The Mist – Season 1, Episode 3: “Show and Tell”

Spike’s The Mist
Season 1, Episode 3: “Show and Tell”
Directed by Nick Murphy
Written by Peter Biegen

* For a recap & review of the previous episode, “Withdrawal” – click here
* For a recap & review of the next episode, “Pequod” – click here
Pic 1Everyone at the church wakes up, the first morning after the mist came over their town. Adrian (Russell Posner) worries the others are “all dead” but Kevin (Morgan Spector) assures him they’re okay, that they’ve survived just like them. Upstairs, they look through a stained glass window’s scratch to spy a vehicle worth taking. They’ll need Mia (Danica Curcic), though the kid doesn’t trust her. And there’s the fact Connor (Darren Pettie) has her handcuffed. Those two dads are going to have a difficult moment, at some point.
Over in the mall, Eve (Alyssa Sutherland) comforts her daughter. Alex (Gus Birney) doesn’t exactly know how to be comforted, with the things outside, her rapist Jay (Luke Cosgrove) inside, people hanging themselves. The bodies are cut down by Jay and mall manager Gus Bradley (Isiah Whitlock Jr) – they’re military personnel, soldiers. Even more unsettling. There’s discussion of what to do with the corpses, then they want to search everyone for dog tags. One other soldier is left, a private in the army; he doesn’t have any information, so he says. But it’s more likely the military knows exactly what is happening.
Thus, suicides.
Pic 1ANatalie (Frances Conroy) talks about finding something 1860 in the newspapers. She’s told it’s supposedly a local legend concerning “the Black Spring” – a curse, after the murder of a young woman. Even creepier is they can see her husband Benedict lurking out there in the mist.
Then Kevin asks Connor to help them with getting to the mall, he needs Mia. Of course the cop won’t help. He’s suddenly concerned with law, despite leaving people behind to maybe die at the station. They get into a big argument which leads to the cop putting Mia in the basement. Bryan (Okezie Morro) keeps on looking out for her, helping her through the withdrawal symptoms; with a bottle of pills. Plus he gets her cuffs off. They form a mutual trust, as he’s just as lost in his own ways amongst the rest of the town. He didn’t even remember himself when he woke up.
After getting chewed out by the mall manager, the game store guys – Vic (Erik Knudsen) and Ted (Jonathan Malen) – decide they’ll make themselves useful. By using the bodies found to test the mist, to see what’s going on out there. Hmm, could make for interesting trouble.
One interesting note: I love the moral implications at play, in terms of the way Adrian sees things. He doesn’t like Jay, for likely raping Alex. He also does not trust Mia, as she’s accused for murder. The way Kevin sees no problem trusting Mia under the circumstances of what they’re facing, Adrian can’t reconcile morality on those terms.
Pic 2Later when Kevin tries helping to free Mia and Bryan, he winds up down there with them after Connor the pig – in two senses of the word at this point – says some heinous shit about his wife and daughter.
Speaking of, Alex runs into Jay in one of the mall shops. He says he “didnt hurt” or “touch” her that night. So, is he a liar? I think so. He acts like he did something noble, taking her upstairs and covering her up to sleep off the drunk. Why not get her out of there, get her home? Anything could’ve happened by leaving her there. He’s a rapist, gaslighting his victim.
Out of nowhere, Natalie decides she’s going home. She means out into the mist, with her husband. When one of the men tries stopping her, a bug flies into his ear. Then, perfectly, it bulges out of the moth tattoo on his back, splitting him open, sprouting the wings through his flesh. A swarm of bugs flying from his mouth. Almost more terrifying is how Natalie reacts, as if she’s seen a revelation. Although not one out of the Bible.
Natalie: “Its okay, I dont want to die anymore. Im happy. Ive seen God.”
The remaining soldier flips when he finds the games store dudes put the bodies out in the open, as an experiment. Gus finds out and he’s not entirely pleased, either. But there’s no bringing them back inside. Moreover, they need to “establish a set of rules.” This could be where things begin getting out of hand, when new rules are imposed on people. Might get tricky.
Pic 3The priest believes God’s testing their faith. Of course, what else would be think? He reels off the story of Job to Adrian, telling about the challenge of Satan to God. Et cetera, et cetera. Job prospered in patience, ever faithful. The kid’s reaching out for any kind of love, even if it’s the love of God. So long as it’s genuine. An interesting gay character I want to see more of throughout this season.
Mostly the new rules at the mall cover not stealing from the various shops, these types of things. Then one of the security guards decides anybody who “endangers the group” gets tossed. Jay’s writing down the rules, clearly a part of the new makeshift administration with Gus. So Eve isn’t having that. Neither is shopkeeper Raj Al-Fayed (Nabeel El Khafif), not wanting to see what the prejudice against someone like himself will produce. To get themselves in a more suitable position of power, Eve grabs the guard’s gun: “I always was an anarchist.” Nice fucking move, mom! This woman is a goddamn survivor.
Adrian decides he wants to be baptised in the church, which Father Romanov does gladly. Helping him accept the love of God into his heart. Now he’s repenting sins. However, things get sort of weird. As if the boy’s being turned inward on himself. Yet he manages to slip some keys out of the priest’s pocket. To help his friends in the basement. WHAT A SMOOTH CAT! Jesus, people are surprising me here in this episode. Dig it. Not only that, Kevin gets to lay a few punches in on the asshole cop Connor before their little group makes off out the doors.
At the mall, Alex works on notes to tie on a ton of balloons, they let them fly in the air outside to maybe reach help somewhere, to reach anybody and let them know survivors are there. Let’s hope Kevin and his friends get there soon. In one piece.
Pic 4I’ve got to say, The Mist is defying my personal expectations. I didn’t think it’d thrill me in the way it is already. First three episodes are fantastic, I look forward to the rest. These characters have drawn me in, their predicaments are compelling. Effects aren’t always perfect but they’re intense and imaginative at times so far, so that’s enough for me.
“Pequod” is the next episode and it’s sure to provide us with something wild again.

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The Mist – Season 1, Episode 2: “Withdrawal”

Spike’s The Mist
Season 1, Episode 2: “Withdrawal”
Directed by David Boyd
Written by Peter Macmanus

* For a recap & review of the pilot episode, click here.
* For a recap & review of the next episode, “Show and Tell” – click here
Pic 1SO MUCH TENSION in the pilot episode! Now, we’ve got people stuck in tight little places together, all their various beefs and tensions locked in there with them. Juicy, and scary.
Everybody more or less knows something sinister, something horrible lurks in the mist. Kevin (Morgan Spector), Bryan (Okezie Morro), Mia (Danica Curcic), and Adrian (Russell Posner) try to determine what they ought to do next. Kevin wants to go to the mall, to find his wife Eve (Alyssa Sutherland) and daughter Alex (Gus Birney). Meanwhile, big brave Connor (Darren Pettie), man of the law, left them at the station to run like a coward. He ends up having a moose crash right through his windshield, then must go the rest of the way on foot.
Poor Natalie (Frances Conroy), having watched as an unknown man blew her husband away, so Father Romanov (Dan Butler) comforts as much as he can. Nobody knows what’s going on. Not only has the mist crowded the land, it’s bringing an almost peak level of hysteria already.
Gus Bradley (Isiah Whitlock Jr), mall manager) asks Eve and Alex about what happened to the woman who went outside. Hard to explain, though she does. Nobody can tell what’s inside the mist. Only that it’s horrific. There are many people stuck in the mall. Gus makes sure nobody goes through the doors, locking them. All they can do now is sit tight, be safe. Awkwardly painful for Alex, as her accused rapist Jay (Luke Cosgrove) is in there, too.
Pic 2We see that habit of Mia kicking up. She’s obviously got dependency issues, looking for a few pills in the evidence locker. Wonder if she’ll cause a problem on the way to the mall, once they’re at the mall. Either way, Bryan finds her out, and he’s willing to help her. If she goes into withdrawals then it’s going to get ugly.
Eve and Alex and a woman named Kimmy go around helping to lock the doors at the mall. One of the hallways is “filled with mist” and there’s already a dead body. Not looking fucking good! There’s a radio in their security office. Only problem is it’s past the misty hall. People speculate whether this thing is natural, if it’s “terrorism” or who knows. It really doesn’t matter particularly, not at this point. All that matters is staying safe and survival.
They use a drone from one of the stores to get a look down the hall, Jay flies the unit on through. They locate another dead body; on the floor, something spelled out in blood. AMMO? ANNA? Now someone must go for the radio. Nobody exactly wants to volunteer. Therefore, they’ve got to a lottery-type draw.
Kevin and the others are trying to get out of the cop shop. They run for a cruiser outside, the longer they stop the more the mist envelopes them. Luckily, they’re able to get away. Although Mia’s starting to get the shakes, the sweats, not sure how long she’ll be good to drive. Someone stops them in the road, drawing a gun to steal the car. Rather than wait for anything to happen Mia runs the guy over. Before flipping the car in the road.
Nobody’s hurt too badly, which is the only saving grace. Yet the mist stats pushing in, cracking the window while they’re all stuck momentarily upside down. After they get out it’s either run or die. They flee towards the church bells ringing. Mia is about to go back for the guns when she comes across her dead mother in the mist, calling out to her; fuck that, go to the church!
Pic 3When they get inside Kevin confronts Connor, who ends up putting the cuffs on Mia. This guy’s a real piece of work. The cop blames them for taking too long, for Kevin staging a “prison break.” Truly he’s just a coward, doesn’t want to admit that. He’s meant to serve and protect. I guess that means only if he feels brave enough. We also see how lost Natalie is without her husband, lost in such a brutal, random killing.
Natalie: “Theres no spirit. Theres just nature. Theres here, and not here.”
At the mall, Eve is drawn in the lottery to go get the radio. One man refuses to let her go alone. They head downstairs, into the hallway, rushing through the mist. In the security room they get to the emergency radio. We gather this guy with Eve is a military man, he’s got a gun and knows more than it seems. She wants to get away, worried about being alone with him. She takes off, they end up wrestling in the mist. And she puts a bullet in him to escape before whatever’s in the mist can get her. Knowing she already has past issues with men, in some awful way, this can only exacerbate her fears. When she gets back to the others she says they lost each other down there, that the radio didn’t work. Shit, I hope that lie doesn’t come back to bite her hard.
Natalie finds some communion wine, to make a toast for Benedict. She talks about their lives together, the simple joys of their marriage. “We had money, but we never stopped drinking cheap wine.” It’s tragic. Everyone joins in for a toast, even those who didn’t know him well. Bryan gives a bit to Mia, to take the edge off. But there’s big trouble brewing between Connor and Kevin, they won’t last together under one roof for too long.
This is the first night in the mist. Everyone lays their head down with a wariness, that tomorrow might bring anything, and who knows what it’ll be, in what form. And life still goes on, people can’t turn their lives off just because of this incident. So all those tensions keep on rising. Not to mention, Bryan confirms to Mia she wasn’t having withdrawal when she saw her mother in the mist: “I saw her, too,” says Bryan.
In one of the mall bathrooms, Jay finds two people hanged by the neck from a pipe.
Screen Shot 2017-06-23 at 11.21.59 AMMan, I’m impressed. Not everything’s perfect, but it’s a great show so far! I’m eager for more. These first two episodes flow really well and the excitement’s growing. Bits and pieces of horror along the way. Like any good slice of Stephen King, what’s best are the characters, their lives, their stories, and how they react in these mortifying moments.
“Show and Tell” is next. Will we see more devastation? Count on it.

The Mist – Season 1, Episode 1: “Pilot”

Spike’s The Mist
Season 1, Episode 1: “Pilot”
Directed by Adam Bernstein
Written by Christian Torpe

* For a recap & review of the next episode, “Withdrawal” – click here
Pic 1Bryan Hunt (Okezie Morro) wakes in the woods with a dog named Rufus. It’s almost as if he isn’t sure he’s himself: “I am Bryan and you are Rufus,” he says assuring himself. All around him a fog, a thick mist wafts over the forest, over everything. The dog runs in and Bryan chases him. But inside the mist is something terrible, it guts the poor animal to nearly nothing, a pelt left and innards, blood splattered all over the ground.
A woman named Eve Copeland (Alyssa Sutherland) is chastised for teaching topics not meant to be covered in the curriculum at her school, such as sexual education. She’s taken it upon herself, since it was taken out, to teach it at her discretion. This lands her with a temporary leave from work. She and her husband Kevin (Morgan Spector) discuss things, deciding to take it all as it comes. They’ve got a good family, nice neighbours including Natalie Raven (Frances Conroy). It’s a typical small town, people watching the football game and cheering the local boys.
Then there’s Mia Lambert (Danica Curcic), being held in a barn by some man, having the shit kicked out of her. Calls her “junkie” and knocks her around. Before she stabs him in the gut with a pitchfork.
Christ, there’s a lot going on in this place. A town full of wild characters, normal characters, everything in between.
Pic 1AKevin and his family are interesting, he loves his wife and at the same time recognises she can be cold, particularly with their daughter Alex (Gus Birney). Later at a party when her father lets her go out, Alex and Adrian (Russell Posner) run into a bit of trouble. Until football nice guy Jay Heisel (Luke Cosgrove) jumps in to help Alex after another player calls him a “faggot” in front of everybody.
At the police station, Hunt runs in talking about “something in the mist” and his dead dog. He wants to get a gun, so they naturally believe he’s gone mad. Local cop Connor Heisel (Darren Pettie) throws him in a cell, as he raves about the thing in the most, that it’s coming for them.
Mia goes to her mother’s house, only it isn’t her place anymore. She’s dead, someone else lives there now. This woman’s got history, a deep and dark one. Look forward to seeing more of her. The characters in general are very quickly developed, well rounded, in the sense it’s easy to feel part of their lives. All the better for when the horror begins.
Problems start when Alex tells her parents she blacked out as someone led her upstairs at the party, after she was drinking. Fuck. Someone raped her. She blames herself, but mom assures her it isn’t her fault. Turns out Adrian knows what happened, claiming that Jay did it. Furthermore, Eve is pissed with her husband for letting their daughter go to that party. It’s nobody’s fault except for the dirty rapist.
The cops ask Bryan a few questions. He mentions he’s homeless, doesn’t remember his Social Security Number. They treat him like an asshole instead of being either bit understanding, throwing him up against the bars and acting aggressive. Ah, American law enforcement!
In her garden, Natalie sees a bunch of toads come out, other insects and things acting strangely, birds flying away from a patch of woods in the sky. An eerie omen.
Pic 2Tests at the hospital are tricky, confirming a drug in her system, meaning she was passed out. Although there’s no trauma, which of course in a fucking court would cast all kinds of doubt because humans are idiots. Meanwhile, Alex finds only slight comfort in Adrian at home. They know how the town will act in the face of football star Jay being accused, refusing to believe he could be anything but wonderful. A few jocks already vandalise the street outside with the word WHORE. Simultaneously, Connor coaches his son along. Sort of assuming he’s guilty, only telling him he won’t go to jail. Yikes. What a mess they’re into, all of them.
Mia’s broken into a barn out back of her mother’s, digging up a bag. The owner ambushes her, keeping her at gunpoint. She gets the drop on him, yet has to leave without her satchel of cash and passports and whatever else. Cops catch up with her, though. She’s thrown in prison right next to poor Bryan.
Eve wants to take her daughter out of the house, leaving Kevin behind. She doesn’t feel it’s safe there for Alex. Mom knows about “guys like Jay” and she needs to get them away from there, at least for a few days. All the while that mist keeps on creeping.
And Natalie, along with her reluctant husband Benedict (Derek McGrath), she’s a bit of a conspiracy nut. She’s reading up on things, on “nature turning sour.” She wonders if there’s a connection with what she saw earlier, looking at microfiche of newspaper from 1860.
Pic 3Outside the police station are noises, car horns and a crash. The mist is swallowing the town, opening wide above it and covering everything. Alex drops hints about her mother’s past, saying that the town knows she was a slut; prompts a strong reaction from Eve. Did something bad happen to her? With that mist growing, Kevin, Connor, the other officers, they’re clouded in it. Cell reception drops out. And one cop taking selfies in the foggy air meets a pack of bugs swarming him, devouring him.
People don’t know any better, so they head out into the mist. It’s so thick they literally can’t see more than several feet ahead of them. A man with a gun appears, not knowing if what he’s seeing is real before shooting Benedict right in the throat, sending Natalie off on her own, stumbling into the church to the arms of Father Romanov (Dan Butler).
Kevin and Connor are about to leave, but the former runs in to get Adrian. He’s left with the decision of leaving Bryan and Mia, or taking them, as well. Mia does a good job talking him into letting them go, clashing with the kid a bit first. She’s a bad motherfucker. Outside, Connor leaves them behind like a coward.
What we can see is all the conflict in the town that’s about to be stuck in close quarters, every hateful remark, every nasty rumour, every secret bound together in a tight spaces with others of the same kind. Whereas The Mist we know stuck to a smaller space, it looks as if – at least at first – some of the groups of people will be separated in various claustrophobic locations.
Pic 4One perk? A woman who says Alex “lied about getting raped” walks directly into the mist, like a dummy, and the people inside the shopping centre watch as she has half her face torn off, then gets sucked back into the mist by something unseen. SCARY, and holds a bit of retribution for that woman’s awfulness. Nothing any better at the station, as the officer covered in bugs barely has a face left, either. Mia has to put a bullet in his head, saving Kevin when the cop nearly thrashes him.
Only now they’re all stuck, the mist outside, and all their demons raging inside.
Pic 5Great first episode! Was quite wary when I heard about it, but I love Stephen King. Huge fan. This story was always a good one, very chilling and spooky. The film was great, so I’m now looking forward to what they’ll do with this season.
“Withdrawal” is next week. Honestly, I might have withdrawals until then. Because I’m revved up by this pilot.

The Walking Dead – Season 3, Episode 14: “Prey”

AMC’s The Walking Dead
Season 3, Episode 14: “Prey”
Directed by Stefan Schwartz
Written by Glen Mazzara & Evan T. Reilly

* For a recap & review of the previous episode, “Arrow on the Doorpost” – click here
* For a recap & review of the penultimate Season 3 episode, “This Sorrowful Life” – click here
IMG_0095We see Andrea (Laurie Holden) and Michonne (Danai Gurira) in the forest, before, when they were travelling together. Andrea starts asking about the leashed walkers, asking if she knew them, which Michonne confirms: “They deserve what they get, they werent human to begin with,” she says.
Back in Woodbury, the Governonr (David Morrissey) prepares his own chains, to hold and keep someone firmly in place. For some of his darkest plans yet.
IMG_0096Caesar (Jose Pablo Cantillo) is doing his boss’ bidding, assembling weapons and people to head for the prison. Milton (Dallas Roberts) thinks it’s a “show of force.” For her part, Andrea believes otherwise. She knows there’s something not right. But then again, so does Milton. He sees the Governor falling apart in terrifying shambles. Likely with no way to stop it, either.
What Milton discovers is that Michonne is slated to be put in that chair, and much worse. When Andrea finds out she’s rightfully shocked. Milton shows her the room, the chair, all the nasty tools prepared for her friend. He asks her to go tell the people at the prison to get away. She’d rather kill the Governor, when she’s had so many chances before.
Andrea winds up slipping past Tyreese (Chad Coleman) and Sasha (Sonequa Martin-Green) while they watch the wall, shooting walkers. They’re good people, which is already clear, so they don’t give her too much grief; they’re not the authoritarians in Woodbury. When the Governor finds out Andrea’s gone he tries making out he’s only concerned for her, though he worries she’s up to something else. He tries not to worry Tyreese and Sasha. It’s clear they know Woodbury isn’t all it’s cracked up to be.
Alone, Andrea makes her way for the prison, as she hears vehicles scouring the road to locate her. If anybody’s good at surviving on her own, it’s her.
IMG_0097Tyreese and Sasha find out more about Woodbury when they go help Caesar. They see a pit of walkers in a field. A preparation for when they head for the prison, apparently. More to release upon Rick and his people. “This is sick,” says Tyreese. He refuses to take part while one of the others from his group hops on board real quick. The two men end up fighting and Tyreese nearly feeds him to the pit, before letting him go. More and more, the brother and sister pair see things they don’t like in their new camp.
Out on the plains Andrea is nearly found by another patrol. She hides as best she can before anyone sees her. But the Governor comes a-callin’, trying to stop her from running back to her former group. She makes away into the trees before he can catch up. After another while she comes to a set of buildings where she hides. He almost finds her, he begs her to come back to Woodbury, pleading in the dark. I don’t see that working, buddy. Instead of wait patiently he smashes anything he can find to try flushing her out. They come face to face after not too long. She doesn’t decide on going home. She locks him in a room with a horde of walkers, leaving him behind.
IMG_0101After so much bullshit, Andrea gets back to the prison. In the tower Rick (Andrew Lincoln) almost spies her, before the Governor sneaks up. He’s caught her, and so close to where she was headed. Meanwhile, the walker pits near Woodbury are scorched, the zombies melted in a pile. Someone’s been naughty.
The Governor arrives back at Woodbury to hear Tyreese and Sasha are under suspicion. He also curiously doesn’t tell Caesar he found Andrea. He heads over to talk with Tyreese and their group, smoothing things out, placating with lies. For now, they agree to stay and not cause any trouble. Because they didn’t cause any to start. Hmm; my guess is Mr. Milton Mamet.
The chair, lacking Michonne, has now been occupied by Andrea. Oh shit.
IMG_0104A gritty, creepy, intense episode. Love it. Next is “This Sorrowful Life” and there’s a ton more intensity to come as we get closer to the Season 3 finale.

Outcast – Season 2, Episode 9: “This Is How It Starts”

Cinemax’s Outcast
Season 2, Episode 9: “This Is How It Starts”
Directed by Howard Deutch
Written by Adam Targum

* For a recap & review of the previous episode, “Mercy” – click here
* For a recap & review of the Season 2 finale, “To the Sea” – click here
Pic 1Dr. Kenneth Park (Hoon Lee) notices a sore on his human suit, so he slices open the skin to take care of that pesky blemish, only a reminder that it’s either rot away as a human being, try to wait out until the Great Merge, or find another way. He’s definitely determined to figure out something else, though it’s obvious his time is numbered as a flesh and blood mortal. Poor demon.
Byron Giles (Reg E. Cathey) is busy taking care of his wonderful wife Rose (Charmin Lee) and their property. After having to do what was needed. But I wonder how long they can live like this, particularly when it comes to their consciences. Neither of them are happy with what’s happened; she takes it hardest after having to kill her best friend Kat Ogden.
Then there’s Allison Barnes (Kate Lyn Sheil) and her daughter Amber (Madeleine McGraw), sitting in a motel room and waiting for Junkyard Bob (M.C. Gainey) to show up. He assures her they need to stay put, occupy time, take care of themselves. All the while Kyle (Patrick Fugit) and Reverend Anderson (Philip Glenister) are up at the Lighthouse in that cellar, Sidney (Brent Spiner) strapped to a chair, bleeding, coughing. “Youre never gonna see your Merge,” the outcast taunts him. However, there are other things at play. That white-haired devil didn’t come to Rome to find Kyle.
So who exactly does he need to bring on the Great Merge? Might that be Simon Barnes. It’s likely who we saw at the end of last episode, the one who took Sarah Barnes (Julia Crockett) from the hospital. None other than C. Thomas Howell himself.
Pic 1APoor Megan Holter (Wrenn Schmidt). In all this it’s easy to forget she’s also a widow, the demon inside her having taken her husband brutally. Now she’s also got trouble at the Lighthouse, with Dakota (Madelyn Deutch), after the death of the woman trying to do some strange shit with her fetus. At the hands of Blake Morrow (Lee Tergesen). Doesn’t help that Anderson and Megan figure out that the Lighthouse is, essentially, a doomsday cult at its core, and Dakota’s leading them all in preparation for The Apocalypse.
Meanwhile, Byron’s worried for Rose. Might just be she’s only got a flu. Or is it that there’s a demon taking hold? He calls Kyle, in the meantime he cares for his wife. “This is how it starts, isnt it?” she asks. “This aint that,” he tries telling her. Oh, my. I hope something tragic won’t happen. Christ, I can’t handle losing Rosie! For now she asks to be tied up, just in case.
And on the road, after Bob’s truck gives out, an unsuspecting Kyle gets knocked unconscious by Blake Morrow.
Allison talks more with Amber about “the monsters” and how she can “push them” out of other people. The little girl talks about how it isn’t so much that she loves her father more, she loves them alike. Amber says being with her father is like “a pool” of strength, which is the only reason she prefers being with him more. Best part is mom comes to feel vindicated about the abuse in their family past, as her daughter explains she knew that her mother was still inside while the demon worked its terrible ways.
Taken hostage, Kyle is at the mercy of Blake. The demon is pissed, he feels there’s nothing good ahead for him or his buddies. He wants to know more from the outcast, and starts by strangling him a bit.
At the motel, Amber hears a knock at the door while her mom showers. Housekeeping, they say. Even if it isn’t, I’ll never bet against young Ms. Barnes. She is an ass kickin’, demon killin’, tough cookie.
The insanity goes up a notch with Blake stalking around the house, beating the young women at his side, with Kyle chained and sitting on the floor forced to listen to his ranting. “Ive been following the wrong Beacon,” he says. He’s looking for Amber, she is the one who will slam the door in the demons faces. Yet Kyle and the young women fight to escape Blake’s clutches. She helps free him and then the outcast wrestles in a savage brawl with their captor. But Blake winds up escaping him in the end.
Back at the Giles place, Rose’s fever is gone. She feels great, and Byron is beyond ecstatic. He tries to tell her they’ve got to do certain things while at war. And they’re certainly at war with those wretched devils. I’m not so sure I believe Rose, though. I’m afraid she’s fixing to do something; something I ain’t gonna like. Later Byron finds her in the yard having hung herself from a small tree. He tries saving her. No luck.
Pic 2Megan packs up her daughter Holly, looking to hit the road. Anderson doesn’t stop her. He encourages her to leave before things get too wild. A tough road ahead, no doubt. I keep wondering about the Rev, if he’ll find his faith again wholly or if he’ll be forever ruined by his experiences in Rome.
Bob gets back to check on Allison, finding the room open. The shower’s running. Nobody there he can find. Uh oh.
And Sidney, well, he’s got himself free from the Lighthouse cellar. Plus, he’s downed Anderson temporarily. Although he isn’t doing so hot, that cough only gets worse by the minute. He manages to stumble out into the woods once more. Until Anderson finds him again putting a bullet in his leg. Tough bastard. Kyle shows up and has to stop the Rev from killing Sidney, wanting to know why his daughter’s so special. All Sidney can say before he dies is “You lose, Kyle.”
Finally, Simon Barnes arrives to the Lighthouse. To greet his followers, his son, and expel Anderson for what he’s done. It’s not such a happy reunion for Kyle, he isn’t thrilled to see his long lost father show up from out of nowhere. Most of all, he’s unsure of what’s next more than ever before.
Pic 3At a gas station Megan is headed off by Dr. Park, he wants a chat. She’s got life growing inside her. A life that Blake told him of, now the one-man council is looking forward to the birth. They all are, in fact. This is fucking terrifying stuff, we’re standing on the precipice of a horrific prospect in this revelation.
Anderson wanders back to his church, to find somewhere safe to lay his head. Everyone there’s been rocked since the last town hall. They need hope. And now they want their old Rev to show them the way towards the light. Is this how he finds his way back? Can he?
Pic 4BAM!
This episode had such an impact, man. The character development across the two seasons of this series is fantastic writing at work. If Cinemax doesn’t renew this for at least another season, they are insane. The family connections appearing more and more with Amber, the reappearance of the previously in-hiding Simon Barnes, they’re so thrilling. Such an exciting, fresh look at demonic possession.
“To the Sea” is the Season 2 finale next week. We’re in for a real treat, too.

Outcast – Season 2, Episode 8: “Mercy”

Cinemax’s Outcast
Season 2, Episode 8: “Mercy”
Directed by Daisy Von Scherler Mayer
Written by Jeff Vlaming

* For a recap & review of the previous episode, “Alone When It Comes” – click here
* For a recap & review of the penultimate Season 2 episode, “This Is How It Starts” – click here
Pic 1For the first time in so long, we see Blake Morrow (Lee Tergesen) in his jail cell. He’s worried. “Its not supposed to be like this,” he laments after a fleeting vision of Kyle Barnes (Patrick Fugit), a.k.a “The one who ends it all.” He warns everything’s about to end. To others, the rantings of a crazy man.
And who’s there witnessing his death in the small audience? Dr. Park (Hoon Lee). Hmm. I’m continually interested in the doctor, and we keep getting more.
Pic 1AKyle worries about his sister Megan (Wrenn Schmidt). But he ain’t doin’ so hot, either. His wound isn’t altogether healed, not by a long shot. He goes back over to the hospital to try finding help under the radar. He finds one of the demon host doctors and strong arms her into stitching him closed. Not long after when he can’t find his mother Kyle winds up getting arrested.
At the same time, Reverend Anderson (Philip Glenister) wants to get his hands on Sidney (Brent Spiner). Although Dakota (Madelyn Deutch) wants to go for a softer approach. She wants to get all the information she can from him instead of letting the rev get too handsy. Anderson manages to get down in the cellar with Sidney, taunting and toying.
So Blake isn’t dead. Not anymore. Park’s brought him back, he has a purpose for the man surely. Hoping to figure things out before the Great Merge comes down. To find out how they can live in the world as they are without having to use humans as hosts.
At least Kyle wasn’t actually arrested. It’s a friend of former Chief Byron Giles (Reg E. Cathey) who picked him up as a favour. Now, these two are trying to figure out what to do next, and Kyle wants to follow the steps of his father before him, as well as see what the people from the Lighthouse know. Added to that Junkyard Bob (M.C. Gainey) is suiting the Giles’ up with ammunition and guns.
Kyle: “It wasnt you
Byron: “Fuck that excuse, it was me. I shouldve been stronger.”
Moreover, we now discover that the demons they have a “collective memory” which Blake is out around Rome trying to tap into so he can find Kyle.
Pic 2Soon enough Megan runs into Blake. He says he was saved by Anderson and Kyle. So now he’s going to find out exactly where one of them is for certain. Shiit. Meanwhile, Kyle looks through the van Bob buried, the corpse inside. Turns out that Helen Devere “needed their light” and stole it from the beacons, like Simon Barnes and his son Kyle, now little Amber. Then Simon mercy killed the damaged beacons. That’s a YIKES moment if I’ve ever seen one.
At the Lighthouse, Megan arrives with Blake in tow. He then ends up talking to young Holly, they bond briefly. Right as soon as Kyle himself shows up. Bigger things are happening at the moment, too. Nobody can coax Anderson out so Kyle finally gets the job done, and they find a butchered Sidney inside, bloody and weak. Alive, though.
When Megan goes to the doctor she’s sent to see, she starts feeling strange. The woman tells her: “We are the chosen ones.” Ugh, this isn’t sounding good at all.
At home, Byron and Rose have dinner by candlelight. Their lives are much more worrisome as of late. They’re posted up with lots of guns. Doesn’t stop Nunez from lurking around outside, threatening him. So he blows her foot off before putting a bullet through her neck. Hot damn, Byron!
Pic 3Before the supposed doctor can do something terrible to Megan, she’s interrupted by Blake. Who strangles the woman to death and saves the day. Is he going to use this AND Megan as leverage over Kyle?
Speaking of, Kyle’s figuring out what they ought to do with Sidney. The white-haired devil talks about the man he chose as a host, a serial killer apparently. Then says the outcast can help him and the others change the world. Yeah, that sounds great.
Over at the coffee shop, Dr. Park and the rest of the council meet once again. Talking of Sidney and his big talk/no action. The doc has his own design on what they need: “Fuck the merge. No, to finally crawl out of the shadows,” this is his plan. Not only that he’s poisoned the other council members. Mutiny is right.
And where’s Sarah Barnes? She’s lying in a bed. Cared for by a man (C. Thomas Howell). Is this the long lost Simon Barnes? If so, whoooooa.
Pic 4Another fine chapter in Season 2. Love that Howell is part of the cast, he’s an awesome character actor with lots of good television roles under his belt over the past decade. Can’t wait for “This Is How It Starts” – the penultimate episode of the season. And Cinemax, you best be ready with that renewal pen; or else!

Unpacking the Puzzle of TWIN PEAKS: FIRE WALK WITH ME + MISSING PIECES

Twin Peaks: Fire Walk With Me. 1992. Directed by David Lynch. Screenplay by Lynch & Robert Engels.
Starring Sheryl Lee, Ray Wise, Madchen Amick, Dana Ashbrook, Phoebe Augustine, David Bowie, Miguel Ferrer, Pamela Gidley, Heather Graham, Chris Isaak, Moira Kelly, David Lynch, James Marshall, Harry Dean Stanton, Kiefer Sutherland, Grace Zabriskie, Kyle MacLachlan, Frances Bay, Michael J. Anderson, Frank Silva, Al Strobel, Calvin Lockhart, & Carlton Lee Russell.
New Line Cinema/CiBy 2000/Twin Peaks Productions
Rated R. 135 minutes.
Drama/Fantasy/Horror/Mystery/Thriller

★★★★★
PosterTwin Peaks as a series was, at the core, about very human issues; no matter the dreamy qualities. David Lynch has spent his entire career mainly dealing in surrealism. His aim is the human mind. Far out in the stratosphere as his imagery can get there’s always that humanity. I’ve attributed it to the spiritual nature of his filmmaking. Not religious: spiritual.
Lynch’s interest in things like transcendental meditation and other abstract concepts shows us how he thinks within his creative works. In this vein, Twin Peaks: Fire Walk With MeMissing Pieces, and the various surreal scenes throughout the series – continuing now in “The Return” – are a way to understand how Lynch sees the concepts of good and evil particularly amongst human beings.
What Fire Walk With MeMissing Pieces does is serve as the sort of thesis for the entire world of Twin Peaks as a whole. Even though it comes later in non-linear fashion, when considering the film and its previously unreleased scenes this thesis becomes clear in the mind and then you can go back watching the two seasons – now blessed with another 18 episodes – to connect the dots which Lynch allows.
At the middle of the mysticism, mythology, its quirky and surreal esoteric nature, is the story of Laura Palmer (Sheryl Lee). We venture into a tortured world – HER tortured world – in which the spiritual plays a large part. Specifically, we see how evil influence plays a macabre role in the corruption of goodness, of everything that is sweet and innocent.
IMG_0039I get that people feel the film is disjointed. It’s disjointed in a purposeful sense. Lynch and co-writer Robert Engels begin with groundwork. Literally, we start with the investigation into the murder of Teresa Banks (Pamela Gidley) – this is the case similar to Laura’s which Agent Dale Cooper (Kyle MacLachlan) mentions in the initial Twin Peaks episode. Through this, as we catch the story of Agent Chester Desmond (Chris Isaak), we come across several of the basic concepts that come together throughout the series.
Electricity as an outside influence is constructed as corrupting. Within the Douglas fir-infested world of the town, all the beautiful and isolated nature, electricity comes to symbolise an evil seeping into the natural world. Lynch presents this literally with the inhabiting spirits, such as the nasty, murderous Bob (Frank Silva).
The most significant scene concerning this is twofold. First, we see the electrical pole in the trailer park with the sound of the electricity whooping through its wires. Not long after, we see the Man from Another Place (Michael J. Anderson) explain he is “the Arm” and his sound is that of the electricity; not just that, the sound is similar to a Native American call which suggests further connection to the Earth.
The first instance of electricity? When Cooper initially looks at the body of Laura in the morgue, where he realises the similarities with the murder of Ms. Banks. A light overhead flickers constantly.
RingIn addition there’s other moments which add up to show us how electricity is the major concept concerning spiritual beings in the Black Lodge. For instance, the owl ring we see Laura and Teresa wear is connected to electricity. The Man from Another Place says: “This is a formica table. Green is its colour.” Well, formica insulates from electricity. The owl ring is cut from that very table, which can be seen during both Fire Walk With Me and Missing Pieces when Lynch treats us to a lengthy sequence above the fabled convenience store, where the beings have their meetings (see table below).
Formica Table #2 - Ring Piece MissingSo, wearing the ring is a kind of double-edged sword. It’s a marker to the evil beings, like Bob, and at the same time it’s able to keep the evil from entering them. We see this when Laura wears the ring. Bob lusts after her, wanting to “taste” through her. But he can’t because the formica owl ring pushes him back, insulating Laura’s soul from being inhabited by Bob. This makes it further clear that the spiritual beings – this includes all those above the convenience store, including the Man from Another Place, Mrs. Tremond(/Chalfont) and her grandson, the electrician, the two lumberjacks (one of whom may likely be the Log Lady’s husband) – they don’t only travel through electricity, in a sense they consist of electricity. Which is why Bob cannot enter those who bear the owl ring.
Now, on to the specifically evil beings a bit more. There’s a passage from the Bible, Ephesians 6:12, which references “spiritual wickedness in high places” and this is better understood in consideration of Greek origins . Mainly I’m interested in the fact evil spirits and the devil come from the air, if we go by the Greeks. All spirits come from the air, though the higher air is where the good sit and the lower air is where the evil lurk. This all comes to bear on the lines from the Man from Another Place, once more: “Descended from pure air. Intercourse between the two worlds.”
Furthermore, we know from seeing the various spiritual beings not all of them are evil. Above all it’s Bob who is for certain an evil spirit, as well as the Jumping Man (Carlton Lee Russell) – whom I will discuss later. So the distinctions of the Greeks in seeing evil v. good spirits in the air (this air, I should note, is that directly below Heaven) is clear by the evil and good spiritual beings who frequent the Black Lodge and the room above the convenience store.
Jumping Man FWWMThe good v. evil spiritual beings isn’t only evident in Fire Walk With Me. During the series, Coop comes in contact with the One Armed Man, Phillip Gerard (Al Strobel). He admits to having been corrupted by Bob – “I too had been touched by the devilish one” – though coming to his senses and to the light of God, which changes him. He becomes an agent of good.
However, Mrs. Tremond and her grandson can be seen as at least a neutral force. They come in contact with Laura, and the boy warns her about “the man behind the mask.” Now this is a larger connection, which I believe involves the aforementioned Jumping Man. We have to unpack this, could take a minute.
Masks. Masks. Masks. Don’t forget, Windom Earle (Kenneth Welsh) leaves a mask for Coop in his hotel room in Season 2, Episode 15. This now relates incredibly to the first episode of the new Twin Peaks where Laura removes her face exactly like the way the mask opens in a flash of light for Coop.
So, the man behind the mask young Tremond speaks of is Bob, because we know he was the one “under the fan” – a reference to the staircase and hallway in the Palmer household. This is where Laura feels Bob pull at her, wanting to taste through her mouth. The Jumping Man connects because he has a similar face to the mask young Tremond wears, only his isn’t so much a mask, rather a face; or at least a painted face. Either way it’s as if the Jumping Man is an entirely demonic influence. Whether he’s connected to Bob, I don’t know. The Jumping Man appears dressed similarly to the Man from Another Place, suggesting a doppelganger-type issue.
Also, the Log Lady has a connection to the Jumping Man and the lumberjacks, at least possibly. She mentions in the series how her husband “met the devil” and she continues: “Fire is the devil like a coward hiding in the smoke.” We see the Jumping Man who jumps off and onto a box, partly obscured in clouds of smoke. Likewise, the Log Lady’s husband, a logging man, supposedly met the devil. Not far fetched to imagine that one of the lumberjacks, likely the one played by Jürgen Prochnow, is now a spiritual being up there. Maybe.
Man Behind the Mask FWWMFinally, we come to the human core. Even before we fall into the morbid story of Laura Palmer, Lynch shows us how even the heaviest mythology of Twin Peaks involves humanity. The convenience store is perhaps the best example. While Lynch explores these expansive concepts, existential thinking at the highest level, he remains connected to the real world, rooted in it – these spiritual beings not only look just like humans, they meet in a shabby room situated over a convenience store. In the real world Mrs. Tremond(/Chalfont) and her grandson live in a trailer park. These are ways in which Lynch says that the spiritual and the corporeal are interconnected, by barely a hair’s width. Living right alongside one another, on top of each other.
So it all winds up, all the mythology and the symbolism, into a tale about abuse in a small town, in an otherwise happy family. That outside influence of the unnatural, the evil influence, the electricity, infects the Palmers and eventually drives Leland (Ray Wise) to commit a horrible atrocity.
Part of the disturbing genius in Fire Walk With Me is Lynch makes us sit through Laura’s episode of, for better or worse, mental illness. It’s maybe the most harrowing, intense vision of such an experience in any film I know. Because it is genuine torture, watching Laura bounce back and forth between friends, family, foes, strangers. Never able to explain to anyone exactly what is going on, and even when she does it’s passed off as “not real” by those who couldn’t possibly comprehend her level of spiritual strife.
Laura Palmer Dead FaceAnd this is the bottom line, the chief concern of the film’s thesis statement: spiritual, existential pain.
Lynch’s own interests in transcendental meditation belie his interests on film. Through the story of Laura Palmer, her eventual murder and the forces surrounding the town of Twin Peaks, Lynch is able to address the concept of existential/spiritual pain, how the outside world infects the natural world around us – even inside us.
On one hand, Twin Peaks as a series bounces around joyfully from soap opera romance to 1950s throwback to horror to science fiction and fantasy, and almost every stop in between. For me, it’s exciting and fresh. When I first saw the series 16 years ago it enthralled me and I never let it go from my heart or my mind. On the other hand, Fire Walk With Me and its Missing Pieces are an exercise in dark surrealism and Greek tragedy. This is a macabre, gruelling piece of cinema. One which holds so much more than even casual fans of the series are likely to appreciate.
Soon enough I’ll come back to discuss the original series and its two seasons. If anyone has any further theories, please comment below! For now these stand as my clearest thoughts on the film. But Twin Peaks in all its forms is never far from my mind.

Outcast – Season 2, Episode 6: “Fireflies”

Cinemax’s Outcast
Season 2, Episode 6: “Fireflies”
Directed by Fernando Coimbra
Written by Sarah Byrd

* For a recap & review of the previous episode, “The Common Good” – click here
* For a recap & review of the next episode, “Alone When It Comes” – click here
Pic 1Kyle Barnes (Patrick Fugit) is being worked on in the ER at the hospital, Dr. Park (Hoon Lee) and others work tirelessly to figure out where the bleeding’s coming from, how to stop it. They start losing him.
Then he wakes in an empty room. He’s okay. In a room he finds his mother Sarah (Julia Crockett), wondering if he’s dead. He apologises to his mother for not saving her. But she refuses to let him take responsibility. “You were given the power to stop this but you werent up for the job,” says his mother, scolding him for not beating the demon in Chief Giles (Reg E. Cathey). She grabs him by the throat. A pillar of fire bursts out of his mouth.
This series keeps getting more interesting by the episode!
Pic 1AWhile her dad is in the hospital, Amber (Madeleine McGraw) eats junk from the vending machine with Rev. John Anderson (Philip Glenister). She’s an inquisitive little lady: “Sometimes I wish adults would talk to me like they talk to each other.” This gets the truth out of the Rev, admitting he’s scared. He also discovers that Amber has the same power as her father.
This whole situation is bringing everyone together who haven’t been together in a long time. Allison (Kate Lyn Sheil) and Megan (Wrenn Schmidt) wait to hear about Kyle, as Dr. Park delivers the news: he died. Everyone is rightfully devastated.
Byron and Rosie Giles (Charmin Lee) deal with the aftermath of his brief possession. He’s no longer the chief, at least for now. He worries worse than ever about his situation, about Rome; with Kyle gone it’s much harder. For her part, Rosie doesn’t believe they can give up.
In other news, Sidney (Brent Spiner) and Aaron (C.J. Hoff) use the home of Evelyn to hide out while they do their work. The young man isn’t particularly easy to control, even for a force like the white-haired devil. Although he has a few surprises for his time in that “deep fried shit bucket” of a town. We find that 30 years ago a woman named Helen Devere was waiting for “The Great Merge” in Rome. She might’ve found a shortcut to get there. Apparently involving a young kid Sidney has stuffed in his trunk.
What’s interesting is seeing the other characters while Kyle is, temporarily, dead. We know he’s coming back. So does his daughter Amber. She isn’t fretting like the others, not like mom or aunt Megan. The girl has intuition, she’s like her father. At the same time Allison blames herself for all that’s happened to her estranged husband, though Megan assures her she is nowhere near the one to blame.
Megan: “The biggest mistake we made was not believing him
Pic 2In another place, Kyle wakes from his hospital bed, still attached to an IV. Locked inside a recovery room. Unable to leave.
In the real world, Rev. Anderson goes to Giles about Mayor Owen’s death at the hands of Sidney and Aaron. He’s not willing to go silently and let demons overtake the town. He mentions the Lighthouse, someone with the same powers as Kyle being at that meeting the previous night. Sadly, Byron’s on the verge of giving up entirely.
Megan’s busy trying to convince Allison about the truth of Kyle, the demonic influence in Rome. She likewise reveals what happened to her husband Mark, what Kyle pulled out of Giles, so on. Not an easy pill to swallow, especially considering Allison’s been on the mental ward for so long receiving treatment when it’s, all along, been a devilish power.
Into the Lighthouse goes Anderson, looking for Dakota (Madelyn Deutch). He wants to know who was there with the other power. He wants to save their West Virginia town. She asks about Kyle, finding out of his death, which shakes her. When the Rev leaves she texts someone needing to talk about the Outcast.
Speaking of him, he’s looking for a way out of that room. Stuck in a limbo. He hears someone coming and gets back in bed. It’s none other than Sidney, who isn’t doing so hot himself with that nasty cough, spurting black liquid. He talks to Kyle about remaking the world, a time when they won’t require human bodies anymore. They end up wrestling, Kyle laying hands on him momentarily and nearly pulling that tar from him. But Sidney gets a few fingers in his wound and staves off more coughing, more fighting.
Aaron talks to the kid Sidney brought around. Taunting. He’s jealous, wanting to become a demon, assuming this is what’s planned for the boy. I see trouble coming.
Pic 4There’s still tough times with Allison ahead, she can’t accept what’s going on around there. Anderson tries convincing her more, then finds out Dr. Park worked on Kyle; he knows the doctor is one of them. And poor Kyle, he’s taken care of by some other doctor in that limbo hospital. He stabs the guy and gets free of the room finally, finding only a dark, dreary basement. Meanwhile, Amber senses something when she and the grownups go to the hospital; she walks through the halls alone as they argue with Dr. Park.
Through the building Amber goes, as if following a scent. She finds the old wing of the hospital, sealed behind a locked door. The girl tells them her dad’s behind it. From the other side Kyle hears his wife, his daughter. Then Amber grabs hold of Park by the arm, his skin singing under her touch. He gives up the keys and they unlock Kyle from that forced limbo. Dead no longer.
Amber: “Fireflies can see other fireflies
At Evelyn’s place, Sidney discovers Aaron bled the boy out on the floor like a pig. He’s not a demon, but a true psychopath, that’s for sure. His master isn’t impressed. The boy was supposed to help speed up Aaron’s transformation. Oh, my.
Pic 5Rosie goes to see Evelyn for a chat. About Byron and Evelyn’s husband. She wants to figure out how to have a fulfilling life with her husband, a true retirement. First step? Blowing Evelyn’s head off. WHOOOOOOOA, ROSIE! You bad.
With Aaron ready to crossover into demonhood, Sidney starts the process. The young man closes his eyes, reading himself, as the master readies something else for him altogether.
Screen Shot 2017-05-10 at 3.12.25 PMMan, after most episodes of the shows I love I always say that they’re spectacular, even with a few flaws. This is one flawless piece of television. The writing is downright perfect, to me. Loved this whole chapter, with Kyle in that old wing of the hospital and you weren’t sure if he was actually dead, floating in a real limbo, or if locked away by the hand of the demons. AMAZING!
Next up is “Alone When It Comes” and I’m interested to see how Amber, Allison, and Kyle move forward as a family now that they’re all on the same page, Megan and Anderson included.

Outcast – Season 2, Episode 5: “The Common Good”

Cinemax’s Outcast
Season 2, Episode 5: “The Common Good”
Directed by Ti West
Written by Chris Black & Adam Targum

* For a recap & review of the previous episode, “The One I’d Be Waiting For” – click here
* For a recap & review of the next episode, “Fireflies” – click here
Pic 1Flashback to Simon Barnes (Justin Randell Brooke) and the ‘work’ he was doing. We see that Simon has the same power as his son Kyle (Patrick Fugit) would later inherit. Although the father tried he couldn’t figure out how to stop “the Great Merge” as the woman calls it before biting off her own tongue. Demonic possession at its finest.
And years later, Kyle stands in the midst of that same room where his father and Junkyard Bob Caldwell (M.C. Gainey) tried to purge Rome of the coming infestation. Will he carry on the legacy, still? Or change his ways to save their little West Virginia town?
Pic 1AAllison (Kate Lyn Sheil) is still at the hospital, taking her medications and doing as she should to get better. She looks vacant, as if her entire soul is sucked out. But she does keep a picture under her pillow to remind herself of her daughter, life outside those crazy walls. Problem is there’s a whole other issue of the possessed going on at the hospital, a mini-infestation within the town. A microcosm of the horror going on  all over. A creepy patient at the hospital mentions Allison’s “little firefly” and then disappears in the darkness. Terrifying.
In other news, Megan Holter (Wrenn Schmidt) is suffering at home with her mother Jeanne (Kathleen York) with all her overbearing Christianity. Not just that. When Kyle comes to see her, Megan says she can’t be around him. Her daughter Holly believes in the demons, all the madness swirling around their family. And though it hurts, Kyle knows what’s best for those around him. Unfortunately that means distance.
Chief Byron Giles (Reg E. Cathey) has his hands full, too. The police station is overrun with people worried about devil worship, sacrifice, inexplicable violence. They want truth about what’s been happening after Patricia was murdered so viciously. Giles settles everyone down, but there’s a lot of unrest. Least he has a strong, good woman like Rosie (Charmin Lee) behind him. She’s willing to star investigating all the wildness, and he’s rightfully concerned. He wants to make sure they know who’s the problem, who’s infected with demonic presence, or else it might cause people to turn on one another.
Giles: “We have to get the right ones before we really start to get our hands dirty
Pic 2At the hospital, Allison worries about the strangeness she’s seen. The eerie patient with the beanie speaking of her daughter. A boy locked in a cell, even though they don’t treat children in that facility. She talks with the doctor, whose disposition doesn’t seem altogether friendly or helpful. There’s definitely trouble rising at that place.
Sidney (Brent Spiner) is doing his thing up in that barn, preparing for whatever comes next. He receives a visit from Mayor Owen Boyd (Toby Huss), asking about the coming plans, Patricia’s boy. What the mayor hears isn’t exactly comforting, either. More so chilling. Sidney is a fiery, yet cool customer. A dangerous entity.
And what about The Beacon? Reverend Anderson (Philip Glenister) goes back up to see what’s going on at their backwoods cathedral, met by Dakota (Madelyn Deutch) whom he last talked to when he showed up. She paints a different picture of their worship than what he previously imagined. She reveals a mark on her back; previously possessed and then saved by somebody. Could they be people healed by Simon?
With Jeanne and her father Doug (David Alexander), Megan finally reveals to them what Donnie did to her those years, raping her in the house as they did “nothinbut go to church” and ignore the problems going on under their nose. All the while, a fly buzzes near, and we can definitely tell more and more that Megan isn’t free of her demonic passenger.
Back in town, the Chief and Kyle finds Mayor Boyd calling a town meeting to discuss how things are being handled by the authorities. Ah, the influence of Sidney is seeping further into the people, the citizens of Rome. Boyd wants Giles to go get Sidney. Although we can be sure this is a trap of nasty proportions. Simultaneously, Sidney is helping peel the dead skin off Aaron’s (C.J. Hoff) back, training him to be worse, more evil by the minute. Like an apprenticeship in terror.
Sidney: “Power is meaningless if you cant apply it judiciously, when it has a purpose.”


That night Boyd leads Giles and Kyle to where the devil lurks up in that barn. They head inside only to find that the mayor is one of those demons. He isn’t like the others, at least he pretends he isn’t; he thinks Sidney is a psycho. Furthermore, he makes a deal with Kyle: take care of Sidney, the demons will leave him and his family alone. We find out more about the world of the demons, that it’s been “collapsing” for a long while. They’re trying to find a new home.
Bob runs into Aaron, and he isn’t afraid of the kid. Even with a gun in his hand: “Big gun for a little turd.” Suddenly, Sidney shows up and puts Bob in a predicament. He wants to know about the secrets Bob found out. With more pressure on him, he gives up that the demons were made more powerful by the beacons, people such as Kyle, and of course we know his father was one, as well.
The town meeting is called and everyone arrives at Rome Elementary. Now, Giles tells his wife they’ll have to get their hands dirty; no longer can they easily suss out who is a demon, who is not. Mayor Boyd gives his speech to the citizens trying to assure them things will work out fine. While Kyle sits in the audience he looks around and feels unease in the eyes of the people. Moreover, Boyd announces that Giles is stepping down, and Office Nunez is interim chief. Uh oh!
Pic 4Byron storms the mic to say his piece. While he does a cough overtakes him, he then hits the floor. Rose runs up and gets tossed aside by the mayor. People block Kyle from going up. The demons are loose! He and the Rev fight through using Kyle’s power and then Giles is gone. Whoa, this is not good. They locate him on a school bus out back. He isn’t well, becoming violent. Kyle goes to touch him and takes a stab in the gut.
We also come to know there is another, like Kyle. He was present in the meeting. But whom? Is it Kyle’s daughter Amber? Is someone else hiding amongst the townspeople?
Anderson comes to help Kyle. They wrestle with the possessed Giles. Soon, Kyle is ripped up into the air with the chief, suspended above the ground with Rose, Megan, Anderson watching. Kyle grips onto Giles tight, then the black tar spews out from inside and they drop down below.
Giles may be safe. However, our hero is bleeding out on top of a bus, the piece of metal still dug into his guts.
Pic 5AWHAT AN EPISODE! I constantly say this, I know. But it’s true. Outcast not only consistently deepens its character development, it likewise goes headlong into the series mythology with new strides each episode. Excited to see “Fireflies” next. I’m thinking there’ll be more Amber now, and that maybe, just maybe, she and her dad have a reluctant family business ahead of them. Plus, I’m glad Giles isn’t taken fully by the demons; he is awesome!

You’ve Got Horror for Days? THE VOID’s Got Cosmic Dread for Weeks

The Void. 2017. Directed and Written by Jeremy Gillespie & Steven Kostanski.
Starring Aaron Poole, Kenneth Welsh, Daniel Fathers, Kathleen Munroe, Ellen Won, Mik Byskov, Art Hindle, Stephanie Belding, James Millington, Evan Stern, & Grace Munro.
Cave Painting Pictures/JoBro Productions & Film Finance
Rated R. 90 minutes.
Horror/Mystery/Sci-Fi

★★★★1/2
POSTEREveryone goes on and on about how this movie’s influenced by The Thing, which I’m sure is definitely true. I’d argue it’s more Carpenter’s Prince of Darkness than any of the master’s works. Others go on that it’s Lovecraftian, though I don’t agree totally; the filmmakers say it was their influence, and that’s fine. As I often preach, artistic intent doesn’t always have to equal concrete meaning to the audience.
Most of all, this is an original bit of sci-fi-ish horror on its own. Sure, it draws bits of heart from films co-writers Jeremy Gillespie and Steven Kostanski likely grew up watching. It throws back to the 1980s. To give their influences too much credit is to do a disservice to their horrific originality.
Many movies post-2010 seem to feel like throwback means an ’80s-type electronic score and a dark yet vibrant look. The Void has a wicked score, the sound is perfect. Best is the fact the team behind the film went with expert practical effects for the various creatures and abominations. Add these technical aspects to solid performances from one of my latest genre favourites Aaron Poole, as well as the great Kenneth Welsh (Windom Earle from Twin Peaks). This makes for one fine ride into the heart of darkness.
TheVoid1The Lovecraftian influence, the Carpenter roots, they’re fine. Gillespie and Kostanski are what matters. Their story, particularly how it’s told, works wonders on the suspense and tension which builds so dreadfully over the course of the first third of the film. Their directorial work is startling, with grim delight. We start out with an act of violence that’s inexplicable; at the time. From there, the writing-directing team unravel a tale of a cult offering sacrifices to an otherworldly entity called from the cosmos.
Production design on this one all around is fantastic. The location of the hospital is like they found a facility in the middle of nowhere, cultivating a mood all of its own. In addition, the costumes for the cult add to that atmosphere by sort of crashing down on top of the audience. When we first see them it’s a shocking moment, oh so excellent.
Not to mention the cinematography of Samy Inayeh (The Last Will and Testament of Rosalind Leigh; another great flick with Poole starring) makes everything feel hazy, terrifying, like a feverish nightmare even before the descent into utter madness and hell. The visual style is most definitely part of what gives it a throwback feel. The biggest part of that essence is the practical effects work, up there with some of the best in the genre.
TheVoid2Kostanski has an extensive background in makeup effects. He’s doing stuff on the new It, he worked on ClownGirlHouseHannibal, and even worked as an uncredited prosthetics shop assistant for 2005’s Capote. Point being, he knows his shit. He uses his chops here, alongside Gillespie, whose resume is as impressive having worked on It and Suicide Squad as assistant art director (both of which his co-director and writer worked on). He was a graphic designer on Hannibal, too. He served as assistant art director on Atom Egoyan’s The Captive, and the underrated found footage 388 Arletta Avenue is his first art directing credit. These two artists together did something on this film which amazes, in the best horror kind of way.
The creatures involved in the descent to hell, as the characters of The Void explore the hospital basement, are totally wild! Some of the best stuff out there, truly. I can see why The Thing is used as comparison. Particularly when it comes to the final monster we witness birthed; like a combination of pieces of living things. A vicious finale creation. That isn’t it, though. Throughout the movie we see various creatures, and you can’t forget the other practical effects like the blood, et cetera. That seemingly simple stuff can often get lost in the shuffle for other, lesser horrors. Not these guys. The attention to detail is what drives this whole effort home.
TheVoid3Above anything else, the end and what the film builds to from the start is the payoff. I won’t spoil it. Just to say that I love the vision these guys brought to the visuals. There’s something wholly original in the way they presented the other world, where Dr. Powell (Welsh) intends on going. Those last shots are perfection, impressing upon us without words the tiny speck that is humanity on the entirety of the universe. Gorgeous, if not also disturbing.
I gave this film a 4 and 1/2 star rating (out of 5) because The Void does what two other similar movies, Baskin and Last Shift, didn’t do despite their awesomeness: it shows us an end result. What I mean is that those other two films, kick ass as they are, sort of end in a place where there’s ultimately no traction. Not saying nothing happens, if you check my reviews of them both I’m actually a huge fan (I’ve seen Baskin at least a dozen times).
The Void goes a step further, not only in its inventiveness and practical effects monster work, it also opts to go full-on cosmic. In this way, I concede that they touch on Lovecraft and his rightful idea about man’s insignificance to other much greater, larger, non-human entities out there in the universe; gods, if you will.
Again, I don’t like to lean so heavily only on influence. Gillespie and Kostanski deserve what’s due – praise, for a breathtaking wave of pure terror, start to finish. They’ll live on with this film, though I cannot wait to see their next project. These guys are the real fucking deal.

Outcast – Season 2, Episode 4: “The One I’d Be Waiting For”

Cinemax’s Outcast
Season 2, Episode 4: “The One I’d Be Waiting For”
Directed by Alrick Riley
Written by Rebecca Sonnenshine

* For a recap & review of the previous episode, “Not My Job to Judge” – click here
* For a recap & review of the next episode, “The Common Good” – click here
Pic 1Patricia (Melinda McGraw) still lives life expecting her boy to come home. She wonders where he is, laying a sandwich and cheesies out on the table in case he comes home. She reads the Holy Bible before bed. She doesn’t know the truth, about Reverend Anderson (Philip Glenister), not about Sidney (Brent Spiner).
Then Aaron shows up in the shadows. All burned up. Pissed off. I’m concerned now for his mother. The closer he remains, the closer she is to the devil himself.
Kyle (Patrick) and Anderson are talking with Junkyard Bob about Kyle’s father. He was a man wrapped in mystery, it seems. At the same time Aaron calls the Rev with ominous warnings. When he rushes to her place he and Kyle find Patricia bled out on the carpet viciously. On the wall in blood is a pentagram. She dies before Kyle can finish calling 911.
Pic 1AMegan (Wrenn Schmidt) and her daughter Holly (Callie Brook McClincy) sit in a restaurant eating. Mother not sure of what she’ll do next. When she sees the young man bussing her table she remembers a quick piece of her possession, meeting him in her early demonic trance. Now that’s eerie. Megan and Holly head back to their motel room, throw on some television. Things are okay… for the time being.
Things for Anderson ain’t ever getting easy. He’s got Kyle, even Chief Giles (Reg E. Cathey). But he’s falling further into a hole, farther away from his faith. If he isn’t careful he might fall and never be able to get up. Instead of sitting on the sidelines, he takes Kyle in the car and calls Aaron to tell him they’ll be waiting at the church.
Officer Nunez (Briana Venskus) goes to see Sidney about what Aaron’s done to his mother. She also found Evelyn Bailey (Claire Bronson), who escaped the junkyard cage she was put in. She likewise tells him that Kyle let her go, which interests Sidney a great deal. They’ve got lots of work to do, too. Big, big plans afoot.
At the church, Rev says the man he was is “useless” to him, to anybody. Kyle says they’ll lose themselves if they go too far, then what’s the point of it all? None. He wants to be a husband, a father. He wants a life. Then, they’re trapped as a molotov cocktail flies in the window lighting the place ablaze. Luckily they get out alive.
Kyle: “No matter what this fight looks like in the end, I wont let my family hate me for it.”
Pic 2Megan wakes in the motel: Holly’s not there. She is down a nearby hallway getting change from some stranger. Turns out the girl told him mom’s a murderer. Now that could be trouble. All the same, how long can Megan run from what she did to her husband? Yes, it was under possession. But still, to have it all go down like it has, his death the way it looks to others. A sad story.
Awhile later she and Holly end up at grandma’s house.
Meanwhile, Giles isn’t happy about the lack of trust between him and the Rev. He doesn’t want to lose him as a friend, and wouldn’t like to see him end up dead, or worse. Kyle is the only cool head to prevail. He knows they’re all in it together. If not, it doesn’t work.
The Mayor of Rome (Toby Huss) receives a little visit from Sidney after hours. They’re in league together after all. He’s supposed to be helping those demons, as part of the deal with the devil the previous mayor made. Looks like Giles is next on Sid’s chopping block.
Sidney: “I guess youll have to decide how much more blood on your hands you can live with
And what about ole Junkyard Bob? He knows the history of the place, probably more than that foolish mayor. Still, like Kyle he doesn’t know much more about the demons than what he’s seen. He also realises what he and Kyle’s father were doing did nothing whatsoever. All it did was lose him his life, essentially. He talks about a place Mr. Barnes owned over on Shadow Lane, too. Maybe this will unlock further clues, toward understanding himself, his family, the demonic predicament of Rome, West Virginia.


Jeanne (Kathleen York), Megan’s mother, gets her daughter and granddaughter ready for a night’s stay. They have troubled history, seeing as how Megan feels her parents loved their fosters more than their real children. Those are the least of her worries right now, though. Family trouble means shit when you’re up against the devil’s army, and one of those soldiers is right up in her head probably still kicking around somewhere.
After a call from Aaron on his mother’s phone, the Rev takes off from the station. Another dumb move. I can understand why, he loved Patricia. And the fact he went through so much guilt feeling he killed the kid, only to have the kid return and stab his mother, leaving her dying in her own blood. It’s rough to be Anderson at the moment.
Over at Shadow Lane, Kyle gets into the trailer his father kept. A whole ton of research lining the walls, in boxes. Books, papers, maps with INCIDENTS OF VIOLENT OUTBREAKS circle and lined off everywhere. He also finds a purse with an ID inside for one Helen Devere; the woman in the ground. He finds a door in back where there’s a chair, restraints on its arms, tarps surrounding the room and blood streaked on them.
And Anderson, he finally faces down Aaron as they meet where Sidney’s old lurking ground was burned to rubble. The Rev tries to pull the boy out of a “river of shit” by using faith rather than more violence. Only the young man has a different idea, pulling a gun. He promises something big and bad is coming. He also instructs Anderson to pour gasoline all over himself.


Before the Rev gets lit on fire Kyle makes it there in time, and Aaron takes off into the woods. He takes a tumble, but he’s far from them. He’s back in the devilishly loving grave of Sidney. To do more terrible things in the dark of night.
Downstairs at Jeanne’s place Megan says goodnight to her daughter. They have a little better of a conversation than they did before. Megan promises Holly that she is the most important thing in her life; Holly now believes in the power of prayer to keep “the monster” away.
Over at Patricia’s house, Anderson goes on, forging forward through the darkness. He starts by cleaning the bloody pentagram from the wall.
Pic 5What a great chapter. Man, this series is fascinating! Every episode is another surprise, a a genuine great progression of writing and character together. Dig it.
Next is “The Common Good” and I’m itching to see more of M.C. Gainey’s Junkyard Bob. I want to know more of the past, in Rome, of Bob’s relationship with Kyle’s father, and more on the father in general. Excited!

Bates Motel – Season 5, Episode 10: “The Cord”

A&E’s Bates Motel
Season 5, Episode 10: “The Cord”
Directed by Tucker Gates
Written by Kerry Ehrin & Carlton Cuse

* For a recap & review of the penultimate episode, “Visiting Hours” – click here
Pic 1Here we are at the series finale! The title of the episode refers to Norman Bates (Freddie Highmore) talking to Mother (Vera Farmiga) about “the cord” between their hearts connecting them. Well, I bet it’s about to be cut, or snap in two. One way or another.
Alex Romero (Nestor Carbonell) has Regina (Aliyah O’Brien) and Norman in the car, heading to where the young man put Norma while he was off taking care of everything else. No telling how far the vengeance will go, or if it’ll even happen. Who knows where any of this is headed.
I know it’s nowhere any good. He lets Regina go, then he and Norman are left to trek in the woods by themselves.
Pic 1ASheriff Jane Greene (Brooke Smith) is picking up the pieces after Romero’s daring break-in to find the object of his revenge. She brings Dylan (Max Thieriot) in to tell him what happened, as well as to try figuring out where they may be gone. “He took him somewhere to kill him,” says Dylan with grim confidence.
What’s super interesting about the back half of this final season is how the older brother is concerned for the younger’s mental health. He knows he’s dangerous, but also there’s the knowledge that Norman is mentally ill; there is something wrong with him and there has been a LONG TIME. No one ever helped, Mother made it worse, now he’s a lost cause. Much like real life many want to only concern themselves with the crime, instead of paying attention to the terrible reasons for why it happened. And not always as easy done as said, which Dylan understands.
In the snowy woods Romero starts seeing the disconnect in Norman’s brain, between him and Mother. Although, unfortunately, he doesn’t quite comprehend it yet. Not enough to save him, as Mother takes over duties and remedies their situation. Once Alex helps uncover the cold corpse of Mrs. Bates he lets his guard down long enough to get himself killed by having his head smashed followed by a couple bullets from his own gun. In his dying words the former sheriff taunts, and Mother comes to tell Norman she has to leave. There’s no longer any need for her to protect him.
The cord’s been cut.
Romero: “You killed your own mother. You cant hide from it.”


Norman wakes up to Mother, next to him in bed. Things are bright and sunny and beautiful. She isn’t dead, they’re together. She makes breakfast for them. Only it’s all illusion; or, better put, delusion. He’s still in the snow bleeding, remembering happier times with Mother before they moved away from their old home. What a creepy sequence. As if he and Mother are first heading to White Pine Bay all over again, the beginning of a new life.
After all the horror, Norman Bates has gone back home.
In town, Dylan gets together with his old pal Remo Wallace (Ian Tracey), who’s still working for a marijuana grow op but a bigger, better one. They reunite, reminiscing on happier things. Remo’s brought him a little package: a gun. What for, exactly? Protection? Perhaps it’s a tool, a permanent and fatal medication for his ailing brother.
Speaking of Norman, he’s literally lost in delusion. Believing it’s the first time they’ve come to the motel, that he’s setting the pace up for business. A woman and her kids come to stay, which already scares me. With him hallucinating, forgetting, remembering things as current day, it’s a volatile place to be; anywhere near the Bates Motel for that matter.
Norman calls Dylan and this makes his delusional mind even clearer, saying that they’ve gotten to the “new house” and so on. Jesus. It’s just another reason for Dylan to think about whether he should help solve his younger brother’s problems permanently.
Pic 3Mother’s corpse is put away in her room, as Norman prepares for dinner with his brother. This is a tense moment leading up to their meal. We can feel Dylan struggling within. He calls up Emma (Olivia Cooke) and tells her what’s happening. She, obviously, suggests to call the sheriff, but he thinks it’ll end with cops rushing in, his brother dead. Their phone call is devastatingly emotional, as it could be the last time they ever talk. W’re about to find out.
Dylan readies himself to go up there with his gun. He also sees there are guests in the motel, whom he goes to warn. After they flee Dylan goes to the house, where Norman is happy to greet him, busy cooking supper. He tries to break through the psychosis, the delusional thought. However, it becomes terrifying for him once he sees that Mother is literally there for dinner with them, dead and half frozen at the head of the table. Actually makes him vomit.
Then everything gets intense. Dylan pleads with Norman to see the truth. Afterwards, young Bates grabs a knife and goes toward his brother who takes out his gun. “I just want to be with her, Dylan,” he says. When he charges at his brother with the blade Dylan is forced to shoot him. As Norman slips away he sees a vision of Norma, alive again, waiting for him out there in the forest with open arms, together once more.

Pic 4CA rendition of “Dream a Little Dream of Me” plays while the cops flood the Bates Motel, the woods where they locate Romero’s dead body. We see the motel go up for sale all over again, that old, eerie house with all its secrets sitting up on the hill, waiting for new owners to give it life. Emma and Dylan are still together, living happily after all the terror. And out in a quaint graveyard sits the Bates grave, Mother and her boy eternally in the ground. Noticeably, his side is a little empty while hers is filled with praise. Oh, Norman.
Pic 5What a great series! Loved the end. Even though I expected Dylan to be the one to finish off the legacy, I also didn’t know how it would go down. Great stuff, horrific and dramatic and all around excellent. An amazing adaptation, as I’ve said time and time again. Kudos to the entire cast and crew for a job well done.

SPLIT’s Horror is Part Shyamalan Style & Part Terrifying McAvoy

Split. 2017. Directed & Written by M. Night Shyamalan.
Starring James McAvoy, Anya Taylor-Joy, Betty Buckley, Haley Lu Richardson, Jessica Sula, Izzie Coffey, Brad William Henke, & Sebastian Arcelus.
Blumhouse Productions/Blinding Edge Pictures
Rated PG-13. 117 minutes.
Horror/Thriller

★★★★★
POSTER SplitPlenty of people wrote M. Night Shyamalan off long ago. I agree that The Happening-era was grim. But I was one of the few who enjoyed Lady in the Water, and I still love The Village. Since I first saw The Sixth Sense and then Unbreakable the year after in theatre, where both blew me away equally, Shyamalan’s forever been a filmmaker I keep my eye on.
When he came back swinging with The Visit, another one I LOVED, I knew he’d again begin impressing us all. Now, he’s given us Split; his best film to date.
The talk I’ve seen has mostly, rightfully, centred around the lead performances from James McAvoy and Anya Taylor-Joy. What impressed me even above their incredible work is how confident Shyamalan is, once more, in his directorial abilities. No more is he merely relying on twists, which seems to be where he went wrong for a while; focusing too hard on surprising people when his best work has always been style.
Well, he’s provided plenty style on which the audience can feast, conjuring up pure suspense and terror like the magician we know he can be, and along the way he still twists and turns a bit for good measure.
Split1First thing impressed me was the dialogue, particularly from the three young girls (Taylor-Joy, Haley Lu Richardson, & Jessica Sula). There are so many typical films where people say the same old lines, in the same way. Far too much horror where writers – without irony like Wes Craven or The Cabin in the Woods – have their characters doing unbelievably stupid things, past the point of stretching our disbelief. The girls are logical, for the most part, and especially Casey (Taylor-Joy), whose past informs her present.
Casey is who roots the entire film, despite McAvoy’s ecstatic and dark work as the ultra-interesting villainous character. She is who provides us with an emotional olive branch into the plot and the story’s arc. Her character immediately draws the audience into her emotions, her personal history. Right from the moment you see her, the dialogue introduces us to the character, it’s obvious there is a well of secrets behind her eyes. Taylor-Joy is someone I’m excited to see more of, between this and The Witch she’s proven herself as an actress whose abilities are well beyond her years. Also love to see a legitimately excellent acting talent whose interests, at least for the time being, lie in the horror genre.
Split2Shyamalan’s directing has never been better. Much as I love The Sixth SenseUnbreakable even more than that, he tops himself here in a number of ways. The camera movements are spectacular in their revelatory motions, with suspense leering around each corner. He manages to do jump scare-like moments without them feeling stale like they do in lesser horror pictures. Because it’s in the tension.
For instance, McAvoy’s multiple personalities creep into the frame, both literally in his actions and figuratively through the lens of the camera. Sometimes it’s him lurking into frame, such as when The Beast finally appears in full to us; other times the camera cuts or pans to a revelation of a personality, or we get to see other characters’ reactions to him which elevates the shock to a much higher level.
When we first see The Beast up close – his skin, his muscles, his arms, then finally his face – it’s a genius sequence. Poor Dr. Karen Fletcher (the always awesome Betty Buckley) is the one to experience the plot moment, as we watch with eyes wide in horror. And what happens when he turns up, I won’t ruin; it is savage, yet subtle and eerie to the point of a chill running up the spine. Exciting stuff, my favourite scene by far.
Another moment I love – SPOILER ALERT! SPOILERS AHEAD! – is the end, before the very final scene, when Crumb has escaped. He’s talking in his various personalities, and Shyamalan uses the mirrors around him to frame the faces, as if they’re all in the room despite being inside one brain. Simple, effective use of reflections which reflect the multiple personalities.
Screen Shot 2017-04-22 at 10.56.59 PMWhereas Taylor-Joy’s Casey is the emotional counterweight of the story, giving us someone with which to spend the wild ride, McAvoy’s performance as Crumb (and his 20-odd other personalities) is a shining star of the film. He gets into a mental and physical space that we only see every so often from actors, whether it’s De Niro in Raging Bull, Bale in The Machinist or any other similar role.
His multiple personality disorder as the villain is aided by the intensity of his dedication, in that he gets to a point where every personality stemming from the character of Crumb has different facial ticks, they use mannerisms respectively according to their affect, the inflection in their voices change and one even has a speech impediment, another uses McAvoy’s natural accent while the Dennis personality has an unsettling, baritone-d accent different from the others, too.
Spoiler Alert! Spoiler Ahead!: There’s a moment with Dr. Fletcher when Barry, the sweet fashion designer, reveals that it’s actually Dennis who’s taken “the light” during their therapy session. McAvoy uses his face in such a way that you forget about the dialogue, you pay less attention to any sound, then you zero in on his expression. Gradually his face melts from Barry’s toothy smile to the more serious, sombre look of Dennis, and I’m telling you, it is enough to raise the hairs on your arms.
Split4This is a 5-star affair. All the way. There’s not a thing I feel needed changing, I’m of the belief that M. Night Shyamalan’s turned a corner. Realising those twists, while awesome when executed correctly, aren’t the answer to his filmmaking magic, he’s perfecting his best capabilities through a combination of storytelling and style. And yes, for a couple flicks he fell off track. He either went one way or the other, instead of using his gifts in tandem.
Most of all, the guy is an original filmmaker. Even his failures show promise because of the fact he swings for the fences, every last chance at bat. Hopefully the renewed confidence Shyamalan has obviously felt since The Visit scared up a storm will continue to allow his best foot to step forward on his next project. Something I don’t doubt, not for a second.

Bates Motel – Season 5, Episode 9: “Visiting Hours”

A&E’s Bates Motel
Season 5, Episode 9: “Visiting Hours”
Directed by Olatunde Osunsanmi
Written by Scott Kosar

* For a recap & review of the previous episode, “The Body” – click here
* For a recap & review of the series finale, “The Cord” – click here
Pic 1Norman (Freddie Highmore) is being booked into the police station, going through processing. Well, Mother (Vera Farmiga) is there, too. Love the excellent use of the idea of the double personality. How we see both Mother and Norman in the frame at once, as others only see the latter. Mother’s not happy to hear about the next steps, that her boy is likely headed to jail. Sweet, young Norman wouldn’t do well behind bars.
Emma (Olivia Cooke) and Dylan (Max Thieriot) are finally back together. She didn’t want him to be alone dealing with all the madness. Now, she also discovers her mother is dead, dredged from the lake. Murdered. And Dylan knows “it was Norman.” It’s not just the fact her mom is dead. It’s the fact Emma lived there in White Pine Bay, being around Norman and Mother so long, and she had no idea that this budding psychopath lurked in his skin. That one day he would do something so horrible. Such a feeling of deception, a truly deep betrayal.
Pic 1AThe Bates Motel is a scene of massive interest, various law enforcement teams searching the grounds, metal detectors, crime scene investigation. Sheriff Jane Greene (Brooke Smith) and a team are inside the eerie house, where Mother’s room remains untouched, and obviously her son’s been sleeping in her bed like a creep. A veritable house of horrors, if there ever were one. Outside they find luggage belonging to Audrey Decody, Emma’s mother. Downstairs, there’s poor Chick (Ryan Hurst), shot in the head by the still fleeing jailbird former Sheriff Alex Romero (Nestor Carbonell).
Speaking of Alex, he’s like a man with nothing at all whatsoever to lose. No telling what his next move is, part of the fun.
Meanwhile, Emma reels from the news about her mother, about Norman. I also feel bad for Dylan because, despite his own troubles and mistakes, he never wanted any of this, for himself or Emma. “You didnt bring Norman into my life,” she tells him. Things between the two of them aren’t easy, and she isn’t sure what this means for their relationship.
Lawyer Julia Ramos (Natalia Cordova-Buckley) visits with Norman/Mother. They speak of the coming trial, what he/she ought to expect. They have to discuss their “approach.” Y’know, keeping Norman alive. She wants to go for an insanity plea. Love this sequence, too. The editing cuts us from Mother speaking to Norman taking over. There’s a real battle happening inside that one body.
Norman: “Everyone has multiple personalities, Julia. We pull out what we need when we have to.”


The trouble between Dylan and Emma is compounded by the fact Julia wants him in court to sit behind Norman, to support his brother. It’s very difficult for him to turn his back. Not that a serial killer deserves sympathy. But this is the enjoyable part of this Psycho adaptation, is that Norman isn’t only this disturbed killer, we’ve seen a much more expanded, complex vision of who Norman Bates is and how he reached this destination. Because slashers are great, I personally love them.
But Bates has always been a more interesting character than a slasher; Hitchcock’s film and Peeping Tom from Michael Powell gave birth to the genre. He’s had more to him even in the little we get to see his psychosis through Hitchcock. Which is why I think Bates Motel is a worthy piece in the makeup of Norman Bates as a character, as it doesn’t squander the prequel. It does the story and the characters justice.
Alex is still out on the run. He gets gas and runs into a man interested in the late ’60s-era car he’s driving. Just a friendly thing, but enough to fuel more paranoia for a man escaping the law. And everywhere he goes he’s still reminded of Norma, the fact that Norman is a killer, so on.
In court, Dylan shows up to support his brother regardless of the trouble it causes; hard to turn your back on family, particularly the crazy ones. A preliminary hearing. First up is Sheriff Greene on the stand, who talks about the murder of Blackwell, as well as Sam Loomis and Emma’s mother. To see Norman listen to the recounting of his crimes along with others, probably the first time he’s actually faced them, it’s chilling. Now we’re seeing people heap blame on Dylan, for knowing there was something deeply wrong with his brother and not doing something about it. That’s unfair as a judgement.


Emma says goodbye to her mother in a quick cremation ceremony. She brings the ashes out to the woods and scatters them on the open air. Sort of a fitting tribute for a woman who so obviously lived a travelling lifestyle, away from her family. Sweet, but definitely simultaneously bitter. She and Dylan keep putting their best foot forward together, though it’s unclear how well that’ll work in the long run.
Before leaving Emma goes to visit Norman. It’s a painful thing, as he puts on his best act. Although it’s all but clear Mother is operating the controls for that conversation. Not accepting the blame, the best defence. And Emma knows, she asks: “Wheres Norman?” Then the conversation shifts with Mother talking directly to her. Ah, the psychosis is so very evident, in full view for the first time for her.
Not long later Alex puts a gun to Julia in the parking lot, pushing his way inside the station. Closer to Norman. He puts everyone at gunpoint, making the officers hug the floor. He takes things slow, being careful, disarming them. Another officer shows up and gets a bullet to the shoulder.
Romero gets to the cell, then Norman is taken out as the officers are locked inside. He almost chokes the young man to death before letting go. He piles himself, Norman, and Regina into a car, then they’re headed to wherever the son put Mother’s body. Shiiiit.


What a spectacular penultimate episode to this series! Wow. I’m consistently amazed by this series, and now and then it really takes me for a perfect ride. I think Season 5’s been my favourite of all, honestly. They’re swinging for the fences and producing the best Norman Bates prequel that they could have done. Last episode is “The Cord” and I believe that’ll be in reference to the cord connecting Mother and Norman, the figurative umbilical cord still attaching the boy to his mom? Maybe. We’ll see.

Heavy Metal Possession in THE DEVIL’S CANDY

The Devil’s Candy. 2017. Directed & Written by Sean Byrne.
Starring Ethan Embry, Shiri Appleby, Pruitt Taylor Vince, & Kiara Glasco.
Snoot Entertainment.
Rated 14A. 79 minutes.
Horror

★★★★1/2
Screen Shot 2017-03-17 at 8.56.09 AMSean Byrne’s debut feature The Loved Ones rocked me in 2009. It was unique and horrifying. I knew he’d give us more terror eventually. Although I didn’t think it would take another 6 years. When you wait that long and the product ends up being something altogether eerie, you thank a writer-director who so obviously digs the genre.
The Devil’s Candy gives us equal parts beauty and horror. There’s heavy metal, there’s painting, there’s a troubled father-daughter relationship and a fun family at the centre of the plot. There’s also three excellent performances from Ethan Embry, Kiara Glasco, and one of the great unsung character actors possibly every, Pruitt Taylor Vince.
What’s most exciting about Byrne’s follow-up feature is the take on possession. So many horrors out there try to do the sub-genre justice by giving their own take on the concept of demonic possession, but many of those slip into the pitfalls of a typical Exorcist rip-off. Byrne avoids that by going a whole other route, bringing the supernatural straight into collision with utterly human, family drama with an innovative twist.
Screen Shot 2017-03-17 at 8.57.06 AMI didnt mean to do this
I always love when demonic possession is more than some poor, helpless young person is seized by the devil, flopping around on the floor or speaking another language or contorting into a weird human-limbed spider. A possession story becomes something else entirely when the demonic influence helps the possessed acquire wealth (fame/anything similar). This makes the character of Jesse’s (Embry) paintings like an unwitting, unspoken pact with the devil.
On the other side is Ray (Vince), whose encounter with Satan is entirely different. He’s a man with mental difficulties to begin, then he has to contend with the voice of the devil whispering in his ear. Whereas Jesse sort of takes it like a voice of inspiration, if not a sinister one, for Ray it’s like torture.
Heavy metal is the link. While Jesse listens to metal, as he paints and driving with his daughter Zooey (Glasco), Ray uses it as a means of drowning out the voice of Satan in his head. He plays the guitar, a flying V in fact, strumming deep, droning, distorted chords, which doesn’t just make his house unpleasant, it eventually draws the police. Just a whole mess of things going on, all of which add to the atmosphere of terror.
Screenshot 2017-04-12 at 12.13.17 AM
Embry and I follow one another on Twitter. I asked him if he was wearing a Sunn O))) shirt, which he confirmed, and he also told me that, he believes, the voice of Satan here is likewise provided by the band.
Brings me to one of the things I find so unsettling about the film – the sound design. At certain moments we hear the low, rumbling voice of Satan speaking to his pawns. It’s the absolute perfect voice. Sort of rattles your bones listening to it. Along with Ray’s power chords, the heavy metal soundtrack, the sound design and the voice itself are part of the dreadful feeling the film evokes at every turn.
The storytelling is a large part of The Devil’s Candy‘s success as a horror that works hard to unnerve its audience, frame by frame, building to a roar. In parallel, we watch the stories of Ray and Jesse, like opposite ends of a spectrum. Then the paintings Jesse creates in a fugue of possession reflect the actions and events in Ray’s life, giving the parallel plots a whole new level of meaning.
A favourite scene of mine is the montage sequence of the painting Jesse works on. The paint, the brushes, the sloppy wet sounds of them together – these are, again, paralleled with the sounds of Ray with his wet mop sloshing around, soaking up blood. The whole sequence is amazingly edited. On top of that the score and the sound design make it chilling.
Screen Shot 2017-03-17 at 9.56.06 AMByrne does a fantastic job providing us with an alternative story about possession and occult horror. Not saying he’s reinvented the wheel. But god damn me to hell if he doesn’t offer up a horror that doesn’t take the same old beaten path. Peppered with equally fantastic performances, The Devil’s Candy is a personal favourite of mine since 2000.
A huge selling point is the chemistry between Embry and Glasco. Their relationship as father and daughter is strained, though not past the point of no return. There’s a breaking point, yes. And that plays its own part in their relationship. What I dig is that they’re so natural. Embry’s not that old, so his character comes off as this hip guy who hasn’t exactly reconciled his hipness with also being a father; he’s a good dad, not perfect, and tries his best. For her part, Glasco plays the daughter well and her emotional range as an actress stacks up well against her adult counterparts.
From Sunn O))) in all forms – t-shirt, voice of Satan, soundtrack – to Embry and Glasco, as well as Pruitt Taylor Vince doing a bang up job as a seasoned character actor, to Sean Byrne and his atmospheric directing, The Devil’s Candy does what it sets out to do: unsettle and terrify. You don’t have to piss your pants to find something scary. What I find most unsettling about the film is the presentation of the devil’s influence, as something that simply cannot be stopped – won’t be stopped. And for once heavy metal isn’t the bringer of horror, it is a way for the horror to be evaded, a positive force between father and daughter. Underneath the possession stuff there’s a lot going on, too.

THE DARK TAPES: Fresh Indie Found Footage

The Dark Tapes. 2017. Directed by Vincent J. Guastini & Michael McQuown. Screenplay by McQuown.
Starring Emilia Ares Zoryan, David Banks, Jonathan Biver, Sara Castro, Michael Cotter, Denise Faro, Brittany Fisheli, Jo Galloway, Aral Gribble, Shane Hartline, David Hull, Clint Keepin, Casey James Knight, Shawn Lockie, Matt Magnusson, Anna Rose Moore, Tessa Munro, Jake O’Connor, Cortney Palm, David Rountree, Katherine Shaw, Wayne River Sorrell, Meredith Thomas, Brittany Underwood, Julian von Nagel, Ryan Allan Young, & Stepehn Zimpel.
Thunder Road Incorporated.
Not Rated. 98 minutes.
Horror/Sci-Fi/Thriller

★★★1/2
Dark Tapes 1Director Michael McQuown sent me a screener for his and co-director Vincent J. Guastini’s independent film, The Dark Tapes. I’d heard of it awhile, hearing plenty of good things. Not overhyped; hyped just enough. I’m always ready to dig in on a found footage flick, no matter how tired the sub-genre seems to get with so many low budget efforts being pumped out simply to get a director and some actors a credit to their names.
The Dark Tapes isn’t a perfect movie. There are a few missteps that could’ve been avoided to make the whole thing more effective, certain tapes in the lot aren’t as good as others. Often anthologies suffer from this fate. The lesser tapes are still good. There’s nothing bad here. Each tape, regardless of its setbacks, has an eerie quality to it respectively.
McQuown and Guastini use a meagre budget wisely, choosing to use effects sparingly and, for the most part, they work. This is one of their best moves, because they don’t set the bar too high yet clearly focused on staying creepy. There are standouts in the series of tapes, presented through the narrative of being proof of government conspiracy-type stuff, the truth the powers that be suppress and keep from the people – a couple deserve their own full-length treatments. Certain segments stand up with some of the best of the V/H/S series (no surprise considering Guastini is not only an effects guy, he did work on the third entry, Viral).
Dark Tapes 2My only beef, and I’ll get to this first before discussing what I enjoyed so much, is that the directing is mostly excellent. Then, they choose to show us too much. For the longest time what we only get glimpses of in frame is what drives the pulse-pounding terror. As you can see in the photo above, that’s a startling shot. Love that moment; freezing the frame only compounds the fear. However, the directors lose some of that momentum later when they choose to show this demonic figure up close for too long. They try offsetting this with the use of camera glitches (et cetera). But it never makes up for the undoing of the fright from seeing the creature long enough we can start picking out some of the less stellar aspects of its creation.
The rest of the tapes are presented with brief shots and bits that are framed properly so that the low budget qualities don’t glare. And honestly, it’s only the one main demon in the “To Catch a Demon” segments that comes off as cheesy, which is late in the game. Otherwise, in the “Amanda’s Revenge” tape, the creatures (or whatever you want to call them) look legitimately gnarly, in the best horror sense. Particularly in that tape, we get some wonderfully old school film shots, the rickety frame, catching a presence in the distance, and it’s so genuinely perfect for the type of eeriness for which this segments is aiming.
Dark Tapes 3The tapes have an overall framing narrative, though I think that while there’s a connection between the tapes as a whole, it isn’t as connective as the filmmakers might hope. Mostly, I don’t feel that the connections are tight enough. The writing is interesting, at every turn. I can’t help think McQuown could’ve brainstormed something better to make them all into the cohesive unit the beginning (and mid-credits) speech we hear wishes it’d become. If this were tighter then it would’ve greatly improved the film.
But the stories, they’re fresh. Even in the moments some of them don’t exactly work as intended, they’re innovative. I found “The Hunters and the Hunted” was my favourite because it caught me so off guard once the revelation came, until then I expected a run of the mill bit of paranormal shlock; a proper twist, if there ever were! Also enjoyed “Cam Girls” except the end devolved into a ham-fisted mess. Before that it was wildly creepy, the editing made it feel very kinetic and full of horrific energy; while it falls apart later with absolutely no subtlety and a ton of unnecessary exposition that could’ve been given to us through imagery earlier (a missed opportunity), this segment  was insane.
And “Cam Girls” has an underlying metaphor in it, about our porn-obsessed culture that involves men watching women through their screens performing, some thinking they’re falling in love just by watching. If only the plot of this segment were worked out better, it’d be a devastating short.
Dark Tapes 5For a low budget, non-studio film, The Dark Tapes has an impressive production value. This is one of the things that keeps even the lesser pieces involving, it’s better than the average indie found footage attempt. With so many of these sub-genre flicks saturating the market, incredibly easy to make on a shoestring to non-existent budget, it’s nice to see what’s so obviously a labour of horror love come to the screen from these directors.
Sure, not every segment is perfect. A couple are scary as hell. And like I’ve yammered on, even in those segments which don’t measure up there’s still things to pique your interest. If anything, the effort the team on this film put in is astounding. Kudos to them all, I certainly hope that McQuown and Guastini do more, whether it’s in found footage that’s up to them. Without a doubt they’ve got horror sensibilities.
The Dark Tapes, warts and all, is one of the better found footage movies I’ve seen as of late, running the gamut of horror, thriller, and science fiction with relative ease. Like Tales of HalloweenHolidaysV/H/S, and Southbound, this is an anthology worth dipping into for a fright.

Bates Motel – Season 5, Episode 8: “The Body”

A&E’s Bates Motel
Season 5, Episode 8: “The Body”
Directed by Freddie Highmore
Written by Erica Lipez

* For a recap & review of the previous episode, “Inseparable” – click here
* For a recap & review of the next episode, “Visiting Hours” – click here
Pic 1Norman Bates (Freddie Highmore) has turned himself in, as Dylan (Max Thieriot) was nearly consumed whole by his psychosis. Now Sheriff Jane Greene (Brooke Smith) is at the house, asking questions, while Norman begs for his medication, to be taken away from that place where Mother (Vera Farmiga) lurks in the shadows. He is all but literally screaming out for help. This is another reason why I love the adaptation of Hitchcock and Bloch’s Psycho(s), because it’s twisted into something very familiar yet wholly unique. Whereas the Norman we saw in Hitchcock was utterly insane, his life as Mother basically hidden from his own view, Highmore’s Norman is one who recognises he is crazy and wants that to change, or at the least be contained.
So on he goes to the station where Sheriff Greene interrogates him about Blackwell and an unidentified corpse of a woman. The young man’s mind is fractured into so many pieces it could take years before all of it comes as a proper puzzle. But right now, he can’t even get help. The sheriff thinks he’s a “child” who adopted an “adult affect” and that this story’s a made-up, tall tale.
And what a microcosm of modern mental health! The guy is calling for someone to aid him in combating his own thoughts, his own dark mind. All she can do is believe it’s a cry for attention. Norman knows, though; he knows that he has killed, more than once.
Pic 1AThey lock him in a cell for the night. He gets his medication, thankfully. I only wonder, how will even a night play out stuck in such a tiny space with Mother yapping? Well, she antes up and sticks her fingers down her boy’s throat to make him spew the pill. Can’t have him being medicated, away from her influence. Then, as Mother, he bashes himself unconscious; or at least that part
Note: Highmore directed this episode, and right away in this scene he does this interesting shot where Norma cradles Norman, and they’re framed through the upright toilet seat, as if the world is enclosed with the frame itself, a world where only the two of them exist.
At the diner, Dylan talks with an attorney, Julia Ramos (Natalia Cordova-Buckley), about his brother. He mentions that Emma’s (Olivia Cooke) mother showed up at the motel, then suddenly disappeared. Highly suspicious, to any eyes.
With Mother calling the shots she’s out demanding to leave the station. Using all her powers to persuade Sheriff Greene. This doesn’t work. The sheriff puts Norman under arrest, and Mother’s LIVID!


Ah, my man – Charles ‘Chick’ Hogan (Ryan Hurst). He’s back and listening to John Denver. He sees that the Bates Motel is awash in law enforcement of all kinds: “Oh, deary, deary me,” laments the big guy. He was there to bring over a bit of taxidermy, only to find the place in upheaval. He’s glad to hear Norman isn’t dead, that’s one good thing.
Julia goes to speak with Norman, hired by Dylan. Things are difficult due to his apparent confession. Compounded by the fact he gave them places to look specifically for bodies. Norma’s still operating the controls, hoping to figure out how she and her boy can weasel out of the confession; you can see the wheels turning, as Mother smiles back through Norman’s eyes.
And Dylan; oh, Dylan! I want him to get back home to Emma and the baby. It scares me the longer he’s in White Pine Bay, away from his family… too close to Norman, and Mother.
So we’ve got Julia doing her best to represent Norman. He’s so different when in his Mother persona, even Sheriff Greene sees that but just can’t explain it. Norman talks a good game about being in love with Madeleine Loomis (Isabelle McNally), then seeing Sam cheating behind her back. He says Madeleine came to her one night, telling him Sam was dead, out in the woods. WOW! Mother’s actually trying to pin this on the innocent wife, shedding tears through Norman and everything. What manipulation.


The sheriff goes to speak with Madeleine about her husband. To investigate the bizarre claims of Norman. Things are about to get quite interesting, especially once the cops go looking around at the old well in the forest.
Dylan gets a visit from Sheriff Greene. They’ve identified the corpse of the woman in the lake – Audrey Ellis, Emma’s mother. His worst suspicions confirmed. “I understand loyalty,” the sheriff tells him, advising that families can be destroyed by far less than the darkness that’s swallowing his whole currently.
In other news, Alex Romero (Nestor Carbonell) is leaving Maggie’s (Jillian Fargey) place. He found his gun. Only, what’s next for him? What is his endgame? He’s already back at the motel, staring up at that creepy house. He goes inside, seeing the ghost of Norma on the stairs, the painful memories everywhere.
When he goes downstairs he finds Chick, typing away working on his book, listening to the tapes he made of Norman. Alex demands to know why he’s there, so Chick explains the friendship he had with young Bates. After their talk, Romero’s curious where Norman put Mother’s body. Then he puts a bullet in Chick’s brain.
Police have come across the well Norman/Mother spoke of, where he says Madeleine rambled about putting her husband’s dead body. Sure enough, there it is, right where they left the thing. Too many weird pieces for Sheriff Greene to understand yet. She goes back for another chat with Norman; only brief, to say he’s been charged with killing Blackwell and Emma’s mother, as well.
Shit. Mother’s plans didn’t work out like she expected.


This was a fantastic episode directed by Highmore! A talented young gentleman, I hope he directs some films eventually. Lots of promise in the direction here, a good eye.
Up next is “Visiting Hours” and we’re getting so close to the grim finale. I can’t even imagine how it’ll play out at the end.

Outcast – Season 2, Episode 2: “The Day After That”

Cinemax’s Outcast
Season 2, Episode 2: “The Day After That”
Directed by Loni Peristere
Written by Adam Targum

* For a recap & review of the Season 2 premiere, “Bad Penny” – click here
* For a recap & review of the next episode, “Not My Job to Judge” – click here
Pic 1With a car in a ravine, a police officer checks the scene. Inside is the dead body of Megan Holter’s (Wrenn Schmidt) husband Mark (David Denman). Now begins an interesting strain of the story, where we have to wait and watch as Kyle Barnes (Patrick Fugit) and his sister Megan deal with the fallout of demonic possession in the rest of their lives.
Chief Giles (Reg E. Cathey) and Kyle are off to do their work. They visit Evelyn Bailey (Claire Bronson), who’s been possessed awhile. They want to know where Sidney’s been prowling. We watch as Kyle breaks out the big guns, cutting himself to draw blood, threatening the demon with his essence. Turns out that Sidney has a “partner” in all this madness. Problem is Kyle’s had enough of all the viciousness, the heavy handed way they’ve had to go about their business. Takes a toll. All the while Sidney (Brent Spiner) is off recuperating somewhere.
Pic 1AIn jail, Reverend Anderson (Philip Glenister) sits in his bunk patiently. Watching the world around him. I wonder to what length he’ll go, or fall, in Season 2. Seems like he’s poised for something large. A little later Patricia (Melinda McGraw) goes to see him, and he confesses to burning down the trailer where her son was supposedly staying.
Then there’s poor Megan, having terrible visions of blood at her feet, her wrists cut. Traumatising stuff that she can’t stop herself from seeing. And little Amber (Madeleine McGraw) stays wary of her aunt, knowing what she’s seen of her mother’s possession.
Kyle picks up Mark’s things at the morgue, seeing his body for the last time. Also in the morgue is a severely mangled corpse, its mouth sewn shut, insides and out decomposed and soupy. To the floor drips a similar green substance that we saw Sidney cough up earlier. Uh oh.
At the station, Giles takes flack from the Mayor (Toby Huss), about his run-in with Evelyn, Sidney, Rev. Anderson sitting in jail. The Mayor wants Giles to take a rest, let someone else take charge. But the guy wants to do some good, and bureaucracy of any kind isn’t going to help anybody; especially not himself or Kyle.


Megan is devastated by what she’s done to her husband, that she stood there watching as he bled on the floor. When Kyle tries explaining her possession, something “controlling” her – like his mom, like Alison – it isn’t easy to hear. She doesn’t really want to hear that, though. It seems like a load of shit, a way to pass off guilt. She hasn’t yet seen, or understood, the things Kyle’s seen before. He’s likewise got to try shielding his daughter Amber from what she’s seen; the girl worries about whether the “monster” will go back inside of aunt Megan, her mother. This does nothing to quell her dad’s worries, either.
At the morgue, Sidney visits the nasty corpse. He finds the drippings on the floor, and it’s as if he’s got his own worries. Down in the cell block, the Rev tries helping the prisoner next to him who’s going through withdrawal; just another way for Anderson to try patching up his own soul. Then the guy flops around on the floor a bit. Is it a junkie’s last moments? Or is it a demon awakening? “Kyle Barnes isnt here to save you,” it tells the reverend before slamming itself into the bars to get at him, until dropping bloodied to the floor.
At the hospital, Kyle goes to visit his mother. He talks briefly with Dr. Park (Hoon Lee). His mom’s body is shutting down for good. Gradually slipping away with only months, probably days, left to live. The doc expresses concern for Kyle, though he starts wondering about what Dr. Park is up to; he watches him in the parking lot. Then gets a call that Amber’s run off, just as the good doc attacks his car with a tire iron. Christ, that was creepy!
As for the Rev, he didn’t kill Patricia’s son. The body from the morgue was under the trailer for three decades. A woman killed in ritualistic fashion. But you know it’s all connected. You know it.


In the morgue the old decomposing corpse is taken by someone under the cover of night. And though I want to know why, I don’t want to know, too.
Looking through her husband’s things Megan laments her tragic loss. Although something continues calling her, out into the darkness. Ultimately, will the darkness win? Can she overcome it, so as not to let the demons conquer her?
Dr. Park and Sidney are familiar with each other. The doc is all part of the plot, and Sidney – he’s sure that Kyle is going to suffer for what he’s done.
Oh, there is so much evil afoot.
Pic 4ASeason 2 is going so well. Very dark, lots to look forward to on the horror front and the drama, as well. Fugit, as always, is spectacular, and his Kyle Barnes is a character that reels me in.

Bates Motel – Season 5, Episode 7: “Inseparable”

A&E’s Bates Motel
Season 5, Episode 7: “Inseparable”
Directed by Steph Green
Written by Freddie Highmore

* For a recap & review of the previous episode, “Marion” – click here
* For a recap & review of the next episode, “The Body” – click here
Pic 1Now that Norman (Freddie Highmore) has killed Sam Loomis, there’s a little of issue of disposing of the body with which he has to deal. Luckily he’s got Mother (Vera Farmiga) to help. She’s old hand at these kinds of things. The two split psyches each take their own respective duties, as she handles all the bloody, messy bits. To help protect her boy from the nasty truth. Regardless, he’s having trouble with the entire situation.
Norma: “You wanna play with the big kids, you gotta act like the big kids.”
Worse is the fact the pair find that in the nearby lake, their dumping grounds, a body’s pulled from the water. Norman worries about Jim Blackwell’s corpse being found, that Sheriff Jane Greene (Brooke Smith) will catch them. While Mother and her boy argue, they slap one another across the fact, and the large wedge between them opens up, as Norman finally figures out this isn’t the first time they’ve been out dumping bodies under cover of night. They dump Sam in a well in the woods, but it feels too rushed.
Pic 1ABack at the motel Norman runs into none other than Sheriff Greene, who’s there to talk about what they found in the lake. “Multiple bodies” and one of them Mr. Blackwell. So Norman plays his game trying to keep his secret life under wraps, as the sheriff’s still wondering about all the connections, as well as whatever Alex Romero (Nestor Carbonell) is up to since his escape. A tense conversation between Greene and the young man. He’s just barely hanging on to the mask.
Speaking of Romero, he’s recuperating in bed at the home of an old friend. She’s taken care of his wound, now he’s on bed rest and eating breakfast. Lucky for him he has anyone, particularly after his early exit from jail.
More every minute, Norman worries about what’ll happen if the authorities come snooping around. He has to figure out what to do with Mother, so that nobody finds her body. An awkward moment; almost like the roles have reversed temporarily, and Norman is shielding Mother from the harsher truth of having to move her body. Such a strangely compelling scene. And of course any time we see the body it’s a – I swear this isn’t meant to be a pun – cold reminder of what is really going on inside that creepy house. Either way he takes Mother’s body out to a special place in the woods where the ground is nice and cool, to preserve her until she can come home.


Dylan (Max Thieriot) has come back to White Pine Bay, after hearing of his mother’s supposed suicide. Being back in the house is like a punch in the gut for him, knowing there is more to the story of her death. Walking around the house, he can feel his mother there. Her presence isn’t gone, barely even a bit. The place is a mess, dishes in the sink, and Norma’s high heels are kicked off in front of one of the chairs. One truly eerie shot there. Dylan tries to act normal with his brother, not immediately throwing suspicion and guilt around. They actually act like brothers, for a moment. Until Mother comes lurking in the background. Big brother does express his worry for little brother living alone, not seeing his doctor, and he wants to stay a few days to help Norman smooth life out. Hmm, not sure how that’ll play out with Mother creeping. Her room is virtually untouched, like a shrine.
In his friendly hospice, Alex wants to find his gun, but his friend hides it from him. She doesn’t want him running off and doing more stupid shit to dig his hole deeper. They’re friends from growing up in White Pine Bay, she knows him through and through. And she can tell this has to do with Norma Bates.
At home, Mother worries about having Dylan around. She calls him “misguided” and plays the Him v. Us card. That he’ll make things too difficult, he can’t be part of their life now. Just Mother and her little boy, that’s the way it was intended. Will he go along with it? Can he convince Dylan that everything’s swell and he can go on back to his life with Emma and their new baby?
Out trying to get his brother more medication, Dylan discovers Norman’s doctor has been missing for over a year; there’s no way his brother had coffee with him recently. Yikes. Everything gets trickier when Dylan also runs into Madeleine Loomis (Isabelle McNally). She’s looking for Sam. The missing people on the possible list are piling up.
Pic 3Norman’s cooking a nice dinner for he and his brother. Life seems grand, music plays. All appears right. Certainly Dylan can’t shake what he knows, or what he thinks he knows. He brings up Sam Loomis, they have a conversation about what Norman remembers. He makes up a little(/tall) tale. It all devolves as the younger of the two gets upset over his older brother “meddling with the truth.” All Dylan wants is to protect him, to help him heal and get better. He tries convincing Norman to take his pills again.
Then it all goes haywire. Mother comes out to speak with her oldest boy. She doesn’t want her baby taking the medication, effectively making her go away. Unfortunately, there’s only room for one of Norma’s children. She tries to kill Dylan, Norman holding back the knife in her hand. The two personalities wrestle, as Dylan watches on in horror. Norman manages to overcome her.
He goes to the phone. Dials 911. And he reports himself for the murder of Sam Loomis before Mother can stop him.
Pic 4WOW! Just, damn. I didn’t see that ending coming. This puts the last few episodes into a wild frame, not exactly positive what the endgame is but I’m excited to watch it unfold. The next episode is “The Body” and I’m wondering if we’re about to see some truly disturbed, insane acting from Highmore once he and Mother are under lock and key.

Bates Motel – Season 5, Episode 5: “Dreams Die First”

A&E’s Bates Motel
Season 5, Episode 5: “Dreams Die First”
Directed by Nestor Carbonell
Written by Erica Lipez & Kerry Ehrin

* For a recap & review of the previous episode, “Hidden” – click here
* For a recap & review of the next episode, “Marion” – click here
Pic 1Norman Bates (Freddie Highmore) is gradually figuring things out about himself. The more he falls into the delusion of mother (Vera Farmiga) still being alive, the farther he falls into a dark headspace, half knowing he’s mad, half unable to stop the process. He wakes up with scratches on his back, not exactly sure where they came from, but Norman goes on to face the day. Only Norma’s nowhere to be found.
Where could she have gone? Clues are all he has, including a matchbook from a bar. Then Sheriff Jane Greene (Brooke Smith) calls him up, says she has something they need to talk about. Hmm.
Pic 1AEmma (Olivia Cooke) finds one of her mother’s earrings kicking around, though Dylan (Max Thieriot) claims it was his mother’s jewellery. Ah, the truth on that end has yet to come out. And building that new life of his, all honest and proper, I don’t think Dylan’s going to be able to let that sit. Not forever. I suspect this will have something to do with the last few episodes, and the fate of what happens to Norman in the long run.
Sheriff Greene wants to try prying more information about former Sheriff Alex Romero (Nestor Carbonell) – who he knew, his friends, hobbies, anything. Of course Norman only offers that he was a “lonely, very unhappy man.” She knows there’s a reason Romero has escaped, to come back to White Pine Bay and finish some previously unfinished business. She’s too smart, and Norman is up against more than he can handle, for now. He can’t simply bullshit his way out of this one, not with Sheriff Greene.
Again at home Norman can’t find mother. He seethes with rage, believing that she’s hiding or avoiding him. So he calls up the White Horse Bar, from the matchbook. Apparently Norma left her car there last night and the bartender has her keys. Has Norman been actually going OUT dressed as mother? Yikes, that is an escalation.
When Emma brings up the earring to Dylan they talk of contacting Norma. He doesn’t want any part of it, getting a bit angry. But it’s more so the fact he’s pretty sure his brother killed his mother-in-law.


Later on, Madeleine Loomis (Isabelle McNally) calls Norman to apologise for their previous evening. Her husband’s off in Seattle. She offers to drive Norman over to pick up his car; the longer they’re in contact, the more I worry for her. Especially the cold, detached way he acts, which gets worse as he tangles with mother’s influence. Still, he offers good advice for Madeleine – talk to her husband, figure things out. Soon Norman finally reveals to her that the first time he met Sam the guy was bringing a woman to the Bates Motel. She doesn’t respond well, unwilling to believe what he’s told her. Hurt, angry, she leaves.
Norman: “I sure understand what it is to be lonely, although I dont have a choice.”
Except Sam Loomis (Austin Nichols) is rolling around in bed with Marion Crane (Rihanna). More than that they’re in love, deeply. She doesn’t even care about his shitty debt. Now she’d like to come down to White Pine Bay for a visit, though he’d rather she not. This starts to setup a revisiting of the plot from Robert Bloch’s (/Alfred Hitchcock’s adaptation of) Psycho. From what I see so far, Rihanna will make an interesting Marion, a totally different version from Janet Leigh, and there ain’t nothing wrong with that. She has the sort of mysterious, alluring look the role requires.
We get a brief look at Marion’s life, her work as a notary, having to deal with arrogant men around her in the financial industry. All working towards her eventual getaway.
Pic 3Norman gets to the White Horse Bar and picks up the keys to his car. Pretty sure the bartender remembers him, probably from wearing a dress, a blonde wig, et cetera. Such a creepy, unsettling conversation, as it’s clear the guy doesn’t realise that Norma and Norman don’t know they’re the same person. Just a fantastic scene! Norman’s really going to pieces.
We’ve come to it – Mr. Lowery gives Marion the hundreds of thousands of dollars to deposit, so that it isn’t sitting at the office over the weekend. He’s also dismissive of her talent, being a bit harsher than needed. And this all but mentally seals the deal for Marion. Sitting next to the briefcase you can see the wheels in her brain turning.
Driving in the street, Norman comes across Dr. Gregg Edwards (Damon Gupton). They have a cup of coffee together. Norman thanks the good doctor for his help. He lies about taking his medication, not having blackouts. Then Dr. Edwards mentions his “coping mechanisms” for dealing with trauma – a.k.a becoming mother – and this all but sends the young man into a trance. He knows that he sees mother when she’s “not really there” and that he becomes her. And certainly Norman denies all of this to the doc, saying it never happens anymore. Yeah, right. Even a blind man would see through that.
Jumping in her little red Mazda, loaded to the gills with cash, Marion hits the highway. What I love is that we’re getting all the same plot points about Ms. Crane, only that they’re adapted to make things a little different and fresh. When a cop pulls her over, she isn’t sleeping like Janet Leigh, she’s got a coat sticking from the trunk; the cop is also played by series producer Carlton Cuse. Tense moment when she pops her trunk, worrying all that money will be found. Then, nothing. She heads on further to White Pine Bay.
Not only that, she’s calling Sam who isn’t pleased to hear she is on her way. Plus, it seems Marion isn’t in on the fact he’s a married man. What a double dealing bastard. This puts Marion in such a terrible position, essentially driven out there to him and only to soon find her way into a horrific situation at the Bates Motel.
Pic 4Dylan sits Emma down and tells her about why he cut off contact with Norma. He explains about Norman, his mental illness. That he could “do anything” in his fits of rage. He talks about Blair Watson, Norman killing his father. Then he brings up the earring, that Norma was holding onto it. Eventually, Dylan says he believes it was possible something bad happened to her mother at the motel, obviously freaking Emma out and upsetting her for not knowing sooner.
Searching for answers, Norman goes to the White Horse where he’s recognised. This is another aspect of the adaptation I love! He isn’t just going into a psychosis at home, hurting people. He’s out living a life crossdressing as Norma, hitting the bar and meeting people. This isn’t merely a way to dissociate into a state where he kills, this is a full on identity crisis. He isn’t dressing up as mother: he is LIVING as mother. Even having sex as a mother. Yowzahs, Norman! He winds up having an episode in the bathroom after encountering the man he hooked up with the night before. One of the single eeriest scenes ever on Bates Motel.
Norman: “I need my mother
That night when Emma Googles the Bates Motel, she discovers that Norma was found dead of an apparent suicide. This will definitely start bringing Dylan back into the mix of Norman and mother’s fucked up lives.
And Marion, she’s pulling up to the Bates Motel to meet Sam. While Norman is in the midst of a state of terrible psychosis. What will happen next?


Jesus, do I ever love this show! The series gets better all the time, and now with the Psycho plot in motion I’m incredibly interested in how the series will do its swan song in the final episodes. Lots to look forward to, and I do think Rihanna will impress as Marion Crane.
Next is the aptly titled “Marion” in which we’ll witness her arrival at the motel, as well as whatever that brings.