The True Sea

The human mind, old films, literature and podcasts.


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5 Contemporary Horror Films For Hallowe’en

Arguably, the best way to spend the Sunday before Hallowe’en is to watch horror films in bed. As you all know by now, I absolutely adore horror, but I often find new horror films predictable and unsatisfying. There are too many cheap jump scares and CGI isn’t really my thing. Using psychological tension or leaving things to the imagination is much more interesting than modern special effects. So, here are five great contemporary films that are more in the classic vein, though admittedly the first one is more cult than classic. Happy Hallowe’en, my lovelies!5 Contemporary Horror Films For Hallowe'en | The True Sea thetruesea.comMay
American psychological horror (2002)

May is a lonely young woman who works as a veterinary nurse and spends her time off with a porcelain doll in a glass display case gifted to her by her mother when she was little. She’s struggling to connect to people and yearns to find the perfect friend. So much so that it pushes her to literally make one. All-round great performances, particularly by Angela Bettis, Jeremy Sisto and Anna Faris. This was Lucky McKee’s directorial debut, who later went on to make the Suspiria (1977) homage The Woods (2006) and The Woman (2011). It’s categorised as a horror but really it refuses to be defined. It’s funny, disturbing, sad, romantic, happy and wonderfully morbid. This is one for the misfits, and I cannot recommend it enough.5 Contemporary Horror Films For Hallowe'en | The True Sea thetruesea.comThe House of the Devil
American horror (2009)

A young girl replies to an ad to babysit at a remote house during a night of a full lunar eclipse. She has a bad feeling about it and rightfully so as it turns out it’s not quite a normal babysitting job. The weird, old man who placed the ad offers her a lot of money and keeps pressing until she accepts. It’s very slow, building tension expertly, and it completely nails the feel and look of low-budget early 80s horror. This is perfect for when you want an atmospheric, low-action retro horror flick. It doesn’t appeal to everyone but if you, like me, enjoy the suspense more than the usually disappointing reveal, this one is for you.5 Contemporary Horror Films For Hallowe'en | The True Sea thetruesea.comHaute Tension (High Tension)
French horror (2003)

A young woman brings along her best friend to her parents’ farm house in the countryside. They arrive late at night and it doesn’t take long until there’s a home invasion. That’s all I’m going to say. I knew next to nothing about this film before watching it which is the best way to watch it. It’s brutal, gory and absolutely pitch black, like good old 70s Giallo horror. Director Alexandre Aja was accused of plagiarising Dean Koontz’s novel Intensity, but I can’t comment on the similarities as I haven’t read the book. Make sure you watch the original uncut version in French, not the English dubbed version.5 Contemporary Horror Films For Hallowe'en | The True Sea thetruesea.comThe Town That Dreaded Sundown
American slasher horror (2014)

65 years after Texarcana was terrorised by a masked serial killer nicknamed the Phantom Killer, it looks like he’s back. One young girl makes it her mission to uncover the murderer’s identity as well as the identity of the original Phantom. This film is beautifully shot using a saturated colour palette, and it plays with light and shadows in a really interesting way. The marvellous sound design keeps you on edge throughout. There are some scenes from the original film from 1976 and some recreated scenes from it too. This works because it’s not a remake or a straight-up sequel, but a meta-sequel made with love for its predecessor.5 Contemporary Horror Films For Hallowe'en | The True Sea thetruesea.comThe Invitation
American thriller horror (2015)

A man and his girlfriend are invited to a dinner party at his ex wife’s and her new husband’s house. A house which of course, used to be his. He hasn’t seen her or their mutual friends, also attending the party, for a long time and it’s soon revealed why. As the evening progresses, he becomes increasingly convinced that this isn’t just an innocent get-together, that there is in fact a sinister reason why they’re all there. You know that something is wrong right from the very beginning but exactly what it is creeps up on you slowly. This claustrophobic beauty was directed by Karyn Kusama. I love my one location films so maybe I’m biased, but I really enjoyed it.

How about you? What are you watching this Hallowe’en?

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5 Films To Watch When You’re Having a Tough Day

Some days, all you want to do is snuggle up with some chocolate and watch a really good, light-hearted comedy. Or a deliciously dark comedy. Certain films just make you feel like everything is right in the world again. Others feel like seeing old friends because you’ve watched them so many times. Which leads me to one of my favourite films…5 Films To Watch When You're Having a Tough Day | The True Sea thetruesea.comThe Actors
Irish crime comedy (2003)

Two struggling stage actors come up with a con to steal money from a gangster using their acting skills. It’s a clever idea but things very rarely go the way we think they will. Dylan Moran and Michael Caine are superb and hilarious. Moran particularly, blew me away with his acting skills on first viewing. Story is by Neil Jordan who doesn’t seem to know how to make rubbish. I love this film. I’ve seen it so many times that I’ve lost count.5 Films To Watch When You're Having a Tough Day | The True Sea thetruesea.comSerial Lover
French crime comedy (1998)

The director of a crime fiction publishing house invites three men she’s in love with and her male best friend over for dinner on her 35th Birthday with the ulterior motive of deciding which one she wants to marry. Before everyone even sits down to eat, there’s an accident in the kitchen and things escalate quickly from there. This is a fabulous comedy with detective elements and a bit of gore thrown in for good measure. There’s a South Korean remake of it which I’m yet to see.5 Films To Watch When You're Having a Tough Day | The True Sea thetruesea.comBreakfast on Pluto
Irish comedy drama (2005)

Patrick “Kitten” Braden is a boy who wants to be a girl in 70s Ireland. One day, he decides to go to London to find his biological mother who left him on the church steps as a baby. We follow him on his weird and wonderful adventures. This film has everything you need. Laughter, joy, sequins, empathy, talking birds, honesty, love and a sassy narrator. Written by Neil Jordan, and Patrick McCabe who also wrote The Butcher Boy. Cillian Murphy is so convincing as Kitten that you almost forget that Liam Neeson, Brendan Gleeson, Stephen Rea and Bryan Ferry are there too.5 Films To Watch When You're Having a Tough Day | The True Sea thetruesea.comSisters
American comedy (2015)

Tina Fey and Amy Poehler play two sisters whose parents decide to sell the house they grew up in. They’ve got one weekend to go through and remove their old belongings from the house before the new owners move in. After reminiscing about their teenage years and as their parents aren’t around anyway, they figure they might as well throw one last epic party at the house. It’s the chemistry between Fey and Poehler that makes this film so good. Yes, it’s occasionally vulgar but it’s also heart-warming and very sweet.5 Films To Watch When You're Having a Tough Day | The True Sea thetruesea.comSightseers
British horror comedy (2012)

Chris and Tina is an odd couple to say the least. He’s a caravan obsessed writer and she’s a sheltered knitting freak. They go on a caravan holiday planning to visit various interesting sites such as the Keswick Pencil Museum, but things very quickly go horrifically wrong. It’s dark, violent, hilarious and at times, worryingly relatable. If you’re able to laugh at social awkwardness and the darkness of the human soul, this film is for you. However, if you are of a delicate nature, give Sightseers, and probably Serial Lover too, a miss. Have a look at my Film Musings: Feel-Good Edition post instead for some more none gory flicks.

How about you? What are your go-to feel-good films?


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6 Things I Love These Days

6 Things I Love These Days | The True Sea thetruesea.comMy mala necklace
Mala necklaces are traditionally used during Japa meditation where a mantra is repeated 108 times – one time for each bead. I couldn’t find quite what I wanted, so I decided to make one myself out of rosewood, turquoise and lapis lazuli beads. I’m so pleased with how it turned out.

Anything that makes me feel cosy and safe
Snuggling up under a throw with a big cup of cherry blossom or mango green tea and a Japanese crime novel in the evenings. Watching an old horror film in bed by candlelight with a box of chocolates. Taking a long Epsom salt bath while burning a rosewood scented candle. Writing my thoughts out while listening to Nine Inch Nails.

Spotless
A CANAL+ Création Originale genre-bending drama series about Jean Bastière, a crime scene cleaner who lives in London with his wife and their two kids. One day, his estranged, wayward brother Martin turns up at their house and asks for a huge favour. Things escalate really quickly from there. It’s dark, gory and satirical – everything I want from a tv show. You can watch it on Netflix.

Being alone with my thoughts
For a while, I haven’t allowed myself to simply sit and think. When I’m stressed out and my thoughts are racing, I use constant distraction as a coping technique to prevent my OCD from triggering thought loops. Even though I’m still under a lot of pressure at work, I’m back to normal now, allowing my thoughts to pass through as they wish, visualising the future and letting myself daydream.

True Crime Japan
A podcast about true crime and mysteries from Japan. To my delight, the hosts cover some cases that haven’t received much attention outside of the Land of the Rising Sun. My favourite episodes so far are The Suicide Website Killer and The Psychic Spot Disappearance (The Spirited Away Hotel). There hasn’t been a new episode in a while, but I hope they’re intending to make more.

Patricia Highsmith books
I can’t believe I haven’t read any of her work until now. So far I’ve read A Suspension of Mercy and This Sweet Sickness. The latter had a big emotional impact on me. Next up is The Cry of the Owl. Patricia’s exceptionally well-written psychological thrillers very much get under your skin and inside your head. Her characters blur the line between imagination and reality in such a fantastic way that even the reader isn’t sure which is which.

How about you? What things do you love these days?


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8 Things You Need To Let Go Of To Be Happy

8 Things You Need To Let Go Of To Be Happy | The True Sea thetruesea.comHappiness is hard work. The brain is wired to to pay more attention to negativity, but thankfully it’s also malleable. It’s fundamentally flexible and it loves structure so much that if it can’t find any it will create it for you. This means that we can change our emotional, behavioural and thinking patterns. Don’t let perception be a passive process. Start by letting go of these things.

The misconception that happiness means that everything is good
Rather than chasing happiness, choose to embrace wholeness. Life is never going to be perfect. Suffering is part of life. Accept the pain as part of your journey, but never let it hold you back. Difficult times can teach us so much about the world and about ourselves, if only we let them.

What other people think and expect of you
Do what you want to do. Be who you want to be. You have to make yourself happy. No one else can make you feel fulfilled, and no one has the right to expect anything from you. It doesn’t matter what other people think you should or shouldn’t do. You are here to live your life.

Your expectations of how you want things and people to be
Be accepting and compassionate with people. They’re (one would hope) doing their best. We can’t control others’ emotions, behaviour and thoughts. Be flexible with how your life unfolds. Things very rarely turn out the way we plan. That doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t have a plan though.

Your comfort zone
It feels safe I know, but staying there prevents you from growing as a human being. Do things that scare you on a regular basis. Even if it’s only little things. Challenge and push yourself every day. It will make you feel amazing every time you do something you didn’t think you could do.

Negative patterns
Whether you have a need to blame someone or something, try to control everything, employ negative self-talk or complain a lot about things – stop. By doing these things, you are taking the power to be happy away from yourself.

The past
Work on forgiving others who’ve wronged you, and forgive yourself for the mistakes you’ve made. Dwelling on the past has no benefits whatsoever. You are here, alive, in this moment. The past is over. It can only affect you as much as you let it. You need to heal yourself and move on for your own sake.

People who have a negative impact on you
If someone doesn’t want the best for you, they have no place in your life. I know I say this a lot but it’s crucial for maintaining your wellbeing. Spend your time and energy on people who support and love you unconditionally. Those are the people who matter. Cutting people out of your life can be very difficult if it’s, let’s say, someone you work with or are related to, but you can at least limit the time you give them.

Excuses
Stop being scared of failure or waiting for your ‘real’ life to begin. This is it. It’s happening right now. There is never going to be a perfect moment to do anything, so start taking steps towards what you want to do with your life today. Write down what you want your life to be like, then go out there and make it happen.


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Taking Stock

Taking Stock | The True Sea thetruesea.comEnjoying: days of alone time.
Listening: to The Unresolved Podcast.
Wearing: my 2nd chakra symbol necklace every day.
Making: peace with my past.
Drinking: Clipper Green Tea with Raspberry and Ginseng.
Feeling: slightly blasé about this year.
Reading: Silence Once Begun by Jesse Ball.
Looking: forward.
Wishing: I had more time to write.
Liking: how visiting Sweden always reassures me that I’m on the right path.
Waiting: for the next season of American Horror Story.
Snacking: on cinnamon almonds.
Learning: to be more patient.
Loving: wandering around a bookshop for an hour.
Watching: Stranger Things and Happy Valley.
Admiring: Rose McGowan. Always.
Getting: lots of blog post ideas.
Noticing: my negative thoughts and redefining them.
Giggling: at BoJack Horseman.
Bookmarking: Creepy Catalog articles.
Deciding: to be kinder to myself.
Wanting: to move into a house.
Thinking: about the connections we choose and the ones we don’t choose.
Knowing: that I’m conquering my commitment issues.

Taking Stock is a feature inspired by the lovely Pip of Meet Me At Mike’s.


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6 More Things I’ve Learnt This Year

6 More Things I've Learnt This Year | The True Sea thetruesea.comThis has been a bizarre year so far to say the least. Some days, I feel like we’re all in an episode of The Twilight Zone. Though with the latest plot twist (this is likely as political as I will ever be on here), it seems more like an episode of Black Mirror. Yet I’m learning lots about myself and how things are connected. Here are six more things I’ve learnt this year.

Reading gets me out of my head when nothing else works.
Books have always been my escape. Listening to a podcast or watching something can still allow my thoughts to wander or loop when I’m in a stressed or anxious state. But picking up a good book always distracts me from my internal monologue. The instant I become completely engrossed in what I’m reading, my thoughts stop.

It’s okay to not want a busy social life.
I’m not a people person. My favourite person to hang out with is me. I do love spending time with people I like, but truth is I don’t like a lot of people, and it goes both ways. I’m fine with that. There’s a limited amount of time I can deal with social interaction before I need to recharge my batteries alone, and that’s okay too.

I need to do what I love for a living.
Spending only my free time doing what I love isn’t enough to keep me happy. I loop back to this over and over again. A means to an end job just isn’t something I can do long term. I always end up frustrated and questioning my life choices. Frankly, I admire people who don’t lose their minds doing boring work. But I need to accept that I’m never going to be one of those people. I need to do what I love full time. I need to write, and work with books and words.

No one has the right to expect anything from me.
It’s not my job to live up to the expectations of others. If people don’t want to accept me as I am, that’s their problem. I don’t change to fit anyone’s assumptions. The older I get, the lower my nonsense tolerance gets. Healthy relationships and interactions are unconditional. And those are the only kind I want in my life.

Happiness requires constant work.
I know this, yet I still slip up every now and then. If you are, consciously or unconsciously, looking for negative aspects, that’s invariably what you’ll focus your attention on. Life isn’t meant to be good, nor is it meant to be bad. It isn’t meant to be anything. You decide how you interpret the world around you. Your life is only as good as you believe it is.

The best is yet to come.
I never reminisce about days gone by. Things weren’t better back then. They’re better now, and they keep getting better. The present is fine, but the future will be amazing. That’s where the really good stuff is. Every day I’m getting closer to living the life I want to live.

How about you? What things have you learnt this year so far?


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Simple Pleasures in Sweden

Simple Pleasures in Sweden | The True Sea thetruesea.comHello lovelies, how are you all? It’s been a while. I haven’t been blogging much lately because my outdated blog name was really starting to bother me. So, I spent a week doing intensive brainstorming and I finally settled on a new one. I wanted it to hint at the topics I write about, but I just couldn’t come up with anything I loved that wasn’t already taken. In the end, I went with The True Sea. It’s a Paul Dempsey song “about space – as in deep space, but also personal space”. I’m already excited about blogging again!

I’m back home in Brighton after 2 weeks spent with friends and family in Sweden. A visit to my home country never fails to make me reconnect with myself, but it also never fails to bring up conflicting feelings. As a visitor, I see all the good things. I know though, that I had very valid reasons to leave. It makes me sad to see how some things haven’t changed at all. Yet it allows me to appreciate just how much I’ve grown as a human being since I moved to the UK 6 years ago. The best thing about visiting Sweden is being around people who know me really well. It always reminds me that the little things are important.Simple Pleasures in Sweden | The True Sea thetruesea.comLittle things like:

Catching up with friends who I haven’t seen for at least 6 years over a drink.
Walks in the woods.
Trying new teas such as green tea with apple and rose.
Eating raspberry blueberry crumble made by my best friend when I’m feeling poorly.
Picking up a new kimono in my favourite shop, INDISKA.
My best friend’s cat falling asleep on my lap.
Reading Vertigo by paraffin lamp light.
Playing with my childhood best friend’s little baby girl.
Watching one of my favourite films, Bedazzled (1967), with my best friend.
Talking about life with my dad.
Swedish strawberries, cheese, black bread, strawberry ProViva and Onaka fil.
Crying with laughter.
Sitting with my thoughts while watching the waves on my brother’s tiny island.Simple Pleasures in Sweden | The True Sea thetruesea.comSimple Pleasures in Sweden | The True Sea thetruesea.comSimple Pleasures in Sweden | The True Sea thetruesea.comSimple Pleasures in Sweden | The True Sea thetruesea.com