The Bates Student

The Voice of Bates College since 1873

Author: Tristian Brossy de Dios (Page 1 of 4)

Schwolsky resurrects Boxing 2000

Boxing 2000, an off-off-Broadway play that hasn’t been staged professionally in years, is soon finding its way back to the stage under the command of senior thesis director Jonathan Schwolsky.

The play unfolds around a boxing ring, in which two struggling half-brothers, Jo-Jo and Freddie, grapple with their pasts and futures. “One of the reasons I think boxing is such an interesting sport is simply that it’s one-on-one between two people who are literally trying to connect with one another,” Schwolsky explains.

During Schwolsky’s junior year, his advisor suggested he take a look at the work of Richard Maxwell, Boxing’s playwright and original director.

“I ended up reading fourteen of his plays from 1996-2000, and the last one I read was Boxing 2000,” says Schwolsky. “That one specifically had an impact on me, because I felt I read it the way Maxwell wanted people to see his plays. I filled in the gaps. I made my own directorial choices when I read it over and over. The seemingly mundane tone to his play actually holds a lot of beauty and complexity that you’re only shown through a very specific form of narrative.”

It is this specific, almost avant-garde form of narrative that Schwolsky is attempting to emulate as best as he can. Rather than stage the play on a traditional proscenium stage, the audience will surround the boxing ring, raised five feet off the ground to further simulate an actual boxing match. Also, actors might leave the stage, but they never truly exit like they would in traditional plays; rather, they will linger off to the side, still inside Gannett Theater.

“The entire space in Gannett becomes the stage once you enter,” says Schwolsky. “If you were to attend an amateur boxing match, your view isn’t going to be perfect from every angle. It plays on the idea that in theater, as opposed to film, the audience chooses what they see as opposed to what they are directly shown. It asks more of an audience than to merely be entertained.”

Maxwell’s play wanders away from more traditional forms of theater, choosing instead a very stylized approach to both acting and set design. Minimalism and everyday dialogue are common staples of the play.

Schwolsky elaborated on this, saying, “One of the most difficult things is the actor’s role in going against some of these conventions, where overacting is the enemy.”

“My biggest joy in doing this is… working with a group of people and trying to experiment,” Schwolsky says. “It’s a different type of theater than I’ve seen at Bates so far, one that touches on the avant-garde as well as neutrality, which really asks for active listening.”

When it comes to unraveling Boxing 2000, Schwolsky says it best. “It’s about finding something for yourself. Everyone becomes a bit of an agent in the theater.”

Boxing 2000 opens in Gannet Theater Friday, November 14 at 7:30 p.m.

Who am I? And other essential questions

The memoir is a genre of literature where few authors have dared to go.

Augusten Burroughs dives into this genre with grace and surfaces with a humorous, thought-provoking, and slightly deranged memoir, Running with Scissors.

What is normalcy? What does it mean to be gay? Can you choose your family? These may seem like rudimentary coming-of-age questions that the author poses, but to many children in less than perfect homes, these answers become life and death subjects. Through his witty and charming memoir, Burroughs becomes an avenue for young people to ask, and answer, these questions.

Many children think their parents are psychotic, right? But in Burroughs’ case, it’s true. He was saddled with an absent father and a struggling poet mother who also happens to be clinically insane. With a foundation as shaky as this, Burroughs starts craving the clinical normalcy modeled around him on TV and through other kids at school. But as time passes, his childhood self comes question why he wants that normalcy, or, if he wants it at all. Through this admonition, Burroughs gets down to the reality that many children with less than stable home lives, want something more, they just don’t know what that is yet.

There is an old saying that you cannot pick your family, but Burroughs would strongly disagree with that. Instead, this man makes a choice to forsake his dead-beat mother in favor of the crazy Finch family. During his time with the Finches, Burroughs has many outlandish escapades and one of them includes “the old electroshock therapy machine [which] was just under the stairs in a box next to the hoover.”

Inside the Finch house anything goes. Playing with an electric chair, sure. Eating dog food, why not? Deciding that you should build a skylight in the kitchen, great idea. This loud, laughter-filled house stands out in stark contrast to that of Burroughs’ own mother, who would rather cavort with her lover than take care of her son. Once again, this author does a fantastic job at seamlessly representing misplaced children who wish and wish for a better version of the family they never had.

At the epicenter of Burroughs’ memoir is the fact that he is gay and dealing with this newfound discovery. Discovering one’s sexuality is often a private experience, but Burroughs was brave enough to share his experience with all his readers. Through funny interactions with clothing and more serious scenarios dating a man more than double his own age, Burroughs brings his sexuality into focus throughout the book. With a very candid admonition, this author states he will not be confined by the stereotypes that followed gays. Even though he wants to be a hairdresser, which some people think it is a “gay thing,” Burroughs promises himself that he will “do it in a different way. In a bigger way.” He is determined to be more than the stereotypes, a very admirable endeavor.

Self-discovery is a theme to which any person can relate. It is true that most of his readers will not have experienced the extreme situations that Burroughs did. But what makes the memoir so successful is the author’s ability to combine humor, important questions, and a nutty story line, which will make anyone want to run by Burroughs’ side the whole way through—even if it’s running with scissors.

Welcome to Logic’s world

Under Pressure is an album in the truest sense.

The songs flow seamlessly from one to another, the lyrics come together to paint a full picture, and the finished product feels like a story, with each song acting as a chapter in the life of Logic. Also known as Sir Robert Bryson Hall II, the rapper walks listeners through his troubled upbringing to his experience with fame.

Logic even employs a narrator, Thalia, to guide viewers through the album. “Intro” not only acts as an introduction to the album but as an introduction to Logic (the rapper, not Philosophy 195).

At the end of “Intro,” Thalia introduces listeners to the “Under Pressure Program,” telling the listener that she will be guiding them through the creation of the album. In “Intro,” Logic declares that he is not concerned with sales, only how well his verses do. It is odd, though, that Logic begins his album by singing and not rapping. Like any great opening chapter, “Intro” ropes listeners into Logic’s story, which leaves listeners aching to hear the rest.

The gracious narrator Thalia soon warns listeners that releasing a single before finishing an album is like releasing a trailer without finishing a movie. Logic created Under Pressure as if it was a movie, and it is required to be listened to from start to finish.

This is not the first time this has been done, and Logic acknowledges that he was many influences that he is not shy about borrowing from. The most common comparison is good kid, m.A.A.d city by Kendrick Lamar, which set the benchmark for autobiographical albums. Under Pressure was never going to top good kid, m.A.A.d city (maybe nothing ever will), but Logic is not trying to be better; he is trying to make his own album that will stand on its own. Logic does not help deter the critics who say his album is a knock-off of Lamar’s by sampling one of Lamar’s songs on two of his own songs.

Even though Under Pressure is better to be listened to all at once, many of the songs can stand on their own. Over a somber beat in “Buried Alive,” Logic raps an internal battle of the sacrifices he needs to make in order to reach his dream.

Ben Cuba ’16 says that he was reminded of “The Monster” by Eminem, which similarly discusses the dangers of fame. Cuba wonders, however, if Logic can even be talking about fame in this way because of his newcomer status.

In “Growing Pains III,” the listener gets a glimpse into Logic’s thoughts right before he falls asleep, where he says that he hopes he can stay asleep in his dreams forever. The horns in the chorus of “Never Enough” are perfect, and honestly there should be more horns in hip-hop. Hip-hop and jazz go together like school dances and pizza.

Katie Carlton ’18 says, “Despite the downbeat nature of the album, it’s still great to listen to, and even my dad likes it!”

Nine-minute songs are apparently the new four-minute songs, too. Kendrick Lamar has “Sing About Me, I’m Dying of Thirst,” Frank Ocean has “Pyramids,” Justin Timberlake has “Mirrors,” and now Logic has “Under Pressure.” These songs are examples of around nine minutes of epic storytelling with two halves that are sonically different yet thematically the same.

“Under Pressure” is no different, and it’s clear why Logic chose to center his album around this song. In the song, Logic tells several gut-wrenching stories from making it past his rough childhood to be where he is today, to his fears about being consumed by fame. He then talks about the pressures he felt trying to raise his younger siblings and he even adds a verse from his absent father’s perspective, where his father attempts to reconnect with Logic despite knowing Logic doesn’t care. Logic then shows the sad side of fame where he is missing his family’s birthdays because his assistant forgot to remind Logic. Even our guide Thalia is left speechless by this epic song, just as the listener is.

At the end of the “Under Pressure Program,” Logic starts to have a more positive view on things. He acknowledges that despite all of the hardships he faced, he could have had it worse. After listening to his story, it’s great to see he might be okay in the end.

Student VCS performers bring originals and covers to the stage

The Village Club Series last Thursday showcased Bates talent in the form of all-student performances, a popular tradition at Bates that sparks excitement for both the performers and their peers in the audience.

With a total of five acts that ranged from solos to duets and even a surprise trio, the student show brought a diverse array of styles and personas to the stage. The VCS Committee, in planning the event, had been in charge of choosing the acts on the basis of each group’s submitted video recording.

Senior Laura Franke was among these performers to be chosen for this event. She sang “Movie” by Kate Davis, two covers by the artist Brandi Carlile entitled “Hiding My Heart” and “Keep Your Heart Young,” the latter of which was accompanied by two other seniors and Franke’s co-leaders of the Merimanders, seniors Max Pendergast and Julia Eyman.

“I remember going to watch student VCS [in the] fall semester of my freshman year and being completely mesmerized by all the performers, and how much they all loved what they were doing on stage,” Franke commented. “I knew that it was something that I wanted to do, but it took me a while to muster the guts to sign up….it’s a bit scary getting up in front of all your buddies and sharing something so personal.”

Franke, like the other acts, put a lot of time into the preparation for the performance. However, practicing for the arts is more than just a rehearsal. “I wouldn’t call it ‘practicing’ so much as being able to escape from the stressful world of senior year for a few moments and do something that will always make my day a little brighter,” she said. “I think my time at Bates has enabled me to grow more confident in my passion for music, and I’m so glad I finally got to be a part of this great event.”

First-year student Alisa Amador was the closing act of this performance and sang covers of old songs, such as “P.S. I Love You” by Johnny Mercer and Leroy Jenkins and the Elvis Presley version of “Fools Rush In.” She also brought four originals to the stage, entitled “Miraclewoman,” “Let It Fall,” “Take a Look,” and “I Don’t Know Me.”

Amador found out that she would be closing act only thirty minutes before the show began.

“Although I knew it meant that I’d have the time of all four other acts to get even more nervous, I also thought, ‘That’s wonderful to be the closing act!’ Perhaps people would walk out with my music fresh in their minds.”

She also noted, “Once I was on the stage performing, the energy from the audience was contagious. I had so much fun up there. I heard from audience members that they really enjoyed the performance and are even still thinking about it; I couldn’t hope for higher praise.”

Both of these performers agreed that the student VCS only adds to the sense of community on campus. Amador said, “It’s hard to explain the warmth that I feel in moments like Thursday night at the silo. It’s a warmth and a welcome and a sense that we are all a part of something—this Bates web that holds us together.”

Franke too commented on the arts community at Bates. She advised the student body to “continue to go to events like student VCS, Ronj open-mic nights, and Little Room gatherings, because there are so many other talented Batesies deserving of your support as well!”

Citizenfour sheds light on Snowden

Laura Poitras’ new documentary Citizenfour, her third about America post-9/11, documents as intimately as possible the revealing of NSA secrets by Edward Snowden in 2013. For those living in our highly-secure media bubble at Bates (let’s return to the fact that there are seniors I’ve met who didn’t know that there were newspapers in Commons…I’m still stomaching that one), Edward J. Snowden was an infrastructure analyst for the NSA in Hawaii. In summer 2013, he worked with members of the media in London and the U.S. to release classified documents that revealed privacy corruption of countries like our own.

According to Mr. Snowden and the released documents, intelligence agencies are approved by the President to acquire phone company customers’ metadata, including phone calls, texts, location services, and passwords. The film explains that this information, cumulatively, defines every individual for the government and paints a picture of what they do, whom they talk to, what types of things they say, what they purchase, and where they purchased it. On their own, these individual pieces of information aren’t threatening, but together they make up who we are. What scared Mr. Snowden into revealing these documents was that citizens of our seemingly democratic society no longer have any privacy about who they are.

The most embarrassing element of the movie for the governments in question was the series of clips from NSA meetings and our court hearings in which government workers swore that the government does not collect this type of data. Poitras paired these clips so honestly with Snowden showing reporters Greenwall and MacAskill the documents that made these “truths” impossible. Normally, this pairing might lead to viewers asking, “Who is telling the truth?” However, that’s not the case here because it’s so obvious: Snowden has the evidence to support his claim, and the government does not. 

Even though I knew Citizenfour was a documentary before seeing it, I didn’t believe that I would see extensive, new footage of Snowden in the movie because “he’s just too high-profile.” What I didn’t realize, and what makes Citizenfour a unique brand of need-to-see, is that Poitras was one of the first media people that Snowden contacted to ask for help in revealing secrets regarding the United States government. We follow in Poitras’ curiosity regarding her anonymous contact, whose screen name is Citizenfour. When she travels across the globe, we know that she must be meeting up with a very important person, but it’s not until Snowden sits down in front of our focusing lens that you realize how uniquely “inside” the story we’ve been all along.

From this moment of Snowden’s first interview regarding the documents, the movie follows a quick pace, never leaving you without a quick burst of information for too long. Steady-held frames of architecture establish the identities of the cities we follow Poitras to and buffer each day of the document leak from the next. Cuts to government officials and Obama denouncing the work of the seemingly selfless, eloquent Snowden keep us sinking deeper in our chairs out of embarrassment for our own ignorance.

This succinct editing models a consistent streaming of relevant and honest information from government figures that we wish we were privy to in our everyday lives. It is the ideal, and Snowden was the first man to give it to us.

Public art installation makes a statement in Library Arcade

On Sunday night, members of this semester’s Visual Meaning course scurried around the wind tunnel of the Library Arcade arranging white cardboard boxes and glowing, constructed letters spelling, “SATISFIED?”

This public art installation, which was conceived, constructed, and implemented over the last 4 weeks, evolves over the course of its three-day viewing period for community members. All versions of the installation “have something to do with asking the question ‘Are you satisfied?’” senior and course member Julian Barnes says.

The display for Tuesday, November 4th focuses on the election as an effort to encourage students to vote. “It is so important for us to know what’s going on politically and to vote,” said Julian.

Last Friday, as I sat with friends tabling for the Bates Democrats, I asked lovingly of people entering Commons if they had plans to vote. If they replied “No,” then my next statement as they scurried for a heaping plate of curly fries was, “If you care about Trick or Drink you should care about voting!”

Hopefully this silent display welcoming the passersby to think without directly engaging in the installation will prove more successful than my frantic attempts to curb voting culture. While the timing with the election is impeccable, it was never the goal of the students involved to make the project entirely about the election.

The project sprung from the desire among students in the class to work together and showcase a work on a campus where public student art demonstration is scarce. The first few weeks of the course fostered an excellent environment for students to work individually, but left them with a desire to share the breadth of their communal work. On the third day, the display will feature student work, and it will be more obvious how viewers can interact with what they see.

The show, which feeds the burgeoning desire of some students to see art intertwine more with our daily lives, will be up until the end of Wednesday, so take a look at the display in the Library Arcade (or walk towards Chase and turn your head to the right for a moment) and ask yourself calmly, “Are you satisfied?”

The new era begins: Taylor Swift’s 1989

Contrary to recent album releases, 1989 did not fall from the sky on a random day, nor was it free for everyone with an iTunes account whether they wanted it or not.

Unless you have been living in a bubble (which let’s be honest, Bates kind of is), then you should have seen Taylor Swift in a presidential-campaign-style tour of America. Yet, all of this fanfare comes down to whether these thirteen songs are actually worth listening to.

When Swift declared that 1989 would be her first “documented pop record,” it did not seem like much of an actual declaration. Swift had already begun to lean towards pop music in Red, but with this statement she seemed to imply that 1989 would simply include more of “22” and “I Knew You Were Trouble” than “All Too Well.” Well, that is definitely not the case.

The experience of listening to 1989 is like when someone comes to tell you big news, you need to sit down for it. This album does not follow the steady evolution of Swift’s sound from Fearless to Red. Swift has discarded any trace of fun banjos for booming synths.

This is not to say, however, that 1989 is a bad album; it is actually pretty amazing. Swift’s songs have always been more about the stories they tell rather than the beats behind them, and her (admirably original) lyrics are just as beautiful and honest as they have always been.

Songs like “Out of the Woods” and “I Know Places” tell vivid stories of prior romances. It is amazing how Swift can sing about someone (usually an ex, of course) who got “twenty stitches in a hospital room” and still make the song hauntingly beautiful. In “Style,” Swift sings about a relationship over a slick throwback beat while you imagine yourself driving down the highway in a vintage car with neon lights all around you.

First-year Ethan Benevides said, “The new album surprised me when I first heard it, but the songs are pretty catchy and fun.”

As Swift is no longer seen with a new boyfriend every few months and is rather seen baking and playing with cats along with her friend group of famous females (how do I get into that friend group?), her songs are no longer all about exes. In the already popular “Shake it Off,” Swift presents the ultimate anti-hater anthem that almost everyone can relate to, because don’t we all have some haters?

In “Welcome to New York,” Swift gives her wide-eyed account of moving to the city as a young adult. This song is a strong departure from “Never Grow Up” from Speak Now, where Swift wrote an honest account of feeling alone when moving to her own apartment in Nashville. Maybe this is a sign of Swift’s growing maturity, but moving to a big city is scary, so “Welcome to New York” is not as relatable as many of her other songs, but it nonetheless captures the magic of the city.

The funniest and seemingly most talked about song is “Bad Blood.” Supposedly about Katy Perry, this song is the wonderfully overdramatic account of a friendship gone horribly wrong. Swift talks about having “scars on my back from your knife” and how “Band-Aids don’t fix bullet holes.” This song is at least relatable to two best friends in middle school who get into a petty argument and blow everything out of proportion.

One of the highlights of the album is “How You Get the Girl,” which oddly enough would have fit well on Speak Now or Red. The song is classic Swift, optimistic and bright with fun lyrics. This song is the perfect song for the impromptu dance party, as is “Shake it Off.”

First-year Emily Bacon says, “Shake it Off’ is Taylor’s most exciting song; I have to dance to it whenever it comes on.”

Overall, 1989 proves that all Swift needs is a pen and paper to create an album. Her fans would not care if her next album were heavy metal or folk, because under any genre Swift’s music is undeniably unique, and she can thrive with “this sick beat” in any kind of song.

Everybody wants to be loved: Dancer-activist Sean Dorsey becomes part of Maine commmunity

I looked out blissfully, head tilted, into the floods of light onstage that were beaming down on my classmates’ directed glares. As the lights began to dim and the dancers onstage dispersed in a slow walk backward from their collective stare, the words “everybody wants to be loved” flooded through the speakers in Schaeffer Theater, and a ripple of understanding shook my stomach in a way that few dance pieces ever do. It was a moment so visceral that it forced me to acknowledge my most organically human sense of self before walking onstage to perform in the second segment of this piece.

The piece was an excerpt of Sean Dorsey’s The Secret History of Love which had been performed in full on Schaeffer stage just two weeks prior by Company members themselves. My anecdote is just a kernel of the abundant experiences that countless community members in Maine have had and will have surrounding Sean Dorsey’s yearlong collaboration with the Bates Dance Festival.

Laura Faure, director of the festival, met Sean Dorsey four years ago, and she immediately loved his work and identified it as a rare success story of art as a platform for activism. He is a young transgender and queer modern dance artist who has the ability to draw in members from diverse community across generations and the country.

Faure conceived a new project for the festival that involved Dorsey coming to Maine on three occasions and engaging with students of the college both in and out of classes. The first visit was this September, which was initially intended for Dorsey to connect with and get to know the LGBTQ community. The second will be during the 2015 Short Term, and the third will be with his company during the Young Dancers Workshop at the Bates Dance Festival where Sean Dorsey Dance will be the emerging company in residence.

The project then evolved into a larger partnership when the Harward Center for Community Partnerships contributed some funding and the Bates Department of Theater and Dance decided to bring Sean Dorsey as a guest artist for academic classes. Dorsey’s community work has brought him to liberal arts classes in a variety of disciplines, Bates OUTFront meetings in the newly opened OIE space, OUTFront L/A meetings, and the AIDS center in Portland. While he couldn’t spend extensive time in this visit with every group, the goal was to introduce him as a supportive community member so that groups can have more intimate and targeted discussions when he returns during Short Term in May.

In his first of these three visits to Maine in September, Sean Dorsey Dance performed a free showing in Schaeffer Theater of The Secret History of Love. For those who were unable to attend, the piece tells the stories of elders in the LGBTQ community and how they were able to find love throughout the 20th century when, to put it lightly, their identities were not as well accepted as they are today. The piece is the product of Dorsey’s extensive creative process involving one-on-one interviews with LGBTQ elders, building a score from those recorded narratives, and creating movement that would capture, explain but not wash out the potency of the recordings.

What makes Sean’s educational and affecting work so unique is that it assures audiences that modern dance can be a platform for activism without impeding the work’s ability to stand on its own. The poignancy of the piece doesn’t rely solely on content or movement, but rather the harmonious integration of the two so that each enhance the effectiveness of the other to draw us in, and help us think. When we leave the performance, we don’t feel guilty for not having known the history of the unfairly oppressed, we feel humbled by their determination to find love and thankful that we have become aware of this example of human resilience.

Sean’s wide range of responsibilities as researcher, composer and choreographer for Secret History of Love will be repeated in the creative process for his upcoming work The Missing Generation, which will premiere at the Bates Dance Festival in the upcoming 2015 season, when Sean Dorsey Dance will be the emerging company in residence.

The Missing Generation, not to be confused with the phrase “the lost generation,” is Dorsey’s next full length work, and it will examine the loss of almost an entire generation of gay and transgender people to AIDS during the AIDS epidemic in the 1980s and 90s, as well as the contemporary impact of this loss. Dorsey has already recorded oral histories from survivors in five cities and plans to spend the next year travelling across the country to record more.

This new piece developed out of his research for Secret History when he realized that there was an entire generation of community members that he couldn’t interview about their experiences of finding love because they had lost their lives in the early part of the AIDS epidemic.

While the subject matter is dauntingly dark, the community members he already met to talk about their experiences, some of them from Maine, have been “phenomenal, remarkable, amazing, super, powerful, brilliant, curious, dynamic, insightful, hilarious, saucy, playful,” in Dorsey’s words.

I’m convinced that the effectiveness of his work as a platform for activism is due to the fact that Dorsey himself is a positive person. Reflecting on the dark content in The Missing Generation, he noted, “It’s also important to capture that people made incredibly vibrant art in response to AIDS and were powerful, they did amazing street art and street protests.” He is the best version of a self-proclaimed history buff, because while he’s intrigued by past events, he only looks positively towards the future.

“I’m excited to push myself as an artist because it’s the largest project that I’ve ever undertaken,” he says of his upcoming work, and “I’m excited about the disparate communities that the project is bringing together. I’m very thrilled and grateful for Bates Dance Festival and Laura Faure for being one of the lead national commissioners of the project, for being so supportive of the work, and for bringing us to Maine to work with many cities and towns here to reach transgender and queer people throughout Maine.”

Skip Annabelle, stick with The Conjuring

It is an unfortunate truth that, when film studios produce a successful movie, they often milk the premise for all that it’s worth.

This results in one or more sequels or spin-offs, which often disappoint.  Take, for instance, the Pirates of the Caribbean franchise, which started out strong but fizzled out over time (and yet, the fifth film in the series is set to release in 2017), or The Hangover trilogy, which followed a similar pattern. This often occurs in the horror movie genre, which, in the race to crank out more sequels, tends to sacrifice decent plotlines and real scares in favor of cheap tricks.

Sadly, this is the case with Annabelle, released in 2014.

The premise of Annabelle revolves around a creepy, possessed doll of the same name. “Creepy” is not an overstatement. This doll is terrifying. Horror movie fans will remember the toy from the 2013 scary movie The Conjuring, which focuses on a team of paranormal investigators.  The Conjuring was, in my opinion, a fantastic horror movie, and critics and audience members agree as well. Sophomore Christina Colman described it as “creepy and twisted.” That success spurred New Line Cinema to produce another film, in hopes of replicating the wide acclaim garnered by The Conjuring.

Unfortunately, Annabelle, which is a prequel to The Conjuring, is just a less exciting version of its predecessor. It had the potential to be fantastic, considering the scream-worthiness of The Conjuring, but it just did not meet expectations. There were a few particularly frightening scenes, but overall, the movie was a clichéd mess.

For one, the story did not make a lot of sense–which was confusing, after the precision in the plotline of The Conjuring. The acting was also sub-par; movie reviewer David Palmer jabbed, “The doll [was] the best actor in the movie.”

Apparently, however, the negative reaction from film critics and viewers is not stopping New Line Cinema, as the company is currently developing a sequel to the series. If Annabelle is any indicator, don’t waste your time; there is simply no way to top the triumph of The Conjuring.

That being said, if you are not an aficionado of horror movies, or if you get scared easily, Annabelle might just be scary enough to keep you satisfied this Halloween. But if you’re looking for a truly great scare, watch the better film of the franchise, The Conjuring.

The Vanishing of Ethan Carter: The indie video game we’ve been waiting for

Many indie and big-budget game developers alike struggle to pull off an enormous creative vision while delivering a well-rounded final product. But the Astronauts, the Polish indie developers behind the spectacular and chilling mystery-adventure game The Vanishing of Ethan Carter, have created one of the best story-driven games of the year.

The player takes on the role of Paul Prospero, a private detective with psychic abilities investigating the disappearance of a boy, Ethan Carter. Players are free to roam Red Creek Valley, a visually stunning and expansive mountainous region built up around a sprawling lake and dam. Built on the Unreal Engine, the game is one of the most visually intense indie games ever created. There is no HUD (heads-up display); there is no map; there is no inventory list. It is just Paul Prospero and Red Creek Valley.

Although the game takes the form of an unwinding narrative, it does not force players to go from Point A to Point B, thus allowing them to explore locations and crime scenes in any order they choose. Before the game even starts, a message appears on the screen reading, “This game is a narrative experience that does not hold your hand.”

There are several grisly murder scenes scattered across the map, all of them connected; but just as a real detective might not find all the clues in the proper order, so too might players discover one event before another.

While the idea of a psychic detective might seem a bit overpowered, the developers balanced the ability well enough so that it helps the player uncover bits of the puzzle without showing them.

From the very beginning the game takes on a mystical, almost mythological, air, one that only builds more throughout the game. The whole game, set around an archetypal run-down New England mill town, feels very much like an H.P. Lovecraft story: a constant, never-ending sense of dread permeates the entire landscape, and sudden, shocking revelations occur both in the form of narration and in riveting, world-changing moments of intense action.

“It’s got the nice graphics of first-person RPGs (role-playing games) like Skyrim, but it’s a different genre. I like that,” says sophomore Leah Sturman.

The game itself lacks any form of combat, focusing instead on exploration and puzzle solving; however, the world in several parts is dynamic, changing after certain puzzles are solved and granting access to formerly restricted areas.

The sole issue with the game is its use of invisible walls. For decades, invisible walls have been used by game developers to keep players out of undeveloped areas or to keep them from jumping off bridges or cliffs, but in recent years more games have started pushing away from the concept; but Ethan Carter is an exception. It makes sense that a detective without any great physical strength wouldn’t want to jump off ledges, but it breaks the immersion in the game nevertheless.

While the game relies mostly on suspense to creep out its players, there are one or two jump scares to be aware of. Luckily they are few and far between, and the real terror stems from arriving in the wake of unnerving human destruction against innocents.

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