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Inspiring Fear: A Monster Calls

hblf, lfneJason L Blair14 July 2016

I’m kinda stunned by how much I love this.

Most of the kids-plus-monsters movies I post about have the two sides opposing each other. That is, after all, the heart of Little Fears: kids fighting monsters. But the below film, A Monster Calls, is all about a boy who has a monster on his side. I won’t say anything more other than to implore you to watch the trailer below.

It’s based on Patrick Ness’s book of the same name. I plan to pick this one up immediately.

For you fans of Monsters and Other Childish Things, this fits so very well there too.

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Inspiring Fear: The Boy

hblf, lfneJason L Blair29 February 2016

The past year or so has been a good time for horror fans, from It Follows to Crimson Peak to Krampus, but I was perhaps most impressed by William Brent Bell’s The Boy.

Here’s the premise (courtesy of IMDb):

An American nanny is shocked that her new English family’s boy is actually a life-sized doll. After she violates a list of strict rules, disturbing events make her believe that the doll is really alive.

For Little Fears fans, The Boy stands on familiar ground: an old isolated house, a creepy doll, a protagonist nobody believes. In fact, if you age down the main character to 12 or so, you can lift this wholesale for your own Little Fears episode. It is so relevant to the game, that I wrote one of The Boy‘s inspirations, Robert the Doll, as a monster back in Halloweek 2012.

So, consider this one to be a top inspiration. If you get a chance to watch it, I highly recommend you do so. Or, at the very least, check out the trailer below:

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Inspiring Fear: Krampus

hblf, lfneJason L Blair09 December 2015

“This is the new Gremlins,” I said to my 12yo as we walked out of our viewing of Krampus.

I stand by that statement. While there’s no adorable Mogwai at the heart of this film, it is a fabulously dark Christmas fable with a lot of heart, charm, and atmosphere.

And it’s perfect Little Fears material. There are plenty of creatures besides the titular German demon to source for your own Little Fears games. I won’t go into details, because they’re best left unspoiled, but my mind was racing with ideas for new monsters.

I highly recommend catching it while it’s theaters. If you’re not familiar, check out the trailer below.

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Inspiring Fear: Poltergeist (2015)

hblf, lfneJason L Blair05 February 2015

Producer Sam Raimi (Evil Dead, Spider-Man) and Director Gil Kenan (Monster House) are bringing the world a new take on the classic film Poltergeist.

I’m not a hater on reboots. John Carpenter’s The Thing and Brian De Palma’s Scarface are both brilliant remakes. Judging from this trailer, Poltergeist has definite potential. Check out the trailer below and, if you’re interested, get ready for its theatrical release on July 24th.

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Inspiring Fear: Dust

hblf, lfneJason L Blair21 August 2014

I really don’t want to spoil anything by saying how this wonderful 7-minute short film starring Alan Rickman relates to Little Fears so please just trust me when I say it does.

Dust – Short film starring Alan Rickman & Jodie Whittaker from One Giant Production on Vimeo.

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Inspiring Fear: The Babadook

lfneJason L Blair27 February 2014

Put this one of your radars, folks.

Back in 2005, writer/director Jennifer Kent put out a short film titled Monster. The movie focused on a mother, trying to soothe her son’s fear of the creatures in his closet, who becomes aware of a sinister presence that may be all too real. Kent has expanded that idea, with the help of a successful Kickstarter*, into a full-length feature called The Babadook.

While I haven’t found a slated release date yet, it will show at some festivals this year. I really hope it gets a wide release or, at the very least, a DVD/BluRay release. It looks fantastic, and I love the mythology the trailer hints at.

You check out the trailer below.

The blurb on the Kickstarter says:

THE BABADOOK is a psychological horror about a mother who becomes possessed by a monster that wills her to kill her 6-year-old son.

Which, for the record, you’ll find in Book 3: Blessed are the Children, which focuses on souls and ghosts and possession and the kids stuck in the middle of that mess. I cannot wait to see this film.

*I’m kicking myself for not having run across the Kickstarter when it was going. How did I miss it?

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Inspiring Fear: SHHH

hblf, lfneJason L Blair25 February 2014

Guillermo del Toro has inspired many with his incredibly imaginative films. But a couple of filmmakers found their inspiration from Guillermo’s childhood fears. The result, an 11-minute film titled SHHH, is a wonderful source of inspiration for your own Little Fears episode. You can watch the movie in its entirety below, and check out the page I found it on over at FearNet.

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Halloweek 2013 – Doll-O-Ween #3: Child’s Play

hblf, lfneJason L Blair30 October 2013

It’s hard to think of creepy dolls and not have slasher film icon Chucky spring immediately to mind.

Introduced in 1988’s Child’s Play, Chucky began life as a just another Good Guys doll until serial killer—and voodoo practitioner—Charles Lee Ray, bleeding to death in the aisle of a store, transferred his soul into the toy. Soon after, single mother Karen Barclay buys the now-possessed doll for her son, Andy*, and gives Charles Lee Ray the opportunity to continue his murder spree, starting with the boy’s babysitter.

I have a particular soft spot for the Child’s Play films. Over the course of six films, the series gets increasingly campy and outlandish (see Bride of Chucky and Seed of Chucky especially) but once you’ve bought into the idea of a guy putting his soul into a toy thus transforming it into a living plastic killing machine, it’s really hard to pick nits, isn’t it?

The films are decidedly Rated R, which puts them outside direct influence for a Little Fears Nightmare Edition campaign but they do provide a great starting point for including evil dolls in your game. Charles Lee Ray could easily be a guy who was temporarily possessed by a monster that, seeing its host dying in a toy store, transferred itself to the nearest object: a child’s doll.

If you haven’t seen it, entries 2 and 5 are available on Netflix, and the whole set was recently released on Blu-Ray and DVD.

*A name shared with the boy from Toy Story, another film about a child whose toys come to life.

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Inspiring Fear: The Hole

hblf, lfneJason L Blair13 August 2013

Even though I was quite excited for this 2009 film* by from kid-film icon Joe Dante, I admit the online reception put me off. So much so that I delayed actually watching The Hole until this past weekend. I came into the movie expecting a mediocre horror tale but, honestly, aside from the rather glaring plot hole (which is forgivable as I think there’s a strong argument for why the characters didn’t), I found The Hole to be rather good—and an excellent resource for Little Fears.

The film follows a familiar setup: two kids move into a new town/new house and stuff happens. In this case, two brothers, Dane and Lucas, find a locked door on the basement floor of the house they’re renting (the latest in a long string of “new houses”). Unable to fight curiosity, they open the door and discover a hole that seems to have no bottom. This prompts further investigation, with interesting results, and builds a mystery as to what could possibly be down there. Along the way, they enlist the girl next door who maybe knows something about the house’s previous tenant.

The movie touches on some rather serious subject matter, which comes to light through the supernatural angle, and moves along at a fair clip. The acting, especially Haley Bennett’s neighbor girl Julie, is quite good and the whole thing builds to a satisfying and personal conclusion. Sure, I could nitpick the film but I honestly don’t see what the bad reviews on IMDb are going on about. Ah well.

I don’t want to spoil anything but I do want to point out that this film features a pitch-perfect glimpse into Closetland. If you’ve struggled to conceptualize what the realm of monsters can look like, watch this film.

The Hole is available in hardcopy as a DVD or Blu-Ray or you can stream it via Netflix or Amazon Instant Video.

*Not to be confused with the 2001 Thora Birch and Keira Knightley film of the same name.

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Inspiring Fear: Click

hblf, lfneJason L Blair06 May 2013

Three boys. Two girls. A decrepit building. A light switch.

I’ve heard folks say the best horror is simple. While some may disagree with that assertion, films like William Prince’s CLICK certainly make a strong argument. This short film runs fourteen minutes and some change and is achingly spartan in its design, concept, and plot. It presents not only a beautiful-in-its-simplicity horror story but a fantastic premise for a Little Fears session. Imagine your group as the kids who investigate the aftermath of this film. I would love to play in that game. Absolutely wonderful.

If you have fifteen minutes to spare, you can watch the entire film below. It’s well worth your time.

(Warning: Adult Language)

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