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‘Dark Souls III’ Makes My Anxiety Worse But That’s OK

A few years ago during an online counseling session with a Cognitive Behavioral Therapist, we discussed how playing video games would serve as a way for me to escape the otherwise constant anxiety that was going on in my brain.

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A few years ago during an online counseling session with a Cognitive Behavioral Therapist, we discussed how playing video games would serve as a way for me to escape the otherwise constant anxiety that was going on in my brain. I could transport myself to a completely different world and focus on a challenge I knew I could tangibly overcome as I took control of an avatar that didn’t have the worries and neuroses that I did.

Games as escapism isn’t a new concept, but the therapist was clearly not a fan of it – believing that the time I spent shutting down my existential worries to focus on the game was not only time spent away from facing my anxiety, but that it did nothing to stop me being anxious both before and after game time. Once I turned off the game, she asked, did my anxiety come back? It did, of course, but I was still pretty shocked to find a therapist trying to tell me that the precious little time in my day where I was anxiety-free was a bad thing.

The game in question was The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt. I will maintain to this very day that it was a huge help to me in terms of showing me the power of escapism and I will forever cherish it for being my safe place. Being Geralt, hunting monsters, talking to locals and exploring The Continent not only stopped me from thinking too much, but my headaches would go away, my dizziness would subside, the tingling in my limbs would be unnoticeable, and I would feel a sense of enjoyment and adrenaline that meant I no longer felt exhausted. In recent months, I’ve started to feel like my therapist may have seen more of a benefit to me playing games if I’d told her I was playing Dark Souls III instead.

Despite the fact that I’ve completed Dark Souls III already, when I go back and play it now I am still absolutely on edge almost the entire time. Dark Souls III isn’t me escaping my anxiety, it’s a virtual manifestation of it right on my TV.

One of my biggest anxiety issues is to catastrophize almost everything that I can perceive as a potential threat – no matter how miniscule, or even made up, that threat is – until it spells certain doom for me and my existence. From expecting to get kicked off the pitch as a 13 year-old playing football to being trampled in a mosh pit as a 17 year-old punk – I will expect the worst, push through the fear, and be pleasantly surprised when I return home absolutely fine having had a whale of a time. Dark Souls III has already shown me its worst, and yet it still has me thinking that I am going to be scared, defeated and enraged at every turn.

Much like that Chimaira concert in Glasgow (you know, where a weedy English kid like me goes to a metalcore gig in Scotland and gets stabbed because people can smell the England on him) way back when, nothing in Dark Souls III is going to literally kill me. What it will still do is have me edge my character around every corner with cautious trepidation because I know what’s coming and I know that I probably was killed by it the first time round.

You’d think I’d be better prepared and know I can tackle everything it can throw at me, but something about From Software’s game design prevents that mindset from taking over for me. Make no mistake, that is absolutely not a bad thing. Even the most minor of enemies in Dark Souls can make you come unstuck, as can even the most insignificant of problems to an irritable and anxious mind. While speed-runners will tell you that running from those enemies is actually the best tactic, running from things is one of my real life traits that I refuse to employ in Souls.

Anxiety may still dominate my sleepless nights and make me feel physically exhausted, achy and dizzy, but a key thing I’ve learned to cope with it is that submitting to it is not an option. Whether it be strenuous physical exercise, a job interview or even writing an article for a games website, I have to try and live my life in spite of my anxiety, and not wait for it to pass before I feel I can live the life I want.

I will never have played Dark Souls III enough to be at a level where it isn’t going to make me tense and potentially irritated, but I will also never let those feelings diminish the joy I get at the end of a tough boss battle or when cashing in a mound of souls to create a new build with exciting new weapons and gear. I love Dark Souls in spite of the way it keeps me on edge, maybe even because of it.

When I said that Dark Souls III is a virtual manifestation of my anxiety, I wasn’t referring exclusively to the hardships and misery – it also mirrors that feeling I’ve had over and over again that, almost always, nothing is as terrible as I’d made it seem in my head. It’s such a bizarre thing to take pride in, but the feeling of finding a situation that gave me anxiety wasn’t actually all that bad, and was actually enjoyable, almost makes me appreciate the good times that little bit more. They weren’t just good, they were the opposite of what I expected. Think of it as enjoyment multiplied by overwhelming relief.

Stepping outside of an anxious scenario, I can usually find reflective clarity as an additional coping method. Despite me saying that I’ll never be at a level where I’m going to be casually engaging a chat feed while speed-running the game, I have obviously gotten better at Dark Souls III since I first played it, and beating some of the bosses solo – even on my first attempt – will provide that aforementioned sense of overwhelming relief. Not only was that boss nowhere near as bad as I remembered while walking up to its arena, I actually defeated it with relative ease. Reassurance may not be how I go into some scenarios, but it really can work in retrospect as a way to go back to that anxious thought process and debunk it in hindsight – something I’ve done for as long as I remember.  

It may be the tool of the noob, but Dark Souls‘ co-op system is another excellent reflection of coping with anxiety. I can actually remember a more naive time when I didn’t even know how the summon system worked, and I assumed that anyone I summoned could, and would, kill me. You can probably imagine the immense comfort I felt when that first bowing phantom showed up to help me kick some ass. Hell, even a lot of the red phantoms will start their invasion by greeting you with a gentlemanly salute before they try and ruin your fun.

It’s the overwhelming sense of empathy that summoning a phantom in Dark Souls gives you that can actually feel sorely missing in real life. Speak to a therapist and, nine times out of ten, they probably won’t have suffered from what you’re going through. Summon a phantom in Dark Souls, and you can bet that poor bastard had to slog their way through that boss at some point. They get it, they know you need help and they know exactly how to help you. A feeling of anxiety – even when speaking to someone qualified and professionally employed to help you – can often still feel like an isolating experience. You can acknowledge a therapist’s sympathy and listen to their advice, but they can’t jump into the boss arena that is your brain and pepper that fucker with Soul Darts alongside you like a Phantom can in Dark Souls.

Some players will tell you that you should feel bad for seeking help with a boss, but for someone like me it really is soothing to see a stranger – someone you may never even speak to – jumping and celebrating with you after you have overcome your shared obstacle. Much like in real life, when you’ve experienced feelings of worry, desperation and despair about something, there are few feelings more rewarding than being able to tell someone else “I’ve been there.”

I regularly play Souls online with a friend of mine, and guiding him seems to help make my trials and tribulations with the game feel all the more redundant. It’s classic drama triangle stuff; no longer am I the lonely victim, I’m the rescuer – the empathizer who’s suffered so that my friend doesn’t have to. I’m calm, I’m Daddy Cool. Even though I’m going through the exact same things in the game that made me tense, the pressure on myself is lifted and my new perspective is the empowerment to help someone in need.   

So, as much as Dark Souls III still has me anxious a lot of the time, it’s an anxiety I can beat. It’s an anxiety that people can genuinely help me with, and can be reciprocated to help others. It’s an anxiety with a tangible light at the end of the tunnel and a palpable sense of pride in my success. Real anxiety is definitely not as easy to conquer as the Soul of Cinder, but using Dark Souls as a perspective, warts and all, certainly does feel more rewarding than running away to Novigrad for some sexy times with Triss Merigold. I’m glad that not every game presents itself as such a mirror to my worrisome mind, but when one does, and I come out feeling victorious, I’m all the more grateful for it.

Crotchety Englishman who spends hundreds of pounds on video game tattoos and Amiibo in equally wallet-crippling measure. Likes grammar a lot, but not as much as he likes ranting about the latest gaming news in his weekly column.

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‘Mortal Kombat 11’ Ramps Up Its Roster With The Kombat Pack

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Our favourite brutal and bloody fighting game series Mortal Kombat is back with a new announcement surrounding brand new characters that will be joining the fight in the latest instalment of the franchise, Mortal Kombat 11.

During Gamescom 2019, Warner Brothers Interactive Entertainment and NetherRealm Studios introduced the Kombat Pack via an official reveal trailer. The Kombat Pack will feature six new fighters who will be introduced to the game over the next six months. Shang Tsung and Nightwolf are the latest additions who have already been released but the trailer also shows off four new and exciting additions to the world of Mortal Kombat.

The first up will be the Terminator T-800 who will be released on October 8th 2019 to coincide with the October release of the next Terminator film, Terminator: Dark Fate.  The trailer shows that the character model features the likeness of Arnold Schwarzenegger rather than just going for the Terminator style metallic endoskeleton. This is an interesting choice that leads to an incredibly impressive character model of Arnie. I’m really hoping that he will start to decay into his metal form as he is beaten down in the game but only time will tell.

The next release will be well known Mortal Kombat character Sindel, whose appearance fans have been waiting for after she was confirmed to be coming to the game in late May. Sindel will join the fight on November 26th, 2019.

The next character is another interesting one: DC comics top villain Joker. Joker is a pop culture icon who is no stranger to fighting games so his inclusion isn’t that much of a surprise. His physical appearance is somewhat unexpected however. He seems quite young and dashing, not what is typically expected when one thinks of the Joker. It is always fun to see unique interpretations of well known characters so hopefully the Joker will not disappoint when he becomes playable. This won’t be for a while though as he isn’t slated for release until January 28th, 2020.

The final character from the Kombat Pack will be Spawn from Todd McFarlane’s comic book of the same name. McFarlane already suggested that Spawn would be joining the game way back in December 2018 before Mortal Kombat 11 was even released, so this one isn’t much of surprise. The release date for Spawn is the furthest, coming to the game on March 17th,2020.

One fighter not mentioned is Ash from the Evil Dead, who has been being teased for sometime.His lack of inclusion here doesn’t rule him out of the game just yet. Here’s hoping that on top of the Kombat Pack, we will also get a few extra fighters here and there over the next few months.

The Kombat Pack will be $39.99 (those who purchased the premium edition of the game for $99.99 will have access to this content once it becomes available) to get all six fighters, one-week early access and various skins and gear sets. The DLC fighters as well as the skins and gear will all be available for anyone to purchase following the one –week period of early access.

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Limited Edition ‘Twin Peaks’ Box Set Includes a Whopping 21-Discs

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Next year marks 30 years since David Lynch and Mark Frost changed television forever with their groundbreaking series Twin Peaks and to celebrate they are releasing a new, exhaustive box set which collects all of the pieces of Lynch’s quintessential mystery thriller and packs it into a whopping 21 disks.

The set, available only on Blu-ray, includes all three television seasons and the prequel movie Fire Walk With Me, as well as the film’s deleted scenes (The Missing Pieces). It also includes new interviews, behind-the-scenes footage, unedited versions of several musical performances, and so much more!

If that’s not enough, there will also be a special 4K UHD disc included in the set, containing a new ultra-high def transfer overseen by David Lynch of both the American and international versions of the 1990 Twin Peaks pilot, as well as “Part 8” of A Limited Event Series, titled “Gotta Light?” The set will also include all existing special features from the previous releases of Twin Peaks: The Entire Mystery and Twin Peaks: A Limited Event Series.

If you’re not salivating yet, it should also be mentioned that Lynch has confirmed the addition of 20 hours of additional features for die-hard Lynch fans to delve into.

From Z to A Twin Peaks Box Set

Last but not least, the collection comes in a beautiful box which the official press release says, once opened, a depiction of the infamous Red Room is revealed with its brown and crème chevron floor and brilliant red curtains. Sitting in front of the red curtain will be an exclusive die-cut acrylic figure of Laura Palmer kissing Special Agent Dale Cooper.

Fans who can’t afford the set will be able to purchase a more standard collection on Blu-ray and DVD, titled Twin Peaks: The Television Collection which will be released on October 15.

The From Z to A set costs $139.99 and is available for pre-order here. The Blu-ray TV collection costs $91.01, and the DVD TV collection costs $50.99.

While your waiting for your set to arrive, be sure to check out our insanely popular Twin Peaks podcast, The Lodgers, hosted by Simon Howell and Kate Rennebohm.

From Z to A Twin Peaks Box Set
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‘Monster Hunter World: Iceborne’ Trailer Reveals New Monsters and More!

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I’m guessing we are not alone in choosing Monster Hunter World as one of the best games of 2018. In our review, Matthew Ponthier wrote, “Monster Hunter World is a hallmark entry into the storied franchise and is a title that will light a fire in the belly of any triumphant Hunter”.

And so, it shouldn’t come as a surprise either that we are hotly anticipating Monster Hunter World: Iceborne, the massive expansion to Capcom’s best-selling game to date. The latest trailer revealed this week during Gamescom 2019 gives a glimpse of returning and new monsters, including a closer look at Velkhana, the mysterious Elder Dragon that’s new to the series. Additionally, new options will be available to help players progress through the main World game and further encourage existing players to aid other hunters in the community.

Monster Hunter World: Iceborne

Iceborne will include a multitude of new monsters and subspecies for hunters to challenge, and now, two more have been confirmed to join the upcoming massive expansion’s lineup. The brute wyvern Brachydios is a returning fan-favorite known for its explosive slime attacks, while Namielle, a mysterious all-new Elder Dragon, unleashes powerful water-based attacks. More details about the new flagship monster Velkhana have also emerged. This Elder Dragon’s icy breath can cause frozen pillars to form on the battlefield, which hunters can use to create exciting opportunities for new hunting strategies.

 A free Guardian Armor set will be provided to all hunters, both World and Iceborne, as part of an upcoming title update on September 4 in time for the launch of the expansion. This upgradable armor set offers increased defense and skills that help hunters survive in the New World. The buffed armor can be equipped from the beginning of the World game, and is especially geared towards newer hunters to help them progress through the main story.

Monster Hunter World: Iceborne

Last but not least, there will be another gameplay feature new to the series that focuses on Low Rank and High Rank player assistance by creating a further incentive for the community to help fellow hunters. Helpful players will get rewarded with exclusive in-game Pendants and Trophies for assisting other hunters in ranks below their own.

The upcoming Iceborne expansion will be coming to the PlayStation 4 computer entertainment system and the Xbox One family of devices, including Xbox One X, globally on September 6th, 2019, with a PC release to follow in January 2020.

Watch the trailer below.

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‘Control’ Launch Trailer Cranks Up The Crazy

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With the release date of Control fast approaching, a new launch trailer has been revealed during Gamescom 2019 in Cologne, Germany.

Remedy continues its trend of creating games with mind bending and bizarre realities with Control, a third person action game set in a world where supernatural forces are present. The otherworldly entities take over a government facility in New York tasked with containing supernatural threats known as the Federal Bureau of Control. The player takes on the role of Jesse Faden, the new Director of the Bureau, who has her own personal mission as she sets about finding her brother who was taken by the Bureau when they were children. The trailer shows Jesse as she wanders through the Bureau, set appropriately to Ruelle’s “Madness” as she falls through various dimensions and realities. Jesse has her own powers for the player to play around with as well as a weapon known as the Service Weapon, a supernatural firearm that can transform and change to the wielders will. We get a good look at the Service Weapon in the launch trailer and it looks like a particularly interesting element that make for intriguing shooting mechanics.

To celebrate the games launch, 505 Games will be hosting a charity stream in aid of St. Jude Children’s Hospital, a research hospital for various diseases and cancers affecting children. The stream will run from 8am to 4pm PDT on August 27th. It’s all to raise money for a brilliant cause so to check it out and to donate, go to the link here. Control will also be coming to PAX West next weekend from August 30th to September 2nd, so make sure to check it out if you’re attending.

Control will be released on Xbox One, PlayStation 4 and Microsoft Windows via the Epic Store on August 27th, 2019.

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Fantastic Fest 2019: Second Wave Adds ‘Knives Out’, ‘Parasite’ and More

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This year’s Fantastic Fest is shaping up with one of the strongest lineups in recent years and if the first wave announcement didn’t impress you, the second wave of films announced today will have you running to buy tickets.

Wave two brings a ton of exciting new titles including Rian Johnson‘s Knives Out, Bong Joon-ho‘s Palme d’Or winner Parasite, as well as Richard Stanley‘s The Color Out of Space and the latest from filmmaking duo Justin Benson and Aaron Moorehead, Synchronic.

This year, Fantastic Fest will also be spotlighting Mexican genre films such as The Black Pit of Dr. M and The Ship of Monsters—and, the festival will also include a sidebar dedicated to LGBTQ+ representation in genre cinema.

Check out the full second wave film lineup below. Fantastic Fest runs September 19-26. Be sure to check back as we will be covering the event once again this year.

Abou Leila
Algeria, France, Qatar, 2019
North American Premiere, 139 min
Director – Amin Sidi-Boumédiène
In the midst of the Algerian Civil War, Lotfi ventures into the desert with his lifelong friend S., who hopes to find and kill the elusive, dangerous terrorist Abou Leila.

The Antenna
Turkey, 2019
US Premiere, 115 min
Director – Orçun Behram
Somewhere within an unnamed city in Turkey, the residents of an apartment block await the installation of their new antenna as ordered by the central government. No one can prepare them for the evil that will be unleashed.

The Black Pit Of Dr. M
Mexico, 1959
Repertory Screening, 82 min
Director – Fernando Méndez
Two doctors make a pact on behalf of science: Whichever one dies first will return to share the secrets of the afterlife. This pact will not end well.

Bliss
USA, 2019
Texas Premiere, 80 min
Director – Joe Begos
While trying to complete her latest painting, a starving artist facing a lack of inspiration spirals out of control in a blaze of blood-soaked, drug-fueled glory.

Blood Machines
France, USA, 2019
North American Premiere, 50 min
Director – Seth Ickerman
The wild sequel to the Carpenter Brut music video, Turbo Killer, shoots you into a turbulent psychedelic adventure of galactic hunters tracking down the soul of a spaceship set to a killer synthwave soundtrack.

Butt Boy
USA, 2019
World Premiere, 100 min
Director – Tyler Cornack
Writer/director/comedian Tyler Cornack’s Butt Boy introduces us to Chip, a middle-aged man whose first prostate exam stirs feelings deep inside leading to an addiction that can only be shown to Fantastic Fest audiences.

Climate Of The Hunter
USA, 2019
World Premiere, 90 min
Director – Mickey Reece
The “Soderbergh of the Sticks,” Mickey Reece, returns to Fantastic Fest with his 27th feature. Two beautiful sisters vie for the affections of a man who may or may not be a vampire.

Color Out Of Space
USA, 2019
US Premiere, 111 min
Director – Richard Stanley
Unimaginable terrors befall the Gardner family after a meteorite lands on their front lawn in Richard Stanley’s entrancing, horrific adaptation of H.P. Lovecraft’s short story.

Iron Fists And Kung Fu Kicks
Australia, 2019
North American Premiere, 107 min
Director – Serge Ou
From the Shaw Brothers to The Matrix, this wild documentary tells the story of how kung fu films conquered the world from the 1960s to now.

Knives Out
USA, 2019
Special Presentation, 130 min
Director – Rian Johnson
In attendance – Director Rian Johnson
From acclaimed writer, director Rian Johnson comes Knives Out, a fresh and modern take on the classic “whodunnit” mystery genre.

The Lodge
USA, 2019
Texas Premiere, 108 min
Directors – Veronika Franz & Severin Fiala
Five years after Goodnight Mommy stunned Fantastic Fest audiences, Veronika Franz and Severin Fiala are back with another disturbing psychological twister about a brother and sister spending Christmas with their shadowy soon-to-be stepmother.

The Long Walk
Laos, Spain, Singapore, 2019
US Premiere, 115 min
Director – Mattie Do
In attendance – Director Mattie Do
An old Laotian hermit discovers that the ghost of a road accident victim can transport him back in time fifty years to the moment of his mother’s painful death..

Lyle
2014, USA
Repertory Screening, 65 min
Director – Stewart Thorndike
In attendance – Director Stewart Thorndike
After the loss of her child, a young woman begins to suspect that her neighbors might be part of a satanic cult and that she might be their next target.

A Nightmare On Elm Street 2: Freddy’s Revenge
USA, 1985
Repertory Screening, 87 min
Director – Jack Sholder
In attendance – Actors Mark Patton and Kim Myers
Jesse (Mark Patton) is the new kid on Elm Street and Freddy Krueger might not be the only monster in the closet in this much discussed but under-appreciated queer horror classic.

Nobadi
Austria, 2019
US Premiere, 90 min
Director – Karl Markovics
In a retirement allotment in Vienna, a crabby 91-year-old finds both himself and his humanity when he hires an Afghani refugee to help him in Karl Markovics’ remarkable and poignant third feature.

Parasite
South Korea, 2019
Texas Premiere, 131 min
Director – Bong Joon-ho
Bong Joon-ho’s seventh feature — about an unemployed Korean family conning their way out of their basement apartment — is a roller coaster ride of laughs, gasps, horror, tears, and perfection.

Patrick
Belgium, 2019
North American Premiere, 97 min
Director – Tim Mielants
Patrick is not having an easy time. First his domineering father passed away and now his favorite hammer is missing. Before the day is out, Patrick’s search will lead him to discover answers to the questions he didn’t even know existed.

Phil Tippett – Mad Dreams And Monsters
France, 2019
International Premiere, 80 min
Directors – Gilles Penso & Alexandre Poncet
After their documentary Creature Designers – The Frankenstein Complex, French journalist Alexandre Poncet and filmmaker Gilles Penso deliver an in-depth, sad, and beautiful documentary about the stop motion and VFX artist Phil Tippett, a man who changed the landscape of visual effects in film.

The Platform
Spain, 2019
US Premiere, 90 min
Director – Galder Gaztelu-Urrutia
In attendance – Director Galder Gaztelu-Urrutia
Somewhere in the future exists The Platform, a vertically tiered prison where the upper levels have access to exquisite food and the lower levels fight for survival. Level assignments are random, but how long can a prisoner’s luck hold? One man is about to find out.

Prey
1977, United Kingdom
Repertory Screening, 78 min
Director – Norman J. Warren
Jessica and Josephine find more than their relationship at stake when they’re chosen by a shape-shifting alien as his target for an observational study.

Scream, Queen! My Nightmare On Elm Street
USA, 2019
US Premiere, 100 min
Directors – Roman Chimienti & Tyler Jensen
In attendance – Directors Roman Chimienti and Tyler Jensen
More than thirty years after its release and his departure from Hollywood, Mark Patton (star of A Nightmare On Elm Street 2: Freddy’s Revenge), sets the record straight on the famously queer horror sequel in this fabulous, surprising, and eye-opening documentary.

The Ship Of Monsters
Mexico, 1960
Repertory Screening, 81 min
Director – Rogelio A. González
Two Venusian women and their robot servant are on a mission to find suitable candidates to repopulate their planet. Soon their ship is filled with bizarre specimens from across the universe, leading to an adventure like no other!

Synchronic
USA, 2019
US Premiere, 96 min
Directors – Justin Benson & Aaron Moorhead
In attendance – Directors Justin Benson and Aaron Moorhead
Two paramedics find their world ripped apart when they start encountering deaths linked to the otherworldly effects of a new designer drug called Synchronic.

Trampa Infernal
Mexico, 1989
Repertory Screening, 77 min
Director – Pedro Galindo III
In Mexico’s most notorious unseen video-era masterblast, a crew of toxically masculine bear murderers runs afoul of a forest-dwelling war veteran wearing a mannequin mask and Freddy Krueger glove. Entertainment ensues!!

The True Adventures Of Wolfboy
USA, 2019
North American Premiere, 88 min
Director – Martin Krej?í
Suffering from hypertrichosis — which covers him with animal-like fur — Paul knows he’s not like other kids. But a seemingly random package from his estranged mother will send him on a journey of self-discovery alongside extraordinary characters.

The Vast Of Night
USA, 2019
Texas Premiere, 90 min
Director – Andrew Patterson
A rural 1950s radio DJ and a telephone operator uncover a strange signal that could change everything in this stunning science fiction debut feature.

VFW
USA, 2019
World Premiere, 92 min
Director – Joe Begos
In attendance – Director Joe Begos
In the near future, a new drug called Hype has turned America into a war zone. The addicted are more mutant than human, and they’ve set their sights on assaulting a VFW post in Joe Begos’ star-studded latest.

VHYES
USA, 2019
World Premiere, 71 min
Director – Jack Henry Robbins
In attendance – Director Jack Henry Robbins
This bizarre retro comedy, shot entirely on VHS and Beta, takes us back to when 12-year-old Ralph, over one formative week, mistakenly records home videos and his favorite late night shows over his parents’ wedding tape.

Vivarium
Ireland, Belgium, Denmark, 2019
US Premiere, 98 min
Director – Lorcan Finnegan
When young couple Gemma (Imogen Poots) and Tom (Jesse Eisenberg) drive out to a maze of temptingly affordable houses in the suburbs, they find themselves unable to leave.

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Freelance Film Writers

Goomba Stomp is the joint effort of a team of like-minded writers from across the globe. We provide smart readers with sharp, entertaining writing on a wide range of topics in pop culture, offering an escape from the usual hype and gossip. We are currently looking for Film, TV, Anime and Comic writers.

Contact us: Editor@GoombaStomp.com

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