SOLE SURVIVOR: Metaphor of the Dead

Sole Survivor. 1983. Directed & Written by Thom Eberhardt.
Starring Anita Skinner, Kurt Johnson, Robin Davidson, Caren L. Larkey, Andrew Boyer, Daniel Bryan Cartwell, Wendy Dake, Stephen V. Isbell, & William Snare.
Grand National Pictures/Moviestore Entertainment
Rated R. 85 minutes.
Horror/Thriller

★★★1/2
Screen Shot 2017-09-19 at 11.56.14 PMBefore there was Final Destination, there was 1983’s Sole Survivor. Although the plots are different, the influence and homage is certainly there. But Thom Eberhardt’s Sole Survivor involves a woman named Denise Watson (Anita Skinner) who survives an aeroplane accident, the only survivor, after which she begins seeing the dead coming for her, everywhere.
This is an ’80s horror movie that, somehow, slipped by many. However, there are so many places where the influence of its themes and imagery exist, to this day, from the aforementioned Final Destination series to David Robert Mitchell’s It Follows and more.
Although Eberhardt’s film works just as a great undead horror story, it’s also works on a more broad scale.
At the centre of the story, Denise’s plight is symbolic of survivor’s guilt, in that many who’ve survived catastrophes, genocide, a mass shooting (et cetera) later feel guilty for having lived while others died. Here, this concept is symbolised by the imagery of the dead coming back to find Denise, and hopefully take her with them. Also a parallel to the inescapable fact of death, that it will come for us all, no matter the circumstances. Much like the creeping death in Romero’s zombies, these undead in Sole Survivor are the epitome of death’s inevitability.
SS1For Eberhardt’s directorial debut, before he did the fantastic Night of the Comet, this is a well executed piece of horror cinema. In a decade with an overabundance of horror it’s easy for a few films to slip through the cracks, in comparison to other bigger names of the era, during a time where Michael, Freddy, Jason were wreaking havoc to big box office numbers. What sets this apart from similar films involving the dead coming back to life is the atmosphere, from bleak images to a constant air of dread and suspense throughout.
The opener is a scene that, today, you’d expect would involve a much larger, more expensive, wild action set-piece. Instead, we’re given an effective start to the film that’s inventive rather than over the top. This is where the dread starts, with bloody carnage, an airy industrial drone, a scattered scream here or there, and a catatonic Denise in the midst of the madness.
Definitely a predecessor to Final Destination, only a hell of a lot more subtle. Terror creeps in slow, the build up burning and the eeriness always present yet just in the immediate background. It Follows has much of the same atmosphere, giving us an awesome homage in a scene where Maika Monroe firsts sees the titular ‘it’ on her college campus; absolutely influenced by one the earlier moments when Denise discovers the dead have come back for her, nobody else able to see it. Even further, how Denise discovers what’s going on through the cryptic warnings of a second party, just as Monroe’s character does, as well. This just goes to show that Sole Survivor has far more influence than its reputation might let on, ingrained in the collective film-going mind either consciously or unconsciously.
SS2The survivor’s guilt metaphor works on several levels. One being the visual motif of Denise being able to see the dead, while others are wholly unaware, even if the walking corpse is right next to them. Many of the film’s best dreadful scenes come out of the rock and a hard place where Denise exists, trying to survive as the dead try just as hard to kill her, at the same time unable to explain to others fully what’s happening to her. This symbolises the struggle of the actual mental affliction of survivor’s guilt, in that it is an invisible illness. Unlike a broken bone, mental health hurts on an altogether emotional, existential level, in turn producing physical effects. So, following the metaphor through, Denise must suffer in silence, as many do with their mental health, and nobody outside of her can understand the nature of her suffering.
Sole Survivor perhaps works best on this metaphorical plane. The film’s awesome, creepy. But the pacing is off. A slow burn can be enticing, can compel a viewer to stick with the story and the characters. This film has too much of it, and so rather than be tight with those suspenseful moments and scenes, that chilly tension, it comes off in many scenes as too tedious for its own good.
There’s no doubt the finale is thrilling. That doesn’t entirely excuse some of the needlessly slow, drawn out sections that could’ve been more efficient, and at times maybe an extra bit scary. That being said, the very end of the film is perfect. And nasty to boot.
SS3Cryptic messages from a psychic. The previously dead rising. A woman descending into paranoia. These descriptions could signify a bunch of movies. Yet one of the best fitting the description is Sole Survivor. Dread, suspense, a dash of blood; these are all fine and dandy. Add to that the central performance of Anita Skinner, whose presence and range suck the viewer into the character, in turn the story. Each eerie moment takes us deeper into her perspective, the perfect atmosphere to explore her guilt.
Highly recommended, particularly for fans of the 1980s in horror. And especially if you want to see early influences on It FollowsFinal Destination, and other works of the genre. Tension, ghostly and gruesome apparitions, a killer score full of swelling synth and typical horror movie tracks that make the mood all the more unnerving at the right times. It isn’t a perfect film, but Sole Survivor deserves better than being forgotten, belonging up there next to some of the best the ’80s ever had to offer.

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Mr. Robot – Season 2, Episode 3: “eps2.1_k3rnel-pan1c.ksd”

USA’s Mr. Robot
Season 2, Episode 3: “eps2.1_k3rnel-pan1c.ksd”
Directed & Written by Sam Esmail

* For a recap & review of the previous episode, “eps2.0_unm4sk-pt2.tc” – click here
* For a recap & review of the next episode, “eps2.1_k3rnel-pan1c.ksd” – click here
Pic 1Mobley (Azhar Khan) and Romero (Ron Cephas Jones) keep up the good fight for fsociety. We hear the oral history of their little arcade, from Romero, and the origin of fsociety’s name comes from the corporation title, “Fun Society Amusement, LLC.” A long, weird, ugly history. Out of which is now growing something good, or at least aimed at the intention of good. All boils down to this being the perfect place to do some hacking. Romero wants to sell the place off, under the radar. He doesn’t want to go back to jail, though. He doesn’t want to be involved. Although Mobley talks a good game.
Oh, by the way, this is before Romero met Elliot (Rami Malek). The origin of their at times tenuous relationship amongst the fsociety. A great opening scene.
Pic 1APanic. Here it comes again.”
Elliot’s character is so compelling because he’s very real. Not only is he talented, he’s disturbed, he has mental health issues. But they’re not atypical, all the same things we’ve seen before. He’s brilliant, he’s also flawed. Now Elliot’s talking to Tyrell (Martin Wallström) over that red phone. “I think about that night, when we became gods,” Tyrell tells him. More than that he’s got dad (Christian Slater) continually barking in his ear. On top of it all he’s found out about the murder of Gideon Goddard.
That morning, Mobley finds Romero at his place, shot in the back of the head. Taken out so quietly under everyone’s nose. Because whoever it is has unbelievable reach.
We’re also getting a glimpse into the life of Ray (Craig Robinson). Seems he’s got his own mental issues, too. Sitting at the table, eating, looking as if he’s hooked up to dialysis, he talks to somebody who isn’t there. This is very interesting if what we’re seeing is what’s going on, if there’s no trickery. Because in this case, he and Elliot have so much in common. Which could be bad.
What’s really no good is Elliot self-medicating. He’s determined to push Mr. Robot, dear ole dad into the recesses of his mind. He swallows down a bunch of pills to drown out the sound of his rambling. Right before a guy looks like an FBI agent crosses his path.
Darlene (Carly Chaikin) isn’t overly surprised about their friend being dead when Mobley meets to talk with her. She’s cynical, but more so a realist. Yet it’s still not hard for them to wonder what the fallout of their actions will be ultimately, after all is said and done. Such as how Elliot’s been taken by the FBI man, or whoever he is, and they’ve got him tied to a chair. They’re mixing concrete in a barrel, as well. Big plans for him. They’re going to pour it down his throat. No, it’s just another vision, along with dad making it all happen. He forces Elliot to throw up the pills, only to be thwarted when his son, vomit and all, slurps them back down. He’ll do anything to “not be owned.”
I have burrowed underneath your brain, I am nested there, I am the scream in your mind.”

Love that we get a good look at Dominique DiPierro (Grace Grummer) in this episode, seeing more of her, as well as in her personal space. She’s not your archetype of an FBI agent with a drug problem or anything like that. Although there’s some mystery about her. Now she’s involved slightly with the murder case of Romero; her name’s turned up on a list the hacker had in his things. This gets her digging around later, by herself, cosying up to Romero’s mom to get a second look at things.
We also get more of Trenton (Sunita Mani), after Darlene and Mobley go see her. They’re all divided. That sense of power, of righteousness keeps throbbing in Darlene, she’s not even scared after their close friend was killed. She also won’t listen to anything else, about Elliot, or getting away to someplace safe. Mobley and Trenton realise the danger of the Dark Army, she doesn’t appear bothered. This leads Mobley to wonder if the brother-sister team aren’t in on the whole thing. Paranoia abound.
The full story on Ray comes out further. He’s got a website. He deals with very bad, dangerous, violent people. He is also likely just as violent, maybe as dangerous. He’s doing some kind of shady shit online, that’s obvious. More mystery surrounding him, even after a bit of information.
Ray: “Were not animals
Meanwhile, Elliot believes he’s rid himself of dad’s influence. He’s taking the right amount of pills, getting enough sleep. Well, sometimes. Adderall has changed his life, he’s even into Leon’s (Joey Bada$$) theories on George Costanza and Seinfeld. He’s actually gotten into basketball. But he’s medicated into another kind of madness. However, he’s starting to see it all differently. No matter what he does there’s always that darkness lurking in him, the damage will never go away. It is inescapable. He’s starting to break down, all over again. In a whole new way.
The scream in my mind is coming back
Screen Shot 2017-09-23 at 3.17.20 AMI worry a bit about Angela (Carly Chaikin), who’s meeting Phillip Price (Michael Cristofer) for dinner on a Saturday night. Seems sort of, questionable? Until arriving to find him there with a couple of her colleagues, Sol and Jim. She looks disappointed somehow, though she ought to be happy. Maybe she’s finally being taken seriously.
Or maybe not, who knows. Afterwards, Price is alone with her. Tells her those two men were involved with Colby, back when they devastated her hometown. Oh, my. Didn’t see that coming. He’s actually brought her evidence to boot.
What’s the ultimate cost? That’s my only thought.
Elliot’s starting to see that he’s, despite all the trouble, better unmedicated. He sees the truth when he’s unmedicated. And while, to some others, it might sound insane, it’s all so true. He goes on a rant at his NA meeting about gods, organised religion, and how God “owns you” through belief and the “distortion of reality.” In this sense, God is like a father, his father, many fathers.
That evening, Elliot gets a visit from Ray, who still wants help with whatever kind of website he’s been running. Ray tells him about losing his wife several years before, and that’s why he talks out loud at the breakfast table. This dude scares me, some aspect of his personality doesn’t sit right. Elliot winds up back at Ray’s office with him, then things get deeper between them. The guy almost echoes his father’s “control is an illusion.” This is already more dangerous than I imagined.
Also, guess where Dominique’s ended up? You know which arcade.
Screen Shot 2017-09-23 at 3.37.07 AMLord, I’m in love with this TV series! Great writing, fantastic themes being illustrated in ways we’ve not seen before. As much a show about mental illness as it is about hacking. Can’t wait to watch more. Haven’t even finished Season 2, already dying for Season 3.
“eps2.1_k3rnel-pan1c.ksd” comes next.

THE TRANSFIGURATION’s Blood Sucking Construction of Masculinity & Mental Illness

The Transfiguration. 2016. Directed & Written by Michael O’Shea.
Starring Eric Ruffin, Chloe Levine, Phyillicia Bishop, Dangelo Bonneli, Andrea Cordaro, Larry Fessenden, Danny Flaherty, Anna Friedman, Jose Ignacio Gomez, Lloyd Kaufman, & JaQwan J. Kelly.
Transfiguration Productions
Not Rated. 97 minutes.
Drama/Horror

★★★★1/2

Disclaimer: The following article contains several spoilers.
Go check this film out. Then come back, discuss.
Lest ye be spoiled, forever!

Transfiguration 1Vampire films are a dime a dozen. Much like the zombie, the concept of vampires has been overused. That being said, there are many incredible works within these sub-genres. Although seeing as how the horror industry’s inundated with their presence, you’ve got to dig to find the real gold. The Transfiguration is one of those exciting, sharp needles in the haystack.
As a white man, there are issues in this film I’m not qualified to speak on with any authority. One of which is black mental health. However, the broader concept of mental health still applies. This is the most effective part of Michael O’Shea’s film: it takes a cold, hard look at things not everybody wants to see. In a coming of age story constantly flirting with the idea of the supernatural lurking on the periphery of our normal lives, O’Shea has focused on issues important to all of society, ones we’ve largely ignored up until now.
In a way, O’Shea also challenges us to consider what it is that makes a vampire film, how we perceive the constructs of the sub-genre. We come to question whether or not the protagonist, Milo (Eric Ruffin), is actually a creature of the night, or if it’s all in his head. The line between reality and the darkest of fantasy blurred. A frothy cocktail of mental health issues, the possibility of the supernatural, alienation and isolation, as well as the coming of age of a damaged young man whose entire environment feels geared towards denying him any escape from the psychological violence with which he’s been afflicted.
Transfiguration 2There’s a stigma of mental health in society in general. Even in 2017, particularly in certain communities and circles there’s a lingering idea that mental illness = psychotic, crazy, untrustworthy, weak. I don’t want to dive in on black mental health, not qualified. What I can speak to re: Milo is the mental health of men, how mental illness is perceived in conjunction with the constructions of masculinity. The other kids, the drug dealer and his friends, they see Milo as weird. It’s maybe his older brother Lewis (Aaron Cliften Moten) whose refusal to discuss anything of emotion stunts the kid the worst.
Milo lives at home with his brother. Just the two of them. Gradually, we discover a loss by suicide in the family. Before we ever figure it out fully, this loss is symbolised by a closed door in their apartment. Milo stares at it, a feeling of morbid awe accompanies the image. We can see he doesn’t push his older brother to talk about his feelings, any of the things he does in his room, such as indulging in vampire lore and movies, homemade VHS tapes of Lost BoysFright Night, right up to Dracula Untold.
And here’s where the general metaphor of mental illness kicks in.
Like many who suffer with mental health issues, Milo is tucked away immersed in fantasy, the symbol of his separation is the literal doorway of his room. Where he’s cut off, where, generally, Lewis will not go. Within that disconnect, Milo becomes lost in his fantasy. Whether he’s a vampire is left until the end. Before that, the mental illness is merely a metaphor, an allegory in vampire form. By the end it’s more than obvious what’s happened, even if there’s no expository dialogue spelling it out. Our protagonist has suffered the pains of faux-masculinity, of being forced into a delusion that ultimately encompasses his entire life.
The most telling moment is a scene where Milo tries to move somewhat towards a genuine conversation with Lewis, who responds only with a form of denial, a blind acceptance without understanding the consequences and a parallel to the way violent male behaviour is often condoned, telling his kid brother:

You do what you have to do. No matter what. Whatever it is youre doin‘, theres someone doina whole lot worse.”

Transfiguration 4While Sophie (Chloe Levine) represents an equally damaged soul, she’s also one who hasn’t descended into madness like Milo. Hard as her life is, she manages to at least get away, or she faces the prospects of getting away from the abusive grandfather, the boys in the neighbourhood – essentially, away from the toxic men around her. Sophie also illustrates that women clearly are not exempt from the violence and sexual abuse of men, as if we didn’t know already. But this movie is specifically aimed at the unforgiving culture of masculinity that doesn’t allow young men, or any men for that matter, to discuss their issues openly, without fear of judgement, of ridicule. So whereas Sophie manages to find a way free in the end, Milo cannot escape the fragile constructions of masculinity, as his vampire delusion leads him towards tragedy.
O’Shea does well by blurring the lines between fantasy and reality, though. The edges disappear, leaving the viewer wondering at times if this is a choice, a delusion, or if Milo’s been infected by some undead creature wandering the city. Because in between his hunting for blood, there’s a whole world of urban decay, a modern Gothic landscape across the city surrounding him. He experiences all the socioeconomic pitfalls of living in a forgotten neighbourhood, where people buy drugs and get shot in the basement of apartment buildings, and likely much, much worse. At one point, a white guy’s racist assumption that any black kid in that neighbourhood out to know where the drugs are leads to this same guy becoming a victim of crime himself. A self-fulfilling prophesy which ultimately, and in such a dark way, comes back onto Milo, tragedy of Greek proportions. Although it’s not quite fate which brings it full circle, as we see in the finale.
Transfiguration 3Every so often, a horror movie like The Transfiguration comes along speaking so loud, so proud in a unique way that it helps the whole genre. In this case, also the vampire sub-genre. There are plenty of great horror movies out there, despite what people who don’t dig horror will try telling you. This film simply has the transcendental quality certain films in the genre have which cross a genre gap, speaking to universal ideas independent of any genre. This is something every horror needs to attempt. But when one does, succeeding, it’s special.
O’Shea does a fantastic job at playing with that blurred line from fantasy to reality, to the point the viewer will question if Milo is a serial killer or a genuine vampire. He doesn’t load us down with exposition. Rather, he chooses to give us gradual, short motions from scene to scene building a sense of who Milo is, how he got here, where he’s headed, until the various strands of his life come together in a blend of terror.
Stuck between a brutal reality surrounded by death and crime and violence, Milo is forced into a fantastical headspace. From the dealers on the street harassing him, to the wall of videotapes he studies religiously, his life is a constant battle between these elements. This is the story of many out there, young men trapped by the social constructs of their gender. Milo is a microcosm. The longer men ignore other men’s struggles with mental illness, the more people will die. And that’s not a figurative concept, that’s reality.

Better Call Saul – Season 3, Episode 10: “Lantern”

AMC’s Better Call Saul
Season 3, Episode 10: “Lantern”
Directed by Peter Gould
Written by Gennifer Hutchison

* For a recap & review of the penultimate Season 3 episode, “Fall” – click here
Pic 1We see young Chuck reading to a little Jimmy by light of a lantern, two brothers once so close. It’s like a marker to show us how far Chuck (Michael McKean) and Jimmy (Bob Odenkirk) have come, how deeply tarnished their relationship is at this point. A long, brutal journey. I’m also curious as to how long Chuck’s illness has been going on; were they camping, or was it merely how he liked to read, by lantern?
But more important, back to Kim Wexler (Rhea Seehorn), who’s in rough shape. Alive, though. That’s the main thing. She’s been pulling way too hard for the business and it isn’t a case of she’s working too much, it’s a case of she has to work that much. Because being in a partnership with Jimmy requires you do the extra work.
What about Chuck? He’s in a meeting with Howard (Patrick Fabian) and a bunch of other lawyers. He lays out what he sees as the only options. He doesn’t want to be the “agent of [the firm’s] destruction” and would like to settle things quickly. With only a handshake between Howard and himself. His partner’s not so keen. Feels that Chuck has let the McGill vendetta takeover his better judgement in regards to the firm. Nor does he like that the old guy went straight for a lawsuit against him after a bit of a disagreement. Howard decides on paying Chuck millions out of pocket to resolve their dispute. Followed by a sort of public shaming, masquerading as gratitude.
Pic 1AJimmy looks after Kim while she recuperates in bed, unable to move much because of her cast and injuries. She replenishes her electrolytes while he cooks breakfast. He lays out his plans about the office, subletting and such. That she may want to work from home. Kim, instead of feeling happy to be alive, feels guilty for driving off the road. Could have killed somebody. Yet again, I have to say: JIMMY’S FAULT! She’s spent her time picking up after him. Sure, she got in the car herself. Doesn’t change the fact he’s put pressure on the business, as Chuck did with his own, due to a personal, family feud. Everything else stems from that.
Hector Salamanca (Mark Margolis) goes to the shop owned by Nacho’s (Michael Mando) father, to check out the whole outfit. The don wants to talk with papi, though Nacho is wary. The two men meet, they have a tenuous meeting. Hector pulls out a load of cash like it’s meant to make an impression; Mr. Varga is not impressed. His son urges him to be reasonable. Family is what keeps him from doing anything unwise. Despite his morals.
Note: Juxtaposition of the two different views of family values, from the Varga family to the McGills, is a truly poignant way to set these stories together throughout the various episodes. Makes for a cohesive flow you don’t necessarily see in the beginning, until the plots open up more.
Francesca (Tina Parker) is also taking care of things for Kim, helping out. She’s rescheduled things and made the workload easier during recovery. Kim is finally starting to slow down. She goes to Blockbuster – still open at this point a few years ago – renting a ton of movies. Is she trying to fill up her time and actually rest?
Pic 2Meanwhile, Jimmy goes to see Chuck, checking to see if he’s all right. Seems he is, as the place is lit up with lamps and music is playing on the record player. The younger brother is feeling guilty about what’s gone on between them. He has regrets about their relationship. The older brother isn’t particularly enthused with any of it. “Whats the point?” he asks. No reason to regret. He does not believe Jimmy can change: “You hurt people, over and over and over.” Then he drops the bomb that he’s never actually cared much about his younger brother, in one of the MOST COLD HEARTED LINES I’ve heard in my life. Just, whoa. Knocked my socks off.
Later on by himself, the oldest McGill shuts down all the power. Silent admission of his own inability to change, much as he chastises his brother. He thinks there’s still power flowing, even after disconnecting the breaker. He’s going full loony.
Jimmy drops over to see Irene, bringing her balloons and things for her cats. He’s excited about the settlement. It’s clear she doesn’t share that enthusiasm. The other women hate her now, the relationship has changed. His elaborate and nasty plan has ultimately backfired. The old ladies question her integrity; in reality, it his integrity. What a shit person he is, really. Much as I give him a chance, he’s not a good man. What he did to Irene and those ladies is despicable behaviour.
Pic 3Chuck is going mad trying to find the source of his discomfort, believing the electrical meter to still be turning even after he’s disconnected everything. And it does turn, only a tiny bit. It’s his mind amplifying it to magnified heights. The stress in his life, the relationship with Jimmy, everything is exacerbating the mental illness. So, he keeps searching, he won’t stop. He feels along the walls, looking for wherever the last bits of electricity are pumping. He starts ripping and beating holes in the walls, looking close as humanly possible. Leaving him and the house a wreck. Then he actually beats the meter off the pole outside to make it all stop.
In other news, Nacho meets his crew and Don Hector. They’re meeting Gus Fring (Giancarlo Esposito) and Juan Bolsa (Javier Grajeda), bringing a message from Don Eladio. “Only one route” across the border from now on, via the Los Pollos Hermanos trucks. Hector gets mouthy with them, getting angry. His heart pumping. Leading to an attack. He hits the ground, passing out. Gus has one of the men call 9-11, sending Juan off and the others hiding guns. Nacho manages to get hold of the fake pills, switching them out for the real ones. And Mr. Fring knows exactly what’s happened.
There’s more to that despicable side of Jimmy. He’s in one of the exercise classes with the ladies again, only this time he’s filling in for the instructor. Erin (Jessie Ennis) interrupts, needing to speak with him. She calls him out on what he did, and he doesn’t realise that his headset is on, broadcasting everything to the class. YOU DONE FUCKED UP, JAMES! He comes across as the monster he is, exposing himself unknowingly to the old folks at Sand Piper. Yet it’s all part of his plan, to get Mrs. Landry to go back on the settlement.
Even though he sort of acknowledges his cruelty, he doesn’t actually accept it.
Screen Shot 2017-06-20 at 2.27.27 AMKim and Jimmy are shutting down the office for good. Gone as far as they can go, and I wonder how far they’ll go together after this moment. She’s so loyal to him. It’s a car crash this time. What will it be next time?
And over at Chuck’s, the old guy has had enough. He’s littered the place with books, torn the place apart. Now he’s kicking his lantern at the edge of the table. Kicking it to the floor where it breaks, starting a fire that lights his home ablaze.
Christ. I wonder if this is the end of Chuck McGill. If, so, a vicious and wild end, a damned awful way to commit suicide.
Screen Shot 2017-06-20 at 2.39.06 AMWhat a season! They have to go for a Season 4, if not there’s so much wasted. But you know there will be. I want to see the next phase of what happens concerning Fring and Don Hector and Nacho. Plus, we need to see what will become of Chuck! If he dies, this will truly bite at Jimmy’s heart, no matter how heartless he is; it’ll be the final nail in the coffin of his confidence, knowing then he’s someone who’s contributed in the long, terrible downfall of his brother.
Bring on Season 4!

Legion – Chapter 2

FX’s Legion
Chapter 2
Directed by Michael Uppendahl
Written by Noah Hawley

* For a review of Chapter 1, click here.
* For a review of Chapter 3, click here.
screen-shot-2017-02-16-at-2-49-05-amAfter the exciting events of Chapter 1, we find David Haller (Dan Stevens) alongside Syd Barrett (Rachel Keller), Melanie Bird (Jean Smart) and the others, as one of them sings “Road to Nowhere” by The Talking Heads.
They get back to a facility – Summerland – where David meets others, including Cary Loudermilk (Bill Irwin). But the poor dude is sick, he has too many voices rushing through his head. Melanie tries to help, getting him to focus: “Theres a single voice calling your name. Can you hear it? Can you find it?”
And who’s the voice? Could it be his mother, maybe?
The next day things start in full swing. He sits with Melanie and Ptonomy Wallace (Jeremie Harris) discussing how to harness his powers, which involves looking back through a lifetime of memory.  So it begins.
screen-shot-2017-02-16-at-2-53-07-amWe see memories of David and his sister Amy (Katie Aselton), though they’re very young, maybe eight years old. They run in a field with their dog, they laugh and play. The goal is to figure out where his supposed mental illness started, then leading to, hopefully, controlling the energy of his mind. They head more and more through various memory work, and David witnesses himself as a boy with his mother. Happy memories, evidently. Also, he remembers his father as an astronomer. Those of us who know the comics know better though, don’t we?
Ptonomy: “Pretend were in a museum; the museum of you.”
Suddenly something goes wrong. The dream feels sinister, ugly. The room starts to shake, as David spins out of control. Back to the table where they all sit. David’s beginning to freak out, until Ptonomy puts him to sleep.
Another trip back sees David sitting across from Dr. Poole (Scott Lawrence). He’s twitchy, he’s nervous. The voices scatter his brain. Outwardly, he seems incredibly mentally ill. On the inside is something nobody would’ve ever been able to diagnose, in terms of regular everyday medicine and science. Moreover, we see him and Lenny Busker (Aubrey Plaza) together, the earlier days of their friendship. But quick as we went in, David wakes up in Summerland with Ptonomy, and has a glass of milk to settle his stomach. I love Ptonomy, too. He has memories of his entire life, right back and into the womb.
Out in the woods, searching for David, is The Eye (Mackenzie Gray) and a fleet of black dressed, gun-toting SWAT team-looking cats. They will not stop, either.


There’s still no full explanation about what happened when Syd and David changed places. Although she remembers it being “so loud” while they did, it scared her. She likewise saw the horrible entity David keeps seeing in the background, that malevolent, hideous thing. And then, Syd remembers she probably killed Lenny.
Note: This scene had some awesome editing, from the memories of Syd about what happened in the hospital to the quick cut to Lenny reciting a line David is saying to Syd. I mean, Hawley & Co are pulling out all the stops to make this series work. Dig it!
Finally, David steps in with Mr. Loudermilk for a CT-scan-type test. Well it looks like Cary’s a bit of a character himself. There’s two Loudermilks: Cary and Kerry. Hmm, I’m intrigued now, especially seeing as how he said he was talking with Kerry, and she’s nowhere to be found. Either way we tumble back into more of David’s memories, now one in which he and Amy sit together chatting about her personal life. Memories slip by quick and we’re over with David and Lenny once again; she’s trying to trade an oven for drugs. Meanwhile David is having aural troubles. When they get their drugs it’s back home to get high! Only, should someone like him be experimenting? What I love most about Haller’s issues is that we see a genuine depiction of mental illness: he hears things, sees them, he’s not sure what’s real or what isn’t, and it’s as if we’re watching a documentary sometimes on the nature of schizophrenia. Inside the sci-fi trappings is a genuine depiction of a struggle with a disease of the mind.
We’re actually watching more of the memory work with David, Ptonomy, and Melanie. They try getting to the bottom of his visions. Particularly once the eerie, dark entity shows up and it freaks him out. Then the memories are glitching, jumping time. They dig up one of David’s flashes, in his apartment when he blew the place near to pieces.


Loudermilk is trying to help David figure out where his “memories are stored.” Stubborn little things. They head back into another one and try again. He goes into a dark place of his memory where things fold back onto themselves, the voices overcrowding his thoughts. Then there’s Amy, who can’t find David at the old facility anymore. She’s distraught, wanting to understand where her brother’s been taken. And Amy winds up being found by none other than The Eye. Uh oh.
Has David discovered a further power? Can he hear and see things from across time and space? Oh, I wouldn’t doubt it.
After Loudermilk leaves him alone, amazed by what he’s seeing on his readings, David’s greeted outside the machine by that grotesque entity. Another second passes and he’s not even in the machine anymore. It’s because he blew the thing right outside and into the yard with his powers. A truly disturbed individual, frighteningly powerful.
Alas, David’s decided to leave for a couple days and figure out what’s going on with his sister. At the same time, Amy is stashed away somewhere being held by The Eye and his associates, in a dreary basement akin to an old mental hospital. What is he planning for her?
screen-shot-2017-02-16-at-3-35-05-amWhat a spectacular follow-up to the first episode. The next ought to be a thrilling experience, just as these two have been! Loving this series. Hawley is an impressive writer, showing us more of his talents here with every passing chapter.

THE TAKING OF DEBORAH LOGAN: An Alzheimer’s Nightmare

The Taking of Deborah Logan. 2014. Directed by Adam Robitel. Screenplay by Gavin Heffernan & Robitel.
Starring Jill Larson, Anne Ramsay, Michelle Ang, Brett Gentile, Jeremy DeCarlos, Ryan Cutrona, Tonya Bludsworth, Anne Bedian, Randell Haynes, & Jeffrey Woodard.
Casadelic Pictures/Bad Hat Harry Productions/Jeff Rice Films.
Rated R. 90 minutes.
Horror/Mystery/Thriller

★★★★
POSTER There’s nothing more horrific than Alzheimer’s disease. It affects the people with it and those around the one afflicted in various ways, from physically to emotionally. I can’t particularly think of many horrors, if any, that have tackled this idea. Only recently another film called Dementia touched on similar issues of mental illness, though much differently. The Taking of Deborah Logan takes on the faux documentary found footage style with a plot that follows a camera crew filming a woman with Alzheimer’s, as well as her daughter who takes care of her, and essentially it’s a thesis project for one woman involved. Through this lens, we’re able to get an inner circle view of the struggle with a terrible disease. Or is there more lurking behind the frame, waiting to be exposed?
First feature director Adam Robitel, along with Gavin Heffernan sharing duties on the script, brings us a vision of illness that almost plays as an entire metaphor. As the plot progresses we begin to realise there’s other things happening. Perhaps something far more sinister than Alzheimer’s. Robitel makes solid choices as director, but above all he’s aided by a breathtakingly powerful performance out of lead actress Jill Larson in the titular role. While the screenplay could have used one or two tweaks throughout, for the most part this is one of my favourite found footage films in the past decade.
Some short, basic talk here before diving in.
I’ve got an issue. Lots of people complain about people here walking into rooms that are dark and not turning lights on, as if you’d walk into somebody’s rooms throughout their house and flick lights on when you’re a guest in their house. Sarah (Anne Ramsay) is obviously a member of the household, but when they’re looking for her mother they also don’t want to frighten her. Jamming the lights on if she were hiding might frighten her, shock the senses. If you know anything about patients with Alzheimer’s, last thing you want to do is frighten them. So y’know, their safety trumps your being scared of dark corners. And honestly, what changes if you turn on a light? Deborah is still possessed with the darkness of a serial killer from beyond the grave, she’s still going absolutely mental. Switching the light on doesn’t solve shit.
Also, YOU DON’T ACT LIKE YOU KNOW ABOUT HORROR MOVIES WHEN YOU’RE ACTUALLY IN ONE! You can’t bitch about people not turning on a light because something scary could happen possibly, because they’re not thinking a monster is behind the door, or a killer is about to jump out at them. Not everybody automatically switches a light on, especially if they’re using a camera. Why would they? Also, if you’re trying to creep around without people seeing you – a.k.a when you’re going places in the house you might not be welcome like in a couple scenes (such as when the window slams shut via Deborah) – then there’s no reason to turn on a light and broadcast your location.
My god. Do I really have to explain these things? Nah. Maybe I’m reading online comments too much. Anybody smart enough can decipher this shit on their own. Let’s move on.
Screen Shot 2016-05-20 at 2.01.13 AM The screenplay is pretty great, aside from a few little bits and pieces. Otherwise, the characters and the plots are exciting. In particular, both Jill Larson and Anne Ramsay have great characters. Daughter Sarah is a complex character that we actually never fully understand, though we’re privy to a nice few mentions that give us an idea of her identity, her personality. Love how they briefly mention that she’s lesbian without having to make it a huge deal, as if it’s abnormal. Rather it just helps to make up part of character and adds different elements that keep us interested. The fact she’s lesbian plays into the relationship she has with her mother, who is Old Timey to say the least.
Then there’s Larson. She is downright fantastic. Some of the looks and the facial expressions alone are worth their weight in terror. The way they make her look, from framing of the shots down to the makeup they’ve done her, is an added aspect to make her unsettling. But it’s all in the performance. No matter how many practical effects or anything they throw at the camera, Larson is always the most interesting piece of the puzzle. I have to say, it’s hard to imagine such an impressive performance coming from somebody I’ve personally never seen before, other than in bit parts like Martin Scorsese’s Shutter Island and only recently in HBO’s Vinyl. Regardless, she keeps me glued to the screen from start until finish. Her presence is infectiously frightening, and part of why this movie is a chiller.
Screen Shot 2016-05-20 at 2.25.38 AM Deborah (in French): “Your blood will feed the river
Screen Shot 2016-05-20 at 2.41.57 AM Scary is a subjective term. Everyone is scared of different things. The Taking of Deborah Logan scared me. Not as if it broke me, not at all. It compels me each time I see it.
One of the first scenes that legitimately jarred me was when they capture Deborah playing the piano in the dark, “Three Blind Mice”, and as the bare light in the frame starts to fade more the look on her face is chilling. Say what you want, and again scary is subjectively understood/felt, but if you don’t find that one bit is creepy then I’m not sure what you dig. And it’s not like I pissed myself. It’s just eerie.
Later when they go up into the attic (WITHOUT TURNING ON THE LIGHTS, YOU FUCKING CRY BABIES), the moment they set eyes on Deborah and then starts talking in this horrifying voice it nearly makes my blood run cold. As well as the fact the practical makeup effects on her are nasty, and well done.
Wandering in the hospital corridors (WHANNN NO LIGHTS WHANNN) is pretty damn creepy. And sure, they didn’t turn on the lights. But again, they had flashlights first of all. Second, again, they probably didn’t want to startle Deborah and send her running. After all they were dealing with a woman that had essentially kidnapped a little girl. So they likely were trying not to spur on any further erratic behaviours. I don’t know, fuck me right? Whatever. This whole sequence was unsettling and had me creeped out. In the end when they see the ‘snake mouth’ happening, that part really got to me. Amazing and filled with untold terror.
The finale is a wildly scary ride. It was unpredictable to me, and all the better for it. Despite its few flaws here or there, The Taking of Deborah Logan is a 4-star bit of horror cinema. It’s one of the better found footage efforts out of the last ten years and maybe one of my favourites ever. I’ve seen plenty of detractors online. That’s totally fine, again subjective. I love this movie and any time I’m lost for a found footage flick this gets popped in the DVD player. Robitel will be directing the next Insidious film, a franchise of which I’m a fan, so I wish him luck. Hope he brings the creepiness he cultivated here into that project, putting his own spin on the fourth entry. Because here he’s done one hell of a job as director. Proper scary madness.

Bergman’s HOUR OF THE WOLF is an Intensely Personal Journey into the Shattered Mental Health of Artists

Vargtimmen (English title: Hour of the Wolf). 1968. Directed & Written by Ingmar Bergman.
Starring Max von Sydow, Liv Ullmann, Gertrud Fridh, Georg Rydeberg, Erland Josephson, Naim Wifstrand, Ulf Johansson, Gudrun Brost, Bertil Anderberg, & Ingrid Thulin. Svensk Filmindustri.
Not Rated. 90 minutes.
Drama/Horror

★★★★★
POSTER1960s Ingmar Bergman is my kind of thing. His other stuff is great, too. But that’s a moment in time where Bergman is most significant to me personally. A few films came about in the ’70s I love. However, during the ’60s Bergman did Through a Glass DarklyPersonaThe SilenceShame, and Hour of the Wolf.
Depression and anxiety, any other mental illness, is never easily shown through visual representation. Because it is such a subjective, yet wholly universal concept. Furthermore, not enough attention is paid to the mental health of artists. Especially in a day and age now where we see many celebrities struggling with depression, et cetera, just like all the rest of us normal folk, Hour of the Wolf is a shockingly honest look at the blurred edges of creativity and illness. Bergman himself must have understood what it’s like to feel trapped between wanting to create and having a head full of demons needing to be exorcised.
All artists, like the artist here, find themselves lost in the work. The art often gives way to what’s stuck inside the artist, up in their head. This movie examines a liminal space where the artist exists, somewhere half between dream and nightmare, someplace close to the truth yet never quite getting there all the way. Most of all, Bergman dives into personal territory, so much so he felt a need to distort reality. He was likewise compelled into drawing attention to the metafictional space where art exists, like a play caught between its onstage and backstage/offstage persona.
Pic2 Longtime Bergman companion cinematographer Sven Nykvist captures this black-and-white film in such vivid, haunting detail. I love some of the first moments with Ullmann’s character Alma, as we’re fixated on her. For a personal journey concerning the artist – Max von Sydow’s Johan – we’re actually seated in her perspective, which makes the film that much more interesting. In those first moments, it’s almost like she talks directly to the audience, or rather she’s talking to the camera. An incredibly well composed shot catches her beautifully.
Later, the island’s visuals provide a great landscape for what comes to be an eerie story. This is also aided by the editing style of Ulla Ryghe, also working with Bergman on several of my favourites out of his catalogue. Ryghe transitions us through one scene to the next dreamily, which of course gets more feverish, anxious, and also, at times, more lucid.
The sound design in any Bergman film is spectacular, here it’s nearly at its best. So much quiet, near silent moments, often close to the ends of scenes when we’re left to sit with the dialogue and imagery which preceded them. Plus, the score sitting amongst the background in the dark, lying in wait throughout the shadows, it keeps things creepy, unnerving, and unpredictable most times. Surprisingly, composer Lars Johan Werle only did three films – this, Persona, and a movie called The Island from director Alf Sjöberg. Too bad, as this score works perfectly to compliment all Bergman’s gorgeous oddities.
As with all his Bergman’s films, the actors are first and foremost the largest part of why things work. Here he relies on a close quarters relationship between man and wife to fuel the energy of this dramatic horror. Max von Sydow and Liv Ullmann are the subject of the intense lens through which Bergman examines the weight of being an artist, the fine line between artistic genius and mental illness, as well as the burden of having to live with an artist/someone mentally ill as a spouse.
The camera lingers on the faces of the couple, respectively, and together. We’re forced to sit with them, unable to move away. Which is interesting, due to Bergman’s emotional distancing from the subject including the opening with audio from the set leaking through. It happens later at the end, too. So there’s this almost emotional disconnect that Bergman provides us. Throughout the runtime between credit sequences he forces us into this highly personal, emotional, evocative filmic space. Before, and after, he allows a brief reprieve. Because once you let the story sink in and all its imagery, the personal relationship between man and wife deteriorating, Hour of the Wolf draws you into its mania and all its quiet terror.
Further than that, Bergman lulls you into believing this may be a personal chamber drama set out no an island in a little cabin. Until the ominous events begin to pave way for something altogether horrific.
One of the first really unsettling scenes is the dinner party. The close up framing of the guests, lingering on Max von Sydow steadily, watching him all but fall apart, the loud voices speaking so many at once, it is an entirely strange experience. And you can feel von Sydow’s anxiety, thick enough to cut through it with a knife. This kicks off much of the hallucinatory imagery we experience, increasingly strange as the film wears on.

 

 

Pic4 The finale is terrifying. After Johan is dressed up to meet with his old lover, his face painted, a robe (costume) put on, he’s thrown into a moment of open, raw honesty. He finds himself bare in front of everyone. The audience of the dinner party stands by watching him, laughing, applauding. We can take this as the artist feeling forced into baring his soul. Or rather, once you’ve shown your art to the world you are bare to them. No longer is the artist at his own whims, but at the whim of an audience. In this case, a highly demanding and ruthless audience.
The mirror has been shattered,” Johan says to himself, to the audience, the camera. And it has. There is no longer a mirror between the artist and himself. He is looking directly at us, both figuratively and literally.
Essentially, this film becomes symbolic of the process through which an artist creates.
By the end, the artist has entered into a space where there are no secrets, nothing is hidden. This phase is initiated after the woman takes off her face at the dinner table. After which there are no longer any hidden lives. Johan proceeds to literally strip down, dress himself up, and put on his real face; to perform, to make art. Afterwards, as Johan moves further out into the forest and winds up butchered, this symbolizes Alma completely losing him. He is a part of something bigger now in his life as the artist. He belongs to the world, to the others, and no longer is he simply Johan, husband to Alma.
A great clue comes in the end when Alma talks about how he referred to those other people, the types like those attending the dinner party earlier, as cannibals – also a tentative title for this screenplay years before when Bergman was fleshing it out, making other projects before coming back to this one with its new title.
Because these cannibals are those artistic cannibals. The ones that prey off the artist, feeding off him, whether that be economically, socially, or even just the idea that audiences take a part of the artist with them after experiencing their work. Either way, so much of this film’s theme is evident in that last monologue from Alma as she uses that curious word, and we finally see those dinner party guests for exactly what/who they are truly.

 


Ingmar Bergman’s only horror film is a strangely personal, realistic, yet voyeuristic and metafictional-type experience. Hour of the Wolf is a masterpiece that does not get the recognition it deserves, simply because Bergman has a filmography which speaks to his status as a giant of cinema, a true-blooded auteur, through and through. His artistry makes this psychological horror one of best, most thrilling films of the genre during this era. There are so many haunting images in this single film that it’s amazing more people don’t champion this as the scary piece of work it is, and though there are definitely fans there just are not enough.
Speaking in an emotionally raw tone through his film, Bergman perhaps gives up more about himself here than in any other of his cinematic works. One of the reasons he claims to have left in the bits with the sounds of the crew, the evidence of a movie being made, self-referentially calling to mind: you are watching a film, a horror, a movie is happening and you are outside of reality. This shows us, clearly, that Bergman tries to relate with us his feelings about being an artist, about being an artist and feeling completely mad, about having to try and live with someone you love closely while your mind feels as if it’s breaking apart, and you’re giving every last part of you to the world while then also trying to give your all to that loving, loyal partner.
So many things happen in this horror movie throughout the space of 90 minutes. Even if you’re not into Bergman, give this a chance. Hour of the Wolf is potent stuff.

The Devil and Daniel Johnston Highlights the Line Between Genius & Madness

The Devil and Daniel Johnston. 2005. Directed & Written by Jeff Feuerzeig.
Starring Daniel Johnston, Laurie Allen, Brian Beattie, Louis Black, David Fair, Jad Fair, Don Goede, Matt Groening, Gibby Haynes, Sally Johnston Reid, Bill Johnston, Dick Johnston, Mabel Johnston, Margie Johnston, and Ken Lieck. Complex Corporation/This Is That Productions.
Rated PG-13. 110 minutes.
Documentary/Biography/Music

★★★★★
POSTER
Documentaries are everywhere, on every sort of subject. Anything in the world you can think of, there’s probably a documentary on the subject. Certain documentary films interest me because of how I connect with them personally, others are just intriguing and interesting topics that will draw me in.
The Devil and Daniel Johnston is one of the former types. I’d never actually heard of Daniel Johnston before this movie. Other people I know had heard of him, but not me. Either way, I dove into this documentary because I knew that Johnston suffered from mental illness; that’s the single thing I knew of him. Identifying with him, as both a hopeful artist and a man trying to negotiate life with a severe form of depression, this film spoke to me. While I’m not a fan of all his songs, there are pieces of music here and there which really reach out to me. More than that, to see Johnston struggle through being an artist, growing up, living life, all the while battling manic depression desperately. There are moments you might find yourself grinding your teeth sitting there almost feeling the pain. Certain scenes are funny, lighthearted. A huge mixed bag here that collides into making one of the most personal, wrenching, devastatingly awesome documentaries about a musician you’re likely to ever see.
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The most fascinating part about Daniel Johnston is the fact of his own rawness, his real and unabashed open qualities concerning his personality. At one point, on MTV no less during 1985, he tells the camera: “This is my album Hi, How Are You? and I was having a nervous breakdown when I recorded it.” He says it in such a matter-of-fact way that it’s hard not admire, or laugh, or smile. In just about every last scene where he’s talking, you find him divulging the most personal, inner secrets about the darkest corner of his life. And coupled with that, the way Daniel performs is different than anyone else I’ve ever seen. You can witness both the intensity of his musical ability, as well as his wildly nervous personality. He is visibly nervous each time a performance comes up, from his younger days to his later shows. Always there’s this fear inside him, which is actually endearing a lot of the time.
So it’s no surprise when, later, Daniel ends up having an actual serious breakdown. He becomes violent and crazy after experimenting with acid/LSD, which first began at a Butthole Surfers show. Slowly things deteriorate, as Daniel starts to get arrested, the police have altercations with him, he even causes disturbances in his family. Then there are various struggles. There were people who worked for him/with him, re: his career, who all tried their best to help him, whether that was committing him to a mental institution or getting him shows to play or whatever else could’ve been done. All the while throughout the history of Johnston, we’re seeing edits of him talking in various recordings (from dubbed tapes he did himself to video shot of him by others). It’s a strange conglomeration of things coming together to present his life to us. Best of all, even in the most intense, scariest moments of discussing Daniel and his condition, director Jeff Feuerzeig preserves a sense of respect and delicacy that shelters us from looking at Johnston like a freak. He isn’t, especially considering how mental illness is becoming less and less stigmatized today; this is a raw and honest look at someone’s struggle. But again, it doesn’t come off as “Look at how fucked up Daniel is“. There is a tenderness about the way Feuerzeig offers up glimpses of Daniel and his difficult life.
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You’ll find it hard to deny the power of this documentary. No matter if you hate Johnston’s music, or if you think he’s a genius (I don’t think; I do find him an incredibly unique talent), if you have a heart beating in your chest and a soul deep down inside, this film will absolutely shake you. In the last 45 minutes or so, the devastating details come out. Such as the time Daniel thought he actually was Casper the Friendly Ghost, took the keys out of his father’s small plane in which they flying and tossed them out into the air, prompting his dad to make a crash landing. Luckily, they made it out of the situation with only minor injuries, but to think of what could’ve happened. It is a really frightening thought. That’s one of the turning points in the documentary, as not only do we realize the extent and depth of his illness, we also see a slight change in Daniel. Shortly afterwards, he starts to come down out of his religious fervor, his hallucinations and other similar delusions. He probably didn’t lose his faith. He just understood the gravity of his own condition. Today, he still struggles with issues of manic depression, but I feel after some of the more insane moments in his journey, there’s a part of him which accepts all of the ups and downs, in one big package. We go along that journey. Maybe in the end, the documentary’s biggest aspiration is to show people the mania inside music. Often people want the crazy, unstable musicians out there doing their thing and entertaining, but forget the human people inside these celebrities, inside the fame, deep down at the core. The humanity can’t ever be forgotten; this, if anything, is what Daniel Johnston and the film of his life has to teach.
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This is a 5 star, flawless documentary. One of my favourites ever made. Because despite what you may feel concerning Daniel Johnston’s music, you cannot watch this without feeling something. To understand the mania and depression of others it’s necessary for people to be open, honest, willing to expose themselves to the world. It just so happens Johnston is one of the people willing to open himself up, like a living cadaver, and through this film he allows us a window into the damaged soul inside him. There are so many depressed and mentally ill people who could benefit from people coming out, talking of their own illnesses, their own struggles. We see so much of the devastation of unchecked mental illness in The Devil and Daniel Johnston, but in a roundabout way Daniel lets us understand how severe depression (or other similar mental afflictions) can be conquered: through love, honesty, openness, understanding, and yes, a dose of medication. There’s nothing ever glorious about this documentary, perhaps something which sets it apart from a lot of other biographical movies about musicians. Just remember – it isn’t all about the music, it is about the man. That is a point this film makes, over and over again. You may want all the madness that goes into the music, but don’t forget the men and women behind the music, their lives, what brings them to their talent and what gives us the unforgettable songs they’ve made.

Hannibal – Season 1, Episode 10: “Buffet Froid”

NBC’s Hannibal
Season 1, Episode 10: “Buffet Froid”
Directed by John Dahl (Rounders)
Written by Andrew Black/Chris Brancato/Bryan Fuller

* For a review of the previous episode, “Trou Normand” – click here
* For a review of the next episode, “Rôti” – click here
IMG_0438
IMG_0439 IMG_0440This episode begins with a woman who comes home, then later begins to suspect someone is inside.
All of a sudden she’s pulled under and a jet of blood squirts out across the floor, splashed like a Jackson Pollock.

Will: “I can feel my nerves clicking like rollercoaster cogs, pulling up to the inevitable long plunge.

We cut to Will Graham (Hugh Dancy) and Dr. Hannibal Lecter (Mads Mikkelsen) discussing their recent lie: keeping their surrogate daughter Abigail Hobbs (Kacey Rohl) out of the grasp of Jack Crawford (Laurence Fishburne) and the FBI. While there is still not a full release on Will’s part over to the criminality of it all, Hannibal is still goading him on, pushing further and further towards the steep edge which comes on faster each episode.
IMG_0441Hannibal: “Do you feel alive, Will?
Will: “I feel like I’m fading
The disturbing part here is when Hannibal requests Will draw a clock on a piece of paper in his notepad. Graham does so; we see it from his point-of-view, and the clock looks perfect, the hands correct and numbers all around in the right places. When passing it back over to Hannibal, we see it from the doctor’s point-of-view now: the hands are completely out of whack, the numbers drawn on one side and all down the inside of the clock’s face, some out.
IMG_0443 IMG_0445 IMG_0446Will: “I’m an old hand at fear
When Will heads into the crime scene this time, we don’t see it. Because even Will himself doesn’t remember it.
All of a sudden, Will goes from fishing, gutting a fish – or at least that’s what we see: could be another dream of his – to being on top of the victim, looking down, envisioning the blood pumping out of her wounds.
He snaps out of it, slipping backward, all over the crime scene. Busting through the door, he meets Jack, Beverly (Hettienne Park), Brian (Aaron Abrams), and Jimmy (Scott Thompson) – all of whom look equally as astonished as him. Although Jack says it wasn’t confusion he saw on Will’s face; it was fear.
IMG_0448 IMG_0449 IMG_0450 IMG_0451 IMG_0452 IMG_0453 IMG_0454Talking to Hannibal, Will tells him he “knows what kind of crazy” he is, and that what he is experiencing doesn’t feel like that sort of thing. He thinks there is a physical problem. However, ole Hannibal tries to tell him that if it isn’t physical, Will must face the fact it is more than probably mental illness. As the episode goes by, we see that Hannibal is reluctant to tell Will the truth about what’s really going on inside his head, and convinces a specialist friend of his to keep a dangerously inflamed brain – encephalitis – from Graham. All in the name of professional curiosity. Though this other doctor is not a killer like Hannibal, he is clearly not an ethical man. This plays into Hannibal’s claws.

Will: “I just slowly became aware that I might not be dreaming
IMG_0456 IMG_0458 IMG_0459The Killer of the Week is yet another one whose story links up with that of Will Graham.
Here, it is a woman who has a severe infection, not only that she believes in fact that she is dead; afflicted with a terrible mental illness, it destroyed her life. Now faces to her look disoriented and mangled, she can’t tell who anyone is – even those who love her, whom she loved before the infection took her life over. This is why she cuts the face of her victims into a Glasgow Smile.
Will’s loss of time, becoming more frequent as the episode wears on, is troubling him to the point where he can’t distinguish between dream and reality any longer, at certain times. He starts to sort of bond with this killer because she is suffering from such a severe mental illness that it has affected her physically. Just like the trauma Will Graham deals with daily, going to crime scenes, putting himself in the shoes of psychopathic killers; the encephalitis has flamed up and begins to wreak havoc on him, not only through a troubled mind but physically he’s going places and not remembering, waking up in crime scenes with a ton of lost time.
IMG_0469IMG_0470IMG_0471IMG_0472So again, we see how the crimes of the Killer of the Week(s) continually hone in on the themes present through the series. Another great reason why I love Hannibal.
Something else that comes out of Will’s trouble is a realization for him: Jack Crawford does care. He pushes and presses for results, however, underneath it all he cares and does not want to drive Will into another situation like came to be with his former trainee, Miriam Lass (Anna Chlumsky).

Jack (to Will): “When you doubt yourself, you don’t have to doubt me too.
IMG_0463If, for some reason, it was not obvious before now, Hannibal has begun the most extreme of all his manipulations thus far.
Hiding Will’s condition is a way for Hannibal to basically observe Will in a natural state. Furthermore, having Hannibal use then dispose of his doctor friend after Will’s diagnosis is confirmed, it makes things so slippery. We truly see the greasiest, most villainous side of Hannibal come out so clear and vibrant here in “Buffet Froid”, that you can almost picture him in a lab, having Will pushed into a maze, and watching above with his control over the variables – again, the only constant remaining, always and forever, Will Graham.
This subplot with Will’s encephalitis is an incredible touch, in my mind, for Bryan Fuller & Co to use. I think it plays great with both the character of Graham, as well as Hannibal. It serves purposes towards both their characters’ development. Love where this is headed.
IMG_0464 IMG_0466 IMG_0468Then there’s the murder of Hannibal’s friend, the doctor, which ends up being blamed on the sick girl – the one with whom Will begins to bond. Hannibal is caught, by her, in the act. Although luckily for him she cannot interpret anyone’s face anymore, they’re all mangled and blurry.
So, like any smooth sociopath might do in this case, Hannibal walks towards her, clad in his nice body-length raincoat to catch any droppings or squirting, then hands her the scissors with which he’d been working.
He has a perfect situation with this girl, as she can’t readily identify him anyways. Though, I’m sure Dr. Lecter will be devising some twisted plan to silence her in the next episode.
IMG_0474 IMG_0475 IMG_0476 IMG_0478 IMG_0479 IMG_0480This was a fantastic episode, another of my tops from Season 1. I can’t wait to review the next episode, “Rôti”, in which the infamous, devious Dr. Abel Gideon played by the fantastic Eddie Izzard makes his return! In fine, epic fashion, I might add.
Stay tuned for another one, my fellow Fannibals! #SaveHannibal