December Staff Picks: Fatman, Locke & Key, Arca’s four new albums, and video games!

Dominic Loise

In Fatman, Chris Cringe’s yearly toy delivery is subsidized by the United States Treasury to keep US consumerism going and has his funding cut because he is giving out fewer toys since he finds kids less in the Christmas spirit these days. Fatman was billed as a gun-toting revenge movie about a spoiled rich kid who hires a hitman to take out Santa for giving him coal. I found Fatman to have subtle undertones of an older man, Chris, reinvesting in his life’s work when he is hit hard by the economy and the current social climate. Watching Chris’ relationship with his workers and others, I felt the long haul it took to bring Christmas beyond one sleigh ride, as he makes a deal with the government to keep the factory operational. Also, Fatman shows an honest adult relationship between Chris and his wife Ruth who support each other through both the storms and gifts that life brings.

Miki Schumacher

On snowy December days, I love to curl up under some blankets and play games on my Nintendo Switch. Last weekend I picked up a game called Inside, a puzzle platformer that came out in 2016. You play as a boy running from guards in the middle of a rainy forest. However, as the boy tries to escape, he finds himself running deeper and deeper into a mysterious facility. The story slowly unravels as you make disturbing discoveries, and the subtle details pull you into the strange world. The atmosphere of this game is incredible. It managed to fill me with dread, relief, terror, and wonder. I’d recommend this game to anyone looking for a dark mystery. I finished it in one weekend.

Eileen Silverthorn

I am currently watching Netflix’s Locke & Key, a series inspired by the comic books series of the same name by Joe Hill and Gabriel Rodriguez. It is aaaall kinds of dark and twisty! The story begins with the Locke family moving into Key House, their father’s old family home after he is murdered in what seemed to be a senseless act of violence. (But nothing is as it seems in this show.) As the Locke siblings begin settling into their new life, they slowly start discovering keys hidden throughout Key House, each one opening special doors or activating mysterious objects, either giving the user magical abilities or access to strange new places. But the Locke’s aren’t the only ones interested in the keys—there are demons looking to collect the keys, too, and act out all kinds of destruction against their family. I’m loving this series because it has a way of capturing the teenage angst of moving to a new place, the trauma of losing a loved one, and the spooky chaos of magic all at once. I find myself getting nervous and excited while I watch, yelling at the TV for the characters to “Get out of there, what are you doing?!” I never know what is going to happen, but I love trying to puzzle out the magic alongside the Locke family. Highly recommend!

Thomas Chisholm

I’ve been a fan of Arca since her instrumental days back when she dropped her debut album Xen. But earlier this month she took the music world by storm. By December 5, Arca had dropped four albums in one week: Kick iiiiiii. The first album in the series, KiCk i was released last year in June of 2020 and accurately foreshadowed what was to come in the following four albums. KiCk i is all over the map and offers samples of what’s to come in the following albums. KICK ii is basically Arca’s reggaeton album. KicK iii is the strongest in the series; it perfectly mixes what made her harsh, experimental instrumental albums so special with the more pop-driven sounds she’s been incorporating over the last five years. kick iiii showcases her softer more melodic side and really lets her operatic vocals shine. kiCK iiiii—the surprise, unannounced bonus album—is largely instrumental and a welcome come down from the onslaught of all the previous Kicks. For an artist who makes such chaotic music, kiCK iiiii is wonderful because it’s the first time we’ve heard an entire Arca album that just focuses on beauty. I spent a lot of time listening to it while proofreading the upcoming Literary Tarot from Brink. I found the title Kick very odd, but the artist herself offered an incredible explanation on Instagram recently: “a prenatal KiCk is the first undeniable evidence that there exists an individual with an expression distinct from one’s mother and father.”

KicK iii

Cover art is from Arca's kick iiii.