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Outlast 2 (Video Game)



Outlast 2

Outlast 2Developed by Red Barrel Games

Available on PC, PS4, and Xbox One

Rated M for Mature

The original Outlast is one of those games that people wear like a badge of honor. And rightly so. No matter what you think of the general trend of hide-and-seek games, Outlast did its best to turn the fucked up meter to 11. It’s a delightful spectacle of gore and insanity. If you can get through Outlast without being genuinely uncomfortable, then you played a different game.

That being said, I tend to find these kinds of games frustrating. I’m a fan of stealth, but stealth generally has some kind of empowering component to make it all more than just hiding under some beds. Outlast’s gameplay is basically just hiding under beds. There’s no combat, no deployable distraction items, no teleport or detective vision to get you through. It’s just you, a camera, night vision, and a microphone. It makes things tense, but also frequently bullshit. There’s only so long I can huddle in a barrel before I get bored.

With Outlast 2, Red Barrel Games has done their best to simultaneously ramp up the insanity and diversify the gameplay, all while keeping the soul of the game intact. The result is truly and wonderfully terrifying. Clocking in at just over six hours, there’s not a minute that isn’t steeped in tension and horror.

Outlast 2

Oh sick, it’s leper Master Blaster

Playing as cameraman Blake Langermann, you and your wife Lynn are investigating the murder of a Jane Doe. Chartering a helicopter to take you to Supai, Arizona, a blinding light forces you into a crash landing. You quickly recover, but find that your wife is missing and pilot flayed and crucified. Things only get worse from there, as you encounter a fanatical religious cult with a legacy of murder and infanticide. Then there’s the Scalled, a group of diseased wretches who think your death, resurrection, and consumption is the only way to cure their horrible affliction. They are both at odds with the heretics, who are two parts sex demons, three parts pagan beasts, and also want to kill you. That’s not even mentioning the towering monsters like Marta and Laird. Together, they make sure that Blake has a very difficult night.

Outlast 2 is less straightforward than its predecessor, as you’ll swap between the hellish town and flashbacks to your childhood Catholic School. One minute you’ll be crawling through a window, and the next you’re in the labyrinthine sterile halls. It’s unclear exactly what is real and what isn’t, and how you travel between these flashbacks, but that’s part of the charm. And don’t worry, the flashbacks also have monsters that want to kill you.

Outlast 2

Coming soon, to a nightmare near you!

Similar to Outlast, there is a scientific explanation behind what exactly is happening. However, what is and isn’t real isn’t explained entirely this time around. A lot is left up to interpretation, courtesy of the drama being seated in Blake as a character. Throughout the game, Blake is plagued by the looming death of his childhood friend Jessica. The circumstances surrounding her death, as well as Blake’s guilt and involvement, are never completely explained. This unreliable narrator casts the events of the entire game into doubt, which when coupled with the eventual plot twist makes the game stick with you way past the end credits. I finished it about a week ago, and am still talking to some friends about what I think actually happened. This is the kind of symbolism I like, where the imagery adds up to a vague package that you have to unravel yourself.

Outlast 2

I have to give props when poems make me uncomfortable

That package would be perfect if not for the gameplay. This is something that is going to be understandably contentious. As I stated before, I don’t really like these kinds of games. I get why people do, but I prefer being able to shoot my shambling horrors. What Outlast 2 does right is mix up the enemies. Not all of them are initially aggressive. Some of them just want to lie in bed and be left alone. Others crawl around and just nibble at your ankles for hardly any damage. And some are towering monstrosities that tear your nuts out with a pickaxe.

At one point I walked into a town, and found that as long as I just didn’t try to break into anyone’s house they just left me alone. It makes the enemies more than just roadblocks, and more like living beings to which you are the strange and dangerous thing. The character design, story, and world are all fantastically realized. There are so many moments where you can flick on your night vision or microphone and be propelled to the edge of your seat. You’re always on your toes, ready to break into a sprint and lock a door behind you.

Outlast 2

Idk if you’re friendly or not, but I’m just going to hide in this bush just in case.

And yet it still all boils down to the same run-and-hide bullshit that winds up feeling so stale. There were so many times that a pre-scripted spawn required me to learn some exact pattern of waiting that I just got bored during some of chases. This isn’t helped by the most successful tactic being generally to just sprint away. If you try to be clever and hide, you’re either eventually be found or stuck in a loop of trying to sneak past and being seen by some asshole behind a door or corner. Most of the landmark moments in the game I got through by just sprinting, dying, and trying again until I got through. At this point, the game just loses its tension.

Outlast 2

Pictured here: 70% of what you’ll see sneaking around.

That aside, I was beyond impressed by Outlast 2. It’s the perfect blend of viscerally shocking, mentally disturbing, and just plain scary. There were a few jump scares here and there, but actually managed to heighten the tension and not feel cheap. The encroaching shadow hands that vanished when I turned were pure genius. If you love these kinds of games, there is absolutely no way you should miss Outlast 2. If you don’t care for this kind of stealth, still give it a shot. It should be sure to tickle at least one of your many dark and horrible fancies.

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User Rating 3.67 (15 votes)
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Desolation Review – The Joy of Being Rescued and All the Surprises That Come With It



Starring Raymond J. Barry, Brock Kelly, Dominik Garcia-Lorido

Directed by David Moscow

It’s those random, once-in-a-lifetime encounters that only a select few get the chance to experience: when we as regular participants in this wonderful thing known as The Rat Race, stumble across a soul that we’ve only witnessed on the big screen. I’m talking about a celebrity encounter, and while some of the masses will chalk the experience up as nothing more than a passing moment, others hold it to a much larger interior scale…then you REALLY get to know the person, and that’s when things get interesting.

Director David Moscow’s thriller, Desolation follows shy hotel employee Katie (Lorido) and her “fortuitous” brush with Hollywood pretty-boy Jay (Kelly) during one of his stops – the two hit it off, and together they begin a sort of whirlwind-romance that takes her away from her job and drops her in the heart of Los Angeles at the apartment building he resides in. You can clearly see that she has been a woman who’s suffered some emotional trauma in her past, and this golden boy just happens to gallop in on his steed and sweep her off of her feet, essentially rescuing her from a life of mundane activity. She gets the full-blown treatment: a revamped wardrobe, plenty of lovin’, and generally the life she’s wanted for some time.

Things return to a bit of normalcy when Jay has to return to work, leaving Katie to spread out at his place, but something clearly isn’t kosher with this joint. With its odd inhabitants (a very creepy priest played by Raymond J. Barry), even more bizarre occurrences, and when one scared young woman cannot even rely on the protection from the local police, it all adds up to a series of red flags that would have even the strongest of psyches crying for their mothers. What Moscow does with this movie is give it just enough swerves so that it keeps your skull churning, but doesn’t overdo its potential to conclusively surprise you, and that’s what makes the film an entertaining watch.

While Lorido more than holds her ground with her portrayal of a woman who has been hurt in the past, and is attempting to place her faith in a new relationship, it’s Barry that comes out on top here. His performance as Father Bill is the kind of stuff that wouldn’t exactly chill you to the bone, but he’s definitely not a man of the cloth that you’d want to be stuck behind closed doors with – generally unsettling. As I mentioned earlier, the plot twists are well-placed, and keep things fresh just when you think you’ve got your junior private investigator badge all shined up. Desolation is well-worth a look, and really has kicked off 2018 in a promising fashion – let’s see what the other 11 months will feed us beasts.

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Got your eye on that shining movie star or starlet? Better make sure it’s what you really want in life – you know what they say about curiosity.

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Wolf Guy Blu-ray Review – Sonny Chiba As A Werewolf Cop In ’70s Japan



Wolf Guy UK SleeveStarring Sonny Chiba, Etsuko Nami, Kyosuke Machida

Directed by Kazuhiko Yamaguchi

Distributed by Arrow Video

As virtually every American adaptation has proven, translating manga to the big screen is a job best left to Japanese filmmakers. There is an inherent weirdness – for lack of a better term – to their cultural media that should be kept “in house” if there is to be any hope for success. Ironically, the stories are often so fantastical and wildly creative that a big American studio budget would be necessary to fully realize such a live-action vision. But I digress. Back in 1975, Toei Studios (home of Gamera) adapted the 1970 manga series Wolf Guy into a feature of the same name. Starring the legendary Shin’ichi Chiba (a.k.a. Sonny Chiba), who at that time was in his prime, the film combines elements of crime and psychedelic cinema, delivering less of a werewolf film (despite the title suggesting otherwise) and more of a boilerplate crime caper with a cop who has a few tricks up his hairy sleeve. I should stress it is the story that plays fairly straightforward, while the film itself is a wild kaleidoscope of strange characters and confounding situations… mostly.

An unseen killer, known only as “The Tiger”, prowls the streets at night slashing victims to death and leaving behind no trace. Beat cop Akira Inugami (Sonny Chiba) is on the case, and he has an advantage over his fellow brothers in blue: being a werewolf. As the opening credits flashback shows, Akira is the sole survivor of the Inugami clan of werewolves after a slaughter wiped out the rest of his kind. Now, as the last of his brethren, he uses his acute lycanthropic skills, under the auspices of the moon, to track down underworld thugs and solve cases uniquely tailored to his abilities. As the lunar cycle of the moon sees it growing fuller Akira’s powers, too, increase to superhuman levels.

Searching for this mysterious “Tiger”, Akira is led into a subterranean world of clandestine government organizations, nightclub antics, and corrupt politicians. One night, Akira is attacked and taken prisoner by a government research lab that wants to use his blood to create werewolves they can control. Only problem is – which they don’t realize – Akira’s blood cannot be mixed with that of a human; the only end result is death. Miki (Etsuko Nami), a drug user with syphilis, comes to Akira’s aid and proves to be quite useful. She holds a secret that has the potential to vastly change Akira’s world but, first, a showdown with the criminal underbelly looms on the horizon… as does the fifteenth day of the Lunar Cycle, when Akira will be made nearly invincible.

First, some bad news: Sonny Chiba never attains full werewolf status. This is not that movie. Sure, he growls and snarls and sneers and possesses many of the traits of a werewolf but in terms of physical characteristics he more or less remains “human” the entire time. Yes, even during “Lunar Cycle Day 15”, a.k.a. the moment every viewer is waiting for, to see him turn into a wolf. Instead, he just winds up kicking a lot of ass and taking very little damage. To be fair, a grizzled Sonny Chiba is still enough of a formidable presence, but, man, to see him decked out as a full-on kung-fu fighting werewolf would’ve been badass. The film could have done better at tempering expectations because it builds up “Day 15” like viewers are going to see an explosion of fur and flesh, instead it’s just plenty of the latter. Aw, well.

Lack of werewolf-ing aside, the film plays out a bit uneven. The opening offers up a strong start, with The Tiger attack, wily underworld characters being introduced, and a tripped-out acid garage rock soundtrack (which I’d kill for a copy of). But Second Act Lag is a real thing here and many of the elements that may have piqued viewer curiosity in the first act are scuttled, and although the third act and climax bring forth fresh action and a solution to the mystery it also feels a bit restrained. Then again, this is Toei, often seen as a cheaper Toho. Wolf Guy serves as a good introduction to Akira Inugami and his way of life, which makes it a greater shame no sequels were produced.

Presented with a 2.35:1 1080p image, Wolf Guy hits Blu-ray with a master supplied by Toei, meaning Arrow did no restorative work of their own on the picture – and it shows. Japanese film elements, especially those of older films, are often notorious for being poorly housed and feebly restored. This transfer is emblematic of those issues, with hazy black levels, average-to-poor definition, minimal shadow detail, and film grain that gets awfully noisy at times. The best compliment I can give is daylight close-up scenes exhibit a pleasing level of fine detail, though nothing too eye-popping. This is a decidedly mediocre transfer across the board.

The score fares a bit better, not because the Japanese LPCM 1.0 mono mix is a beast but because the soundtrack is so wildly kinetic, exploding with wild garage rock and fuzzy riffs right from the get-go. Dialogue has a slight hiss on the letter “s” but is otherwise nicely balanced within the mix. Subtitles are available in English.

“Kazuhiko Yamaguchi: Movies with Guts” is a September 2016 sit-down with the film’s director, who reflects on his career and working with an icon like Sonny Chiba.

“Toru Yoshida: B-Movie Master” is an interview with Yoshida, a former producer at Toei who oversaw this film and many others.

“Sonny Chiba: A Life in Action, Vol. 1” covers the man’s career up to a point, with the remainder finished on Arrow’s other 2017 Chiba release, Doberman Cop.

A theatrical trailer is also included, as is a DVD copy of the feature.

Special Features:

  • Kazuhiko Yamaguchi: Movies with Guts
  • Toru Yoshida: B-Movie Master
  • Sonny Chiba: A Life in Action, Vol. 1
  • Theatrical trailer
  • Wolf Guy
  • Special Features


While the film might be a bit of a letdown given what is suggested, fans of bizarre Japanese ’70s cinema – and certainly fans of Chiba’s work – should, at the least, have fun with this title.

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Inside (Remake) Review – Is It as Brutal as the Original?



Starring Rachel Nichols Laura Harring

Directed by Miguel Ángel Vivas

While the directing duo of the cringe-inducing and original 2007 French grand guignol thriller Inside have gone on to refurbishments of their own—Julien Maury and Alexandre Bustillo recently helmed a retread of Leatherface’s origin story—their flick now has an American stamp on it with the release of the remake, also titled Inside.

A cheerless Christmas eve sets the stage for heavily-pregnant widow Sarah’s (Rachel Nichols) oncoming ordeal. It’s a frigid and snowy night. She’s got a huge house to herself, following the accidental and violent death of her husband. She wants to sell the home that was meant to hold a family, to forget the nascent memories it once held. But she’s got to ride it out until the baby is born. While Sarah is lonesome, she won’t be alone. She’s got her genial gay neighbor nearby, and her mum is going to come and stay with her for a few days. Oh, and there will be an unexpected visitor too.

When a shadowy, seemingly stranded stranger (Laura Harring) knocks on the door pleading to be let inside, Sarah instinctively balks. She even calls the cops. But the woman leaves and all seems well. Crisis averted. Sarah puts the housekeys in the mailbox outside for Mom, and goes to bed. Big mistake.

Mystery Lady shows up at Sarah’s bedside armed with chloroform, an IV bag, and a case full of sharp-and-pointies (sorry, ’07 fans… those implements do not include a pair of scissors). The horror unfolds and the expected yet lively game of gory cat-and-mouse ensues. Then the tete-a-tete becomes a body-count chiller featuring one shocking moment after another.

Nichols is fantastic in the role, giving it her all. When the original Inside came out eleven years ago, she was starring in another French-helmed horror, P2—also set on Christmas eve—and she stole the show. She does the same here but with a less-intense adversary. Harring’s killer character, unlike her European counterpart, has a lot to say—which takes away from her initially mysterious manner as the minutes tick off. Still, the girl-on-girl action is a welcome change from the usual gender dynamic one sees in these things. Both deserve kudos for their performances.

While Inside isn’t a died-in-the-wool “Hollywood” remake (Miguel Ángel Vivas directs, while [REC] co-creator Jaume Balagueró wrote it) it feels like one. For those who’ve seen the original, there will be mild disappointment (which turns to major letdown at the very end). However, Inside is still a serviceable thriller that’s well-acted, beautifully shot, and effectively scored. Folks coming in fresh, and casual horror fans, will more than likely enjoy it.

  • Inside (Remake)


Inside is a serviceable thriller that’s well-acted, beautifully shot, and effectively scored. Folks coming in fresh, and casual horror fans, will more than likely enjoy it. For those who’ve seen the original, there will be mild disappointment (which turns to major letdown at the very end).

User Rating 1.67 (3 votes)
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