Friday, October 27, 2023

‘Talk to Me’ horror flick a bit overwhelming

By Matt Pascarella

Rated: R
Runtime: 1 hour, 34 minutes

At a party, Mia and her friends Jade and Hade’s brother Riley play a game where you hold an embalmed hand and say,

“Talk to me.”

Your body becomes possessed momentarily and what or who you see is anybody’s guess. When things get out of hand after Riley plays, Mia must find a way to save him, all while having visions of her own. This was an OK horror movie, but I found it complex and kind of busy, with almost too many intense things happening.

“Talk to Me” stars Sophie Wilde, Alexandra Jensen, Joe Bird, Miranda Otto, Zoe Terakes, Marcus Johnson, and Ari McCarthy.

At a big party, Cole (McCarthy) is looking for his brother. When he eventually finds him, his brother has marks on his body and says,

“They’re inside me.”

After this some very serious stuff happens.

Mia (Wilde), who recently lost her mother, convinces her friend Jade (Jensen) to go to a party. Jade’s brother, Riley (Bird) goes with them. At the party, Mia plays a game that has gone viral where you hold an embalmed hand and say,

“Talk to me. I invite you in.”

Mia becomes momentarily possessed and sees visions of dead individuals. You need to stop after 90 seconds otherwise the spirit will stay with you. Things at this party get creepily out of hand.

The next night Mia wants to try it again and this time, Riley plays and things get very strange and grotesque. On a side note, this is a very violent, bloody scene which took me by surprise.

Riley is injured and Mia gets blamed. Mia realizes that there is still some sort of presence with her; she sees visions of her mother in mirrors.

She wants to see her mother again so bad that she plays the game on her own.

In the hospital, Riley gets worse. This scene is pretty gross, so be forewarned.

Jade and Mia go to talk to Cole about how to save Riley. Mia has a plan about how to bring him back.

Mia continues to see her mother who has a warning for her.

This is a dark, heavy at times, gruesome horror movie. A lot happens that, as much as I wanted to, just couldn’t get into. I will say, it was good, but was more creepy than scary and may have held more gravitas on the big screen. I also found it to be a little confusing. There were good and evil versions of people and sometimes, more toward the end, it was hard to figure out who was who. The end left me with questions. On the plus side, if you are looking for a reasonably decent movie to watch on Halloween, this might be the one for you – if you’re interested. Otherwise, I’d recommend something else like “Smile” or “Us.”

Only one flickering candle up.

Now available to rent. <

Friday, October 13, 2023

Netflix’s ‘Happiness for Beginners’ a feel-good story about challenging yourself

By Matt Pascarella

Rated: TV-14
Runtime: 1 hour, 43 minutes

Helen and Mike have been divorced for six years and Mike is having a harder time letting go. He calls and texts Helen more frequently than she would like. Helen decides she needs to challenge herself and signs up for a wilderness survival course, where they hike part of the Appalachian Trail. Along the way she learns more about what she is capable of and even runs into an old friend of her brother’s, who she may have underestimated.

“Happiness for Beginners” stars Ellie Kemper, Luke Grimes, Nico Santos, Blythe Danner, Ben Cook, Shayvawn Webster, Julia Shiplett, Gus Birney, Esteban Benito, and Alexander Koch.

Helen (Kemper) sits alone at a party while groups of people dance around her. She gets a text from her ex-husband, Mike from whom she has been divorced for six years.

Helen is planning a wilderness survival tour of part of the Appalachian Trail because she feels she is stuck in a rut and wants to stop breaking promises to herself.

At this party, she runs into Jake (Grimes), her brother’s best friend. Jake says he remembers when she used to be fun. She insists she’s still fun.

Helen has experienced a lot of grief and loss over her life.

When she starts orientation for the hike, it has a real motley crew of hikers. Their trail leader, Beckett (Cook) is more than a little intense. Helen realizes that one of the hikers is Jake.

Starting out, Beckett points out a lot of the things Helen does wrong.

As the hike goes on (it’s multiple days and nights) Jake and Helen bond. After more time, Jake admits a hard truth to her.

When a hiker gets injured and breaks their leg, it’s Helen who helps him and makes her way back to basecamp to alert the rest of the hikers and Beckett.

She heads home a little better than when she left. But what about Jake? They had a connection during their time hiking the Appalachian Trail, but what does all that mean? Could Helen have underestimated Jake? What’s next?

After my last review, I was looking for something lighter and more upbeat and I definitely found it. This is based on the book of the same name by Catherine Center. I should have noticed from the movie’s poster this was a romantic comedy. However, it’s not an overly lovey-dovey movie. It can be heavy at times, but I found it very positive, uplifting, while being a bit funny, too. The soundtrack is a good one. Aside from the romance aspect of the movie, the characters who go on this adult hike of the Appalachian Trail are looking to make a change or prove something to themselves. They discover people are more than the sum of their parts. I’d recommend this movie.

Two water bottles up.

Now streaming on Netflix. <

Friday, October 6, 2023

Windham Center Stage Theater begins preparing for Christmas production

By Masha Yurkevich

With the production of "The Importance of Being Earnest" closing last month, the Windham Center Stage Theater (WCST) has shifted gears and is now starting to prepare for their Christmas production, “Every Christmas Story Ever Told (And Then Some)” which will run from Dec. 8 through Dec. 17.

As a show with only three roles, this new production promises to be one of the highlights of the year for the theatrical troupe.

“Three actors have decided that instead of doing yet another production of “A Christmas Carol” they are going to tell another Christmas story… or rather, all of them,” says Mel Quackenbush, Vice President of the WCST Board of Directors and the director for the “Every Christmas Story Ever Told (And Then Some)” presentation. “Rudolf, Frosty, even George Bailey make an appearance in 90 minutes of hilarity and hijinks.”

Quackenbush says that this production is special because it has a small cast which is always fun and takes traditional stories that we all know and love and turns them on their head.

The roles are very fluid and adaptable to be played by anyone of any age, race, gender, or physical ability, she said.

Loosely speaking there is one actor who plays as the “serious actor” and who simply wants to do their planned production of “A Christmas Carol” and their two friends who are doing their best to do anything else, Quackenbush said.

This show has not been cast yet. In-person auditions will be held this week and Zoom auditions can be arranged by contacting WCST either through our social media or by emailing the theater at

“This show will have an eight-week rehearsal schedule, which is fairly standard,” says Quackenbush. “The biggest challenge for a show like this is making sure the chemistry of all the actors is very strong. With such a small cast if one actor is even a little off on the timing of their lines or misses their mark it really shows so the other actors have to be very adept at covering each other’s slips while making sure the show stays quick-witted and on track.”

Quackenbush says that everyone should attend this production because it’s going to be a great time with 90 minutes of comedy and shenanigans the whole family can enjoy. And it even includes a sing-along of Christmas songs.

Tickets for “Every Christmas Story Ever Told (And Then Some)” are $15 for adults and $12 for children and seniors. The show will be at the Windham Town Hall, located at 8 School Road. Dates are Dec. 8 to Dec. 17 on Fridays, Saturdays, and Sundays. The Friday and Saturday shows are at 7 p.m. and the Sunday shows are at 2 p.m.

According to Quackenbush, tickets will be available on the WCST website, which will open for presale during the week of Thanksgiving. Tickets may also be purchased at the door.

Following this production, WCST will stage the children’s show “James and the Giant Peach Jr.” in March 2024, to be followed by “The Music Man” which will run in May 2024. More information about those productions will be available soon.

“We believe that theater is for everyone,” says Quackenbush. “If you’ve been acting your whole life or if you’ve never set foot on a stage before but always wanted to, we would love to be the place where you can do that. We are working diligently to be a place of joy and inclusivity. Don’t want to be on stage but still want to work in the theater? We are always looking for volunteers, props masters, set builders, sound designers and the like. Reach out, we can find somewhere for you to be.” <