Mapleton Mail

Navigating Through Evidence Fog

Convicting A Murderer - Episode 7

CONVICTING A MURDERER's episode seven, titled "The Vial of Blood," brings forth some new questions, boldly venturing into the mist-enshrouded path the previous six episodes have charted. This narrative is more than just a whisper in the dark; it’s a booming voice shaking the grim reality surrounding the Steven Avery case, now reverberating louder with ominous echoes. Each episode seems to build on the previous, but this seemed to be the most significant turning point with some hardened evidence that is hard to look the other way from.

A Debt Owed, a Debt Paid

The Covenant

If you’re in the market for an action-filled, military propaganda-fueled, white knuckle, sphincter-clinching, thrill-ride war movie, then you should probably look elsewhere. While there are firefights and explosions in THE COVENANT, what you’ll mostly find are incredibly intense moments, nuanced and deep human characters, and an up close and personal view of the Hell that millions of Afghan people have experienced for the last 20 years, and still experience today under the control of the ruthless Taliban. Action takes a back seat to an emotional, thought-provoking, and humanistic subject in this grueling picture from Director Guy Ritchie.

Battling Goliaths in the Concrete Jungle

There Goes the Neighborhood

Dive into a world where the stories of resilience amidst towering concrete giants come to life! In THERE GOES THE NEIGHBORHOOD, filmmaker Ian Phillips sweeps us off our feet and right into the midst of New York City's Lower East Side, focusing his lens on a rich and textured landscape where resistance and defiance against corporate behemoths become the narrative. The right to live, the right to prosper, and the right to have your voice heard are at the heart of this story.

Addiction Shadows Darken Laughter

The Road Dog

Join this journey through the back alleys of the comedy scene and the complex emotional and relational dynamics in THE ROAD DOG. In this stirring tale, the accomplished Doug Stanhope embodies Jimmy Quinn, a seasoned comedian wading through the treacherous waters of personal demons and familial entanglements, notably, a strained relationship with his son, David (Des Mulrooney.) The story navigates through an ocean of emotion, showcasing a tear-jerking narrative and providing a raw, behind-the-scenes look into the veiled vulnerabilities and challenges within the comedy profession.

Shadows Whisper Unseen Terrors

Mercy Road

Venture with me down MERCY ROAD, a production that invites its audience into a surreal yet darkly potent narrative. Director John Curran introduces us to Tom (Luke Bracey), a disturbed father navigating a treacherous mental and physical terrain to shield his daughter, Ruby, from imminent threats.

A Tale of Friendship, Fear, and Fortitude

RWBY: Volume 9

Volume 9’s tale unfolds under the watchful eye of Rooster Teeth, which found its nest within the cinematic empire of Warner Bro. Discover. Entering the RWBY universe for the first time, my anticipation was like a blank script awaiting the words of a world I had never ventured into. Please remember that this is the only portion of the RWBY universe I have seen. The series, named after the initials of its vibrant characters - Ruby Rose, Weiss Schnee, Blake Belladonna, and Yang Xiao Long, has traversed a long path from a humble idea in 2013 to a storytelling leviathan. With nine volumes and a cascade of comic and manga adaptations, the narrative allure it presents is quite irresistible. The series delivers a canvas rich in emotional hues and adventurous streaks.

Unlikely Friendships Amidst Relentless Warfare

The Beast (Beast of War)

Drive headfirst into the murky and tumultuous waters of 1980s Afghanistan as THE BEAST unchains a dramatic saga where the Soviet military might clash with unwavering Afghan grit. The lens, albeit American, transports audiences to a world where allegiance, ethics, and survival battle in a dangerous back and forth. What comes from the conflict is a narrative as unyielding as the rugged terrains it's set against, offering a vantage point to dissect imperial tendencies from a safe yet emotionally charged distance.

Synthesizing Narratives of Bold Beats

Sisters with Transistors

The unfolding narrative of SISTERS WITH TRANSISTORS is like a musical score that transcends mere auditory delight and delves into realms of history, gender, and innovation. Through the lens of director Lisa Rovner, we are granted a backstage pass into the life and times of pioneering women who stormed the gates of the electronic music kingdom, a realm often misperceived as a boys-only club.

Gruesome Secrets Lurk in Hallowed Art Halls

End of Term

Mat Menony's END OF TERM unveils a dreadful tale where the calm and poised hallways of the esteemed Ford Barrington Art School bleed into a realm of haunting dread and eerie revelations. The movie doesn’t just haunt with its horror-thriller tag ‘DEATH IS ART’ but plunges deep into the murky waters of an artist’s psyche entwined with a haunting legacy stretching back half a century. It’s not merely about the ghosts that lurk in the shadows but also the dark lore of Garth Stroman (Ivan Kaye,) a twisted artist of yore, hanging ominously over the aspiring artists as they race towards the day of their dreams—Graduation Day.

Scotland's Shadows Stretch Over Sinister Story

When Darkness Falls

A journey into WHEN DARKNESS FALLS is like an unexpected rain shower on a seemingly sun-filled day. It begins with a gentle sprinkle of suspense, steadily escalating into a storm of terror. Nathan Shepka, the director of this excursion, alongside co-writer Tom Jolliffe, strives to weave a narrative that balances the serene beauty of the Scottish Highlands with the sinister undertones of an unforeseen peril.

Familial Shadows Linger in the Unseen’s Halls

The Unseen

THE UNSEEN brings us into the cold, disciplined embrace of the Olson household, a place where strict patriarch Dan Olson, portrayed with grit by William Mark McCullough, lays a heavy legacy upon the shoulders of his young law graduate son, Tommy Olson (RJ Mitte, Breaking Bad.) Vincent Shade, the director of this cinematic ship, opens a narrative window into a world where eerie occurrences mesh with the mundane corridors of courtroom drama and family dynamics.

Embracing the Eerie: a Real Estate Adventure

SurrealEstate S1 & S2

Venturing into the enigmatic hallways of SURREALESTATE, we find ourselves on a fantastical adventure that oscillates between the realms of the real and the spectral. The series explores the narrative of a peculiar real estate agency, the Roman Agency, that has carved a niche in dealing with haunted properties. The first and second seasons take us through this agency's eerie yet amusing exploits with a refreshing gust of humor mingled with horror.

A Soirée Spirals Into Emotional Abyss

The Send-Off

Dive into a deep end with a narrative splash in THE SEND-OFF, where the glitter and glamour of Hollywood serve as the backdrop to a heartening tale. Led by the character Dan Richards (Zachary Ray Sherman,) the story steers through a night of unexpected confrontations amidst what initially starts as a friendly gathering at his lavish abode. But, as the evening progresses, exchanges twist into revelations of grim realities. The transition from cheerful to something far darker demonstrates the striking potential of independent filmmaking and its essence of emotive resonance.

A Chilling Narrative of Love and Fear


STORM brings a unique creativity, affirming that 8 minutes can craft an emotional and haunting narrative. As the story unfolds, you are whisked into a peculiarly ominous tale. The grim take on today's relationships encased in an early 2000s horror and thriller ambiance will intrigue viewers. In the stormy heart of this narrative lie our protagonists, Isabelle (Tara Raani) and Malcolm (Justin Tanks,) who are entangled in a reality that's as unsettling as the storm brewing outside their Los Angeles dwelling.

Coaching Duo Courts Controversy and Camaraderie

Warrior Strong

Amidst the bouncing basketballs and screeching sneakers, WARRIOR STRONG tackles a broad range of emotions, ideals, and redemption, resonating well beyond the echo of the game whistle. We step into the sneakers of Bilal Irving, portrayed by Jordan Johnson-Hinds, whose professional basketball voyage veers into a storm, eventually casting him ashore on the familiar grounds of his former high school. The tale unfolds as he assumes the mantle of a coach, steering young hoop dreams amidst the community, camaraderie, and old grievances.

Authentic Performances Enhance Narrative

Gamma Rays (Les Rayons Gamma)

Experience the voyage into the lives of young hearts called GAMMA RAYS, which showcases a graceful blend of humor, drama, and genuine exploration of multicultural realities. With the lively backdrop of modern-day Canada, the film ventures into the complexities of growing up amidst a diverse cultural setting, illuminating the potential beauty and struggle interwoven within such a framework.

Village Skepticism Unleashes Power Dynamics

Mami Wata

In MAMI WATA, a tranquil coastal village named Iyi becomes the serene yet emotionally turbulent land where tradition and modernity cross swords. Under the direction of CJ "Fiery" Obasi, the film gracefully uncovers a narrative filled with spiritual undertones and earthly dilemmas. With black and white cinematography, the film resembles a visual art gallery come to life.

Chasing Shadows in a Grim Metropolis

Limbo (Zhì chi)

Stepping into the darkened streets of Hong Kong as depicted in LIMBO, we are invited into a haunting chase shrouded in the monochrome palette of sin and virtue. The grim tale unfolds fervently, directed with elegance by Soi Cheang. Our protagonists, a world-weary detective Cham Lau (Ka-Tung Lam) and his inexperienced partner, dive headlong into a labyrinth of danger and desperation. This is no ordinary case, as they're on the trail of a remorseless serial killer whose deeds leave the city in fear.

College Antics and Adult Angst Unfold

The Re-Education of Molly Singer

THE RE-EDUCATION OF MOLLY SINGER is something we’ve all seen before, but that doesn’t mean it's terrible. The film carries a whimsical charm, launching audiences into a comedy-infused expedition from courtroom antics to the college campus. Our protagonist, Molly Singer (played with delightful perfection by Britt Robertson), navigates the unsteady waters of professional life, finding herself steering back to the halls of her alma mater. Don’t be mistaken; this movie isn’t the next cinematic masterpiece, but it doesn’t claim to be. It’s a fun and mostly light-hearted comedy meant to entertain.

The Classic Anthology Movie Becomes an Anthology Series

Creepshow: The First Three Seasons

The original two CREEPSHOW films were a dream project for a group of horror icons led by George Romero and Stephen King. The films brought the classic EC horror comics to life in film. Each anthology film featured several shorts written, directed, and often starring icons of horror. The films are highly stylized, with each segment ending in comic book style with vivid colors, comic art, and over the top lighting, and Dutch angles. Both films featured some fantastic short stories and, yes, a few shorts that don’t quite land. That’s kind of the nature of an anthology film or series.

Dark Comedy Meets Crime in Artistic Showdown

The Kill Room

THE KILL ROOM takes on a bold venture as it dives into the clandestine realms where the illustrious world of art collides with the gritty substrates of criminal undertakings. With the sprawling and often murky world of New York City's art circuit as its backdrop, this narrative endeavors to thread humor amidst the thrilling contours of a criminal storyline. As viewers, we are ushered into a maze where art and crime are not just bedfellows but accomplices in an intriguing narrative dance.

Conjectures, Courtrooms, and Candace Owens

Convicting A Murderer - Episode 6

CONVICTING A MURDERER rides the wave of modern-day investigative docuseries, but it navigates through an ocean murkier and more enigmatic than most. The series kickstarts its journey with a profound dive into the shadowy narrative surrounding Steven Avery's case. With its inaugural episode setting the ground, the sixth episode titled "The Key & the License Plate Call" thrusts the narrative into a whirlpool of skepticism and unnerving revelations.

Bertolino Is in It for the Boos


On a brisk New England autumn evening in 1991, David Bertolino opened the gates of his Berlin, Massachusetts farm to hundreds of creatures of the night. Fear fanatics from miles around queued up for the Spooky Hayrides at what would soon be known as Spooky World, the first Halloween theme park. Monsters and zombies waited in the shadows to terrorize their willing and captive prey. The rest is the stuff of legend.

Adams’ Evolution: a Gruesome Narrative Arc

Where the Devil Roams/The Deeper You Dig

In indie horror, there is a deep competition to stand out and do something others haven’t done. The genre is packed with countless imitations, all fighting for their spot in the light. Yet, The Adams family steered their storytelling ship through its murky waters, bringing unsettling and touchingly real tales to the forefront of the festival circuit and beyond. Dive in as we explore two distinct chapters of their dark universe. So, little did I know that last year, when I watched this indie horror film called HELLBENDER, I was in for a much deeper exploration. I had never heard of The Adams Family (the all-in-one production company family) and their lofty goals in the filmmaking world. They star, direct, write, and produce their indie horror films and have made a name for themselves multiple times. HELLBENDER (see my review linked above) was their second prominent feature, and I saw their names pop up again for an upcoming festival for WHERE THE DEVIL ROAMS; needless to say, I was excited; HELLBENDER showed so much of what they had to offer. So I immediately reached out to get a screener for their newest venture; in doing so, I was honored with a screener of THE DEEPER YOU DIG, their 2019 premiere (there were a few titles before, but it seems this was really “the start.”) My double feature review of their first and most current films follows, and my thoughts on the family and where they are headed in the community.

Unmasking Silence of a Prestigious Household

A Silence (Un Silence)

Welcome aboard the intense narrative journey that is A SILENCE. The Schaars, a once revered family living the quiet suburban life, find their world rocked as whispers of a disturbing nature find their way through the hushed corridors of their dignified home. François Schaar, the patriarch and a lawyer by profession, is now the centerpiece of rumors that threaten to fracture the family. As the veil of silence gets pierced by Astrid and their teenage children, Caroline and Raphael, a quest for truth spirals into an arena of legal battles and societal judgment.

Unraveling Creativity in Countdown to Chaos

The Last Movie Ever Made

In the first scene of THE LAST MOVIE EVER MADE, I was instantly reminded of a personal favorite in what I can only assume is an homage to THE HITCHHIKER'S GUIDE TO THE GALAXY. Under the discerning lens of Nathan Blackwell, this saga embarks on a path less traveled. It takes us on a whimsical journey different from the typical apocalyptic stories, ushering the audience into a realm where human aspirations dare challenge the ticking doomsday clock.

Resurrecting Rome’s Old Ghosts


Amidst the somber overtones of ambition and corruption, SUBURRA unfolds a sinister narrative in contemporary Rome, shedding light on a dangerous playing field where political dreams intertwine with criminal machinations in a grim dance of power and betrayal. Through the lens of a daring venture aimed at transforming an ancient harbor into a sanctuary of modern excess, the movie catapults its audience into a vortex of escalating tension that spirals towards a deadly climax over a harrowing week of deceit and anarchy.

Creepy Chronicles: Unveiling SpookyWorld's Veil


October's eerie whispers invoke a hunger for ghostly adventures in many souls. Amidst this spectral ambiance, David Bertolino's historical venture unfolds. He’s not just a creator of sinister spectacles but a dreamer whose ambitious endeavor, SpookyWorld, encapsulated the very essence of Halloween into an enduring, hair-raising spooktacular ride. The ghostly voyage of SpookyWorld is splendidly narrated in the documentary SPOOKTACULAR! under the meticulous directorial eyes of Quinn Monahan, with Tom Savini donning the cap of the supportive executive producer.

America’s Reproductive Discourse: a Cinematic Probe

Plan C

Sometimes, a movie is so important that a rating seems silly; this is one of those cases. This isn’t a topic that should be rated on a one to five-star scale; women’s health is more important than any rating. No shame to anyone who rates it; I just think that the topic of the film is far more critical. PLAN C strikes a chord, elegantly portraying a narrative infused with stern resolve, authentic struggles, and unyielding defiance against systemic encumbrances. The film flings open the curtains to a nerve-wracking discourse on medical abortion in the United States, more so following the unnerving overturn of Roe v. Wade in 2022.

From Ordinary to Extraordinary: Jack’s Journey

Three Quarters

The film THREE QUARTERS embarks on a daring venture, plunging deep into life's adversities and crafting a narrative that resonates personally with its audience. Dave Harlequin and the late Adam York are at the helm of this authentic portrayal, whose chemistry lays a foundation for a narrative filled with emotional storms and tranquil moments.

AI’s Stronghold: a Magnifying Glass!

AIMEE: The Visitor

Dive into the not-too-distant digital era where artificial beings aren't just a figment of our imagination but a reality we’re going to be forced to deal with. Full Moon Entertainment brings a playful twist to the AI realm with AIMEE: THE VISITOR. This isn't your typical flashy CGI, as the film's opening claims “The motion picture you are about to watch features a character using modern AI technology. AImee herself is not portrayed by an actor, nor was she designed using digital special effects. She is, in fact, the very first AI-created femme fatale in film history.” this is AI taking center stage. I won’t lie; this film posed many questions for me, even in terms of covering it. My deciding factor is that AI didn’t write the movie and that Full Moon Features is an independent studio. Still being a weird grey area that I don’t know 100% how I feel about, I decided to watch it and say it was an intriguing experience.

Metropolis Mayhem Calls Upon Canine Comrades

Scooby-Doo! And Krypto, Too!

In the bustling cityscape of Metropolis, something eerie breathes in the shadows, setting the stage for an adventure that melds the whimsical charm of Mystery Inc. with the daunting courage of superheroes. SCOOBY-DOO AND KRYPTO TOO! unfolds as a riddle-wrapped enigma, where our beloved gang steps into a realm brimming with larger-than-life adversities. This whimsical dive into the sinister heart of Metropolis unfolds under the creative vigilance of director Cecilia Aranovich Hamilton and scriptwriter T.K. O’Brien.

Wong's Radiant Cinematic Dance


The magnetic Anna May Wong leaps from obscurity in the US and shines brighter than ever across the pond in PICCADILLY, a genuinely riveting tale. Transported to the heart of the roaring twenties, viewers are given a sneak peek into the lives, the glamour, and the unanticipated twists of the Piccadilly Club. Oh, and when Shosho (Anna May Wong) steps out of the dark corners of her dishwashing duties into the enchanting glow of the stage? Hold on to your seats because it's an unforgettable ride!

Rhythmic Resilience Shines Bright

Finding Her Beat

If the chill of a Minnesota winter makes you think of cozying up indoors, think again. FINDING HER BEAT whisks you off your couch and dives deep into the pulsating world of taiko drumming right from the snow-covered landscapes of this northern state. There’s so much heart inside of those wooden drums!

Realism in Eerie Tales

Three Short Horror Stories

Attention all seekers of the extraordinary, the creepy, the spooky, and those who love the darkest corners of their imaginations! Andrew Valenza, fresh off his release of the Sci-Fi journey “Empire of the Void,” invites you to strap in and join the adventure with THREE SHORT HORROR STORIES. These tales of terror are more than just your average spooky bedtime stories; this is a thrilling ride through suspense, deep-seated emotions, and the always-intriguing unknown. From voices of the beyond, a trip down the brutal fight against cancer and the mystery that comes along, and a journey into the emptiness of space, Valenza will keep you on the edge of your seat.

Beautiful Darkness: a Noir Classic From Orson Welles

Touch of Evil

If you’re looking for a classic Noir film filled with mysterious murder plots, crooked cops, and a thick plot then TOUCH OF EVIL will likely be right up your alley. Stepping back into the 1950s in a grimy and happening U.S./Mexico border town this dark tale follows Mike Vargas, a Mexican cop who has just had his honeymoon derailed when the car of a wealthy businessman explodes right in front of him. During his investigation, Vargas takes the audience on a ride-along as the intense story unravels.

4K Revival, Resilience Amidst Revolution

Farewell My Concubine (Ba wang bie ji)

FAREWELL MY CONCUBINE celebrates three glorious decades with a 4K facelift that enhances its beauty and expands its narrative with an additional 20 minutes (which makes a massive difference for the epic.) For those who haven't had the pleasure yet, this cinematic gem isn't just a nostalgia trip—it boasts a spot on Time magazine's prestigious top 100 films roster. Oh, and did we mention this is the only Chinese film that has won the renowned Palme d’Or trophy?

Dive Beyond the Familiar Without Wick

The Continental: From the World of John Wick

Let's face it; taking a stroll down cinematic memory lane can be a tricky endeavor. Spin-offs are seldom met with consistent praise, but that should change now! Enter THE CONTINENTAL: FROM THE WORLD OF JOHN WICK, which navigates the world of 1970s New York City and leaves us marveling at the grandeur of an old hotel. Instead of just flashing glimpses of familiar sights, the series entices us into the hidden alleys of young Winston Scott's life, portrayed brilliantly by Colin Woodell, as we pull back the curtains of the infamous hotel's enigmatic beginnings.

What Leads to Tragedy?

Condition of Return

This film does show the events of a mass shooting, a deeply troubling issue that sadly confronts us all too frequently in America. It does not shy away from the harsh truths surrounding this devastating event. Be prepared, for there are moments in this film that are profoundly difficult to watch, as it delves into the gravity of its subject matter.

Officers' Roles Under Microscope

Convicting A Murderer - Episode 5

As we enter the realm of CONVICTING A MURDERER's fifth episode, "Manitowoc's Web," the story unfolds further into an intricate puzzle centering around Steven Avery. No sidelined as an ancillary portion of the story, the Manitowoc Sheriff's Department claims a central role, hinting at being more involved than previously let on, especially when a $36 million lawsuit looms large over Manitowoc County.

Love and Science: a Unique “Blend”

Designer $hit

When you marry the worlds of groundbreaking medicine and heartfelt narratives, you get DESIGNER $HIT, a delightful cinematic offering from director and subject Saffron Cassaday. This is a front-row seat to the exhilarating world of Fecal Microbiota Transplant (FMT) and the whirlwind of emotions accompanying such a journey. Yep, I couldn’t have imagined typing that sentence before watching this, either.