Tin Star – Season 1, Episode 2: “The Kid”

Sky Atlantic’s Tin Star
Season 1, Episode 1: “The Kid”
Directed by Marc Jobst
Written by Rowan Joffe

* For a recap & review of the previous episode, “Fun and (S)Laughter” – click here
* For a recap & review of the next episode, “Comfort of Strangers” – click here
Pic 1With Angela (Genevieve O’Reilly) unconscious and in the hospital, Jim (Tim Roth) and his daughter Anna (Abigail Lawrie) are stuck waiting, wondering if she’ll make it through. The boy’s dead. His mother took a portion of the bullet, lodging in her brain.
At the same time, the men who tried setting up Chief Worth’s death are worried about the fallout, after “the kid” – Simon (Oliver Coopersmith) – has botched the job. These guys came from out of the past to take Jim out for good. One of whom is Frank Keane (Ian Puleston-Davies). They’re all relatively stressed, wondering how best to move on from here. Their answer may lie in going to work for North Stream Oil, to blend in, or else they’ll stick out like “cocks at a cuntfest.” Meanwhile, North Stream is burrowing its way into Little Big Bear, recruiting workers from all over to come and help them erect the refinery, get business pumping.
And in the wreckage are Jim and Anna, both rocked by their loss. That other side of him is threatening to come out, almost inescapable. Will he fall back to who he was before in order to find a way to revenge? Or will he stay strictly within the boundaries of the law?
Pic 1AMrs. Bradshaw (Christina Hendricks) is more sensitive to the death of a child than is the head of security, the forceful and slightly creepy Louis Gagnon (Christopher Heyerdahl). He is ALL business. He oversees the workers coming onto site, making sure things move along promptly. This whole time we’re also inundated with the bullshit commercials they use for recruitment, all that foolish rhetoric; I know it all too well, having worked on the oil sands for a couple years. Love the way this is setting up to be an excellent thriller with overtones of the socioeconomic troubles that often find their way into small towns after the oil industry seizes its grip on their natural resources.
What Bradshaw does, for her part, is to offer a reward for those who killed Jim’s son. His response? “Fuck off.” He doesn’t want any part of her pity, as it’s mostly predicated by worry for her business, getting the road clear. The Chief has bigger fish to fry.
He and Constable Denise Minahik (Sarah Podemski) begin digging into Dr. Bouchard’s death, partly for justice, partly to keep his mind occupied during this tumultuous period of time. Worse still, he’s asking for anxiety drugs. Not a good road to head down for an alcoholic.
And what’s up with the kid, Simon? He has serious issues, but there’s no telling yet exactly what they are, though I’m sure we’ll soon discover more. It’s obvious he has a connection to Jim, some sort of past, as he’s there with the men from the UK who’ve tracked the Chief to his new post. The lads nearly wind up in police custody after a bit of a scuff in the bar. This winds up putting Anna, accompanied by an officer, in the bar where Jim comes to find her, and she looks almost infatuated with Simon.
Pic 2That night, Simon sneaks into the Worth home. He sniffs the pillows on the bed. I’m already wondering, is there a possibility this young man is an illegitimate son? There’s this eerie quality to him, yet when he sees Jim at the bar, he turns away. Not wanting to be seen. Here, looking at the pictures of Peter, whom he killed, the family, there’s this sweetness inside him; a lonely sweetness. Just blocked by his creepiness.
Anna makes her father promise never to drink again, he’s also quick to remind her there were “lots of drugs” involved. Her mother talked about Jim becoming a whole other nasty person when he’s intoxicated. His daughter doesn’t want that to happen now, they need each other. Problem is, the memories. Memory is like an alcoholic’s ultimate kryptonite, apart from the actual booze itself.
While hiding in the house, barely escaping the notice of the Worths as they pack things to take for a while, Simon notices a cigarette butt. Left by Johnny (Stephen Walters), one of Frank’s lads. Shitty part for them is that Anna took the butt. Now, they’ve got to figure out how to get it back. But Simon insists: do not touch the girl. In addition, Anna’s already wondering about the cig, how it got there, and she’s suspicious after her father denies having started smoking again. Wonderfully labyrinthine.
Pic 3Right on the edge, Jim is almost back to alcoholism. Although a call from the hospital takes him away before he can dive in: Angela is awake. However, she’s unaware of what happened to their son. Thus he has to break the news to her, so devastating.
In the meantime, Anna’s experimenting with alcohol, a bag full of those mini hotel bottles she helped dad clear out. One after another she downs them until she’s got a handful gone. But after that she hears a whistle nearby. She follows it and the sound of a bell into the woods, until she reaches a vehicle she flags down; inside is Simon.
Oh, and dad’s back on the bottle. Yes, sir. He’s had enough. Because he needs that other side of himself, to do whatever comes next. Whatever that may be.
Screen Shot 2017-09-18 at 7.13.40 PMGood follow-up to the premiere, adding bigger mystery, deeper issues to the story, the various plots, and the well-acted characters. Tim Roth continually fascinates. There’s so much more to uncover.
“Comfort of Strangers” is the next episode, sure to pack a mean punch.

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Tin Star – Season 1, Episode 1: “Fun and (S)Laughter”

Sky Atlantic’s Tin Star
Season 1, Episode 1: “Fun and (S)Laughter”
Directed by Rowan Joffe
Written by Rowan Joffe

* For a recap & review of the next episode, “The Kid” – click here
Pic 1We open on Jim Worth (Tim Roth), wife Angela (Genevieve O’Reilly), their teenage daughter Anna (Abigail Lawrie) and young boy Peter (Rupert Turnbull) are floating down a wooded road. They pass a gas station. Heading for Calgary. Soon, Jim realises he needs gas. They turn back. Peter needs to wee, so Angela insists they take a second. But father insists, they have to go. He’s tense. We see his gun, his police badge. When he hops back in the car, a masked gunman points a pistol through the windshield and blasts a hole in him, splashing the daughter with blood.
Flashback. This is Chief Jim Worth, former Metro Police in the UK, now the head of the Little Big Bear Police Service up in the Canadian Rockies. Their family’s come to Canada, though not all of them are thrilled. The Chief has a regular sort of life, it seems. Nothing too far out of the ordinary. He’s a nice English family man. Loves his kids and his Irish wife. Takes his duty to the law and the citizens in that small town seriously. Angela tries ingratiating herself to the community, meeting another newcomer, Elizabeth Bradshaw (Christina Hendricks).
We do discover he’s “two years sober.” He still keeps going to the AA meetings at the church. He’s very honest, speaking of how he “grew up frightened.” Drinking helped him cope, obviously leading into a spiral of alcoholism. There’s also a sense that he’s almost an entirely different person, wholly other to himself when he was drinking.
Pic 1AOther things are happening around Little Big Bear. North Stream Oil are looking to use the small town to push tar sands oil into America. However, townsfolk worry about “migrant oil workers” and crime coming with all that money. Bradshaw is there to ease the transition. Trying to sucker the people in, to make big dollars off the back of their land, their community. She’s ushered around by a sort of uneasy fella, Louis Gagnon (Christopher Heyerdahl), a head of security for the company, looking after their interests.
Already we can see the conflict, as is the case nowadays in many small places that don’t necessarily want the outside world corrupting their quaint lives. Understandable, to a degree. Modernity is inevitable. Far as Chief Worth’s concerned, he’s merely there to protect, to serve, concerned only with whether the crime rate will go up.
On the street, Jim finds an eighteen-wheeler blocking traffic. He heads into the diner to find Mrs. Bradshaw meeting with a guy named Daniel Lyle (Maxwell McCabe-Lokos), who’s clearly got addiction issues, hoping he’ll sign papers. Of course when the Chief injects himself into the situation, the other Lyle, Wallace (Nicholas Campbell), shows up. This cowboy hat wearing jerk already doesn’t like the British cop. Doesn’t help things when Danny gets wild, punching Jim in the nose. Instead of using guns, the cop takes him down quick with a kick in the balls.
Later, Chief Worth gets a visit from Gagnon, who seems to plant a device under the desk. All the while warning: cooperate fully with North Stream, or else. Likewise we see Jim is close with Dr. Susan Bouchard (Rachael Crawford), perhaps a bit too close seeing as how he’s married. She has her own troubles, discredited by fellow colleagues for complaining about environmental concerns with the oil companies. She tells him she’s being followed.
Screen Shot 2017-09-18 at 5.34.31 PMThings are already rough. The Lyles have filed an “undue force” complaint against the Chief, so he’s a local celebrity. The tribal elders of the local Native community don’t like him, either. They need the refinery to help fund their casino. Shit. Not to mention, Worth is called out to a crime scene just off a dirt road. A car, inside is Dr. Bouchard with blood everywhere, a hole in her head. Supposedly suicide. He doubts that, as should we. Too many suspicious circumstances. All of this prompts the Chief to start digging into North Stream. But it’s not helpful having Gagnon listening in behind the scenes.
Already there are people lurking near the Worth house. Anna sees a man across the lake staring. That night, a briefcase shows up on their doorstep. Young Peter goes down to see what’s inside, where he finds a snake coiled. He tells his dad about the “monster.” And there are noises outside, as well. Jim prepares his family, calls Constable Denise Minahik (Sarah Podemski), right before a shot flies through the window, a molotov cocktail comes in the bathroom window lighting a fire.
The family get away, out onto the road.
This is exactly where the episode begins. Jim gets a call from Denise, as officers clear the scene. But then the gas light comes calling, they turn back. We relive those moments leading up to Jim being shot brutally in the front seat of his car, Anna covered in blood.
Only it isn’t him who’s shot. It’s his wife, Angela, and his son, Peter. The bullet caught them both as she was taking out of the car. Leaving father and daughter alive, and likely broken.
Expect that other side of Jim to emerge. He’ll most certainly fall back in the bottle. As evidenced by him seeing that other Jim in the mirror, bloody face, juxtaposed with a snake tattoo from his past still taking up the whole of his back.
Screen Shot 2017-09-18 at 5.41.07 PMScreen Shot 2017-09-18 at 5.53.15 PMWhat an amazing opener to this series. I didn’t even realise this was coming out, heard nothing of it. All of a sudden, BAM! What a wild beginning, love how they tricked us from the opener to the finale.
I’m Canadian, so it’s also fun to see a series set in Canada that involves the oil industry, hopefully some First Nations issues (with actual Indigenous people in roles), plus more. Dark, exciting, wild. Give me more.
“The Kid” is next.

THE TRANSFIGURATION’s Blood Sucking Construction of Masculinity & Mental Illness

The Transfiguration. 2016. Directed & Written by Michael O’Shea.
Starring Eric Ruffin, Chloe Levine, Phyillicia Bishop, Dangelo Bonneli, Andrea Cordaro, Larry Fessenden, Danny Flaherty, Anna Friedman, Jose Ignacio Gomez, Lloyd Kaufman, & JaQwan J. Kelly.
Transfiguration Productions
Not Rated. 97 minutes.
Drama/Horror

★★★★1/2

Disclaimer: The following article contains several spoilers.
Go check this film out. Then come back, discuss.
Lest ye be spoiled, forever!

Transfiguration 1Vampire films are a dime a dozen. Much like the zombie, the concept of vampires has been overused. That being said, there are many incredible works within these sub-genres. Although seeing as how the horror industry’s inundated with their presence, you’ve got to dig to find the real gold. The Transfiguration is one of those exciting, sharp needles in the haystack.
As a white man, there are issues in this film I’m not qualified to speak on with any authority. One of which is black mental health. However, the broader concept of mental health still applies. This is the most effective part of Michael O’Shea’s film: it takes a cold, hard look at things not everybody wants to see. In a coming of age story constantly flirting with the idea of the supernatural lurking on the periphery of our normal lives, O’Shea has focused on issues important to all of society, ones we’ve largely ignored up until now.
In a way, O’Shea also challenges us to consider what it is that makes a vampire film, how we perceive the constructs of the sub-genre. We come to question whether or not the protagonist, Milo (Eric Ruffin), is actually a creature of the night, or if it’s all in his head. The line between reality and the darkest of fantasy blurred. A frothy cocktail of mental health issues, the possibility of the supernatural, alienation and isolation, as well as the coming of age of a damaged young man whose entire environment feels geared towards denying him any escape from the psychological violence with which he’s been afflicted.
Transfiguration 2There’s a stigma of mental health in society in general. Even in 2017, particularly in certain communities and circles there’s a lingering idea that mental illness = psychotic, crazy, untrustworthy, weak. I don’t want to dive in on black mental health, not qualified. What I can speak to re: Milo is the mental health of men, how mental illness is perceived in conjunction with the constructions of masculinity. The other kids, the drug dealer and his friends, they see Milo as weird. It’s maybe his older brother Lewis (Aaron Cliften Moten) whose refusal to discuss anything of emotion stunts the kid the worst.
Milo lives at home with his brother. Just the two of them. Gradually, we discover a loss by suicide in the family. Before we ever figure it out fully, this loss is symbolised by a closed door in their apartment. Milo stares at it, a feeling of morbid awe accompanies the image. We can see he doesn’t push his older brother to talk about his feelings, any of the things he does in his room, such as indulging in vampire lore and movies, homemade VHS tapes of Lost BoysFright Night, right up to Dracula Untold.
And here’s where the general metaphor of mental illness kicks in.
Like many who suffer with mental health issues, Milo is tucked away immersed in fantasy, the symbol of his separation is the literal doorway of his room. Where he’s cut off, where, generally, Lewis will not go. Within that disconnect, Milo becomes lost in his fantasy. Whether he’s a vampire is left until the end. Before that, the mental illness is merely a metaphor, an allegory in vampire form. By the end it’s more than obvious what’s happened, even if there’s no expository dialogue spelling it out. Our protagonist has suffered the pains of faux-masculinity, of being forced into a delusion that ultimately encompasses his entire life.
The most telling moment is a scene where Milo tries to move somewhat towards a genuine conversation with Lewis, who responds only with a form of denial, a blind acceptance without understanding the consequences and a parallel to the way violent male behaviour is often condoned, telling his kid brother:

You do what you have to do. No matter what. Whatever it is youre doin‘, theres someone doina whole lot worse.”

Transfiguration 4While Sophie (Chloe Levine) represents an equally damaged soul, she’s also one who hasn’t descended into madness like Milo. Hard as her life is, she manages to at least get away, or she faces the prospects of getting away from the abusive grandfather, the boys in the neighbourhood – essentially, away from the toxic men around her. Sophie also illustrates that women clearly are not exempt from the violence and sexual abuse of men, as if we didn’t know already. But this movie is specifically aimed at the unforgiving culture of masculinity that doesn’t allow young men, or any men for that matter, to discuss their issues openly, without fear of judgement, of ridicule. So whereas Sophie manages to find a way free in the end, Milo cannot escape the fragile constructions of masculinity, as his vampire delusion leads him towards tragedy.
O’Shea does well by blurring the lines between fantasy and reality, though. The edges disappear, leaving the viewer wondering at times if this is a choice, a delusion, or if Milo’s been infected by some undead creature wandering the city. Because in between his hunting for blood, there’s a whole world of urban decay, a modern Gothic landscape across the city surrounding him. He experiences all the socioeconomic pitfalls of living in a forgotten neighbourhood, where people buy drugs and get shot in the basement of apartment buildings, and likely much, much worse. At one point, a white guy’s racist assumption that any black kid in that neighbourhood out to know where the drugs are leads to this same guy becoming a victim of crime himself. A self-fulfilling prophesy which ultimately, and in such a dark way, comes back onto Milo, tragedy of Greek proportions. Although it’s not quite fate which brings it full circle, as we see in the finale.
Transfiguration 3Every so often, a horror movie like The Transfiguration comes along speaking so loud, so proud in a unique way that it helps the whole genre. In this case, also the vampire sub-genre. There are plenty of great horror movies out there, despite what people who don’t dig horror will try telling you. This film simply has the transcendental quality certain films in the genre have which cross a genre gap, speaking to universal ideas independent of any genre. This is something every horror needs to attempt. But when one does, succeeding, it’s special.
O’Shea does a fantastic job at playing with that blurred line from fantasy to reality, to the point the viewer will question if Milo is a serial killer or a genuine vampire. He doesn’t load us down with exposition. Rather, he chooses to give us gradual, short motions from scene to scene building a sense of who Milo is, how he got here, where he’s headed, until the various strands of his life come together in a blend of terror.
Stuck between a brutal reality surrounded by death and crime and violence, Milo is forced into a fantastical headspace. From the dealers on the street harassing him, to the wall of videotapes he studies religiously, his life is a constant battle between these elements. This is the story of many out there, young men trapped by the social constructs of their gender. Milo is a microcosm. The longer men ignore other men’s struggles with mental illness, the more people will die. And that’s not a figurative concept, that’s reality.

BUG’s Symbiotic Horror

Bug. 2006. Directed by William Friedkin. Screenplay by Tracey Letts; based on his stage play of the same name.
Starring Ashley Judd, Michael Shannon, Harry Connick Jr, Daniel F. O’Byrne, & Lynn Collins.
Lions Gate Films/L.I.F.T. Production/DMK Mediafonds International
Rated R. 102 minutes.
Drama/Horror/Thriller

★★★★★
BUG3Forever, William Friedkin is in my top five directors. Not like he wouldn’t be in the top picks for many film lovers. He’s fantastic, both a director who can throw down with the best of the best in terms of action sequences, as well as one just as capable of creating an expert atmosphere out of mood and tone. Specifically in regard to that concept of atmosphere, Friedkin takes his film’s subjects seriously, even in a dark, dark comedy like Killer Joe. Likewise, he respects his audience enough not to pander to the lowest common denominator, as evidenced by one of the most powerful horror films ever made, The Exorcist (while many who’ve tread in his footsteps in the past few days try replicating and fall short into that trap).
While every director, no matter how genius, will stumble here or there, Bug doesn’t even come close to a misstep. Although many critics share this sentiment now the film didn’t exactly do anything impressive at the box office. That’s not the end game of art, how much money it makes. However, the artists we love deserve to make money from the things they create that entertain us, that leave us in awe of their abilities.
Bug deserved better; still does. It’s the exploration of the other side of love, the one people don’t necessarily want to talk about. Through the characters of Agnes (Ashley Judd) and Peter (Michael Shannon) in Tracey Letts’ screenplay, Friedkin manufactures a claustrophobic, feverish, disturbingly compelling portrait of l’amour fou, or shared psychosis, or whatever you want to call it. By the end, the message is clear: symbiotic relationships in humans, even if they feel like deep love, are sometimes not even parasitic , but entirely geared towards the annihilation of one singular self rather than the elevation of two whole selves.
BUG4The love bug. It bites you, and like an infection the chemical in your brain hooks you in, it hooks the other person, too. Suddenly you’re in over your head. Granted, this can work out. Did for me, does for a lot of people. But then there are the other cases, the ones where the symbiotic relationship of love doesn’t work so well; where it takes over and warps both people within the relationship into unrecognisable creatures.
Part of the film works as tragedy, watching Agnes spiral further into a relationship just as destructive as the one she was in before with the ex-con Jerry (Harry Connick Jr). Doesn’t matter that Peter isn’t physically abusive, neither is he mentally abusive. What makes it all the more tragic is how Agnes’ desperation, to be loved and to love a good man, leads her to begin sharing the psychosis of Peter. This is a living metaphor of how, at times when we’re in love we do things against our better judgement, blinded by emotion.
When you love someone you hope to connect with the same ideas and concepts. So Agnes gradually falls deeper into the madness Peter perpetuates. What starts in a blackly comic mode quickly devolves into pure insanity, with Peter descending to a state of paranoia which wraps Agnes up in a whirlwind, an unstoppable force that, at a certain stage, neither of the two lovers are able to control. Before the audience – or Agnes – knows it, the delusion has encompassed all.
One of the best scenes is right after Peter’s started with the fly paper and all the insect repellent, when Agnes’ friend R.C. (Lynn Collins) shows up. It’s easy to see the scary qualities of the relationship between the lovers with another person in their midst. Their dual insanity shines early through the perspective of another. Part of this speaks to how these toxic, symbiotic relationships can ruin other relationships in the lives of those involved.
BUG2A huge piece of what makes Bug so compelling is how Friedkin lets us watch the story. At various points throughout you’ll wonder: is Peter actually crazy? Early on it’s easy to see there’s something not right. At the same time, Friedkin leads us into a headspace where we begin feeling that anything is possible. The visuals are one thing. Sound design is a whole other beast. As the film wears on, not only are the sights questionable, the sounds lead us to believe it’s entirely possible that Peter’s psychosis is in fact reality. Coupled with the screenplay from Letts there are a handful of scenes that question the couple’s madness, while simultaneously questioning the audience’s comprehension of what’s genuinely occurring on screen.
Of course it’s the dual performances of Judd and Shannon which draw us into this world and grip us with white-knuckled fingers until the finale. Shannon is lucky enough to have played this character onstage. Apparently they wanted someone else for the lead, though Friedkin remained set on him. What’s awesome about Shannon is that he’s got this edgy handsomeness fit for a leading man, alongside an unnerving quality coming 100% from that interesting face, so at once he’s both the charming Peter and on the end he drags us into his character’s dangerous mental state of delusion.
Lord have mercy, though. ‘Cause as good as Shannon is, Judd is even better. She makes us feel, hard. The more we come to know Agnes, the worse we feel for her. But Judd cracks the heart in two, never portraying this abused, battered woman as a total victim. She’s never too strong, either. She’s fallible, she’s real and raw. Most of all Judd’s performance highlights the desperation often present in us as humans when we need to be loved, when we have so much love to give.
BUG1A phenomenal film, Bug‘s easily a favourite of Father Gore’s post-2000. Hell, it’s up there with the greatest psychological thrillers. Period. Because Friedkin is of a high calibre, his directing and his eye for how to conjure atmosphere are particularly evident due to the claustrophobic setting of the small room Peter and Agnes inhabit for 98% of the film. Like an exercise in the master’s best, most subtle qualities.
There are plenty of films out there about love, from the upbeat to the dark and depressing. Yes, this Friedkin flick is a scary, nerve wracking piece that will fuck you up. By the same token, Bug has a positive element, in that it explores a space in human relationships we’re not always willing to go. And through that, we’re able to safely investigate themes of truth, delusion, love, trust, co-dependency, all through the prism of this one relationship. Judd and Shannon together are frightening, magnetic, powerful. This movie, though steeped in a heady psychological atmosphere, is all too human. For daring to go to these places, Friedkin and Letts both are artists unafraid of confronting the darkness lurking in places where we usually expect beauty.

The Sinner – Part 7

USA’s The Sinner
Part 7
Directed by Tucker Gates
Written by Liz W. Garcia

* For a recap & review of Part 6, click here.
* For a recap & review of the finale, Part 8, click here.
Pic 1Cora (Jessica Biel) remembers one of Phoebe’s (Nadia Alexander) birthdays, the big 19! At the dinner table, after blowing out the candles, the birthday girl has to listen to a depressing story from her mother Elizabeth (Enid Graham) about when she was born. Then Phoebe opens her present from Cora, a beautiful sun dress for the beach. Only the girl doesn’t want to hear about her being “a miracle” or anything else. She’s sure she’ll die soon. And it’s as if she’s starting to resent her older sister, rather than being her close confidant.
That night, Cora is going out. She and J.D. (Jacob Pitts) have plans to run off. Phoebe wants to go out. She effectively blackmails her way into Cora taking her. So she puts her nice dress on, sneaking out quietly while their parents are sleeping. They go to a bar together. Music plays (“We Live Underground” by Lights On), people are swarming around them. Of course J.D. is there, greasy as ever. Then he offers the girls a couple pills. Cora declines, but her sister swallows one back before anything can be done. Holy fuck. That ain’t good.
Pic 1AIn the bathroom, Maddie (Danielle Burgess) starts getting into Cora’s head more. She talks about J.D’s previous girl, a pregnancy. Apparently Mr. Grease didn’t want any part of it, so the woman committed suicide, killing herself and the baby. That is some ugly shit. Things go haywire later when they’re leaving the bar. Phoebe pees herself, so they have to pull over. She’s peaking on the ecstasy, that doesn’t help. Then she figures out her sister was going to take off with J.D. and live together.
Back in the vehicle, they wind up at that big estate out in the woods, the Beverwyck Club. And who’s inside waiting in the dark? Frankie Belmont (Eric Todd). Looks like the place is deserted, he’s broken into the place. Everyone’s drinking, still taking pills. Frankie takes Phoebe on a tour while Cora trails behind. But J.D. hauls her off, to help with business, leaving her sister upstairs. Although for now Frankie seems like a nice guy. For now. Downstairs, Cora meets Tod Richter (Gary Hilborn), a prospective business partner to whom J.D. sells drugs.
Phoebe: “Lifes too short to be good, said the dying girl who has barely lived.”
When Tod shoots up he starts groping on Cora. Luckily, Maddie shows up. But that’s when J.D. tells her to get lost, very abruptly. The darker side of his personality, though we knew it existed, begins coming out for all to see. Plus, we can tell there’s something far more sinister happening in that room. I worry, a lot. We also figure out the story Maddie told earlier about the pregnant woman? That was about her, trying to kill herself. Everything starts getting scarier when J.D. becomes forceful.
So Cora heads to look for Phoebe, whom she finds slow dancing with Frankie in the small cabin nearby on the club’s grounds. It’s a sweet moment. Little sister doesn’t want to go home. Maybe ever again. When J.D. gets there they all head to the basement. Down that staircase we saw Cora remember last episode with Dt. Ambrose (Bill Pullman).
Pic 2They relax, they drink. Creepy Tod’s there. More drugs, a bit of music. Cora lets loose a bit when her sister urges. Things get a bit freaky once the sisters kiss, then Frankie and Cora kiss. And it seems like everyone’s having a bit of youthful fun together.
Then, we hear it. The song, “Huggin and Kissin” by Big Black Delta that’s become the signifier of some trauma. On the floor, high as hell, J.D. and Cora start to nasty. On the couch, Frankie and Phoebe lay together, kissing. Everything’s getting hot and heavy, all around. Little sister finally loses her virginity. A veritable sex party going on.
Frankie: “Theres nothing bad about this heart
That all changes when Frankie’s no longer thrusting. He’s trying to give Phoebe CPR. He pushes so hard that he cracks her chest. This prompts those familiar movements, the same ones Cora did while stabbing Frankie on the beach that day. After a moment J.D. cracks the older sister with an ashtray, knocking her out.
What happens next, we can already begin piecing together. Just never saw THIS coming, exactly.
Screen Shot 2017-09-14 at 1.52.54 PMWHOA. The craziest, most intense, nerve wracking episode of The Sinner! Can’t get any better than that. Really looking forward to the finale, I wonder how it’ll all play out. Surely going to be another intense chapter. I won’t get over this episode for a while.

Let IT Frighten You Until You Float

It. 2017. Directed by Andy Muschietti. Screenplay by Gary Dauberman, Cary Fukunaga, & Chase Palmer. Based on the novel of the same name by Stephen King.
Starring Jaeden Liberher, Jeremy Ray Taylor, Sophia Lillis, Finn Wolfhard, Chosen Jacobs, Jack Dylan grazer, Wyatt Oleff, Bill Skarsgård, Nicholas Hamilton, Jake Sim, Logan Thompson, Owen Teague, & Jackson Robert Scott.
New Line Cinema/KatzSmith Productions/Lin Pictures
Rated R. 135 minutes.
Drama/Horror

★★★★★
IT 1When I walked into an empty theatre today, September 9th of 2017, it was raining heavy outside. I was soaked by the time I made it inside. Then the lights dimmed, popcorn crunching in the darkness around me as more people piled in for a hopeful fright. And suddenly I was in Derry, Maine. There, the rain was pouring, too. Just as heavy as in the parking lot of the Avalon Mall in St. John’s, Newfoundland.
I hadn’t read It until this summer, when I powered through it over the course of a week. Although I’ve been a lifelong fan of Stephen King, having been introduced by mother at an age she deemed appropriate, the length always threw me. Yet the pages flicked by, faster every day. Once it was finished I found myself staring at one of the best novels I’d ever read. Not without its faults. But even the perfect things in this world we love have those, or else they wouldn’t be real, raw, as King’s novel is, most certainly.
Andy Muschietti’s 2017 adaptation is, in many ways, its very own entity. Simultaneously retaining the pure essence of King, his gruelling horror crossed with the beauty and pain of transitioning into adolescence. It is relentlessly creepy and boasts a cast of fantastic talent. Not only that, there’s so much emotion and sincerity in just about every frame that it feels like the screen could burst and the film could come alive at any moment.
IT 3Just as the novel does, the film opens with a scene of devastating power. This could’ve been done in any number of ways. Muschietti opts to go straight for the jugular, showing us a scene involving young Georgie Denborough that many filmmakers might not. But with a novel like It, there’s no sense in not swinging for the fences. While I have great love for the 1990 mini-series in its own ways, that was one of its biggest problems, as is the case with plenty of other lacklustre King adaptations. If you can’t go full-on for the horror, often times of a very disturbing nature with his writing, then there’s almost no sense in doing it.
Because this novel was so scary, the imagery is key. Muschietti also convinced the studio to let him tweak the screenplay Cary Fukunaga worked on, which, for some reason, omitted things like Bill’s stutter. Another big thing that was missing: the Leper. There are a bunch of scenes in the novel that are terrifying, but the Leper’s up there, for me. And even though he doesn’t speak the same lines as from the book, his appearance in the movie will freak you out.
Then there are wholly original images Muschietti’s creates. One minor change I enjoyed is switching pieces of Ben and Mike’s characters. With Ben being new to Derry, this adaptation has him as the one researching the town’s creepy past. At one point, stumbling onto an old local tragedy, Ben is led by flaming Easter eggs into the dark corners of the library stacks where It appears as a headless man coming for him. Just a weirdly compelling scene, ending with a solid scare.
And best of all, the images are all relatively new in the sense that this adaptation doesn’t try to replicate any of what the 1990 mini-series did, it goes for breaking new ground at every turn. Not only exciting, it shows the confidence of a filmmaker like Muschietti.
IT 4There’s a strong heart to this version of It. One major reason why all of King’s work appeals to many is because, despite any wild horror or sci-fi-leaning situations he gets his characters into, the people, their lives, their dreams, their fears – they feel entirely real. As we spend more time with each of the kids in the Losers’ Club, their childhoods – at least for some – will feel like your own.
A few elements concerning the kids that work as excellent translations from the novel: I could’ve used a tad more but we got brief glimpses of the effect Georgie’s death had on the relationship between Bill and his parents; Eddie’s mom is suffocating him, on the borderline of Munchausen syndrome, and his scene of defiance made me both proud of him and sad for her; how Bill and the Losers wind up in the Barrens, the search for Georgie, it somehow elevates the emotional intensity of our poor stutterer’s tragic situation; Ben made me cry, the feelings he had for Bev and how she responds throughout the film, specifically a scene near the climax, it felt like fan service for people who’ve already loved these characters; and, the apocalyptic rock fight scene, including a slice of heavy metal, truly captured the intensity and frantic action of the book’s unforgettably heroic sequence.
Perhaps my favourite scene is when Bill goes into Georgie’s room. Rather than replicate the book, or the 1990 version, Muschietti goes for a sly reference to the novel, plus a damn fine fright. First, young Bill picks up the Lego turtle, calling to mind the cosmic turtle that King so strangely and wonderfully knits into his text. Second, in the basement, he confronts the ghost of Georgie and It, resulting in a moment of unforgettable horror: “YOULL FLOAT, TOO! YOULL FLOAT, TOO!” Also, this iconic phrase is put to good use in Pennywise’s lair in the most impressive visual out of the entire film.
IT 2Bottom line is that the drama feels genuine. Moreover, through all the scares Pennywise becomes a wholly new face of terror with Bill Skarsgård behind the makeup and costume. Tim Curry holds his own place in horror history for his vision of King’s menacing, ancient, evil clown. But Skarsgård’s childish take on Pennywise the Dancing Clown instils the character with part of why the novel made him so unsettling. He’s no longer funny, not even in a dark way like Curry. Skarsgård’s clown is child-like in his amusement with the fear he creates(/enjoys/desires), so even when he’s joking around trying to be silly it’s actually just malevolent. Makes it even scarier when he becomes a horrifying, contorted, shapeshifting creature. A marvellous horror performance.
I’ve honestly never watched anything with him in it before. Seeing his talent, particularly in his expressions and facial movements (the eye trick he does is real and not CGI), shows me this is a guy I ought to keep my own eye on.
For me, only having read It just over a month ago, this film has a true charm. From the kids and the real world, human drama their stories bring to Pennywise’s dread, everything fires on all cylinders. Even the change from the late 1950s to the late 1980s works, and possibly opens up the story to newer generations in the process.
There have been a few strange takes amongst the praise. Not everyone has to dig this, when a novel you love comes to screen it won’t always hit the right spots for every fan. How could we possibly expect it to? Through it all there are going to be people disappointed, in some way, shape, or form. To me, It is the best adaptation of Stephen King’s work to date on screen. This is coming from someone who’s watched The Shawshank Redemption 100+ times, I love The Dead ZoneThe Shining. I’ll take this one over every last one. Because it gets King and his horror, how his stories read to me, and best of all is the fact the kids are out of this world.
See this one in theatre, in the dark. And you, too, will float.

The Sinner – Part 6

USA’s The Sinner
Part 6
Directed by Jody Lee Lipes
Written by Tom Pabst

* For a recap & review of Part 5, click here.
* For a recap & review of Part 7, click here.
Pic 1Last we left Mason (Christopher Abbott), he was heading up to see ole J.D. with a gun in his hand. We find him there now, as a couple people leave the house. Afterwards, he heads in slow. There he finds the guy dead already. Further in the baby’s crying. Then Mason calls the cops, even using the cellphone from the corpse’s pocket. He wipes his prints off and leaves.
Elsewhere by the water he thinks back to an earlier time with Cora (Jessica Biel), a happier time when they were enjoying each other, enjoying the relationship. A lifetime of happiness ahead of them. A far cry from where they are at this point.
Dt. Ambrose (Bill Pullman) has stepped over the line with his masochism. His mistress cuts him off, understanding something’s changed with him after she chokes him out. Something that she says is “a whole different game.” Just another rough patch for Harry to get through. There’s a lot of ’em. Meanwhile, he has Detective Farmer (Joanna Adler) taunting him over the “spider in [his] brain” that is Cora Tannetti.
Speaking of our lady, she’s talking with her lawyer who’s advising to take a deal. The woman’s back is against the legal wall. But Cora wants to stick with Harry. The guy is fighting for her, too. He truly is, it’s just hard when he’s up against a major mystery and Dt. Farmer’s disinterest in his theories. He knows, though. He’s gradually finding out more about the private club out in the woods. The key to all the trauma.
Pic 1AGlimpses of Phoebe (Nadia Alexander), perpetually ill, and a slightly younger Cora, who’s now got a “sex life” after so much repression. She sneaks out to be with J.D. who also has Maddie (Danielle Burgess) around, jealous of him being with another woman obviously. He has the talk of a pimp, of a man who exploits women. A patronising misogynist.
Poor Mason was in the wrong place, wrong time. Now he’s got Dt. Farmer asking him questions. To his favour, hopefully, he tells the truth. Honest about carrying a weapon when he went to visit J.D. Best of all is that he saw the car the men left in, leading to the cops tracking it down. At least they’ve got clues that help Mason.
And when he goes to see his wife in prison, he admits that in part all of this is his fault, as well. He knew there was “something wrong” a long while ago. He couldn’t bring himself to find out what it was, in turn, essentially, allowing the suffering in the person he pledged his life to be with, in sickness and in health.
This renews Cora. But can she push Harry away from self-destruction? The only thing he has left just about, with his estranged wife Faye (Kathryn Erbe) done seemingly for good, is his job.
More flashes back to Phoebe in the hospital, not doing well at all. Cora goes to her sister and lays in bed with her. The only two people in the world when they’re together.
Screen Shot 2017-09-07 at 1.27.55 AMHarry needs to convince the rest of the department, and a judge, that he needs to take Cora back to that club. To try dredging up repressed memories, to crack the case. Lucky for our detective he once busted the judge when she had a drink too many while driving, back in the day. So, permission granted!
Again we flashback. The slick talking pimp feeds bullshit into Cora’s head, trying to convince her that Phoebe is a “vampire” feeding of her, living vicariously through her. That they need to leave and get away. This is one of the worst things he’s done that we’ve seen so far, driving a wedge between the two sisters. I can see much more tragedy growing out of this act.
Up at the club in the forest, Harry takes Cora down to the basement. Past the staircase, into those unfinished rooms where ski masks hang on the walls, stray taxidermy left gathering dust, a little room with a computer. Yet she doesn’t feel anything’s familiar down there. A bust.
Another flashback to Cora coming home late, Phoebe upset. She wants to know everything about how J.D. touches her, kisses her. So much so she wants her sister to actually do it to her, as she’ll never experience it herself. The incest goes further than just a kiss or a fleeting touch. Fuck, that’s disturbing.
Screen Shot 2017-09-07 at 1.35.39 AMOn their way back, Harry takes Cora for a pit stop. Then she wants to go back to the club, even though they’re getting late for their return. If they’re not back in time a warrant goes out automatically. Uh oh.
Up at the club he takes her in one last time. She goes into the library on her own while Harry takes a call. After that he can’t find her. She’s gone. He finally finds her at a house a little ways off from the club. She’s stuck, gazing at staircase leading down into the basement. It makes her feel physically ill.
What lies at the bottom of those stairs, in the back of her mind? She speaks the words we all want to hear: “I remember now.”
Screen Shot 2017-09-07 at 1.43.29 AMHOLY JESUS, CORA! I’m blown away, I need more. Now.
Yet, Part 7 is a week away. Dying to find out the next piece of the mysterious puzzle.

The Sinner – Part 5

USA’s The Sinner
Part 5
Directed by Cherien Dabis
Written by Jesse McKeown

* For a recap & review of Part 4, click here.
* For a recap & review of Part 6, click here.
Pic 1Flashback to Mason (Christopher Abbott) and Cora (Jessica Biel), when little Laine was just a baby. “Slept through the night” for the first time. The typical things parents experience together. Just as quick, we’re back to the present with Mason, his parents Ron (Robert Funaro) and Lorna (Patti D’Arbanville) helping around the house. Then comes a call.
Another flashback shows a slightly younger Cora, an older Phoebe (Nadia Alexander), as they were planning a getaway from the ruthless religious household in which they existed with their mother Elizabeth (Enid Graham). They were saving up cash, looking for apartments, trying to find Cora a man. All under their parents’ nose.
Back out at the bus in the woods, Dt. Harry Ambrose (Bill Pullman) looks over the human bones found nearby in the ground. Things are getting more tense in the case. He’s also got state police involved now, like it or not. He and Detective Farmer (Joanna Adler) go to question Cora together about recent developments. Only it’s all hard to explain, to anyone outside of her and Ambrose. Even he isn’t entirely sure what’s going on just yet.
Cora: “I didnt kill anybody
Farmer: “Else. You didnt kill anybody else.”
Pic 1ALooking around a ways off from the body site, Ambrose stumbles onto a piece of private property. He walks in to the gate, around it, and finds a massive estate sprawling over the land. Quite the place. He gets inside, finding a staff member at the place, getting a few answers and hopefully more to come. Wandering around he sees a bit of wallpaper that might just be the kind Cora spoke of before.
A strange twist of fate, as Cora winds up at a religious group in jail. Listening to their prayers she flashes back to being in that place, with the masked man, the wallpaper. She’s under the bed, an I.V. tipped over on the floor. “Howd you get all the way down there?” asks the masked man.
This is the theory I’ve had for some time – she was drugged, forced into prostitution. When she and Maddy escaped from that place, the latter was killed, buried out in the woods. Guaranteed. Or perhaps there are more twists and turns yet.
The Tannetti family are being ripped apart. People are spray painting their vehicles with KILLER BITCH, dumping garbage all over their lawn. Mason’s parents are fed up. He’s barely hanging on by a thread.
There’s also more going on in Ambrose’s life, too. He and Faye (Kathryn Erbe) have a marriage in a death spiral. She regrets their bit of reconciliation, feeling he’s not there even when he is physically. Back at the station, he’s being chastised for “barging in” on the club at the estate, a high profile guy there representing the place and its interests. Oh, you know some shady, fucked up shit is going on up there. YOU KNOW.
Pic 2Dt. Farmer is barging on ahead herself, without consulting Ambrose. She busts J.D’s girlfriend on the drugs, hauling her in for questioning. She’s already pursuing charges against Cora for the dead body. Well, we see that she’s also accusing our detective of being sweet on the accused. I don’t think it’s that, at all. I feel like he genuinely cares and wants to find out what happened to her, to know the truth. He’s got his issues, no doubt. He’s a brutal masochist. But a cop in love with a suspect, no sir.
They do have a connection. It’s one of trust. She calls him, wondering if she ought to take the latest offer. However, he wants her to hold on, so he can chase down his lead on the club.
On the street, Mason’s father is beaten by J.D. with a baseball bat. Holy shit. Then we cut back to see Cora when she first meets J.D. on a dark road, ironically helping her out of a bad jam with a potentially creepy dude. After that it’s off to a house party together. Immediately he’s working his charm, pretending he wants to get to know her. A very Manson-esque personality. All brings us to her losing her virginity to him.
That night when she got home there’s a scene. Mom calls her a “whore” while Phoebe is hyperventilating, worrying over her big sister. Quick cut back to the present, as Dt. Farmer grills Cora about J.D. and the found skeleton. Meanwhile, Ambrose is back up at the club poking around, he finds a staircase leading to the basement; looks familiar, only without the wallpaper. Further in are masks hung on the wall in the dark, ones we can recognise easily.
But can Harry break the case wide open before Farmer uses her fake sympathy on Cora to make a deal? Our girl’s not having any of it. What’s worse is that Mason is heading for J.D. with a gun in hand. Both of Laine’s parents might be in jail soon. Uh oh.
Screen Shot 2017-08-31 at 1.56.49 AMEvery episode of The Sinner is heavy as hell. New things come to light with each chapter, the darkness gets deeper and scarier, the emotions more intense. Part 6 is next week, and I don’t know how they’ll top this one. Although I say this every week.

Animal Kingdom – Season 2, Episode 13: “Betrayal”

TNT’s Animal Kingdom
Season 2, Episode 13: “Betrayal”
Directed & Written
by John Wells

* For a recap & review of the penultimate Season 2 episode, “You Will Be Gutted” – click here
Pic 1Baz (Scott Speedman) is feeling disconnected, from a lot. Even Lena (Aamya Deva Keroles) wants to spend more time with Uncle Pope (Shawn Hatosy). Meanwhile, Lucy (Carolina Guerra) keeps feeding the discontent, the disconnect, trying to move him away and get him to take over the empire, to take back the money. Although I’m not so sure it’s all in his better interest. Feels like she might be more in it for herself.
Poor mama Smurf (Ellen Barkin) is still on the inside. Mean muggin’ and acting like she’s as hard as the rest of them. She sits by herself in the cafeteria and a bunch of Latina ladies take a seat next to her. “J sent us,” one of them tells her. Wow, looks like J (Finn Cole) really is taking care of grandma from the outside.
What about Pope? Sure, he’s got Lena. But that little girl is essentially the only connection he has left to the world. He’s like a ghost, sort of walking through the lives o everyone around him. Haunting them, haunting himself. But at the same time we can see how a life of shit has crushed him into submission. He’s a responsible adult, yet around him are his brothers, irresponsible and half crazy. Not to say Pope ain’t crazy. He’s been forced into being an adult, all those mental health issues left festering in the dark. Ready to explode.
Then there’s J, ready to graduate. Our boy is growing up! Nicky (Molly Gordon) insists he’s going to the ceremony, that they’ll have a party with everyone at the house afterwards.
Pic 1AAt the bar, Deran (Jake Weary) and Craig (Ben Robson) mull over how things will be with the kid in charge of power of attorney. They’d much rather it that way than Baz, the distrust is strong against him, exacerbated by their mother pulling strings.
Baz and J head-to-head is the worst of it all. The older of the two, after all this time, starts bringing up J’s mom. He tells a story about Smurf not wanting to send her to rehab. One night a guy broke in, raped her as she was in a stoned coma. Smurf only cared because she lost a condo deal. 9 months later? Baby J. Hoooooly fuck.
However, stay with me… could Barry have told that story on purpose to light a fire? And maybe that story isn’t true.
Smurf isn’t overly thrilled about the legal situation, her lawyers are telling her she could be in there 6 months. Later, she gets a visit from an old face, a detective. He’s there about a string of bank robberies lately. Says the robber from the footage, “how he walks” reminds him of somebody: Pope. Of course mom doesn’t know the truth about her son, that he’s been out pulling jobs by himself. Six banks in a single day, then nothing at all.
All the rest of the gang are meeting at the house. Baz called a meeting, so everyone’s heading in packing heat. Just in case, y’know. The man wants to talk about the power of attorney, he’d like to talk about things. Except he’s confrontational, angry. Not everyone’s on his side, either. He says they weren’t “strong enough” to know what he was planning on doing to Smurf. Shiiiiiit, there’s some bad stuff brewing.
Screen Shot 2017-08-30 at 12.25.30 AMContinually, we see Baz shirk the responsibility of his daughter. He’s going to Mexico now, looking for a place. He’s leaving her with Pope. Again. “Youve gotta step up and be more of a father to her,” Pope tells him. All he gets in return is lecturing bullshit. Sad when I agree more with the guy who killed Catherine than her own husband.
You know what finally struck me is that Lena’s the single innocent light in the midst of all the darkness. Even J, he’s done some shit being involved with his uncles, same with Nicky. That little girl is the only good thing that’s sprung from the Cody tree; even then, not by blood.
Graduation day isn’t exactly going as planned. Nicky’s parents didn’t make it, J’s late. So they decide to say fuck it. Another sad, symbolic moment. Seeing their innocence tossed aside with Nicky’s corsage in the pool.
Baz goes to see Smurf finally. Face-to-face. She talks about the offer from the detective. They chat about her being framed for killing Javi. And Baz just plays it all off. BUT NOW WE’RE SEEING IT COME OUT. NOW. Smurf says that “Pope knows” what happened to Catherine. Oh, my, fucking, GOD! I can’t believe she’s doing this, she’s actually going to put Pope in the line of fire – not that he doesn’t deserve it – and if things go sideways, there’s no more loyalty. Not if he finds out mom gave him up.
Smurf: “Pope loves you, and he loved Catherine. But Pope will always love me more.”
And goddamn if she doesn’t actually call to tell her son that Baz knows, that he’ll be coming soon. Christ almighty. That woman’s cold. So then Pope heads out, gun ready. Scares the shit out of Deran and Craig when he shows up crazy, asking if they’ll take care of Lena should anything happen to him.

Baz goes to find Pope, who’s waiting. Pope quickly admits to it: “She didnt suffer.” He explains what he and mom thought, that she was ratting the family out. It was always about their brotherhood, about Smurf and her hold over the boys. About punishment. This all sends Pope into a rage, brokenhearted that the family never once gave him a thought. So he asks his adopted brother to kill him. Begging. Instead of doing it, Baz forgives him. “Ill take care of you, always,” he repeats, hugging him. He’s ready to believe that Smurf is the driving force. Which she was, though I find it hard to see how he can give Pope a pass.
Stupidly, J and Nicky break into a house. When an old guy shows up with a shotgun, they flee. Fast. But she gets hit with a bit of buckshot. This is more of their deteriorating youth, going to waste on madness and crime. They’re spiralling.
Craig is taking off for a bit, to let things cool down. He goes to see Renn (Christina Ochoa) in hopes she’ll go, too. Simultaneously, Lucy and Baz are getting ready for Mexico.
But in the car, Baz takes several shots to the chest through the windshield. Someone in a hoodie runs off while he gives chase before falling down. Then Lucy leaves him in the street as police sirens fly in the background. Heart of stone. She goes directly with Marco to take the rest of Baz’s shit and sell it off. Whoa.
So who did the shooting? My guess is J. He’s sitting by the pool, a similar hoodie on. But you never know, it could’ve been someone sent by Smurf. I’d still place a hefty wager on J.
Pic 4Screen Shot 2017-08-30 at 12.50.51 AMThis was a WILD season! I cannot wait for Season 3. Simple as that. Give me more.
Will Baz survive? I think he will. And if he does, there’s gonna be some hell to pay. Paranoia will reign supreme.

The Sinner – Part 4

USA’s The Sinner
Part 4
Directed by Brad Anderson
Written by Liz W. Garcia

* For a recap & review of Part 3, click here.
* For a recap & review of Part 5, click here.
Pic 1Mason (Christopher Abbott) is in the box with Detectives Dan Leroy (Dohn Norwood) and Harry Ambrose (Bill Pullman). Juxtaposed against the mysterious J.D. in there with them later. We go back and forth between the two men, as well as get a look at more sexual moments between J.D. and Cora (Jessica Biel), years before. Eerie stuff.
Flashback to younger Cora and Phoebe. They talk about boys, the “shameless harlot” across the street. All the while the older sister doesn’t want to even so much as sin in thought, let alone do anything physical in real life. Strange to see the sick little sister be more sexually aware than her big sister. They slowly dip into another world, one that’s been locked away from them a long time. They also discover the other world of their father, sneaking out at night to go sleep with another woman.
With Dt. Ambrose we watch Cora going back through old memories. Fourth of July, leaving with J.D. and going to someone else’s house, having sex, taking drugs. After that’s a blank spot. Two months later, she’s in a detox centre. The mystery is continually whipped into a new whirlwind.
Pic 1AHarry’s trying to figure out how to unlock the memories Cora is holding close, unconsciously. She can’t figure it out, either. So he’s trying anything and everything, including looking into recovered memory therapy in order to draw out the key to her secrets. At the same time, Mason’s watching his wife suffer, trying to be supportive while worrying she’ll do hard time in jail. He doesn’t like her talking to the cops, though Harry in particular might be the only hope she has left.
And of course the cop’s got his own personal shit going on, trying to reconnect with Faye (Kathryn Erbe), out eating together at a restaurant they’ve frequented before, in happier and more tragic times, too. Sort of bittersweet. They lost a child years ago, something which obviously impacted them both hard.
The recovered memory therapy commences. Cora goes into a deep mental state, guided along as she attempts to dive into her mind; this is visually represented as she closes her eyes, stepping into a vast lake. She goes back to a “hopeless” memory of her standing in a forest, disoriented, the night before July 4th. Then she goes through the other moments. She remembers J.D’s ex Maddy, who doesn’t like her. Maybe they planned on doing something to her. Simultaneously, she jumps to a memory of being a little girl, the bus barrelling past her as if she doesn’t even exist.
But she gets back to July 4th weekend. Cora and Maddy have words, the former seeming very unstable. The women hate each other, specifically Cora who has strong hatred for her. Violent hatred. Uh oh. Continually the plot gets thicker. Armed with the new memory, which includes J.D. siphoning gas to get home that night, Dt. Ambrose tries narrowing down the area where the trio went after the bar.
Pic 2Closer and closer Mason inches towards J.D. He goes to his place to buy coke, pretending to be an acquaintance. When the girlfriend figures out Mason isn’t who he claims, he leaves. I’m worried about him, he’s getting brazen. I know he wants to find out what happened to his wife, naturally. But to the detriment of his own health, maybe his life? Surely there’s more shady things happening behind the scenes we don’t yet know about. At least he’s got Caitlin (Abby Miller). That’s wearing thin, though. We get more of their history, they had sex and then he ignored her. He brings her the drugs he bought, and it pisses her off. “You use people,” she tells him.
Flashback to young Cora. She makes an eager move on a boy across the street, exploring her sexuality out in the shed with him. Later, she goes up to fill Phoebe in about her “two orgasms” and the rest of her sexual encounter. What we’re seeing is how a stuffy religious upbringing, so strict and medieval is a fast way to drive kids towards the things you’re trying to steer them away from.
Present day, Cora heads back into the waters of memory. Dancing with Maddy, stoned. Then later they’re in the woods, terrified. Search lights shine through the trees. A gunshot goes off. “Theyre hunting us,” Cora tells Dt. Ambrose and the doctor. Fragments of memories. Maddy calls her towards a basement. The song from the beach that day plays loud. Naked bodies everywhere. The black wallpaper imagery returns, as Cora goes down a set of stairs. Followed by a shocking moment that looks like Maddy being stabbed in the chest. The masked man from the end of Part 3.
A flashback shows young Cora beg her father not to go next door, knowing he’s heading there to cheat on his wife. Realising the fragility and weakness of men, that sex is all they consider.
On a walk together, Faye and Harry come to a significant place. One he’s been hoping to find. Using the water tower image from Cora’s memories, he likewise finds a school bus. Perhaps those fragmented memories might’ve been pointing to something subconscious. Near the bus is also what looks like a possible grave. Sure enough, below the dirt they find skeletal remains.
Pic 3Every episode makes the mystery more compelling, it’s hard to ever be sure of what’ll come next. Amazing to watch unfold. Never imagined the series would be playing out the way it is now.
Part 5 will surely give us something else shocking, wild, disturbing. So many elements locked together in one box.