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Movie Review: Halloween 2018, proof that sequels are not always pointless money-grabs

Movie Review: Halloween 2018, proof that sequels are not always pointless money-grabs

Let's rewind to 1978: a time when neither myself, or most of the people read my blog, were born. It was an important year - at least if you're a big horror fan - as this was when Halloween was released and skyrocketed the slasher genre into mainstream consciousness.

Halloween is not my favourite horror film or franchise by any means (hello Scream) but it's hard to deny its influence. My apathy could probably be attributed to how dated it was by the time I got into horror films in the mid-00s - but it's more likely because the franchise as a whole got really out of hand.

Film franchises can get a bit wild if left unchecked, and Halloween was probably one of the worst examples of it. Spoiler alert if you haven't seen every film: but there have been (prior to the new one) 10 films with about three separate continuities. Laurie Strode has a daughter in one film but a son in another, and managed to get herself killed twice. There was a Rob Zombie re-boot. Plus a third film that had absolutely nothing to do with Michael Myers or Laurie Strode. And we can't forget about the one with Busta Rhymes doing kung-fu moves. I've seen them all, and I'm not recommending anyone follows my lead.

So when they announced they were making a new Halloween film set exactly 40 years after the original, I was a bit sceptical.

Until I saw the muthafuckin' trailer.

It looked fucking incredible. And the trailer clearly indicated - by mentioning that Laurie Strode is, in fact, not Michael Myers's sister - that the producers had decided to ignore those disorientated sequels and write the script as if none of the other films had ever been released.

Laurie Strode was only established as Michael Myers's much-younger sister in Halloween 2, so they were returning to the idea that Michael chose his original victims at random rather than as part of a revenge plot. The creators at the time of the trailer being released even said that the reason for this was because a murderer who had absolutely no personal reason for choosing his victims was a much more unsettling premise.

Now, I've always been able to take or leave Michael Myers as a villain. While I love the expressionless mask, the fact that we rarely see face, the muteness, his massive build, and the way he brazenly walks around with no fucks given - I usually prefer my villains a little bit more complex (or even morally ambiguous).

For me the real star of this franchise has always been Laurie Strode. While I have my issues with the Final Girl trope (get goods grades, don't have sex, or don't do drugs and you too will outsmart a serial killer! P.S. sluts die first) there's no denying that she is one of the best. Maybe it's because she has (almost) consistently been played by Jamie Lee Curtis, who could play a Teletubby and still hit it out the park.

And Laurie Strode did not disappoint in this film either. As is the case with a lot of films nowadays, she wasn't portrayed as someone who overcame her traumatic experience and went on to find peace with Michael safely behind bars. No. In the new film she is a crazy old lady who has been left severely impacted by her ordeal. In the trailer we can see that she has a Purge-esque house and mutters the words "Every night I pray he will escape so I can kill him". Because, in reality, it would be rare for someone to ever feel safe again after being stalked and almost killed by someone while they were just a teenager.

Plus, there are two new characters to add to the dynamic: Laurie Strode's daughter and granddaughter. Played by the fantastic Judy Greer and Andi Matichak, respectively.

But obviously, we all know that trailers can be misleading. So how did the actual film measure up?

When I visited my local cinema to watch it last Tuesday, I was pleasantly surprised to discover a film that found a sensible balance between paying homage to the original while still updating it enough that it wasn't the exact same film. Much like the Scream TV show (which I reviewed and raved about here) it kept the elements that made Halloween, well, Halloween. While Laurie had changed since the original, Michael Myers was the same hallow shell he had always been. He wore the same outfit, and we still don't see his face. His preferred victims still appear to be babysitters. There's a new psychiatrist who, like Dr Loomis, isn't that good at his job. Oh, and there's still the same iconic music and title card.

Honestly, for the first hour you're watching nearly the same film that came out in 1978, so for a while I was feeling a bit twitchy. But then came the final cat and mouse scene between Michael and Laurie, and it was everything I could have ever hoped it would be. I won't say exactly how it plays out but - while you see little homages here and there to the original - it isn't the same film. The closest showdown I can compare it to is Clarice Starling and Buffalo Bill in Silence of the Lambs.

Another thing I noticed is that the film is more visually appealing than the original. In 2013, Netflix released The Curse of Chucky (and in 2017 the Cult of Chucky) and created a slasher film that was actually, uh, artistic? I don't have the vocabulary to describe film effects or visual styles but even an untrained eye can spot that the directors sat down to develop a concrete look and feel (with a lot of white and a dream-like hospital environment). Watch all the Chucky films and you'll see what I mean.

The slasher genre has never been typically associated with arty film types, and has even been looked down on by film lovers who consider themselves to have a more refined taste. I've never wished for slasher films to develop a stricter aesthetic because - as it has been argued time and time again - part of what makes slasher films appealing is their simplicity. But I'm not against this emerging trend either and directors should do what feels right for their film.

In the Halloween 2018 trailer we are greeted with a red and white checker-board; a clear indication that this was another slasher movie that had mapped out its visual elements. And you know what? I liked it. Its visuals weren't as structured as Curse of Chucky, but it was definitely slicker than the 1978 Halloween.

In a world where it feels as though every film and its soundtrack is getting re-booted or planning an unnecessary sequel, it can be hard not to role your eyes. There are a lot of franchises out there that like to milk as much money out of fans as they can instead of bowing out gracefully or waiting until they have a solid storyline before proceeding with a sequel.

Halloween 2018 was not one of those films (even if many of the other films in the franchise were guilty of being ridiculous). The storyline followed on nicely from the original 40 years ago, and had a generous scattering of Easter eggs - but still enough changes that it didn't feel like the same film all over again.

And that, Hollywood, is how you do a sequel.

Morag x

P.S. I have chatted to a few people who didn't think much of it, but then I asked them how into horror films they are and if they have seen the original - and it was a no. Maybe this is a film where only the lovers of the original will enjoy it.
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morag | mo adore
10 things myself (and my friends) find cringey af on Tinder

10 things myself (and my friends) find cringey af on Tinder

Ahh, yes, Tinder.

The place where several of my favourite couples met - and also the place that causes severe eyeroll. If you're on Tinder, you'll know what I'm speaking about. Whenever me and single friends meet up we normally end up on the topic of online dating - and we almost always start with any cringe-worthy bios we've seen recently (which may, or may not, involve screenshots).

While I would not claim to know how to pen the perfect Tinder bio (I'm sure there must be someone out there who has stumbled upon my profile and thought "who the fuck is this vegan hippy bisexual lefty bitch?") I definitely have noticed similarities between my friends' pet peeves and my own. So without further-ado, here is Morag's Guide to Not Being an Awkward Fuck on Tinder...

1. No bio
You would think it would be a no-brainer that a good Tinder profile needs some kind of bio. I am a fan of the written word and, as a marketer by trade, creating a bio was something I probably took more seriously than your average person.

If the written word doesn't get you as excited as me, a simple bullet point list will do. Common things people mention in their bio include their job, height, hobbies, and what they're looking for. Doesn't need to be an essay (but do run it through a spell checker), just enough to let them know something about you beyond your physical appearance.

2. The same joke everyone else has
"I want to leave the singles market before the UK does" was hilarious. The first time I read it, anyway. Having now seen it on 54,5464 profiles, I'm a bit done. Jokes are great and can show what type of humour you like, but choose something that hasn't been used 200 times before.

3. I can't tell what you look like
Contrary to popular opinion, I like group and hobby photos on a Tinder bio. It's visual proof that you're not a loner who sits at home watching paint dry. But if I cannot for the life of me work out which one you are, then I am gone. Same goes for selfies that are too posed or filtered (or a Snapchat lens).  My favourite kind of bio is a mix of photos that show you at your Instagram best but also your relaxed candid self (plus points for including a full body shot).

4. Passive aggressiveness
This one might be a bit rich coming from a girl who has written a blog post about her Tinder pet hates. But I hate seeing people bitch about other people's Tinder profile on their Tinder profile. It just makes me wonder how passive aggressive you must be in real life if you can't even get through a fucking Tinder bio without slagging off other people's Tinder profiles. Mate, I hate when people match and don't talk too, but I'm levelheaded enough not to whine about it in my bio.

5. "The kid isn't mine"
I know where you're were going with this one. You want to convince potential girlfriends that you're father material (which I am sure you are!) while also not scaring them away by thinking that you already have a child. But Just don't have a child in your profile full stop. If you are a dotting uncle/aunt, feel free to mention it in your bio - but don't let potential matches slip past because they accidentally thought your were a parent. As someone who doesn't want kids, I'm likely to swipe left immediately at the mere sight of a child.

6. Is that your ex girlfriend? 
Hetero boys, listen up! Girls have long cottoned on to that thing you do where you try to make yourself look more in demand than you actual are. Over it. We see a picture of you with your arm around another girl and will assume you're with her - and should probably not be on Tinder (unless you mention that you are polyamorous in your bio).

7. "In Glasgow for the weekend"
And you definitely need to have sex at some point this weekend? Do you not have a work conference you need to attend, or some sightseeing to do? If I see someone who is desperate for a hook-up on a weekend away, I make the assumption that they have a wife and kids back in home in Wolverhampton.

8. Acting too cool for Tinder
It's 2018 and online dating is mainstream. To be honest, it's now weirder to be single and not on Tinder. So stop pretending "your friends made me do this" or "we can pretend we met at the pub". I don't care, and neither should you.

9. "Ask me what you need to know" instead of a bio
I need something to go on before I decide to swipe right and talk to you. Only get so many right swipes a day after all.

10. You look like a serial killer (or a fake profile)
Dating can be scary af for women as it is, don't make it scarier.

Are you on Tinder? What are your pet hates? 

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My first #BiVisibilityDay out the closet - a reflection on 10 years of denial and hiding

My first #BiVisibilityDay out the closet - a reflection on 10 years of denial and hiding

Today is Bisexual Visibility Day. A day where bisexuals (and other non-monosexual identities) gather together to shout loudly and proudly about their sexual orientation. Remind people that we exist. That it wasn't a phase. That we're #stillbisexual even if we're in a monogamous relationship. That we're just as queer as the L and the G part of the acronym.

However, 2018 is the first year I'll be celebrating. Because at this point last year I was still doing what I had been doing for many years prior: fondly looking over at the proudly out bisexuals who were sharing their experiences on Twitter while I still sat in my closet.

But little did I know, that 12 months ago I was just under a month from the day that I would be ready to come out. Somewhere in October 2017 I had the moment in my kitchen where my brain finally snapped and I decided that I was done hiding. That night I went back up to my room, opened my dating apps, and switched them all over to say bisexual (and have kept them that way ever since).

I still wasn't 'properly' out until a few months later when I would start dating a girl. I didn't want to do a big coming out - I wanted to do it in a way that felt natural, the way we would all come out in an ideal world, where we mention it in passing. I can count on the one hand the amount of people I made a point of officially telling. A month after that night I ranted on this very blog about why Joss Whedon shouldn't direct Batgirl - using his past biphobia in Buffy as a reason - and mentioned my sexual orientation in passing. It was the first time I publicly stated it, and it was casual af.

To make it clear: I have nothing against people coming out in a flamboyant manner. We're all different and have to make the choice that is right for ourselves. The problem lies with a society that puts non-heteros in a position where they have to think about how to come out in the fucking first place. I long for the day when we don't have to come out, when heterosexuality is no longer seen as the default.

My decision wasn't a snap one though, it had been a long time coming. I had known I wasn't hetero since the middle of high school, when a particular girl two years above me stood out. I can even remember the day I first encountered the word bisexual (it was in the pages of Sugar Magazine back in the very early 00s). The first place I was ever out was online, on a few message boards. I even occasionally switched the sexual orientation box on MySpace to say bisexual - but would change it back quickly after - just to see how it felt. I didn't even fill out my orientation on Facebook. I just left it blank (so, technically, I never lied about my sexuality).

Like almost everyone, I decided I would come out after school - but I chickened out. The reason why was biphobia and a lack of self-confidence. I knew about biphobia and the negative stereotypes that surrounded bisexuals - but I wasn't aware of how prevalent it was. It was prevalent in people I knew. One of my first university friends said "bisexuals are just greedy" and uni flatmate said "I think bisexuals are just straight girls looking for attention, or lesbians in denial".

But I did come out to one person within the year I left school: my first boyfriend. His reaction didn't help. Instead of responding with supportive phrases like "I'm glad you told me", "I'm here for you", "bisexuality is valid" or "do you want help coming out to other people?". I got met with gleaming wide-eyes as he put on a provocative voice and whispered "oooh, Morag likes girls - that's hot". He didn't register that I just came out to him, and instead put his penis at the centre of the conversation.

We even went long distance for a while, and spoke about an open relationship - but he only wanted me sleeping with girls. Clearly he didn't feel threatened by the odd lesbian fling. Men? Nah. Too much of a threat to the relationship. There was no way in hell I'd actually leave him for a women because, remember, bisexual women really just want men at the end of the day amiright? And when we eventually broke up he used male pronouns to describe potential future partners. The idea that I could fall in love and choose a woman as a life partner didn't occur to him.

Over the years that followed I came out to a few of the men of my past. Every single time it was the same. I was a sexually adventurous straight girl who might give them a threesome. Not a bisexual woman capable of deep romantic love for someone of the same sex.

And between all these shitty comments, I began to believe them. Maybe it was just a fantasy I needed to get out my system. Maybe I was just a slut. Maybe I'm not capable of loving a woman. At that point I'd never been romantically involved with a woman. But now I know that the reason I hadn't experienced an all-consuming crush on a woman was because I had never given it a chance.

Then within the past two years I began to accept it within myself again, just as I had once done as a teenager. Bisexuality was hitting the headlines. Cara Delevigne was a big turning point for me (and if you happen to be reading this Cara: call me, I fancy you to death). As was the bisexual character Sara Lance in the Arrowverse. And when Ingrid Nilson came out as gay, I realised that it wasn't too late and there's nothing wrong with coming out in your late 20s (which was a fear that had began to rise in me as the years ticked on). Plus, the book Ethical Slut (which is amazing and should be read by everyone) reminded me that all forms of bisexuality are valid and it's not always 50/50.

But my final breakthrough came in October 2017, in my kitchen. I had recently made the decision to clean up my friends group. The reason for this had nothing to do my sexuality and was a whole other separate reason. But as I flipped through the names of the people who I did want to keep in my life I realised that I had nothing to fear anymore. I knew 100% in my heart that these people would still love me, would not fetish me, would not roll their eyes, and would not ask if I was sure.

Prior to that clear-up, I wasn't friends with brash homophones. But there were guys who would perve over girls kissing in night clubs. Girls who treated gay men like shopping toys, rather than people. Or gay people who vowed to never date a bisexual. Or straights who would say "oh, a ladies man already" at a three-year-old boy who does nothing more than smile at a girl. No one was a far-right bigot who wanted to deny LGBT+ people basic human rights, but were lefties who discriminate in lesser ways (and are still part of the problem).

It is scary to be yourself in a world that is telling you not to be. But coming out taught me that it's less scary to do so when the people you love have your back. To the people I didn't clear out last October - and to those who have joined my life since then - I am eternally grateful for your open-mindedness, commitment to social justice, and having the emotional intelligence to know how to respond when someone comes out to you (especially when that person spent over a decade in the closet). I could never put my gratitude into words.

If you are either a guy I dated in the past who I came out to, or someone who got cleared out last October - I don't mean any of these words with hate. I know you're also part of a toxic heteronormative social dialogue, and not one of you ever meant to make me feel unsafe coming out or deny my true sexual orientation to myself. I know you support LGBT+ rights, but were never given the tools to do it properly. Treat this as a learning curve to do better. We could all be doing better, myself included.

So Happy Bisexual Visibility Day - and to one year of being out! Let's paint the town pink, purple and blue.

All my love,
Morag x

P.S. If you are still in the closet, take your time. Your confusion is valid. If someone had told me a year ago that I would be out by the end of 2017 and dating a girl by spring, I would have laughed. It took me a decade to get there, but I got there. You can too.
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Edinburgh Fringe Reviews, with five days left of the Fringe

Edinburgh Fringe Reviews, with five days left of the Fringe

You could probably argue that the first rule of writing reviews of live performances would probably be to write said review on opening night, or quickly after.

Evidently I didn't read the rule book (or didn't care enough to check).

I make a point of visiting the Edinburgh Fringe every year, but I never tend to make it a priority. And this year I only made it along on Sunday, just one whole week before the whole thing closes its doors for another year. So if you're Fringed out, this is probably a little late - but if you live in or around Edinburgh and have a few hours to kill this week, here are mini-reviews of everything I went to see (which I'm writing in chronological order, but this list also happens to end with my favourite).

When I first seen this show's title, I thought "yes, a show that slags off penises". It was - somewhat unfortunately - not about that, but instead a personal memoir about living with Type 1 Diabetes. It's a solo show performed by Jade Byrne, but incorporates sound recordings from Jade's family and other diabetics who she interviewed for the performance.

Out of all the shows I seen, this one made me feel the most emotion. It made me laugh when she responded to silly questions ("can I catch it?"). Educated me when she explained how treatment has moved on over time. Gave me a sore throat as her mum's voice echoed round the room, worrying about who was going to look after Jade when her mum couldn't. Made me uncomfortable as she asked us to put on our blurry glasses as she attempted to illustrate what it felt like to go into hypo. Clenched my fist when she recounted a story when a barmaid refused to serve her Redbull during a hypo, believing her to be a regular drunk.

How to Drink Wine Like a Wanker
I've always liked wine but have never been able to describe what flavours I like beyond "pinot grigio". Since most wine tours and articles come across as full on upperclass twaddle, so I've never really looked into it.

So a Fringe show that educates me on wine, but simultaneously acknowledges the wanker attitude of most wine journalists and copywriters? Sign me up.

Hosted by Anna Thomas, a native to South Australia who decided to pack up her corporate career and become a wine tour guide, talks us through six of her favourite wines and shares titbits of her life (content warning: she talks about her miscarriage; and financial warning: it costs extra to taste the wine). She confirms (what I've always known, to be honest) that most wine labels are marketing guff, and there's not a single wine that can honestly claim to have undertones of seven different berries. But out of everything she mentioned, my favorite was this: "the best wine in the world isn't the one that some wanky wine journalist tells you should like, it's the one that matches your palette and helps you unwind after a long week".

Plus it turns out Roussanne is the wine I never knew I needed in my life (it's savoury and nutty).

Sidewalk Smut
While exploring Edinburgh and the various Fringe hubs during my five hour break between shows, me and my friend came across a stall adventuring personalised erotica. As a sexology nerd I could not say no to whatever the hell this was.

Turns out, the women was a friendly, funny and feminist-friendly sex therapist and former sex phoneline operator named Cameryn Moore. Aside from her Fringe Show that rips apart society's shitty attitude to sex and re-builds it, she also offers a service called Sidewalk Smut where she interviews curious pedestrians about their sexual preferences, sends them away for about 15 minutes so she can crank out a personalised one-page piece of erotica on her typewriter.

And you can bet your ass I ordered one. While I'm not exactly going to scan and share it on the internet for everyone to see, from a short interview Cameryn managed to pin point exactly what I like in bed and I absolutely adore my short story. I'm keeping it forever.

Politics for Bitches
Potentially one of the most talked about shows at the Fringe, I'm not sure Politics for Bitches needs an introduction or even a review - but here is one anyway:

Fucking awesome.

Especially if you're a frustrated millennial. If you're a 60 year old Tory, you'll probably walk out.

So what do you recommend?
Sidewalk Smut and Politics for Bitches are my top choices - but the other two are definitely solid options (but probably appeal to a more niche audience).

Since the Fringe has already been on for three weeks, I suppose a good closing question is to ask what have your favourite shows been? 
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