When I started thinking last night about my review of The Canal, I was pondering whether I could really capture the spirit of the the movie’s slow disintegration of reality without delving deep into spoiler territory. See, there’s this sad faced Irish film archivist, played by a guy I had never heard of before a couple of years ago, but who plays an oppressed Jew in The Man in the High Castle and also the Watcher-equivalent in the Charmed reboot, and so basically he’s all over TV now, reliably playing the same sad faced character type (although to be fair the meat behind each of the characters is substantially different). And he learns that his house was the scene of a sensationally grisly century-old murder the same week he receives an emotional shock, which sends him into a haunted (whether literally or metaphorically is at the heart of what the movie is about) downward spiral.
It’s basically treading the same ground as Paranormal Activity, except if it’s not found footage so much as an external camera recording the guy creating the footage, and if it were crossed with a crime drama. Which, that’s not a “crossed with” I personally have seen before, and it’s fair enough. Only, while I was back at the beginning of the first paragraph thinking about how to explain all that in non-spoiler fashion, I came to an unexpected realization, which I can only explain by for sure getting into spoilers: it is that I don’t actually care about any of that, because of a critical flaw at the heart of the film’s conceit.
Thusly, a spoiler space break.
I scrolled to the tail end of my watch list on Shudder last night, because it’s been a minute or three since I watched anything there that wasn’t hosted by Joe Bob Briggs. The movie at the end was conveniently short (since I was halfway thinking about going to sleep early instead) and in English (since I wanted to get my outstanding review handled before the plot got very busy), so perfect placement, and thusly did I watch Sweet, Sweet Lonely Girl, which is one of those recent modern movies with a heavy ’70s aesthetic. Check the poster to your right, for example.
Despite the 20th C gothic setting, which is teenager gets away from her creepy stepdad by taking a summer job as caretaker for her mother’s shut-in sister who lives in a big empty house but refuses to leave her bedroom or for that matter even open the door to be seen by anyone due to agoraphobia and also she has a heart condition, despite all those horror movie trappings, this easily could have been mistaken for an awkward teen lesbian coming of age art film. Because there’s the alluring raven haired beauty at the grocery store, and wait, she’s interested in me, the quiet shy wallflower, as a person? And she’s a free spirit who doesn’t wear a bra when changing clothes into the flapper gear in the basement of the big empty house? And she’s maybe interested in me as more than just a person?
But this is a horror movie, and the shut-in aunt is downright creepy, and long story short there’s more going on than coming of age, and for that matter more going on than a plausibly haunted 20th C gothic empty old house. But like indie arthouse flicks in general, it is definitely more concerned with mood and atmosphere than it is with plot, and the result is I’m not entirely sure whether I was satisfied or not.
But I think so. The final shot of the movie does a lot of heavy lifting, is all I’m saying.
 Which goal, incidentally, I think I accomplished? I missed an early key transition, but since it had been expressed in the plot summary, no confusion!
 The House of the Devil, for example, although that’s more mid ’80s aesthetic.
Jesus, I read The Bonehunters eleven years ago. No wonder I don’t remember things from these books. And then, helpfully, I didn’t say much about it, except for that I really like the book and the series. Facts which remain true, so that’s something.
To be fair to past me, it has gotten functionally impossible to discuss these books without spoilers, though, you know? So, prior to the cut, I can say a few things here.
Thing one: I remain pretty happy with the narration. The original guy was probably better, but they fixed the pacing issues I hated so much, and the new guy learned how to pronounce things, so all in all, it’s gone well.
Thing two: I’m pleased that the timeline jumps are mostly over? Well, that’s an assumption, to be sure, but I think a true one. The first four books alternated between relevant simultaneous timelines (plus one random major flashback), then the fifth book is all flashback to before any other events, and this sixth book is dealing with the consequences of everything that has happened prior, setting up an explosive… man, I don’t know. I remember bits and pieces of the next book, but I know I liked it too, and then to be honest I’m not sure if I ever read the eighth one or not. I definitely forgot the really important climax of this book here, so who knows?
Thing three: no, that was all except for spoilers. So thing three is the cut.
Considering how close I am to the end of the published Powers series, you would think I would not have gone three and a half years since the last one I read. That’s just weird. Even more contrary to expectations (well, mine at least), that gap is not the problem I had with the book.
Powers: Z is… well, okay, they’re all about murders. But this is about the murder of the guy who killed Hitler at the end of World War II. Who you would think would be popular enough to have been mentioned by now, especially since apparently our immortal main character used to hang out with Z during and after the war. But okay, comics retcon all the time, and that would not have caused me to blink if the rest hadn’t been so confusing. Which I cannot really explain without massive spoilers, and I’ll just respond if someone asks instead of assuming they’re needed.
But my problems, at broad strokes, included a) my occasional inability to distinguish between the present and flashbacks to the 1950s, b) caused in part (probably) by those flashbacks not actually being very important from either a plot or (worse) a character development perspective. Other than the basic “look, these guys were mobsters in the 1950s, and the people in the modern day plot are also mobsters” parallelism, there just really wasn’t anything there. Finally, c) the fifth issue in the book ended with some really big dangling plot threads, whereupon the sixth issue covered a completely new murder with no apparent tie to or resolution of the prior story, all for the sake of a last second character-driven cliffhanger. Which I sound negative about, but I would not if I hadn’t ended up feeling so much like I didn’t get a complete story in the service of said cliffhanger that I actually spent some research time seeing if there was a missing issue or a misprint of my book or something. As far as I can tell: there was not.
But all the Amazon reviews of the book are very positive, so maybe it’s just me regardless? I have no idea.