1 June 2018



'Don't just go out and get another job in another repair shop. You're better than that.'

'Anyone who's not nice to you does not deserve you.'

'Don't just look into the void. Let the void look into you...'

"A glitchcore horror love story that will not only thrill genre fans but titillate lovers of cinema in general."
- Ryan Larson, Diabolique Magazine

Exclusively on Shudder May 24th

This is an interesting one. You know the way that hipsters have revived the whole board games thing, playing Snakes and Ladders, Ludo, Monopoly and Jenga in their little hipster coffee-houses while they sip their fancy coffee in tiny cups?

Well, this is a film about arcade machines and it's just occurred to me that it's funny that the hipsters haven't cottoned onto these yet as their next stage in the search for all things desirably retro and chic.

Mind you, the machines in this film are haunted to f**k, which might make them a little less desirable in the eyes of the twirly-moustachioed, tight-trousered ones. Anyway, it was just a thought. Let's discuss the movie, ahem.

Os- short for Osgood- is a good-looking young male in his twenties. He works in Jerry's shop repairing and restoring old arcade machines, sometimes even Frankenstein-ing whole new machines together out of the plundered parts of knackered machines. As he says himself, he 'brings the dead back to life.' Doesn't that sound ultra-cool?

I wonder if Os has a touch of autism or Asperger's Syndrome about him. He's super-intelligent as regards the computer games he works with and has even written his own game. He just needs a graphic artist to help him with the arty side of it.

On the other hand, his social skills need some serious work doing to them. When a girl chats him up in the town's one bar, he doesn't exactly give her any help. But this Tess one, she's a pushy chick. She talks him into a date, or at least an arrangement to 'hang out'- yep, this is so that guys don't get scared and run off- the next day.

While Os is being railroaded into a relationship by Tess, his boss Jerry is being killed in the shop by a down-and-out he's had to shoo away from the place before. This is on the same day that Jerry's told Os that the shop is going to have to shut down because, well, no-one plays those old arcade machines any more. 

This is where the hipsters could jump in and save the day, lol. I'm only surprised that they haven't already. Crushing on retro arcade machines is right up their street. I only hope that that street has enough coffee stops/shops with free Wi-Fi on it. 

What's that you're asking me? When will I stop my insensitive hipster-bashing? Short answer? Never. Not until they shave off their silly facial hair and start wearing normal slacks again and leave the board games where they belong. That's right, in the charity shops, lol.

Anyway, this is about the time that Os notices that one of the machines in the shop- that's suddenly appeared there out of nowhere, I might add- is acting all funny like. Drawn to its white eye on the black screen, he feels compelled to play the game it holds. 

Don't ask me what kind of game it is because it's all gibberish to me. A few shapes start moving around the screen, it's that kind of game. I loathe video games. I bought a new little Nokia phone the other day because my old one died and the salesman was all, like: 'It comes with one free game...!' Needless to say, I didn't wet myself with excitement.

The first time Oz plays the mysterious game, he pukes his guts up on the shop floor. Good job the boss isn't here, he's probably thinking. He thinks that Jerry has gone away for two weeks, so it's all good. Sex with the clingy, cloying Tess, with her pink glittery phone and her imaginary writing career, takes his mind off things for a bit.

Tess is the sort of girl who's so relieved to have found herself a man that she'll do anything to keep him. Subconsciously, however, she'll constantly do the kind of thing that puts him off, like buying him a giant teddy bear with the words 'Wuv you this much' suspended between his outstretched arms and bringing it into his place of work so all his workmates can have a look. And a colossal snigger, too...

If the guy hasn't phoned or texted in a little while, she'll have a panic attack, imagining all kinds of scenarios but the right one, the one in which he's so busy he simply hasn't given her a thought. That one never occurs to us chicks. We don't even want to know about it.

She'll go rushing round to his place anyway, only to find him happily tinkering away with his motorbike/ham radio/Playstation and looking up at her in utter bewilderment when she screams at him in front of his Mum and Dad: 'I thought you were DEAD! I pictured you lying in a ditch somewhere with your head split open...!' Yep, that's women. That's what we do. Every time without fail, lol.

Tess becomes increasingly antsy as Os pulls back from her, drawn constantly to the arcade machine with the unblinking white eye. One night he has an actual sexual experience with it. The ejaculation metaphors abound as Oz pushes his finger into that tight, oozing little hole. It's a cross between hilarious and visually very clever indeed.

Why would he want to have sex with a human female when he can shag a machine? A machine ain't gon' ask you to 'cuddle' them or 'talk' to them when you've, ahem, shot your load. A machine won't mind if you break wind when you come, and it won't expect you to be 'up' again and ready for Round Two in five minutes. A machine can- and will- wait for your pleasure till you're good and ready. Darn tootin.'

If you ask me, Tess has some serious competition in the form of this sexy machine. When Os tells her on the phone that he's feeling crook, she offers to dash round to his with soup. Soup. For f**k's sake. She's letting the side down badly there.

What she should ask herself is this. Would he do the same for her? Would he dash round to her gaff with a flask of Knorr's Finest Broth if he thought she was feeling sick? I seriously doubt it. It just never occurs to guys to do shit like that. Why should the dozey Os be any different?

Tess comes rushing round anyway, without the soup, to Jerry's shop where the down-and-out with the mad hair has already offed the boss and attacked Os, with his endless mad talk of the machine. The game on the machine is 'a door to the infinite,' you see. And 'in the infinite, all things are not just possible. They're inevitable.' All that Os has to do is to 'break the sequence. Be the man I never could be...' Okaaaaaaaaaay, then...

And then Tess arrives at the shop, alone, and with the unblinking white eye of the machine drawing her close from across the room. The machine is calling her. Os has told her to stay away from it but she doesn't give a thought to his cautionary warnings. She's gonna play that game if it kills her. It's calling her, drawing her in. 'Bye-'bye Tessie Bear...? We'll see...

This is a good smart little sci-fi/horror film that you'll enjoy, especially if you have a thing for 'Eighties horror movies about haunted machinery and stuff like that. I found the relationship stuff the most fun and interesting part about it myself.

A relationship that goes as fast as Os's and Tess's does in the beginning is nearly always doomed. You're in love straightaway, but six months down the line- or less, it depends- you're ready to do murder if he leaves the milk out of the fridge even one more time. Been there, done that, lol. They'll find out the hard way. Is there any other way? Really, I hadn't noticed...!

Exclusively on Shudder May 24th


Sandra Harris is a Dublin-based novelist, film blogger and movie reviewer. She has studied Creative Writing and Film-Making. She has published a number of e-books on the following topics: horror film reviews, multi-genre film reviews, womens' fiction, erotic fiction, erotic horror fiction and erotic poetry. Several new books are currently in the pipeline. You can browse or buy any of Sandra's books by following the link below straight to her Amazon Author Page:


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