From July 2015

Jack Bauer v. Supernatural Forces in MIRRORS

Mirrors. 2008. Directed by Alexandre Aja. Screenplay by Alexandre Aja & Grégory Levasseur; based on the film Into the Mirror by Sung-ho Kim.
Starring Keifer Sutherland, Paula Patton, Cameron Boyce, Erica Gluck, Amy Smart, Mary Beth Peil, John Shrapnel, Jason Flemyng, Julian Glover, and Ezra Buzzington. New Regency Pictures.
Rated 18A. 110 minutes.
Horror/Mystery/Thriller

★★★
Mise en page 1 (Page 1) For starters, I’ve been an Alexandre Aja fan for a long while now. Ever since I first saw Haute Tension (English titles: High Tension & Switchblade Romance) I thought that Aja had a sense of old school horror in him.
I continue to feel that way. While some people really might not agree, I think even his lesser films have things worth enjoying, worth taking away – sometimes that may just be the effects, parts of the script, or the story. Regardless I think that Aja carries with him some old school horror movie sensibilities in terms of his use of practical effects (though at times he does opt for some shitty CGI I must admit), as well as the stories he chooses to film.

Mirrors is the most supernatural horror that Alexandre Aja and GrĂ©gory Levasseur have written together. It still has a bit of a realistic feel because of where the story goes eventually, however, there’s always that strong supernatural vibe going on from start to finish. In this way, it’s a little different from almost anything else that Aja himself has directed (of course since then he’s also done the fantastic Horns).
While it is not particularly great, I think the movie has merit mostly because of a creepy and weird story, and at times amongst some bad CGI effects we’re treated to a handful of really awesome practical make-up effects shots courtesy of Howard Berger, Gregory Nicotero, and some other wizards from KNB.
Screen Shot 2015-07-31 at 11.55.32 PMScreen Shot 2015-07-31 at 11.55.56 PMBen Carson (Keifer Sutherland) is a former NYPD detective. He killed a man in a shooting some time ago after falling into a downward spiral of alcoholism; disgraced, he retired from the force. He’s cut off from his children most of the time, as his ex-wife Wife (Paula Patton) has custody of them both.
To try and make ends meet, Ben works as a security guard. Now he has a new job as the nightwatchman for the Mayflower Department Store which had been partly wrecked with fire years before. There, he begins to experience strange phenomena. Worse is the fact the last nightwatchman cut his own throat with a piece of glass from a mirror in a subway station bathroom.
Eventually Ben starts to feel as if the mirrors aren’t being looked into – they are looking out. And he does not like what they’ve started to project, as it slowly begins working its way out of the Mayflower Department Store, into him, into his life. Things get worse, until soon enough the things in the mirrors are following Ben home, to the home of his ex-wife and children. Unfortunately for Ben, at first nobody believes him because of the medication he takes while trying to stay off the booze. That all changes once the things in the mirrors reveal themselves to everyone else around him. Then, nobody is safe.
Screen Shot 2015-07-31 at 11.57.54 PMScreen Shot 2015-07-31 at 11.58.18 PMI really do love the opening sequence. An unwritten horror movie rule is that you need one of those opening scenes that POPS, usually a murder – maybe even the murder that begins the whole story. Doesn’t have to be that, but you know what I mean. There are many variants, yet a ton of horror movies all start out that way with a scene that’s meant to get our adrenaline going, getting the terror started. Mirrors does a fine and bloody job of starting things out. A worthy opening scene to the many that have come before it.

Throughout the movie there are definitely a few instances of terrible looking CGI shots. I think that’s overall one of my biggest problems. When you’re doing a supernatural film, especially, you really need to either do practical effects the whole way through, or you’ve got to be able to put up some quality CGI that doesn’t make things feel so fake and awkward.
Screen Shot 2015-07-31 at 11.56.58 PMOne of the worst, to me, is when Ben Carson (Sutherland) thinks he’s on fire, looking in the mirror; he drops and rolls around, the fire consuming him all over the length of his body. Though, he is not on fire it’s meant to look and seem very real. In opposition to that, it doesn’t look any bit real. I’m not saying you’ve got to put someone in danger by lighting them on fire to get the shot, but does the alternative have to be awful effects? Either do it right or forego doing it at all. It was like watching Keifer Sutherland wriggle around in a green-screen blanket or something. Really rough to watch.
I don’t want to lay any blame for this scene on GrĂ©gory Levasseur especially. Unfortunately for him, Aja had to leave set to be with his wife who’d prematurely gone into labour, so Levasseur took over duties on this scene. I guess ultimately he didn’t have either control or say over the special effects in that scene, but either way he could’ve been part of the problem. He only recently directed The Pyramid, which I enjoyed yet was not great, so at this point in 2008 he probably didn’t have too much experience behind the camera as a director.
Screen Shot 2015-07-31 at 11.57.44 PMWith that being said, I’ve got to commend the really well-executed make-up effects on the part of Greg Nicotero, Howard Berger, as well as other artists from the KNB EFX shop. These guys have done so many films and shows, everything from The Walking Dead to Day of the Dead, Misery, Evil Dead II, Phantasm II, and so many more between them all.
A great and classic horror movie death happens in this film. BRIEF SPOILERS AHEAD!
Angela Carson (Amy Smart) dies while in the bathtub: her reflection grabs the top and bottom of her own jaw, starts ripping, tearing it open, upward until the whole thing just starts hanging loose, tongue out, bloody and gore everywhere. The water is full of blood. One of those real gory horror scenes that is enough to satisfy a lot of gorehounds out there! The effects in the beginning as she starts tearing involve a slight drop of CGI, however, the after effects and midway through the process are all practical; looks amazing. I thought so, anyways. Some true gore.
Screen Shot 2015-07-31 at 11.58.32 PMScreen Shot 2015-07-31 at 11.58.54 PMScreen Shot 2015-07-31 at 11.59.41 PM
Not a huge fan of the acting, I must say. Mostly it’s only Sutherland who impresses me, and even he doesn’t exactly swing for the fences in a full-fledged, honest effort. I’m not saying he’s bad, at all, I just think that at times he’s a bit too flat. He plays that broken down guy well, there’s no doubt. But it feels like he doesn’t go from one place to another, there’s always this stagnant feeling to the Ben Carson character. Neither is he meant to go and turn into some new person, I just feel like there’s not much range here in Sutherland. Maybe that isn’t his fault, either. Could just be the script from Aja and Levasseur didn’t give Carson enough life on the page. Because I certainly think Sutherland is a good actor – not a fan of his Jack Bauer turn but I love him in Stand by Me, Freeway, A Time to Kill, and more. So he’s capable of range, I just don’t see much of it in the character itself, therefore we don’t see much out of Sutherland. Though, what he is given he plays well. As I said, I buy him as that sort of broken down, washed up/disgraced former cop figure. With that bit, he does what he can.
Otherwise, as I said, no one else truly grabbed me other than a couple of the supporting actors with creepy parts to play. Paula Patton certainly did not do anything for me; I find her bland and could take her or leave her, preferably she’d be left.
Screen Shot 2015-08-01 at 12.03.37 AMScreen Shot 2015-08-01 at 12.04.05 AMBy far, my favourite part about Mirrors is the backstory of what’s going on inside the Mayflower Department Store. Once the film gets to the 1 hour 20 minute mark and Ben Carson is starting to unravel the Esseker mystery, this is where things get fairly creepy and unsettling. Not that it’s like blow your socks off scary, I just enjoy the mystery, the creepy moments when Carson goes to see the nun, tracking down information, it’s all pretty disturbing. I dig that whole final half hour. It’s by no means perfect, but it has that macabre backwoods element which I really love. To tell you the truth, I could’ve gone for a prequel where Aja explored the origin story in fuller detail, showing the Esseker girl and the lead-up to everything, her ‘possession’ or what not and that whole angle. The execution leaves something to be desired, all the same I thought Aja and Levasseur did a decent job with the story as opposed to the lacklustre work they did with dialogue and character development.
Screen Shot 2015-08-01 at 12.03.24 AMScreen Shot 2015-08-01 at 12.04.44 AMScreen Shot 2015-08-01 at 12.05.36 AMIn the end, I’ll give Mirrors a 3 out of 5 stars. It’s not the worst of what Alexandre Aja has to offer, however, I also can’t say it’s one of his best. A mid-range effort on his part. Mostly, it’s the CGI and nonsense in the plot that throws me off, coupled with not a whole lot of stellar acting. The writing could’ve been done much better. There’s not only bad dialogue, there is a major lack of character development, as well as just some parts that didn’t feel to make a whole lot of sense even when it comes to the movie’s own internal logic. The finale was my favourite part, yet even some points there I said to myself “Hmm what?” and didn’t exactly feel like things went where they needed to go ultimately.
Also the ending sets things up for a sequel. I hate that. You can go for a downbeat, horrific ending that doesn’t have to be a lead-in to a sequel, which it feels like here. This would’ve worked with a haunting, open end but instead it’s like Aja just wanted to set it up so that someone else could spin this into another film.
Screen Shot 2015-08-01 at 12.06.51 AMAside from those points that I thought were lacking, or were downright bad, I do enjoy the backstory of the film. There’s a lot of creepy things going on in that story and even if they were not represented as accurately and effectively as possible to maximize the horror/terror in the final product, I still think Aja did a decent job at trying to draw out some of the creepiness that was there. All in all, this is not something I’ll probably watch again, though, I did enjoy it enough to seek it out to review it and then watch it for a second time. This will be my last. I much prefer Aja’s remake of the Wes Craven classic The Hills Have Eyes, his French gore horror masterpiece High Tension and his film adaptation of Joe Hill’s novel Horns, and still there are a good deal who think the latter of those two is garbage; maybe some even don’t like the first. But me, I love Aja, and even though this is far from a great horror, I still give him credit for trying to instil a bit of old school-ness into his films, whether it be classic style supernatural ghost story stuff or the presence of some wild practical make-up effects.
Just search elsewhere to find his best work, you aren’t going to find it in this film.

Hannibal – Season 3, Episode 9: “
And the Woman Clothed with the Sun”

Screen Shot 2015-07-31 at 3.19.25 AMNBC’s Hannibal
Season 3, Episode 9: “
And the Woman Clothed with the Sun”
Directed by John Dahl (Rounders, Joy Ride, Breaking Bad, Dexter)
Written by Bryan Fuller/Steve Lightfoot/Helen Shang/Jeff Vlaming

* For a review of the previous episode, “The Great Red Dragon” – click here
* For a review of the next episode, “
And the Woman Clothed in Sun” – click here
Screen Shot 2015-07-31 at 3.23.30 AMWill Graham (Hugh Dancy) has become distanced from Dr. Lecter (Mads Mikkelsen) since three years ago, when they were still sickly close to one another, tit for tatting with arterial spray all over the place. Now they’re no longer on a first name basis, as Will seems to completely refuse calling him by name – always doctor, or Dr. Lecter. Evidence of Will truly wanting to have a life separate from their odd connection that once was, and still is – deep, beneath the skin, down in the heart. As always, Hannibal mines for details trying hard to uncover all he can about Will’s personal life: his new life, without Hannibal. It’s intriguing and sad all at once.

We’re served up a flashback from events in the very first season with Hannibal and Abigail Hobbs (Kacey Rohl), as he prepares the crime scene he concocted which framed Will for a time.

Basically we are seeing Hannibal, jealous of Will’s new life/fatherhood, looking back at the closest he’ll ever come to that sort of life – the family life. Abigail became like the child of Hannibal and Will. Hannibal reverts back to moments with Abigail, to both capture that feeling Will has which he is missing out on and also to feel close with Will; like a divorced parent remembering the good times with his child that helps him simultaneously remember the good days with his ex-partner.
You accepted your father. Would it be so difficult to accept me?” Hannibal asks.
I don’t know if it would be smart,” replies Abigail.
We don’t get wiser as we get older, Abigail. But, we do learn to avoid or raise a certain amount of Hell. Depending on which we prefer.
I’ll need to collect some flesh,” says Hannibal. “Not a pound, only a piece.
Screen Shot 2015-07-31 at 3.19.50 AMScreen Shot 2015-07-31 at 3.20.01 AMIncredible exchange here as they play on the phrase of “The King is dead – long live the King“

Hannibal: “Abigail Hobbs is dead.
Abigail: “Long live Abigail Hobbs.
Screen Shot 2015-07-31 at 3.26.27 AMPoor Will is being reluctantly sucked back into the entirety of his old life, working with the FBI and Jack Crawford (Laurence Fishburne). Also there is Dr. Alana Bloom (Caroline Dhavernas) who has brought a Verger baby into the world herself, a true son of her own with Margot Verger (Katharine Isabelle).
But it’s Will who is in the most danger. Everyone else seems sort of sectioned off and encased in their own new worlds, yet Will is always in that danger, the peril of slipping back into the arms of Hannibal.
Screen Shot 2015-07-31 at 3.26.32 AMHannibal: “This is a very shy boy, Will. I’d love to meet him.
As they work together, Will and Hannibal inhabit the Memory Palace. It goes to show how Will and Hannibal are so intricately linked in their psyches now that the Memory Palace where they go together is something of their simultaneous creation; they are partners, in so many senses of the word. They have rooms in their Memory Palace which are identical, perhaps even meant solely for the two of them and no one else. It’s a great visual representation that doesn’t have to do a big ton of exposition to get the point across.
Furthermore, Hannibal and Will walk around in the crime scene together. A testament to both of their powers to empathize, their twisted minds much alike, and also that connection constantly running strong. It’s as if they hadn’t skipped a beat in those years apart, each living other lives yet yearning to be together in some way.
Screen Shot 2015-07-31 at 3.23.40 AMHave you ever seen blood in the moonlight, Will? It appears quite black.
A great image of Will standing like Francis Dolarhyde (Richard Armitage) did in the previous episode, painted in the black blood of his victims and naked in the moonlight.
Screen Shot 2015-07-31 at 3.23.51 AMBack again is Freddy Lounds (Lara Jean Chorostecki), the awful and immoral tabloid reporter. Snooping around, watching Will Graham. Naughty, naughty. Tsk. How rude, Ms. Lounds!

Will: “You called us Murder Husbands.” – CLASSIC LINE! I fucking loved that.
Screen Shot 2015-07-31 at 3.26.40 AMScreen Shot 2015-07-31 at 3.24.02 AMI like the new dynamic between Dr. Bloom and Dr. Lecter. Very interesting. They’ve crossed so many borders in their relationship. Especially when Alana let him go at Muskrat Farm when she could’ve just as easily let Mason Verger (Joe Anderson) eat him, torture him kill him. So it’s fun to see scenes between them both now. Once lovers, now enemies, at odds with one another. Furthermore, Hannibal is in a different position from before. He is uneasy now because of being trapped in that big cell, that fish tank, that observatory – like some bug, there to be studied. And Alana is there, poking, prodding. We also find out that the reason Lecter has cushy surroundings is due to Alana getting some of that Verger cash from the new male heir she gave birth to along with Margot, so that’s how he has been afforded some luxuries. It’s also a way for Alana to existentially torture him, I suppose.
Screen Shot 2015-07-31 at 3.24.56 AMScreen Shot 2015-07-31 at 3.25.12 AMScreen Shot 2015-07-31 at 3.25.32 AMScreen Shot 2015-07-31 at 3.26.10 AMMore Francis Dolarhyde moments bring us deeper into the psyche of Mr. Tooth Fairy himself. INCREDIBLE MOMENT = as Dolarhyde squirms and groans in his becoming there slithers a dragon’s tail back beyond the projector – amazing little shot thrown in there.
What interests me here is we’re seeing Dolarhyde trying to come to grips with who he is – he does not know, he thinks he’s becoming and he’s undergoing a transformation – meanwhile, Will is trying to get inside this guy’s head. It’s an almost impossible task; surely why Will feels the need to go back to Hannibal. However, it’s still an excellent duality where we’re seeing Will fall apart again, at least slightly, while trying to figure out who this man is: a man who does not even know himself.
There’s some amazing yet brief shots giving bits of insight into the past of Dolarhyde. I’ve included a couple screenshots that show a wonderful scene that goes so quick you can almost miss it. Includes some stuff from the Thomas Harris novel Red Dragon in a real intense, fast moment.
Screen Shot 2015-07-31 at 3.24.26 AMScreen Shot 2015-07-31 at 3.24.33 AMScreen Shot 2015-07-31 at 3.24.45 AMI cannot get enough of Richard Armitage as Dolarhyde. I mean, it’s incredible. His physicality, the way he embodies the character and truly becomes him; it’s the essence of the character. Plus, he has several episodes to flesh out that performance. Perfect actor to have chosen for this role. Armitage rules – I am now a believer!
Screen Shot 2015-07-31 at 3.27.12 AMHere in this episode, “
And the Woman Clothed with the Sun”, Dolarhyde meets his blind love interest. A perfect fit I always thought, for a man who has truly disturbing issues surrounding his own physical appearance. Rutina Wesley plays Reba McClane, previously a role inhabited by both Joan Allen and Emily Watson – so I’m interested to see Wesley’s take on it and see how well she handles it. From what we get to see in this episode, she will do great! She has a nice presence and tons of charisma.
I find the relationship between her and Dolarhyde so ripe for tension. It just fits so perfectly. Incredible adaptation here of Harris’ work. However, the original characters in the Harris novel are just amazing as is; what a writer.
Screen Shot 2015-07-31 at 3.27.18 AMAgain, again – love the visuals!
While the conversation between Will and his wife Molly (Nina Arianda) happens, Will uses his Memory Palace to imagine the two of them on the bed together, sitting, in love. It’s an awesome little use of the imagery we so often get on Hannibal. Plus, a nice scene between Will and his loving wife; she is good for him, even if he’s beginning to tear at the seams of his being. The dreams are starting to reappear, he’s sweating: harkens us back to the first two seasons when he descended into madness and instability.
Screen Shot 2015-07-31 at 3.27.27 AMJack: “We’re all in this stew together, Dr. Lecter.
Such a fitting line for Jack to say. It describes everything so perfectly, almost literally at times as Hannibal has made plenty of stews/other dishes out of people, ones they’ve known, and at the same time they’re all just boiling in one big pot together with their hatreds and their grudges and ill feelings towards one another – Hannibal, Jack, Will, Alana, Bedelia – like a giant circle, swirling in that pot, they all curl around each other. We’re constantly wondering: who’s the next to die, to be eaten, to feel the full length of the horror?
Screen Shot 2015-07-31 at 3.27.40 AMScreen Shot 2015-07-31 at 3.27.48 AMThe end of the episode is excellent. We get another great flashback involving Hannibal and Abigail; right after Will called Hannibal in the Season Two finale. There’s lots of good things here, giving us more and more insight into the “sensitive” side, if you will, of Hannibal Lecter; if there truly can be one.
Then of course we see another relationship budding – a new one for Hannibal onto which he can latch (because for all he is Lecter is a parasyte). Francis Dolarhyde reaches him by phone, posing as Lecter’s attorney.

Screen Shot 2015-07-31 at 3.28.04 AMDolarhyde: “The important thing is what I am becoming.
This moment with Hannibal and Francis on the phone at the end is a creepy bit. There’s a duality again between Hannibal and Francis, just as there exists one between Hannibal/Will and Will/Francis. So much going on, like a twisted and scary love triangle of the worst kind.
Gets really tense especially after Lecter asks him what he’s becoming, to which Dolarhyde replies, in an awful tone: “The Great Red Dragon
We’re building more and more to see a huge confrontation between Will and Francis Dolarhyde, ultimately another game initiated by Hannibal. This time, I think it’s also a confused bit of revenge/an attempt at bringing Will Graham back into his world on Hannibal’s part. Either way, there are so many things happening and I can’t wait to see how Dolarhyde is slowly going to go further mad and twist things up.

Stay tuned for next week’s episode, directed by Guillermo Navarro, titled “
And the Woman Clothed in Sun”

I hate that this is cancelled, shame once more NBC! I say it again. Such great horror. I hope this will somehow help mainstream horror television, maybe, maybe not. Wish there was some way to #SaveHannibal – alas, it looks as if it is dead. Hannibal, we hardly knew ye.

MEGAN IS MISSING Illustrates Youth at Risk

Megan Is Missing. 2011. Directed & Written by Michael Goi.
Starring Amber Perkins, Rachel Quinn, Dean Waite, Jael Elizabeth Steinmeyer, Kara Wang, Brittany Hingle, Carolina Sabate, April Stewart, and John K. Frazier. Trio Pictures.
Unrated. 85 minutes.
Crime/Drama/Horror

★
MV5BMTU0NzYxNjIzM15BMl5BanBnXkFtZTcwOTU0NDM1Mw@@._V1_SX640_SY720_There are a ton of different found footage horror movies hitting the market in the past 5-10 years. Especially now since Paranormal Activity absolutely ran its premise dry with a bunch of sequels and spin-offs and whatever.
Sometimes it’s hard to wade through the ocean of shit that comes out from independent filmmakers trying to break into the business with a cheap, effective little horror that draws on realism to make things scary.
Problem is, there are certain filmmakers who end up just crossing over from realism into exploitation. They take a subject that could be effective if they were to do it as a normal film, and instead create something that crosses the borders of where it needs to go and where it really ends up going.
Megan Is Missing most definitely is one of the films that becomes exploitative instead of being properly scary. There’s no real suspense or tension here, it feels like everything is just being milked for all its worth – especially the sexualization of these teen characters. Supposedly based on a true story, Michael Goi takes on the guise of trying “warn of the dangers on the internet”, as if that needs to be harped on any more than we’ve already seen before. What bothers me is that part about being based on/inspired by a true story. There is very little here based on the true story; I won’t waste my time explaining, but search out the case of Ward Weaver III who murdered two young girls. They met a similar fate to the girls in this film. Apart from that tiny detail, mostly at the end of the movie, there’s nothing else resembling the two. So much of what Goi does is a desperate attempt to make the story found footage, which is never good because the whole concept is forced in and this whole thing could’ve been much more interesting crime-drama/thriller than a sub-genre horror film.
megan-is-missing-2011-amy555157_175542802599135_1293421673_nMost of this movie revolves around a fear of internet predators. Now, don’t get me wrong – they are out there. By the hundreds of thousands, even. Maybe more. I just feel like Goi, as a writer/director, has exploited that whole angle of things. I mean, linking this to a ‘real story’ feels to me a desperate plea in order to involve people in the supposed realism of this found footage film.
There are scenes where girls are at a party, making out, there’s a blowjob performed by Megan (Rachel Quinn). Then in another scene, Megan recounts in great detail how she gave her first one at the age of ten, to a camp counsellor; she and her friend Amy (Amber Perkins) giggle and Amy asks questions. I mean, I’m not saying movies can’t be made about teenage sexual issues. Not at all. I just feel like this is totally making the essence of the film seeing how these girls, mostly the character of Megan, are young, sexual women ahead of their time. It focuses so much on the sexuality of these girls that I’m actually disgusted. Again, not saying these types of people don’t exist. It’s just ridiculous how much of a focus Goi hones in on the aspects of her sexuality.
Worst example: even as Megan is on the news reported missing, one of the photos onscreen is of her, tongue out, licking a butter knife full of peanut butter. I mean – really, Goi? Why even include that one? Constantly painting the character of Megan as “slutty”. It’s like a bit slut shaming the whole time. Then, it’s as if her friend Amy is a victim of her own friend’s perceived “sluttiness”. I couldn’t handle it. I thought the way Goi wrote/handled the material as director was just so bad and shameful.
15There’s absolutely a way that Megan Is Missing could have been an effective horror. Or even as I said, this could’ve played out just as well/way better if it were filmed as a normal movie, not found footage, and played as a crime-drama with thriller elements. I mean, it could’ve even had a Gone Girl-esque vibe in terms of the whole disappearance in Fincher’s film – there could be built, with a tweaked script, a solid movie out of what Goi had in mind.
Unfortunately somewhere along the line Goi’s intentions were mixed and the lines crossed. It’s like he wanted to make this as a part of wanting to add commentary to a found footage horror. Instead, he began to focus too much on the overt sexuality of the character Megan, he pushes too much then – especially in the final 20 minutes or so – to make things totally exploitative. There could’ve easily been culled a good deal of tension, lots of suspense and dread, however, there’s none of that.
vlcsnap-2012-09-21-12h11m05s255_zpsa8390b76All we get in terms of horror is a shocking finale. Really, it’s just too much. I’ve seen plenty of disturbing movies. This is not one of those that works in an effective sense. Just a load of flashy shock horror trying to lull us into calling this some sort of good horror movie. It isn’t.
I can only give this movie about 1 star. There are elements to this which I thought worked, but only a couple. For instance, I think Amber Perkins did a swell job acting the part of Megan’s friend Amy Herman. It was a tough role and she did what she could with it; not a great script, or dialogue, yet she pulls off the little part of the film she could. Other than that, nothing worth seeing. The barrel shock sort of got me, it’s disturbing, but ultimately there is no substance at all. No style either.
A forgettable, rotten movie that I’ll never ever watch again.

The Realism of Murder & HENRY: PORTRAIT OF A SERIAL KILLER

This John McNaughton classic is pure terror, diving into the semi-real life of a prolific serial killer(/liar).

Read more

EVIL DEAD Gets Remade with Plenty Blood & Guts & Demonic Possession

Evil Dead. 2013. Written & Directed by Fede Alvarez; based on the screenplay by Sam Raimi.
Starring Jane Levy, Shiloh Fernandez, Lou Taylor Pucci, Jessica Lucas, Elizabeth Blackmore, Phoenix Connolly, Jim McLarty, Stephen Butterworth, Karl Willetts, Randal Wilson, and Rupert Degas.
TriStar Pictures.
Rated 18A. 91 minutes.
Horror

★★★★
evil-dead-poster So, to start, I want to just say that I love the original Evil Dead. I don’t think the remake is better, not at all. However, I think that as far as remakes go this one does a pretty good job at updating things and changing perspective just enough so that it isn’t a carbon copy of the original from Sam Raimi.
Of course there are obvious similarities and there are things which feel identical, but Fede Alvarez has really brought a script that tweaks Raimi’s original to make it his own while simultaneously remaining a remake of the beloved horror classic.
While this Evil Dead is stripped of the comedic element Raimi infused the film with – or should I say the man, the one and only Bruce Campbell really executed that aspect – this incarnation has replaced the comedy with absolute fear.
Now, before we go any further – this is how I feel about being scared by a horror movie.
When I say that a horror creeps me out, that it’s disturbing or scary, unsettling, any of these descriptors, I don’t mean that I’m sitting there in the dark cowering, that I can’t sleep at night. I’ve not been that scared in a long, long time. But I’m still scared by things in horror films. For me, there’s disturbing and creepy things going on in Evil Dead and it doesn’t mean that I’m up all night, terrified to turn out the lights; just means I’m unsettled by certain elements.
So when I say that this film replaces that comedic essence of the original with an air of terror, don’t try and say that I don’t understand what is scary or what is not. We all have our things. This remake comes with a lot of heart, good performances, and a ton of big fat horror balls.
mola-monster-macabro-a-dual-review-of-the-evil-dead-2013-remake-002Fede Alvarez’s Evil Dead remake begins with David (Shiloh Fernandez) meeting with his girlfriend Natalie (Elizabeth Blackmore) at a cabin in the woods. Their friends, Eric (Lou Taylor Pucci) and Olivia (Jessica Lucas) are also there. Everyone’s gathered to help David’s sister Mia (Jane Levy) do a homemade rehab, like a willing intervention or the second half of one anyways; she is a recovering heroin addict. Unfortunately, for more than one reason this won’t be near as easy as they’d imagined it would be.
A smell keeps bothering Mia, as if something is dead. Eventually they discover a door in the floor, leading to a room full of strange artifacts, dead animals, and other weird things. One of which is Necronomicon.
In a terrible decision, Eric keeps picking at the book, determined to look inside and read things he’s found. He releases something from its vile and wicked pages. Soon enough, the things Mia does to try and get out of her rehabilitation become more and more violent, more heinous, as if she’s not only jonesing for heroin: she is possessed.
But the possession doesn’t stop there. It won’t stop. Not until they’ve all been deal with.
Evli-Dead-movie-photos-5I’m not exactly a huge fan of remakes. There are some I do enjoy – Alexandre Aja’s The Hills Have Eyes, that’s one I’m a particular fan of, and even though some hate it I thought Rob Zombie did a fun and disturbing job with Halloween. However, a lot of the remakes we get are sad, glossy jobs, then again much of those are the Michael Bay produced trashjobs like the jeans commercial that was The Texas Chainsaw Massacre starring Jessica Biel’s ass, the pitiful Friday the 13th reboot, as well as the downright shameful remake of A Nightmare on Elm Street.
But to my mind, I think that the Evil Dead remake does justice to the original. It isn’t better, though, I can’t say that it’s any less fun. To me, anyways.
Because the premise of the film is the same – people get possessed and terrorized by a host of demonic presences at a cabin in the woods. Still, Fede Alvarez changes things a little. Now we’ve got a new reason for these people being in the woods; not a massive game-changing move, but it’s enough in the script to make this his own, a remake yet fresh in a way. Evil Dead was awesome the first time around. This time, we get a bit of a different spin. Because even as things get creepy for the friends, before it all gets out of hand, there’s still an element in their minds which says “Mia is just tripping and getting crazy from withdrawals”. Of course, that changes, and then some! I just thought it was a good twist. Alvarez could’ve simply just updated things enough to feel like the 2010s, but he chose to bring something different and make the characters a little less similar to the first movie.
We get lots of awesome reminders to harken back to the original, I just feel that Alvarez did a nice job with adapting things and switching some stuff up. That’s what a remake should do. Yet people still want to trash it and say it’s garbage, yadda yadda. Whatever, man.
bigEvilDead33-evil-dead-redband-trailer-2Love how the little electric meat cutter is first seen slicing up some quite raw – pork, I think it is. Can’t be sure. Either way, I thought it was great when you can juxtapose how viciously the electric kitchen accessory comes into play later. Not that this is anything super innovative concerning horror movies, I just love when a film does that in an effective manner. Alvarez could’ve just used the thing as a gimmick, thrown it in there wildly, but instead he takes the time to set this up early on so that you either remember it and enjoy seeing it come back into the movie in such a brutish way, or you’re just surprised; that works, too. I like that Alvarez makes specific use of the tool early within 15-20 minutes, especially watching it cut through some meat. Later, as it does some real cutting, it’s that much better.
There are some great effects all around – the face slicing, that whole part, I really loved. Even when Eric tries to back away, he slips and cranks his back on the toilet seat. That was just perfect. I love when horror doesn’t try to be perfect with its choreography; in horrific, terrifying moments there would definitely be so much clumsiness and ineffective escape. This was a classic moment like that.

A favourite line of mine from the movie I thought was darkly comedic yet a good piece of writing – the script recognizes horror movie tropes and how characters often don’t question each other enough. David is trying to rationalize what has been happening, saying it could be a virus, to which Eric replies:
What kind of virus makes someone cut off their face with a piece of glass?
XGoQCqgOpcdgucLvhlIu0m75kl0I thought that Jane Levy was superb as Mia. From start to finish. There’s one scene particularly, the look in her eyes as she talks with her brother David – right after the forest has come alive and raped her – it is classic horror cinema acting, right there. If you say different, fine, but you’re blind. I liked Levy in the first season of Shameless, after which she was replaced/left. Here, I got to see her do some excellent work. Once she becomes Abomination Mia, it is really something.
What I love most about the Mia character is once the Abomination has hold of her, the make-up effects are beyond incredible. Excellent, gruesome stuff. Plus, the voice is creepy as all hell. I love when a film can go for great practical effects. Sure, there are pieces of CGI mixed in there no doubt, but so much is done practically with make-up special effects.
That part with the electric meat cutter is savage! I thought that was just pure gritty gore horror. So much in this movie, definitely once the last half hour starts to roll, is balls-to-the-wall gory horror fun. It is supremely nasty at times, in the best sense of the word when it comes to scary movies.
And I mean, the original Evil Dead was meant to be a wild horror. A bit of comedy mixed in, but mainly horror. That’s what we get here: in droves. It keeps coming and coming, over, over, until the last scene finishes. There’s a ton of blood, lots of pain and torture and death. It is what horror is all about, in the end. If people disagree, I understand. Well – I don’t. I’ll just agree to disagree.
485929_276672722465628_547675212_nI loved this remake. It’s one of those I’ll put on the list of remakes I truly enjoy because it deserves to be on there. For me, this is a 4 out of 5 star horror. I think a lot of diehard fans of the original are big time upset because Bruce Campbell isn’t Ash and Ash isn’t the big hero – instead we get a female hero, a recovering drug addict who overcomes the insanity of the demons pressing down on her, her friends, and that cabin out in the woods.
There are for sure a couple points I didn’t like, mainly those had to do with dialogue; some of it certainly could’ve been tweaked. Yet overall, I love the script because I thought Fede Alvarez did a wonderful bit of work adapting Sam Raimi’s original into something a little more today and a bit different. Because if a movie being remade simply goes for everything the original did – same story and effects and twists and characters – what is the point then? Why even do it? I’ve never understood shot-by-shot remakes, like Gus Van Sant’s Psycho (even though I dig it simply because it’s an update with new actors while most hate it and I love Van Sant regardless). At the end of the day, it’s useless to remake something that way, even if it’s enjoyable; you’re not bringing anything new to the table. Even enjoying something like Van Sant’s exact duplicate of Alfred Hitchcock, I can’t say it’s a good movie because Hitchcock did it already, exactly the same.
So basically, Alvarez here with Evil Dead impressed me by not having to copy everything completely identical, even if so much of it is familiar and obviously derivative of the first. It doesn’t matter that it’s a remake because Alvarez has given it enough heart and effort to say that this is a worthy effort. One of my favourite remakes out there, and will continue to be, no matter what other reviews might try and have me believe. This is a lot of fun, a LOT of gore to the point of absolute savagery at times, and a solid central performance from Jane Levy.
Groovy.

THE PURGE: ANARCHY Further Envisions POTUS Trump’s Domestic Policies on Crime

The Purge: Anarchy. 2014. Directed & Written by James DeMonaco.
Starring Frank Grillo, Carmen Ejogo, Zach Gilford, Kiele Sanchez, Zoë Soul, Justina Machado, John Beasley, Jack Conley, Noel Gugliemi, Castulo Guerra, Michael Kenneth Williams, and Edwin Hodge. Blumhouse Productions.
Rated 14A. 103 minutes.
Action/Horror/Thriller

★★★★purge_anarchy_xlgMy favourite thing about the fact The Purge: Anarchy exists is that there is room for exploration within the speculative universe that the film/its predecessor inhabits.
There are a lot of social issues in both these films, especially the sequel. Because what we’re seeing in Anarchy here is a group of stories which represent the wide reach of social consequences that enacting an event such as The Purge might cause. It would mean so many different things to so many different people, of all kinds, of all mindsets and sensibilities, of all mental states.
People want to continually try and say that The Purge as a concept would never happen, a government would not allow it. THESE FILMS TAKE PLACE IN A WORLD WHERE AMERICA HAS BECOME A FULL-FLEDGED TOTALITARIAN REGIME! If you don’t understand that and you can’t recognize what that means, then you probably shouldn’t be judging the film because you think “This would never happen”, and you might not want to keep talking about it. Because this is not meant to happen in our reality, this is speculative fiction, it’s a horror-thriller within a fictional near future in America.
So strap in, have some fun. Stop being so serious all the time
.
RELEASE. THE. BEAST.the-purge-anarchy-review-16-1500x844The Purge: Anarchy takes place on the verge of the annual Purge event, March 21st in 2023.
Several stories are happening at once. Everyone counts down to Purge time.
On one end of town, Eva Sanchez (Carmen Ejogo) and her daughter Cali Sanchez (ZoĂ« Soul) lived with Eva’s sick father, Rico (John Beasley).
Then there are Shane (Zach Gilford) and Liz (Kiele Sanchez), a couple who’ve clearly hit rough times, and they end up stranded with car trouble just as the event begins to come down upon the city.
All the while, Leo “Sarge” Barnes (Frank Grillo) has a personal tragedy which drives him. He has all kinds of weaponry, a car made to sustain damage throughout The Purge, and there’s obviously someone, or some people, that he seems to be looking for; his bedroom wall has pictures plastered over it.
Once the murder on the streets begins, including the viciously callous Big Daddy (Jack Conley), Sarge and the others end up coming together as the violence escalates to epic proportions, and they’re all forced to trust one another. At least for a little while.purge-anarchy-macheteSPOILERS AHEAD.
SURPRISE, MOTHAFUCKA.
The part of the plot that scares me most is the angle with Papa Rico (John Beasley) because it speaks to social consequences of a different kind than just simply racially motivated, and now sanctioned one night a year in March, murder. Here, we have a man selling himself to a bunch of sick white folk who want to have their Purge in a perceived civilized, more quaint and special manner, and above SAFELY because they’re true cowards who want the thrill without the risk; a celebratory bit of Purging, if you will, dressed to the nines with champagne on-hand.
It’s sick, and it is also something you can imagine happening – brave, brave people sacrificing themselves in such a manner in order to afford better lives for their family members, offering themselves up on the one night a year murder is legal just to help out with the bills and the rent, all because they’re old, or they’re sick, or they just simply don’t want to live in a sick America that has descended into madness.
Great, effective part to the plot that I find highly disturbing in its own right.The-Purge-Anarchy-13Then you’ve got Sarge (Frank Grillo) whose motivation to Purge is not like so many of the other maniacs out looking for a sick thrill every March 21st. No, Sarge heads out in the dark of night for the Purge because he has a vendetta, he needs revenge. He isn’t looking for innocents to kill, or perceived ‘scum of society’ (as the fresh young whites in the first film were out doing). He’s got a score to settle. Plus, he’s got the gear and the firepower to make sure the job gets done, and gets done damn well.
I think Grillo is a talented actor. He might not have the extreme range of some others, but he has a lot of heart. I really do think he’s good in this role. Also, the character itself I dig because it shows a whole other angle to the entire Purge that we didn’t get to see in the first film. So to have a guy like Grillo play Sarge worked; he didn’t need to act to any Shakespearean level, he just had to give it some guts, which panned out perfectly. Grillo is a physical dude and that helped for this performance.the-purge-anarchy-frank-grilloThere’s a genuinely good level of action in this one that the first doesn’t reach. Not to say that’s a problem for the original, but I like that there’s some more excitement here. The premise of The Purge here is bigger in scope, involving more of the city, more people, instead of the more confined location in the first film.
Not only that, I found things truly terrifying. I mean, in The Purge there’s a degree of safety for awhile until things get going and people start to break into James Sandin’s home. Here, there’s just chaos and madness in the streets. Seeing some of the masked people in the streets wandering about with machetes, guns, all sorts of weapons – it’s chilling at times. Imagine getting caught trying to get home and then The Purge comes down on you; what would you do? Run like fucking hell. I like the tension involved in trying to imagine what it would be like on that one night out in those streets. It’d be like a nightmare come to life.purge-anarchy-mob-fireThere’s some appropriately twisted stuff in this movie.
One part that disturbed me was while Sarge (Frank Grillo) leads his rag-tag group around, they come across that woman with a megaphone just screaming absolute nonsense and firing off an assault rifle; corpses are littered across the street down below. Cracking scene that shows little glimpses into the world of others in this world of The Purge and the New Founding Fathers.
There are some excellent scenes like this, which take us further into the universe started in the first film, a creepily crazed vision of America from writer/director James DeMonaco.
A great bit is where a Wall Street banker type is strung up with a sign on him, bloodied, chains around his wrists and ankles – he robbed someone’s pensions, put some people in the poorhouse. You can see how so many would eventually start using The Purge to exact their brand of social justice, whatever flavour it might come in.
It’s funny – I see some complains about how Sarge was being prompted to reveal more about himself. What’s the problem there? Even while these people are willing to follow the man because he obviously can handle himself, don’t you think you’d want to know why this guy was out on the night of The Purge? I would. Might not keep pressing too much, yet still, he could’ve been leading them anywhere. I think it’s only natural someone would push to try and figure out who the hell this guy is, or was – because clearly he’s a changed man from who he’d been.
Plus, I mean
 character development? I’m not saying The Purge: Anarchy is a perfect film, by any definition of the term. I just think people want to give it too hard of a time when it’s got a lot to offer.the-purge-anarchy-movie-picture-6I love what this sequel brings to the table; it ups the ante, it makes things more wide and completes The Purge universe where the New Founding Fathers have taken control of society, wiping out the poor essentially. There are some not-so-great things here – usually I’m a fan of Michael K. Williams, but I don’t like this role. I thought the film could’ve done without that part. Perhaps it could’ve waited for the third film, round out a trilogy with a story centred on groups trying to eliminate The Purge and the totalitarian regime headed by the New Founding Fathers. Here, this was a plot that sort of gets lost in the mix. Good stuff, just didn’t work fully here.
There are great scenes here, some of action, some of horror with viciousness and that thriller element. Fits in with some good modern horror movies. I can’t say everything works the way it should, but I feel there’s enough here to make The Purge: Anarchy a worthy sequel to a nice little surprisingly fun film. Judge on your own. I do think there are social issues this movie explores, along with its predecessor. People will continue to pass these off as silly movies, though, they are much more than that. Even better, they’re fun, they’re entertainment, and if you let yourself you can enjoy them a good deal.

But How Scarily Close to Truth is THE PURGE?

The Purge. 2013. Directed & Written by James DeMonaco.
Starring Ethan Hawke, Lena Headey, Max Burkholder, Adelaide Kane, Edwin Hodge, Rhys Wakefield, Tony Oller, Arija Bareikis, Tom Yi, Chris Mulkey, and Tisha French. Blumhouse Productions. Rated 14A. 85 minutes. Horror/Thriller.


★★★★
purge
Now to start – I have an aunt who is a full-fledged American, I have friends who are American – so when I say things about America, please don’t assume that I’m talking about EVERY SINGLE AMERICAN. I’m not, at all. Many of you who read this are American, and I bet you’re awesome people.
However, American society as a whole has an obsession with violence. Not just violence, gun violence in particular. It’s an epidemic. Anyone who denies that is in denial, in my opinion. It’s an obvious observation; nothing revolutionary about what I’m saying here. Every single day there’s a new story about police killing unarmed black men, every week or two a mass shooting in a public place. Violence is on the news almost endlessly, it seems.
So when people bash on The Purge for not being realistic, sure – it isn’t meant to be a documentary. This is also not science fiction, as the IMDB categorization would have you believe. This is speculative crime fiction in my mind. There are elements of a thriller, obviously, as we’re treated to a snapshot of what American life might be like on nights when a Purge would happen. Also, a few good moments you can say are straight up horror.
It isn’t a perfect movie, but I think that it’s pretty damn good. There’s solid acting in the lead roles, as well as several of the supporting ones. Director & writer James DeMonaco doesn’t rely on any ridiculous CGI to get the job done. What he does rely on is the acting, but also his own script affords opportunities which draw on the fears of everyone watching: what if The Purge was a real event? Yeah, I know in the real world the likelihood of this actually happening is so slim there’s no point in discussing it as a real event (perhaps there is in a more educational perspective than my shitty little blog). However, there doesn’t have to be a perfectly plausible world where this would happen. It’s speculative fiction, it represents a metaphorical space where this could happen because of the far right-wing conservative views that some groups/parties hold in America. I could see some politicians backing a ridiculous policy like The Purge, trying to pass it as an alternative to reducing crime/et cetera; it would never pass, clearly, but is it so hard to believe some nutjob would actually suggest something wild like this? I don’t think so. That alone is enough to justify The Purge as a fun little horror flick.
Regardless, it’s about totalitarianism, the concept of a police state – in every single American state – and how extreme right-wing politics have the ability to rise in the wake of economic collapse.
the-purge-sandin-familyThe American government becomes a totalitarian regime in the early 2010s. After the economy collapses, a police state emerges to combat the effects felt across the nation. Every year, on March 21st an event named “The Purge” occurs where all crime is legal, as well as the fact all emergency services are suspended for 12 hours until 7am on the 22nd. Very few restrictions are involved, mostly pertaining to government officials and Class 4 weapons. Apparently, The Purge is responsible for a drop in both crime and unemployment, bringing the American economy back to a level of unparalleled growth.
In 2022, as The Purge begins, James Sandin (Ethan Hawke) heads home after having an excellent day – he sells security systems designed specifically to lock down houses for The Purge (ah ha – commentary!). He and his wife Mary (Lena Headey), plus their two children Zoey (Adelaide Kane) and Charlie (Max Burkholder) are getting prepared to lockdown for the evening. However, things don’t go as planned this year for James and his family. First of all, Zoey’s boyfriend Henry (Tony Oller) has snuck himself in to stay overnight; he’s older, which pisses her father off. Unfortunately for Zoey, Henry unknowingly has plans to confront dear ole dad. Even worse, though, is the fact that young Charlie lets in a man off the street (Edwin Hodge) who claims he’s being tracked, saying they’re trying to kill him. With the man inside, James is unprepared for what will come next.
Soon, a group of people come knocking. They’re out for The Purge – to “release the beast” as it’s frequently called – and are lead by a man who unmasks himself (Rhys Wakefield). He rings the doorbell, politely explaining himself, and tells James + family that they’re looking for the man who was let inside. Ultimatums are given, James tries to stand his ground, but eventually those “fine, young, very educated guys & gals” will get in, one way or another. Even if they’ve got to huff and puff and blooooow the house down.
purge5We don’t want to kill our own,” he says. “Please just let us Purge!
There are a lot of things going on in this movie that I think people ignore. Sure, maybe the logistics of everything are not perfect, but whatever. There are a lot of messages in here about the social issues, violence included, which plague America on a daily basis.
Right now, on a day when Officer Dipshit or whatever that piece of garbage’s name is who shot Sam DuBose, is it so hard to look at The Purge and admit it says things which are downright true about America overall?
The line above screams the problems of race which America faces on a day to day norm. Black men are killed by the dozens every year, it seems, worse and worse as the years go by. Here we’ve got a bunch of lily-white American “guys & gals” out having their Purge and who do they choose? That’s right, a black man. Because he’s not one of their own. So they hunt him down and any sympathizers in their way? Release the beast on them, too.
Just like nowadays, people who support the victims are treated like the Sandin family. Clearly not literally, but you catch my drift.
ThePurge4_720What I love, though, is that James Sandin (Ethan Hawke) is not an innocent in all this debacle. While his wife and children are indeed innocent bystanders, essentially, James is guilty as anyone. He may as well be out Purging with the rest of those people; even explaining to his son what the night ‘means’ he says that if they felt the need to, he and his wife would Purge because the annual night “saved this country“. So while we feel terror for James, and certainly his family, he’s still culpable partly in the overall societal go-along with The Purge as an event.
Sandin makes money selling systems that are built solely because of The Purge. Now, I don’t mean to say that’s how it started off. I’m sure James probably worked for a security company of some sort and once The Purge was enacted as an official event they probably just up and capitalized on the opportunity to make money. Regardless of the process (I just know there are people who nitpick so let’s get to the fucking nitty gritty then), James and the company he works for are exploiting this, so they’re only going along with the entire totalitarian government which has a deathgrip on American society here in DeMonaco’s film.
I just find that whole angle interesting because there are elements to that part of James – guilt, fear for his family and what he has been a party to as a profiteer of totalitarian policy – which I felt Ethan Hawke really brought out in the character. He’s one solid actor. I love that he’s done some horror/horror-ish stuff as of late, including the not amazing but a lot of creepy fun – Sinister. Brings a bit of credibility to genre pictures when you have good actors; they don’t have to be big time names, but that certainly does not hurt. Here it works with both Hawke, as well as Lena Headey. She gets a break from being a hard ass bitch – Cersei motherfuckin’ Lannister on Game of Thrones – to play a woman who is thrust into a world she never ever wanted, hoping her family can make it through the night. She and Hawke play well together as husband and wife, especially in some incredibly tense moments.
vlcsnap-2013-07-23-02h42m00s62There’s a cold calculation to the character Rhys Wakefield plays, the unmasked Purge vigilante at James Sandin’s door. The way he shoots one of his fellow Purgers who screams “just give us the homeless pig, you fuck!” into the house, I found it perfect. It’s not just sly acting on Wakefield’s part, who does well with his performance. The character shows us how those sort operate – the type who have problems with the homeless, the black, the people of any other colour, yet they act civilized, as if politeness on the level of manners is in some sense a way to validate all their other disgusting behaviour (racism/sexism/you name it). So I think this moment, when he shoots the masked Purger, is a real great bit that works on a couple levels: shock, as well as a brief insight into the polite Purger.
a_bun_ejszakaja_8We get some morality play as well with the conflicted character of James Sandin. Eventually, he has to make a choice, and in the end: is it worse to kill some straight out, or to hand them over to people knowing they will be killed? Isn’t it the same?
Part of that is a total moral/philosophical debate that could really rage on for a while, depending on who’d be doing the debating. Anyways, I think it adds a fun level to the action in the last half hour of The Purge.
Not only that, there’s a great twist in the finale.
AHHHHHH – LADIES & GENTLEMEN, AHHHHHHH – THIS IS YOUR CAPTAIN SPEAKING. PLEASE BUCKLE UP: WE WILL BE EXPERIENCING SOME SPOILERS COMING UP FOR A MOMENT OR TWO.
I thought it only added to the commentary of the film that already existed to have the neighbours, who we’d previously seen only briefly at the start of the film, be the ones who want to have the thrill of killing the Sandin family. It’s just bloody and poetic justice, really. In a disturbing sense. I’m glad that things played out in the very end how they did, but still – the neighbours were a good touch.
Because it speaks so well to the idea that we don’t know the people around us, not truly. We never can, no matter how long we spend around them. Sometimes the same goes for people you even live with, but here it does well to show how even the “normal” people around the neighbourhood would indulge in their Purge fantasies, willingly

One of my favourite moments: the masked girl skipping on down the hall, machetes in town swinging at her sides. It is super creepy, I dig it so hard. Only for a moment, long enough to set in. Perfectly executed shot that I thought worked wonders.
the-purge-27In reality, this movie is a 4 out of 5 star horror-thriller, with some speculative social fiction mixed into the pot.
Balls to the folks who say “This would never happen” – okay, well let’s throw out Friday the 13th, A Nightmare on Elm Street, and countless other horror films that are wonderful. Not saying this is on the level of those, which I do consider classics and I don’t care what kind of bullshit people get on with like that it’s typical to like those movies; whatever the fuck ever, man. They’re great stuff and helped the genesis of what horror is now today.
So I had a lot of fun watching The Purge. I also enjoyed the sequel, despite what others seem to think about it on the whole. For me, it’s an interesting concept with both horror and thriller elements. Like I said, it also has some social discussion going on. If people want to ignore that, fine, but it’s there. You can’t shake that fact. I tend to believe there are some good statements here, too. Not just all nonsense and scriptwriting creation – there are things to which we ought to pay attention. But if you want, think it’s trash and that horror movies can never say anything worthwhile.
I’ll take what I can from it, and enjoy a good viewing every now and then – it’s a fun modern horror movie with lots of tense thrills.

UNFRIENDED: Modern Horror Skewers Bullies

Unfriended. 2015. Directed by Levan Gabriadze. Screenplay by Nelson Greaves.
Starring Shelley Hennig, Moses Storm, Renee Olstead, Will Peltz, Jacob Wysocki, Courtney Halverson, Heather Sossaman, and Matthew Bohrer.
Blumhouse Productions
Rated R. 83 minutes.
Horror/Thriller

★★★1/2
unfriended_ver2I don’t need to really lay out the plot here much: a girl named Laura Barns commits suicide, then one year later someone claiming to be her starts message a bunch of her friends who frequently chat online together. This leads way to a gruesome series of vengeful outings, all the dirty little secrets of the group coming into the light, out of the shadows.
One thing that does interest me about the whole movie and its gimmick is that there’s actually a few scenes where we get little to no dialogue. Now, that doesn’t automatically makes things interesting, or good, but I think it works because there are these down moments where we take the time to really hone in on what’s being typed, the looks on peoples faces; certain moments, this works in helping to ratchet up a bit of suspense. There are times this absence of much talking/dialogue works to take us off balance, which works better than the usual jump scare, in my opinion.
Plus, I think the whole gimmick of Unfriended, regardless of how good a movie it is or is not, works well enough to make a case for horror movies – or other films in general – trying to keep up with technology, as well as popular culture overall. Every generation has horror movies that speak to the time in which they’re made.
There are some issues the movie raises concerning internet culture. For instance, cyber bullying or stalking is part of the whole plot, in a sense. While this is obviously extreme, there’s a part of us asking: why don’t they just log out and walk away? The entire problem is that these kids are obsessed. Even before the games began with billie227, they were all meeting on Skype – no true interaction, they were hanging out and just talking. So it’s easy to see that this group of friends is addicted to being online. Says something about how internet culture has taken over the lives of so many, both young and old, to the point that even seeing friends killed online, right in front of their eyes, might not even be enough to deter some from walking away. Even worse, it’s almost as if the internet has taken away reality: they can’t seem to believe what is going on is real. Shows the distraction and distancing from really that some experience after being swallowed whole by the internet and social media/online interaction.
unfriendedAnother point this movie pushes is how people are remembered so well after death even when they were despised and hated while alive. Laura Barns was, by all accounts, a fairly stuck up sounding girl who made fun of others, et cetera. Yet once she is dead, people are putting up a Facebook account – it gets near 6,000 likes and one of the kids mentions how she has more friends now than she’d ever had before – and it seems all of a sudden Laura is no longer such a bad person. It shows how the internet culture makes people mourn in a way that focuses more on them, the living left to grieve, than it does the actual dead person; it’s more about validating the feelings of others, the people posting to dead people on their FB pages “We love you and we’re thinking of you everyday”. I’ve always thought about this as it is, so I like that Unfriended, in its own way, tackled that issue. It’s certainly one that’s prevalent the further we head into this digital, social media society.
Unfriended-750x420SPOILER ALERT – YAR, THERE BE SP’ILERS AHEAD!
I loved the part where Ken (Jacob Wysocki) gets ambushed. The hand in the blender part I did not expect, although I did wonder early on when Ken showed the blender onscreen why it would be introduced; should have known. Still, it was a decent, bloody bit of work. Effective stuff, especially watching his friends have to endure the sight of his mangled hand, cutting in and out on their webcams.
The video of Laura Barns which prompted her saying “Kill urself” – it’s absolutely vicious. I thought it would be a bit of a rough little video, but I wasn’t prepared. It is heinous. Certainly something I can see happen to a young person – who hasn’t witnessed a drunk person either piss or shit themselves? – and then of course if it were passed around I can absolutely see it destroying that person’s life. For all its flaws and how often it mainly seems to be another screamy teen slasher flick, Unfriended has some decent, dare I say even poignant things to say about how internet culture is moulding people into terrible human beings, as well as sheep being herded to the slaughter; here, the slaughter is very, very real, unfortunately.
video-unfriended-never-have-i-ever-videoSixteenByNine1050I also liked how bille227 began to whittle away the group by playing “Never Have I Ever”. Amazing way to incorporate the dissent of the group, as is the norm for found footage. However, I liked the way they did this because it wasn’t the typical banter of found footage horror where one person is yelling “Turn off the camera” and “Why won’t you stop asking me questions? What’s wrong with you?” Sure, it may play out in similar ways because they all start turning on one another, but it’s the way in which it happens I enjoyed. All the friends are exposed as typical teenagers, each flawed and snotty when they’re called on their individual bullshit.
How you Lie, Lie, Lie” by Connie Conway is incorporated wonderfully into a scene where everyone has absolutely broken down, turning against one another worse and worse with every passing second. I thought that was pretty awesome. Love when a fun tune is used in a horror film. It’s got that light, beautiful sound while things are descending into complete chaos.
It might prompt people to say then that it’s just teenage junk, but it is not. The story is about teenagers, though, it is a pretty decent little horror for the new age of social media and Skype users moving forward into the 21st century.
unfriended-trailerUltimately, I like a lot of what Unfriended wanted to accomplish. Not everything works. A lot of this comes in the typical form of a lot of teen slasher-style movies, as well as so many titles in the sub-genre of found footage. All the same, there’s enough in this movie for me to say it’s a 3.5 out of 5 star film.
Mostly I am impressed with how certain films like Open Windows and Unfriended are working towards using new technologies in telling stories. With all these new ways of communicating and interacting with one another, there are not only interesting innovations, but there are so many ways in which people can hide – anonymity on the internet is scary. Not just that, people find new ways to hide their ‘other lives’ from their friends and loved ones. Unfriended, particularly, explores this angle, as the main group of friends is attacked, all together, then one by one, and the secrets of their lives unravel right before their eyes.
Unfriended_gallery_03I think it’s worth seeing this movie because there are fun bits. The end was a good bit of tension that paid off in full; really hit hard and spoke volumes. This is a suspenseful film at times and there are even a few good horror deaths that surprised me. Far from perfect, Unfriended is a fun new horror that has a raw edge at moments, and certainly it goes for the jugular – attacking both the trials of youth in this new day and age, as well as the addiction to the internet so many seem to be facing. We get to take a look at issues from cyber bullying, to the trust between friends, to the new social media obsession with celebrating/remembering the dead (simply for their own selfish attention-seeking needs). Trust me – it might have elements similar to other so-called teen slashers, but it’s not near being useless. See it and be the judge. I had a decent time watching this one.

And remember – just because a movie uses something from pop culture, or things such as the latest technology, does not automatically make them dumb. Sure, say that after you’ve seen it; that’s your right as a human and a filmgoer. But don’t trash this simply because you don’t like Facebook or you don’t like Skype, et cetera, et cetera. Half of the people crying that Unfriended is all gimmick, no substance whatsoever, are probably the same people logging onto FB to comment on IMDB or somewhere else, railing against the filmmakers trying desperately to write something funny to get a bunch of likes.
Irony? Un-huh, you’ve got it!

THE PYRAMID’s Filled with Terror & Poor CGI

The Pyramid. 2014. Directed by Grégory Levasseur. Screenplay by Daniel Meersand & Nick Simon.
Starring Ashley Hinshaw, Denis O’Hare, James Buckley, Christa Nicola, Amir K, and Faycal Attougui. Twentieth Century Fox Film Corporation.
Rated R. 89 minutes.
Horror/Thriller

★★1/2
the_pyramid_poster_a_p
There’s no way that I can honestly say The Pyramid is a great horror – most of the CGI alone warrants enough criticism to put it out of the running.
However, what I can say for my personal take on GrĂ©gory Levasseur’s film is that I enjoyed it simply because it’s fun.

A movie does not need to be perfect to be enjoyable. You don’t have to either love or hate a movie; not in the real world. It’s silly to think that movies have to be flawless in order to be enjoyed.
By the same token, you can both criticize a film for its flaws while simultaneously you’re still able enjoy what you’re watching.
The Pyramid is enjoyable for me because it’s fun. It isn’t the same old found footage movie of people going out into the woods, or a tv show presented and his crew get trapped inside a haunted building. At the very least, we’re treated to a location and situation that isn’t often touched on through found footage (the only similar film is another one I enjoyed though plenty seem to hate – As Above So Below).

The Pyramid takes place during 2013 as the protests in Egypt against President Mohamed Morsi were heating up big time.
Father-daughter archaeology team, Dr. Miles Holden (Denis O’Hare – of whom I was a big fan already but especially since his genius turns on FX’s American Horror Story) and Dr. Nora Holden (Ashley Hinshaw) are on a dig where a pyramid with only three sides, as opposed to the four contained on the pyramids in Giza. Once the structure is unearthed, a robot is sent in – as soon as the pyramid was opened, toxic air inside killed a man in a near instant. After the robot goes offline, the Holdens, as well as their team – along with Sunni Marsh (Christa Nicola), a documentary host, and her cameraman Terry “Fitzie” Fitzsimmons – all head inside, geared up, ready to discover what they can.
Unfortunately, the area is being cleared out due to the protesting in Giza and surrounding areas. Quickly the team enters the pyramid quickly as possible without alerting any of the authorities.
Inside there are dark and dangerous things lurking amongst the shadows, things that have spent centuries feeding, and waiting for the arrival of fresh meat.
the-pyramid-2014Stop being an archaeologist for a second and start being a human being” – I keep seeing people cite bad dialogue, using this as a source. I mean, why? What makes that such a bad line? Denis O’Hare’s character was just saying he didn’t want to destroy a wall because it had been put there, however long ago, by people who’d built that pyramid, so much historical hard work. Instead of wanting to get out of that place, he was more concerned with preserving things for historical and archaeological purposes. So I don’t understand how that line comes off as poorly written dialogue. Someone please explain to me why that line written on paper is bad because I don’t see it. Maybe the delivery isn’t perfect? Either way, this is not, to me, an example of bad writing. You don’t think someone would ever say those words? Try being trapped in an ancient, underground pyramid with a guy who’d rather just suffocate alive than bust up any of the old artifacts down there. Then perhaps the line might feel more ‘natural’.
gallery-thepyramid4-gallery-imageNow, I’m not saying that The Pyramid avoids all the tropes of the found footage genre, or that it’s perfect – as I said starting out, it’s far from a perfect horror.
Typically there are always the arguments of “You lead us here”, et cetera. This moment comes, of course, after things start to get really hairy and one of the members, MIchael (Amir K) on the expedition is killed. Sunni flips on Miles and blames him for leading them down there, but as he points out she has to take responsibility because nobody forced her into the pyramid. I guess you can’t really avoid these types of arguments in found footage, as usually there is a ring leader. Most often, though, it’s usually the person insisting on keeping things filming – SO THAT THE WORLD WILL KNOW WHAT HAPPENED! If anything, at least they don’t go for that exact scenario. There’s a reason to keep filming here, as just being in the pyramid alone is a pretty amazing feat. I’m just glad there isn’t the same series of arguments over “Get that camera out of my face” and “Stop asking me questions – what is wrong with you?”, and so on. Might not be all fresh, but it does still avoid some of the familiar nonsense of the sub-genre.
6_zpsbcexgskw.jpg~originalThere’s no part of me that will deny the CGI throughout The Pyramid is pretty bad. Almost all of it, honestly.
I guess when it comes to certain stories, characters, et cetera, in horror films there’s only so much you’ll be able to accomplish with practical effects beyond the blood and the murders. That being said, there’s no reason CGI has to look atrocious. I think, had the filmmakers somehow come up with a way to costume an actor instead of draping them in CGI, the Anubis creature could’ve been much more frightening.
Problem is that when bad CGI dominates the screen, there’s a real smack in the face for an audience. You go from seeing these big sets, this giant pyramid and all these hieroglyphics around, statues, to this hulking presence of bulbous CGI pushing through the frame. It’s too much of a contrast from the real look of everything else to the fake look of Anubis, as well as the other little creatures and things. I liken it to looking a nice painting then throwing a bunch of cartoon cutouts on top and acting out a scene. There’s already suspension of disbelief with a horror like this, but that doesn’t mean things need to look fake and silly looking. I’m sure it’s easier said than done to balance the budget of a huge film, especially when there are so many costs. However, with Alexandre Aja (director of such films as the fantastically gruesome High Tension, the stellar remake of The Hills Have Eyes, and another I enjoyed which others hated – adapted from Joe Hill’s novel, Horns starring Daniel Radcliffe) backing this project, you’d think there would be some way to make sure the CGI came out looking much better. Really dropped the ball on this aspect, which is one of the reasons so many people did not enjoy the film overall, I think.

SPOILER ALERT – HERE THERE BE SPOILERS!
One effect I did like, or at least the second half of it, is when Dr. Miles Holden gets his heart ripped out. The first part looked a bit cheese-filled, but when the hand is sticking out, Miles is staring wide-eyed at it, and then it pulls back out of him, I thought that piece of the effect went really well. Because it didn’t look completely CGI built, it had at least a fraction of practical effects. Another bit I liked was the first night vision bit with Fitzie where he sees Dr. Holden get his face melted off – Anubis is all CGI, but the face melting still looks pretty damn gnarly!
For me, I love the practical make-up effects instead of big nonsense computerized junk – any day of the week. Most horrors will at least get a star or two alone from me if there’s an effort on the part of practicality. If not, I find it hard to engage with. Some horror does have pretty good CGI, but the good ones in that arena are those that don’t overuse it either – they know when to employ it, sparse, and they recognize all the other times where there’s no need of it at all. So, if The Pyramid was able to include more effects of a practical nature there might have been a better visceral reaction to all the other.
The Pyramid 2014 HD WallpapersI can’t recommend The Pyramid in that way I would recommend other horror movies I’ve enjoyed. Simply because I don’t think this is a great movie.
But like I said in the beginning – you don’t have to think a movie is perfect to have a good time watching. There are fun bits in The Pyramid. While the CGI is far from anything I thought worked, there’s adventure to this horror-thriller. We don’t have to watch a bunch of young people running around in the woods, constantly screaming – both in terror and at one another – there’s actually a different story here than the same old tripe with which we’re presented.
The Pyramid does not need to be perfect. Sure, I would’ve loved to see a lot of changes because this could’ve been an absolutely excellent horror movie if there were better practical effects and not so much reliance on the bad CGI. Especially the final 10 minutes – Anubis looked the worst when the red flare lighting was glowing and you could seem him terribly clear. Before, he skulked around in the dark, so there were times it didn’t look as glaringly bad.
So there is plenty of room for improvement. I don’t deny that at all.
What I’m saying is, just because a movie doesn’t work as a 5-star film does not mean it has to be without merits. There is at least some decent acting, a halfway sensible script (despite what others might say), and an intriguing location/plot to work around in. See this for a bit of fun – don’t expect something on the level of William Friedkin’s The Exorcist, but don’t expect a complete piece of trash like some reviews might have you believe.

Enjoy – or don’t! That’s up to yourself.

True Detective – Season 2, Episode 6: “Church in Ruins”

HBO’s True Detective
Season 2, Episode 6:
 “Church in Ruins
Directed by Miguel Sapochnik (Banshee, Game of Thrones)
Written by Nic Pizzolatto

* For a review of the next episode, “Black Maps and Motels Rooms” – click here
* For a review of the previous episode, “Other Lives” – click here
Screen Shot 2015-07-27 at 2.27.47 AMScreen Shot 2015-07-27 at 2.28.31 AMBeginning where we left off, the tense moments between Ray Velcoro (Colin Farrell) and Frank Semyon (Vince Vaughn) pick up. Frank sits down with some coffee, asking if Ray would like some sugar, anything else. Normally you might laugh, however, the tension is so thick you could cut it with a knife.
I would’ve been different,” says Ray.
Of all the lies people tell themselves,” Frank replies.
I sold my soul for nothin’,” Ray says as he bursts at the seams.
That choice was in you before your wife or any of this other stuff. It was always there, waiting,” Frank tells him.

There is still a solid discussion of morality going here. Essentially, Ray Velcoro has still committed murder; no matter how we cut the cards. Frank Semyon puts it bluntest, and maybe most truthful, when he tells Ray: “Own it.” Because yes – Frank is a dirty dog, he tricked Ray into believing he was doing his wife justice by killing the man who raped her, when truly it was a point of leverage for Frank, to have a cop under his thumb.
But at the same time, Nic Pizzolatto is having his characters basically ask us – is murder ever justified? These are philosophical situations. I think people – some, not all – seem to be pissed because the second season lacks what the first had in the existentialist dialogue of Rust Cohle. When really, you just have to pay attention: it’s all there. Pizzolatto just isn’t spelling it out as blatantly as he was in the first season through Rust. More power to him – his detractors last season were complaining that Rust and his ramblings made things clunky. You can never satisfy everyone. The morality question is constantly in play, most certainly the heaviest theme going on for Ray Velcoro’s arc.
Screen Shot 2015-07-27 at 2.28.44 AMProblem for Ray is, he’s supposed to be helping Dt. Bezzerides (Rachel McAdams) and Dt. Woodrugh (Taylor Kitsch).
Instead he’s at the prison confronting the actual man who raped his wife, seeing as how the man he’d killed at the word of Frank Semyon was not the actual rapist.
Tense damn scene with Velcoro here. Incredibly tense and cutting acting. The look in Farrell’s eyes always seems to speak more than he ever can with whatever dialogue he’s given – such expression in them, his whole face. I’ve long said Farrell is an excellent actor when given the appropriate material. Much the same as I feel often about Taylor Kitsch; he’s giving a great turn this season, as well.
Even worse again, Ray is having to go to supervised visits with his son. It’s painful to see their relationship because Ray wants to hold on – he doesn’t care whether or not the biological father is the rapist. He needs something other than being a cop, being a vigilante, to make him whole, and that something is being a father. Every little bit that it slips away, I can see the cracks forming in Ray’s outer shell, his ego already crumbled long ago, and the more it falls away there’s no telling where Velcoro is going to end up.
Screen Shot 2015-07-27 at 2.29.54 AMScreen Shot 2015-07-27 at 2.30.17 AMFrank tells the son of his dead ‘colleague’: “This hurt, it can make you a better man. That’s what pain does – it shows you what was on the inside.” Here, for the first time, we can actually see that good side of Frank that does want to be a part of the world. We can see that Frank wants to be a father, and he might be a good one.
Juxtaposed with Frank and this fatherly moment, we see the deterioration of Ray and his son.
I am your father, you are my son,” says Ray. “I will always love you.” You can see the torture inside him as he grasps onto the last bits of himself. Right afterwards, he heads home and hits the booze, rails a ton of cocaine, and just gets completely obliterated. The stable little bits of Velcoro we saw, those tiny glimpses, are quickly vanishing.
Screen Shot 2015-07-27 at 2.30.53 AMScreen Shot 2015-07-27 at 2.31.12 AMI cannot say it enough – Colin Farrell is fucking knocking this role out of the park and into the lot, smashing the windows, sending everyone home. Anyone who says different is not paying attention. I don’t care what you think of the overall plot, if you can’t admit that Farrell is nailing the character of Ray Velcoro then you’re beyond blind. His drunk and stoned scene, the aftermath, it is complete perfection. There’s no way it could’ve been played any better, it felt like watching an actual man fall apart right before my eyes.
Screen Shot 2015-07-27 at 2.29.14 AMI’m enjoying where Ani Bezzerides’ arc is headed. She’s got to go in to a party where they won’t allow even a purse, so Ani and her knives won’t be headed inside. What interests me is that sexuality is a whole struggle for Ani. It’s because she works in such a macho, predominantly male environment in the police department. She has been railroaded into a sexual harassment therapy group where the men mostly just enjoy hearing Ani talk about sex – it’s a hypocritical and nonsensical punishment from the patriarchal department. To see her headed towards a situation where she’ll need to play up her sexuality, use that against men, it’s not as easy as it may sound – Ani’s sister Athena (Leven Rambin) is telling her that she’ll need to strip even, and you can see the struggle already on her face hearing this news.
Screen Shot 2015-07-27 at 2.32.13 AMThings are getting murky murky here in the sixth episode.
When Ani heads to the party – using her sister Athena’s name – we see how deviant and weird everything surrounding Caspere’s murder, the events following, is truly beginning to get. Ani and a ton of other sexed up women are loaded onto a bus, their purses and cellphones taken, and herded like a sheep of cattle to the slaughter.
Behind the bus, both Woodrugh and Velcoro tail a ways back to try and cover Ani. They even rush in, as Woodrugh chokes a guard outside, both clad in black gear. Loving their little undercover type task force, it’s making things get more exciting especially with this episode.
Screen Shot 2015-07-27 at 2.32.48 AMFrank is still sorting motives out on the Caspere end, trying to track down the hard drive and figure out where things disappeared to after Caspere’s place, as well as who they disappeared with, in what hands. I like how Frank has become a sort of detective in his own right here. Certainly after he and Ray have started butting heads, he has to take some of the burden on himself to figure out what has truly been going on.
Unfortunately for Frank, getting to the bottom of the Mexican side of things is bringing more death and destruction into his life. I keep thinking how Frank seems stuck in that old gangster lifestyle, try and try as he might to get out of that quicksand.
Screen Shot 2015-07-27 at 2.32.00 AMThe party. Man, oh, man – what can I say about this party? Weird, wild, maybe wondrous? Sure.
Sex, drugs, booze. And of course: food! When you’re having an orgy with about a hundred or more people, you’ve got to have food on hand. People get hungry. Need to keep the energy up for more orgying.
It’s fucked up. Pizzolatto is proving there’s still enough oddity in Season Two of True Detective to keep some of the first season’s hardcore fans interested.
Screen Shot 2015-07-27 at 2.33.46 AMIt’s scary watching Ani essentially walk into the lion’s den. She has no phone, no weapon, and surrounded by so many old perverts. Creepy stuff to endure at times because YOU KNOW bad things happen at these “parties”. Plus, she spots prominent members of society walking through the rooms – Richard Geldof (C.S. Lee), among others. All the girls are given some drugs to help get them in the mood, keep them going, and Ani feels the effects. This whole time I was so worried about poor Ani – she’s such a strong woman but in this situation her power has basically been stripped completely.
We get a huge glimpse into Ani’s past – she has a major flashback during the party. It actually wowed me for a moment or two, so clear and at the same time brief. There’s most definitely a traumatic assault of some sort in Ani’s past which has ultimately guided her uneasiness and uncomfortable nature with men (we see a bearded man with long hair who claims there’s a unicorn in those woods and at one point leads Ani off in a dreamy shot to an old VW van). I felt terrible for her at this party, wandering around; so many people jerking off and watching others have sex, rooms full of orgies. Nasty, rough stuff!
Screen Shot 2015-07-27 at 2.34.18 AMScreen Shot 2015-07-27 at 2.34.27 AMScreen Shot 2015-07-27 at 2.34.43 AMThere is a ton of great stuff going on throughout “Church in Ruins”.
I love how the entire way to the party, as Woodrugh and Velcoro sneak up, when Ani slices and dices a few thugs – there is a great piece of classical music playing. Amazing. This was one of my favourite series of scenes since Season Two stared, it was just so perfectly composed and put together in terms of how the camera moved, the scenes changed, the music played over top. It made that whole finale to the episode more exciting than it would’ve been already. Amazing way to amp things up.
At the end of “Church in Ruins”, we see Ani in a rough spot. It’s interesting, but disturbing all the same. Luckily her night of psychological torture brought the detectives some well deserved information.
Screen Shot 2015-07-27 at 2.36.01 AMA lot of plot movement going on here, plus a good deal of character development. I think “Church in Ruins” is the best episode so far in Season Two. I predict a great few revelations, some more excitement and thrill, as well as maybe even a death or two. We’ll see! Such a solid crime drama in my opinion, with plenty of elements to make it a full-on thriller at many times, but I’m sure half the internet would call me an idiot or say I know nothing about television or movies because I like this – whatever.
Tell me what you thought in the comments or hit me up on Twitter: @yernotgoinatdat – we can have a (civil) chat.
Lots of people are disappointed in this season. I am not, whatsoever. It started off a little rocky, and since then it has gotten great, week after week. Despite the naysayers. Let them keep on. The last couple episodes are going to knock my socks off.

Next week’s episode is titled “Black Maps and Motel Rooms”. It’s directed by Daniel Attias. His filmography as director includes episodes of Masters of Sex, Bloodline, The Americans, Ray Donovan, Homeland, The Killing, and even 16 episodes of one of my favourite comedies, It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia. Particularly, I’m excited for Attias to do an episode because I love both Bloodline and Ray Donovan, which are both extremely gritty at times.
Stay tuned and we’ll find out how wild things get.

Hannibal – Season 3, Episode 7: “Digestivo”

NBC’s Hannibal Season
3, Episode 7:
 “Digestivo
Directed by Adam Kane (D.P – The Boondock Saints)
Written by Bryan Fuller and Steve Lightfoot

* For a review of the next episode, “The Great Red Dragon” – click here
* For a review of the previous episode, “Dolce” – click here Screen Shot 2015-07-26 at 4.39.28 PMTo start, the episode’s title “Digestivo” comes from another part of the formal Italian meal. The literal meaning is, of course, ‘digestif’, which is an alcoholic drink (sweet or bitter) that is drank after a meal; as you can tell, it is meant to help the digestive process. I think Bryan Fuller and Co. chose this particular name for Episode Seven because this is a transitional episode.
We begin at the precarious position in which Vincenzo Natali left us during “Dolce”, where Jack Crawford (Laurence Fishburne) was forced to watch Hannibal (Mads Mikkelsen) start sawing into Will Graham (Hugh Dancy), right through the forehead. By the end of the episode, we’re miles – literally hundreds of thousands – away from where things started. So, in a way, this episode is the digestif which will help along the process – it helps us to digest the plot and story going forward.

After we pick up, Hannibal is stopped in the midst of his meal preparation (he and Jack were no doubt about to feast on a nice hunk of Will’s grey matter). The new Inspector under Mason Verger’s (Joe Anderson) thumb comes with reinforcements. However, they’re not about to go by the book. They pack up both Hannibal and Will to bring back to Muskrat Farm. Jack is left, along with an officer instructed to “Open him up like he did with the other one.
Fortunately, Chiyo (Tao Okamoto) is still looking out for Hannibal, and in the process saves Jack – in turn, he gives Chiyo the exact location of where Hannibal is being taken. This speeds things up nicely. The digestif has begun to work its magic.
Screen Shot 2015-07-26 at 4.40.56 PMScreen Shot 2015-07-26 at 4.41.34 PMAt the end of “Dolce”, we saw the Hannibal/Will duo hanging upside down like sides of beef, or in this case pork. Mason has had them relocated to Muskrat Farm, where Cordell Doemling (Glenn Fleshler) will begin to ready them for their respective fates.
Hannibal, all smiles, and Will, less smiley, are dressed to the nines and wheeled out to Mason’s beautifully set grand table. There, Hannibal is brought some small appetizers, as Mason remarked earlier (while jabbing his dearly departed father’s pocket blade into Hannibal’s thigh) the naughty doctor was looking “a little lean“; he needed to be fattened up. Meanwhile, it is revealed Cordell will be transplanting Will’s face onto Mason – he will then proceed to eat Dr. Lecter with Will’s face on. Twisted. When Cordell goes to apply some moisturizer to Graham, as he is “looking a little dry“, Will surprisingly takes a nice bite out of Cordell’s face. He spits a hunk of cheek out onto the plate in front of him. There’s certainly lots of fight left in Mr. Graham.

As I said before in one of my previous reviews, I love how Bryan Fuller and Co. have tweaked Mason’s revenge slightly. We got bits of the mandating pigs in Season Two, so I think it’s genius how they decided to make Mason decide on eating Lecter. It works in well with the whole fixation of Mason’s on transubstantiation, the risen Jesus Christ or “The Riz” as Mason so lovingly calls him: for those who don’t know, transubstantiation is the concept in the Roman Catholic Church that by eating the bread and wine at Holy Communion, you are not just figuratively eating the body and blood of Christ, you are literally eating it. The way this plays into Mason’s decision is perfect, as even in the Thomas Harris novel Hannibal he is, while simultaneously a sadistic paedophile, a raving fan of Christianity – mainly Catholicism and how confession can absolve one from their heinous acts. Great work on the adaptation here, once more; I feel I’m wearing that sentence out, but whatever. It’s true. Screen Shot 2015-07-26 at 4.41.52 PMScreen Shot 2015-07-26 at 4.42.10 PMAs Will is mostly just waiting around to have his face removed, sitting at the big table and getting in a chat with his old flame Alana Bloom (Caroline Dhavernas), there are far more torturous plans for Dr. Lecter. Out where the pigs are kept, Cordell (his face patched up) ties Hannibal up in a pen, amongst the hay and the pig shit. He brands Hannibal at the centre of the back; just the same as any other pig. What I find ironic is how Hannibal ate people for being rude, or rather ‘piggish’. Now we find the cannibal stuck exactly in the metaphorical place of his victims – he is now a pig himself. We get another glimpse at how controlled Hannibal is, most of the time, in his mental process. The pain of the brand barely registers; he closes his eyes and wishes it away. Still, all the time he is awaiting his death, Hannibal flashes those smug, defiant smiles. As if he knows something; something nobody else knows, something we will never know. Screen Shot 2015-07-26 at 4.42.39 PMOne thing I really loved about this episode, aside from the obvious intensity and excitement, is how Alana is basically faced with the prospect of watching Will die, horribly, or letting Hannibal go. Though it seems like a quick decision for her, as she comes into the pig pens where Hannibal and Margot Verger (Katharine Isabelle) are having a quiet discussion, I think it’s the earlier scene between Alana and Will which really pushes her to action. Will’s shaming of Alana makes her realize that, though there is no doubt Hannibal deserves whatever he gets, and more, by being complicit with what happens to Hannibal (and in turn Will because of the situation) she is no better than him. There’s a lot of morality flying around, and perhaps Will is not perfect when it comes to morals, but what he says works. The moment Hannibal is let free things start to become more terrifying by the moment. But first, before I discuss the finale of the episode and all it entails, let’s take a step back… Screen Shot 2015-07-26 at 4.43.28 PMScreen Shot 2015-07-26 at 4.43.53 PMThe part of the episode I found most disturbing was the surrogate – the pig. Now, the reason I found this so effectively creepy and unsettling is because of how vicious it shows Mason to be. We knew this anyways, but in the novel Hannibal there is so much more to Mason, as well as Margot, than we end up with in either the film adaptation, or the series. While Mason is fleshed out more here in the series, obviously, as opposed to the film adaptation of Hannibal directed by Ridley Scott, there are aspects we don’t full-on see too much about.
For instance, we only get a small inkling in the Second Season about Mason’s predilections: he is a terribly sick and violent child molester. That’s where the whole “taking the chocolate” thing comes from, as well as the games he played with Margot when she was little. However, Fuller and Co. have certainly stuck with the whole plot of Mason treating Margot like absolute filth.
What I found disturbing about the whole surrogate scene in “Digestivo” is how it takes things up a notch from the book. Harris’ novel has Margot as infertile, as well as a lesbian, but in the series Mason has actually taken out her reproductive parts – he’s literally ripped the ability to give life out of her. So then by further going ahead and planting Margot’s baby (for those who don’t realize it: the baby is that of Margot and Will – notice how big it is? Looks to be about a 9-10 month old infant + the time jump earlier between Will waking up from a coma and his trip to Italy was 8 months
 not hard to put together) into a surrogate, a pig, there’s so much malice. It not only represents just utter disregard for Margot and her feelings, her wishes to have a Verger baby, by having the pig as the surrogate Mason is saying that the pig is more worthy to carry a child with a Verger name than Margot – that the pigs are more family and more Verger than Margot.
It is so vicious that it’s perfect. Worked wonders, these scenes. Especially while the baby is being removed/a face is being removed while Will sits strapped into a medical gurney next to Cordell. Disturbing yet incredibly visual. The imagery here was unreal. Screen Shot 2015-07-26 at 4.44.06 PMBIG TIME SPOILERS BEYOND THIS POINT!
In the novel Hannibal, Margot talks with Hannibal, just like in this episode – he offers to be the scapegoat for Mason’s murder, should Margot decide on committing it. Hannibal tells her it wouldn’t matter for another charge to be laid on him, that he will write a letter boasting about enjoying the murder of Mason Verger; he offers some hair, right from the scalp, to lay in Mason’s hands after he is dead.
I like how Alana Bloom is present here, as opposed to it just being Margot in the novel – seeing Alana rip the hair out of Hannibal’s scalp is a perfect, tiny little blow on her part, at least she get some kind of revenge even if it’s not much. Also, in the novel Margot kills her brother by jamming the eel down his throat, as well as milking his prostate with a cattle prod to gather some viable sperm samples to make a true Verger baby later on.
Here, I like that Margot and Alana had a hand in the murder. I also thought it was just perfect that the eel went on in Mason’s mouth by itself, without being shoved down his throat. Sort of shows how everyone/everything around Mason hates him and knows how disgustingly cruel/sadistic he can be deep down – even the eel wanted to be a part of his death. Very fun, highly macabre stuff in this episode! What a scene left at Muskrat Farm. Screen Shot 2015-07-26 at 4.44.24 PMThe end of the episode is what works most wonderfully to me. I won’t spoil how Will is sprung loose, however, Hannibal brings his dear friend back home, lays him in bed. Chiyo and Hannibal have a brief chat outside – Lecter tells her she is stable, on the periodic table of elements “between iron and silver“.
Inside, Lecter tries to take things back to the old days: him in the chair, Will laying back and recounting his darkest thoughts. Unfortunately for Hannibal, his friend does not want the friendship anymore. Will has realized, after all that’s happened, no matter how bad he feels close to Hannibal they are no good together, in any way. Will tells him that he doesn’t want to know where Hannibal is, he won’t look for him, because he does not want to know where he is; he has had enough. Clearly hurt, Hannibal leaves to seemingly vanish. Screen Shot 2015-07-26 at 4.44.42 PMJack Crawford and the FBI show up, but Will says that Lecter is gone. Hannibal willingly surrenders. He gloats in his own way, telling Jack: “You’ve finally caught the Chesapeake Ripper.
Jack replies by saying Hannibal wasn’t caught, he gave himself up. Hauntingly, Dr. Lecter looks at Jack first, then Will and says: “I want you to know exactly where I am. That way, you can always find me.” To hear that – to see Hannibal in this Fuller and Co. adaptation of Thomas Harris giving himself up willingly – is so refreshing. It is the truly disturbed, sick, haunted relationship between Will and Hannibal which drives everything. Will hurt Hannibal by rejecting further friendship and saying he didn’t care where Lecter ended up.
Therefore, Hannibal spited Will by turning himself in, so that the thought of knowing exactly where he’d be, locked in a cell somewhere, would always be with Will. That way, Hannibal ensures he will always be a part of Will’s life.

The most exciting part is the next episode – “The Great Red Dragon” – because there’s a time jump. We go forward, and yet somehow backward (to Harris’ work in a sense). We’ll get to see exactly how haunted Will is when Jack has to pull him back into a murder investigation, and how desperate will it make them: desperate enough to go see Dr. Lecter again?
Stay tuned and check out for Episode Eight’s review!