Dec 192018

Duncan Harley reviews ‘And I Am You’ – the new novel by Judy Mackie.

Layla is a splendidly timeless song penned by Eric Clapton and co-songwriter Jim Gordon of Derek and the Dominos fame.

Inspired by an Arabian love story – Layla and Majnun – Clapton’s song made 27 in Rolling Stone’s list of the 500 greatest songs of all time and won a Grammy in 1993.

Clapton was of course in love with Patti Boyd – the wife of his friend George Harrison.

Clapton and Boyd would eventually marry for a few years and Layla – the song not the lady – would become ranked amongst the greatest rock songs of all time.

They all remained friends. In fact, Harrison attended the Clapton and Boyd wedding and gave his blessing to the unlikely pair.

Lyrics include the immortal lines:

‘Let’s make the best of the situation
Before I finally go insane.’

And now, some decades after the release of Clapton’s Layla, North-east author Judy Mackie, inspired perhaps by the lyrics, has penned a novel deeply rooted in those far-off but timeless events.

In this exquisitely penned Gothic tale a lonely lady, recently abandoned by a long-time lover, examines her life and finds herself in another person’s body.

Judy is of course well known for her stewardship and editing of Leopard Magazine and her love for all things North-east comes through strongly in this, her dark debut novel. And I Am You is set variously along the North Sea coastline with locations as diverse as Cruden Bay, the massive blowhole of the Bullers of Buchan and the tarry-sheds of Fittie.

Betrayed and abandoned by her husband and with a career in the doldrums thirty-eight-year-old academic Layla Sutherland longs to escape her shattered existence while half a world away, Australian journalist Stevie Nightingale is desperate to shed her identity.

A ground-breaking procedure developed by an Edinburgh neurosurgeon, Professor Blunstone, offers both Layla and Stevie salvation in the form of not just an identity swap, but a full-blown body swap.

The eccentric professor has discovered a previously unknown portion of the brain which, when transplanted, offers the subject the possibility of switching bodies whilst retaining consciousness within the new host.

His discovery of the ‘Me Gland’ throws up both moral and ethical dilemmas but, in the true traditions of eccentric scientist tales, nothing can halt the pursuit of knowledge and once the taboo of using humans for experimental purposes is broken, there is ultimately no easy way back from the unspeakable brink.

“He’s not mad and he’s not evil,” says Judy,

“he thinks he’s furthering human knowledge.”

And I Am You, aside from being set in Bram Stoker territory, has all the elements of a contemporary Gothic thriller. A vast baronial mansion occupied by an obsessed researcher hides a secret hospital wing within sound of the Buchan coastline while two damsels in distress agree to help him crack the age-old secret of the seat of consciousness.

What could possibly go wrong and what might be the ultimate cost of tampering with our sense of self?

As medical ethics go out the window, Layla finds herself inhabiting Stevie’s body while retaining her own identity. Likewise, Stevie inhabits Layla’s body. At first all seems smooth and, alongside a practical exploration of the reality of the situation, elements of conflict creep in.

Layla for example meets up with errant spouse Calum, but in the body of the blonde-haired Stevie. Things, to say the least, become complicated.

Will Buller the dog sort out who is who? What will the subjects experience when, or perhaps if, the body-swap is reversed? Who, or what, is the mysterious stalker?

Blunstone makes clear early on that:

“Quite clearly, body swapping is not for everyone. But for those of a certain mindset the opportunity to occupy someone else’s body is surely the most profound experience a human being could have.”

As I raced towards the final pages of Judy’s novel, I began to wonder if the eccentric professor’s premise that body swapping is not for everyone might be slightly off the mark. After all, who amongst us hasn’t imagined what it might be like to be in someone else’s shoes?

And I Am You – by Judy Mackie (289pp) is available for download from Amazon Kindle at £4.99

Dec 192014

The finale of The Hobbit trilogy has arrived. Aberdeen Voice’s Andrew Watson reviews The Battle of the Five Armies.

vuepicsqThere was a sizeable audience at the Vue cinema on Shiprow for Sunday lunchtime’s showing, the film having being released on the previous Thursday.

I can’t say I was too impressed, to be honest. When the film came into swing I actually felt a tad deflated. Okay, there can’t be too much deviation, given that it’s based on J. R. R. Tolkien’s sizeable tome, but surely it could’ve been executed better?

As I say, it wasn’t the best. Yes, there were some excellent special effects, both during fight scenes and those rendering the setting, bringing to life the fantastical imagination of the acclaimed author. However, the only parts of note were the closing scenes.

I don’t mean that in a flippant way, as such. What I mean is that it was interesting to see how they tied it up for it to end almost seamlessly, so that it ushers in the beginning of The Lord of the Rings trilogy.

Anyway, the crux of things is that disparate groups motivated by their own self interest are brought together to rally against a common enemy, the Orcs.

In it Thorin Oakenshield (Richard Armitage), leader of the Dwarves, is overtaken by lunacy trying to find the Arkenstone of Lonely Mountain. This is akin to the effect that The Ring had upon its holder, Bilbo Baggins (Martin Freeman).

Thorin cuts a lonely and divisive figure for most of the film, turning his back on the destitute people of Lake Town, their community ravaged by Smaug the dragon. The icy relations between Dwarves and Elves are worsened because of this.

A couple of plus points for the film are the depictions of both man and beast. Ian McKellen as Gandalf is under no scrutiny, naturally, for his acting ability. What really stood out and struck me was how haggard and bloodied he looked. The look of a beaten man, both physically and in life: his make-up team did an excellent job.

Furthermore, Benedict Cumberbatch is devilish as the eccentric and calculating dragon, Smaug. It’s not just his voice but the expert special effects, too, that achieve the full impact.

All in all, despite its positives, this outing really is eclipsed by its predecessors and the three other films that follow it chronologically.

Jul 112014

91pBPhcD-eL._SL1500_By David Innes.

When Aberdonian Kerry Hudson’s debut novel Tony Hogan Bought Me An Ice Cream Float Before He Stole My Ma was reviewed in Voice about two years ago, I opined that it would be good to get an update on how Janie Ryan, that book’s central character, was getting on.

Resisting that reviewer plea, the author has turned her energies and talents to exploring a relationship born in unconventional circumstances, fulfilling the diverse but increasingly-convergent needs of a trafficked Siberian girl and a London security guard, both of whom have backstories of hurt and confusion.

The structure of Thirst sees the present-time gradual development of the pair’s relationship, a slow-burning one-step-forward-two-steps-back series of small joys and setbacks, juxtaposed with the history of horror, sleaze, cruelty and broken ambition experienced by both en route to personal fulfilment and Hackney.

You’ll care as much about these misfits as readers did about Janie Ryan, celebrating their simple joys and cursing the undeserved blows and external obstacles put in the way of their happiness. And it’s not only the main characters who are well-drawn and credible.

The immoral traffickers, Dave’s ill-starred mother, the party girl Shelley, the cabal of gossiping harpie-lites at the shop where the pair meet in unusual circumstances are all recognisable, if slightly caricatured, and add depth and colour as Dave and Alena circle each other warily and the denouement is played out.

Kerry Hudson has considerable dramatic abilities too, able to imagine the loneliness, terror and confusion of immigrants trafficked to London on false promises, the grime and filth the homeless have to endure, the oozing onion odour of the kebab shop downstairs, the sensory experiences of deliberately-inflicted bodily pain and the secure warmth and comfort of a cuddle with a loved one, no matter how fleeting or temporary.

Leaving the pair in Alena’s run-down Siberian hometown, Thirst ends on a hopeful note, and as with the author’s debut novel, it would be nice to know how they’re faring, if at all. On the other hand, perhaps the skill of the writer is to leave readers with enough information to imagine the outcome and future for themselves, and Kerry Hudson is proving to be a developing master of this art.

Kerry Hudson – Thirst
Chatto & Windus
328 pp
ISBN 978-0-701-18868-9


Jun 132013

Hall Harper takes a few moments to contemplate the death of Iain Banks.

Like many others I was saddened this week by the news of Iain Banks’s death at the age of 59, only a couple of months after doctors had diagnosed him with gall bladder cancer and given him around a year to live.

I first became aware of his writing over 20 years ago when I found myself in Chelmsford with some free time between an early afternoon meeting and an evening dinner arrangement, and wandered into a local bookshop in search of something interesting.

Scanning the shelves, my eye was drawn to the name Espedair Street which, to someone born and brought up in Paisley, immediately brought to mind a road in the south of that town.

Standing in that booksellers in Essex, though, it seemed unlikely that this could relate to the same tenement-lined street of my home town, but a quick flick through the first few pages revealed that it was.

The result was that I bought the book and spent the next few hours totally immersed in a fascinating story that almost resulted in me missing my dinner date.

Over the intervening years I’ve read his varied output and was constantly amazed at the brilliance of a master storyteller whose diverse and quirky range of works were always intelligent, perceptive and witty. I must admit, however, that I haven’t explored the science fiction titles of Iain M. Banks, as I’ve just never been able to warm to science fiction as a genre, but that’s my problem.

But it was mainly the wit that I was always drawn to.

This week, I have heard many observers quote the wonderful first sentence of The Crow Road, “It was the day my grandmother exploded,” which, I would wholeheartedly agree, must surely be one of the wittiest and best opening lines in a modern novel.

Nevertheless, my first memorable encounter with Mr B’s wit was in the early pages of Espedair Street where he described one of the less-salubrious districts of my birthplace:

“Ferguslie Park lay in a triangle of land formed by three railway lines, so no matter what direction you approached it from, it was always on the wrong side of the tracks.”

Let me assure those who are not familiar with the area, aka ‘Feegie’ or ‘The Jungle’, that this is a description which says more than a 200-page dissertation ever could.

But wit was clearly an integral part of the man who recorded that his reaction to being diagnosed with the terminal condition which brought his life to such a tragically premature end on Sunday was, “along the lines of ‘oh bugger!’” and who later asked his long term partner, Adele Hartley, if she would do him the honour of becoming his widow.

Now that really is raising two fingers at death!

So while I mourn the passing of someone I believe to have been one of Scotland’s finest writers, I suspect he would have scorned any display of grief at his demise preferring instead that those left raised a smile and a glass to his memory.

So cheers Iain – thanks for everything!

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Feb 022013

A book launch with a twist is set to be hosted by local Dark Fantasy author, Carmilla Voiez.

In celebration of the release of Psychonaut, the second book in Carmilla’s Starblood Series, a special evening for fans will be held on Friday 8th February, at Cellar 35, Rosemount Viaduct, Aberdeen, from 8.30p.m. to 1.00a.m.
This event will allow readers to meet the author, hear readings from both of her novels and taking part in a question and answer session.

Entertainment specifically detailed around the worlds of Starblood and Psychonaut – including acts by spooky-magician extraordinaire Dean Spruce and an intriguing and beautiful burlesque performance by Magenta Lust – will also be provided throughout the evening which will end in party style with music by Aberdeen DJ, Jimsin.

A Goth for over 20 years, Carmilla sold her Gothic Clothing business last year since when she has been writing top selling books which are inspired by the Gothic subculture, magic and dark desires and explore sexual obsession and violence in often hard-hitting ways.

Carmilla finds inspiration in local beauty, stately homes, the Moray Firth and woodlands around the Scottish town where she has lived the past 10 years with Starblood, the first book in the series, being set partly in the beautiful Cairngorm mountains and partly in the city in South West England where she grew up.  She currently lives with her husband, daughters and numerous cats in Banff, where she is writing the final book in the series.

Carmilla’s literary interests also extend to the Aberdeen Writers’ Club which she co-founded in 2011 as a forum where local writers gather to discuss ideas and writing techniques.

Psychonaut has already been warmly received by fellow authors:

“Carmilla Voiez is more of a singer than a writer. She tells her compelling story in a hypnotic, distinctive voice that brings her eerie world vividly to life.” — Graham Masterton

“Psychonaut is a book of mad impulses, inner vision, sadism, escape and belief.  You feel uncomfortable reading it, like Alex strapped to the chair in Clockwork Orange being taught to feel sick at atrocity.  Rather than leave us crippled by response though, Psychonaut bears you through the hurt towards the only paradise we can be assured of … a love past fault.” — Jef Withonef, Houston Press

While there will be no dress code at the launch on 8th February, it will be full of amazing Gothic and Fantasy inspired costumes and will be set off by local jewellery and masquerade-wear businesses who will be on hand offering their unique designs.

Entrance this event is £3.00, which will be redeemable against the purchase price of one of Carmilla Voiez’s critically acclaimed novels, published by Vamptasy worldwide.

Note:  This is strictly an over 18’s event and proof of age will be required for admittance.

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Nov 122012

Another horror film finds Voice reviewer Andrew Watson again, in his own words, ‘crapping his pants’ at Vue Cinema.

Scott Derrickson’s latest offering initially trundles along innocently enough as author Ellison Oswalt (Ethan Hawke) moves to a new house seeking inspiration for his next book. Ignoring the local sheriff’s advice about moving into the house, Oswalt finds a box of home movies in attic… yeah, it’s not so pedestrian from here on!

Five reels of film, dating from the 1960s to the present time, show grisly murder scenes with families snuffed out in all manner of creative ways.

Despite this movie being promoted as a supernatural horror, at first it seems all very real and far-removed from the paranormal. That creepy guy you catch glimpses of in the found reels just seems like a nutter in a mask… at first.

It is only after a while it begins to sink in that perhaps things aren’t so rooted in the type of horror often recounted in the tabloid press. This is also set against real phenomena like the author’s son Trevor (Michael Hall D’Addario) enduring night terrors in his sleep and being found in the back garden during these episodes.

When Trevor is found folding himself out of a cardboard box, his parents’ shock fades in the knowledge that similar things have happened before. Is the sleepwalking part of the boy’s night terrors, or are Exorcist-like bodily contortions at play?

It’s strange how the further a film seems to creep from reality, the more horrifying it can become. But this is how filmmakers tap into our deepest fears and it is only when we see the ghosts of children playing hide and seek with Ellison that we are 100% sure what kind of film we’re dealing with.

Let’s just say the face didn’t exactly look like your typical Halloween gimmick…

You might think knowing this would put us at ease, making further attempts at horror redundant, but the element of surprise is expertly deployed and the suspense keeps up right to the film’s finale.

When Ellison finally encounters the children face to face, the childish mischief of earlier disappears, the innocent veil of child’s play swiftly replaced with repulsion. I all but fall from my seat as Ellison tumbles from the staircase and I curse when I finally catch a close-up of the ‘masked’ man. Let’s just say the face isn’t your typical Halloween gimmick…

This last scene clinches my satisfaction with this morbid tale. In my eyes, any decent horror film has some link to religious mythology, preferably of the occult variety. Our man in the ‘mask’ turns out to be a pagan deity called Bughuul, or ‘eater of children’s souls’. Creepy stuff!

This film ticks all the boxes, and then some. Definitely recommended.

Nov 062012

Returning to Shiprow’s Vue for a bit of horror, I actually found I quite enjoyed myself. Paranormal Activity 4 was a bit of a slow burner, meaning the last half hour was, hands down, the most intense period of the film, says Voice reviewer Andrew Watson.

I spent Hallowe’en watching a rented copy of Paranormal Activity 3, just to make sure I was clued up on what I was in for. PA3 is actually the prequel, so 4 beginss where 2 left off.

There’s been a kidnapping, and the whereabouts of the woman and child are seemingly unknown – until now.

I have to be honest and say outright that I cannot stand creepy kid films. You know the type – the various spawn of the Sixth Sense phenomenon.

I really enjoyed this film, however politically incorrect I feel I’d get with the film’s resident brat! I actually found myself reserving most of my ire for the ‘boyfriend’ of the film, a pervy chancer who I hoped would see an early end.

The film’s family find themselves babysitting the child of a new neighbour. Yep, the creepy kid.

His mother’s not feeling well and was taken away by ambulance, apparently. Their own son takes a shine to him, but finds himself dragged into realms of weirdness that wouldn’t be Hollywood if they weren’t evil. Sweet-natured Wyatt, played by Aiden Lovekamp, retreats into himself. So much so that he begins to insist his name is Hunter, the child kidnapped in 2!

Meanwhile, creepy Robbie (Brady Allen) doesn’t merely sit on the sidelines goading Wyatt to do his bidding.  Why, he’s at it himself, sleeping with Wyatt’s big sister Alex (Kathryn Newton) while she lies there unaware! This scene is actually the catalyst for Alex and her boyfriend to attempt to unfurl the mystery of the weirdness going on.

You see, boyfriend Ben (Matt Shively) records their webchats. Or at least his computer does it automatically, so he says. Anyway, he comes a cropper when he sees this kid nestling up to his girlfriend. And so it goes until a rather messy ending.

There a few aspects about this series that merit some analysis I suppose. It’s shown in real time, meaning it takes much from the style in which The Blair Witch Project was recorded. We must assume this technique is deployed to give the film a sense of realism, a cinematic approach that increased my viewing pleasure.

Specifically, what I enjoy about this is the fact that big events throughout the film are thinly spread, not necessarily a bad thing. In fact, it adds to the realism. Real life is punctuated with infrequent seemingly-inconsequential events which nevertheless impact upon all our lives. In Hollywood, stories are punctuated with life-changing events that occur, seemingly and rather predictably, every two minutes.

Which is why I come back to the point of the last half hour of this film. It’s a wild thirty minutes, like a punch to the solar plexus. You’ve been caught unawares and now you’re crapping your pants trying to keep up with what’s going on.

Furthermore, there are murmurs throughout that a secret community, or covenant, is holding black masses. Ever since I watched The Last Exorcism, this concept has intrigued me. All I can say, or hint at, is that there are similar things going on in this film, particularly in the last two and a half minutes.

All in all – and I know the critics have panned this film – this is an excellent piece of cinema. I genuinely can’t wait to see what’s in store for Paranormal Activity 5.

Oct 292012

This particular cinema outing, to Cineworld, proved the moviegoer’s maxim that ‘the trailers show all the good bits’. Skyfall isn’t a bad film, but all the excitement I experienced watching the trailer didn’t translate into the same, or similar, sensations during the film’s two hours and twenty-three minutes, says Andrew Watson.

Casino Royale was a fantastic Bond debut for Daniel Craig, although Quantum of Solace left me cold. His third Bond effort, fell somewhere between the previous two.

I enjoyed, particularly, how his character, though faithfully suave, was a grizzled agent, bordering on psychotic.

I know there have been grumbles, probably from the old school Bond-ers, that it’s becoming less about the gadgets and girls as it is about our beloved spy’s oh-so-complicated character.

This time round, bearing in mind the fallout from the previous film, Bond isn’t at his physical or mental best. Unknown to James, he’s failed his aptitude test as a field agent, and is displaying worrying dependencies on alcohol, among other substances.

This film seems to be driven by its characters, and the super-villain in this piece is no different. Think Jaws with half his jaw missing!  It is, in fact, this dastardly ex-MI6 man, Raoul Silva, played by Spaniard Javier Bardem, top dog before Bond’s time, who reveals to James his lack of aptitude. Judi Dench’s ‘M’ lied to Bond, hurrying him back into the fold of spydom, just like she betrayed her previous agent all those years ago.

Don’t get me wrong, the locations and the ladies are something to behold, and the shots of China are particularly beautiful. ‘Q’, played by young gun Ben Whishaw, is also on hand with the latest in gun technology, though the sight of the classic Aston Martin DB5 far outshines anything new he has to offer.

The story, without reciting the plot verbatim, is relatively interesting, too. MI6 is under fire from the government after important information contained on a hard drive is stolen. ‘M’ is hauled before an Intelligence and Security Committee to answer to her superiors, who call into question the need for the fanciful and romantic notion of spies in a modern world.

Of course, what hooked me in the trailers was the explosion of the MI6 offices. The heart of British intelligence is rocked, but there appears to be little emphasis on this throughout of the film. Rather than being stripped to their bare bones and with limited resources, the explosion seems to have done little to dent MI6’s capabilities. Was the explosion overplayed in the trailers, and underplayed in the film? The bearing of this on the plot directly affected my overall enjoyment.

What also irked me somewhat are the circumstances surrounding the Scottish estate belonging to the Bond family. Whilst it’s conceivable that the Bonds were an English family which moved up north to James’s childhood home, it seems a bit ridiculous that the gamekeeper speaks with a rather implausible English accent.

Is attention to detail in this respect too much to ask for?

Oct 082012

There are three films I’ve really enjoyed this year, all seen at Vue.  Prometheus comes tops, easily, along with Batman: The Dark Knight Rises, an unexpected surprise for me. And then there’s Looper. So says Andrew Watson who mans the Voice celluloid review desk this week.

Looper is a mind-bender, with a script that twists and turns to its conclusion I will try to do its complexity justice without giving away too much of the plot, to help give you the will to stick with it until the very end.
Joe, played by Dark Knight Rises actor Joseph Gordon-Levitt, ekes out an existence as a mercenary of sorts.

He obliterates, from point-blank range, mob hits teleported from the future into the present and is more of a dispatcher than mercenary. He disposes of the bodies and therefore any evidence connecting his criminal employers with these disappearances. One of the corpses is actually Joe’s future self, played by Bruce Willis!

Very early on, I was quite impressed. Maybe I’m a bit dim in this respect, but I was honestly trying to see where Bruce Willis’s character would fit into the storyline. Joe seemed like the bad guy in the trailers, but would he turn out to be the cold-blooded killer, albeit complete with three-dimensional, if not redeemable, traits?

Thankfully, there are varying degrees of good and bad between his present and future selves; neither character, as the scales weigh alternatively up and down throughout the film, seems dastardly enough to make such judgements anything but a close call. All part of the film’s complexity.

All films need lighter moments and Looper has them. Jeff Daniels, best known to me for Dumb & Dumber, plays head minion Abe, who only lords it over Joe and company in the present because his superiors in the future have positioned him there. He doesn’t quite convince in displaying the menacing aspects of his character and is perhaps deliberately cast in the role for that reason, funny being something he does well.

His poor son, some slack-jawed paragon of ineptitude with a large gun, acts as his foil in a way you’d think Daniels’ comic sparring partner of yesteryear, Jim Carrey, could just about replicate. Both, particularly Daniels, are reminiscent of the perennial jobbing actor, desperate to avoid being bullied into typecast roles over and over again.

How can actors like John Goodman, for example, play roles like badass black market gun dealers in Kevin Bacon’s Death Sentence when they’ve already starred as Fred Flintstone? Probably not Goodman’s finest performances, but certainly the two I seem to remember.

Looper also tackles the fate versus freewill argument

I suppose, paradoxically, that the little comic nods here and there give a sense of reality, despite the film being way, way into the realms of science fiction.

Life’s not all doom and gloom, and we don’t inhabit a world where people want to be super-serious and watch films like Inception all the time.

Don’t get me wrong, that’s a fine film but my only reservation about Looper was that it would surely just be another Inception? There are similar, intertwined aspects in both films, but, thankfully, another Inception it isn’t.

Rounding off my attempt to sell you this film, I feel you should know that thematically it tackles some of my favourite subjects, including the nature versus nurture debate.  There’s a chosen one in the film too and Looper also tackles the fate versus freewill argument. Is it destiny to save or wreck humankind, or can conscious efforts be made to change a supposedly inevitable future? The way these two issues are conflated appealed to me immensely.

On the other hand, some of the dialogue is clunky. Swearing should be an art form, not something thrashed through by tongues of unthinking thespians, and there’s a Freudian slip by the scriptwriter implying accidental incest. I’ll let you weather that storm, one of many, lateral and literal; yet one of few that’s aesthetically offensive to the filmgoer’s eye.

Oct 082012

Resident Evil: Retribution, on release at Aberdeen’s Vue Cinema, has its moments, but, latterly, seems to descend into realms of the ridiculous, a departure from the franchise’s previous four outings, writes Andrew Watson.

I hesitate to describe it as a saga, because this film is principally a money-making exercise; one which doesn’t seem to have the decency to stay even remotely faithful to the B-movie but superbly intriguing plots which unfold on your computer screen.
However, this is the most successful and highest-grossing video-game-to-silver-screen adaption ever and one should expect consistency with the four other films in the series.

In that sense, Retribution delivers – plenty of stunts, swords, goring, guns, beasties, beauties and a good dose of apocalyptic foreboding.

The strikingly and unusually beautiful Milla Jovovich plays Alice, a former employee of the Umbrella Corporation who sets her sights on nemesis Wesker, a man to whom, in a perplexing sense, she is grateful. In the previous film, Afterlife, he has injected her with an antidote to the zombifying T-virus that reverses her superhuman abilities. Her chemical and physical reaction to the biohazard is a miracle in the story’s scope of modern medicine yet it helps her become and feel more human. Awww….

Films aren’t films without twists, though, and Alice, captured by Umbrella for the umpteenth time, finds herself in a compromising position which necessitates the help of Wesker, who, since Afterlife, has severed ties with the company. Not exactly the most trusting person at this juncture, Alice resigns herself to a fate in the hands of the perpetual and proverbial devil’s advocate. And so it goes, until the end. Let’s just leave it at that.

When the plot sags, when eyelids are drooping, when your boredom-dependent insanity is fighting and winning against every other impulse in mind, body and soul, the moments of comic relief somehow bring clarity to vision. Without sufficient prescription of hilarity, you’ll be as well signing up for the T-virus and becoming a zombie yourself. Because let’s face it, you are one in all but name

Did this film deliver laughs, then?

To be honest, the film wasn’t that bad.  Believe it or not, this film tricked me into believing it really was absolute crap, rather than decidedly average, and that’s why I’m giving this film a kicking!

You see Michelle Rodriguez already died in the first film. So what the hell was she doing in this, four sequels later, and not as a rotting corpse? “Hah, bet they’re running out of money; using the same actors and actresses to play different characters,” I deducted.


Perhaps giving away too much, even about a bad or decidedly-average film, is unfair, but when a kid, knowing glint in the eye – OK, that last part isn’t true – tells Michelle’s character that her sister isn’t a particularly nice person, you know you’ve been hoodwinked.

Audience? Laughing. Me? Scraping the egg off my face.

The only thing funnier than this, though, is the ending. An ending, tragically, delivered in all seriousness. Think Resident Evil 6: Dungeons, Dragons & Castles.

Seriously, though, if you want an action film with big dollops of horror thrown in the mix, you’ll probably enjoy it. I enjoyed it in that sense. However, if you’re somehow hoping for an overhaul of an already-established franchise, one which has resolved to undo all past wrongs in one fell swoop, and with sublime attention to detail of the video game series, then you can forget about it.