Jeff tries to use the show to teach an important lesson about change
FOX’s Scream Queen
Season 1, Episode 7: “Beware of Young Girls”
Directed by Barbara Brown
Written by Ryan Murphy
* For a review of the previous episode, “Seven Minutes in Hell” – click here
* For a review of the next episode, “Mommie Dearest” – click here
And we’re back at Kappa House for another night of horrors, plus a good few laughs.
Chanel Oberlin (Emma Roberts) is consistently hilarious. She’s beyond oblivious, but to the point it’s comical. They all are really. Chanel #2 (Ariana Grande) is being laid to rest. Instead of a nice eulogy, Chanel #1 rants and raves about the “dumb dead whore” in the casket. It’s such a grim crack-up to me. Others will say it’s overkill. Not me. Totally in line with who Chanel #1 is and her personality is meant to be awful.
The others aren’t particularly upset. Chanel #5 (Abigail Breslin) is more concerned with stirring shit; between suggesting a seance to mend things with #2 from beyond the grave, to bringing up how #2 banged Chad (Glen Powell).
Chanel #3 (Billie Lourd) leads their little Ouija board ceremony, alongside #1, #5, and Hester (Lea Michele). Things start to get a bit spooky once neither of them can admit to moving the Ouija. It spells out the unfaithfulness of Chad. Oh, I get it… obviously the girls are trying to mess with their fearless leader’s head.
More and more, the true character of Gigi Caldwell (Nasim Pedrad) comes out. She makes clear their game – her and the Red Devil(s) – is not kidnapping: it is murder. This is wild. Not just that, she and Wes Gardner (Oliver Hudson) are moving along quickly. They’ve got a serious relationship going now. Might spell trouble for Wes, as well as his sweet daughter Grace (Skyler Samuels).
Speaking of Grace, she is trying her hardest to get close with Gigi. Though, the more Grace tackles Gigi’s terrible fashion sense, the closer they’re becoming… the more Gigi digs her nose into things. She’s attempting to push Grace, and reporter Pete (Diego Boneta), towards Dean Cathy Munsch (Jamie Lee Curtis).
Then we get a nice little Rosemary’s Baby visual homage with Feather McCarthy (Tavi Gevinson) looking so similar to Mia Farrow. Gigi suggests going to talk to her, a former Kappa Sister. Pete and Grace meet with her. She opens up a new little subplot involving Dean Munsch – turns out Feather slept with Munsch’s husband, creating an incredibly tense situation. Apparently, Cathy would then show up everywhere dressed like Feather, terrifying the young girl and everyone else. Lots and lots of stuff pointing towards Munsch as being involved with the Red Devils. But can we believe this? I feel there’s something more devious, more dark at play. But who can tell.
Back at Feather’s house, she discovers an ominous bloody arrow on the floor, a severed arm and motions to go THIS WAY. Further and further she heads upstairs, only to find more chopped body parts, more bloodily written directions on the wall. Inside one of the rooms, there is Steven Munsch (Philip Casnoff) – former husband of the Dean – his head cut off and in a fish tank.
Cut to Chanel #1, who walks in on Chad… in his boxers, lying in bed with a pink-collared goat. I honestly can’t get enough of Chad Radwell. He is a piece of shit, a misogynistic, terribly dumb man. But Chad’s so funny, he is the evisceration of brodom, of the dudebro code and all it represents. Then there’s Chanel – she represents the equally stupid and vicious type of girl who often, too often, falls for a guy like Chad. Together they’re downright ridiculous, which makes me laugh, over and over.
Let’s get back with Munsch, though. Cathy has a bad knee, complaining she fell down drunk last night. But Detective Chisolm (Jim Klock) and all the other cops are determined she killed her ex-husband. In turn, they speculate her to be the Red Devil Killer. I still don’t buy it. She obviously did something stupid a couple decades ago by covering up what happened to that poor pregnant girl in the bloody bathtub. I just do not think she’s part of the killings, moreover I’m convinced she’s a target.
Grace and Pete are already jerking each other off over their supposed victory. Everyone is settled: Dean Cathy Munsch is the killer. Case closed.
Oh, really? Well Munsch wants to see both Grace and Pete in the morning.
At the asylum ward, where Cathy’s now setup painting and relaxing with other patients, the place is rough. It’s part church, part snake pit. Seems like “therapy twice a day, plenty of time to rest and dream again” has started making a difference for the Dean. A bit of a revelation, really. Lots of creepy goodness here slash a few laughs.
Cathy breaks it down for the “crackerjack reporters“, letting them know nothing has been solved. Typical to the slasher sub-genre the police are being lazy, everybody is looking elsewhere than towards the proper directions. Either way, Pete and Grace are playing along for now. Munsch is way too smug to be the real killer, it’s as if she has no fear about any true conviction in the murders, so I’m inclined to keep believing she’s more a target of the Red Devil(s) than anything.
More good tackling of the slasher horror tropes – Pete ends up getting access to a ton of police files, pictures, et cetera, because of the detective’s utter laziness. I find Ryan Murphy & Co. do a great job lampooning so many aspects of the slasher movies we know and love (or hate).
More Ouija board for the Chanels. It only makes them go a little crazy. I’m not sure now if any of them were moving the board because they’re freaked out. Then Hester drops a bomb, saying they have to kill Chanel #1. A couple awesome suggestions from a Sugar Party to poisoning her through the nipples. They’re wasting no time, though. After #1 falls asleep, the ladies plan on murdering her.
Then we get a trippy little sequence where Chanel #1 sees #2 come back. ALSO HILARIOUS! Carl Sagan sits at the front desk of Hell. #2 has to spend eternity picking food out of the Husseins beards with her teeth. SO MANY great lines of dialogue with Ariana Grande delivering them: “She was probably just mad ’cause Adolf Hitler was motorboating my boobs.” Best of all – #2 advises #1 about the upcoming murder plot the girls are planning, apparently off getting a bowling ball to smash her head in. Tricky, tricky! I love that there are supernatural-like aspects coming into play, makes things into even more classic slasher style.
Hmm. We get a scene where Grace and Pete try to find more evidence. He mentions to her a feeling of faintness around blood. Is this purposeful on his part? Or is it a real clue to the fact he can’t be a Red Devil?
Doesn’t matter right now. Munsch is exonerated, back on campus. Little Feather doesn’t appear to be who she seems. Could she be the one who was on the phone with Gigi earlier? Is Feather a Red Devil in league with Gigi? There’s certainly something wild happening around the events at Kappa House.
Chanel #1: “See this is why you turdlets need me. You’re not even competent enough to kill one lousy sorority president.”
Lots of speculation on different parts. The Chanels start to believe Grace and Zayday (Keke Palmer) are the killers. Meanwhile, there’s Munsch and the cops/Grace and Pete who are believing Feather is the one responsible.
The finale of the episode has Dory Previn’s song “Beware of Young Girls” playing, as Munsch prances around back at home. SHOCKER: She did kill her husband! Holy christ, I did not see that coming. What a saucy minx Munsch is, she spun Feather around her finger almost from day one, and then she used the Red Devil(s) killings in order to kill her husband. On top of that, Feather is thrown into a glass jar at the asylum.
Dean Munsch: “Here’s to young girls getting what they had coming to them. Yuu know what they say: nothing tastes as good as revenge feels. Actually they don’t say it, I just sort of made that up, but here’s something they do say: Hell hath no fury like a woman scorned.”
Such an awesome finale. This is one of my favourite episodes yet in this first season. Excited to see how things start expanding on the new developments in the next episode, “Mommie Dearest”, which I hope will bring more revelation.
Stay tuned with me, friends!
FOX’s Scream Queens
Season 1, Episode 2: “Hell Week”
Directed by Brad Falchuk
Written by Ian Brennan/Brad Falchuk/Ryan Murphy
* For a review of the previous episode, “Pilot” – click here
* For a review of the next episode, “Chainsaw” – click here
The “Pilot” ended with the Red Devil – masked and mysterious – running over deaf, now dead, Taylor Swift – a.k.a Tiffany Something. This was a great close to the first episode, now we’re heading into the nasty aftermath at the Kappa House sorority.
Really great opening in this episode, “Hell Week”, as Dean Cathy Munsch (Jamie Lee Curtis) brings us into the modern world. I think people aren’t giving this show enough credit. Not that it’s reinventing the wheel, so the speak. However, Dean Munsch is a no nonsense type of person. She lays out the silly social media world in which we currently live, hurtling headlong into the 21st century, as well as this new foolish sense of self-entitlement people have nowadays. There’s an incredible skewering of youth culture in the beginning, which I found
Lea Michele is someone I’ve never seen before personally, other than her one-off episode appearance on Sons of Anarchy (the Season 7 episode “Smoke ’em If You Got ’em”). But straight up, she has been slaying me as Hester Ulrich here. Everything from the body language to her weird and matter-of-fact style of delivery has me cracking up almost each time she’s in a scene. Plus, Hester is kinda of creepy.
When Chanel Oberlin (Emma Roberts), the remaining Chanels #3 (Billie Lourd) whose earmuffs and dry tone
Furthermore, Denise Hempville (Niecy Nash) shows up in this episode, hired by clueless national sorority president Gigi Caldwell (Nasim Pedrad; also a crack-up). Denise is not so much sassy, as black women so often end up being described, she’s a straight to the point type. I swear, when she got on about the walkie talkie, all that stuff, it was almost perfect.
Some reviews and opinions I’ve seen online keep saying that the comedy outweighs the horror. Is that a bad thing some times? I don’t think so. Not to say there isn’t any horror, but definitely the comedy is more a focus at certain points than blood, mayhem, murder.
A new, strange relationship brews between Dean Munsch and the father of Grace Gardner (Skyler Samuels). When Wes Gardner (Oliver Hudson) meets with the Dean, she gets a bit frisky. Either way, Wes wants a job on campus so that he can be closer to his daughter, to keep her safe. At the same time Dean Munsch both wants to keep everything covered up as long as possible on her campus, and also wants to find her way into Wes’ pants apparently.
Meanwhile, Grace is snooping around the sorority house. She’s told a mysteriously locked room is only able to be opened by the president, who has the key. Later, Grace finds some of the old relics of the 20-year old death at Kappa House.
SHOCKER! Dean Munsch, and also Ms. Bean (Jan Hoag), helped to cover up the dead girl in the bathtub back then. Honestly, I didn’t actually see that one coming. Mostly I was thinking the Dean was one of those tough yet ultimately helpless authority figures, trying to stave off the media and the coming onslaught of public opinion that might negatively affect her college/its reputation. Turns out, the ole Dean is actually trying to cover up the fact she covered up a young girls’ death, the birth of that baby in the tub. Nice, interesting twist.
People can say what they want, this show constantly makes me laugh.
The scene between Boone (Nick Jonas) and fellow douche extraordinaire Chad (Glen Powell) is unbelievably funny. I’m able to separate my personal feelings about certain types of people and how I can enjoy a character, even if I don’t particularly LIKE who they are. For instance, these guys – Boone and Chad. They’re such outright knobs, yet they’re hilarious. When Boone asks to get in bed with him, then there’s all the wiener talk… I mean, it’s not even immature, it’s a fucking gut buster.
“Why don’t you go in there and ogle his big old broner?”
Grace is getting closer to Pete Martinez (Diego Boneta), self-styled investigative reporter. Poor Pete gets attacked by the Red Devil himself. Waking up, he’s hung in front of the school by his pants with a note saying “MYOB” (mind your own business). Only problem is that back in his dorm room, Grace discovers a Red Devil costume in his closet; he claims it’s for mascot duties during football games. But Grace is tainted – she asks how old he is, discovering him to be on the verge of twenty: “exactly how old the baby would be if it grew up“. She storms off and leaves poor Pete behind – for all his faults, we the audience know Pete is not the Red Devil, as we’ve seen him be attacked by the Red Devil.
Or will this series play with our expectations? Did we really see Pete get knocked out? Or did we see what Pete wanted us to see? We can only wait and find out. Personally, I don’t think it’s him as the scene with him being knocked out would be HIGHLY misleading and manipulative.
Personally, I’m loving the music from Mac Quayle in this series so far. He’s done music programming and composed additional music for films like Nicolas Winding Refn’s Drive and Only God Forgives, as well as the Season 4 episode “Monsters Among Us” from American Horror Story, the episode “Crutchfield” from the fantastic series The Knick, Fary Cry 4, and My Life Directed by Nicolas Winding Refn. Not to mention Quayle has composed music for another twelve episodes of AHS and the new breakout television series Mr. Robot. Here, he instills many of the scenes with either a pop-ish twinkle, or in others it becomes this ominous, foreboding, even grating at times, score which takes us into the heart of the horror in these episodes. While things remain light and fluffy in a horror-comedy/parody/satire way, Quayle’s music really adds some extra weight to certain scenes and moments with a neat style that’s all over the place, in a great way.
Worst comes when the Dean sees Wes meet Gigi – they go off for coffee together, as he leaves his daughter and the girls alone (funny how he just drops safety as soon as Gigi hits on him), and as Munsch watches them with an evil eye.
The Red Devil tries to grab Chanel #1, but she manages to wriggle free and get back to her sorority girlfriends. When they all go back upstairs – hilariously without new security guard Denise or her partner Shondell (Deneen Tyler) – they find a threat to Kappa House scrawled in blood red on the wall. I found Denise (Niecy Nash) awesome in these few moments, just absolutely dropping the ball and having a laugh doing it! When she finds Shondell dead in the cop car, having been visited by the Red Devil, it was HILARIOUS. Great scene.
Poor Boone, though. He finds himself confronted with the Red Devil – “What am I supposed to be scared?“. Yes, Nick Jonas – yes, you ought to be scared!!
The other frat bros find Boone, throat cut, laid out perfectly over the dining room table. Very creepy, very cool, and all set to “I Wear My Sunglasses At Night”.
BUT A BIG SHOCK AT THE END OF THE EPISODE!
When the Red Devil goes to the morgue, which I’m assuming that is, where Boone’s body is being kept after death. The Devil opens up the cabinet where he’s being kept: AND BOONE IS ALIVE! Honestly, never expected that. Wow. A great finisher to the episode, as Boone pulls the slit neck makeup off and whips it away. What does this mean? Who is the Red Devil, or better yet: who’s Boone, really? They’re connected and we’ve got to wait another week to find out.
Stay tuned, friends! I’m loving this series already. Let those who don’t enjoy it not enjoy. The rest of us can have a little fun with some twistedness mixed in. See you next week for “Chainsaw”, which is directed by
FOX’s Scream Queens
Season 1, Episode 1: “Pilot”
Directed by Ryan Murphy
Written by Ian Brennan (Cooties)/Brad Falchuk/Ryan Murphy
* For a review of the next episode, “Hell Week” – click here
Just to start, I loved Ian Brennan’s writing and acting in Cooties, as well as the fact I’m a huge fan of the Brad Falchuck-Ryan Murphy FX series American Horror Story (all my reviews so far are here). So I walked in biased, but still, I do think the best parts of these three writers show up in the Pilot episode for the new series Scream Queens.
The opening of the episode is one that sort of hammers you. Not even the immediate blood – which is proved to be something else than you might originally believe it is – but afterwards, once you see the girl in the bathtub, after having given birth in the tub, that’s when things rocked me. I paused and went “Whoa”. In a great, horrific way.
An immediate thing I loved about this Pilot is that the horror is so obviously there, yet it’s a good riot. Some viewers said it tried too hard. I don’t think so, personally. Right from the minute all the people at the party were rocking out to TLC’s “Waterfalls”, I thought to myself: I’m going to love this.
“Who told you you could have a baby here tonight?”
So the setup is, after the shocking death of this young mother in the bathtub, twenty years later the horror TRULY begins!
Straight away, after those two decades have passed, we meet Chanel Oberlin (Emma Roberts) – possibly the most irritating and heinous young woman we’ll ever come across. She’s the sorority queen, the one who tortures young pledges (is that what they’re called? I don’t know; that frat/sorority shit is so dumb – great fodder for comedy-horror). Her character comes across as heavy handed at first, but I think it’s going to serve the story well. We’re already seeing these unlikeable characters, not strange within the horror genre, and no doubt SOME of them – probably not Chanel as Emma Roberts seems to be the star here – will find death at the hands of a masked murderer.
Aside from Chanel, there are her unfortunate numbered others – Chanel #2, #3, and oddly #5 (respectively: Ariana Grande, Billie Lourd, Abigail Breslin); there was a #4, but she got meningitis and obviously couldn’t hack it, right? These Chanels are the ones who take the brunt of Chanel #1’s awfulness. There’s also Ms. Bean a.k.a White Mammie (Jan Hoag) who is there to seemingly please Chanel constantly and do anything she ever wants, no matter if it’s important or nonsense on a whim.
Aside from the “bitches”, there’s the new girl on campus Grace Gardner (Skyler Samuels) and her wonderfully energetic roommate Zayday Williams (Keke Palmer). Grace has a very loving father, Wes (Oliver Hudson) but her mother passed away. So with the sympathetic view of Grace from the beginning, it’s easy to see she’ll likely not die – at least not as early as any of the other mean spirited, awful young college girls.
I also like the other random characters such as Nasim Pedrad’s hilarious Gigi Caldwell, with the strangest fashion sense I’ve ever witnessed; she’s always a treat, whether on Saturday Night Live or elsewhere. Also, I think Lea Michele is flat out HILARIOUS as Hester. From the very first moment we see her character, the way she talks, the freeze frame: fucking funny as hell. She’s awesome.
Furthermore, I thought Diego Boneta as Pete is a good addition. I don’t think I’ve ever personally seen him in anything before, but he’s going to serve well as a decent male character, I think. We’ll see as the time goes on. The stuff with Pete and Grace was good, as well as just the dynamic between Pete and Chanel; the fact Pete is a bit of a reporter works in a fun way with everything else going on at the campus.
There is a pretty good setup of despicable characters mostly, which only extends once we start to meet some of the other students around the campus. Like Chad Radwell (Glen Powell) and his sidekick Boone (Nick Jonas), the DUDEBROS. Oh man. What’s awesome here, though, is the fact Murphy and Co. are setting up all these types to be bait, to be victims; Murphy particularly knows horror, so well, as does Falchuk and I’m starting to believe Brennan does, as well. So we’re getting this cast of killable characters introduced in comedic fashion. Instead of following typical horror formula all the way, as a television series Scream Queens has the ability to flesh out ALL the characters, including some of the more nasty and hateable ones. This is something I particularly find interesting because usually in horrors, especially a lot of 1980s films, these asshole-like characters often get killed off too quickly to ever be anything but annoying. I’m not saying you’ll grow to like these characters, not all of them, however, I do think even the frat douchebags and the sorority assholes will come to be more than simply one-dimensional meat for kill scenes.
Not only do we get Jamie Lee Curtis in this show, as the acidic and sly Dean Cathy Munsch, but we get Curtis doing some excellent work. Granted, it’s only the pilot. Still I see the kernels of an excellently developed character here. Just the way she lays in bed with that young guy, the banter, the joint smoking, plus Curtis looks AMAZING (and I think always has); I think that scene alone is wonderful. But it’s the back and forth between Dean Munsch and Chanel Oberlin (Roberts) which truly got me going. Because it was funny! Not only funny, Curtis plays well off Roberts in terms of their characters – the older woman who has seen it all, knows the tricks, probably pulled a ton of them herself VS. the younger, brattier, more foolishly confident and conniving sorority queen with, sadly, the world in her palm. There’ll be lots of good stuff between these two, you can count on that, and it will only get better as the episodes wear on. At least here’s to hoping.
Let’s talk cinematography and score. I personally LOVED the look and sound of the entire episode! There’s an ominous score at parts in the opening sequence. It’s once the synth, poppy score kicks in during the introduction to Chanel that the music takes hold. I’m a sucker for fun, electronic style music in a score. Works wonders here. Then we get the dark stuff again during moments of horror or tension.
In terms of cinematography, there are moments where I definitely get an American Horror Story vibe. Not frequently, though, honestly. I dig the way this has a similar feel in terms of darkness, but the look has this very neat and tidy thing going on which is different. There’s also this beautiful contrast between that pristine, pretty style and the horror which turns up over and over. It makes the horror – dare I say – much more fun.
Finally, I have to mention the GNARLY kills which I totally dig.
The deep frier death of Ms. Bean (Hoag) was so nasty and incredible. When she pulled her face out, the deep fried bits of her skin were so wild. Not only that, I absolutely cried – I mean tears for real running out of my eyes – when Zayday (Palmer) responds “Yes you do“. Watch it, you’ll know what I mean. Perfect delivery. This also goes to show how Keke Palmer is going to be another excellent part of the cast, in my opinion. Funny lady!
Ariana Grande’s kill scene was absolutely a riot. I thought it made fun of modern day youth culture – smartphones particularly – so well and it had me in stitches.
There’s definitely a Sinister homage with the sequence at the end, with the ride-on lawn mower. One of the first things I thought, as the camera catches the light on front of the mower in that perspective view, is one of the found footage tapes from Sinister; not a rip-off, but a nice homage to a pretty awesome modern horror movie. I also think the earlier scene with the burning skin was a very Cabin Fever-ish homage, but maybe not, though I really suspect it leans in that direction.
This was a fun episode. Not perfect, but definitely sets a wild, funny, and at times horrific tone we’re not always treated to on television. Looking forward to watching and reviewing the follow-up episode, “Hell Week”.
Stay tuned with me! More #ScreamQueens to come.