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Midsommar Movie Review by A. R. Braun

The Following Midsommar movie review was written by dark fiction author, A.R. Braun, to be released on the Ritual Blog for Mind on Fire Books.

I put off watching this film because it seemed artsy-fartsy. Don’t make that mistake. Ari Aster’s second horror movie after Hereditary WILL freak you out. If you’ve seen Hereditary, then you know the kind of scares to expect.

Dani (Florence Pugh), a psychiatry major, mourns—traumatized—after her mentally ill sister kills herself AND her parents with carbon monoxide.

Scene from Midsommar Film. For review on Mind on Fire Books

Her boyfriend, Christian (Jack Reynor)—a cultural anthropology student—holds her tight and helps her grieve, but also wants to dump her because she’s never in the mood. This is an attitude that’s written in stone by his buddies, Mark (Will Poulter) and Josh (William Jackson Harper), who simply don’t like her, except for . . .

. . . Pelle (Vilhelm Blomgren), their Swedish friend, who, it turns out, has invited the boys to Midsommar, a celebration at Pelle’s ancestral commune, the Hårga, in Sweden. The celebration occurs only once every 90 years, and anthropology student Josh desires to write this thesis on it. Dani inadvertently invites herself to Midsommar, then is more than touched when Pelle expresses his sincere condolences about what happened to her family, making her run to the bathroom to weep. In fact, Pelle wins her over, telling her, if it wasn’t for his non-biological new family in Sweden, he wouldn’t know what he’d do (not verbatim).

But the foursome couldn’t fathom what they’re in for.

The group takes a plane to Sweden and drives, then walks to the commune, where they meet Simon and Connie (Archie Madekwe and Ellora Torchia), a British couple from London who were invited by Pelle’s communal brother, Ingemar. Simon offers the group ‘shrooms, and Dani has hallucinations of Terri, her sister, while under the drug’s influence. Mark, however, freaks out, unable to take the trip, telling the others to lay down like him.

Enter what Algernon Blackwood would’ve called a “series of shocks,” or “grotesqueries.”

At the twisted tradition of ättestupa the group learns that the cult kills themselves at seventy-two years of age. This scene is brutality realized.

Things amp-up from there, where a redhead sets her sights on Dani’s boyfriend, and puts—gulp—her pubes in his meal. If you like the band, HammerFall, you’ll love what happens to Josh when he sneaks into the holiest of holies to snap a picture of their sacred book, after being forbidden to do so.

Scene from Midsommar Film. Movie Review by A.R. Braun

The human sacrifices have begun . . . of the Americans . . . and Pelle tells Dani his family is her family (not verbatim). When Dani catches her boyfriend screwing the redhead, she falls apart . . . but the Swedish females fall apart WITH her. (See, her new fam-il-y.)

By the end, she’ll warm-up to it, in a hideous way.

This film and Hereditary are at the top of my Blu-ray rack, and with good reason. Ari Aster is one of the few American writer/directors making genuinely shocking horror movies right now. Don’t miss either of them! And if you do, it’s your own fault.

About the Reviewer
A.R. Braun on Mind on Fire Books

Review by Horror Writer, A.R. Braun. Check out his latest short story, “Little Ghoul,” here.

Mad Men

  • Mad Men is a collection of three disturbing horror shorts from authors living in the Midwest. The themes explored in this collection range from man versus self, man versus man, and man versus creature. [caption id="attachment_4742" align="alignleft" width="188"]Mad Men eBook Mad Men eBook at Mind on Fire Books[/caption] Mad Men begins with Matt’s tale, a thought-provoking thriller which causes the reader to question his reality and what he fears within himself. The second tale explores the grotesque juxtaposed with beautiful nature, where the ending unfolds into a horrific dream, waking in even more terrible pain. The third tale is by seasoned horror writer, A.R. Braun – and his diabolical creatures never disappoint!  A.R. Braun’s goal is to be on the banned book list; we think this tale may just be evil enough to be considered. A must read before it does get banned! Mainstream Horror Shorts don’t always satisfy us in the way they should. They don’t open conversations about what it is that we fear or why we fear such things, they focus mainly on pop culture and gore. The writers in the Mad Men anthology understand the need for literate horror, opening discussions of man’s psyche. When these writers set out to tell a story, they are less interested in conveying fear and more interested in wonder, the sublime, and the infinite strangeness that drives all man and woman. Highly recommended for tweens, teens, and adults. The Mad Men anthology published by Mind on Fire Books. Written by Willy Martinez, A.R. Braun and Matt Lavitt. No part of this book shall be copied without permission from the publisher.

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Hereditary: Film Review by Horror Author, A.R. Braun

This is the film that restored my faith in American cinema. Previously, I felt one had to watch a foreign flick for a good scare. Ari Aster is my favorite writer/director, the only American making shocking films right now. And this film WILL scare you. Also important is Toni Collette, who gives a lights-out performance, as always, just intense as can be. (The lead actress from The United States of Tara.)

Miniature model artist Annie Graham (Collette) has lost her weird, eerie mother, Ellen (Kathleen Chalfant). At the funeral, Annie is surprised by how many people show up, a staggering amount, and she’s never met any of them. When Ellen’s grave is desecrated, Annie sees her ghost.

Wanting her strange-and-creepy thirteen-year-old daughter, Charlie (Milly Shapiro), to enjoy her life, she manipulates her sixteen-year-old son, Peter (Alex Wolff), to take her along to a party he’s going to. Problem is, Charlie’s allergic to certain foods, and when she eats cake with nuts, she goes full-tilt into anaphylactic shock. Peter then rushes her to the hospital, but his driving’s erratic, and Charlie, not being able to breathe, sticks her head out the window for fresh air . . . and her head’s decapitated by a telephone pole.

Scene from Hereditary film for Mind on Fire Blog

Things go downhill from there.

At a grief-support group, Annie meets an older woman named Joan (Ann Dowd), who lost a son. At first, the friendship seems innocuous, but after a beat Joan shows Annie how to conjure up the departed loved one, and when you hear that creepy music and things start moving seemingly by themselves, you know you’re in trouble. In fact, I knew I was in trouble as soon as I saw Charlie, who’s really strange looking, and uses bird’s heads for her action figures.

From then on, you are not safe. If the scenes that follow don’t freak you out, you’re probably dead.

Why is Joan trying to exorcise Peter from his own body? Why does Charlie persist in being alive? Where did all those people at the funeral come from?

The scares amp-up until you think you can’t take it. I mean, ghosts being naked when they’re dead, I don’t need to see that!

And human spirits aren’t the biggest worry. Annie’s mother Ellen was a demon-worshipper, and those people at the funeral are her coven.

I highly recommend this one to those who think they can’t be scared by a film . . . and especially those that can.

A.R. Braun on Mind on Fire Books

Review by Horror Writer, A.R. Braun. Check out his latest Novel, “Only Women in Hell,” here.

A.R. Braun will also be featured on our anthology Mad Men, available for presale now.


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The Manitou by Graham Masterton – Book Review by Horror Writer, A.R. Braun

The Manitou is definitely Graham Masterton’s bread-and-butter, the series being the best books he’s ever written. He went on to write many great novels, a total of 101 in all!

In 1976’s The Manitou, based in San Francisco, something is growing on the back of an attractive woman named Karen Tandy’s neck—perceived as a tumor—which baffles her doctors.

Desperate for help, the good docs bring in a charlatan psychic named Harry Erskine—an unlikely hero who’s the perfect protagonist—as a paranormal investigator. Erskine helps the doctors discover that an ancient Native-American medicine man named Misquamacus, the most powerful Shaman ever, is back to seek revenge against the white man for stealing his country, as well as other atrocities. Reborn from a neck, the Native American is squat, has stunted limbs, but is none the less powerful. Able to call up the most powerful demons in the world who can’t be exercised by Christianity because they were before Christ, the shaman’s chief demon is a squid spirit and, yes, I believe it’s Cthulhu.

This infernal medicine man is feared by all as the body count rises. Everything in the world has a Manitou, a Native-American spirit, and Harry and the good doctors call upon a modern-day Shaman named John Singing Rock for help, definitely less powerful than Misquamacus. They battle and wrack their brains to come up with the best modern Manitou to fight the insidious shaman.

Will they be able to stop the carnage so vehement it’ll be mass-murder? Or will they end up butchered, like the cops in the elevator?

This novel was ten times better than I expected it to be, and I highly recommend this gem, plus the sequels, which are all great. You’d better hope Native-American spirits don’t come looking for revenge!

A.R. Braun on Mind on Fire Books

Review by Horror Writer, A.R. Braun. You can check out his latest Novel, “Dogman of Illinois, here.

A.R. Braun will also be featured on our anthology Mad Men, available for presale now.


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MindFuck: A Poem by A.R. Braun

 What was before
 The universe was created?
 Was God alone?
 Exasperated?
  
 Before the universe
 There was nothing
 My mind can’t take it
 There had to have been something!
  
 Our small brains
 Can’t comprehend
 The beginning
 Any more than the end
  
 God was alone
 In an all-dark zone
 Losing his mind
 Before there was light
  
 Now his piggies
 We get fucked with
 Raped and insane
 Then done away with!
  
 God’s a writer
 And we’re protagonists
 The book’s hell-on-earth
 All around us: antagonists!
  
 The epilogue’s Hell
 After many spells
 On our heads
 From Satanists 

A. R. Braun is the author of the novels, Dogman of Illinois, Heaven’s Witches, Autonomy, The Not and Only Women in Hell, as well as the short-story collections, Insanity, Horrorbook: Twenty-Two Tales of Terror, Grimoire, and the novella, 66SICK (purchase on amazon). He became interested in horror when he read “The Telltale Heart” as an assignment in high school. By the time he was eighteen, he had the whole Stephen King collection and started writing short stories for friends and family. His main goal was to put together a heavy-metal band, and he spent many years working blue-collar jobs and seeking out musicians, but never fell in with the right kind of guys.

Mind on Fire Books is a small press and blog, purveying the best in Horror, Sci-fi, and Fantasy.

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