Tagged Matt Ross

Patrick Bateman: American Psycho(sis), Sexual Deviant, Videotape and Huey Lewis Enthusiast

American Psycho. 2000. Directed by Mary Harron. Screenplay by Harron & Guinevere Turner, based on the novel of the same name by Bret Easton Ellis.
Starring Christian Bale, Justin Theroux, Josh Lucas, Bill Sage, Chloë Sevigny, Reese Witherspoon, Samantha Mathis, Matt Ross, Jared Leto, Willem Dafoe, Cara Seymour, Guinevere Turner, Stephen Bogaert, Monika Meier, & Reg E. Cathey. Am Psycho Productions/Edward R.
Pressman Film/Lions Gate Films.
Rated R. 102 minutes.

POSTER The director of I Shot Andy Warhol, as well as episodes of excellent television shows like Homicide: Life on the Street and Oz – Mary Harron – takes on Bret Easton Ellis’ most well-known and definitely most controversial novel: American Psycho. What I find interesting is that this novel has been lambasted for being too horrific, disturbing, as well as having a hot streak of misogyny running through it. And yet here is a proud woman director, who before and after did very female-centric projects, taking upon herself the heavy duty of giving Ellis a big screen adaptation. And it’s because so many seem to misunderstand the original novel, Ellis’ own intentions. While it definitely serves up a nice heap of horror, American Psycho is mainly an allegory about the murderous rampage of empty-headed capitalism and those it sweeps up in its hideous wave of destruction.
The main character Patrick Bateman is an enigma. At the same time he is beyond predictable. He is a man who wants to be better than everyone else while simultaneously hoping to be just like everyone else. Thus the reasoning for such a title, nationalizing the phenomenon of psychosis here, as Bateman represents the perfect microcosm of psychosis involved in the American Dream. While the movie alludes further than the novel to what Bateman experiences as possibly all part of his own delusions, there is still a ton of visceral horror here with all that psychological madness. In a place where the hallucinatory and the corporeal meet lies American Psycho, ready to confuse, terrify, and pull out a few dark chuckles here or there.
People are more concerned with appearance than anything concrete everywhere you turn in this film. When Bateman supposedly drags a corpse out to a taxi, an acquaintance sees him, but pays no mind to what might be in the bag Patrick is dragging – he only wants to know where he got the fabulous overnight bag. Hilariously, Patrick replies “Jean Paul Gaultier” before heading off. Frequently new business cards destroy the souls of those with their same old cards still kicking around from last printing; this is perhaps the epitome of consumerism evident throughout the film. Another funny moment is when Patrick and Evelyn (Witherspoon) are at a restaurant together later – he’s breaking things off with her, actually admitting to mass murder, and she is too busy checking out a friend’s watch across the room admiring its quality. The screenplay is peppered with these bits everywhere along the way, making not only Patrick a victim of 1980s Wall Street consumer culture, but also everyone in his world, as well.
But above all else there are many little clues and hints along the way that the events of American Psycho – the serial killings – are all a product of the protagonist(/antagonist?)’s rotten mind. He becomes an unreliable narrator to the entire experience. For instance, as Patrick drags his supposed overnight bag out through the apartment building a streak of blood follows behind, staining the floor everywhere – yet the doorman only shakes his head, and a shot from outside of Patrick leaving the building shows there’s no blood anywhere to be found. Of course, as the film wears on these instances are more frequent and also much more noticeable. It’s very likely Patrick is dreaming up/fantasizing about these murders especially once we see him running naked, covered in blood, brandishing a running chainsaw through the halls of his apartment complex. Nobody heard any of that? Not likely. Because as opposed to Leatherface, of whom Patrick is a fan (he works out while watching The Texas Chain Saw Massacre), Patrick does his hunting not on the backwoods rural roads of small town U.S.A, but rather in the heart of the urban jungle that is Manhattan. So he doesn’t have a lot of privacy, certainly not to do these types of things. That’s a large reason of why the novel and the film are both excellent in their own rights, the lines between reality and hallucination, fantasy and the truth, are blurred to the point of black and white distinctions no longer being even remotely possible. Bateman and these Wall Street types life in the grey zone anyways, so it’s no surprise Patrick heading off the deep end puts him in another morally grey zone to boot.
It’s many of the little things which make Patrick an unsettling man. The intersection of horror and sex in his life is more than disturbing. Essentially, aside from the thrill of making money – which then is even further down the ladder than appearing powerful/wealthy – a man such as Bateman is left with only the thrill of sex and murder to satisfy his deepest urges. Then there’s the fact just about the only thing Patrick can discuss at any length is either music or anything else pop culture related. He’s so unoriginal and devoid of any personality or true wit that his only go-to excuse for people is “I have to return some videotapes.” Moreover, he only relates to any real, true emotion through music, whether it’s Whitney Houston or Huey Lewis. Everything he is comes through a construct: music, his apartment, his clothes, his business card and suit and tie. Further than that, Patrick’s identity almost becomes this fluid state simply because he is often mistaken for somebody else. A man at a building’s reception desk calls him Mr. Smith. He’s mistaken for Paul Allen, too. Later on he gets mistaken for someone named Davis. In this light, you can see his ‘killing’ of Paul Allen as a way for him to kill off that identity in order to make room for his own; a plea, a cry for recognition.
Of most importance is Patrick’s narcissism. We see the narcissistic ideals of these Wall Street guys, fawning over business cards, ties, dinner reservations, so on. They’re all about status. It’s all about being the center of attention, and in turn the center of that economic stratosphere in a hierarchy of financial crooks. So what better way to gain attention and be the center of a circus than to go on a serial killing rampage? Even better if it’s all in his head.
Christian Bale breaks through the often sickening (though awesomely intriguing) subject matter to make Patrick Bateman into a complex serial killer; one that Bret Easton Ellis created then Mary Harron and writing partner Guinevere Turner expanded upon in this masterpiece of an adaptation. It isn’t for everybody. Then again, the novel wasn’t either. And maybe I’m biased, because as much as I find Ellis slightly obnoxious as a personality, his writing is often emotionally shattering and downright remarkable. Love the novel, love the film. Harron does a nice job with directing, making the Ellis novel somehow palatable and at the same time horrific as you’d imagine. It took forever to get this to the screen after a ton of pre-production nightmares, so obviously Harron was the one able to get things in the proper place as director. Using Bale’s charismatic and terrifying performance Harron crafts this Ellis adaptation into 102 minutes of pure madness, ending on an ambiguous, unsettling note.
Because whether Patrick killed those people is ultimately futile – we have no idea where he’ll go, what he’ll do after these final moments. Will he take what he’s learned from hallucinating those murders, if that’s the case, and get better at being a serial killer? Has this basically been the pregame warm-up to his big spectacle? We don’t know. And not knowing is the scariest part.

American Horror Story – Hotel, Episode 6: “Room 33”

FX’s American Horror Story
Season 5, Episode 6: “Room 33”
Directed by Loni Peristere
Written by John J. Gray

* For a review of the previous episode, “Room Service” – click here
* For a review of the next episode, “Flicker” – click here
screen-shot-2016-11-17-at-1-11-31-amThis week’s episode, “Room 33”, begins with a nice flashback to 1926 in Los Angeles. The Countess (Lady Gaga) goes to – yes – MURDER HOUSE from Season 1. She’s pregnant, and ole Charles Montgomery (Matt Ross) has the solution.
I’m loving this return to the first season, such an excellent connection. It isn’t passing either, like the earlier episode with Marcy the realtor. This opening sequence is slightly gruesome, especially once Montgomery takes a good huff of the inhalants to get things going. But the real fun begins when the baby ripped from Countess’ womb attacks the nurse helping Charles with the abortion.

Congratulations— it’s a boy.”

screen-shot-2016-11-17-at-1-11-44-amBiggest trip of all for John Lowe (Wes Bentley) comes after waking up in bed, his little lost boy Holden next to him. When he chases the kid downstairs, John finds his wife in one of the glass coffins in the empty pool. This prompts a good fainting spell, like it would.
Then we move to Liz Taylor (Denis O’Hare) and Tristan Duffy (Finn Wittrock) rolling around in bed together, having sex. Wow – did not expect this at all. Pretty wild scene. Not only that, there’s some strange connection between these two already. They each reminisce about what it’s like to see one another, both of them with their own sweet sort of poetry about the other. Strange moments, though, only because they’re so quickly coming on! Otherwise I think these two make an excellent pairing.
Meanwhile, The Countess has got Will Drake (Cheyenne Jackson) on her own bed, giving him the business. But naturally, he is a gay man: “My cock and my mind operate separately,” Drake tells her. She decides there’s a need for an extra hand in all the fun, sending a text to Tristan. Then he has to go upstairs, to help out with Will’s dick. Well Tristan continually tries denying he is gay, even though he isn’t opposed to having sex with a pre-op transsexual (nothing wrong with it – no judgement on my part – but he IS at least bisexual). And still, The Countess easily persuades him into doing the deed, then she says: “Just fluff him up a little. Ill finish him off.”
Alex Lowe (Chloë Sevigny) drugged her husband up, put him back in the room and then set things to look as if he’d called her, probably drunk. Not as if she’s a vampire now, carrying that ancient virus, and sleeping in a glass coffin. She’s luring John into believing he is having a “psychotic break.” I feel so god damn bad for Dt. Lowe, and it only gets deeper when he heads down to the emptied pool – where, of course, not a single coffin is still lying on the floor. I’m constantly wondering how far this breakdown of John’s will go: is the Ten Commandments Killer, or is he just a good guy being done wrong by all the evil forces around him at Hotel Cortez?
Perhaps my favourite moment of the episode’s start is when Countess goes into a darkened room, picking up her supposed child, and tells him/her she’s going to Paris. Afterwards, they’ll have a massive amount of money it seems. But what is the child? Has it not grown since? It looks like a tiny infant still. Or is it another child? I doubt it. I imagine that’s still the child. So what, who, is it?

Finally, Donovan (Matt Bomer) and Ramona Royale (Angela Bassett) show up at the hotel in order to start enacting a bit of revenge. Ramona is clearly the most keen on doing in The Countess. She and Iris (Kathy Bates) are both surprised, for the worse, when they discover the kids in the coffins aren’t where they ought to be. A wrench is jammed into things for now. Although, between two feisty women like Ramona and Iris, I’m sure something will happen soon enough: Ramona wants the key to ROOM 33. Isn’t that where The Countess keeps her survived abortion baby?
At the same time, Donovan runs into the two Swedish girls who died at the hotel – they find out the tough way what’s really going on. I thought this whole sequence was awesome! Bomer is a great actor, in my opinion. He leads us into a scene with a girl named Carol who committed suicide at the Cortez – turns out, she came back and found a purpose in terrorizing guests. You never get to leave, sadly.

Eternity can be tedious without something enjoyable to break up the day

Ramona heads into Room 33, looking for little Bartholomew – The Countess’ feral abortion child. There’s a highly creepy scene here, with P.O.V shots from the baby, then a good one as it attacks Ramona. Everyone is in league, or almost everyone, against The Countess. Liz and Ramona are catching up, in a friendly way. Even Donovan, despite loving her and sniffing her panties, wants some revenge on the woman. Iris wants none of it, which is clear. So there is a lot going on against the lady of the house. Tristan is caught in the middle somewhere, I’m not sure if he’s going to fully fall in love with Liz, or if Countess will reel him back in. Either way, I feel a showdown at some point coming between Liz/Countess, as she may feel utterly betrayed by his loving Tristan. We’ll certainly see how things go from here.
The two dead Swedish girls find a purpose, or at the very least fun, in the hallways of the Cortez. They bang then kill a guy (well one of them bangs him), a bloody, nasty mess. After that, they unhappily talk with Alex Lowe about their purpose – she suggests crushing the minds of their prey, instead of so much gory murder. Apparently, Alex says she knows a guy who’s always wanted a threesome. Oh no…
John Lowe shows up at a new crime scene, asking his partner whether or not it’s a Ten Commandments Killer murder. But the cops don’t want or need him around, he’s obviously spinning into a downward descent. Back over at the Cortez, former Dt. Lowe lies around in the halls with a bottle of booze. He’s full of self pity, as well as self loathing. Then around the corner come the two Swedish walking corpses. They’re going to seduce John into bed, which they proceed to do. It’s a weird and bloody ride for Lowe, whose mind can’t handle whatever is happening. He takes off into the darkness,blood all over him, and heads to the front desk. Upstairs, Miss Evers (Mare Winningham) is cleaning up the bedroom, talking about the sheets and how full of blood they are, but ultimately it’s all about John losing his mind.

In the corner of the room, after everyone leaves, James March (Evan Peters) appears. Then quickly disappears. This almost drives John fully to the brink, banging his head off the wall. He knows he has to leave, so he begins to pack frantically. Will he make it through the doors and back out into the world alive?

This is my breakdown— Im gonna have it!”

Before Lowe leaves, little Bartholomew climbs into his suitcase without him noticing. SHIT! Where is this going to lead?
At home, John arrives with his daughter Scarlett (Shree Crooks). The girl is obviously pissed with her whole family after the strange events of the past couple episodes, even worse she was left at a friend’s house indefinitely, so that’s never a fun thing for kids. You can see John wants to repair his family, if that’s even going to be possible with a vampiric wife/son, and an emotionally damaged daughter now.
But again, we see the perspective of Bartholomew creeping around the Lowe house. John tries to track it down and finds it in the kitchen. We don’t get to see the child-thing. We watch in horror as John sees it, his eyes widened. Then he fires off shots, scaring the shit out of his daughter and making her afraid of him. There’s no sign of Bartholomew. Only a bloody trail. More adding to John’s deteriorating mental state, except we know the truth.
After the daughter is carted off to the grandparents and John is deemed even more insane, Alex finds little Bartholomew in the grass. Still, we don’t get to see him! I love how it’s being drawn out. The suspense kills me, in the best sort of way.
Liz finally confronts The Countess about Tristan. There’s an awkwardness at first, and then we come face to face with her jealousy. They all meet in one of the hotel rooms, she wants to have it all out in the open. The Countess doesn’t like the taste of betrayal, which she says tastes like charred spots on meat. A great scene comes here with Tristan laying everything out there, telling Countess about his “real love” for Liz, as opposed to her method, the sort that only brings sadness and despair and agony.
Nothing lasts forever, though. She lets Liz have Tristan, but immediately slits the boy’s throat right there. A fantastically gory gush comes rushing out, flying everywhere. Poor Liz, I thought this was going to be a good thing for her.
Then, in Room 33, Alex has brought the child back for The Countess. They bond over saved sons, each saving the other’s now, I guess. Does Alex really feel this way? Is she merely playing a game to lull in The Countess? What will truly happen
screen-shot-2016-11-17-at-1-20-06-amFINALLY! We see the face of Bartholomew. An eerie shot to say the least.
screen-shot-2016-11-17-at-1-20-38-amVery excited to see the next episode, “Flicker”, which is directed by Michael Goi – he’s a regular Director of Photography on American Horror Story. Stay tuned with me for another creep next week, fellow fans!

American Horror Story – Murder House, Episode 3: “Murder House”

FX’s American Horror Story
Season 1, Episode 3: “Murder House”
Directed by Bradley Buecker (Nip/TuckThe New Normal)
Written by Jennifer Salt (Nip/TuckEat Pray Love)

* For a review of the previous episode, “Home Invasion” – click here
* For a review of the next episode, “Halloween: Part I” – click herescreen-shot-2016-11-11-at-10-00-08-pmThe first scene we’re treated to is an explanation of how Constance Langdon (Jessica Lange) and Moira O’Hara (her younger incarnation Alexandra Breckenridge) came to hate one another – and an explanation for Constance’s quip in the previous episode.
Turns out that Constance caught her naughty husband Hugo (Eric Close) forcing himself on an unwilling Moira. They’d had a previous, willing engagement before, but this time Moira is apprehensive because she needs her job and won’t jeopardize it. However, Constance has other plans – she puts a bullet through Moira’s eye (explaining the older incarnation’s faded eye), then shoots her unfaithful husband.screen-shot-2016-11-11-at-10-01-26-pmThings are getting worse and worse in the Harmon house, as Vivien (Connie Britton) is only finding her faith in husband Ben (Dylan McDermott) constantly slipping. Even more, Vivien really wants to get herself out of the house. She’s pregnant, vulnerable, and after the attack wants to distance herself from their new place. This makes things extremely stressful, as Ben isn’t particularly excited; no doubt moving in there took a bunch of money and to turn around and try to sell it, along with its history, will only take more. This ratchets up the tension in the Harmon marriage – as if it weren’t already tight enough.
Meanwhile, ole Ben can’t seem to take his eyes of the young Moira. I feel so bad for him because she isn’t really the young woman whom he sees, but at the same time regardless of how she looks Ben shouldn’t be looking, gawking, wanting. He’s a married man. Moreover, he’s a married man who already cheated once. I don’t think there’s any need on his part to make thins worse, yet it continues to happen. The house is slowly sucking him in and it shows no sign of loosening its grip.
The scenes between Jessica Lange and Frances Conroy are excellent. Two incredible actors doing their business. The history between their characters is excellent, only helps that their performances match such good writing.
Ben starts getting himself in even more trouble. Possibly worse than anything going on in his family. During a session with Sally Freeman (Adina Porter), a patient of his, Ben blacks out. Then all of a sudden he’s in the backyard, blood on his hands. Inside, a sexualized Moira – in young form – is bent over, panties and inner thighs showing, and soaking up blood on the floor. What’s happened? Who knows for sure.
Then Moira rubs up on Ben, causing a big scene as Vivien walks in and he’s shaking her, telling her to stop. This is where we truly see the difference between her older/younger self coming into play with Ben and Vivien. It’s starting to cause big problems between the husband and wife, turning up the heat more on the already rocked family dynamic happening.screen-shot-2016-11-11-at-10-07-01-pmPoor Vivien discovers that their new home is unofficially dubbed MURDER HOUSE, and of course as is Los Angeles there’s a little tour dropping by, narrated by a gentleman over speaker. While Vivien trims the flowers in her frontyard, hovering over the bushes, up it pulls and music blasts out of the speakers, frightening her. It’s not so much a fright in the sense of being scared, mostly it’s the fact she is horrified to learn the house has so much unwanted, infamous attention thrust upon it, and in turn upon them. She even goes on the tour to learn more about what happened in the house, as she’s never ever told the true history by anyone else.
Part of what I love about “Murder House” is that we start getting lots of history about the house itself. Introduced here, we see Charles and Nora Montgomery (played respectively by the equally awesome/creepy pairing of Matt Ross & Lily Rabe). Turns out, Charles was a surgeon. Of sorts, anyways. He did things not especially unanimously approved by doctors. We see flashbacks to 1922 – Montgomery performed abortions, aided in part by his wife. This begins to setup a long line of macabre events in house’s history.
Montgomery doesn’t only perform abortions, he seems to like Frankenstein-ing creatures together – pigs with two heads, a wing. Not only that, it’s clear Charles has a problem with drugs, huffing up inhalants into his lungs before supper, as well as drinking on top of that.
Now we also see during one scene – Moira appears young only to men. A detective looking into the disappearance of Ben’s patient Sally Freeman seems to see exactly what Ben does when looking at Moira. This is tricky, tricky stuff and I like that it’s not only Ben drawn in. Moira, essentially, works on the weakness of men.
screen-shot-2016-11-11-at-10-10-21-pmThere’s a scene where we also see the supposed tale of Sal Mineo’s death at the hands of a man he’d tried to cruise, looking for gay sex. I thought it was interesting Ryan Murphy would let this urban legend surrounding Mineo into the episode. Though this one is written by Jennifer Salt, I’d have anticipated Murphy maybe not thinking it was a good idea to perpetuate a supposedly untrue rumour about Mineo and his homosexuality. Bit of a cheap thing to thrown in here. Maybe it was to make the Murder House tour look sleazy, as so many of those little exploitative businesses are, making bits of cash off the pain and suffering of murder victims. I just thought that, as a gay man, Murphy wouldn’t allow the perpetuation of unfounded rumours. Unless there’s definitive resources saying otherwise, Mineo wasn’t killed because of propositioning a man for sex— he also wasn’t stabbed near as much as the scene makes out.
There’s a very quick moment between Constance (Jessica Lange) and Tate (Evan Peters). We’re sensing more and more about their relationship, though, it’s not actually clear to what extent that relationship goes. She waves to Tate, who stands in the window of the Murder House, but he only backs away into the darkness. We only get that little puzzle piece, yet it speaks volumes. Watch it and you’ll understand, absolutely.
Spooky scene as the past and present merge. I find that it sort of stands as a metaphor for the entire season, which is shaped by all the past events of the house bearing down on the people inside its walls during the present.
Connie, reluctantly, opens her door to a woman. Except it is who we know to be Nora Montgomery (Lily Rabe) who comments about the house, how it has changed, modernized, and she has an eerily intense conversation with Vivien. Even scarier, we pan behind her head as she talks to Vivien, revealing Nora has a hole in the back of her skull; a nice big bloody one. Then, she disappears and Vivien is left in terror, alone.
screen-shot-2016-11-11-at-10-11-41-pmEverything is coming to bear for Ben Harmon. While blacking out during Sally Freeman’s session, she flips out on him for not listening and then opens her wrists up right in front of him. It’s all on tape, Ben did nothing technically illegal, and as the detective tells him: “It’s not a crime to be an asshole.”
However, this disturbance is not the only nastiness Ben will face during “Murder House”. Apparently Ben has laudanum in his system; believing it to be Moira’s doing, he is angry naturally. If we’ll harken back a little, though, remember: Charles Montgomery had quite the addiction in 1922, no doubt to a bit of that soothing laudanum. Hmmmm, intriguing, no?
But the drugs in his blood stream aren’t what Ben needs to worry about most. As Hayden (Kate Mara) comes to hassle Ben at his home, the unexpected happens. Walking outside together, Larry Harvey (Denis O’Hare) smashes Hayden in the head with a shovel, believing himself to be helping Ben with all his latest troubles – infidelity, a pregnant mistress. Hayden dies from the blow. We see a piece of the episode earlier come into play now – after Ben woke up from one of his blackouts, he was digging in the backyard. Turns out, his halfway dug hole is perfect for Hayden’s grave, as well. Not only that, Larry helps to dig it and comes to find some bones and a skull already down in the dirt, obviously of great connection to him and the house.
Ben puts up a gazebo, a concrete pad over the hole. This is a visual metaphor for all the secrets Ben hides. It’s like the storehouse of secrets beneath the gazebo. He just covers things up, never faces the responsibility of his actions, paves it over and moves on with life. This horrible act will most definitely come into play, as the police already have wind of Ben after his patient Sally Freeman went awry.
Not only this, but now Moira – whose bones were in the hole – can never leave the property. She is concrete covered and stuck now. A very emotional scene watching the older Moira weep over her newfound destiny.screen-shot-2016-11-11-at-10-11-23-pmThe next episode is titled “Halloween: Part 1” and is directed by David Semel – his work includes the excellent episode “Takiawase” from the second season of NBC’s Hannibal, the following episode of this two-parter “Halloween: Part 2”, episodes of LegendsThe Strain, Homeland, and more. Excited to review the both of these upcoming episodes, as they’re not only excellent but we see the first American Horror Story appearance of enormously talented actor Zachary Quinto.
Stay tuned my horror hound friends!