Tagged Episode 1

Wolf Creek – Episode 1: “Billabong”

Stan’s Wolf Creek
Episode 1: “Billabong”
Directed by Tony Tilse
Written by Peter Gawler

* For a review of Episode 2 “Kutyukutyu”, click here.
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Out into the Australian Outback again, as the horrific legacy of Mick Taylor (John Jarratt) never seems to come to an end.
An American family’s travelling through the desolate wild of Outback, preparing to make camp at nearby watering hole. The scenery’s idyllic. Animals everywhere, water for swimming, and a gorgeously warm day. Seems like paradise, no? We start to figure out that the daughter Eve (Lucy Fry) has had problems recently. Seems Eve is an athlete that, somewhere along the line, got addicted to painkillers.
Then we finally see Mick come out of the wilderness. He saves the young son Ross (Cameron Caulfield) from a croc in the water. When they all head back to the family’s camp, Eve and her mother talk a bit about things. But it is definitely clear the daughter isn’t interested in talking much.
Things get vicious after Mick suddenly kills the father. Then the mother. Then even little Ross. Only Eve remains unaware, laying inside their trailer with headphones on. A horrifying chase begins now, once Mick makes his way in to see her, and she rushes off past her mutilated family. This episode picks up INCREDIBLY. Such perfect pacing. Because I’d honestly expected more build up. However, Greg McLean and his trusty band of filmmakers have relied on people coming to this series as fans. So we know how Mick gets down. Might as well get right to it. And the fact he even killed a kid is astonishing. The mini-series gets off to a brutal start without any hesitations.
But Eve, she makes it away from the mad Australian bastard. And she fights to keep herself alive.
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Washing up onshore, some men in a boat find Eve. She’s a little worse for the wear, a bullet stuck inside her. But alive. Still, her whole family is dead and now she’s left there in a place completely foreign to her. A properly surreal sort of situation to find oneself in. Talking to the police sin’t easy, either. Everything points to murder-suicide, as the bullet lodged in her is the same calibre of the rifle her father had with him. Nevertheless, Even reveals everything she can remember about the man in the “blue truck” to Sullivan Hill (Dustin Clare) leading the investigation.
So naturally what’s being setup is a showdown between Mick and Eve. Just as always, the serial killer will not be brought to justice. He’s been out there killing and killing and nothing’s poised to stop him. Except Eve. Can she do it? Or will this be a futile journey ending with her as just another notch on his belt?
Helps Eve that the police find the bodies disappeared from where the family camped. Now they know there’s more to her ordeal. The cops put her up in a motel for the time being. Meanwhile, Mick is off in his little hideaway drinking and doing what it is he does behind closed doors. What I love about this mini-series is that McLean is allowing us a further look beyond the mask of Mick Taylor, we’re getting more time with the character to start understanding his psyche a little better; we’ll never empathize, but just the fact we see more of his psychology will let us a little deeper into the character.
Further than the showdown between Eve and Mick, there’s also the police who’ve obviously suspected a serial killer prowling the Outback for some time now. Decades. All those tourists gone missing.

 

 


Eve believes she sees Mick’s truck, and ends up chasing it down on foot. In a nearby bar she sees someone that at first looks like him, but turns out to be just a guy wearing a similar hat. This lands her up in the hospital again after a fit. Sullivan’s there to greet her as she wakes. Clearly the psychosis is all from a bit of PTSD. Most of all, he worries she’s bent on vigilante justice, and that it won’t solve anything, nor is it guaranteed she’ll be able to do anything about it if she finds him anyway. “Good luck, safe home,” he tells her before leaving. Only her personal responsibility for even being there in Australia makes it hard for Eve to walk away.
Instead of flying home, Lucy sneaks into Hill’s office to try jacking some files. She makes off with them, but he’s not stupid. This sets up quite a cat and mouse chase between both Lucy and Mick, as well as Sullivan and Lucy. Lots of fun dynamics here.
More fun with Mick, too. He comes across a woman doing yoga on the side of the Outback highway. A hilarious little encounter, as Mick asks all about what she’s doing. This fast turns into a terrifying moment with Mick quipping: “Tell you whatIll stretch you out.”
In the episode’s final moments, Lucy has a makeshift memorial for her family. Then she promises them: “I will find him. And Ill make him pay.” So while Mick is dangerous and a vicious killer, he’s left unknowing that a victim of his is on the way towards him, full speed, ready for anything. The hunt and the heat are on.
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Excited to watch the next episode titled “Kutyukutyu”, which is sure to kick off the big tension and all the suspense. This series in its first episode contains nice writing, staples of the horror genre and what we expect after McLean’s Wolf Creek and Wolf Creek 2. Plus on top of everything else like the performances from Lucy Fry and the always eerie John Jarratt as Mick, the cinematography from Geoffrey Hall is spectacular, keeping us on the leven of cinema during this mini-series. Look forward to more.

Scream Queens – Season 1, Episode 1: “Pilot”

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
IMG_2013Just 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.
IMG_2017I 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.
IMG_2018 IMG_2019 IMG_2020There 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.
IMG_2025Let’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.
IMG_2026Finally, 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!
IMG_2024 IMG_2022Ariana 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.
IMG_2016 IMG_2028 IMG_2029This 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.