The Exorcist – Season 1, Chapter Five: “Through My Most Grievous Fault”

FOX’s The Exorcist
Season 1, Episode 5: “Through My Most Grievous Fault”
Directed by Jason Ensler
Written by David Grimm

* For a review of Chapter Four, “The Moveable Feast” – click here
* For a review of Chapter Five, “Star of the Morning” – click here
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A demonic confrontation is upon us!
Will the power of the Lord compel this evil force from young Casey Rance (Hannah Kasulka)? Can Father Marcus Keane (Ben Daniels) and Father Tomas Ortega (Alfonso Herrera) band together and do what’s necessary?
The two priests sit together on a stairway not unlike the one from William Friedkin’s original classic, the first adaptation of William Peter Blatty and his terrifying novel. Above the man, a dark sky brews in metaphorical turmoil.
Inside the Rance house, Kat (Brianne Howey) sleeps, as does her mother Angela (Alan Ruck & Geena Davis). Dear ole dad Henry (Alan Ruck) is up with his daughter, in the grip of her possession. She’s chained, starting to look pretty ghastly. Henry tries to pray over her and comfort what humanity is left. Suddenly Casey speaks to her father sweetly of a “secret” and asking if he’d like to hear: “Closer,” she says. Oh, no. She pulls him tight, as the demon whispers and tongues her father’s ear. Yuck – in the best horror way. Only afterwards Henry’s acting strange.
I wonder: what did that naughty demon say? I’m sure we’ll find out sooner than later. It’s starting to sow the seeds of distrust and paranoia amongst those closest to Casey.
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Poor Kat. She’s still heartbroken, in the throes of sadness and guilt at once. She leafs through all the memories of her lost love. That is, until the noises from the room next door begin. She hasn’t yet discovered the gruesome truth of all the exorcism talk. Angela isn’t having an easy go of it, either. She feels a ton of guilt, too. All the while she tries drowning out the noise of the priests doing their duty upstairs.
And what about upstairs? Father Marcus reels off prayer at the demon, who speaks directly to Father Tomas, calling him out for being “a liar” and ranting at them both in English and Latin alike. All prior to doing a few parlour tricks, like pulling out one of Casey’s toenails – “Isnt it wonderful?” asks the demon in creepy rhetorical fashion.
Henry isn’t acting normal. He starts talking a bit about God, asking whether she’s ever lied to him. She won’t answer, and it becomes clear there’s something she’s hidden. What is it, exactly?
The demon turns up the heat on Father Tomas, speaking as his grandmother from beyond the grave. He tries to resist, as Father Marcus advises not to “let it in your head.” But Ortega fights back, tossing holy water and trying to push against the unholiness. Then the flying act starts, and Casey’s body is tossed from one end of the room to the other. It won’t stop “till she gives me her rancid little soul,” spake the demon. Both priests know they’re in for a far large, more brutal fight than anticipated.

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That Salesman (Robert Emmet Lumney) is back, of course. Literally sitting on Casey’s chest; a perfect metaphor for the life being choked out of her. And he stresses to the girl: “Bring her to me!” So is the real target Casey, or is it Kat? Or maybe he’s just talking of Casey’s soul. Who knows. I just feel like there’s more to Kat and her personal story, that it’ll play into the overall story more relevantly eventually.
Tomas hears the voice of Jessica (Mouzam Makkar) calling him. You know it’s just the demon, imitating, twisting at the souls of others. Yet in the room is a vision of her. Can Tomas repel the “unclean spirit” on his own? No, he can’t, not on his own. Marcus isn’t happy with it, Tomas is compromised, and in the middle of it all Kat gets a shocking look at her sister lying on the floor. That can’t be good for anybody.
So again, it’s Father Marcus v. demon. The nasty voice of the tainted soul comes from Casey, taunting the excommunicated priest with everything in its arsenal. “Let the blood of Christ redeem you,” he yells, pressing that rosary against Casey’s forehead. From nowhere comes a vision of Marcus’ mother, speaking to him: “You was a mistake. You was never supposed to happen.” That’s fucking rough. Oh, and Marcus, his dad beat his mother’s brains out with a hammer. She continues saying terrible things to her son, the demon rants more. But it’s not enough to take him down to the demon’s level. At the same time, Father Tomas falls down the rabbit hole with Jessica – sexually; has the demon broken him completely?


Just as I guessed, Kat called the police. This is really going to turn things into diarrhea for everyone at the Rance house, Father Marcus included. Right before he can finish things the police break in, taking him away. And the demon plays up to the expectations of the medics, the police, making it all look appropriate. Another cog in the giant wheel of its game.
From the back of the ambulance Kat sees Casey – or the demon – smile right at her. Oh, great. You already know Casey won’t be making it to the hospital. That evil force all but obliterates the ambulance, leaving the paramedics bloody and dead. Sitting in jail, Marcus hears the news of it all on television. He deciphers something the demon told him: “He is coming.” Sound familiar? Yes, yes. The papal visit.
At home, Henry keeps prodding for truth from Angela. He urges her to confess. It all has something to do with that Bible he found in the closet, with the feather, the flowers. What does it mean? Did she cheat? Did she have an abortion? What is it?
Meanwhile, Father Tomas is worried for the sin he’s committed. He’s gone against his vows. He must repent. In church he comes across Angela, she too looking for forgiveness, trying to repent for her own sins. She tells him a bit about herself and that she had an “imaginary friend” who came in the form of a little red bird. She eventually became somebody else, moving away from her old life and getting far from her mother.


But guess what? Grandma’s back. The secret is out: Angela was Regan MacNeil! No way! DID NOT SEE THAT COMING. Shit.
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What an impressive twist to this episode. I cannot wait for the next chapter, this is wild. And to think, I thought it was some cheating or abortion story. She blew that out of the water.

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The Exorcist – Season 1, Chapter Four: “The Moveable Feast”

FOX’s The Exorcist
Season 1, Episode 4: “The Moveable Feast”
Directed by Craig Zisk
Written by Adam Stein

* For a review of Chapter Three, “Let ‘Em In” – click here
* For a review of Chapter Five, “Through My Most Grievous Fault” – click here
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After Casey Rance (Hannah Kasulka) went wild on that young man in the subway, she’s treated to a day of happy, happy, happy – or is it a dream? – by her mother Angela (Geena Davis), as Kat (Brianne Howey) and their father Henry (Alan Ruck) wait at the table. She’s served a nasty meal of miscarried chicken fetuses. The Salesman (Robert Emmet Lunney) shows up, too. Casey’s feet are held to the floor by a strange, evil-looking growth. They all want her to eat. “Why resist, darling?” asks the Salesman. She was sold a bill of goods that aren’t what they seemed in the beginning. Demonic possession ain’t all it’s cracked up to be! The demon needs permission to be let in. He doesn’t have it. Not quite yet. But it’s coming, whether Casey likes it or not.
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She’s stashed away in a psychiatric ward for 72 hours. Seeing as how she tore that dude apart on the train; not like he didn’t deserve it, the rapey bastard. Anyways, the Rance family are all struck dumb by everything that’s happened. Worried sick. Angela calls Father Tomas Ortega (Alfonso Herrera), naturally, who gets to the hospital promptly. Angela knows there’s something very wrong with her daughter, and upset the church won’t help. How long until she forces the case into someone else’s hands? Well, the curling iron burns to Casey’s genitals make everybody a little more than nervous.
Father Marcus Keane (Ben Daniels) is out rallying for his cause. He’s been given a short list of names to check out, suggested by Father Bennett (Kurt Egyiawan). He happens to spy a nun at one church with a suspicious injury on her face. Hmm. Then he finds that same nun – Mother Bernadette (Deanna Dunagan) – in the midst of a circle of other sisters, in front of a possessed man in a hideous state. She stands up against the creature’s swiping at her, being pushed to the floor; Marcus nearly rushes in, although she gestures for him to stay put. Eventually, she brings the man and the demon inside him to her mercy, holding him against her chest a moment before laying him to the ground. A mysterious, powerful moment.
At the hospital, the Salesman talks to Casey about how “resistance” is ruining her beautiful face. She understands the trick behind all the seduction. However, now that she’s in pain there’s that temptation of letting go, falling headlong into the abyss. One thing’s for sure: that Salesman is god damn unnerving, every time he’s onscreen.

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Riding around Chicago on a Serial Killer Tour bus, Father Marcus is still curious about the latest murders, the organs and limbs and various human bits taken by people into the night. He’s worried for whatever is coming.
The Rances try hard to get through their predicament. Henry comforts his wife saying he’ll do what’s necessary to help their daughter. We’ll see if the help comes from Father Tomas or Marcus. I’m betting the latter. Because Tomas is busy with Maria Walters (Kirsten Fitzgerald), trying to do a bit of political-type leaning in order to get higher permission for an exorcism. When I imagine Marcus would probably just go for it. Such are the benefits of excommunication, I guess. But Father Tomas, he has the will. He bones up on his study of exorcisms. Right as his almost more than friend Jessica (Mouzam Makkar). She’s found that her husband has been being unfaithful to her. Oh, my. Something else to conflict Tomas, as he wrestles with the most extreme lengths of his Catholic faith.
Over in a trailer someplace, Father Marcus sits with the tour bus guides Lester and Cherry Rego. The know Bennett, it turns out. “An exorcist with a gun,” the priest calls himself. “Evils a moveable feast,” says Lester once they get down to talking business. The Chicago crime rate is brought into the concept of evil touching down in the heartland of America. So, the body parts, “vocare pulvere” the “Ceremony of Ash” and all that comes into play.
Casey has it worse and worse by the minute at the hospital, her condition seemingly out of control. Except the Salesman comes back talking to her about nasty things. There’s no escape for her.

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Finally, Father Marcus meets Mother Bernadette, whose humour is much better than you’d expect. They’re both pretty sly characters, I love it. Their chat circles around, of course, the act of exorcism. She knows Father Bennett, but likewise understands the plight of Marcus, as well as that of the Holy Father and his looming visit. Possession cases, like crime, are heading up, up, up. Bernadette suggests Marcus doesn’t need to necessarily follow all the rules. Rather, he must take his ego out of the picture a little more.
Kat’s not happy about her sister being prepped for exorcism. Even Henry, after the train in the last episode, is on board. Although I worry about Tomas hoping to “unofficially” take care of things. He might botch it, and who knows what that’ll do. Speaking of exorcisms, Father Marcus is in the middle of the nun circle, face to face with that possessed man. He brings the demon into an embrace: “You are redeemed. You are loved.” He learns of a new approach in the fight against the devil’s legions. One with a slightly more feminine touch out of Bernadette’s handbook that just might give him the edge he needs in the battles to come.
Continually Casey is taunted by the Salesman, to let the demons inside. He chokes one of the nurses, insisting she give in and say the word. She nearly does before Angela barges in. For now the Salesman recedes. He’s not gone, only in the background again for a moment. Casey’s let out of the hospital. He’ll be back.

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With Father Marcus refreshed in the concept of exorcism, he heads back to see Father Tomas, who keeps on studying. Better than that the younger priest asks for help. He doesn’t care anymore about the rules of the church, and is willing to go all the way to help Casey. So now there’s two renegade bad asses ready to take on the devil. They prepare themselves a proper room with restraints, boards nailed with coverings in the windows, all kinds of things to make Casey’s room in the Rance house suitable for exorcism.
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Can’t wait to see what happens next. Chapter Five “Through My Most Grievous Fault” ought to be quite a trip!

THE SEVENTH SIGN’s Psychological Book of Revelations Horror

The Seventh Sign. 1988. Directed by Carl Schultz. Screenplay by Clifford & Ellen Green (as George Kaplan & W.W. Wicket).
Starring Demi Moore, Michael Biehn, Jürgen Prochnow, Peter Friedman, Manny Jacobs, John Taylor, Lee Garlington, Akosua Busia, Harry Basil, Michael Laskin, & Ian Buchanan.
TriStar Pictures/Interscope Communications/ML Delphi Premier Productions.
Rated R. 97 minutes.
Drama/Fantasy/Horror/Thriller

★★★1/2
posterAdmittedly, director Carl Schultz is someone I’m not familiar with, outside of his work on The Young Indiana Jones Chronicles. Often I try to see more than one thing by a director, just so I can then gauge their abilities more appropriately. Far as I know, The Seventh Sign is the only time Schultz has dipped into anything horror.
Then there’s screenwriters Clifford and Ellen Green, credited here respectively as George Kaplan and W.W. Wicket, whose work I know from 2000’s Bless the Child – a mediocre film, but one that gets into ideas of good versus evil in a religious sense, though never gets into preaching territory. Much like their writing in this film.
The Seventh Sign goes for a biblical horror, one that sees the Book of Revelations become terrifyingly real. It’s not amazing, it’s interesting. The horror is more psychological than anything action-oriented, making most of the movie a dramatic thriller about a woman who may be the only one with knowledge of an impending apocalypse. As far as Bible-oriented horror movies, this one is up there on the list of great titles.
A few flaws aren’t enough to make this bad, not for me. I’m too busy watching Jesus bring back the wrath of God. And I’m not even a Christian, I just love an epic horror flick.
screen-shot-2016-09-27-at-8-54-17-pmscreen-shot-2016-09-27-at-5-28-53-pmAlthough I’m not a believer in God, I’ve at least taken the time to read the Bible. Full disclosure, I’ve also read the Satanic Bible, too. Fair is fair, right? Well anyway, the Book of Revelations is always a favourite of those wanting to talk about the madness you find in the Bible. Because the wrath of God is no joke, man. That’s why the opening of the film is excellently depicted. A very strange mood, as a man people seem to recognise even if they’re never seen him before walks through a seaside Haitian town. He reaches the ocean, stepping in slightly, before dead fish roll in by the dozens upon dozens (“A third of the living creatures in the sea died” Revelation 8:9). Already in those opening moments there’s an atmosphere of horrible anticipation, this dread like sweat clinging on. Very well executed to make the story ominous straight away, setting the tone from step one.
What if the biblical apocalypse were literal? What if it weren’t just “poetry” and rather a literally translated description of the destruction involved in God’s ultimate wrath against mankind, for the world – the one he created with painstaking hope – swallowed whole by sin? Premonitions of the coming apocalypse plague Abby Quinn (Demi Moore). Her experience is what generates the psychological horror of the screenplay from the Greens. Their wonderful writing turns what could, in the hands of other writers and directors, end up as a big budget destruction movie into an apocalyptic drama with far reaching consequences. They bring out the horror in how Abby sees visions, so much so at one point she ends up in the bathtub with a razor against her wrists. Without spoiling too much about Abby’s character, she, Father Lucci (Peter Friedman), and David Bannon (Jürgen Prochnow) are all modern incarnations of biblical figures, each with their own purpose and journey, some more tragic than others. The story is terrifying in how much suffering these characters go through in their respective ways.
screen-shot-2016-09-27-at-8-30-41-pmWill you die for him?”
The vision Abby has is haunting. She sees only a glimpse of some ancient past, first seeing a ringed hand covered with blood, someone chained being beaten. Later, we see the more unnerving truth behind it – who was being beaten, who did the beating. There are lots of spot on moments of eeriness where Schultz teases us with brief flashes. Specifically, the torturous thoughts that burrow their way into Abby’s mind are given to us much like they come to her, in flashes of shocking terror. Meanwhile, watching Prochnow’s character sort of waltz through this world heavy with the air of an incoming apocalypse is quite enjoyable. My favourite is the scene where Abby tries to stab him and he laments: “I cant die again. I wish I could.”
Prochnow is a major part of why The Seventh Sign works as a whole; he and Moore are equally good in their roles. But Prochnow, for someone who has been in amazing movies over the course of his storied career, has never been better. And that’s saying something! His entire demeanour, the casual speech, his measured tone, these traits makes the character feel at once supernatural and simultaneously all too human. Someone could well go over-the-top in a performance as this character. He keeps it right on the perfect note the entire time.
Another aspect I love, perhaps more than anything about the film, is the score from Jack Nitzsche (who’s worked with The Rolling Stones & Neil Young, won on Oscar for his song “Up Where We Belong” from An Officer and a Gentleman, amongst other notable achievements). His compositions are genuinely strange, in a totally compelling, powerful way. It feels religions during many scenes, as if hearing the hymns of an ancient church from a long ago era. For a film based on the apocalypse from Revelations, the music fits will all types of sounds – some synthesizer, low and near guttural chants, spooky strings that make you feel like you’re being dragged into hell. The emotion behind these pieces is heavy, matching the epic scale of the film’s plot. Awesome score that I’d love to get my hands on.
screen-shot-2016-09-27-at-8-30-50-pmThe Seventh Sign is a late ’80s thriller people don’t often talk about. It doesn’t have the greatest rating anywhere. But I feel like somehow it got lost at the end of a decade filled with all kinds of horror. Schultz breaks out of his usual genres to do something different, and with a competent cast of actors (can’t forget Friedman; he is solid as Father Lucci) he does just that, giving us bits of biblical fantasy and some glimpses into horror that are memorable.
I’d recommend checking this out if you can track it down. There’s plenty of excitement to enjoy. Moore gives a nice central performance to match Prochnow’s magic; she plays the tough woman in distress at the heart of the apocalypse’s drama. This Halloween, find The Seventh Sign, and dig in for some chilling religious horror.

The Exorcist – Season 1, Chapter Two: “Lupus in Fabula”

FOX’s The Exorcist
Season 1, Chapter Two: “Lupus in Fabula”
Directed by Michael Nankin
Written by Heather Bellson

* For a review of Chapter One: “And Let My Cry Come Unto Thee” – click here
* For a review of Chapter Three: “Let ‘Em In” – click here
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Young boys in a dark room are ordered around by a nasty man with a thick Irish brogue. One of them is lead down into a darker part of the large basement, in whatever building they’re stowed away. The kid takes a Holy Bible with him into a long tunnel-like corridor. At the end is a man plagued by a demon possessing him.
Cut to Father Marcus Keane (Ben Daniels) – that was little Marcus, back in the early days. Oh, I love the intrigue! In his own personal Bible, he annotates various sections. By the look of it he’s quite the devout man in his older age. Or is he merely a man trying to figure life out? Likely both. He’s troubled though, that’s more than evident.
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Angela Rance (Geena Davis) is having trouble, too. Her daughter Casey (Hannah Kasulka) is speaking in an eerie voice, sitting alone in the dark. Whatever demon that’s possessed her is a pervert, as it turns out. And he warns Casey about her “lying, sneaking mother.” One of the creepiest scenes yet, if not the creepiest.
Father Tomas Ortega (Alfonso Herrera) is talking with Bishop Egan (Brad Armacost) about whether he might be able to conduct an exorcism. Obviously that goes over like a fart in church (appropriate joke). The modern day Catholic Church clearly looks down on all that old demon and hellfire nonsense they once preached. Ah, the ever shifting plague of Catholicism.
Meanwhile, Angela’s out keeping up appearances because that’s clearly the type of family she and space case husband Henry (Alan Ruck) have together. There’s a looming visit for Pope Sebastian on the horizon. A perfect addition for any horror, particularly one involving demons. Speaking of which, Casey calls mom in a speechless panic. At home upstairs, mom finds no Casey. The family gets home and things are feeling confused. Gets worse when they uncover a sickly nest of centipedes squirming around on Casey’s sheets. The beginning signs of evil.

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Father Marcus has broken into Father Tomas’ place. A man of many talents. Love how the difference between these two men couldn’t be more vast, as is explained easily with this harmless little act of breaking-and-entering. So it seems Keane is back in the game. He lets Father Tomas in on what’s happening with the demon, or what’s soon to happen. The guy’s definitely seen his share of shit. But there’s also Tomas, his pen pal relationship (and possibly more) with a woman named Jessica; who is she? Makes Keane, and us, very curious. Turns out there was a brief relationship of sorts before he took his vows. All Father Marcus is trying to make clear is that the demon can tell everything. It will use all of it against them.
During a lacrosse game, Casey sees an old man (Robert Emmet Lunney) wave to her in the stands. On the field she has a run in with a particular player, after which she turns into… someone else. She focuses on the other player whose leg soon snaps. Spooky.
At home the family is playing Jenga and having a laugh together. Except things take a turn when Angela lets slip her ideas about what’s going on with Casey. And the demon’s ready to play.
The next day at the church, Angela pleads with Father Tomas to get things moving. He’s reluctant because of what Bishop Egan said. They want more psychiatric evidence about what could be going on with the girl. Trying to snatch up a bit of holy water the mother winds up talking to Father Marcus. He happily gives out a bit of advice on the sly. “God helps those who help themselves, right?” he quips; a Ben Franklin quote. In the food line at church, the man with the messed up scalp from last episode goes up to Casey, speaking about her being chosen and then calling out: “Let me touch you.” He also makes Father Marcus double-take back to his childhood in the dark tunnel.
Tomas goes to meet with Jessica (Mouzam Makkar). There’s obviously a deeper connection between them than a platonic relationship. Her marriage is crumbling. His faith slips a little each time they communicate. He’s tempted by her, but that goes against his vows. So much conflict inside him. Nicely juxtaposed, though. He’s questioning his faith due to this woman, as well as coming up against something that absolutely represents the fact of his faith as reality: demonic possession.
Then there’s Father Marcus. He looks for the homeless man from the church, only to find another possessed wretch claiming he’s “the one we feared until you lost that little boy.” That oh so famous line comes out, only to get the reply: “Do I look compelled, man of God?” It mocks Marcus and his faith before leaving.

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At home, Angela and the family sit to eat. She apologises for being distracted lately and for lashing out emotionally in the wrong ways. She tries slipping the holy water into Casey’s drink, watching eagerly for its effects. Nothing happens while they sit around the table, which makes Angela feel at ease. But the demon rushes off quick when it can so that Casey can puke up that slimy green stuff. Plus haul a centipede out of her throat. Yikes. Possession is rough.
Later that night outside, the man from the lacrosse game tells her that a “glorious seed” is “breaching the soil.” He sits with her, Casey tells him everything. Clueless father Henry watches from the window to see nobody is actually there.
Father Tomas goes through Marcus’ things to repay the favour. When the older priest arrives, he’s a bit surprises, probably not expecting it from the younger man. Tomas is troubled, but Marcus assures: “Speak of the devil and he shall appear,” which is in part the Latin from where this episode’s title derives. Marcus reveals his father murdered his mother in front of him. He was later sold to the church for “five quid.” That’s how he ended up being 12, locked in a dark room with a demon-possessed man. But instead of feeling fear as that lonely little boy, he felt he’d discovered his purpose in life. Through this conversation Tomas and Marcus come to terms on themselves, as well as each other.
Note the amazing performance from Ben Daniels, a fabulous actor; he takes the material and lifts it off the page magically.

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In another part of the city an apartment of people are murdered. Their organs are put into containers and men take them away, joined on the street by the homeless man, and others, all carrying similar containers and loading them into a truck before heading out. “A mass homicide,” as it’s called on the news. Father Marcus listens to this and finds it suspicious, wondering if there’s more to it. The billboard advertising Pope Sebastian’s visit looms large in the street, the slogan HE IS COMING feeling prophetic in many ways.

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A fabulous follow-up to the premiere episode. Some interesting bits that I’m looking forward to watching play out over the next episodes. I like that they’re not going too hard and putting everything out there. While you can see where things are headed, there’s still a great bit of mystery involved.
Next episode is titled “Let ‘Em In” – hope they let Father Marcus loose, because you know he’s a wild one.

There Are No Answers for Evil in HOME MOVIE

Home Movie. 2008. Directed & Written by Christopher Denham.
Starring Adrian Pasdar, Cady McClain, Amber Joy Williams, Austin Williams, Lucian Maisel, & River O’Neal.
Modernciné.
Rated R. 80 minutes.
Drama/Horror/Thriller

★★★★1/2
posterThe theme of evil is a prevalent one in the horror genre. Whether through a lens of science or organised religion, there are many films that tackle the nature of evil; from where it originates, what makes a person evil and drives them to do evil to others. It’s hard to ever know, but horror movies do their best to give us all the scenarios for our sick enjoyment.
Christopher Denham gives us Home Movie – a suspenseful, eerie addition to the found footage sub-genre. Using the story of two parents – David and Clare Poe (Adrian Pasdar & Cady McClain) – who are having trouble with their young, strange children, Denham explores the idea of evil. The main plot has to do with the mother (works in psychology) and the father (a pastor) having opposite worldviews, so they’ve come to different conclusions on what is making their children act like two budding serial killers.
What makes it all so effective is attention to sticking with the found footage format, generally keeping close to making it feel like this footage was actually FOUND instead of edited together. Furthermore, Pasdar and McClain are a natural couple with positive chemistry for the roles, alongside Amber Joy Williams & Austin Williams as Jack and Emily who act beyond their years with an ability to creep you out that needs to be seen to be believed.
Trust me. If ever creepy kids were creepy as hell, Home Movie is the flick.
pic2Opening the film with dead animals being wrapped in plastic bags, put in a kid’s wagon, then quickly cutting to David flicking through the camera starting to film some nice family moments is a masterful juxtaposition. This sets the film’s tone fast. A disgusting moment juxtaposed against the innocuous, typical dad-like activity is like a thesis: we are about to witness a (semi)normal family descend into macabre madness.
There’s a lot of dragon imagery throughout the story. We see the dragon puppet the kids have, and then dad tells his children a story called “The Dragon and The Paper Bag” that concerns a dragon who disguises himself to fit in amongst boys and girls only to eat them up in a dastardly plan. Notice it’s a two-headed dragon. So, quite swiftly Denham sets up a symbolic parallel between the two-headed beast and the two Poe kids. Just as the dragon walked and talked like a child but was only pretending, we eventually come to see how the Poe kids also pretend to be children while they’re so much more in the most sinister of ways.
Our first big indication of a serious problem, as well as the kids’ affront to their parents respective fields (a conscious effort on their part), is the crucified cat. On Christmas Day, no less. They don’t just kill a cat, they don’t simply nail him to a piece of wood: they crucify him. This is their initial dig at God. Worse still, it’s likely the kids who set into motion the mistaken assumption on their mother’s part that David is abusing them. He gets drunk on New Years and ends up laying in bed with his kids; they wake up with bites all over them, deep and hard. Earlier in the movie we hear Clare tell David to stop biting her. And so the kids – who are known to be watching the tapes – bite each other. They manipulate Clare into thinking that her field of science is the one able to provide an explanation: David, as it turns out, was abused as a boy, and so statistics show many abused kids grow up to abuse their own offspring. More and more, little Jack and Emily set their parents against one another, all in the name of completing their evil without being bothered too much.
pic3So many message boards for this movie have thrived on the idea that there’s actually a chance the kids were possessed. Not true, at all. Not in any way. The children aren’t possessed, nor can psychology and all the science of the world properly diagnose and explain their evil behaviour. Just like the most famous serial killers in history, these kids are psychopaths. They’ve gone from nailing down worms to beheading dogs, crucifying cats, to first harming another child to likely murdering their own parents. The whole point of the film is that evil has NO explanation. There’s no one solitary answer. Even the FBI with their checklist of factors which lead to someone becoming a serial killer readily admit there’s no right combination; each person, and consequently their personal brand of evil, is different.
What’s positively evident at all times is the creepiness. Pasdar’s charm as the family patriarch lulls us into a complacent feeling, like these are real people, as does the relationship between him and McClain. Set against the parents, Jack and Emily are terrifying, two near emotionless children, manipulative and worrisome at every turn. The family dynamic overall is so natural that once the horror gets going full force you’re swept away by each following event. Calling back to the dragon, the kids don paper bags when committing ghastly acts, such as preparing a friend from school to eat – they don’t get to do it, but close enough. Later when they have their parents tied up, they once more put on their paper bags. Again, their likeness to the dragon is brought to the front. We see the kids for who they are: monsters. They even wear Japanese-style masks, reminiscent of dragons, as they lay siege to their parents before the climactic moments. Love the imagery that repeats, getting stronger with each appearance, until the horror is unbearable.
pic3-1This is a great found footage horror. Near the end, the kids start setting up for “The Jack and Emily Show” and it’s as if Kevin McCallister and his younger sister teamed up as killers to make his wish of never seeing his family again come true; the found footage edition of Home Alone. Most of the sub-genre is adhered to, although a couple times a bit of choice editing works its way. I can forgive some of that because Denham really makes the whole thing look like we’re seeing home movies, some messed up and static-filled, bits merging together having been taped over time and time again.
Above anything else, Home Movie unnervingly looks into the nature of evil, positing that between science and religion there are no full explanations. Try though people might we will never find an exact definition or idea of evil. When it comes to the subject of killer children, or those kids who may go on to be serial killers at a later age, there’s often no way to clue everything up in a nice package for people to say “Oh this is evil” like a coordinate on a map. No. Just as the Poe children show us, there are no ways to understand evil, and certainly not in such young people. Evil is fluid, it comes in many forms and all too often inexplicably.

Outcast – Season 1, Episode 10: “This Little Light”

Cinemax’s Outcast
Season 1, Episode 10: “This Little Light”
Directed by Loni Peristere
Written by Chris Black

* For a recap & review of the previous episode, “Close to Home” – click here
* For a recap & review of the Season 2 premiere, click here.
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The Holter place is no longer safe. Megan (Wrenn Schmidt) has been fully taken possession of by a demon. It’s infiltrated her to the core, now her husband Mark (David Denman) is dead. Her daughter and niece are still in the house, which is terrifying. Luckily, or unfortunately, Amber’s seen this type of thing before. So she knows that calling her father, Kyle (Patrick Fugit), is likely the best possible option.
Because aunt Megan is sick. Very, very sick.
When Kyle does get there along with Rev. John Anderson (Philip Glenister), they find the absolute carnage strewn about the house. Kyle discovers Mark’s corpse, bled out on the bathroom floor. All the signs of an awful scene having gone down. In the upstairs closet, he finds the girls: “It was just like mommy,” Amber cries to her dad.
Now, the search is on for Megan. She’s out in the night, possessed, headed who knows where. For the time being it’s out onto the football field, as she wanders barefoot in the grass before going insane when the sprinklers turn on.


Kyle: “I shouldve never come out of my house


Kyle and the Rev go get Chief Giles (Reg E. Cathey), so he might provide a bit of help. As if anybody could help right now. They let him in on what’s happening, as well as the fact it isn’t Megan doing the killing. However, Giles isn’t so keen. Yet he’s being pressured to make sure everyone perceives the death of Mark how they wish it to be seen.
Meanwhile, Sidney (Brent Spiner) is still lurking, waiting. Whatever’s coming for Rome is definitely not going to be pleasant. Oh, and the Ogdens – Lenny and Kat (Pete Burris & Debra Christofferson) are doing his bidding, taking care of more tortured souls in the eerie basement filled with mannequins. I’m sure it’s easy to sleep down there.
Outside a restaurant Megan’s mistaken for a homeless woman. After which she runs off into the darkness again when headlights flash at her; like “some of them” being kept by the Ogdens, light is not their friend. The Rev and Kyle cruise to try finding Megan, just barely missing her on the streets. Kyle wants to get to her before the police, to pull that demon inside her out. At the same time, Giles calls Mark’s death in as an accident.
Giles wife winds up calling Kat, asking what’s going on in their town. Kat’s busy, though. She has another soul from Sidney: Megan Holter. Oh no.
Patricia’s boy Aaron goes to the Chief’s place. He plays innocent, talking about the “devil coming to town” and all sorts of things. But you know that is a mere con. He pushes his way inside the house, and all bets are off.
The search for Megan is still on. Kyle and Anderson hear from Giles: Amber is with Aaron now, surely soon to be with Sidney, too. Things are getting quite scary now. Anderson tries to make Kyle realise that Sidney is the devil in the flesh: “If this battle is to be won, it cant be won alone.” All the younger of the two cares about is his own flesh and blood, the daughter who’s been through so much already.
Kyle and Sidney find themselves on a dark road, meeting in only the headlights of a car. The devilish man in black requires Kyle to get into the trunk of his car blindfolded. Looks like we, and Kyle, might get some answers to what it all means. When he arrives at the destination, Amber’s there. Although they’re locked in a room. Sidney speaks cryptically of the demons, where they’re from, and why he’s keeping Kyle locked away; for when they “need” him. “For what?” Kyle yells after him, getting no answer. Simultaneously, Megan’s being ushered over to the other side of humanity, dropping further into the abyss of demonhood.
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Anderson’s laying in wait and comes across the little basement where Sidney has Kat and Lenny tucked away, taking care of those tortured people. The Rev helps bust Kyle out, or at least until Lenny has it out with Anderson. Securing Amber safely in the room, Kyle hulks out and finishes the door off, getting to the Reverend and pulling him out of trouble. Lenny lets some of the specimens loose, one of whom tries sucking a bit of essence from Kyle. Another of whom is Kyle’s poor sister, lost in the daze of demonic possession. She finds her way to Amber. Then her brother confronts the demon within. Megan is still in there, but the evil has taken hold. She attacks him. Trying to suck more of that essence from his body.
Once Amber puts her hands on aunt Megan, she reveals a power like her father’s, astonishing them all. It releases the black liquid from out of her possessed soul. Everybody is safe. For the moment.
Except now Megan must face the reality of Mark being dead. Kyle does his best to pass it off as an accident, trying hard to make sure she doesn’t shoulder all the blame. Anderson can’t take the weight and has to leave. But Kyle stays with his sister and hopes to help her through it, every step of the way.
The Rev has other things to do. He douses the trailer where Sidney stays in gasoline, lighting the place ablaze. Is Aaron inside? Is Sidney even home? Well, let’s hope the former isn’t the case. Because that could put Johnny in one hell of a tight spot.
Will a new day bring anything better?


Turns out Aaron’s missing, Patricia is worried sick. We can see where that’s headed. Particularly once the Rev notices Sidney driving down the street, alive and in his glory. Uh oh, to the power of a thousand. Just the look in the Rev’s eyes spell a troubled conscience.
At the gas station, Kyle and Amber gear up for a road trip. He wants to find a quiet place, where nobody knows about his and daughter’s “super power” like they take to calling it. Smart idea. Only I wonder how long that might last, either way. Not like they’re getting far. People are already staring at them; a half dozen or more standing silent around Kyle and Amber, their eyes focused solely on the pair.
The demons can sense them. They’re not going anywhere.
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What a perfect, creepy, exciting end to Season 1! Loved this finale wholeheartedly.
I hope for many seasons on this series. It’s been a great ride the whole way through, often getting exponentially better with every episode. Let’s all comb through the episodes again between now and whenever Cinemax graces us with the next bunch of episodes.

Preacher – Season 1, Episode 4: “Monster Swamp”

AMC’s Preacher
Season 1, Episode 4: “Monster Swamp”
Directed by Craig Zisk
Written by Sara Goodman

* For a review of the previous episode, “The Possibilities” – click here
* For a review of the next episode “South Will Rise Again” – click here
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We open on a young woman running from something or someone unseen. There are other women. Then there are gunshots, headshots, men with strange suits, all in a foggy forest, swamp-like area. One of them is Clive, from the whorehouse when Tulip (Ruth Negga) cleaned everybody out. They’re only playing paintball. Until one of the women falls into a hole in the ground, a deep, dark one.
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Skip back to when Jesse (Dominic Cooper) was only a young boy. His father preached in Annville. Now, in the present, Jesse Custer tries to do his best in the same position. Then there’s Cassidy (Joseph Gilgun) who’s got his own questions about the two men, Fiore (Tom Brooke) and DeBlanc (Anatol Yusef), that keep coming for the preacher. Side note: I love the getup Cassidy puts on to go out in the sun, it’s amazing and hilarious. Also, Cassidy is trying to warn Custer of what’s to come re: his new found powers, but the holy man just won’t listen.
Over with Sheriff Hugo Root (W. Earl Brown), a body’s being hauled out of the mud; the girl from earlier. Odin Quincannon (Jackie Earle Haley) is there having his say, and it becomes more clear by the episode who runs their little town.
Meanwhile, Emily (Lucy Griffiths) dealing with Jesse and his renewed sense of enthusiasm. She suspects deviousness, though he plays dumb. She heard things about Jesse and the bus driver, all that.


We get more looks at Jesse as a boy, his father whipping him in front of the other kids after catching him smoking – a habit that wasn’t whipped out of him. He’s still on the pack.
Cassidy is still scheming with Fiore and DeBlanc. They tell him about being from heaven, sort of like angels as he assumes. We discover the song DeBlanch sang a couple episodes ago to lure out the thing in Jesse is that entity’s favourite song; dig it. Better than all that, Cassidy gets a bit of cash out of them to buy some drugs. Y’know, because Jesse apparently has a thing for “controlled substances” and that’s a perfect opportunity for the old vampire to get his buzz on. Imagine being an ancient bloodsucking creature with nothing to do but waste time. Why not get wasted?
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Quincannon meets with Mayor Miles Person (Ricky Mabe), and he doesn’t look too pleased with some of the Mayor’s latest meetings. We begin to figure out with every new scene featuring Quincannon how he’s a disaffected, scary sort of man. He doesn’t show much emotion, which is scarier than someone that freaks out. He merely takes a piss right in Miles’ briefcase. “Plain as pie,” like the man says himself.
At the motel, the heaven-sent henchmen wait to either hear from Cassidy, or hear from someone on the other end of their strange telephone.
People are remembering the dead woman at the whorehouse. Only Tulip doesn’t have time for any for Clive and the other men, nor the women for running around in underwear being hunted down by men with paintball guns. Furthermore, we get a bit of history: Tulip’s mama was a prostitute there, reason why she and Mosie (Frances Lee McCain) – the owner – are so close. But the anger in her comes out. She walks into one of the girls rooms, thinking she’s swinging a bat at Clive, and whacks the guy right out the window.
Luckily, that guy was Cassidy. A piece of glass stuck in his neck won’t be the end of him. Tulip tries to help the guy, bringing him to the hospital. Where he sneaks off and she finds him drinking blood packs. Yikes. Cat’s out of that bag.


More flashbacks. Papa Custer goes to see Odin Quincannon, as a young Jesse sits outside waiting. Something bad happens in the office, and Jesse knows it. “Some people just cant be saved,” his father tells him. In present day, Jesse helps Odin with a large model, painting little soldiers and placing them on the landscape. Quincannon paints while Jesse brings up new things about the church, as well as Odin’s lack of attendance over the past few decades. The business man doesn’t have any time for the invisible man in the sky. Well, the preacher makes a deal: come to Sunday service, if he isn’t sold then Odin receives the land that once belonged to Jesse’s father.
During the service on Sunday, a new sort of sermon comes out of Preacher Custer. He talks in a more raw, upfront tone, inflammatory at times even. He charges them with being “sinners” and that they’ve strayed from the right path. Jesse’s plan is to turn Quincannon over to the Lord, in turn convincing everyone else. Of course Odin does not initially move over to the side of God. Not until Jesse breaks out his power, compelling him to “serve God” and then BAM – Quincannon is on the side of the Lord. Praise Jesus. Or… praise something.


The two heaven henchmen hear their weird little phone start ringing. Someone up above is calling. But who?
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Another great episode. Love the slow build up, as we get one little bit of information after another, gradually turning into something bigger, something wilder. The next episode is titled “South Will Rise Again” and I’m excited to see more. Lots of naysayers, naturally. Let them nay say. I say dig it with me, if you do.

Get Swallowed Whole by Terror in THE BORDERLANDS

The Borderlands. 2014. Directed & Written by Elliot Goldner.
Starring Gordon Kennedy, Robin Hill, Aidan McArdle, Sarah Annis, Lee Arnold, Drew Casson, Peter Charlton, Marcus Cunningham, Patrick Godfrey, Kevin Johnson, & Luke Neal.
Metrodome Distribution.

Rated R. 89 minutes.
Horror/Mystery

★★★★
POSTER Found footage in the independent film world of horror surged in the past 10 years especially, which has left us with more than a fair share of mediocre to shit efforts. I’m a big fan of the sub-genre. The whole technique of found footage can be used to great effect, depending on the story, the writing, and the overall direction. What’s exciting is when a movie using the technique decides to come with a different story, not the typical people running lost in the woods – often young people – with tons of dark, shaky camera work and lots of screaming, wailing, terrible audio.
The Borderlands boasts an intriguing story about religion, the dark side of faith. In a way, you can take it as an allegory about belief and how it consumes people wholly, far too often. On the surface, this is a solid piece of found footage work that opts to use a premise that hasn’t really been done yet, at least not well. Using the plot of a Vatican investigation concerning the strange going-ons at a remote church out in the woods, writer-director Elliot Goldner cultivates creepiness that still haunts me when I imagine those final scenes. A slow building, burning story moves towards its resolution that comes as an unexpected, disarming finale where the terror these men once thought benign is far greater and more disturbing than they’d originally thought when first starting on their journey. The found footage itself is nothing innovative. The story and the adventure on which it takes us is a horrific little slice of cinema that’s better than most of its similar kin.
Pic1 Anything Vatican related in horror I find awfully compelling. There are definitely horror movies that misuse those types of stories, but some can make it effective. Goldner frames the entire plot and story through these men investigating a supposed religious miracle for the Vatican. We’ve got the religious fellows – Deacon (Gordon Kennedy) and Mark (Aidan McArdle) – juxtaposed with a technical equipment guy, Gray (Robin Hill) – it’s great to have that one guy who isn’t fully religious, as it presents an entirely different dynamic than if we were relegated to main characters solely painted as religious believers. Even though Gray does believe in “stuff” as he says, there’s still a disconnect there which allows the non-faithful argument to enter into the situation.
Even better, this aspect leads into the horror. When things start becoming genuinely frightful and the situation at the remote church reveals itself as legitimately dangerous, the non-believer in Gray gives us a vessel into more terror, as he starts understanding there is a power greater than him. Whether that’s a terrifying power is another story. In opposition, Deacon is a faithful man working for the Catholic Church, yet he’s also a sceptic. He is trained not to believe any miracle at the drop of a hat, and what he’s seen over the years informs that. However, that bit of disbelief in any true miracle (or whatever you want to call what they later stumble across) allows Deacon to help us descend into the fear of the film much more easily. Combining these characters and their respective attitudes is a potent way to involve us in the characters. An element we’re not always privy to in the found footage sub-genre, where jump scares and messy, overused gore can sometimes take precedence over anything in regards to character development.
Pic2 There are Stephen King-H.P. Lovecraft vibes going on in the story. After the finale, you’ll understand that wholly. But even before we’re able to grasp there was some paganist religion happening in the church, an attempt at concealing the building’s history, as well as what happens inside its walls, what lies beneath the floor. Highly reminiscent, though without copying and merely by homage, of the short story “Jerusalem’s Lot” from King’s Night Shift (1978) collection.
What I love is how the build up comes slow and steady. First it’s a video, that could or could not be fake. Later, Gray gets everything live for audio, even bringing along some ghost hunting-type equipment that helps them suss out any odd electrical signals, anything to point towards the situation being manipulated. When they begin hearing sounds in the walls, unable to locate a source, this is the eerie beginning of moving towards the story’s revelations. They start hearing the cries of children, other such noises. The most unsettling? A deep, low bellow that nearly resembles a voice.
Coupling Gordon Kennedy with Robin Hill is an interesting combination. They work well together as actors, and their characters fit perfectly. Kennedy is a solid talent who makes Deacon come alive, he makes the religious empathetic, and he’s atypical of found footage actors because he isn’t overly melodramatic. Alongside him is Hill, an actor I’ve enjoyed ever since first seeing Ben Wheatley’s Down Terrace (he’s a film editor, too). Hill plays Gray well and often provides a bit of comic relief amongst all the grim subject matter. His believability makes the horror of the finale all the more real, unnerving, visceral. These two actors sell the scariness in this film, which can’t always be said about other found footage efforts where the actors seem to be cast on the basis of their lung capacity.
Pic2-1 This is definitely a favourite recent found footage flick of mine. There are many, and they seem to run the gamut of absolutely unwatchable to sometimes brilliant. I’ve seen a lot of these sub-genre pictures which defy expectation, many of those in only the past couple years. The Borderlands is one that I found pretty spectacular, even with its few flaws. Mostly, the religious angle, the church setting out in the forest, all these little details set it apart from other similarly filmed movies. And yes, we get our share of dark frames where there’s only a bit of light, some jumps here and there (although they aren’t typical either). Above all else, the story makes this unique. The actors keep us on edge and in their sceptical first, scared later perspective. Finally, it is the shocking and excellent finale that completely upends our expectations. For the longest time this feels as if it might reach a conclusion that can be forecast early on. Each time I watch this, I keep thinking how ingenious the last few moments become. Reaching those last seconds is a treat and I’m hoping writer-director Elliot Goldner will go for something equally exciting for the next film. This one caught me off guard. Whenever I need a little jolt, requiring a found footage feature to kick start my fear, this is one I usually think of before making a final decision. It may come on slow, but the climactic moments coming to the ending are a pay off worth seeing at least once.

The Path – Season 1, Episode 10: “The Miracle”

Hulu’s The Path
Season 1, Episode 10: “The Miracle”
Directed by Michael Weaver
Written by Jessica Goldberg

* For a review of the penultimate episode, “A Room with a View” – click here
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Our season finale commences with Sarah Lane (Michelle Monaghan) taking a walk in the forest on her own. Obviously lots to contemplate. She sees a white owl land nearby, captivating her. Meanwhile, Christmas is here. Eddie (Aaron Paul), Hawk (Kyle Allen), and the littlest Lane drive together. We see how the youngest is a little affected by the other kids in school having gifts and experiencing Christmas. Furthermore, we can tell how Eddie hates what happens to his children because of the cult.
Back in one of those creepy little rooms, Richard is trying to get Eddie to sign a form proclaiming him a “denier” but the latter won’t have any part of it. Sarah pulls rank. Later, Richard goes to see Alison Kemp (Sarah Jones). She’s in distress over the things her husband supposedly wrote in a journal. But can we trust that? Could it not be a plant? Seems too good to be true, and highly likely Sarah doesn’t know.
At the same time, Cal Roberts (Hugh Dancy) is only preparing to go bigger, go wider with Meyerism.


Sarah’s worried about Silas. She connects the snow owl out on the trail to some kind of omen. She calls Felicia and they chat about what may have happened. Felicia gives a sideways accusation leaning towards Cal, which Sarah refutes. Right as Cal walks in the door. He still wants Sarah in on the next “phase of the movement” alongside him. They’re on different levels, as far their relationship goes. And Cal appears taken aback by the idea that Sarah doesn’t want their relationship anything more than professional. Even more than that Sarah questions Cal about where he was when they voted about the refugees. He stutter steps and then tells her he relapsed, had some drinks. Sort of true. I mean, he got drunk after killing Silas, of course. Yet Sarah knows him, and now she begins to suspect there’s something else going on behind the mask of Cal Roberts.
At home, the Lanes discuss Eddie leaving, living somewhere else. “Without the light,” as they say. More of the confusion of youth here. Their little girl is so deluded, so brainwashed, she believes now they’re separated for eternity. No Garden together. Daddy’s not going to be in the Future. Yikes. Still, it’s an emotional scene, as Sarah is so evidently hurt even if believing, for now, it’s the right and only thing to be done.
In his new hotel room, Eddie freaks out believing he sees a long snake slithering over the carpet. Except nothing’s there. At all. He then gets a call from Detective Abe Gaines (Rockmund Dunbar), a.k.a Sam, apologizing for being a jerk on the phone last time. He’s simply worried for his little daughter, being readied to undergo surgery in the morning.
What’s more is that we now see genuine paranoia in Eddie. He’s actually worried for the first time. About what, ultimately, I’m not sure. Though he suspects some darker business underneath the Light.


Everyone’s talking about the last Three Rungs of the Ladder. Then Cal brings Alison, a denier, into their communal space. He claims with those last Three Rungs, things are starting to change. With these changes, though, is everyone willing to see their system and structure change? Some, yes. Not all. Perhaps because seeing things change is the beginning sign that Meyerism is complete bullshit. Once a system of belief starts to shift, as the Catholic Church has done how many times now I can’t be bothered to count, then certain true believers start questioning the motives of the change.
Sarah knows some change in Cal has begun to emerge. The darkness of his actions, the death of Silas, it’s making him more susceptible to the mistakes of others, or else be relegated to the land of hypocrisy. Tracking down the security guard on duty the night Silas disappeared, unbeknownst to anyone aside from Cal, Sarah starts finding out there’s more to the underbelly of Mr. Roberts than anyone understands.
Mary Cox (Emma Greenwell) has met prospective husband Sean Egan’s parents. They aren’t exactly impressed with the whole movement, except Cal and his semi-Jesus speech. The mother goes to Mary and lets her know she approves of her. This almost gives Mary a ray of hope in all the encroaching darkness. I worry she may come up against those darker elements of Meyerism. She’s teetering on the edge of chaos.
Up in the hospital, Eddie goes to see Abe – well, Sam – and then a nurse almost gives up the cover, calling his wife Mrs. Gaines. Maiden name, she says. Eddie tells Abe he’s leaving the Meyerist movement. Without his family. He admits the crisis of faith and all that. Will this evolve into a better case somewhere down the line for Abe? At the very same time, Hawk is going in deeper, saying goodbye to Ashley (Amy Forsyth) and preparing to take his vows to the movement. A sad turn of events in this parallel between father and son.


Abe (following a prayer by Eddie: “I thought you didnt believe
Eddie: “Cant hurt
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In the city, Eddie has another hallucination. He sees a dead bird on the floor of a toy store. What’s going on with him? Are these omens, or merely a psychological break because of his divided brain, stuck somewhere between belief and doubt, trust and paranoia, guilt and repression?
All sorts of things are happening. Cal gets word from the security guard he only told Sarah what he was instructed to tell. Simultaneously, Eddie arrives back at the commune where he’s greeted by Richard. He says it feels like he’s “on the medicine“, while clearly not. He’s worried about going crazy. Although Richard says the Light is trying to communicate with him, or some other nonsense.
Mary runs to Cal saying she’s “not a good person” and claims they’re both alike. Two broken, unfixable souls. She’s not so sure about marrying Sean, as she believes in the end he’ll only be hurt. “Ill always want something dark near me, inside me,” Mary confesses to Cal. The dangerous, violence in Cal knows it’s a good thing she is marrying Sean, so that the dark forces are kept at bay. However, Mary wants somebody to know every inch of her; the bad, the good, the ugly. Only Cal can do that for her. In a twisted way, they’re perfect for each other. More twisted is that she wears the veil Sean’s mother gave her while she and Cal start getting busy.

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Eddie drops by his old place to give his daughter a gift. He’s confronted by Sarah’s family telling him to go. So he does without incident. It’s just sad to see these cults reject family members for doubt. Tragic, stupid, unfortunate. Inside, Sarah’s parents try telling her things will be fine and it’ll actually feel good after things pass. Only Sarah isn’t so happy any more. She doesn’t seem to be sold on the entire concept, even if going along with it: “Fuck you its gonna feel good, fuck all of you,” she rages. She might just discover the truth yet. Open her eyes to the actual light, which she literally does in the next scene through her bedroom window. Almost like she sees the sun for the first time.
Amazingly, the Gaines family discovers their daughter won’t require surgery after all. A blessing from out of nowhere. It rocks them, in the best sense. Only now, Abe may start wondering if there’s really something to faith and belief like in the Meyerist movement. Or maybe this just helps him and Eddie get closer.
That light Sarah saw, it wasn’t anything truthful. She wants to be next to Cal in order to usher in the Meyerist movement’s next steps. Is this Sarah diving in head first to try quelling her own doubts? Or genuine? No telling with her. Also, Cal is stuck between two women – Mary and Sarah, unsure of which one gives him what he needs.


In his hotel room, Eddie dreams of the snake again. It craws up to his neck, hissing, ready to bite. Another dream. Poor guy is plagued by nightmares, living, waking dreams crawling out of his subconscious. The snake, which he saw originally in Peru wrapped around Dr. Steve Meyer (Keir Dullea), could possibly mean there is death, fatality, murder behind the movement. Could mean all sorts of things.
So that’s where Eddie goes: Peru. At home, Cal and Sarah perform rituals -a wedding, a re-commitment of a denier, a taking of vows. Cutting between Peru and home, we watch the celebration juxtaposed with Eddie gradually tracking down what those nightmares may mean. Cal says Steve is there, ready to transform into pure light, heading off to wherever the hell they think they’re heading.
Eddie got his daughter one of the invisible ink pens she wanted for Christmas. A beautiful little gift. This speaks to Hawk, as he finds his sister drawing all types of things in the kitchen. At the community gate, Sarah finds Mr. Cox looking for Mary; he wants payment, or else there’ll be trouble. Then Mr. Cox lets slip a detail that interests Sarah, about being there during the full moon, that night Cal drove off on his own. Hmm.
Best of all, Eddie finds an empty bed in Peru where Steve once lay. Nobody to be found.
Sarah’s discovered secrets, finally. She knows that Cal wrote the last Three Rungs, that Steve is dying. She also found his little liquor stash. Everything about him is starting to unravel. Now there’s lots of tension between the two. There are incredibly dark, deep things about to spew forth. “To the truth,” Sarah toasts him over a glass of booze. Despite his love for her, using her name as a password and all, does this now put her in danger of Cal doing something to her, to keep his secrets buried?
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And in Peru, Eddie comes face to face with Steve, still alive.
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This was a perfect way to end the first season. Keeps the intrigue, sets up lots more action and suspense for Season 2, which I’ll be awaiting with bated breath. A fantastic opening season. Great acting, writing, and the music all around is solid. Very excited for more, so let’s hang in there together, fellow fans!

Preacher’s Fun Pilot Episode Orders up a Side of Weird with an Entrée of Awesome

AMC’s Preacher
Pilot Episode
Directed by Evan Goldberg & Seth Rogen
Teleplay by Sam Catlin
Television Story by Catlin, Goldberg, & Rogen

* For a review of the next episode, “See” – click here
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Here we are, the series premiere for AMC’s adaptation of Garth Ennis and Steve Dillon’s graphic novel(s) Preacher! So excited. Let’s dig in.
We open on a view of outer space, as something rushes around the galaxy. Even bursts a hole through a ring around Saturn. It also cries like a baby, or at least we can hear the cries of a baby. Very interesting (I gather that’s something people who know the comics understand). Heading into Africa. Just like a comic book right off the bat in the way it looks and feels. Dig it.
We cut to a priest in his little African church preaching to the congregation. Naturally, that fucking thing from space is headed right for this poor guy. You already know that. It bursts through the doors and blasts him hard, shocking everybody. Of course everybody thinks it’s a “miracle” and they could not be farther from the truth. The priest rises and speaks in a terrifying voice. Before bursting into a spray of blood over the people. A great opener.
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Now we’re with Jesse Custer (Dominic Cooper). He wakes in a small room, bottles of booze empty at the bedside. There’s this great little moment where he fixes the sign way out front of his church in Texas, obviously tampered with by some young men being trouble. Father Custer doesn’t exactly command the attention of his congregation reading off his papers, as little kids flick their iPads and others just roll their eyes. Outside everybody is barbecuing and having fun, a few drinks, all that sort of stuff. Custer hears the problems of his people, inconsequential moments. Except for one little kid that’s worried about his mother. Worse, he wants the preacher to hurt his father for beating up on his mom. Seems before Jesse was preaching he did… things. Ah, foreboding little kid. Custer freaks the kid out a little. Freaked me out, too. Still, doesn’t do much good for the kid whose life is probably hell at home.
I love this first ten minutes. Lots of good stuff. And that goodness continues.
The little Texas town is a wild spot. Big ruckus about. Sheriff Hugo Root (W. Earl Brown) is awesome, as usual. Love how he blatantly sees Jesse swig some whiskey in his truck, but completely ignores it. He also ignores a lot more than that in his town. Root doesn’t seem to like the preacher much, so I’m looking forward to watching that develop. I’ve not yet read the graphic novels, I know nothing really of the story. Dig this on its own.


We then switch to 30,000 feet up in a nice little sequence taking us to a plane in the sky. Enjoy the directing from Goldberg and Rogen so far in this episode. Very stylish.
Cassidy (Joseph Gilgun) and others are enjoying themselves in a jet. Flying high while flying, as in coked up. Cassidy ends up coming across a Holy Bible marked with some creepy shit throughout. A few moments later he starts an amazing fight with a homemade flamethrower, taking on guys with axes and crossbows and swords – oh my! – and this is one hell of a fight sequence. At one point, Cassidy starts cracking off beer cans like golf balls and it’s golden. A guy tries pouring Holy Water on him calling Cassidy an “abomination” then proceeds to get chowed down on, right in the jugular. Yikes. I’m loving this character already. Going in blind, not knowing the comics, this is a thrill ride for me. When the plane is fucked Cassidy siphons himself off a pint of blood then jumps out. What a cool vampire bastard.


Back down on the ground, Jesse eats breakfast with Emily (Lucy Griffiths). She helps out at the church. We’re graced by Mayor Miles Person (Ricky Mabe), a great actor playing a hilariously nebbish type of character.
Although we’re quickly whisked to Africa, where the priest was attacked by the presence. And some men are investigating. Hmm. The plot thickens.
Jesse checks on a man named Walter who hasn’t come in to work. A woman is in the shower, which sort of unsettles the preacher, so he heads on out.
Another quick switch sees us in a fast flying car heading through corn fields. Inside, Carly Simon’s “You’re So Vain” plays on the radio and Tulip O’Hare (Ruth Negga) fights with every bit of her strength, tooth and fucking nail. The action so far in this pilot episode is just incredible, I must say. The fighting is spectacular. Tulip kills the dude in such an awesome way. She gets chastised by a brother and sister for running around beating things up, killing people. “A girl doesnt always need some stupid guy helping her,” the little girl exclaims, likely summing up exactly what Ms. O’Hare is all about. She’s good with kids, good with fighting. Good with making bazookas and taking down platoons full of men. God damn regular Rambette.


Flashbacks of Jesse’s briefly reveal his father might have been killed. For those of us that haven’t read the comics, this is a mystery starting out. Like how they only give us a taste. Not too much at once. At the same time, Cassidy is a splattered mess in the ground, stuck in a hole. Amazing effects. Creepy little scene, as he finds himself something to eat.
We zip on over to Russia. In a temple, a similar event to the one in Africa happened. Brains, blood everywhere. Some men show up to investigate again.
Custer is busy about town. He meets with the kid’s mom from earlier; she claims BDSM type stuff. Then he’s over meeting with Tulip in her car, even finds an ear. Though she tosses that one off, both figuratively and literally. Their dynamic is interesting, they obviously have history, and that’s all coming into play in their current relationship. What I love most is how we get a real sense of Jesse as a preacher, a genuine man of the cloth, because he sees everybody, he goes around talking to them, he’s just like a small town preacher is in real life (I come from a relatively small town).
Another interesting piece – Sheriff Root is making a Tabasco and meat smoothie, which Jesse brings up to the one, the only Arseface (Ian Colletti). Poor guy. Butthole for a mouth. He tells Jesse he used to talk to God, and he could hear him talk back. Real faith. Now he doesn’t hear anything. Seems Arseface did something, bad, as it looks. Is that what made his mouth look like an anus? I feel bad for him now. Can’t wait to discover the full story. Lots of intrigue for an outsider like me that hasn’t read any Preacher.
In a bar, Cassidy arrives and sits next to Custer. On television nearby it says Tom Cruise has exploded. Amazing. Then Jesse gets a fight thrown at him by the husband of the wife he talked to earlier, Donnie Schenck (Derek Wilson) about all the abuse stuff. Oh my, the preacher’s being pushed to display his fighter side. And fight he does. Not just one man, a bunch. Big, small, all sizes. He kicks a ton of asses. Before breaking the abusive father and husband’s arm viciously.


Cassidy: “Jesus, what kind of a preacher are you?”


Love Joseph Gilgun. He plays Cassidy incredibly, makes me laugh so much. Furthermore, he and Dominic Cooper have chemistry. They are each quite different in their roles, obviously. But also they make it all the better with their portrayals of the respective characters.
Custer says he’s quitting. He doesn’t feel it’s going to work in that town. Not any more. Too much history, I imagine.
Up at the church he finds something strange going on inside himself. He talks to God, asking for answers or else he’s “done“, in his own words. When he gets on his knees and begs forgiveness, nothing comes. Unsurprised, he sits back for a cigarette. Only something other than God has that answer for him. A presence moves forward to where the preacher stands. Then it takes him off his feet, flinging him back.
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Later, Jesse wakes in bed. Emily is there to comfort him. He’s been out for three whole days. Coming to he feels different. He acts differently. He even makes Ted Reyerson (Brian Huskey) head to see his mother, so that he can be honest. To open his heart and be true. He literally opens his chest cavity. Takes the heart out for dear mom. “For all this I am responsible,” says Jesse as we cut directly to him. “This is why Ive come home. To save you.”
Afterwards, the two men checking into all the strange incidents around the globe are in Texas. They know that the thing from outer space is at the church. Excited to watch that play out further.
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What a whopper of a pilot episode. Again, as someone not having read the comics this is a lot of fun. I’m sold already. Bring on more episodes and let’s have a fucking riot! Preacher delivers the goods on all fronts.