Philip K. Dick’s Electric Dreams – Season 1, Episode 2: “Impossible Planet”

Channel 4’s Electric Dreams
Season 1, Episode 2: “Impossible Planet”
Directed & Written by David Farr

* For a recap & review of the previous episode, “The Hood Maker” – click here
* For a recap & review of the next episode, “The Commuter” – click here
Screen Shot 2017-10-20 at 1.26.57 AMWe see a group of people with visors on watching the “Hermagon aurora.” A man named Brian Norton (Jack Reynor) narrates, as everybody witnessing the spectacle oohs, aahs. We’re on a space ship, deep in the midst of space in some distant star system. There’s also Ed Andrews (Benedict Wong), who watches the “rats in a sewer” enjoying the trip. They’re space tourism agents, essentially, for Astral Dreams.
Someone shows up knocking incessantly on the door. An old deaf lady named Irma Louise Gordon (Geraldine Chaplin). She wants to go to Earth. She’s 342 years old, from a planet called Rega-2. And she has a lot of money to offer, a cash transaction. The reason the lads don’t initially want to go is because a while back a solar fire brutalised the planet, it’s said to no longer be inhabited.
So, why go, Irma Louise? Can Ed and Brian even get there safely?
Screen Shot 2017-10-20 at 1.31.53 AMBrian gets talking to Barbara (Georgina Campbell), she mentions a transfer. Then he gets a video message from Linus Primo (Justin Butcher), denying him a transfer. He’s applied fifth times. Rejected. Now, Barbara isn’t happy with being there so long. She’s disappointed in his lack of social status, it seems. Ah, though things change with technology, it’s all still the same. Money’s the bottom line.
This prompts Brian to consider the old lady’s offer more seriously, and they’re on the way now. Irma Louise has a drink, talks about her own grandmother, who lived to 279, whose own father lived in Carolina on Earth, a “logger.” She told Irma Louise about a place where her grandparents skinny dipped together, a place she always wanted to see – “Elk River Falls.” Where she wants to go.
Brian finds out from Ms. Gordon’s robotic friend RB29 (Malik Ibheis; voiced by Christopher Staines) that she is actually going to die in a couple months, a heart condition. Afterwards, they use a bit of technology to actually talk without RB29 communicating between them. He talks about Barbara a little, though he seems a bit apprehensive; he second guesses himself when his words are coming up Ms. Gordon’s little screen. He begins questioning the divergent desires between him and his girlfriend. Reoccurring is an image of the spokes of a red bicycle, spinning and spinning, he’s seen this a couple times now.
RB29 is sneaking around, too. I don’t trust him. Neither should you. Or Ed, or Brian. He’s up to something, I’m just not sure what as of yet. They’re getting closer to Earth, and the closer they get the less I trust the robot. Although I guess he’s only looking out for Ms. Gordon’s interests, worried that these guys are scamming.
Screen Shot 2017-10-20 at 1.34.46 AMScreen Shot 2017-10-20 at 1.50.29 AMEd: “I mean, me, Im trash, got no illusions. You, you got class.”
Brian feels bad because he and Ed are con artists, that they sell “predigested happiness” to people. Now they’re ripping off an old woman so they can do what they want for the rest of their lives. This starts putting the two lads at odds, Ed certainly doesn’t like the way his friend is talking.
They’re supposedly about to orbit Earth. Brian gets closer with Irma Louise, who gives him a kiss for being so gentlemanly. She shows him a picture of her grandparents – he looks exactly like her grandfather, Bill Gordon. Eerie. Like fate, across space and time.
Later on Brian calls Barbara, wondering if she dreams of him. He says he doesn’t dream of her, not anymore. He’s beginning to reevaluate his life, and all due to meeting Ms. Gordon. Things start going awry for Astral Dreams when she knows Mars is red, not green like what they see outside the ship. RB29 steps in to let her know about an event that broke Saturn from its rings, turned Mars green. Then Brian tells her Earth isn’t the same as it was once. They can’t even get too close to the planet. Nothing’s the same, not like she’d imagined, anyway. Not from what she’d heard, the memories of her grandmother.
Screen Shot 2017-10-20 at 1.57.55 AMBrian decides they’ll land, they’ll try and take Ms. Gordon to Carolina.
But it’s a rough journey. They fly through a terrible storm, the ship rumbling as space debris flies past at ultra high speed. The old woman holds on for all her life is worth. Brian has flashes of the bike, a couple riding it together.
Then a crash landing. Everybody’s okay, but things are messed up.
At odds with Ed again, Brian agrees to take the old woman out onto Earth, so as to get her money’s worth, to fulfil her dream. One condition: under the suit he wears the clothes of her grandfather. While RB29 and Ed stay behind, the other two head into the “toxic, sterile” environment. Then Ed discovers the robot’s done some nasty business, shagging with the oxygen tanks, leaving Brian and Irma Louise out there to breathe in the atmosphere.
When they take their helmets off, they’re in another place. Back on Earth. There, with the red bicycle; it’s name, Dream Weaver. Irma Louise is young like her grandmother. Brian in the clothes of ole Bill Gordon. They skinny dip together below the falls in a paradise. Or is it merely illusion within death?
Screen Shot 2017-10-20 at 2.15.12 AMScreen Shot 2017-10-20 at 2.17.38 AMI enjoyed the first episode; this one was even better! Love these inspired episodes, love the themes. It’s so enjoyable to see Dick’s writing out there more, plus such great actors and actresses involved.
“The Commuter” is next.

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Room 104 – Season 1, Episode 5: “The Internet”

HBO’s Room 104
Season 1, Episode 5: “The Internet”
Directed by Doug Emmett
Written by Mark Duplass

* For a recap & review of the previous episode, “I Knew You Weren’t Dead” – click here
* For a recap & review of the next episode, “Voyeurs” – click here
Screen Shot 2017-10-19 at 11.25.32 PMSummer, 1997. Anish (Karan Soni) arrives at Room 104 in the motel. He got a call from a literary agency, he’s excited. He calls his mother Divya (Poorna Jagannathan) and leaves a message to call him back. He’s taking his time at the motel to work on the book, readying himself for the big pitch at his meeting.
A stereotypical writer, listening to a book on tape about how a “writer just writes” ironically, hilariously. Very ’90s-style thing, especially coming out of a portable boom box. He can’t find his laptop, so he calls mom back, wondering if it’s there. But he has to leave a message again.
He waits and waits, right through until morning. Finally his mother calls back, she doesn’t even realise she has an answering machine. Not all that technology savvy. He needs her to find the computer, that “little black folding machine.” She eventually finds it, even fucking with him before telling him.
So, what will they do? He needs a copy of his book, to work on. She doesn’t see how she can get it to him other than through the mail, she’s not “David Copperfield” after all. This means getting her to e-mail it. Oh, lord.
Screen Shot 2017-10-19 at 11.34.17 PMAnish goes about trying to explain to Divya how to do everything, starting with opening the laptop and turning it on. It’s hilarious from our perspective, in 2017, watching him go through the agonising process of it all with her, as she laughs about all sorts of things from the double meaning of “windows” to even the working title of his book, Gently Through the Current.
After a while she’s tired, she wants to do it another time. Obviously he’s freaking out, she just can’t understand the reason why he has to get her to send the book. She brings up “Future Dinosaur,” a story he wrote at thirteen. A sci-fi story she suggests pitching at his meeting. Anish is utterly dejected by the whole thing, also believing his mother’s hating on the title of his novel.
He gets her to keep going, she finds the file with his novel. They move through the process, step by little step. When they get to her trying to copy the text, she accidentally deletes the whole thing. He gets real angry, trying to get her to undo it rather than the novel disappearing forever. Never knew this could be such a tension filled moment, watching somebody explaining the copy and paste function.
She does the wrong thing, again. And it’s all gone. He tells her to take it to the store, to the Mac people, so they can restore it. She belittles his writing, calling him down for believing his novel as his “lifes work.” She can’t possibly understand, she only laments that he didn’t become a lawyer, a doctor, or something else desirable.
Screen Shot 2017-10-19 at 11.45.44 PMThis sends them into a huge argument, he yells at her. “I just want you to be somebody,” she yells back. Divya says he’s “just like her” out of nowhere. He doesn’t understand. She immediately tells him not to worry, apologising, offering to take the laptop to get it restored.
After that she reveals the truth about a girl named Heather, nineteen years old. She had a troubled life. A smart girl. She got pregnant, her family turned their backs on her. Divya took her in, looked after her and the baby. Then the girl ran away, she was left with the boy.
That boy is him.
He’s shattered, quite a bit. Also still upset about his novel. She says she loves him, that she’s sorry for everything about the book. He confesses now he’s worried it won’t be any good. The whole phone call has exposed so much, from family secrets to his own inner thoughts. He has to find a way to move on from this moment.
Screen Shot 2017-10-19 at 11.50.26 PMThis prompts him to use his imagination. He lies in bed, seeing his words written across the ceiling. In a way, cutting himself off from technology, as well as off from the rest of the life he thought he knew, is a way for him to get back to himself, to the art of writing, using his mind. Somehow, the revelation of that phone call changed his life, for the better.
Screen Shot 2017-10-19 at 11.54.25 PMI loved this episode. Best Room 104 yet! Amazing, just a strange way to bring out these themes, and it’s totally unique. Mark Duplass with some fascinating work.
“Voyeurs” is up next.

Room 104 – Season 1, Episode 4: “I Knew You Weren’t Dead”

HBO’s Room 104
Season 1, Episode 4: “I Knew You Weren’t Dead”
Directed by So Yong Kim
Written by Mark Duplass

* For a recap & review of the previous episode, “The Knockadoo” – click here
* For a recap & review of the next episode, “The Internet” – click here
Screen Shot 2017-10-19 at 10.27.11 PMDaniel (Jay Duplass) gets a message from Diane (Jennifer Lafleur) asking him not to text or call anymore. “Youre a child and youre a broken person,” she says. They can’t be married anymore because of it. The guy’s attempts at throwing an empty chip bag in the garbage are almost like a microcosm of his own life, it seems. Failure all but hangs from his face.
Suddenly, Patrick (Will Tranfo) shows up. Daniel acts like he hasn’t seen him in a long time, yet Patrick reminds him he lives there. They’ve got tickets to see Soundgarden, The Melvins. There’s a strange atmosphere, something isn’t quite right.
Then Patrick’s face starts changing.
Screen Shot 2017-10-19 at 10.26.35 PMSo Daniel wakes up still in his motel bed, no message on his phone from Diane. It’s clear that Patrick died, they were best friends for years and years. He talks as if Patrick can hear him, asking him to hang out and hoping he’ll get some advice. He’s in a bad place, needing that old, close buddy again.
Soon enough, Patrick’s back. It’s clear when they’re together why Daniel is still not grown up enough in Diane’s eyes. He was obviously traumatised by the loss of his friend. Also, his first son’s name is Patrick. So now he’s asking for his buddy’s advice, he had an affair with his boss and his wife found out. He fucked it all up. Diane doesn’t want him to come home. What does he do now? His dead friend has no answers, he’s only twenty-one, he doesn’t know a whole lot about the adult world.
Just because Im dead doesnt mean Im like, this angel that can just see everything about your life, yknow?”
Soon, they get into questions about Patrick’s death. He was out in the water. He wonders if Daniel could’ve saved him, or if he was out there too, would he have died? He’s mad that his friend didn’t do more, that he essentially let him die. He wishes Daniel had called him out, told him not to go out in the water. This leads to them fighting one another. When Daniel punches Patrick he shatters like glass onto the floor.
Screen Shot 2017-10-19 at 10.39.04 PMThat night, the old Patrick (Frank Ashmore) arrives to tell Daniel: “We cant be friends anymore.” This is the last time they’ll see one another, he’s going away. He sees the brutally painful limbo his friend’s been caught in, all these years. Ignoring the rest of his life because of what happened.
Now, Daniel apologises, lamenting what he did letting his friend down. He misses and loves him. He’s reeled in the guilt all this time, wishing he could be with his friend; dead. Patrick relieves him of the guilt, asking him to come back in from the figurative beach shore where he’s stood ever since that day.
Daniel wakes the next day to an empty room. He sends Diane a text, trying to tell her he’s willing to change to make it work. Perhaps he’s gotten past his guilt, all he needed was the good advice of his friend, the last advice he’d ever need.
Screen Shot 2017-10-19 at 10.48.56 PM (1)Beautiful episode. Love the mix of themes and stories on Room 104.
Next, “The Internet.” Should be interesting!

Frontier – Season 2, Episode 1: “Dead Reckoning”

Discovery’s Frontier
Season 2, Episode 1: “Dead Reckoning
Directed by Brad Peyton
Written by Sherry White

* For a recap & review of the Season 1 finale, “The Gallows” – click here
* For a recap & review of the next episode, click here.
Screen Shot 2017-10-19 at 2.43.54 PMWe start in the Northern Territories, shot in my beautiful home province of Newfoundland and Labrador. On a snowy hilltop is Declan Harp (Jason Momoa), bloodied, injured. Someone comes upon him, an old friend, Jean-Marc Rivard (Paul Fauteux). He sends the man further north in a boat after tending to him a little.
At Fort James, Captain Chesterfield (Evan Jonigkeit) announces there’s a reward of “two thousand pounds” for the head of the rebel Harp.
Screen Shot 2017-10-19 at 2.45.36 PMIn disputed territory, a group of Natives run through the forest. Alongside them is Michael Smyth (Landon Liboiron) and Sokanon (Jessica Matten). Everything’s been changing, none of them knowing where Harp has ended up yet. Michael’s headed to Montreal on trading business, fur to sell.
Back in Fort James, Lord Benton (Alun Armstrong) is suffering in bed, giving orders to Cpt. Chesterfield who isn’t exactly loving his employment. The older man is unimpressed with him. He threatens to send Chesterfield back to London to an even more subordinate position. The younger of the men believes he has much to offer, though Benton compares him unfavourably to a lesser “chimpanzee.” Meanwhile, Grace Emberly (Zoe Boyle) is dealing with her own new life in the changing conditions around Fort James. She and Chesterfield are still working together, but Benton has an iron grip on the place. She advises to talk to the others around there; they aren’t the only ones unhappy. He starts talking to the men, airing his grievances, and others absolutely agree that Benton is a “madman.”
In Montreal, Michael goes to sell his pelts in the marketplace. We also see Elizabeth Carruthers (Katie McGrath) about, trying to do her own dealings in the fur trade. Although she comes up against male resistance, she’s not one to back down. This has Samuel Grant (Shawn Doyle) considering his own options behind closed doors after Cobbs Pond (Greg Bryk) brings back the information, spying on Elizabeth. Lord, Pond is creepy. Him and his blood lipstick. Yuck.
Screen Shot 2017-10-19 at 2.58.40 PMScreen Shot 2017-10-19 at 2.53.07 PMIn Fort James, Cpt. Chesterfield has Benton removed as Governor. He asks a Captain Gray to take him into custody. They’ve ousted him, implicating him for the murders he committed. Of course the old man cries foul, but it doesn’t look like things are going to go well for him. All’s proper under the HBC charter. Chesterfield is left as Governor for the time being.
When Declan wakes he’s disoriented. He’s in a tipi, being cared for by a Native man. He gets a bite to eat, warms by the fire. But he’s in a goddamn state, looking horrible. At least he’s still alive, still surviving. Trying to make his way back to friends. Back at the bar in Ft. James, Grace and Rivard realise they have to somehow get word to Harp, to warn him of bounty hunters after him following the reward. Lots of bad lads looking to collect. Like one giant bastard, prison tattoos over his face. He stomps a man’s head in outside the bar for sassing him inside, vicious and bloody.
Up in Montreal, Michael’s chased down, someone saying he thieved pelts from them. One of the Red Coats grazes him with a bullet as he runs off. He’s saved by two Native men in the woods, they put arrows in the Reds and take Michael away. Out of the woods, he sees Sokanon come.
You can only break the circles of revenge with forgiveness
Screen Shot 2017-10-19 at 3.09.28 PMGrace isn’t pleased with the man stomped to death outside her bar. She asks Chesterfield why the place isn’t safer. She makes a bold suggestion: drop the bounty for Harp, she’ll marry the new Governor. A “united front” in their little fort. If the bounty’s gone, the influx of people will slow a bit, at least the really dangerous ones. But, poor Grace. I wouldn’t want to be married to that dude.
At work in Montreal, Clenna Dolan (Lyla Porter-Follows) works away, until she’s discovered by Elizabeth. The woman marvels at the young girl’s beauty, wondering why she’s working away in such a place, but also a bit dismissive of where she came from in a “dirty little rat hole.” She plans on using Clenna to help in her plan for maneuvering around the fur trade. The young girl brings a gift to Mr. Grant from Mrs. Carruthers. In the case she delivers is a decapitated head. Quite a message; it nearly topples Grant. Still, there’s a ways to go before Elizabeth gains the respect of all these stupid, sexist men. Not to mention Clenna’s in trouble when Cobbs gets hold of her, putting her a torture device similar to the rack, twisting her limbs until they break.
In a dark dungeon, Douglas Brown (Allan Hawco) is released. He’s immediately brought to Elizabeth. She’s freed him, needing him as a husband to pretend to run the company in that misogynist world. Still, Douglas won’t accept, at least until the threat of that dungeon is back on the table. He wants access to her money and “certain comforts.” Thus, they’re married on the spot, not even time for him to wash his arse.
Back at Ft. James is another marriage, as well, Chesterfield and Grace signing the appropriate papers to become man and wife. Not much ceremony. Then again, so many women married back then for many reasons. Sadly, Grace finds out very quickly the new Governor is a little reluctant to remove the bounty. Maybe he’s going mad with power, believing he can take what he wants. He makes clear Grace must go to bed with him before the bounty’s revoked.
Screen Shot 2017-10-19 at 3.23.16 PMScreen Shot 2017-10-19 at 3.30.36 PMSokanon is discovering she may have to leave Harp behind, as her people suffer while he’s lost someplace else. The men of her tribe hate seeing their girls, raped by white men, while they sit back and do nothing. They want to take action. And further north, Declan slowly readies himself to try getting back, to help in the fight.
On his trek through the woods, Rivard encounters the tattooed Frenchman, the bounty hunter seeking Harp.
Uh oh. Lots of wild shit about to go down! Frontier is fantastic, a full-throttle action series with lots of drama and thrills along the way. Season 2 is looking nice already, so I can’t wait for the next episode.

Mr. Robot – Season 3, Episode 2: “eps3.1_undo.gz”

USA’s Mr. Robot
Season 3, Episode 2: “eps3.1_undo.gz”
Directed & Written by Sam Esmail

* For a recap & review of the previous episode, “eps3.0_power-saver-mode.h” – click here
* For a recap & review of the next episode, “eps3.2_legacy.so” – click here
Screen Shot 2017-10-19 at 1.40.26 PMIt’s a brand new day. Elliot (Rami Malek) wants to undo his part in the “downfall of human civilisation.” Today, he’s headed up to the inner sanctum of Evil Corp. He’s found a “way to hit undo.” Angela (Portia Doubleday) was able to land him a job. He’s working from the inside out. He wonders if he’s able to keep Evil Corp in check, so long as they’re a “necessary evil” he can control. He’s growing up, medicating, partaking in the realm of “2D emotions” everyone else was living in around him.
It’s not selling out. It’s maturation, as well as figuring out a way to undo what he did in the Five/Nine hack. Likewise, he wants to avoid Tyrell’s (Martin Wallström) plan of destruction. He sets out to try convincing the upper-ups to go digital with their records, converting from paper records. When one dude won’t listen, he digs into his shady secrets, gets him arrested, then goes up the corporate food chain.
So for now it’s live that life, the supposedly normal life, while he keeps on going. The next bureaucrat goes down, as he pushes his agenda higher while manipulating the shipping of the records. Luckily everybody around Elliot is pretty much an idiot socially, where his social anxiety comes in handy.
Finally, he gets up the ladder to one of the women. She’s the one to listen, setting the wheels in motion to get Elliot’s plan moving. He’ll soon talk to the VP of Technology at E.Corp. After this, he’ll be further on the way to undoing the hack, and when E.Corp reboots, they’ll also be free of embezzlers, sexual harassers, and so forth. “Making it better,” not destroying it and never looking back.
Screen Shot 2017-10-19 at 1.42.07 PMScreen Shot 2017-10-19 at 1.50.36 PMBut it’s not all roses. His loneliness, his mental illness won’t just go away. He spends the night weeping, alone, stuck in a void. The drugs can’t fix everything, and he’s struggling. He still sees Krista Gordon (Gloria Reuben) for therapy. Yet he forgets his own birthday. He’s fractured, wondering if the disappearance of Mr. Robot (Christian Slater) is what’s done this to him, even if things are relatively better. He tells Krista about a time with Darlene (Carly Chaikin) when they were younger, their love of Home Alone; also the day dad pushed him out a window, breaking his arm. Krista is shocked, she’s never heard of this before.
Frank Cody (Erik Jensen) has Joanna Wellick (Stephanie Corneliussen) on his show, after Scott Knowles has been arrested on charges of his wife’s murder. Joanna talks about her husband, that she knew he was innocent, as well as the fact she’s rescinded her petition for divorce from Tyrell.
In the meantime, a new fsociety has gone online. They’ve got a new plan, it says. Darlene is in custody, the video says they’re “malicious,” so who’s doing it? Dominique (Grace Gummer) and Agent Santiago (Omar Metwally) believe she knows more, they also mention her brother’s connection to Tyrell. Darlene doesn’t believe it. This requires her hearing a call between Wellick and Elliot to know the truth.
Later, Mrs. Wellick and Mr. Sutherland (Jeremy Holm) are followed by her boy toy, mad that he was lied to, that he was conned into helping her get her husband free of the charges. However, Mr. Sutherland tries convincing him not to get too upset. So the boy toy shoots the guy, before putting a bullet in Joanna’s head. Holy fucking shit.
Screen Shot 2017-10-19 at 2.05.33 PMOut on the pier, Darlene meets with Elliot. She wants to stay close, he pushes her farther. He believes she’s his “trigger.” Although he loves her, he knows the brings on his illness worse when they’re together. She claims to be leaving, going upstate. They reminisce about Kevin McCallister the snowman, the one they made that day dad pushed him from the window. And then he realises he needs her around, no matter about any emotional triggers.
Phillip Price (Michael Cristofer) gives a speech at the G20 in Turkey, talking of a “currency war” on the Chinese end when they won’t sign an accord to accept eCoin as the global currency rather than Bitcoin. In the audience sits Mr. Zhang aka Whiterose (BD Wong). He’s not happy, nor will he bow down. He wants his UN vote, or else. When Phillip gets angrier, Zhang brings up Angela, which does not sit well.
Whiterose: “Dont mistake my generosity for generosity
We see Elliot trying to get Krista to talk with Mr. Robot. She coaxes him out, then he’s there in the room, her patient changing into his father before her eyes. He’s not entirely forthcoming. He’s angry at her, too. Believing she wants to destroy him. Krista would rather understand, to help Elliot. She does begin seeing the depth of his mental illness.
But there’s worse things happening. Darlene seems to be cooperating with the FBI, after meeting her brother earlier. Things are changing. Elsewhere, Whiterose decides Stage 2 will go ahead, no matter what the UN vote outcome. He has a deep hatred of Price’s hubris.
Oh, and Elliot – he’s sent the FBI an encrypted link via e-mail, and he’s sneaked into his sister’s apartment while they’re watching. Hmm.
Screen Shot 2017-10-19 at 2.21.00 PMThis episode shocked me with Joanna’s death, and even more than that it was a crazy ride the whole way through, so much poised to happen/already happening. Things are ramping up for a very serious, exciting Season 3.
“eps3.2_legacy.so” comes next week.

HELLRAISER: Come to Daddy

Hellraiser. 1987. Directed & Written by Clive Barker.
Starring Andrew Robinson, Clare Higgins, Ashley Laurence, Sean Chapman, Oliver Smith, Robert Hines, Frank Baker, Kenneth Nelson, & Gay Baynes.
Rivdel Films/Cinemarque Entertainment BV/Film Futures
Rated R. 94 minutes.
Horror/Thriller

★★★★★
Hellraiser1Clive Barker is one of the most unique horror writers in literature, his perspectives and the way he understands the horror of people just as well as he does that of demonic spirits and other monsters are what make his brand of scary so visceral, even if it’s just his words on the page. He holds power as a writer, in his ability to cut to the core of humanity, no matter how deep into the supernatural he winds up going in any given story.
Starting as his novella The Hellbound Heart, the story became his own screenplay for Hellraiser; his directorial debut. And he took the genre world by storm, thrilling and disturbing in equal measure, and these aspects of the film aren’t mutually exclusive. Part of the film’s excellence comes out of its taboo-ness, its depiction of everything from abusive love to the sometimes dangerous links between sex and death, pain and pleasure.
Ultimately, it’s the utter existential horror within a film dealing in the supernatural that sells Hellraiser as so horrifically effective. No matter how you feel about it, regardless you’ll remember the first time you saw it. Barker immediately drops us into this hellish landscape of his creation, never once letting go up to the final frame.
Hellraiser2This is like something ripped from a Freudian nightmare. Frank (Sean Chapman) is a man interested solely in hedonism, living his life in pursuit of the flesh. To a hideous degree. So much so, he becomes the personification not only of the sex drive in man, but also the death drive; speeding headlong into death, self-destruction, all via lust. This journey into the heart of pleasure leads him only to the terror of death, a violent and painful corporeal reckoning. This calls to mind la petite mort – the little death – which links the concept of the orgasm to death, a loss of consciousness, a brief, little death, as it were. Frank experiences much more; a real death, a big death.
Within all this is the idea of knowledge, as a potentially dangerous force. The BDSM aesthetic of the Cenobites shows off the dichotomy of sex and death. But it’s their purpose as characters in Hellraiser that speak to knowledge in this manner. Here, knowledge is of carnal origin, a transformative power, in that it is a painful process. To know everything, one must experience everything: the good and the bad, sweet with sour, and of course, pain alongside pleasure.
Hellraiser3

“Come to daddy”

A huge theme, obvious with the sopping wetness of Barker’s gory imagery, is that of the desecration of bodies. The story juxtaposes lust for the body v. the bloody destruction of the body. This is mirrored in the larger theme at play, concerning abusive, dominant love; BDSM is a perfectly healthy thing for people to enjoy, so long as they’re safe, consensual, et cetera. However, BDSM can often be perverted into a one-sided, abusive relationship, where the signs of BDSM are present yet the intentions and respect for one partner is completely gone.
Frank and Julia (Clare Higgins) represent the ultimate destructive love, built on lust. The power of their lusty love reaches from beyond the grave, the intense physical connection they share driving her to gruesome acts. In a macabre irony, sex and pleasure is what kills Frank, in turn what allows him his return to the corporeal world: Julia uses lust, the gaze and sex drive of men, to exert her own death drive, which also leads to the reincarnation of her dead lover.
Frank’s need for blood is symbolic of the draining effect an abusive, brutal relationship can have on a woman. Although Julia doesn’t give her own, she must give Frank blood he needs to become whole again, as it is in abusive relationships; the abuser uses the abused to make themselves feel whole, or good. Frank, then, is a metaphor of the abusive lover, surviving on the blood and pain and suffering of others, at the real cost of his subjugated lover.
Hellraiser4

“Jesus wept”

Barker goes hard at Christianity, poking around at the idea of BDSM relating to seeming celebration around the crucifixion of Christ that religion seems to perpetuate, particularly the Roman Catholic Church. What he does best in this film is subverting Christian iconography, turning the Cenobites into not just a group of supernatural creatures from a psychosexual realm, but a pseudo-religious convent built on sexual terror. First, we see the Christmas light shrine of a Jesus statuette in Frank’s room. Then there’s Larry catching his hand on a nail, bleeding profusely, mimicking and mocking the wounds of Christ nailed on the cross. And finally, the above quote from Frank inside his brother Larry’s skin, which is the shortest verse in the Bible; this is linked to the tale of Lazarus, whom Jesus raised from the grave after his weeping.
In addition to viciously satirising Christianity, Baker’s film merges body horror with the supernatural. The house becomes a carnival of terror, the tone of the film is dark and dangerous feeling like anything could be around the next corner, foreboding dread surrounds the characters. It’s the nasty gore, the bodies being ripped and torn and generally brutalised, and the menacingly oppressive atmosphere, that compliments all the heavy themes within the story. No space in Hellraiser is ever safe, there’s no rest for either the audience or the characters.
You can’t go wrong with this film. It’s one of the greatest of all time, and definitely out of the ’80s. This is perfect for a dark, stormy night, when the wing is howling at the door and in through the cracks, and you’re already feeling paranoid. Pop this one in, let the cathartic fear commence.

Channel Zero – Season 2, Episode 5: “The Damage”

Syfy’s Channel Zero
Season 2, Episode 5: “The Damage”
Directed by Steven Piet
Written by Harley Peyton & Lisa Long

* For a recap & review of the previous episode, “The Exit” – click here
* For a recap & review of the next episode, “The Hollow Girl” – click here
Screen Shot 2017-10-19 at 11.23.14 AMMargot (Amy Forsyth) and Jules (Aisha Dee) drive away from the No-End House, seemingly free from its haunting horrors. They’re out again. However, they’ve got no idea that John (John Carroll Lynch) escaped with them. On top of it all, the house was feeding on their memories, they barely have any left.
Speaking of John, he’s out lurking around someone’s backyard, waving to the little girls. A concerned dad comes out to confront him, so John goes on his way. A cannibal, feeding off the memories of others, out in the real world.
When they head back to Margot’s place, the girls are both freaked out. Their memories all slipping away. Margot calls her mom (Corrine), they get to talking: mom reveals dad’s death by allergy, his actual suicide, helped them in a dire financial team, allowing them to keep the house. A terrifying sacrifice to save his family.
Im sure he did it for us
Screen Shot 2017-10-19 at 11.28.04 AMKnowing the truth doesn’t set Margot free, she’s weighed down by it. She doesn’t want to keep carrying the burden of knowing. Jules talks about the previous summer, after John’s death. She hated seeing Margot “getting attacked by a beast” mentally, in brutal pain; she admits to running away from it, her friend. Meanwhile, just outside, dad is lurking, and he’s very, very hungry. Ravenous, in fact.
Out of nowhere, Seth (Jeff Ward) arrives, warning Jules: “Hes in the house.” Dear ole dad slips in while Margot sleeps. He’s feeding again, draining those memories while she rests. Memories of her old dog. And soon enough, a black puddle on the floor opens up, birthing an eerie looking thing. One which John starts tearing apart to eat. Seth cracks him over the head. They’re all worried about him being out in the real world.
Dad wants a family again. Margot doesn’t want to be fed upon anymore. They’re not sure what to do with this… creation. They’re not free from the No-End House if it follows them out into the world. She asks him to go into the basement until they can figure it all out.
But papa ain’t happy. And he’ll just get hungrier.
Screen Shot 2017-10-19 at 11.36.37 AMSeth tells Margot the only sure way to get John back into the No-End House is if she leads him. Fuck that. Neither she or Jules is willing to go back there. It could mean getting trapped inside, all over again. If the house disappears for another year, dad is left in the real world, and who knows what’ll happen then. So, they might have to “kill him.” A cruel twist of fate: losing your dad to suicide, then having to kill him, too. We also hear more of Seth, discussing his life back at the house; those people caged in the suburb were his family, he couldn’t hurt them and he locked them away for protection.
Poor Jules isn’t well, either. That fleshy orb knows where she’s gone, she made a connection with it. She’s starting to slip between reality and the world of No-End House. Can she actually ever escape? Or is the house a part of her, and the rest of them, now?
Upstairs, Seth and Margot allow John to eat more of the memory dog. He digs in, feeding. A disgusting scene. They sit and wait to see how it goes. She wants to see what her memories “feel like,” so dad lets her hold the dog’s head. He talks about their past, camping, happier memories. This is when John begins succumbing to the medication Seth put in his food. He must die again, as his daughter watches the death. In a way, it’s like a grim healing process. Because she only saw the aftermath before his suicide, now she sees the other side. They’ve got to get John back to the house before it’s gone, as well. Doesn’t help things when mom gets home in the middle of it all, and John is still alive. He gets up and starts throwing everyone around, chasing after his daughter.
Screen Shot 2017-10-19 at 11.48.56 AMJohn starts feeding off Margot’s memories again, as Seth grabs him off her. But this only leads dad to nearly jamming his finger through the guy’s head. Finally, Margot pleads with him, agreeing to go back to No-End House with him. And poor ole mom, she has no idea what’s been going on, waking up from being knocked out by her formerly living husband.
Now, Margot, Seth, and John head back to No-End House.
Across town, Jules is still trying to figure out her own life, the memories all faded and the real world blending with that of the house. She’s nearly driven mad, and she starts running down the street. But when she gets to where No-End House recently appeared to the others, it isn’t there anymore.
Screen Shot 2017-10-19 at 12.04.59 PMScreen Shot 2017-10-19 at 12.07.06 PMA favourite of mine, this episode really digs into all the disturbing memory stuff. Can’t wait for the finale. Not sure how it’ll end. But that’s what makes Channel Zero so damn good! “The Hollow Girl” is next.

Alias Grace – Part 4

CBC’s Alias Grace
Part 4
Directed by Mary Harron
Written by Sarah Polley

* For a recap & review of Part 3, click here.
* For a recap & review of Part 5, click here.
Screen Shot 2017-10-19 at 12.02.13 AMGrace (Sarah Gadon) and the other women in prison witness the whipping of a woman while they eat breakfast. Normal day at Kingston Penitentiary. Soon, she’s taken up to the house, to talk with Dr. Simon Jordan (Edward Holcroft). He’s busy still having daydreams about her, falling for his patient.
He also wants to talk about James McDermott (Kerr Logan), reading the man’s confession where it paints a picture of a jealous Grace, the green eyed monster focused on Nancy Montgomery (Anna Paquin), apparently. “Shes not better born than we are,” Grace told him. So he claimed. She doesn’t particularly deny the story, though in not many words she passes it off.
She tells him more about her and Nancy’s relationship around the house. They were a little close, but the hierarchy around Thomas Kinnear’s (Paul Gross) place was evident. One day when James isn’t around, she has to kill a chicken on her own. This prompts Nancy to treat her like trash, all but throwing her out of the house, demanding she kill their food. Grace is able to get Jamie Walsh (Stephen Joffe) to help her, a young man who also works for Mr. Kinnear, and it gets Nancy interested in her personal life, of course.
Screen Shot 2017-10-19 at 12.09.42 AMPeople at the local church seem to have their ideas about Mr. Kinnear, one woman (Margaret Atwood) calls it “an outrage” having him there. They don’t stay, either, after Nancy wants to leave rather than be stared at the whole time. Grace talks about church, how people act as if being there is the only God is with them; elsewhere they do what they want, dropping the act. But God “cannot be caged in as men can.”
Nancy decides it’s time McDermott finishes employment at the house. He’s got no job come end of the month. Not easy any time, certainly not easy back then. Especially for a misogynistic arsehole like James. He winds up revealing to Grace that Kinnear and Nancy sleep together, as if it weren’t already obvious; such is the sweet innocence of Grace, at the time.
Eventually Grace calls Nancy out and gets a slap across the face from her. Gradually, we see our lady being warped. By the way Nancy treats her, by how McDermott pours his poison in her ear. He actually mentions knocking them in the head, throwing them down the cellar. Very specific, no?
We’re seeing all different sides of possible truths. Grace claims one thing; McDermott another. We see both, literally. Yet staunchly, she denies any wrongdoing, despite what her Irish friend said in his confession before his hanging. She also talks to Dr. Jordan about loneliness. How bad things were in the asylum, at prison. How cruel were the punishments of being locked in a coffin-like box, stood up, left there endlessly. Not to mention the “liberties” taken by various men, winding up in a “delicate condition” when she was leaving the asylum. Ugly, violent male behaviour.
The road to death is a lonely highway, and longer than it appears. Even when it leads straight down from the scaffold by way of a rope. And its a dark road, with never any moon shining on it to light your way.”
Screen Shot 2017-10-19 at 12.20.21 AMScreen Shot 2017-10-19 at 12.26.57 AMOn her birthday, Grace was given the afternoon free by Nancy. She went for a walk by herself, enjoying a beautiful day, picking flowers; time to herself, for herself. A rare occurrence in the life of any woman in the 1800s. Jamie shows up, asking to be her sweetheart. She lets him down fairly easy. And from afar watches Mr. Kinnear, he asks her what they were doing in the orchard together, as if suspicious, or jealous. Then, as expected, Nancy is right back to being herself, weird and passive aggressive. Plus McDermott acting jealous to boot like an angry idiot.
One good thing – Jeremiah (Zachary Levi) arrives at the house. They sit for a drink, he tells her he’s going giving up peddling to be a hypnotist. The new fad, all that spiritualism infecting the people of the 19th century. He goes on to warn about Kinnear, his “appetite” for servant girls, the talk of the town that everybody’s heard of plenty. He’s scared for her, wanting Grace to go away with him elsewhere. She doesn’t like the idea, if they don’t get married, which he doesn’t seem to believe in. Soon enough McDermott comes in, running her friend off. That lad is bad news, for sure.
When a man gets a habit, it is hard for him to break it, like a dog gone bad.”
Grace notices a doctor come by one day. Then she’s seeing Nancy throw up, ordering her to clean the vomit. Safe to say, she’s probably up the duff with the master of the house’s child. Aside from that, Kinnear seems to have started admiring the young servant, leering at her silently. What would he do once he figured out his mistress was pregnant?
That night, Grace hears Nancy talking about her, planning to possibly let her go along with McDermott. The mistress really doesn’t like that the master finds his servant attractive.
Grace dreams that night of men surrounding her, George Parkinson (Will Bowes), Kinnear, McDermott, all grabbing her, touching her. Afterwards, she sees sheets in the trees outside the house, like angels, or ghosts. When she woke, the sheets she’d hung had blown into a tree.
Screen Shot 2017-10-19 at 12.47.40 AMScreen Shot 2017-10-19 at 12.51.16 AMAnd we’re always left wondering, is Grace telling the truth? Is she telling any of us the truth? One of the reasons I love the miniseries is how they capture the truth v. lies theme that Atwood’s book tackled so well. Grace is a dichotomy, you can never tell for sure what she’s thinking, if she’s lying or being truthful.
Can’t wait for Part 5.

Slasher – Season 2, Episode 8: “The Past is Never Dead”

Netflix’s Slasher
Season 2, Episode 8: “The Past is Never Dead”
Directed by Felipe Rodriguez
Written by Aaron Martin

* For a recap & review of the penultimate Season 2 episode, “Dawn of the Dead” – click here
Screen Shot 2017-10-18 at 10.40.55 PMFive years ago. Dawn (Paula Brancati), Peter (Lovell Adams-Gray) and the rest of the friends are carefully enacting their calculated plan to get revenge on Talvinder (Melinda Shankar). The poor soon-to-be dead girl is none the wiser, either. The rest of them with their cold, evil faces lying just beneath the exterior. They take her out to that spot in the woods with the lit torches. They’ve got her “on trial.”
She’s made to stand in the middle of a circle. They all call her out, starting with Andi (Rebecca Liddiard). Conveniently, Andi doesn’t blame Peter, which Tal uses against her. Susan (Kaitlyn Leeb) calls her “nothing.” Eventually Dawn has her say, feeling utterly betrayed; she’s the one who really has the most genuine reason. Peter doesn’t bash her, instead apologising to his girlfriend for what he’s done.
Cut to a little later, when Noah (Jim Watson) almost rapes her on the truck. Then she’s rushing off into the woods, the others worried for her. But Tal won’t turn back. She winds up tripping and smashing her head. They find her in a ditch. She seems dead, so they all react with horror. They drag her off, she’s still alive. Andi smashes her head, she still won’t die.
And Dawn takes the rock, smashing her once more. Noah takes his turn, as well. Laying the killing blow, it seems.
Screen Shot 2017-10-18 at 10.45.18 PMWren (Sebastian Pigott) is heading back to the cabin, after killing Mark, and Judith (Leslie Hope) is pleading with him not to do anything else terrible. He’s bent on revenge. They let him take the fall for Talvinder’s disappearance. All she asks is that Keira is left alive. Other than that she tells him: “Theyre all yours.”
Back at the cabins, Judith reels off a lie about Mark, that he was going to kill her. And she says she shot him. Taking the blame. Lulling Dawn in. Except the young woman doesn’t believe it, she knows it’s lies. Everybody’s too paranoid now, anyway. So many things happening right below the surface.
Five years ago. The friends are reeling in the aftermath of what they’ve done, people are asking where Tal has gone. They’re trying to figure out the next course of action. Their lives changed for the worse, and they had to either deal or go to prison for the rest of their lives.
Present day, the gang at the retreat hear a snowmobile. A woman named Janice arrives looking for her boyfriend, Gene. A bit late, y’know. He’s in pieces out in the shed. She thinks We Live As One are a “cult,” but Peter tries explaining, asking for help. Janice has room for one on her machine; Judith tries desperately to send Keira, only Keira won’t have it, wanting it to be Dawn, so she might get medical attention.
But Wren, he’s intent on killing more. He wants Judith to help and she won’t, he starts getting worse. He’s a sad, lonely, murderous man. He says she’ll “die alone” and she grabs him, throwing him at the mirror. Except nobody’s there. Just her. Ohhhh, man. That’s creepy. Soon, Peter and Keira find her, bloodied, unconscious. They put her to bed, then decide they’ve got to find Mark’s corpse, confirm he’s dead. Peter heads out while she stays to look after Judith.
Screen Shot 2017-10-18 at 11.03.04 PMJudith has worse problems. She continually hears Wren in her head, commanding her: “Kill them!” She speaks to herself as herself, and also as him. We jump back five years. Wren a.k.a Owen leaves his cabin at Camp Motega, and in slips Dawn to drop a piece of Tal’s jewellery into his things. A frame job. That’s nasty.
Present day, Peter comes across Mark’s dead body. Nearby he sees the footprints, he tries re-imagining the crime. He knows something’s not right. Elsewhere, Dawn and Janice try getting out of the forest, but they stop a moment across the way from the parka killer, who fires on both women, bleeding Janice out. Dawn makes it away, though she’s soon shot in the river. Who’s behind the mask? Judith.
At the cabin, Peter finds Keira unconscious, propane filling the house. Then he sees a bunch of letters in Judith’s room. They’re from Wren, in jail. To his mother, Judith. WHOOOOOOOOA. That’s a seriously twisted relationship, on more than just one level, too.
Peter does the only thing he can, carrying Keira through the woods. Only to run into Judith. She says one lives, the other dies. A tough choice. We’re finally seeing the full extent of things now after a flashback, why the noose was in that shrine Peter found – Judith has hallucinated Owen, the entire time. He hanged himself in jail.
Screen Shot 2017-10-18 at 11.07.35 PMScreen Shot 2017-10-18 at 11.13.10 PMScreen Shot 2017-10-18 at 11.15.34 PMWhat will Peter choose? Life? Death? He puts the noose around his neck and steps from the ledge over the shrine, hanging himself as Judith watches, flashing to images of her son slowly dying. But another surprise, as well – up the river, Dawn is still alive, on shore, and two hunters find her there bleeding profusely.
When Keira wakes up she sees Peter hanging. She also finds a letter Peter wrote to Talvinder’s parents, confessing to the crime, trying to give them closure. Admitting that Owen was innocent, they laid the crime on him.
Its time my friends and I paid for what we did
Skip ahead a bit. Keira is safe, back home. She meets with Dawn, who’s preparing to turn herself in to the police, to atone for her terrible sins. From a distance, Judith watches them, still followed by the haunting ghost of her son. Neither of them have forgotten Dawn, they’ll wait until she’s free. Then, well… you know.
Screen Shot 2017-10-18 at 11.29.51 PMFantastic season! God damn. I wish I didn’t fly through it, but such is the age of Netflix. Plus, it was even better than Season 1, which I was big time digging right from the get go. Honestly this season had even better writing. Not to mention the twists were even bigger, wilder. And the gore went up a big notch, from an already grim first season.
Truly hope Netflix will do another season. At least one more. C’mon! Please?!

Slasher – Season 2, Episode 7: “Dawn of the Dead”

Netflix’s Slasher
Season 2, Episode 7: “Dawn of the Dead”
Directed by Felipe Rodriguez
Written by Amanda Fahey

* For a recap & review of the previous episode, “Drone” – click here
* For a recap & review of the Season 2 finale, “The Past is Never Dead” – click here
Screen Shot 2017-10-18 at 9.35.34 PMFive years ago. Talvinder (Melinda Shankar) and Dawn (Paula Brancati) are close. Talking together about the future, what it’ll be like fully entering adulthood, how they should move in together.
A macabre match cut takes us from Dawn twirling her fingers through Tal’s living hair to the dead hair on the corpse’s head. Then she winds up toppling the remains over onto her.
Meanwhile, Peter (Lovell Adams-Gray) and Keira (Madison Cheeatow) have found the snowmobile, covered in blood and gore. Plus, no gas, no Renée (Joanne Vannicola) – well, at least not much. There are bits left. And did the killer leave Mark (Paulino Nunes) alive? Yes, he’s alive, but definitely busted up bad from getting hit by the snowmobile. Not only that, the killer’s got their gun.
Screen Shot 2017-10-18 at 9.37.08 PMSuspicions are high, Keira wonders if it was Dawn who could be the killer, even if Peter isn’t convinced. Jump back to five years prior. Dawn and the other counsellors teach kids to do all kinds of stuff, like archery. She was particularly close to one dude, Ryan. This is also when we see Owen talking to Tal, pressing her to go out with him, being creepy.
Oh, and Owen? He’s Wren.
Guys dont like it when girls upstage them
Nothing gets any better at the retreat. Peter thinks Mark is the killer. Mark finds one of the pictures from the files on Renée, and it’s Peter. So, you know he’ll be thinking Peter’s the killer. And it’s a vicious cycle. The isolation up north has got them all starting to go a little crazy, on top of the fact a serial killer is murdering them all, slow, steady.
Five years ago again. Tal and Dawn talk about the latter sleeping with a married man; her stepfather, in fact. She “wrecked” her own home, doing it to get back at her mother. At Camp Motega, she didn’t want to add to her “body count” – interesting choice of words – and so she intended on taking it slow with Ryan. This is where we see her bonding, deeply, with Tal.
At the cabin, Mark puts a pill in Peter’s beer, as they all sit around trying to forget their grim reality, at least for a moment. They try a game of Never Have I Ever. Seems like Peter has to drink a lot, he’s done some shit, y’know.
He has a flashback to five years before, he and Tal lying together out in the woods. She tells him about moving in with Dawn when they go back home, what they ought to do about their relationship. He made some promises, ones he appears to want to go back on. He wanted to have the cake and eat it, too. Breaking her heart a bit. Later, she listens to Dawn talking lovingly of Ryan, and she laments the love she just lost.
And the drugs are kicking in on Peter. He stumbles outside, so Mark locks the door. Dawn was a part of it, of course. Fucking treacherous. Keira’s the only one who seems to not believe in what the others are sure of already. Things are getting really ugly.
Screen Shot 2017-10-18 at 9.56.35 PMGo back five years. Dawn wants Tal to talk her up to Ryan. The trusted friend goes to him, trying to work her magic. He asks if Dawn ever mentions him. She gives him a generic answer, not talking Dawn up whatsoever. Tal’s doing what she does, acting deviously behind the backs of the people who seem to like her; she lies about Dawn’s stepfather, making it out to look like she was molested. God damn, girl! Nothing to get killed over, not even close, but lord, she was a piece of work.
In the woods, Peter is stumbling, drugged on ketamine, out in the cold. At the cabins, Wren and Judith (Leslie Hope) hook up in one room. In the living room, Dawn tries getting closer to Mark, in a genuine way, talking to him about her past. She also admits that all that’s happened is because of her, her friends. She wants to own up to the guilt.
Five years ago, once more. Tal lies to Dawn that she’s not Ryan’s “type” because he likes really skinny, small girls. This clearly devastates her friend. That night, Dawn gets drunk and starts getting a bit wild in front of everyone, talking to Ryan. But he mentions the stepfather stuff, and then she realises her friend is not actually her friend.
Out in the woods, Peter comes across a shrine, bloody, candles lit. Above it is a mannequin, hanging by the neck. Back at the retreat, Judith finds the gun in Wren’s jacket; the one the killer supposedly took from Renée. She nearly uses it on him, deciding not to at the last moment. Uh oh.
Screen Shot 2017-10-18 at 10.10.34 PMPeter goes back to the cabin, more information now, but when Dawn lets him inside Mark runs at him, knocking him out. After that Keira is pissed. She believes maybe Mark is the killer now. Yet there’s a piece of Andi’s hair in Peter’s pocket. So strange, so creepy.
Go back again, five years ago. Dawn and the other girls plot against Tal. They go from silly little pranks, to more serious things. They want to “scare the life out of her.” They decide to put her on trial, leaving her in the woods to walk home alone. The game was set.
Present day, Judith’s having trouble, worried Wren is the killer. She considers blowing her own brains out, until he finds her out there. He confesses his love for her. She says she loves him, too. However, when Mark comes running towards them, Wren shoots him in the head. Dead. Holy shit.
Not much to say now. One last episode. “The Past is Never Dead” comes next, and we’ll finally understand every last little secret, every betrayal, all of it.