'The Sacrifice Game' clip teases a yuletide tale of terror

Mashable - 2 hours 11 min ago

As snow falls and Christmas music hits the radio, the chill in the air tells us it's time for holiday horror. And if you're looking for fresh fears studded with star power and season scares, you'll want to watch The Sacrifice Game.

Aladdin's Mena Massoud, Fear Street's Olivia Scott Welch, The OA's Chloë Levine, and Olympian/thirst trap king Gus Kenworthy star in the latest from Jenn Wexler, who helmed the 2018 horror thriller The Ranger. What this promising collection of talent is up to is malicious mayhem, unleashed on an unsuspecting boarding school for girls in 1971.

SEE ALSO: 'Anna and the Apocalypse': The perfect movie to kick off Christmas season

This exclusive clip features young students Samantha (Madison Baines) and Clara (Georgia Acken), who can't go home for the holidays but are content under the care of gentle teacher Rose (Levine). That is, until a cult of killers unexpectedly knocks at their door, and this tender guardian is not quite equipped to shut them out.

What's in store as the girls of the Blackvale School face off against vicious home invaders? We'll find out when The Sacrifice Game hits Shudder on Dec. 8.

Categories: IT General, Technology

Gemini, Google's rebuttal to GPT-4, is here

Mashable - 2 hours 11 min ago

Google has unveiled Gemini, calling it their "largest and most capable AI model."

On Wednesday, Google DeepMind, the company's artificial intelligence research lab, introduced the highly-anticipated model that reportedly surpasses OpenAI's GPT-4 on major benchmarks.

Ever since OpenAI launched ChatGPT a year ago, leading tech companies have been locked in a competition for AI advancements. So far, Microsoft has had a slight leg up due to its access to OpenAI's models as a major investor in the AI company. Google has been uncharacteristically flat-footed. The initial release of Bard — its ChatGPT competitor — was botched. And Google has generally lagged behind releases from OpenAI and Microsoft with Bing and Copilot. Google Gemini, however, might be a big enough advancement to leapfrog ahead of OpenAI.

SEE ALSO: Google Bard can now watch YouTube videos for you What is Gemini?

What makes Gemini so good, according to Google, is its multimodal capabilities, sophisticated reasoning, and advanced coding abilities. Unlike other multimodal AI models that are first built on text, then later add on image data, Gemini is natively multimodal. That means it was pre-trained on audio and image modalities in addition to text from the beginning. "This helps Gemini seamlessly understand and reason about all kinds of inputs from the ground up, far better than existing multimodal models," said the announcement.

Gemini scored 90 percent compared to GPT-4's 86.4 percent on MMLU (massive multitask language understanding), which tests for multi-disciplinary knowledge and problem-solving.

So we know Gemini got good grades, but how does it do in the real world? We're all about to find out. Google has optimized Gemini for three different sizes: Gemini Ultra, the largest model for highly complex tasks, Gemini Pro, the middleweight model capable most other tasks, and Gemini Nano, an efficient model that's small enough to live on your phone.

Speaking of which, starting today, Gemini Nano will run on the Google Pixel 8 Pro. For now, Gemini Nano will power two features on the device. It can summarize transcripts in the Recorder app and will also suggest responses for Smart Reply for the phone's keyboard (Gboard).

Even if you're not an Android user, you can test out Gemini in Google Bard as of today. Expect to notice an all around improvement in reasoning, planning, and understanding. Gemini Pro will power Bard, but only text prompts.

Multimodality is coming soon. Next year, Google plans to announce an advanced version of Bard which will be powered by Gemini Ultra.

Categories: IT General, Technology

Best dating sites for people over 40 (and one we hate)

Mashable - 2 hours 23 min ago

Dating beyond 40 may seem intimidating. Unlike your 20s or 30s, you can't assume everyone your age is single and looking. While meeting people organically in public still happens, it can be easier to meet potential partners where they're actively seeking a romantic connection — on dating sites. Read on for the best dating apps for people over 40, plus tips on how to get back in the dating game.

How to start dating again at 40

The first step is just acknowledging that you're ready. From there, decide how and where you'd like to meet potential partners. Dating apps have become the norm over the years, making them a standard choice rather than a last resort.

You'll also want to be direct with what you're looking for. Are you interested in a serious relationship, a casual encounter, or perhaps a friendship that could evolve into something more? Whatever it is, be upfront. You don't want to fall for someone only to realize you aren't looking for the same thing. Yes, it's more vulnerable to say exactly what you want, but being straightforward from the outset is the new dating norm.

As in any phase of life, dating takes time and patience. We spoke to Jennifer Frazier, a 46-year-old based in Indiana, who met someone awesome on Match. They went on a few dates, and she really liked him, but he was interested in dating a lot of women at the same time, and though Frazier enjoyed his company, she realized that kind of relationship wasn't for her.

SEE ALSO: Best senior dating sites: Dating over 60 can actually be fun What are the best dating apps for over 40?

The best dating site varies depending on what you're looking for. If you want something serious, match has 25 years of experience to help you find someone compatible who is also looking for a serious relationship. eharmony also specializes in serious relationships, but the site is really for people who want to marry their next partner, so it's taking serious to the highest level. Though, Frazier had a pretty shitty experience with eharmony — after the extensive questionnaire, she was matched with a coworker's husband (yikes). While you would hope everyone on dating apps is single, you still want to pay attention to obvious red flags.

Casual daters and people who don't want to jump into anything too serious just yet should utilize Tinder, Hinge, or Bumble. OKCupid is best for liberals and the LGBTQ community. There is a dating site for everybody; finding the one that strikes gold for you might take some time.

Finally, after extensive reviews of the top dating apps, we recommend that singles over 40 avoid Zoosk and Our Time, two apps that didn't make the cut. (Check out the "How we tested" section below for more information on our selection criteria.)

Most dating sites and apps have free versions, so you can test them without fully committing. To ensure our top picks are readily available to users, we made sure they were available on both Google Play and the App Store. Here's a breakdown of our top picks for the best online dating site for people 40 and older:

Categories: IT General, Technology

World’s Biggest and Most Notable Ransomware Attacks

Information is beautiful - 3 hours 55 sec ago

An interactive graphic we’ve been curating for a couple of years detailing ~630 large or notable ransomware attacks.

Year on year trend seems to suggests attacks slowing in 2023. Though smaller, more vulnerable targets like healthcare institutions, schools and other academic entities still being severely hit.

» See the interactive
» Explore the data
» Interactive created with VizSweet

Categories: IT General, Technology

I have the Ray-Ban Meta Smart Glasses: 7 answers to questions from confused Redditors

Mashable - 4 hours 32 min ago

As a tech reviewer, I love to peruse the far corners of the internet to understand what, exactly, people want to know about the products I test.

I'm poised to review the Ray-Ban Meta Smart Glasses, a pair of spectacles I purchased with my own money, and I'm tickled at the confusion surrounding the spunky shades, particularly among the Reddit community.

SEE ALSO: Forget Ray-Ban Meta smart glasses. We tested cheaper ones that support ChatGPT.

It's not their fault, though.

When you watch Meta's ad about the device, I can totally understand why some were disappointed with their purchase, especially if they inaccurately thought it was a mixed-reality wearable.

A still from Meta's promo of its latest smart glasses. Credit: Meta

With that being said, I decided to answer seven questions from Reddit about the Ray-Ban Meta Smart Glasses from this thread as well as this one.

1. "I think I'm missing something here. [Does it provide] any visual information/feedback?"

When people some think of "smart glasses," they imagine augmented reality. In other words, they visualize a pair of spectacles that overlay virtual artifacts over their real-world environment. The Ray-Ban Meta Smart Glasses does not give you any visual information whatsoever.

And it doesn't help that, in Meta's commercial for the product, it gives you the impression that there's some sort of heads-up display (HUD) that hovers before you.

"I got one thinking that there will be some image overlays on the glass because I thought I saw it in their promo. If I knew, I wouldn't have bought it," A Reddit user rottenapple_123 said.

As I mentioned at the outset, if you thought the Ray-Ban Meta Smart Glasses were a mixed-reality device before purchasing them, disappointment awaits. However, if you, instead, perceive them as a hands-free, wearable extension of your phone, you will appreciate the spectacles a lot more. They can play music, take calls, capture photos, record videos, and allow you to interact with Meta's answer to ChatGPT (i.e., Meta AI).

SEE ALSO: Meta AI: The new ChatGPT rival was trained on your sh*tposts

One of the temples has a panel that lets you control the audio with different touch gestures. You can also invoke Meta AI for commands like, "Call [insert contact name].

2. "So you can listen to music?"

Yes, and it sounds surprisingly good.

On the LIRR with the Ray-Ban Smart Glasses Credit: Kimberly Gedeon / Mashable

While commuting to the office on the Long Island Railroad, I fire up Spotify and the sound is always crisp, full, and rich — total ear candy. My Apple AirPods Pro are always falling out of my ears, and my Sony XM4s are nice, but they're not very portable.

The Ray-Ban Meta Smart Glasses rectifies both of those issues for me: they're compact and they stay on my face.

3. "Is the audio audible to people around you?"

Yes, but only if you're the type that likes your volume above 30% or more.

Using the Ray-Ban Meta Smart Glasses in the wild. Credit: Kimberly Gedeon / Mashable

People have definitely heard my embarrassing old-school reggaeton songs leaking from my glasses. However, if you turn down the volume below the 30% mark, people around you may hear a muffled, indistinct sound, but cannot make out much of what's emanating from the glasses.

4. "Could you confirm if they allow you to record videos in the landscape aspect ratio?"

No, by default, the Ray-Ban Meta Smart Glasses record in portrait mode.

However, this is expected because the Ray-Ban Meta Smart Glasses are designed for social media sharing, including Instagram and Facebook, which favor portrait mode.

5. "Does it take ultra-wide angle photos?"

I took photos of the Chrysler Building with the iPhone 15 Pro Max's 48MP wide lens and the Ray-Ban Meta Smart Glasses' 12MP cameras. I did, indeed, notice that the Ray-Ban Smart Glasses' pictures have an "ultra-wide look."

Here's the iPhone 15 Pro Max's shot.

Empire State Building shot with iPhone 15 Pro Max Credit: Kimberly Gedeon / Mashable

With me standing in the exact same spot, here's the Ray-Ban Smart Glasses' capture:

Empire State Building shot with iPhone 15 Pro Max Credit: Kimberly Gedeon / Mashable

When I double-checked the specs on the camera, my assessment of the photo was correct. The Ray-Ban Meta Smart Glasses, according to its official page, packs two ultra-wide lenses.

6. "Can you continually shoot 1 min videos?"

For the uninitiated, the Ray-Ban Meta Smart Glasses can shoot 60-second, 1080p videos.

Ray-Ban Meta Smart Glasses can record 60-second videos at 1080p resolution. Credit: Kimberly Gedeon / Mashable

Yes, you can continue to shoot one-minute videos until the battery dies. After you shoot your content, open the Meta View app and you'll find all of your 60-second videos in the library.

7. "What's your store? Best Buy?"

I bought my pair directly from Ray-Ban for $299 ($324.79 in total because, you know, taxes), but you can also purchase these spectacles from Amazon, too.

Opens in a new window Credit: Amazon Ray-Ban Meta Smart Glasses $329.99 Get Deal

Our full review of the Ray-Ban Meta Smart Glasses are coming soon. Stay tuned.

Categories: IT General, Technology

The best Apple deals to order this week if you want your package to arrive before Christmas

Mashable - 5 hours 11 min ago

UPDATE: Dec. 6, 2023, 5:00 a.m. EST We've updated this post with the best deals from across the Apple universe this holiday season, including some that match or beat their Black Friday prices. Here are our top picks:

Best Apple deals this week: Best Mac deal 2022 MacBook Air (M2, 8GB RAM, 256GB SSD) $949 at B&H (Save $150) Get Deal Best iPad deal 2021 iPad (WiFi, 64GB) $249 at Walmart (Save $80) Get Deal Best iPhone deal iPhone 14 Plus at Verizon $0 on a new line with select unlimited plans (Save up to $799) Get Deal Best Apple Watch deal Apple Watch Series 9 (45mm, GPS) $339 at Amazon (Save $90 with on-page coupon) Get Deal Best accessories deal AirTags (4-pack) $86.88 at Amazon (Save $12.12) Get Deal

Apple may have an iron grasp on the general population, but when it comes down to it, their products look good, work well, and stay cutting-edge — so of course, people love 'em. Whether you build your calendar around Apple events or you just want solid tech no matter the brand, Apple's got you covered. Sure, they're a little notorious for their high prices, but we've rounded up the best deals on iPads, AirPods, MacBooks, and more to help you save where you can. Check them out below.

Mac and MacBook deals Opens in a new window Credit: Apple Our pick: 2022 MacBook Air (M2, 8GB RAM, 256GB SSD) $949 at B&H (save $150) Get Deal Why we like it

Check out our full review of the M2 MacBook Air.

We may finally have M3 iMacs and Macbooks, but the M2 chip is still plenty powerful and is definitely worth checking out at this sub-$1,000 price point. In this MacBook Air model, it makes for an excellent work from home machine. In addition to the speed you'll get, the 13.6-inch display actually feels different from the previous gen's 13.3 inches (we know, but trust us) and unlike earlier Butterfly-equipped generations, this Air has a keyboard you'll actually want to type on. B&H is holding on to this deal which keeps the laptop at its Black Friday price and puts it just $50 away from its lowest price ever.

More Mac and MacBook deals

MacBook Air

SEE ALSO: The best laptops to buy on Black Friday

MacBook Pro


iPad deals Opens in a new window Credit: Apple Our pick: 2021 iPad (WiFi, 64GB) $249 at Walmart (save $80) Get Deal Why we like it

This $249 price tag doesn't quite match up with the $229 we caught this tablet at during Black Friday, but that doesn't mean this iPad deal is worth passing over. If you just need a tablet for the basics — some note taking, some video watching — and you want to go Apple, this is the best possible deal you can get by a long shot. At the time of writing, it's $150 cheaper than the 2022 iPad on sale. While there are notable design changes between the two tablets, you probably won't notice much of a difference in performance with casual use.

More iPad deals

iPad (10th gen)

iPad (9th gen)

iPad Air

iPhone deals Opens in a new window Credit: Apple Our pick: iPhone 14 Plus at Verizon $0 when you open a new line on select unlimited plans (save $799) Get Deal Why we like it

The iPhone 15 may be the shiniest new Apple toy, and while the deals on the phone certainly aren't bad, they are contingent upon you having a decent trade-in. If you feel any doubt in your trade-in power, going for this Verizon deal on the 14 Plus requires none — only that you open a new line on select unlimited plans. Still some hoops, but far fewer to get an $800 phone basically for free.

More iPhone deals SEE ALSO: The best gaming deals of Black Friday 2023 include your favorite games, accessories, and more Apple Watch deals Opens in a new window Credit: Apple Our pick: Apple Watch Series 9 (45mm, GPS) $339 at Amazon (save $90 with on-page coupon) Get Deal Why we like it

Check out our full review of the Apple Watch Series 9.

If you want some dollars off on double tap, an Amazon on-page coupon has brought the 45mm Series 9 down to a new record-low price — that's including the markdowns we saw during Cyber Weekend. Other impressive features of this watch include the 2,000-nit display which makes it significantly easier to read in sunlight, and despite the addition, still has 18 full hours of battery life. This watch isn't a big upgrade for Series 8 users, but if you have a much older gen or are grabbing your first Apple Watch this holiday season, this deal is a great way to get a present for yourself (and your bank account).

More Apple Watch deals

Series 9

Series 8



More Apple Watch deals

AirPods and accessories deals Opens in a new window Credit: Apple Our pick: AirTags (4-pack) $86.88 at Amazon (save $12.12) Get Deal Why we like it

Thanksgiving just marked part one of the hectic holiday travel season. Whether you lost a bag, had a close call, or simply want to be proactive, Bluetooth trackers are a great way to give yourself some insurance as we head into the latter half of the busy travel season (certainly more than a budget airline might when it comes to your belongings). Though there are some security issues you'll want to be aware of if you're buying AirTags, for iPhone users, they are some of the most convenient trackers on the market. At $86.88, this four-pack is about $7 from the low we saw it at during Black Friday, but it's still way cheaper than buying four separate AirTags at $29 each.

More deals on AirPodsEven more Apple deals
Categories: IT General, Technology

Tinder reveals the dating trends that defined 2023

Mashable - 5 hours 40 min ago

Tinder has released its 2023 Year in Swipe, summing up the dating app's most popular trends over the past year — as well as some data that could help you improve your chances in 2024.

More singles were focused on the dating journey rather than the destination this year, with Tinder noting a 5.5 times increase in users including statements in their bios such as "Everything I do is for the plot." People prioritised cultivating their own personal experiences rather than fretting about finding The One, though their relationship goals were still the most popular information included on Tinder profiles.

Singles in the U.S. were also exposed as some of the most eager. Chicago and Los Angeles placed second and fifth among the top five cities around the globe with the quickest response rates, so maybe try changing your Tinder location to there if you're impatient for replies. South Korea was even thirstier though, with Busan, Incheon, and Seoul taking the other three spots. 

SEE ALSO: 8 worst dating app icks, ranked

Tinder's 2023 Year in Review further revealed what many of its users are getting up to in their spare time. It turns out that while you may enjoy a good Shudder movie night, listing horror films on your dating profile won't necessarily make you stand out from a crowd. Around the globe, the most commonly listed interest on Tinder profiles in 2023 was "horror movies," followed by "hip hop," "tennis,' "voguing," and "walking my dog." 

However, while "horror movies" may be a popular interest to pop on dating profiles, it isn't the one that's hooking the most fish. 

Credit: Tinder The most attractive interest you can put on your Tinder profile

Both globally and within the US, the most common interest found on Tinder profiles that people swiped right on in 2023 was "otaku." A Japanese word referring to obsessive fans of anime and manga, "otaku" has historically had a negative connotation in Japan, but has since become more mainstream both within the country and beyond.

The dominance of otaku isn't completely out of the blue. Though it's absent from this year's list, "anime" was the fourth fastest-growing interest on Tinder in 2022. Still, "otaku" is a decidedly unexpected entry, and certainly not an interest most would have guessed singles find appealing.

Want more sex and dating stories in your inbox? Sign up for Mashable's new weekly After Dark newsletter.

The next most attractive interests on Tinder are arguably less surprising, with "cheerleading," "pilates," and "LGBTQ+ ally" taking out the second, third, and fifth places respectively. Tinder users did throw another curveball for fourth place though, with South Asian rice dish "biryani" coming in fourth. Though to be fair, who isn't interested in good food?

In sum, if you're a cheerleading otaku who loves biryani, you're probably a hot commodity on the dating scene right now.

Credit: Tinder

Of course, you shouldn't put anything in your dating profile that isn't true. If you haven't been interested in anime since your elementary school Pokémon obsession, listing "otaku" as one of your interests will probably just net you a few awkward, disappointing dates.

SEE ALSO: Broke and single? We found 8 free dating apps that actually work

But if you want to eventually start your own SPY x FAMILY, it seems being upfront about your nerdy interests might be the best way to finally find your Tuxedo Mask or Princess Serenity.

Categories: IT General, Technology

Terrifying 'Baghead' trailer teases a creature that contacts the dead

Mashable - 5 hours 50 min ago

Unexpectedly inheriting roomy real estate may seem like a big win in the current market, but it's less appealing when there's a monster living in the basement.

Alberto Corredor's Baghead follows a young woman (The Witcher's Freya Allen) as she explores an old pub inherited from her deceased father (Peter Mullan). Trapped in the basement is a creature that can supposedly contact the dead, but her dad has left her strict video taped instructions not to let it out.

One for Talk To Me fans to keep on the radar.

Baghead is "coming soon" to cinemas.

Categories: IT General, Technology

Tired of getting bullied? This app sends Android texts as blue 'iMessage' bubbles.

Mashable - 6 hours 11 min ago

"It's not easy being green," Kermit the Frog once said — and that couldn't be more true if you're an Android user in a pro-iPhone environment. iDevice users don't want to date you, friends berate you for crippling group texts, and people assume that you're poor.

Beeper Mini is the best app for Android users who are tired of being left out of the blue-bubble world. Credit: Beeper

As a tech reviewer who owns both iPhone and Android phones, I don't give a rat's behind about my friends' protests when I text 'em with my Pixel 8 Pro and Samsung Galaxy S22 Ultra. They will deal. However, if you are tired of iPhone users bullying you, there is a solution: the Beeper Mini app.

Beeper Mini brings iMessage to Android devices

No, efforts to bring iMessage to Android aren't new, but the Beeper Mini's method of doing so is.

Beeper Mini brings blue bubbles to Android phones. Credit: Beeper

Other apps "iPhonize" Android phones by transmitting texts through a Mac hosted in the cloud, according to The Verge. However, this is a security nightmare. Sunbird and Nothing Chats had to sunset their iMessage-to-Android services due to severe insecurities. Beeper Mini, on the other hand, does things differently.

The developers devised a way to associate a phone number with iMessage, dispatch messages directly to Apple's servers, and receive messages back on the phone within the app seamlessly.

“We jailbroke iPhones then dove deep into the OS to see how everything worked,” Eric Migicovsky, Beeper's CEO, told The Verge.“Then wrote new code from scratch to reproduce everything inside our Android app.”

Beeper Mini in action. Credit: Beeper

Migicovsky claims that Beeper Mini is secure. It can't see contacts nor messages. According to Ars Technica, you don't even need an Apple ID to set it up.

As a cherry on top, iPhone users will be none the wiser that you're an Android owner in disguise.

How much does Beeper Mini cost?

Beeper Mini will set you back $1.99 per month. You can download it from the Google Play Store.

Opens in a new window Credit: Apple iPhone 15 Pro $999 Get Deal
Categories: IT General, Technology

How to watch the Premier League for free on Prime Video

Mashable - 6 hours 36 min ago

TL;DR: Prime Video is hosting 20 live Premier League fixtures in December. Watch every fixture for free with a 30-day trial of Amazon Prime.

Opens in a new window Credit: Prime Video Watch the Premier League on Prime Video Free with a 30-day Amazon Prime trial Get Deal

Prime Video is the best place to watch festive Premier League fixtures once again, with 20 games lined up for live coverage in December. If you're interested in watching these games without actually spending anything, you should consider a 30-day free trial of Amazon Prime.

Prime Video is hosting 20 live Premier League fixtures from Dec. 5 to Dec. 28, so that 30-day trial period covers you for every game. There are some seriously tasty matchups in that Prime Video lineup, including Manchester United vs. Chelsea, Arsenal vs. West Ham United, and Everton vs. Manchester City.

You can find the full lineup of Prime Video Premier League fixtures here:

Tuesday, Dec. 5
  • Wolves vs. Burnley (7:30 p.m. GMT)

  • Luton Town vs. Arsenal (8:15 p.m. GMT)

Wednesday, Dec. 6
  • Brighton & Hove Albion vs. Brentford (7:30 p.m. GMT)

  • Crystal Palace vs. AFC Bournemouth (7:30 p.m. GMT)

  • Fulham vs. Nottingham Forest (7:30 p.m. GMT)

  • Sheffield United vs. Liverpool (7:30 p.m. GMT)

  • Aston Villa vs. Manchester City (8:15 p.m. GMT)

  • Manchester United vs. Chelsea (8:15 p.m. GMT)

Thursday, Dec. 7
  • Everton vs. Newcastle United (7:30 p.m. GMT)

  • Tottenham Hotspur vs. West Ham United (8:15 p.m. GMT)

Tuesday, Dec. 26
  • Newcastle United vs. Nottingham Forest (12:30 p.m. GMT)

  • AFC Bournemouth vs. Fulham (3 p.m. GMT)

  • Sheffield United vs. Luton Town (3 p.m. GMT)

  • Burnley vs. Liverpool (5:30 p.m. GMT)

  • Manchester United vs. Aston Villa (8 p.m. GMT)

Wednesday, Dec. 27
  • Brentford vs. Wolves (7:30 p.m. GMT)

  • Chelsea vs. Crystal Palace (7:30 p.m. GMT)

  • Everton vs. Manchester City (8:15 p.m. GMT)

Thursday, Dec. 28
  • Brighton & Hove Albion vs. Tottenham Hotspur (7:30 p.m. GMT)

  • Arsenal vs. West Ham United (8:15 p.m. GMT)

If you haven't been an Amazon Prime member in the last 12 months, you can sign up for a 30-day trial and watch everything on Prime Video for free in December. Your subscription will automatically renew for the full price at the end of the promotional period, but you can cancel this function at anytime.

Watch the Premier League for free with a 30-day trial of Amazon Prime.

Categories: IT General, Technology

Jack Black’s totally brill video store scene in 'The Holiday' is prime flirting that died with Blockbuster

Mashable - 6 hours 47 min ago

If you, like me, pine for the wholesome magic of flirting your way around a film-postered, carpeted video store, showing off your pompously studious knowledge of movies with unsolicited mini reviews amid the impossible task of handpicking just one cinematic endeavour for a perfect night in, then you fell hard for Jack Black in The Holiday.

With just one Blockbuster left in the world, nostalgia for physical video stores isn't new. In fact, Vanessa Ramos' Netflix series about the very last Blockbuster store is now ironically streaming. People have built entire personal video stores in their basements. The closest I've been to a video store recently is Netflix's London pop-up for Fear Street, and I would have lived in those blood-soaked aisles for days. But one movie from 2006 tapped into this era with winsome revelry. And we'll never let go.

The whole of this house-swap comedy is fun enough to watch throughout the year. But every time I watch one scene in Nancy Meyers' charming yuletide rom-com, this nostalgia for long-dead video store flirting bubbles up anew, with all the subtlety of Jack Black "scraaaaahdle-daaaah"ing through various film scores.

SEE ALSO: 15 of the best Christmas horror movies to haunt your holiday

Let's set the scene (again). It's Christmas Eve, and Iris Simpkins (Kate Winslet) is sitting in her house-swapped accommodation in Los Angeles, with plans to head to the video store to rent more gumption-fuelled movies — recommended by her Hollywood legend-next-door, Arthur Abbott (Eli Wallach).

New friend Miles (Jack Black) offers his company and joins her with two frappuccinos of differing whipped cream dollops at the store — well, hello big dollop. As a film composer, Miles can't help himself, moving into a high-energy sequence of DVD recommendations that come with Black's own Be Kind Rewind meets School of Rock freestyle rendition of each theme song. "l'm gonna test you on this later," he teases, while Winslet stands giggling.

"Clang, clang, clang, clang, clang, clang, dun-dun-dun-dun-dun, cling, cling, cling, cling, cling shakackakakaka…" rolls Black's fiercely unblinking, shoulder-rolling version of composer Vangelis' Chariots of Fire theme, casually throwing in a smug statement about taking "electronic scores to a new level."

You can't do this scrolling through Netflix. Credit: Screenshot: Prime Video

Sauntering down the aisle, Miles moves on to Driving Miss Daisy — with Black's endlessly quotable and iconic rendition of Hans Zimmer's theme.

"Do you remember how great it was? Roodle-deedun-doo, scroodle-deedun-doo, roodle-deedun-doo da dwehh-dehn-dehn-dehn. SASSY."

With Iris' encouragement to keep going with his self-described "bad game", Miles leans into it with Max Steiner's "Tara's Theme" from Gone with the Wind. "Sometimes l get self-conscious about my — RAH-DAAAAAH DA DAAAAAH! AND SCRAHDLE DAAAAAH! AAARE YOUUUU EMBAAAARRASSED — by this game I've started to play?"

Featured Video For You 'Crazy Rich Asians' stars test their rom-com classics knowledge

Then, we're onto John William's "totally brill" score for Jaws, a ridiculously earnest recommendation of Ennio Morricone's The Mission score, and a cheeky cameo from Dustin Hoffman during Miles' tribute to The Graduate.

According to Bustle's deep dive, Meyers said that most of the scene was improvised by Black, beyond the basic parameters of the scene. Black's exceptional talent at creating arena-level operatic music comedy from mundanity is on full display, right in the middle of a rom-com. And it lands, making Miles' uninhibited conviction in his film score nerdery exceptionally appealing, and making Black a totally brill modern romantic lead.

Totally brill. Credit: Screenshot: Prime Video.

Sure, a lot of people might find these public outbursts highly awkward, performative, and self-indulgent. But I treasure this vintage type of nerdy flirting.

You cannot do this type of video store seduction while scrolling through Netflix — especially with the kind of unrelenting eye contact and eyebrow undulating Black brings to the scene. Imagine moving through a streaming platform like this. The best option I can come up with is ranting through a record store or a bookstore, and both of those don't really allow for this level of unbridled, cacophonous, publicly embarrassing shenanigans. Record stores might come close, as singing bits and pieces of the albums you love could have an Empire Records-level flirtation to them. But book stores? You'd be shushed in an instant quoting anything from those pages aloud. Video stores were arenas of "you've gotta see this" social engagement, aisles and aisles of physical copies you could pick up and thrust at your crush, insisting they have to watch Reality Bites or Cruel Intentions for the soundtrack, man.

When the whole sequence comes crashing down with the revelation of Miles' girlfriend Maggie's infidelity, the emotional weight of it all is intensified by the giddy, flirty glee he and Iris relished in moments before. The scene is the moment Black wins over the audience in a way that the — arguably cheesier — lunchtime topiary dalliance between Amanda (Cameron Diaz) and Graham (Jude Law) doesn't do it for me.

For Iris, this moment is profound. Instead of Rufus Sewell's toxic flirty messages making Iris feel like "the walking wounded…the victims of the one-sided affair," Iris has a fun little flirt around a video store in her new empowered life. Most importantly, with Miles' impromptu performance, we get to see the dumb, wholesome frivolity Iris deserves, the joy of being present with someone who actually cares about her having a fun time on Christmas Eve.

At the end of the day, The Holiday's video store scene is reminiscent of a wholesome means of ridiculous nerdy flirtation that has never quite been replicated since video stores perished. Plus, it's delightfully corny, and I agree with Iris: "I'm looking for corny in my life."

How to watch: The Holiday is now streaming on AMC+ in the U.S. and on Netflix, Prime Video, NOW, and ITVX in the UK.

Categories: IT General, Technology

The best stocking stuffers for friends, family, and everyone else on your list

Mashable - 7 hours 8 min ago

This content originally appeared on Mashable for a US audience and has been adapted for the UK audience.

It’s gift guide season again. That’s right, gift ideas for couples, gift ideas for her, and suggestions for every hyper-specific type of person in between have been all over the internet since September. It gets earlier every year, as they say. But what’s the one thing that always gets left to the last minute? That’s right, the humble stocking stuffer.

Yes, stocking stuffers are small — and the stocking itself is merely part of the Christmas decorations — but let’s be clear: just because stocking stuffers are small in size, that doesn't mean they have to be a cheap afterthought.

A throwaway gift is likely to be just that — thrown away — so why not use the element of surprise and stuff that stocking with something they won’t expect, like some cool tech or a solid gift they never even knew they needed.

Whether you’re gifting on a budget, hampered by an agreed spending limit, or just need some inspiration, we’re here to help. We’ve asked around and done some research to pull together a list of the best stocking stuffers out there.

These are the best stocking stuffers in 2023.

Categories: IT General, Technology

The 10 best books of the year, according to BookTok

Mashable - 7 hours 11 min ago

In 2023, BookTok once again dominated the literary world.

While it might be surprising for some if there's one thing TikTok does it's read. The community reads so much that it impacts bookish culture at large, from curated display tables to bestseller lists. For the bibliophiles online, this year held new romantic obsessions, the latest Emily Henry release, and several beloved adaptations.

Here are some of BookTok's favorites of the year. If you missed out on your reading goals this year, these are some great titles to add to your TBR lists in 2024.

SEE ALSO: BookTok encourages reading as an aesthetic and no one is safe from its gaze The Guest by Emma Cline Opens in a new window Credit: Random House The Guest by Emma Cline $26.04 Buy Now

It's the novel that consumed BookTok — and most other spaces from libraries to beaches — this summer and rightly so. Alex, a beautiful, young grifter, gets kicked out of her wealthy lover's coastal home in the final days of summer. She schemes to reconcile with him at his annual Labor Day party, but in order to do so Alex must figure out how to remain in the moneyed town for the next five days. The story blankets the reader in unease, the tension never breaking not even in its final moments. And it's that troubling ending that really got TikTok talking as it allowed creators to get into one of their favorite hobbies: theorizing. — Elena Cavender, Culture Reporter

Fourth Wing by Rebecca Yarros Opens in a new window Credit: Entangled: Red Tower Books Fourth Wing by Rebecca Yarros $27.89 Buy Now

Twenty-year-old Violet Sorrengail wanted to be a scribe (because we love a main character who reads), but she's forced by her mother, the commanding general of Navarre, to become a dragon rider (sexy and cool). Fourth Wing is the kind of book TikTok was made to read. It's the first book in the Empyrean series, an enemy-to-lovers adult fantasy novel featuring dragons (hot), mommy issues (hot), and some extremely high stakes (hot). The second book in the series, Iron Flame, also came out this year but TikTok and I agree that it's a lot more difficult to get through than the first book. It has encouraged thousands of TikTok creators to post fanart, theories, and fancasts. This book is a very fun read. — Christianna Silva, Senior Culture Reporter

Babel: Or the Necessity of Violence: An Arcane History of the Oxford Translators' Revolution by R. F. Kuang Opens in a new window Credit: Harper Voyager Babel: Or the Necessity of Violence: An Arcane History of the Oxford Translators' Revolution $26.03 Buy Now

Babel was published in 2022, but it made its big splash on TikTok this year. It follows Robin Swift, a sweet, intelligent boy who was orphaned by cholera in Canton in 1828 and brought to live with a very weird dude, Professor Lovell. Swift goes to Oxford University’s prestigious Royal Institute of Translation, also known as Babel, where he studies Latin, Ancient Greek, and Chinese. The book tackles British imperialism, racism, power, imperial expansion, and a shadowy secret society. Unlike a lot of other books on this list, TikTokkers didn't do many fancasts or create much fanart about Babel; instead, creators used this book to talk about the main tenets of the text: racism, colonialism, and language. — C.S.

Happy Place by Emily Henry Opens in a new window Credit: Berkley Books Happy Place by Emily Henry $25.11 Buy Now

Emily Henry Hive rose in full force this summer with the release of her fourth (!) romance novel in the past three years. Beloved for adorable, yet relatable protagonists and subtle Taylor Swift references, Henry's books quickly became a mainstay on BookTok. She manages to appeal to both romance lovers and skeptics with her inventive use of tired tropes and elevated prose. In Happy Place, Henry takes a stab at both exes to lovers and fake relationships when Harriet is forced to keep up appearances with her ex, Wyn, on the annual trip to their college friends' Maine cottage. It's her least classically romantic novel yet, which caused a divide on TikTok — but that doesn't mean people (me) didn't love it. — E.C.

Mexican Gothic by Silvia Moreno-Garcia Opens in a new window Credit: Del Rey Books Mexican Gothic by Silvia Moreno-Garcia $15.81 Buy Now

This book was published in 2020, but was making the rounds on TikTok this year due to reasons unknown to me. Sometimes, TikTok can just be like that. Set in 1950s Mexico City, this book reads like a noir film in which a young socialite, Noemí Taboada, receives a very spooky letter from her cousin Catalina, who just married a (shocker!) white guy, and is begging for her cousin's help. Taboada goes to her cousins' aide and finds that something very weird is going on in that house. TikTok reviews of this book call it a "fever dream," and the discourse tackles a bit of the racism in the novel. Meanwhile, other creators just go the classic route of creating aesthetics based on the book and fancasts. — C.S.

Tomorrow and Tomorrow and Tomorrow by Gabrielle Zevin Opens in a new window Credit: Knopf Publishing Group Tomorrow and Tomorrow and Tomorrow by Gabrielle Zevin $26.04 Buy Now

If you told me last year that a book about video game creators that everyone on TikTok liked would make me cry, I'd call you a liar. But then I read Tomorrow and Tomorrow and Tomorrow by Gabrielle Zevin and, my God, y'all, it is so good. The book follows Sam Masur and Sadie Green, two video game developers who love each other — but never cross into lover territory — as they create an exceptional game, Ichigo. Zevin does this phenomenal job of painting the reality of what it is to be a (excuse me) messy person. TikTok creators gave us reviews, they gave us aesthetics, and they gave us emotional vulnerability about that NPC chapter. TikTok loved this book, and so did I. — C.S.

Yellowface by R. F. Kuang Opens in a new window Credit: William Morrow & Company Yellowface by R. F. Kuang $27.90 Buy Now

Yes, there are two books by R. F. Kuang on this list. TikTok has been obsessed with Kuang since her first book, The Poppy War, was published to much acclaim in 2018. Yellowface, published in 2023, follows Juniper Hayward (a white woman) as she, well, steals a novel from her dead friend, Athena Liu (an Asian American woman), and publishes it under the name Juniper Song. TikTok gave us reviews, synopsis, memes, and observations about the racism in the book that mirrors the racism in the publishing industry today. — C.S.

Red, White & Royal Blue by Casey McQuiston Opens in a new window Credit: St. Martin's Griffin Red, White & Royal Blue by Casey McQuiston $15.80 Buy Now

Red, White & Royal Blue came out back in 2019, and its cult following led to the release of a film this year. He was a prince, and he was the president's son, can I make it any more obvious? OK to make it more obvious, Prince Henry of Wales and First Son of the United States, Alex Claremont Diaz, fall for each other in this delightful, unserious romance novel. TikTok returned to the novel in anticipation of the film, which includes some memorable characters that didn't make the adaptation like Alex's older sister June Claremont-Diaz and Henry's mother Queen Mary. The entire third act of the movie differs from the novel, so there's still lots to get out of the novel if you've already seen the movie and want more romance. — E.C.

All About Love: New Visions by bell hooks Opens in a new window Credit: William Morrow & Company All About Love: New Visions by bell hooks $15.80 Buy Now

All About Love is nearly 25 years old but still hits as if it was published today. It's a short, 11-chapter-long book in which the theorist and social critic presents a new approach to self-love without narcissism and lays out the roles love and loss play in gender, race, capitalism, romance, and more. It's having a moment on TikTok, and for good reason: All About Love should be considered required reading for everyone. If you've seen it online this year, you've likely seen influencers reading their favorite excerpts from the book or trying to convince you to read it yourself. — C.S.

Everything I Know About Love by Dolly Alderton Opens in a new window Credit: Harper Perennial Everything I Know About Love by Dolly Alderton $17.66 Buy Now

A large majority of users on TikTok are between the ages of 18 and 34, so this memoir — a funny memoir about friendships, work, love and loss in your 20s — had some significant staying power on BookTok. Alderton's memoir is known on TikTok as a book to help people who are feeling lost in their 20s, and tackles your first big heartbreak, moving in (and out) with your best friends, experiencing death and loss, and more. Everything I Know About Love was originally published in 2018, and had a TV adaptation last year. TikTok served up get-ready-with-me's, so many excerpts, and a few reviews.— C.S.

Categories: IT General, Technology

The sun is teeming with intense activity, NASA footage shows

Mashable - 7 hours 11 min ago

Our medium-sized star is experiencing intense activity.

Fortunately, this solar activity is normal, but nevertheless spectacular. The NASA Solar Dynamics Observatory (SDO) — which has been in space investigating the sun since 2010 — captured robust explosions and ejections from the sun's surface over the last week.

Similar to storm seasons or climate patterns on Earth, the sun experiences a cycle of weather, which lasts for 11 years. During the solar cycle, activity increases for some 5.5 years, then decreases, then picks up again.

"It's the space equivalent of hurricane season. We're coming into another one," Mark Miesch, a scientist with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration's Space Weather Prediction Center, told Mashable earlier in 2023.

SEE ALSO: NASA spacecraft flies right through sun explosion, captures footage

In this current cycle, solar activity will peak around July 2025. That's why you're seeing these fireworks below. The activity includes seven solar flares (explosions of light from the sun's surface) and 18 coronal mass ejections (when the sun ejects super hot gas, called plasma, from its surface).

The SDO spacecraft captures vivid images of the sun every 10 seconds. You're seeing impressive detail. "Every image is eight times the resolution of HD video," NASA explains.

Tweet may have been deleted How the sun's activity impacts Earth

Earth's atmosphere, thankfully, shields our bodies from the impacts of solar flares and related activity. This includes things like X-rays and energetic particles emitted from the sun. Meanwhile, Earth's potent magnetic field (generated by Earth's metallic core) deflects many particles from solar storms and protects us from the sun's relentless solar wind, a continuous flow of particles (electrons and protons) from our star.

Yet future solar storms pose a great risk to our electrical grid and communications infrastructure. That's why spacecraft like SDO and the Parker Solar Probe are vigilantly observing the sun, allowing us to better understand, predict, and prepare for powerful flares or coronal mass ejections. (To avoid mass grid damage from an incoming solar storm, we can, for instance, temporarily shut off grid power and make sure hospitals are prepared to run on generators.)

"It's not something to lose sleep about, but it's something to take seriously."

Infamously, a potent CME in 1989 knocked out power to millions in Québec, Canada. The CME hit Earth's magnetic field on March 12 of that year, and then, wrote NASA astronomer Sten Odenwald, "Just after 2:44 a.m. on March 13, the currents found a weakness in the electrical power grid of Quebec. In less than two minutes, the entire Quebec power grid lost power. During the 12-hour blackout that followed, millions of people suddenly found themselves in dark office buildings and underground pedestrian tunnels, and in stalled elevators."

On left: the sun during solar maximum. On right: the sun during solar minimum. Credit: NASA / SDO

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Most of the flares that hit Earth are harmless and result in the glorious Aurora Borealis, or Northern Lights, caused by solar particles heating up molecules in our atmosphere. Inevitably, a potent flare will someday impact Earth, but the goal is to anticipate the impacts.

"It's not something to lose sleep about, but it's something to take seriously," emphasized Miesch.

Categories: IT General, Technology

This 4K HD dual-camera drone is just $80 for a limited time

Mashable - 7 hours 11 min ago

TL;DR: As of December 6, get the Ninja Dragons Blade X 4K Dual-Camera Drone for only $80 — that's 60% off.

So many adults get gifts we absolutely need and hold off buying. Exhibit A: those threadbare PJs you are holding onto until your family gets you a holiday replacement. Why not shake things up for someone on your list this year with a gift that's all about fun and enjoying a new perspective? This Ninja Dragons Blade X 4K Dual-Camera Drone is just $79.97 (reg. $199) and could make almost anyone feel like a kid again.

The Ninja Dragons Blade X features two cameras to capture the action from above: a front 4K HD camera and a bottom 720p camera. Watch flights in real-time and in 360-degree surround while you control the drone with the included remote. And since it has user-friendly features, even newbies can take to flying quickly.

Things like gesture control allow you to control the Ninja with simple hand gestures, and a one-click takeoff and landing feature makes beginning a flight and finishing it easier than ever. The integrated stabilization system locks your altitude to give you that steady horizon view whenever you want. 

Here's what's included: 

  • Ninja Dragons Blade X 4K Dual-Camera Drone

  • Remote control

  • USB charging cable

  • Four backup blades

  • Four protective blade frames

  • Screwdriver

  • Rechargeable battery

  • Instructions 

  • Clutch bag

Because this drone can be folded and is easily portable, it could make a unique gift for a hiker, camper, or traveler.

Get a Ninja Dragons Blade X 4K dual-camera drone for just $79.97 (reg. $199) when you order through December 17 at 11:59 p.m. PT. — with on-time holiday delivery when you make your purchase by December 7 at 11:59 p.m. PT.

Prices subject to change.

Opens in a new window Credit: Ninja Ninja Dragons Blade X 4K Dual-Camera Drone $79.97 at the Mashable Shop Get Deal
Categories: IT General, Technology

Translate almost any language with this innovative pen, now $160

Mashable - 7 hours 11 min ago

TL;DR: As of December 6, get the NEWYES Scan Reader Pen 4 Multifunctional Translator for only $159.99 — you'll save 14%.

We all know that one person who loves to travel and learn new languages. However, with limited time, they may only be able to pick up a couple of words here and there. This holiday season, you have the power to give them an extremely helpful tool. The NEWYES Scan Reader Pen translates text, speech, and photos into 112 languages. Order by December 7 for on-time holiday delivery and grab this scanning pen for just $159.99 (reg. $187). 

The NEWYES is a handy time-saving device for language lovers. No more trying to squeeze in 15 minutes of language learning per day when you can learn on the spot. This device can scan 55 languages and translate them into 112 languages accurately, with a scan rate as quick as 0.5 seconds. Review your translations on its 3-inch touchscreen display and easily navigate to other features, like the camera to take a photo and translate the image into text.

This scanning pen offers multifunctional features and includes a dictionary, voice recorder, and MP3 player. It also offers Bluetooth 4.0 so you can seamlessly connect your device to a smartphone. 

The creators of NEWYES are constantly looking for new ways to keep this tool at the height of its game. It’s since been upgraded and now has built-in ChatGPT. Simply ask the device any question, and it will provide an answer for you. It also has accessibility features for people with Dyslexia and offers adjustable reading speeds, word pauses, and highlights words as you read, so you may never get lost in translation ever again.

Celebrate the holidays in any language with the NEWYES Scan Reader Pen 4. This price drop ends December 17, but must be ordered by December 7 to arrive by Christmas.

Prices subject to change.

Opens in a new window Credit: NEWYES NEWYES Scan Reader Pen 4: Multifunctional Translator $159.99 at the Mashable Shop Get Deal
Categories: IT General, Technology

Gift an opportunity to win $1 million with this prize puzzle for just $30

Mashable - 7 hours 11 min ago

TL;DR: As of December 6, get the 2 Million Dollar Puzzle for just $30, a two-pack for $49.99, or a 10-pack for $99.98.

Everyone loves standard holiday gifts like slippers, a tie, a bathrobe, or a gift card. But if you want to make things a little more interesting, look no further than this puzzle. The 2 Million Dollar Puzzle offers the relaxing fun of a jigsaw puzzle with the mystery and thrill of a lottery ticket. And when you purchase it by December 7, you can have it in time for wrapping and gifting your favorite thrill seeker.

The top prize for this puzzle is one million dollars, but because there are two top prizes, it's called the 2 Million Dollar Puzzle. While you could win the top prize, there are smaller prizes also to be won — and every puzzle is a winner.

Here's how it works: 

  1. Buy the 2 Million Dollar Puzzle.

  2. Complete the puzzle.

  3. Scan the large QR code shown on the completed puzzle with the camera on your phone.

  4. Reveal your prize, which ranges from $1 to $1 million.

The puzzle is 500 pieces, which is a time-honored activity in itself. While anyone can purchase this puzzle, you must be 18 or over to redeem the prize. It ships within the U.S. only, and the game ends on January 10, 2024.

A more immersive option than a standard lottery ticket, this puzzle also makes for an interesting Secret Santa gift, stocking stuffer, and gift for the person on your list you have no ideas for.

Order your puzzle pack by December 7 for on-time holiday delivery.

Don't miss your chance to pick up one of these 2 Million Dollar Puzzle options when you order by December 17 at 11:59 p.m. PT:

Prices subject to change.

Opens in a new window Credit: MSCHF The 2 Million Dollar Puzzle (10-Pack) $99.98 at the Mashable Shop Get Deal Opens in a new window Credit: MSCHF The 2 Million Dollar Puzzle (2-Pack) $49.99 at the Mashable Shop Get Deal Opens in a new window Credit: MSCHF The 2 Million Dollar Puzzle $30 at the Mashable Shop Get Deal
Categories: IT General, Technology

Have 2 dozen long-stem roses shipped to anyone's doorstep for $35

Mashable - 7 hours 11 min ago

TL;DR: As of December 6, get 24 long-stem roses delivered for only $34.99 — that's 63% off.

There's a reason why a bouquet of flowers has been a staple in major milestones and significant events in people's lives. Of course, they're beautiful and smell nice, but they're also pretty convenient to buy, especially since many florists now offer online ordering and delivery.

If you'd like to surprise someone with fresh blooms this holiday season, Rose Farmers is offering a steep discount on 24 long-stem roses thoughtfully handpicked by farmers. For just $34.99, you can have the flowers delivered anywhere right to the recipient's door, as long as they're located in the continental U.S. Just be sure to place your order by December 7 to ensure on-time holiday delivery.

What's extra special about this deal is you won't know the color of the roses you'll get until you open the box. It makes for a great surprise for your giftee — or even yourself. You'll get the freshest flowers straight from the farm, with the farmers themselves handpicking a variety of color roses, ranging from cream dazzlers to orange citrus to classic red.

With the purchase of a voucher, you have the option to include add-ons in your order, like a modern deco or tinted vase, or even a teddy bear for an additional cost. If you wish to spice up the bouquet, you can also request ruscus leaves, baby's breath flowers, elegant lilies, and more. Personalization and delivery options are available, too, including a custom holiday card and guaranteed noon-time delivery.

Rose Farmers don't typically deliver on weekends, so keep that in mind when placing an order. And while there's a deadline of December 7 to ensure on-time holiday delivery, it may be best to include a 1-2 day buffer before to accommodate potential carrier delays. The holidays are chaotic, after all.

You could also gift the voucher itself for your giftee to order flowers whenever they want, which could be a great option as a last-minute gift. (Keep in mind, though, this discounted deal is only available through December 17 before it goes back to its normal price.)

Usually $96, you can have two dozen long-stem roses delivered to you, a friend, or anyone else in the continental U.S. for only $34.99.

Prices subject to change.

Opens in a new window Credit: Rose Farmers Holiday Gifting Special: Get 24 Long-Stem Roses for $34.99 Shipped $34.99 at the Mashable Shop Get Deal
Categories: IT General, Technology

15 of the best Christmas horror movies to haunt your holiday

Mashable - 7 hours 11 min ago

Tis the season for holiday horror!

Whether you're baking cookies or fantasizing about setting the tree on fire, holiday horror films are perfect for any Christmas mood. They're that ideal blend of thematic cheer and commercial cynicism that screams, "I'm having a good time, but only because it could be worse!" that you probably feel most holiday seasons — but especially during this one.

From mutant gingerbread men and rosy-cheeked killers to stories of betrayal and twisted tragedies, the creepy Christmas catalog is vast. We've combed through and picked out 15 of the best to get your horrifying holiday going. Enjoy, goblins!

15. Nightmare Before Christmas (1993) Credit: Moviestore / Shutterstock

OK, I know Nightmare Before Christmas doesn't belong on here — but it also doesn't not belong on here. Tim Burton's animated Halloween-meets-Christmas classic is only a horror film if you choose to deeply meditate on some of Oogie Boogie's grosser behaviors (and honestly, who is doing that?) Still, it's got enough of that wintery spookiness to make it a worthy title for anyone looking to scratch that Christmas-time horror itch. Plus, ya just gotta love Zero. Who's a good ghost dog?!

How to watch: Nightmare Before Christmas is now streaming on Disney+.

14. Jack Frost (1997)

No, this is not the 1998 holiday film starring Michael Keaton as a snowman — that Jack Frost is far better. This Jack Frost, directed by Michael Cooney and released in 1997, instead serves as a stand-in for all those holiday horror movies that are great to have on in the background...but not all that fun to actually sit down and watch. Killer snowman could definitely make for a super fun horror movie, that's just not what happens here — what with Jack Frost's ridiculously awkward pacing and barely coherent plot structure. Still, it is a great visual to enjoy while you wrap presents or bake cookies. If you need more recs along those lines, try The Gingerdead Man and Santa Jaws.

How to watch: Jack Frost is now streaming on Peacock.

13. Holidays (2016)

Vertical Entertainment's shabby Holidays isn't strictly a Christmas joint — but it does crescendo with a bizarre Black Mirror-meets-Dexter Christmas short good enough to earn a spot on this list. Comprising eight short horror films based on eight holidays (Valentine's Day, St. Patrick's Day, Easter, Mother's Day, Father's Day, Halloween, Christmas, and New Year's Eve, in that order), Holidays reimagines the greeting card aisle through its grimy, offbeat lens. It's uneven and often unsatisfying. Still, it gets at the very spirit of holiday horror with excess camp and great effects.

How to watch: Holidays is now streaming on AMC+.

12. Rare Exports: A Christmas Tale Credit: Filmcamp / Kobal / Shutterstock

Alright, this hidden gem — which I cannot believe I only found out about in 2020 — is so good it almost makes me want to learn Finnish. (Yes, it has subtitles and some of it is in English, but I want the whole essence!) Directed by Jalmari Helander, Rare Exports: A Christmas Tale tells the story of a father and son, played by real father and son Jorma and Onni Tommulia, who discover the horrific origins of Santa Claus amid an archaeological dig. Better off not spoiled, just watch this one now.

How to watch: Rare Exports: A Christmas Tale is now streaming on Peacock.

11. Black Christmas (1974)

Ah, one of the longest-lasting franchises in the holiday horror subgenre. Director Bob Clark's 1974 slasher Black Christmas has been remade twice; once in 2006 and again in 2019. Both revisits were pretty good, but it's tough to outdo a film as timelessly terrifying as the original. Following a group of sorority sisters hunted by a sadistic killer, Black Christmas delivers a staggeringly believable portrayal of murder at the holiday season you won't soon forget.

How to watch: Black Christmas is now streaming on Shudder.

10. A Christmas Horror Story (2015)

It's another holiday horror anthology, but unlike Holidays, this one's all Christmas. In A Christmas Horror Story, William Shatner plays a radio DJ telling four tales of Christmases involving ghosts, changelings, Krampus, and zombie elves. It's an extremely bumpy viewing experience (with a final act revelation that borders on annoying), but it's got a high-enough production value and a committed-enough cast to make you believe in the magic of its mayhem. At least, some of it.

How to watch: A Christmas Horror Story is now streaming on Shudder.

9. Silent Night, Deadly Night (1984)

Silent Night, Deadly Night gained much of its fame by pissing off Green Bay Packers fans with a poorly timed TV advertisement. (OK, it's more complicated than that; but honestly, not by much. People in the '80s needed to chill.) Since then, the killer Santa slasher has gained a cult following for its bizarre portrait of a dude deeply warped by a childhood misunderstanding of naughty and nice. There's Christmas light stranglings, tons of ax throwing, and a surprising amount of nudity.

How to watch: Silent Night, Deadly Night is now streaming on Roku Premium.

8. Anna and the Apocalypse (2017) Credit: DMcCallum Orion / Vertigo / Kobal / Shutterstock

Zombieland meets Broadway-level Christmas carols in this bonkers holiday apocalypse musical. Starring Ella Hunt as the titular Anna, Anna and the Apocalypse tells the story of a high school senior in Scotland struggling to face the end of her childhood when a zombie outbreak hits her small town. With great songs and some extremely fun undead choreography, Anna and the Apocalypse isn't all that scary — but it is screamingly festive.

How to watch: Anna and the Apocalypse is now streaming on Shudder, and is also available on Apple TV+, Amazon Prime, Vudu, and more.

7. Black Christmas (2019)

If you want a more modern spin on slashers, this remake will satisfy, as it's ripe with violence with a sharp political edge. Writer/director Sophia Takal and co-writer April Wolfe take the framework of the original and weave in a tale of toxic masculinity and the horrors of rape culture. When a mysterious cyber stalker takes his sinister schtick to home invasion, the sisters of Mu Kappa Epsilon must band together to survive the holiday. With a PG-13 rating, this one's less gory than the original, but still presents plenty of scares. — Kristy Puchko, Film Editor

How to watch: Black Christmas is now streaming on Netflix.

6. The Lodge (2019)

OK, The Lodge is the bleakest title on this list, bar none. If you're looking for a fun holiday horror flick, this is not it. I repeat: this is NOT it. Now, that said, this psychological nightmare is a great choice if you're looking for an unnerving horror experience that combines The Shining with occultism. Intrigued? Starring Riley Keough as an unwelcome girlfriend on Christmas vacation with her boyfriend's kids, played by Jaeden Martell and Lia McHugh, The Lodge foregoes traditional scares for slow-burn tension and shocking implications.

How to watch: The Lodge is now streaming on Max.

5. Better Watch Out (2016) Credit: Storm Vision / Moviestore / Shutterstock

Better Watch Out should probably be ranked lower on this list, considering its awkward pacing and confusing character development. But thanks to its one truly spectacular Home Alone reference, it's all the way at #5. Dying to see what I mean? In this surprising home invasion story, Levi Miller stars as a preteen with a crush on his teenage babysitter, played by Olivia DeJonge. The two enjoy a relatively normal (albeit awkward) Christmas night in together, until a strange voice calls the house.

How to watch: Better Watch Out is now streaming on Prime Video

4. Into the Dark: Pooka! (2018)

The first Christmas installment in Hulu's Into the Dark anthology, Pooka! tells the surprisingly sad story of Wilson, played by Nyasha Hatendi. A down-on-his-luck actor tasked with promoting a new toy for the Christmas season, Wilson begins the film the victim of a campy premise. Soon, however, the story morphs into a far more complex portrayal of selfishness and guilt.

If you love Pooka!, then definitely check out its sequel, Pooka Lives! The second one doesn't touch on any Christmas themes at all, but think of it like Pooka!'s Evil Dead 2. It takes everything that Pooka! did seriously, and turns it up to a hilarious extreme.

How to watch: Pooka! is now streaming on Hulu.

3. Into the Dark: A Nasty Piece of Work (2019)

Fans of Ready or Not can enjoy another brutal game night in the house of a conceited rich dude with Into the Dark's A Nasty Piece of Work. In this Belko Experiment-meets-National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation mash-up, Kyle Howard stars as Ted, a corporate underling vying for his holiday bonus at a terrifying work dinner party. Julian Sands and Molly Hagan undeniably steal the show as Ted's evil boss and his equally evil wife, but the whole cast nails it in this ensemble horror-comedy.

How to watch: A Nasty Piece of Work is now streaming on Hulu.

2. Krampus (2015) Credit: Universal / Legendary / Kobal / Shutterstock

Wow, where to begin with Krampus? From Adam Scott and Toni Collette as a sniping couple to the best demonic toys since Child's Play, Krampus delivers a nativity of cinematic terror through an eerie, apocalyptic tone vaguely akin to The Mist. It takes a long time for the chaos of Krampus to kick off, and the deeply unlikable family at its center does not make that waiting easy. But once the demon of European folklore does appear, this hellish sleigh ride is frightfully fantastic.

How to watch: Krampus is now streaming on Peacock.

1. Gremlins (1984) Credit: Warner Bros / Kobal / Shutterstock

What horror fan doesn't want a mogwai for Christmas? In Joe Dante's horror comedy classic, Zach Galligan stars as Billy Peltzer — a young bank teller gifted a dangerous creature for the holidays. Iconic for its adorable main "monster" and spectacular vignettes (I will never get over the gremlins drinking at a bar), Gremlins is a sci-fi tour through classic Christmas nostalgia that never disappoints. Well, except for Phoebe Cates' whole "Dad got stuck in a chimney" monologue. That bit is always kind of a bummer.

How to watch: Gremlins is now streaming on Max.

Categories: IT General, Technology

Broke and single? We found 8 free dating apps that actually work

Mashable - 7 hours 11 min ago

Online dating is, in a word, hard — but so is dating in person. Thankfully, dating apps have made it a little bit easier to find a potential partner sans the serial killer vibe (ahem, Facebook dating, Craigslist, and old-school personal ads).

While many mainstream dating apps offer free downloads and basic features, such as creating a profile and browsing through potential matches, a few stand out as the best free dating apps in 2023. Unfortunately, the word "free" almost always comes with a catch. And to add insult to injury, most dating apps require some sort of paid membership to use "premium" functions, like messaging. For this review, we only considered apps that let you build a profile and match with users without handing over your credit card digits.

From free trials to working with limited features, we've tested dozens of dating apps (including the best dating apps for introverts, college students, and sexting, just to name a few) to find the best way to meet new people without emptying your wallet. Just think of us as your dating app guinea pig; we've done the research, so you don't have to.

SEE ALSO: The best dating apps to help find a relationship, a hookup, or something in between What are the best free dating apps?

When it comes down to it, dating apps like Tinder, OkCupid, and Hinge have a free version that holds its own against their paid counterparts. That said, there are also some completely free, more niche dating apps worth checking out, like Archer and Lex.

Below, we've compiled a list of dating apps to find your forever partner, a casual encounter, or something in between without paying a dime.

Note: It's almost impossible to find a dating site or app that doesn't have some sort of paid upgrade feature, but all of the dating sites below have a free membership option that gives you almost everything you need for the full experience. These aren't apps like Match or eharmony, where you need to pay to do basically anything.

Featured Video For You These dating sites and apps are perfect for people on a budget
Categories: IT General, Technology
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