The Kraken Wakes...or does it?
posted on Wednesday, 26 May 2010 @ 06:51 | permalink
Anyone who has resided in (and many who have visited) our fair city of Portsmouth will recall the wonderful public house named The Registry, or, to it's many loyal fans and customers, The Reg. More recently, they may recall the closure of said pub. And it's replacement, The Kraken Wakes. Although very much in the 'Save the Reg!' camp, I decided to withold judgement on the quite frankly rubbishly named new venue until I'd seen it with my own eyes.
However, today I paid The Kraken (the Krak?) my first visit, after handing in a lengthy piece of coursework and fancying a bite to eat and a quick drink. Upon entering, my first obervation was just how dead the place was - granted, The Reg wasn't often bursting at the seams with bodies at 12.20pm, but it was often populated with students having a mid-day chat over a cheap burger. The new decor is, quite frankly, overdone and fussy and the music playing in the background was some dull minimalist sounds that sounded like the worst kind of elevator music.
We decided to ignore this negative start and check out the food menu. £4.95 for a burger, seems like a good deal. However, when said burger comes with no bun, no chips....basically, a meat patty with a little bit of rabbit food on the side. Anything else was around the £7-£7.50 mark...for a burger and chips. Not including a drink. Ridiculous. It's a pub in a student area, not a restaurant. When a beer and burger can be purchased at nearby pubs such as The Fleet (which seems to have taken on a lot of the 'old Reg crowd') and Wetherspoons for under a fiver, it's a wonder this place sells anything...
Now, I know I haven't been there on a busy night, and all the fanboys and girls will bleat on about the 'atmosphere being amazing, you can't get that in the day!', but I also picked up a programme of events happening throughout April/May. With the exception of an oddly out of place metal night and Southsea Mafia live band/DJ night Awesome Noise (the only reason I'd visit this pub again), all the music events seem to gravitate towards indie/trendy types - the old days of hearing all sorts played through the jukebox is long gone. Previous DJs played alternative and rock - but clearly the venue's preferred clientele has changed radically.
I wanted to like it, I really did. The building itself is gorgeous, and in a brilliant location. Perhaps I'm just not enough of a hipster, as overall, the Kraken Wakes reminds me of some pretentious indie bar in a 'trendy' central London borough. However. We are not in Soho, but a heavily student populated area of Portsmouth. Like many I loved the Reg, but this is not complaining for the sake of complaining. I'm not adverse to change - if the place had been somewhere more welcoming and relevant to student budget, then perhaps I would have discovered a new favourite haunt.
Verdict? Dear Kraken, go back to sleep. Not much love, Milly.
The Stepfather (McCormick, 2009)
posted on Thursday, 6 May 2010 @ 03:44 | permalink
In contrast to the truckloads of identikit slasher flicks bombarding our screens, The Stepfather
gives a real sense of suspense building - reminiscent of 2007's Disturbia (Caruso). The premise behind the film plays on the belief that one's home is a place of safety, and the fact that this safe haven can be infiltrated by a killer is extremely unsettling. Incidentally, the film is based upon the true story of John List, who killed his family then disappeared - we discover 'David' has done this on multiple occasions, in his bid to find a family who don't 'disappoint' him.
Another difference to the common slasher movie, which are often ambiguous of the killer's identity, is that we know from the outset that 'David' is a killer - thanks to a particularly disturbing scene in which 'David', at the time going by the name Grady Edwards, prepares to leave his current residence. As he casually makes coffee and toast to the perfectly chosen sounds of Silent Night, the camera slowly tilts to a shot of a young boy sat at the kitchen table...a normal family scene...except that the boy is dead. The film's attention to small details, such as 'David' rearranging the children's toys before he leaves reinforces his psychotic persona.
Walsh plays the 'evil stepfather' perfectly, showing a happy, family man mask when he is interacting with the Hardings, but (with particular credit to the cinematography), when he turns away we see his face mutate into the monster he truly is. The opening revelation creates a high dramatic tension - we see the entire family (except Michael, that is) taken in by this stranger - and from this, we notice his little slips. The fine subtleties in his facial expressions and the build up of his anger and sociopathic nature creates a powerful tension.
The Stepfather is a truly disturbing movie - and McCormick, although having only one other feature film to his name (although extensive work in television), seems to have a knack for creating a movie that is suspenseful, disturbing, and actually genuinely scary - without resorting to blood, gore or cheap thrills.