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Archives for : Horror

Review: “Firestarter” & “Candy”

This week I review the remake of a Stephen King classic, “Firestarter” and Hulu’s new crime drama series, “Candy”.

“Firestarter is currently playing in theaters and “Candy” is available to stream on Hulu.

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2nd Annual Critics Choice Super Awards Winners

WINNERS ANNOUNCED FOR 2ND ANNUAL CRITICS CHOICE SUPER AWARDS

HONORING SUPERHERO, SCIENCE FICTION/FANTASY, HORROR, AND ACTION MOVIES AND SERIES

“SPIDER-MAN: NO WAY HOME” LED FILM CATEGORIES WITH THREE WINS, “SQUID GAME” AND “WANDAVISION” LED SERIES WINS WITH THREE EACH

Watch Winner Acceptance Speeches HERE

(Los Angeles, CA – March 17, 2022) – The Critics Choice Association (CCA) announced today the winners of the 2nd annual Critics Choice Super Awards, honoring the most popular, fan-obsessed genres across both movies and television, including Superhero, Science Fiction/Fantasy, Horror, and Action.

“Spider-Man: No Way Home” led the film winners this year, garnering three awards overall. The film was awarded Best Superhero Movie, while Andrew Garfield took the prize for Best Actor in a Superhero Movie, and Willem Dafoe won Best Villain in a Movie.

“Squid Game” and “WandaVision” tied for most series wins, earning three awards each. “Squid Game” swept the Action Series categories, with Lee Jung-jae winning Best Actor in an Action Series, HoYeon Jung winning Best Actress in an Action Series, and the show taking home the Best Action Series award. “WandaVision” was named Best Superhero Series, and Elizabeth Olsen was awarded Best Actress in a Superhero Series, while her co-star Kathryn Hahn won Best Villain in a Series.

“This year’s slate of Critics Choice Super Awards nominees and winners represents the absolute best in genre storytelling,” said Sean O’Connell, Critics Choice Super Awards Branch President. “It’s an honor to showcase these incredible accomplishments in Horror, Sci-Fi, Fantasy, and Comic Book films and television. The Super Awards will proudly continue to shine a brighter light on the talented people telling stories in these fields.”

The full list of winners can be found below.

Watch Acceptance Speeches Here:

Best Superhero Movie – Spider-Man: No Way Home:

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Best Horror Movie – A Quiet Place Part II:

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Best Actor in a Horror Movie – Yahya Abdul-Mateen II – Candyman:

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Best Action Series – Squid Game:

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Best Actor in an Action Series – Lee Jung-jae – Squid Game:

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Best Actress in an Action Series – HoYeon Jung – Squid Game:

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Best Horror Series – Yellowjackets:

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Best Actor in a Horror Series – Hamish Linklater – Midnight Mass:

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Best Actress in a Horror Series – Melanie Lynskey – Yellowjackets:

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Best Science Fiction/Fantasy Series – Station Eleven:

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Best Actor in a Science Fiction/Fantasy Series – Daveed Diggs – Snowpiercer:

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Best Villain in a Series – Kathryn Hahn – WandaVision:

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FILM WINNERS FOR THE 2ND ANNUAL CRITICS CHOICE SUPER AWARDS

BEST ACTION MOVIE

No Time to Die (United Artists)

BEST ACTOR IN AN ACTION MOVIE

Daniel Craig – No Time to Die (United Artists)

BEST ACTRESS IN AN ACTION MOVIE

Jodie Comer – The Last Duel (Disney)

BEST SUPERHERO MOVIE

Spider-Man: No Way Home (Sony)

BEST ACTOR IN A SUPERHERO MOVIE

Andrew Garfield – Spider-Man: No Way Home (Sony)

BEST ACTRESS IN A SUPERHERO MOVIE

Florence Pugh – Black Widow (Disney)

BEST HORROR MOVIE

A Quiet Place Part II (Paramount)

BEST ACTOR IN A HORROR MOVIE

Yahya Abdul-Mateen II – Candyman (Universal)

BEST ACTRESS IN A HORROR MOVIE

Agathe Rousselle – Titane (NEON)

BEST SCIENCE FICTION/FANTASY MOVIE

Dune (Warner Bros.)

BEST ACTOR IN A SCIENCE FICTION/FANTASY MOVIE

Dev Patel – The Green Knight (A24)

BEST ACTRESS IN A SCIENCE FICTION/FANTASY MOVIE

Rebecca Ferguson – Dune (Warner Bros.)

BEST VILLAIN IN A MOVIE

Willem Dafoe – Spider-Man: No Way Home (Sony)

SERIES WINNERS FOR THE 2ND ANNUAL CRITICS CHOICE SUPER AWARDS

BEST ACTION SERIES

Squid Game (Netflix)

BEST ACTOR IN AN ACTION SERIES

Lee Jung-jae – Squid Game (Netflix)

BEST ACTRESS IN AN ACTION SERIES

HoYeon Jung – Squid Game (Netflix)

BEST SUPERHERO SERIES

WandaVision (Disney+)

BEST ACTOR IN A SUPERHERO SERIES

Tom Hiddleston – Loki (Disney+)

BEST ACTRESS IN A SUPERHERO SERIES

Elizabeth Olsen – WandaVision (Disney+)

BEST HORROR SERIES

Yellowjackets (Showtime)

BEST ACTOR IN A HORROR SERIES

Hamish Linklater – Midnight Mass (Netflix)

BEST ACTRESS IN A HORROR SERIES

Melanie Lynskey – Yellowjackets (Showtime)

BEST SCIENCE FICTION/FANTASY SERIES

Station Eleven (HBO Max)

BEST ACTOR IN A SCIENCE FICTION/FANTASY SERIES

Daveed Diggs – Snowpiercer (TNT)

BEST ACTRESS IN A SCIENCE FICTION/FANTASY SERIES

Mackenzie Davis – Station Eleven (HBO Max)

BEST VILLAIN IN A SERIES

Kathryn Hahn – WandaVision (Disney+)

Rapid Review: “Fresh” is a Deliciously Good Time


Mimi Caves directorial debut serves a familiar dish, but with a “fresh”, new taste. 

I hate to spoil anything about Fox Searchlight Pictures’ “Fresh”, so I’m going to keep it brief. 

The film follows, Noa (Daisy Edgar-Jones), a young woman whose tirelessly looking for love through dating apps. The opening scene of the movie is an awkward, horrible first date. Noa is left feeling hopeless, and thinking that she’ll ever find a good guy. Her best friend, Mollie (Jojo T. Gibbs) is always by her side to console her and tell her she doesn’t need a man, but Noa still hopes for that special someone. 

On a random evening at the grocery store, a handsome, charming man named Steve (Sebastian Stan) hits on Noa by the produce section. Sparks fly and they begin to date. They seem to have a true romantic connection. After a few dates, Steve suggests taking Noa away for the weekend. Unfortunately, this dream vacation quickly turns into an unthinkable nightmare.  

Cave’s debut feature goes from rom-com to a dark, provocative horror. Audiences may think they’ve seen this story before, but it hasn’t been told quite like this. For starters, the film features a Grade-A cast. Stan’s character is unlike anything he’s played before. Between this film and “Pam and Tommy”, he’s proving his incredible versatility as an actor. And Edgar-Jones gives an unforgettable performance, as she brings a whole new level to the “damsel turns badass” story arc. 

Screenwriter, Lauryn Kahn carves out a sharp, witty, and thrilling script. Caves brilliantly brings Kahn’s words to life with her directing. The film’s images range from picturesque to beautifully grotesque. “Fresh” delivers the whole package. It’s a deliciously, twisted horror/comedy that leaves you craving more. 

“Fresh” is available to stream on Hulu on March 4, 2022.

Rating: A

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2nd Annual Critics Choice Super Awards Nominees!

NOMINATIONS ANNOUNCED FOR

2ND ANNUAL CRITICS CHOICE SUPER AWARDS

HONORING SUPERHERO, SCIENCE FICTION/FANTASY, HORROR, AND ACTION MOVIES AND SERIES

“SHANG-CHI AND THE LEGEND OF THE TEN RINGS” AND “SPIDER-MAN: NO WAY HOME” LEAD FILM NOMINATIONS

“EVIL” AND “MIDNIGHT MASS” LEAD WITH MOST TV NODS

Winners to be Announced on March 17

FILM NOMINATIONS FOR THE 2ND ANNUAL CRITICS CHOICE SUPER AWARDS

BEST ACTION MOVIE

Gunpowder Milkshake

The Harder They Fall

The Last Duel

Nobody

No Time to Die

Wrath of Man

BEST ACTOR IN AN ACTION MOVIE

Daniel Craig – No Time to Die

Dwayne Johnson – Jungle Cruise

Jonathan Majors – The Harder They Fall

Mads Mikkelsen – Riders of Justice

Liam Neeson – The Ice Road

Bob Odenkirk – Nobody

BEST ACTRESS IN AN ACTION MOVIE

Jodie Comer – The Last Duel

Ana de Armas – No Time to Die

Karen Gillan – Gunpowder Milkshake

Regina King – The Harder They Fall

Lashana Lynch – No Time to Die

Maggie Q – The Protégé

BEST SUPERHERO MOVIE*

Black Widow

Eternals

Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings

Spider-Man: No Way Home

The Suicide Squad

Zack Snyder’s Justice League

BEST ACTOR IN A SUPERHERO MOVIE*

John Cena – The Suicide Squad

Idris Elba – The Suicide Squad

Andrew Garfield – Spider-Man: No Way Home

Tom Holland – Spider-Man: No Way Home

Tony Leung – Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings

Simu Liu – Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings

BEST ACTRESS IN A SUPERHERO MOVIE*

Gal Gadot – Zack Snyder’s Justice League

Scarlett Johansson – Black Widow

Florence Pugh – Black Widow

Margot Robbie – The Suicide Squad

Michelle Yeoh – Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings

Zendaya – Spider-Man: No Way Home

BEST HORROR MOVIE

Candyman

Last Night in Soho

Malignant

The Night House

A Quiet Place Part II

Titane

BEST ACTOR IN A HORROR MOVIE

Yahya Abdul-Mateen II – Candyman

Nicolas Cage – Willy’s Wonderland

Dave Davis – The Vigil

Vincent Lindon – Titane

Cillian Murphy – A Quiet Place Part II

Sam Richardson – Werewolves Within

BEST ACTRESS IN A HORROR MOVIE

Barbara Crampton – Jakob’s Wife

Rebecca Hall – The Night House

Anya-Taylor Joy – Last Night in Soho

Thomasin McKenzie – Last Night in Soho

Agathe Rousselle – Titane

Millicent Simmonds – A Quiet Place Part II

BEST SCIENCE FICTION/FANTASY MOVIE

Don’t Look Up

Dune

Free Guy

The Green Knight

The Mitchells vs. the Machines

Swan Song

BEST ACTOR IN A SCIENCE FICTION/FANTASY MOVIE

Mahershala Ali – Swan Song

Timothée Chalamet – Dune

Leonardo DiCaprio – Don’t Look Up

Tom Hanks – Finch

Dev Patel – The Green Knight

Ryan Reynolds – Free Guy

BEST ACTRESS IN A SCIENCE FICTION/FANTASY MOVIE

Cate Blanchett – Don’t Look Up

Jodie Comer – Free Guy

Rebecca Ferguson – Dune

Mckenna Grace – Ghostbusters: Afterlife

Jennifer Lawrence – Don’t Look Up

Alicia Vikander – The Green Knight

BEST VILLAIN IN A MOVIE

Ben Affleck – The Last Duel

Willem Dafoe – Spider-Man: No Way Home

Idris Elba – The Harder They Fall

Tony Leung – Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings

Marina Mazepa (performer) & Ray Chase (voice) – Malignant

Tony Todd  Candyman

* Superhero categories also include Comic Book and Video Game Inspired Movies

TELEVISION NOMINATIONS FOR THE 2ND ANNUAL CRITICS CHOICE SUPER AWARDS

BEST ACTION SERIES

9-1-1

Cobra Kai

Heels

Kung Fu

Lupin

Squid Game

BEST ACTOR IN AN ACTION SERIES

Mike Faist – Panic

Lee Jung-jae – Squid Game

Alexander Ludwig – Heels

Ralph Macchio – Cobra Kai

Omar Sy – Lupin

William Zabka – Cobra Kai

BEST ACTRESS IN AN ACTION SERIES

Angela Bassett – 9-1-1

Kim Joo-ryoung – Squid Game

HoYeon Jung – Squid Game

Queen Latifah – The Equalizer

Olivia Liang – Kung Fu

Mary McCormack – Heels

BEST SUPERHERO SERIES*

Doom Patrol

Hawkeye

Loki

Lucifer

Superman & Lois

WandaVision

BEST ACTOR IN A SUPERHERO SERIES*

Paul Bettany – WandaVision

Tom Ellis – Lucifer

Brendan Fraser – Doom Patrol

Tom Hiddleston – Loki

Tyler Hoechlin – Superman & Lois

Anthony Mackie – The Falcon and the Winter Soldier

BEST ACTRESS IN A SUPERHERO SERIES*

Sophia Di Martino – Loki

Kathryn Hahn – WandaVision

Javicia Leslie – Batwoman

Gugu Mbatha-Raw – Loki

Elizabeth Olsen – WandaVision

Hailee Steinfeld – Hawkeye

BEST HORROR SERIES

Chucky

Dr. Death

Evil

Midnight Mass

Servant

Yellowjackets

BEST ACTOR IN A HORROR SERIES

Adrien Brody – Chapelwaite

Mike Colter – Evil

Zach Gilford – Midnight Mass

Rupert Grint – Servant

Hamish Linklater – Midnight Mass

Aasif Mandvi – Evil

BEST ACTRESS IN A HORROR SERIES

Lauren Ambrose – Servant

Katja Herbers – Evil

Christine Lahti – Evil

Melanie Lynskey – Yellowjackets

Kate Siegel – Midnight Mass

Samantha Sloyan – Midnight Mass

BEST SCIENCE FICTION/FANTASY SERIES

Foundation

Resident Alien

Snowpiercer

Star Trek: Discovery

Station Eleven

The Witcher

BEST ACTOR IN A SCIENCE FICTION/FANTASY SERIES

Henry Cavill – The Witcher

Daveed Diggs – Snowpiercer

Matthew Goode – A Discovery of Witches

Jared Harris – Foundation

Lee Pace – Foundation

Alan Tudyk – Resident Alien

BEST ACTRESS IN A SCIENCE FICTION/FANTASY SERIES

Mackenzie Davis – Station Eleven

Laura Donnelly – The Nevers

Sonequa Martin-Green – Star Trek: Discovery

Teresa Palmer – A Discovery of Witches

Jodie Whittaker – Doctor Who

Alison Wright – Snowpiercer

BEST VILLAIN IN A SERIES

Vincent D’Onofrio – Hawkeye

Michael Emerson – Evil

Kathryn Hahn – WandaVision

Joshua Jackson – Dr. Death

Jonathan Majors – Loki

Samantha Sloyan – Midnight Mass

Movie Review: “The Cursed”

Will the new gothic horror, “The Cursed” send chills down your spine?  Find out how scary the film actually is in my ICTN review. I also share a preview of the new Channing Tatum buddy comedy, “Dog”.

“The Cursed” and “Dog” open in theaters February 18, 2022.

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Movie Review: “Candyman” is a Terrifying Treat

Even as I write this review, I am a little nervous to type “Candyman”. After seeing the new film, that name instills the same fear I felt after watching the original 1992 movie.

In case you’re new to the franchise, the original film follows Helen Lyle (Virginia Madsen), a grad student researching urban legends who learns of the mysterious murders that happened at the Cabrini-Green housing projects. Residents suspect the killer is the notorious Candyman (Tony Todd). He was born in the late 1800s and was the son of a slave. He grew up to be a well-known artist that wealthy white people sought out for their portraits. But when he fell in love with the daughter of one his upper-class customers, her father sent a lynch mob after him. They cut off his right hand, smeared him with honeycomb, let the bees sting him to death, and burned his body on the land that the Cabrini-Green neighborhood was eventually built. When a person says his name 5 times to a mirror, bees trickle in and a few candies drop before he appears and kills you with the hook attached to his bloody arm.

Fast forward to 2019 and we’re in the middle of a dinner party where couple, Anthony and Brianna (Yahya Abdul-Mateen II and Teyonah Parris) are learning about Candyman for the first time. Brianna is an art gallery director and her partner, Anthony is an aspiring artist whose suddenly fixated with Candyman. He paints the images of the most recent Candyman symbol, a misunderstood resident named Sherman Fields (Michael Hargrove), who was mistakenly accused of putting razorblades in Halloween candy. Eventually Anthony’s disturbing artwork inspires others to start uttering the word “Candyman” into a mirror 5 times, and that’s when the bodies begin to pile.

Director Nia DaCosta (Little Woods),  Producer/Co-Writer Jordan Peele (Get Out), and Co-Writer Win Rosenfeld had a keen vision for this continuation of the legendary horror. Lots of praise goes into the storytelling. Instead of flashbacks of the original film, they use silhouettes of puppet paper cut-outs to explain the history. The images are unique and engaging. They also don’t take an extremely graphic route. Although blood is shed, there’s more reaction to the gore than action. One of my favorite scenes is the death shown through an apartment window as the camera zooms out. It’s subtle, but effective bloody art.

Abdul-Mateen II, Parris, and Coleman Domingo (plays William Burke) shine as standouts with their harrowing performances. But the movie does suffer from a few amateur, secondary characters. Luckily, they are not on screen for very long.

“Candyman” (2021) does a wonderful job connecting to the first film. There’s still the same essence of the original, with a modern and more stylistic vision complimented by a stellar score. But perhaps, the most unforgettable addition to this sequel is how DaCosta, Peele, and Rosenfeld turned Candyman into a metaphor for the trauma that has haunted the black community for years. To repeat a powerful quote from the film, “Candyman’s how we deal with the fact that these things happened. That they’re still happening!” Making Candyman a frightening but significant figure.

Audiences will be buzzing about “Candyman” (2021).  It’s a fun and refreshing spin on the iconic cult classic.

Rating: A-

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Movie Review: “The Night House” Gives Thrills & Chills


I’ll admit, I scare easily. Films that aren’t even scary (Boo! A Madea Halloween) make me jump. But when I watch a truly, good horror film, I am on the edge of my seat, holding my breath during the entirety of the film. The only breather breaks are my screams. In David Bruckner’s new horror, “The Night House”, I screamed three times. 

After her husband, Owen’s (Evan Jonigkeit) unexpected suicide, Beth (Rebecca Hall) is left alone in their large lake house, and suddenly haunted by a mysterious spirit. Beth heads down a dangerous rabbit hole as this leads her to digging into her husband’s dark secrets. 

What Bruckner captures here is a very real and painful portrayal grief and depression. It’s not an easy subject matter to tackle, but it’s handled so well here. From Beth’s drinking, re-watching old videos of her husband, to how she interacts with her colleagues and people around her. Owen’s death has consumed Beth and is affecting her daily life and personal relationships. 

If you saw Hall in the underrated drama, “Christine”, you already know how well she can portray a woman on the edge struggling with depression. So, it comes as no surprise that Hall’s performance as a grief-stricken widow is incredibly powerful. Your heart absolutely breaks for Beth as she asks the questions one would probably have if their husband chose to end their life: Why? Was he that unhappy? How was he so good at hiding it? Did I really know him at all? Was he a monster and I had no idea? These are just a few of the questions the film will answer. 

“The Night House” is shot and edited beautifully. Paired with Kathrin Eder’s unsettling production design and the eerie music by Ben Lovett, the film makes for an engaging and terrifying experience. 

Where the film falls short, is that it’s slightly over ambitious. Though questions are answered for the most part, there might be some confusion at the end, and there are a few small plot holes. But if you can piece together a narrative that satisfies you, then this may not be an issue. 

“The Night House” is a creative story with gripping visuals and captivating performances.  

Rating: B +

Movie Review: “Old” Shrivels Up a Talented Cast

At this point, we know walking into any M. Night Shyamalan (Writer/Director) film is a gamble. You’re either going to get a quality movie like “Split”, or you could get the dragged-out disaster that came after, “Glass”. Regardless, we take that risk every time because we know Shyamalan is capable of greatness (i.e. “Unbreakable” and “The Sixth Sense”). Unfortunately, Shyamalan’s newest mystery thriller is far from great. 

The premise of “Old” is incredibly intriguing. A family on a tropical vacation visit a beach that somehow causes you to age nearly a lifetime in a single day!  Sounds good, but it seems the preview alluded to a more satisfying script. 

From the get-go we are introduced to Guy (Gael Garcia Bernel), his wife Prisca (Vicky Krieps), their 11-year-old daughter, Maddox (Alexa Swinton), and 6-year-old son, Trent (Nolan River). The parents want to have one last trip together as a family before they announce their separation and reveal Prisca’s illness. Not so coincidentally, the family is offered a ride to a secluded beach for the day. Why anyone would trust a secluded anything in the middle of a shady beach, I’ll never understand. But, this family is not alone in their stupidity. They are joined by another family of 4, a married couple, and a famous rap star?  Sure, why not?

It does not take long for this bunch to figure out something is wrong with the beach. People are dying, and there is no way to get back to their drop off point.

Again, the plot of the film is actually good. It’s original, and you have no idea how it’s going to end or why it’s happening. I can appreciate Shyamalan’s creativity. The man can come up with the most thought-provoking ideas. But sometimes it’s just poorly executed.

The dialogue in “Old” is painful. From the start of the movie to the very end, it’s as if the story was written for toddlers.  Everything is spoon fed to the audience, and so many lines are forced. I’m not certain if many of the actors were bad, or they just didn’t believe in what they are saying.  Either way, it makes for a slow and difficult watch.

I would be remiss if I didn’t at least shine a light on the two glimmers of light, Thomasin McKenzie and Alex Wolff, who play teenage versions of Maddox and Trent. These two give their all in their performances and are committed to that script. If anything, “Old” will further launch these two talented actors.

I wouldn’t be so harsh if I didn’t know Shyamalan’s skills. “Old” is a great idea that deserved a better screenplay, and maybe a better secondary cast. The premise pulls you in, but ultimately, the film leaves you out to dry.

Rating: C-

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“Spiral” Interview with Darren Bousman & Josh Stolberg

A criminal mastermind entraps those who have done wrong in the justice system and unleashes a twisted, cruel form of righteousness. “Spiral” is the terrifying new chapter from the book of “Saw” starring Chris Rock and Samuel L. Jackson. Susan Stephens sat down with Director Darren Bousman and Co-Writer Josh Stolberg to discuss the mystery horror.

“Spiral” is open in theaters now!

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Movie Review: “In The Earth”

The new horror film “In The Earth” is the mystifying tale of a devastating virus and what it will take to stop it.

Watch my full ICTN review in the video below and see if the film strikes enough fear to make it worth your time.

“In The Earth” opens in select theaters April 16, 2021.

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