Wednesday, 31 May 2017


Longterm readers of Hickey's House of Horrors may well remember my coverage of Brit chiller, The Cutting Room, back in May 2015. I imagine quite of few of you will in fact, as that review is my second most popular post here of all time!

So when the talented director of that film, Warren Dudley, asked if I'd like to take a look at his latest movie, Cage, which reunited him with Cutting Room star Lucy-Jane Quinlan, I was very quick to agree!  

More of a psychological thriller than an out-and-out horror flick, would Cage build on the tremendous potential on display in The Cutting Room? Or would it leave me wanting to Dudley behind bars?

Read on...

CAGE (2017)

Dir: Warren Dudley
Stars: Lucy-Jane Quinlan, Patrick Bergin, Jake Unsworth, Sharon Drain, Andy Costello

SPEEDY SYNOPSIS: I'll try not to spoil too much here, but continue at your own risk...

Gracie (Quinlan) is a down on her luck mother, desperate to regain custody of her child. With little in the way of income, Gracie has taken a job on a chat line to raise funds.  
While this pays the bills, it isn't enough to help in her legal battle.
All seems lost, until one of her clients (Bergin) offers to pay her handsomely for a special, 'one-night only' personal visit. At her wits' end, Gracie reluctantly travels to the meeting point... only to later wake up trapped in a cage in a large industrial building. With only her phone for company (albeit with the warning that any attempt to notify the authorities to her predicament will result in severe punishment), Gracie is chained and incarcerated, without a clue as to location.
As her mother (Drain) and worried boyfriend Eddy (Unsworth) try to work out where she is, Gracie finds herself at the mercy of the whims of her abductor...

THE BEST BITS (mild spoiler warning): With just a single character onscreen, in what is essentially a single setting, Cage is a daring film. With what could be perceived as 'limited' scope, it would be very easy for an audience to lose patience and for attentions to drift if the film were to falter or stumble.
Thankfully, Dudley is more than up to the task. His story unfolds slowly and steadily, carefully deep-feeding the audience with its reveals and taking its time. That's not to say that it is dull, instead each revelation is given proper time to breathe and for the audience to process and feel its impact.
There are quiet moments in the film that have such emotional weight they hit far harder than any flashy big budget action sequences. I'll try to avoid spoiling them here (doing so really would rob the viewer of a lot of the enjoyment to be taken from the movie), but suffice to say one major reveal that was cleverly foreshadowed throughout the preceding scenes hits with a real gut-punch.
Of course, this story more than any other is VERY heavily reliant on its star delivering the goods. As the only face we see, Quinlan is asked to shoulder a massive responsibility to provide a compelling performance.
In my review of The Cutting Room, I wrote: She is quite the talent, handling some charged and challenging scenes with aplomb. She is definitely one to watch!
It seems that my words have been proven right. Quinlan is excellent in Cage, giving her character a natural likability and emoting impressively throughout the heavier scenes — no easy task when you remember that she has no other actor to hand with whom to bounce her performance off. She gives Gracie a flawed vulnerability, imbuing her with the quiet desperation that is so important to understanding some of the decidedly reckless acts she commits, and more importantly, she does a great job of getting the viewer to actually care what happens to her.
What's more, she even manages a pretty damn good American accent throughout the film too!
The voice talent also delivers the goods admirably, especially Drain's increasingly frantic mother and the cold, calculating kidnapper voiced by recognisable Hollywood talent, Bergin.
Drain provides emotional stimulus for Gracie's character, adding a more sympathetic, human counterpart for our lead to interact with. Voice acting is difficult to get right, often sounding somewhat stilted, but that's no problem here.
The impressive Unsworth is also very good, and gets the opportunity to deliver quite a range of emotions, a task with which he is more than up to the job.
Back to Bergin, we are given the villain of our movie, a character who is mysterious and clearly unhinged, even if he is able to remain deceptively calm and even charming. Exactly what this man's motives are is one of the puzzles of Dudley's clever puzzle box of a script, and Bergin is able to carry that across in subtle intonation and flawless timing. This is a talented, experienced actor and he shows that in spades with such simple but exceptionally smart delivery.
This focus on dialogue may make it sound like Cage is a static or listless visual spectacle. I'm pleased to say this is not the case.
Clever editing and camerawork ensure that the movie never feels stagnant, keeping the viewer's attention pinned to the screen. Dudley proved an accomplished filmmaker with The Cutting Room, but he was aided somewhat by the Found Footage style of that movie, a device that restricts ambition for the sake of authenticity. He has no such constraints here and, I'm very pleased to say, he more than matches the potential hinted at with his previous effort. Once again, Warren Dudley proves to be a director to watch out for.

THE WORST BITS (mild spoiler warning): Perhaps the most important point to stress is that Cage is very much a psychological thriller, not an out-and-out horror movie, per se. If you're expecting a substantial bodycount and gallons of gore, this slower, more intimate and personal story may not be for you.
Of course, one of the issues of any movie that presents you with a hypothetical conundrum (a 'what-if-that-happened-to-me?' scenario) is that it encourages you to put yourself in the lead's shoes and to formulate your own escape plan. It also encourages you to forensically nitpick that same lead's own efforts to free herself and, in Cage, there are a couple of moments when Gracie's behaviour may extract some weary sighs and eye-rolls. Very early on she starts to work her way through the potential padlock combinations on the chain that keeps her bound to the bed, but this is something she then regularly abandons, before coming back to it intermittently. As pretty much the ONLY way she could hope to free herself, this does beggar belief somewhat. I suppose this can be written away by the fact that Gracie, a woman who is already unravelling under the pressures and stresses of her life, is not thinking clearly. She has been abducted and has a number of fears relating to events on the outside of the cage, so perhaps she is struggling with rational thought? It's a strong enough reason to explain some of her less intelligent decisions, so perhaps we should just roll with that.
Furthermore, the titular cage itself is not as sturdy a structure as I imagine was envisioned during the writing of the movie. Sure, it's a decent size, but the bars do appear pretty breakable. Perhaps this is just a result of budget constraints, and I do need to remember that young Ms Quinlan is certainly not a 6ft 3, 15-stone lump like this humble reviewer, so she'd certainly struggle more to escape!
Back to those budget constraints. It's worth mentioning that Cage is clearly a lower budget movie than some of the big, shiny crowd-pleasers you're going to see at your local cinema. Dudley has very cleverly stretched his budget as far as it will go, utilising a stripped back cast and set to mask any shortfalls, but if you're more used to the likes of Jason Blumhouse's shiny horror flicks or glossy Hollywood thrillers, you may need to lower your expectations somewhat.

THE VERDICT: Cage is not a flawless thriller, but it is a very, very good one. Some minor grumbles aside, the intelligent plotting, skilled direction and a stand-out performance from a talented young lead make it a movie that is more than worth your time. 
Perhaps the biggest compliment I can give Cage is that it actually managed to raise the already high levels of esteem with which I already regarded its director and its star. I do hope these two continue to collaborate, because I cannot wait to see what they do next!

Cage is available to buy on DVD at Amazon here.
You can check out the movie's official Facebook page here

If you haven’t already, do please check out and like the Hickey’s House of Horrors Facebook page, which you can find here. It gives you a nice quick link to any new posts on this blog, plus regular news updates from around the web. I check the Internet so you don’t have to! Alternatively, follow me on twitter: The House@HickeysHorrors

Until next time, I hope you enjoyed your stay.

Sunday, 7 May 2017



There are a number of sites online that have become breeding grounds for Creepypasta.
As well as the obvious (, the creepypasta wikia), there are some others that are regularly responsible for some of the most famous online horrors, such as the nosleep and creepypasta subreddits.
Another of these — one which offers the fantastic opportunity to incorporate detailed visuals into the storyteller’s products — is DeviantArt.
There has been a real surge in the creation of original characters (referred to as OCs by the pasta community), with plenty of users trying to create the next web horror icon.
With literally hundred of fascinating monsters to choose from, this is an area that I’m sure I will return to again and again, but for now, I’m going to look at a character (and a story), that best encapsulates the good and the bad of DeviantArt fandom, Kristantyl’s Jason the Toy Maker.

The first image of Jason appeared on Kristantyl’s DeviantArt page back on 11 November 2014. Several other images of the striking Jason followed. Jason boasts a visually arresting design, with a decidedly Japanese/anime feel. Jason’s stylish and intimidating look quite closely resembles the sort of character that might play a boss role in one of SNK’s Fatal Fury, Art of Fighting or King of Fighters series of games.
Kristantyl’s art is, putting it mildly, pretty damn brilliant and with each subsequent image she honed the feel of the character, plus added supporting characters, such as Jason’s toy sidekicks Liquirizia (a wind-up toy mouse that acts as Jason’s spy), Red Mouse (a dangerous weapon, an explosive wind-up mouse) and Mr Glutton (a gigantic stuffed toy snake).
Of course, these characters all suggest a far deeper backstory, one which Kristantyl herself told over at her DeviantArt journal. You can read the story over at Melindiaden’s page here.

It’s a fascinating and very well told story. The first thing to remember is that Kristantyl’s first language is NOT English, so it’s unfair to blame any clunkiness in the translation on her. Instead it is better to focus on the eerie, dream-like feel the story conjures up.
The story follows a young adopted girl named Maggie and the curious phobia she feels towards her toys. Haunted by dreams with a mysterious and possessive entity, Maggie along with her close friend Daisy, comes to realise that her life has been inextricably bound to that of a mysterious and otherworldly entity — Jason.
And Jason is not prepared to share her with anybody…

I’ve spoken before about how the subversion of the innocence of childhood is an effective and powerful horror tool. By bringing back the irrational fears we felt during our most vulnerable period, childhood horror is deeply disturbing. It is precisely this warping of the familiar and comforting memories of our youth into the terrors we all felt as children that explains the tremendous success of Disneypastas such as Abandoned By Disney and Suicide Mouse, as well as Lost Episodes such as Dead Bart, Squidward’s Suicide and even Candle Cove.

Like these Pastas before it, Jason soon became a very popular creation among the community… sadly, a little TOO popular. With his pretty-boy good-looks, Jason soon acquired more than his fair share of obsessive fan girls. Much like the Jeff the Killer fans who took their idol a little too seriously, they soon became aggressive towards anybody they felt misrepresented the character — including Jason’s own creator, Kristantyl. Fed up with the abuse from overzealous fans, and a little sickened by the slow metamorphosis of her creation from horror icon to teen pin-up, earlier this year Kristantyl removed all Jason related art from her profile and posted an announcement.

She wrote that, since the disrespectful ‘fans’ of the character had caused her significant harassment and distress, she was taking a break from creating Jason-related art, instead entrusting the character to her good friends and fellow DeviantArt users Euphobea/Mayheem and Jesterca/Discordea for the foreseeable future.

Of course, just because Kristantyl is no longer producing character art for her creation, that doesn’t mean that he’s fallen off the face of the earth. Creepypasta fans are still producing plenty of art (especially over at DeviantArt), including the now ubiquitous Mr Creepypasta reading (albeit a somewhat edited version), which he posted to his channel on 15 August 2015.
Jason the Toy Maker even has his own official Facebook page, and an official page where fans can get the diabolical Jason to answer their questions. Furthermore more there are multiple unofficial sites, such as this blog over on Tumblr.

However, none of these works, official or otherwise, could have existed without that initial image and story from Kristantyl, and it’s a real shame that she is currently no longer working on the character. Yet be that as it may, Kristantyl was kind enough to speak to UK Horror Scene about her creation.
Our interview follows below.

HICKEY'S HOUSE OF HORRORS: The most obvious first — In your own words, tell us a little about Jason the Toy Maker?
KRISTANTYL: Jason Meyer is a toymaker who hides his true face behind the mask of the good guy. He deceives people with this, thereby earning the trust and affection of his chosen one.
What makes him different from others is that he doesn’t kill for fun.
Over time Jason makes the existence (of his victims) more oppressive.
He wants total control over everything and leads the individual to isolate himself slowly from the rest of the world.
If there are people who ruin his plans it’s not a problem, Jason kills them without the chosen one knowing it. He can get rid of the parents without feeling any remorse.
If you behave badly and you're not a good friend, Jason will fix you and turn you into a beautiful wax doll.
The old wax dolls, after a long time, end up inside Mr.Glutton’s mouth.
He is driven by his selfishness and every bad feeling that lurks in all of us.
Jason reflects what we are inside, what we feel when we suffer, or when we are angry.
He isn’t immortal, his weakness is a music box that he hides inside himself and, in contrast to what people think, Jason is a human being.
I could create a ghost or another supernatural creature, but I think the only really scary monster on this earth is the human being.
Everything that builds can take life. Something gave him his extraordinary ability to be a toy maker, but a beautiful dream can turn into a nightmare at any moment.
HHoH: What was your inspiration for the character?
K: I’m often inspired by my thoughts that later lead me to create a character. I spend my days drawing drafts, choosing the name and designing the personality.
Sometimes I create the characters for satisfying my desires or to make them intended to have a story, like Jason.
With him, however, it was completely different because I had not only to create the design but also a story.
When I was a child I loved my puppets but at the same time I was scared of them. I believed that they were alive and that stared at me with their eyes. I remember I was spying outside my room’s ajar door trying to see them while they were moving but, of course, I failed.
The toys changing their appearance depending on the identity of Jason, becoming horrible, creepy and seeing everything, are based on my childhood’s memory.
This is my favourite feature for the toymaker.
HHoH: Which idea came to you first, the image or the story?
K: This question is difficult to answer because it's been a long time. I think the first thing that came to my mind was the image of this character.
Jason has made many transformations because, in the vast world of creepypasta characters, I was looking for a role that had not already been taken.
At first I imagined this ventriloquist in search of the perfect puppet, but not having enough inspiration for the story, I decided to choose the Toy maker.
HHoH: Are you a fan of Creepypasta? If so, what is your favourite Creepypasta by a creator other than yourself?
K: I really read many Creepypasta and I met a lot of characters but no one has been able to impress me as much as The Puppeteer by BleedingHeartworks! The sound of broken bones and their abnormal movements always bothered me.
I believe that at least one Creepypasta character in your life can touch your weakness just as The Puppeteer did to me.
HHoH: Which writers, horror or otherwise, do you consider yourself a fan of?
K: I'm not really a fan, but I like reading Stephen King’s books. The last one I bought it’s titled Black House but I'm already planning to buy IT.
Also, since we are talking about this topic, I really loved the book by Stefano Pastor, ‘Il Giocattolaio’ (The toy maker). He is an Italian writer who, in this book, was able to keep me glued to the pages filled with suspense and horror. Wonderful book.
HHoH: What work of your own are you most proud of?
K: I'm never proud of my works. I can be satisfied, but I use this word very rarely for my works. I think it is never enough, I have to give my best and I’m never satisfied.
I'm the worst critic of myself.

HHoH: The fans are very passionate about the character. Are there any examples of fan art, such as images, films or readings, in particular that have impressed you?
K: Every time I am amazed that Jason fans create something and spend their precious time just to pay tribute. Cosplay, video tributes etc. I see it all. I don’t have a preference, each gift has the same value and ends in my folder dedicated to the gifts for him.
HHoH: Earlier this year you made an announcement in which you handed over ownership of the character to fellow DeviantArt users Euphobea and Jesterca, citing a part of the fanbase as the cause. Would you care to explain what happened?
K: Before I answer this question I would like to point out one important thing: I didn’t transfer the ownership of my character to Euphobea and Jesterca. I’ve just entrusted Jason to them, but I am still the owner.
Meanwhile Jason started to become well-known and this caught reader attention in some naughty children. I witnessed many things: the insults, the meaningless comparisons and many other things but then my patience ran out.
I think everyone agrees with me that it is quite EMBARRASSING and STUPID offending someone over a fictional character.
I spent too much time on this story and I didn’t realize that I was losing sight of my true goals. I'm sorry, but Jason is not my project and for this reason, I had to make a choice.
I couldn’t keep up with the fans and the haters, I am no longer a 15-year-old girl with so much free time. Right now I have priorities.
I want to publish the story of my comic and I can’t do it if I continue to waste my time.
This decision was very difficult, but it was also the right one.
The haters weren’t important. What bothered me the most were the fanfictions written by people who had no respect for Jason or for me.
Some stories made me angry, because they were ruining the toymaker by turning him into a heartthrob or into a gay who likes orgies. Roleplaying is worse!
I have said it many times that Jason was born to be only a creepypasta character and that his role had already been established, but it was useless.
I don’t want to tell people what to write, but I ask just for a little respect and less arrogance. These people have no idea that by doing these things the real Jason's intentions are misunderstood and that later I have to pay the consequences with the insults.
Someone admires Jason’s false beauty, just like a perfect prince, but all of this is wrong. Jason is horrible, he is a sadistic, selfish monster.
I've seen everything.
After the decision to entrust Jason, I have been insulted by some "fans" who have called me ‘bastard’ and I want to repeat once again how all of this is ridiculous for someone who doesn’t exist.
I don’t live for Jason and I don’t live for others. I live for my own life and for my own dreams!
I want to say that Jason gave me a lot of satisfaction and he will continue to do it, but he's not my real project. He is only a hobby.
Jason is a proof that anyone can get to where I did and may even go further.
The haters instead can just grumble. :)
HHoH: Your artwork is incredible. Where did you learn to create such evocative images? How do you get inspiration for the creative process?
K: I've always drawn because I like it. I never stopped and this has almost become my job.
I haven’t been able to attend an art school because my parents never supported my abilities, this is something I will never forget for the suffering it has caused me ... but it didn’t stop me.
The inspiration is subjective, I can’t give a precise answer. What I can tell you is based on my point of view, as I said earlier, and my inspiration comes from my thoughts or the feelings.
HHoH: Will you ever return to the story of Jason in the future? And what else can your fans look forward to from you in the days ahead?
K: Of course I will! I'm writing Jason's origin story lately because there are many things to tell and probably I will do other things with him.
HHoH: Finally, is there anywhere I should send my readers to see/read more about Jason?
K: The fans can follow Jason at his official Facebook page or on DeviantArt into the profile of my dear friend Mayheem.

As sad as it is that the popularity of Jason has caused his creator anguish, much like both Mr Angrydog and PastaStalker64’s versions of Jane the Killer, there is a silver-lining to this creepypasta cloud. Pasta IS becoming more and more popular.
Sure, some fans may resent the fact that the artform they love is becoming more mainstream and accessible to the masses (as is often the case with indie music or film-making), but what this means is that creators of Creepypasta are given more exposure, more support and, dare I say it, even a financial incentive to continue to create the best possible web horror stories they can.

Nowhere is this more apparent than with the very special, very exciting exclusive interview I have lined up for you all next week...