Monday, February 24, 2020

Quick Takes: The Boat, After Midnight, Freaks

With minimal dialogue & one character, The Boat is a clever nautical horror is a cat-&-mouse thriller that only keeps getting more mysterious. It’s a tense ride that won’t please those wanting answers but will be a bounty for those beguiled by the sea’s dark side.



After Midnight is a dreary romance with fits of humor & peculiar music. Also, a creature pops up. It’s a tonal mishmash that rests on whether you find the two affable leads charming & buy into their wine-swirling, rural-living, karaoke-loving hangs. As horror it doesn’t satisfy.


Freaks starts as a mysterious but off-putting captive child drama then frustratingly treks into spectacularly ambitious yet all too familiar sci-fi territory. There is excellent world building, a strong cast, and a forceful finish that soars in to save the day.

Friday, February 14, 2020

Illusions of the Passed at Winchester Mystery House


Valentine’s Day can be a horror so attending a seance at the Winchester Mystery House seems like a good fit. Master magician and apparitionist Aiden Sinclair performed what is called a “theatrical seance” which unlike the seemingly traditional seance where people sit around a table, hold hands and talk to the dead, an audience sitting in near darkness participates in demonstrations of “mentalism” such as clairvoyance, ESP, and in this case, tarot reading. Everyone in the room was asked to close their eyes, concentrate on a ghost standing beside Mr. Sinclair and accept messages from him. It’s these messages Mr. Sinclair harnesses for answers.





He did produce bewildering results in prescribing tarot cards picked at random to complete strangers. It was quite the spectacle and yet not quite what I was expecting (parlor tricks, fog machines, and projections). This felt like a much more real experience. Yes, it’s entertainment but I could not figure out the trickery involved, and it made me a believer.

Photo courtesy of Britta Peterson.


After the seance, a limited number of high-rolling guests where treated to a private investigation of the Winchester House. Various experiments were held in two rooms, including a laser matrix to detect ghostly activity in the Daisy Bedroom below, and a spirit box to listen to words hidden in the static (the Estes method) in the Seance room. Some guests participated in these experiments while listening to stories from Mr. Sinclair’s previous investigations.

Photo courtesy of Britta Peterson.


My friend Britta Peterson of Eerie Elegance pointed out the respectful and compassionate approach Mr. Sinclair has to paranormal investigations. In talking about the tourist destinations like the Winchester House many guests don't seem to respect the spirits adding, “How would you like it if so many people came through your house demanding you do tricks?” Mr. Sinclair prefers to listen, hear what they might have to say, and perhaps even help those lost souls.

Photo courtesy of Britta Peterson.


Aiden Sinclair and his Illusions of the Passed series explores other haunted places including the Queen Mary and The Stanley Hotel. For more information and tickets to upcoming events, visit illusionsofthepassed.com and follow them on Facebook, Instagram & Twitter.

Photo courtesy of Britta Peterson.


Editor's Note: Gracias to Britta Peterson for contributing photos and information to this post! And you can deduce, she was a high-roller. Please follow her on Instagram and Facebook for comprehensive recaps!

Feliz día de San Valentín