whole situation is that they could never have had a fair trial. Everyone in the UK knew the name of these boys, their faces, their family background, and the details of the crime thanks to the tabloid press. Their pictures under headlines such as ‘’Monsters!’’ mean that any jury called to be part of this trial would be tainted, and have already formed strong opinions about the case, therefore meaning that the basic human right of fair trial had been made impossible. The public outcry against the boys, made worse by the tabloid press constantly stirring them up, made it hard to ensure the boys’ safety without giving them new identities at eighteen. The public and press demanding these children be named and shown while not comprehending the fact that because their identities are everywhere, putting them in a general prison population straight out of youth detention just was not feasible. They would have had a price on their heads from day one, and people are just missing the point that the boys had served out the sentence they were given, and that is all the law can do. Prisons and juvenile detention centres are first and foremost about rehabilitation, and with one of these it has worked and the other one it hasn’t, and therefore proving that one of the now men, is reformed and making a life for himself as a productive member of society – proving that the system works.

The mob mentality when it comes to Venables and Thompson is quite frightening in its ferocity decades on, with the bloodthirsty cries of ‘’hang them’’, and the fact that people who are usually reasonable and level headed are sharing alleged photographs of the men, trying to out their new identities illegally and calling for people to attack them. You don’t know that these are actually the Bulger killers, they could just be some poor sod being shared around because someone they know has an axe to grind, or worse, thought it was funny.

When these men were children themselves, they had crowds of adults calling for them to be strung up or beaten to death – the irony of people calling for the murder of children for being child murderers completely lost on them.

A similar case happened in a small town in Norway in 1994 when five year old Silje Redergard was beaten to death by two six year old boys, just nineteen months after the Bulger case. The difference in how the children were treated is stark.  The age of criminal responsibility in Norway is fifteen, and instead of releasing the identities of the children to the press to be tabloid fodder, the boys were moved to another infant school a couple of weeks later and teachers, police and child protective services worked with them to make sure that they were fully able to cope with the consequences of their actions. Even Silje’s mother says that she has forgiven them, and though it is a dark shadow in the history of Norway, because of the way authorities dealt with the situation, the have been able to move on from the terrible events of that day.

Playground is a Polish film that is based on the James Bulger murder, in fact the actual murder scenes are so close to what actually happened that day, from the CCTV scenes of the child being led away from the shopping centre, to the child being placed on the rail tracks, is a truly uncomfortable watch.

The film concerns Szymek and Czarek two boys who, on the last day of school make a decision that will change their lives forever, and ends that of a small child. One cares for his disabled father, and the other his infant brother, both under the intense pressure of the expectations placed upon them, and opportunity and boredom create the most perfect and terrible storm.

Let me tell you this, I have watched hundreds, maybe even thousands of violent films over the years, but this was by far, the most uncomfortable and disturbing film I have watched thus far.

It is a bleak and incredibly intimate portrait of a murder with a finale that will probably haunt me for a long time.

You do not see the violence up close, if at all, and I think in a way it is worse, because as we all know the imagination is far more scary than anything we can see on screen. There is no explanation, no consequences, and you are left with nothing other than the poingnace of a young life lost in a senseless act. Playground is a well made film, with a realism that grabs you and holds you by the throat and knocks you on your arse with a aggression and is hard to create, and hard to get over watching as a viewer.

It is a good film that I wouldn’t recommend to those who are easily upset or offended, but I can’t deny Bartosz M. Kowalski has a talent as a director and will go far. That being said, I won’t be watching Playground again because it is an experience I don’t want to repeat due to the content. The acting is excellent and you believe these characters are completely real, which is is incredible for such young talent, adding to the uncomfortable intensity of watching.

This film portrays the distance and disconnect that happens between family members, particularly between parents and children, and the ripple effect that can spread into the wider community.

If you think you have the stomach for it, this is an excellent example of arthouse cinema, but be warned, the content truly is not for the faint hearted.

As a disclaimer I would like to make it clear that I am not in anyway advocating for murderers or making light of what Venables and Thompson did to James Bulger, but I am an advocate for the right to fair trial, and how society must be aware of the manipulation of certain media organisations who are only interested in their own agenda.
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