FRED Watch Quickie Film Review: Verónica (2017)


I’m a Wayne Stellini and welcome to FRED Watch, where we review everything from the mainstream to the obscure. Today’s film is the much-hyped Spanish supernatural chiller, Verónica

Apaches Entertainment / Expediente La Película A.I.E. / Film Factory / Sony Pictures International Productions

With her widowed mother Ana (Ana Torrent) working extensive hours, fifteen-year-old Verónica (Sandra Escacena) is responsible for looking after her younger siblings, twins Lucía (Bruna González) and Irene (Claudia Placer), and little brother Antoñito (Iván Chavero).

One day at school while the faculty and pupils are observing a solar eclipse, Verónica and two friends—Rosa (Ángela Fabián) and Diana (Carla Campra)—sneak into the basement and use a Ouija board to communicate with Verónica’s father.

But their seance brings forth a different entity; one that attaches itself to Verónica and terrorises her with increasing intensity…

Labeled as Spain’s answer to The Conjuring (2013) and promoted through Netflix as a film so scary, people couldn’t watch it to the end, Verónica is by no means the most terrifying or original film you will ever see. But this is not to say that it isn’t a good movie.

Unexceptional as it may be, Verónica delivers some effective seat-jumpers and is considerably captivating (without being overly riveting) throughout. Sandra Escacena is exceptional as our titular heroine; both likeable and relatable, hers is a compelling performance that drives the film when the action subsides. The supporting players also deliver fine performances, particularly Bruna González as Verónica’s sister Lucía, under Paco Plaza’s taut direction.

Overall, this is a competently made and beautifully photographed film, but Netflix subscribers who consider themselves horror aficionados may have pressed the stop button for a scarier alternative. For everyone else, Verónica is an intriguing ride, made even more so because it is based on actual events, and serves as a wonderful big screen debut for Escacena. May this mark the beginning of a lengthy and diverse career for this incredible new talent. 3½ / 5


Starring: Sandra Escacena, Bruna González, Claudia Placer, Iván Chavero, Ana Torrent, Consuelo Trujillo, Sonia Almarcha, Maru Valduvielso, Leticia Dolera, Ángela Fabián, Carla Campra, Samuel Romero.

Director: Paco Plaza | Producer: Enrique López Lavigne | Writer: Paco Plaza, Fernando Navarro | Music: Chucky Namanera | Cinematographer: Pablo Rosso | Editor: Martí Roca

Available: Netflix

Let us know what you thought of this film in the comments!


I’ve been a Wayne Stellini and you’ve just experienced FRED Watch.


A Podcast Called FRED #10

Join Ash, Kendall, and Phillip as they deliver this week’s round-up of nerdy news and geeky goodness in the pop culture podcast that refuses to behave—A Podcast Called FRED.


Let us know your response to this week’s Popcorn Culture question to be featured in the next episode of A Podcast Called FRED!



Also, watch Kendall’s live reaction to the Avengers: Infinity War trailer here:

Quick Eurovision Update #2

Image sourced from

Eurovision fanatic Fulya delivers a quick update on her favourite music event of the year, revealing who will be representing their respective nations.

Click on the video below to stay in the know. And remember to subscribe to to keep in the loop about everything Eurovision 2018!

You can also relive Fulya’s reactions to the Eurovision 2016 Grand Final:

Let us know your thoughts about everything Eurovision in the comments!

FRED Watch Episode 3: Oh! What a Lovely War (1969)


Paramount Pictures.

Phillip introduces Wayne to one of his all-time favourite  films—World War I: The Musical! Will Wayne sing along to Oh! What a Lovely War?

Listen to their review here:


Check out one of their favourite scenes here:

Starring: Dirk Bogarde, Phyllis Calvert, Jean Pierre Cassel, John Clements, John Gielgud, Jack Hawkins, John Mills, Kenneth More, Laurence Olivier, Michael Redgrave, Vanessa Redgrave, Ralph Richardson, Maggie Smith, Susannah York.

Director: Richard Attenborough | Producers: Len Deighton, Brian Duffy | Writer: Len Deighton [uncredited] (based on Oh, What a Lovely War! by Gerry Raffles in partnership with Joan Littlewood, from The Long Long Trail by Charles Chilton) | Cinematographer: Gerry Turpin | Editor: Kevin Connor

Available: DVD

Let us know what you thought of this film in the comments!


You’ve just experienced FRED Watch.

Beta Test #4: Batman: The Enemy Within—The Telltale Series

Batman: The Enemy Within—The Telltale Series


How often do you screw up? Sometimes it feels like failure is inevitable, sneaking up on us every time we turn around. It could be at a party, at a family gathering, or like me, at a recent bad day on the job that led to a string of awkward, disappointed messages, and a panic attack so vicious that I got an actual cold. When an horrendous event happens, don’t you wish you had a save point to skip back to, to make it all better?

Because this game sure doesn’t.

Hey ya, Bats! I’m a Bethany Griffiths, and This is Beta Test. A game review platform where I—a snotty, anxious, self confessed noob—choose one game a month to go ham on until either I get better or get wrecked. All in the hopes that I can provide you with a completely unbiased review.

This month is a toughie. Not just because I started it with a panic attack the size of east Ukraine, or because I have five whole weeks till I’m officially in Europe (though the latter is a nice thought, isn’t it). No, it’s because I tried my hand at something more mainstream. Yes, I dipped my hand in the black inky ooze of mass marked consumerism, thinking that it would break me into the best game I had ever surely played. Oh, how was I deceived.

Let me set the scene. A girl, at her laptop at night. She is in her lil’ chilli pyjamas, nursing a Milo, browsing steam. She sighs. Her eyes—tired. Barely staying awake, delirious, She hears a voice in her head. ‘You’re too genre based,’ it says. ‘You need to branch out. You have to do a game that’s more popular. With identifiable characters, and a big plot pine.’ She nods, her finger hovering over the checkout button. ‘Yesssssssss, that’s it,’ the voice whispers, ‘cater to the masses.’ She clicks. The game is bought. She slumps, falling asleep. Head lolling, the download starts, and the month begins.

She has now overdrawn her bank account by ten whole dollars.

Now, I know, I know, you should never play a game out of spite. Or to please other people, but Darn it, I’m nothing if not a tryer. (not a ‘doer’ because doing is hard and I’m in therapy for it, but trying is something I’m severely adept at. Look out world). In the first few seconds of Batman: The Enemy Within, I was struck by how nice the graphics were. Sure the outlines were programmed in to change with the character, and sure the characters were a little clunky, but wow would you look at that story line.

In the first few minutes, I was thinking this was a very long cutscene before the tutorial, and In the first few hours I realised what I should have realised long ago—this is it. This is the game.

Now, this game has its good points, don’t get me wrong, but what I felt was so disappointing was that I was set to like this game. It had good dialogue, easy manoeuvres, and it was a great pick up for someone who only knows the basics about Batman. However, in the words of every parent who’s just seen their kid purposefully dump their cat out of a two story window: ‘I am severely disappointed in you right now.’

The lack of skippable cutscenes and actual gameplay was insane. In fact, the whole thing felt like a bastardised intro monologue that grew legs and overran the series with its bulky off-brand Batmobile body. If you thought listening to Sephiroth’s Kingdom Hearts monologue was boring, you ain’t seen nothing yet. Watch as Bruce Wayne encounters conversation after conversation with people that will hate his guts no matter what you pick. Take aim as he presses Q and/or E in movements so slow and meaningless you’ll wonder why you didn’t just pirate a copy of The Dark Knight and watch that instead. Behold, as you choose the silent option for him to cross his arms and pout like the toddler that he is. By all accounts, I was not amused.

The thing is, I like that this game has real world consequences. I like that you get to influence the characters and gameplay, and I like that there aren’t any difficult combo breakers that you have to master. But when the entire story is just one long exposition line with a couple of buttons to press on the side here and there, it gets boring quicker than Jared Leto’s Joker. Instead of a kick ass, gritty, crime fighting saga, I got a long, grating, lecture-like, download. And that is inexcusable. Because of the overbearing plotline, and the sheer boredom I faced, I give this game:

2/5 Bats for style
4/5 Bats for plotline
3/5 Bats for easiness
0/5 Bats for Bruce Wayne’s Pouty McPout Face

At this point I can’t even feel bad for the franchise for such a bad take on the Batman series. I found out that Telltale has cut a significant portion (25%) of their staff in November 2017, as they want to ‘focus on delivering fewer, better games with a smaller team.’ [G. Smith, Rock Paper Shotgun, 2017]

As someone who’s been hired under three different companies that are now slowly going bankrupt, I know a liquidation when I see one. Their comments of wanting to ‘make the company more competitive as a developer and publisher of groundbreaking story-driven gaming experiences’ sound exactly like something a CEO trying to deflect from the issue would say. I feel ashamed that a company would cut it’s staff by such a high margin to cover their asses.

So, with that illuminating month of stress and boredom out of the way, what could possibly happen next? Well, one thing’s for sure, I’ve been a Bethany Griffiths, and this has been an abysmal Beta Test. A game review platform where I either got better or got wrecked. All in the hopes that I can provide you with a completely unbiased review.

Until next time…

Collectible Chaos: Top Ten Star Wars Characters

Join FRED the ALIEN Productions’s pop culture queen Kendall Richardson for Collectible Chaos!

Here, she counts down her favorite Star Wars film characters! Naturally, not everyone will agree with Kendall’s top ten list, so let us know your number one choice in the comments!

Check out Collectible Chaos – Top Ten Star Wars Characters ⬇︎


Kendall also co-hosts The Monthly @ WiniFRED’s. Listen to the entire playlist here:

A Podcast Called FRED #9

Join Ash, Kendall, and Phillip as they deliver this week’s round-up of nerdy news and geeky goodness in the pop culture podcast that refuses to behave—A Podcast Called FRED.


Let us know your response to this week’s Popcorn Culture question to be featured in the next episode of A Podcast Called FRED!



FRED Watch Quickie Film Review: Riot (2018)


I’m a Wayne Stellini and welcome to FRED Watch, where we review everything from the mainstream to the obscure. Today’s film is Riot

Werner Film Productions / Australian Broadcasting Corporation

In 1978, with the momentum to decriminalise homosexuality diminishing, a group of queer activists decide to take a different approach to their protesting and petitioning. Led by former union boss Lance Gowland (Damon Herriman), the activists choose to celebrate who they are in a public display of fancy dress and music down Sydney’s Oxford Street.

But ongoing tensions with the police promise to erupt into a mêlée…

Following the final curtain call, FRED the ALIEN Productions sent out surveys to those who had attended the 2018 Midsumma Festival season of our play Michael and Phillip Are Getting Married in the Morning. As always, the responses are as diverse as our audience—generally positive, nonetheless—but a bit of feedback made me scratch my head. This person felt that it “was a bit weird” that the character Graeme (Jeffrey Bryant Jones) would disown his son Michael (Bayne Bradshaw) in a violent rage because of Michael’s sexuality. Unfortunately, there is a long history of LGBTQIA+ individuals who would not find that weird at all. But if such a scenario is perceived to be relegated to the past, and coming out is no longer a potentially devastating scenario, then the telling of queer social, cultural, and civil rights histories has never been more important. With marriage equality still new to Australia, our collective memories surely cannot be that short?

Regardless, there is no questioning the appropriate and continued relevance that a film such as Riot has.

This is because the Sydney Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras is one of Australia’s biggest tourist events and most colourful of street parties. It remains a contention among conservatives, but the slow swirl of social and civil progress has meant that the celebration of all things queer has persisted to increase in popularity and participation since its 1978 inception. Back then, it was a protest where a brave group of resilient individuals put everything on the line for appreciation, dignity, and respect. Forty years later, the Australian queer community was awarded marriage equality and its associated legal benefits, but more needs to be done. It is in this spirit that Riot finds itself as a timely and necessary history lesson. Anti-discriminatory laws, social acceptance, and increasing civil rights make it easy for millennials to not truly appreciate the protections they have inherited from previous generations of activists.

Furthermore, it is great to see the collective known as the 78ers given individual names, personalities, and complexities. So it is also no surprise, then, that the people here are the most interesting component. As they manoeuvre through the political and social tensions of the 1970s, our story sweeps through a number of significant moments in history, covering obstacles and mini-milestones through the eyes and experiences of our ensemble, particularly Lance Gowland and Marg McMann, played with exceptional sincerity by Damon Herriman and Kate Box.

Riot, however, sometimes prioritises the politics over the people, making it difficult to have a strong level of attachment to everyone here. The film would have perhaps worked better as a miniseries, benefitting from an exploration of the political and social dynamics in greater detail, thereby allowing itself to delve into the characters impacted by them. For example, the gender politics and in-fighting between some of the gays and lesbians in the Campaign Against Moral Persecution is fascinating, but there simply isn’t enough running time to discuss the impact conflicting standpoints have on such an important social movement.

Although painted in broad stokes, Riot all comes together exceptionally well in the final act, where the first Mardi Gras takes place—talk about humble beginnings!—and its immediate ramifications reinforces the need to keep telling queer stories to a mainstream audience.  3½ / 5


Starring: Damon Herriman, Kate Box, Xavier Samuel, Jessica De Gouw, Josh Quong Tart, Kate Cheel, Eden Falk, Luke Fewster, Benedict Hardie, Patrick Jhanur, Hanna Mangan Lawrence, Shaun Martindale, George Mulis, Luke Mullins, Fern Sutherland.

Director: Jeffrey Walker | Producers: Louise Smith, Joanna Werner | Writer: Greg Waters (Story: Carrie Anderson) | Music: David Hirschfelder | Cinematographer: Martin McGrath | Editor: Geoffrey Lamb

Available: ABC iView (until 27 March 2018) and DVD

Let us know what you thought of this film in the comments!


I’ve been a Wayne Stellini and you’ve just experienced FRED Watch.

The Monthly @ WiniFRED’s #08

Fulya and Kendall are back with another episode of The Monthly.

In this installment, they metaphorically/hallucinatory give out Golden FRED Heads in their first annual WiniFRED’s Pop Culture Awards, as voted by you!


◼ ︎Best Pop Culture Moment

◼ Most Underrated Performance

◼ Best Musical Moment

◼ Best TV Lead Character/s

◼ Best Superhero Movie


Check it out and let us know if you agree with the listeners’ choices in the comments!

FRED Watch Quickie TV Review: Don’t Ever Wipe Tears Without Gloves (2012)


I’m a Wayne Stellini and welcome to FRED Watch, where we review everything from the mainstream to the obscure. Today’s TV series is Don’t Ever Wipe Tears Without Gloves (Torka aldrig tårar utan handskar)…

Sveriges Television

In 1982, practicing Jehovah’s Witness Benjamin (Adam Lundgren) meets Rasmus (Adam Pålsson), a university graduate who has just moved to Stockholm from his rural home.

Embraced by a new group of gay friends, Benjamin and Rasmus fall in love while going through the process of self-exploration and discovery. And then a lethal disease impacts their tight-knit community…

It is best to brace yourself when approaching a story about the devastating consequences of the HIV/AIDS virus that is set during a time when the recipients of the disease’s wrath were primarily young gay men. Productions about the early days of the AIDS epidemic are plentiful, and they tend to be either deeply impactful or manipulative fodder. Thankfully, Simon Kaijser helms Don’t Ever Wipe Tears Without Gloves with skilful restraint and care, keeping the material in a believable world and away from the all-too-easy realms of melodrama. Stylistically, Stefan Kullänger’s cinematography, as well as Agneta Scherman and Kaijser’s editing, make this an aesthetically effective production.

Best-selling author Jonas Gardell’s screenplay, which coincided with the release of three novels (2012-2013), is a beautifully woven tale in which present, past, and multiple stories are linked seamlessly. Do not be mistaken, all the usual character and narrative tropes are there, but it works in the the story’s favour. There are an abundance of characters to get to know and understand; such shorthands make them easily accessible, but nonetheless complex, interesting, and relatable.

Our protagonist Benjamin is played with stunning purity by Adam Lundgren (a quality that Björn Kjellman carries through as the character in the present time scenes), whose inner conflict with his religion and the interpersonal tensions with his parents (solid work from Marie Richardson and Gerhard Hoberstorfer) demonstrate the actor’s phenomenal range. For example, just watch Lundgren in an emotional scene in which Benjamin fights for public acknowledgement against the wishes of Rasmus’s parents, played by the incredible Stefan Sauk and Annika Olsson. Such a moment brings to the forefront the underlying loneliness to Benjamin, insofar that he apparently cannot truly fit in with the religious customs with which he has grown, nor can he genuinely be himself among his fellow social outcasts.

Benjamin (Adam Lundgren) is given multiple reasons to weep, but who will wipe his eyes? (Main Image: Sveriges Television)

As Rasmus, Adam Pålsson possesses all the fearlessness that comes with youth and beauty; this makes his trajectory even more heartbreaking, and Pålsson holds his own alongside the aforementioned talent. More open to sexual exploration than Benjamin, Rasmus serves as a complementary and contrasting figure to his partner. Pushing this further is Simon J. Berger, whose portrayal of unapologetic, flamboyant queen Paul is a refreshing consistent throughout the series. In spite of it all, Paul refuses to be anything but fabulous with a touch of kitsch charm.

All these characters, plus others, are drawn together in a world afraid of an unknown, ruthless disease; a world in which contemporary history’s most discriminated against people become even more vilified. So, one must ask: At a time when the progressive world continues to move towards greater equality for its queer community, is a series such as Don’t Ever Wipe Tears Without Gloves really necessary? The answer is a resounding yes. And allowing yourself to be taken into this three-hour experience is heartbreaking, rewarding, and humbling all at once.

Please watch it. 5 / 5


Starring: Adam Lundgren, Adam Pålsson, Simon J. Berger, Emil Almén, Michael Jonsson, Christoffer Svensson, Kristoffer Berglund, Annika Olsson, Stefan Sauk, Marie Richardson, Gerhard Hoberstorfer, Ulf Friberg, Björn Kjellman, Jonathan Eriksson, Claes Hartelius, Belle Weiths, Gorm Rembe-Nylander, Alexi Carpentieri, Lisa Linnertorp, Maria Langhammer, Sanna Sundqvist, Jennie Silfverhjelm, Julia Sporre.

Director: Simon Kaijser | Producer: Maria Nordenberg | Writer: Jonas Gardell | Theme Music Composer: Andreas Mattsson | Cinematographer: Stefan Kullänger | Editors: Agneta Scherman, Simon Kaijser

Available: DVD, Blu-ray and SBS On Demand

Let us know what you thought of this TV series in the comments!


I’ve been a Wayne Stellini and you’ve just experienced FRED Watch.