The Wrong House aka House Hunting (2013): Disjointed Thriller

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Written and directed by Eric Hurt, House Hunting (The Wrong House in the UK) is Hurt’s first feature length film. On IMDb the film has received a score of 4.5 which, I think, is a bit harsh.

Starring Marc Singer (who I haven’t seen since his V mini-series days in the 1980’s) and Art Lafleur, the film is about two families who both wind up looking at a house for sale out in the middle of nowhere.

Charlie Hays (Singer) and his new/second wife Susan (Hayley DuMond) and daughter Emmy  (Janey Gioiosa) form a nuclear but dysfunctional little family. Emmy hates her new step-mom and Charlie tries to keep the peace between the two.

They all go out to look at a house that Charlie is interested in. On their way there a bloody girl runs out of the woods and collapses in front of their car. When this happens a second car that has been behind them stops and out steps the Thompson family.

Don Thomson (Lafleur) and his wife Leslie (Victoria Vance) and injured son Jason (Paul McGill) take the Hays family and the girl into their vehicle and head to the house. Once there, the families find out that they can’t get away from the place.

Marc Singer and Art Lefleur.
Marc Singer and Art Lafleur.

The film starts out with an interesting concept. Wikipedia states that the “theme” of the film is that “other people are Hell.” I disagree. I think the film’s theme is one of secrets and sins. Everyone has one or the other, in some cases both, and the two families peccadilloes all come home to roost while they are trapped in the house.

Arguably, the film can’t seem to make up its mind on whether it is a ghost story or psychological horror film. This adds to the overall confusion of the events and why some of the things that transpire don’t really make any sort of “logical” sense. Part of the story’s arc deals with the information that Hays’ bank foreclosed on the family who lived in the house previously. Indicating some sort of Faustian pact with the “ex” owner.

There is also an intercom system that repeats a “recorded” message and “sells” the house to prospective buyers. One of the disconnects in this film is that system. While the house has no electricity and no heating, the intercom works fine throughout the entire film.

Some of the actors were a bit wooden, but Singer and Lafleur more than made up for that. Lafleur is one of those actors who seems to have been in just about every film or television series made. He has made a career out of playing very similar parts and if ever there was an actor who could be said to making a career out of being type-cast as an “also-ran,” it would be him.

Despite the dichotomous nature of the film and the lapses in logic, it is strangely watchable. I actually enjoyed it and was surprised to see it get such a low score.

I would say that as far as films go, I’ve seen much worse (Underground springs immediately to mind) and it did at least keep my interest until the end of the film. Annoyingly, there are no special features on the DVD so Hurt has no forum to explain his thought process.

So, a 3 out of 5 stars just for the presence of Singer and Lafleur.

Writer/Director Eric Hurt.
Writer/Director Eric Hurt.

Boston Marathon Explosions the Boogeyman Strikes

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As I sat down to write a blog post last night, I saw a “push” come up on my Facebook wall. It was from an old colleague who stated that he hoped his family in Boston were okay.

Curiosity piqued, I asked him what was going on and while waiting for a response I typed  “Boston events” in the search bar and got the news sightly ahead of his answer.

Someone or some group had exploded two devices at the Boston Marathon finishing line. Two people were killed, I found out from a friend who is from Boston that one of these was an eight year-old child, and at least 23 injured. The news went on to state that two more devices had been found and that there was a further explosion at the Kennedy Library.

I was shocked.

Although it was late and I was quite tired, I spent the next several hours watching live coverage of this obscenity and “tweeting” what I was learning. One of the things I learned was that at that time no one group had stepped forward to claim responsibility for placing  these bombs in the rubbish bins.

I also learned that the official line on the “devices” was not to call them bombs.

I was once again, shocked.

If something has been set up to explode, it is a bomb. I can only think that officials have decided that to call them bombs would scare people and dredge up some sort of “negative” connotation.

I’ve got news for the authorities, a bomb by any other name is a bomb.

The bitter irony in this is that while the bombs were exploding, President Obama was working on new gun laws to protect his constituents from acts of murder. While he was looking at stopping death within, death came (presumably) from without.

With the introduction of drones that spy on American citizens in the name of national security, the good guys were obviously looking in the wrong direction and the bad guys got in.

It is sad that the times we live in now include urban terror attacks from whatever group or source. These attacks are designed to keep people afraid. Afraid of public events, of walking down their own streets (Bostonian’s were told to stay inside after the explosions and Boston was put on “lock-down”) and afraid to trust “foreigners” let alone each other.

The group or people responsible  want all free countries to be placed under “house arrest” and to be too terrified to leave their homes. And through the diversionary news worthy events of killing sprees with guns and with the media shouting to the heavens about gun control, the folks responsible for the country’s security forgot to look at the ongoing issue of terrorism.

I might be wrong (and I have been wrong before) but I think that the security forces need to stop looking for “Boogeymen” under their own beds or backyards and remember to look at those “outside” the country they’ve been sworn to protect.

As the death toll rises to three and the injured numbers more than triple, I’m sure the people in yesterday’s Boston Marathon would agree.

Aftermath...
Aftermath…

 

Annette Funicello Gone Aged 70: Now it’s Time to Say Goodbye

Annette Funicello (born: October 22, 1942 - died April 8, 2013) RIP
Annette Funicello (born: October 22, 1942 – died April 8, 2013) RIP

When I was five years old, we lived in Sacramento California and I used to watch the reruns of the original Mickey Mouse club. In black and white. One of my favourite “Mouseketeers” was Annette Funicello. This dark-haired song bird stole my five-year old heart.

Of course by the time I saw the old Mickey Mouse show, Annette was already getting ready to make those “beach” movies with heart-throb Frankie Avalon.

But television is a sort of time machine and when I watched first the Mickey Mouse Show and later the Wonderful World of Disney, Annette would be the same age, even though years had passed. She exuded, through the magic of television, an ageless “girl-next-door” glow that made her special to an entire generation of Mouseketeer fans.

These same fans would go on to love her even more as the love interest in a swimming suit. But however you were introduced to Annette, it was her voice and they way she sang that impressed and made you fall in love with her all over again.

Bio’s will tell you that she was the last Mouseketeer chosen and that she was the most popular. But what they can’t tell you is the special magic that this young girl and then woman had. A magic that kept her in people’s hearts long after the Mouse Club and the Beach Party films ended.

She was a champion who fought for everyone who had Multiple Sclerosis, which she had been diagnosed with the disease in 1987 and after a five-year silence went public with the news. Her fans never stopped loving her and supporting her and she passed that love and support to others who suffered from the disease.

It was complications from this disease  that took her life aged 70.

It is with a lump in my throat and prayer for her family and friends that I write this short love letter to the Mouseketeer of my youth.

So long Annette. Like the song says, you made me love you; but with a pure childlike love that never grew up.

I’ll finish this by including a video from YouTube that, quite appropriately, features Annette and her fellow Mouseketeers singing the “Goodbye” sign-off song from the show.

Happy One Year Anniversary to My WordPress Blog!

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The 1 year anniversary logo.

It has taken me all day to decide on what to write after WordPress told me of my one year anniversary this morning. I will admit a certain amount of astonishment. I thought I’d been with WordPress much longer than a year. But after looking at my old posts and remembering that a goodly number of them had been first posted with Blogspot.com my amazement diminished pretty rapidly.

I have written before about how much I like the WordPress set up and the fact that I have loads more views per post and followers here than I ever managed to get on the old Blogspot site. I’ve been accused of being a “view” junkie and I will admit that I am hooked on my view numbers and also pretty excitable about my follower figures. Aren’t we all, to some degree?

But the nicest thing about having been on WordPress for a year is the great folks I’ve met and interacted with. Folks (aka fellow bloggers) that I never would have met on my old blog site. These are people who I, rightly or wrongly, feel are friends; some more so than others, but friends nonetheless. My daily interaction with them has been a boon, especially since my heart attack last August.

Of course, view counts and followers aside, the very visibility of WordPress is what has made this such a great ride. I actually started blogging in 2010.  A short timid two sentence entry that laid dormant for an entire year. Then in 2011, I began in earnest and tried to pretty much write every day. This wasn’t possible at that time, but as my input (or output) became more frequent and I discovered Tumblr and then WordPress I kept leapfrogging to each site looking for a blogging home.

It did not take me long to discover that here was where I wanted to be. The support from the staff is phenomenal and the themes are fantastic. I guess that the reason that I thought I’d been here longer than a year was twofold. Firstly, I manage to upload two or more posts a day. I have also managed to get 254 followers on this blog alone. I guess in my mind the culmination of blog posts plus followers equals a long time, i.e. much longer than a year.

Still, I’ve had fun here and as I start to reach more people I feel like I’ve been blessed to find so many folks who feel like I do and not just about films and books, but life as well.

After being “ill-health” retired from my job at an obscenely early age I had a lot of time on my hands (I still do actually) where the days could have stretched into a depressingly long time period of too much inner reflection and fears about health. The people who I’ve met via my little blog have made my days interesting and (in some cases) challenging.

I am not much of a “joiner” preferring instead to be on the outside of the social circle instead of actually being part of it. For the first time that I can remember, I’ve enjoyed being part of a community. One that shares kudos and publicity and awards with one another.

The other great thing about WordPress’s visibility is the contact that I’ve had with people in the entertainment and literature business that I never had with my other blogs. I have directors, actors, producers and authors who comment on my reviews and I can honestly say that I’m “blown away” each and every time it happens.

As my blog continues to evolve and grow (I’ve just done my first ever interview!) I look at the fruits of my labour and the community that I’m a part of and I think how lucky I am to have discovered this world of blogging and the folks who inhabit it. It is the people who I’ve met and interacted with combined with those  who have paid me the ultimate compliment of following my blog who make this so worthwhile.

So I raise my glass high and I’ll make a toast to you all: “Thanks WordPress for making this a great first year and thanks to you all who stop by and read, like, comment and follow. You guys are great!”

Happy anniversary to me and my blog!

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My Life in 2012: Rock on 2013…

I sit here with the silence of the house ticking like a murmuring death watch beetle and I rack my brain on what to blog about today. I’ve already cheated a bit by just posting my 2012 statistics up that WordPress so helpfully provided me with this morning and not wanting to be too lazy, I’ve decided that I need to do a “proper” post.

As usual, I do have a blog-post that I should do, that lovely chap Rich over at Sunday Night Blog has nominated me for the Super Sweet Blogging Award. I will do a proper thank you to Rich, but I wanted to do a link to his site just to show that I had noticed and do appreciate his thoughtful kindness.

But the silence surrounding me is a little un-nerving. Usually if I am alone in the house, I have the next door neighbour’s kid running up and down the stairs and across the first floor (that’s second floor to you relatives of Uncle Sam) in his concrete over-boots. His shoes must be made of concrete because he is a little teeny chap who cannot weigh more than a couple of stone (if that).

*a stone, by the way, equals 14 pounds*

And yet this one little chap sounds like a herd of elephants thundering in stampede across the floors and up and down the stairs whenever he is at home with Mum or Dad. The fact that the house next door is empty is a blessing, just one that I’ve only had the pleasure of when Meg and I first moved in here. And before you ask, yes we were here before the heavy footed neighbours.

Meg has gone off somewhere to celebrate the New Year with friends and I am left to my own devices. Re-reading this last bit makes me feel like I should be fiendishly rubbing my hands together whilst hatching some world dominating plot. But, no; this is me I’m talking about here. I have no immediate or long-term plans to take over the world. I have no wish to do so and, more importantly, do not have the capability to.

So I have reverted back to staring silently (there is that wonderful word again) around the living room and wondering if I really should think about taking down and packing up the Christmas decorations that were only put up on the 23rd of December or if I should get the Hoover out.

*again for those relatives of Uncle Sam, Hoover equals vacuum cleaner (which I’ve only now just discovered that I have been misspelling for a lot of years)*

I can never manage to look this happy when I Hoover…


Since cleaning up or pulling down decorations both require something resembling physical effort, I have decided that I will do neither. I will instead finish up this blog post, edit it and publish it. That is about as taxing as I want to be taxed. This being the last day of 2012, I don’t want to ruin it by being too over industrious. So instead, I’m going to reflect, only in the most broad terms possible, over my year.

My 2012.

The year  has been a very strange one.

It has been a year of injury, pain, surgery (times two) and rehabilitation; along with discovery and shocking revelations. It has also been a year where I have worked hardly at all. There are those I work with who would claim that I don’t work when I do show up, but that is another story. Counting the time before my work injury and the time I spent “returning to work” I have only been “at work” for just under two months this year.

But 2012 has also been a year of meeting new folks and making new friends, Marilyn, Gary and Tyson just to name a few. There are loads more friends that I’ve met via the auspices of WordPress and their wonderful blogging community. I have been blessed with support and well wishes from lots of you and that has helped me to get through the more “agonising” and maddening aspects of my year.

2012 is also the year that I finally realised that my daughter Meg was a grown up. She stepped up smartly to the plate, bat in hand and hit a home run with how she dealt with my near death and all the vagaries that went with it. She has also been there to help me deal with the work side of things and its ensuing trauma.

The most amusing aspect of this entire year (apart from the amount of time it took me to realise that I was having a heart attack while smoking three cigarettes and drinking two cups of coffee) is that I had my heart attack while I was returning to work. A scheme that allows you to increase your work week hours on a steadily increasing rise. Deliciously ironic.

When I was told I was going to receive an ill-health retirement certificate, apart from being shocked (I’d been told you had to be practically dead to get a medical retirement certificate, which is what an ill-health retirement is) I already felt that I’d pretty much already been retired for the whole damn year.

Of course that was on full pay. Now of course, when the dust settles, I’ll be on less money; a  lot less money. I am still reeling over the ill-health retirement deal and scrabbling around to find out what I am entitled to. When I called the Citizens Advice Bureau (CAB) the earliest they could see me was the 15th of January. Rather than panic, I’ve been doing the, “I’ll just ignore it and it’ll get sorted when it gets sorted,” approach.

I’ve not ignored it completely though. It interrupts my sleep on a regular basis in the form of disturbing dreams. The last of which had to do with living in the world’s largest cardboard box and getting into a tizzy about where all the furniture was going to go.

Photo courtesy of paksil.blogspot.com

It is nice to know that on the last day of 2012, I can take a break from spinning all those damn plates and not care when a few of them come crashing down to the ground. Like Scarlet O’Hara says, “Tomorrow is another day.” But in this instance tomorrow is not just another day, it’s another year. A year where my son is going to be marrying his beloved (lovely girl) and “good Lord willing and the creeks don’t rise” Meg and I will both be attending.

It is nice to have at least one thing to look forward to in the New Year.

Until then, or at least for the rest of today, I am going to put off doing anything that could possibly be related to work or industry. I’m going to procrastinate my way right up to the New Year.

I am going to leave you with Happy New Year Wishes just as soon as I’ve finished my cup of coffee.