Alias Grace – Part 3

CBC’s Alias Grace
Part 3
Directed by Mary Harron
Written by Sarah Polley

* For a recap & review of Part 2, click here.
* For a recap & review of Part 4, click here.
Screen Shot 2017-10-11 at 6.53.22 PMDr. Simon Jordan (Edward Holcroft) considers the sanity of Grace Marks (Sarah Gadon), speaking with the Reverend (David Cronenberg). He thinks about the death of Mary Whitney (Rebecca Liddiard), how Grace had an auditory hallucination, had amnesia later. Quite the enigma, this woman. Plus, he’s only got half the story. We, the audience, have seen how she withholds certain bits of information, telling him what she thinks will be best, or will serve her best.
Meanwhile, the doctor’s got his own troubles, mental ones. Navigating Mrs. Humphrey (Sarah Manninen) at the house where he stays, his daydreams of longing for his current patient, the so-called murderess Ms. Marks. When the doc sees her again, she speaks of being mistreated by the guards, but she’s more interested in the “dark circles” under his eyes, why he’s not sleeping. It’s a case of the doctor becoming a patient, patient becoming doctor, if only briefly.
Love all the visual stuff going on, the quick edits of Grace’s ACTUAL memories, as opposed to the edited ones she presents to her doctor. We see the various acts leading up to the death of Nancy Montgomery (Anna Paquin), her body being tossed down into a cellar. Then we’re back to her and Dr. Jordan, talking about Mary, the poor young woman’s death. As well as what later went on at the Parkinson house. Mrs. Parkinson (Martha Burns) herself making her “swear on the Bible” that even if she knows who impregnated her friend, she will not tell; this comes with better wages, and a shining reference wherever she might find employment when she leaves that house.
Screen Shot 2017-10-11 at 6.53.54 PMBut goddamn George (Will Bowes) still lurked, his mother knowing silently he was the one who effectively sent Mary to her grave. He tried hard to get in bed with the girl, sometimes trying to open her locked door at night. Most of all Grace knew that “once youre found with a man in your room, youre the guilty one, no matter how they got in.” And sooner or later, George was going to get inside. Terrifying.
Now we come to see Grace first meeting Nancy. Her master is Thomas Kinnear (Paul Gross), she’s looking for someone else to work up there, also to keep her company as a single woman with a man around. Y’know, people talk. She also says Mr. Kinnear is a “liberal master,” which feels like an oxymoron.
Grace takes the offer, though she’s warned cryptically about the man. However, thus is the choice of women, especially back then but still today: take what appears the lesser of two male evils in order to escape one male presence. It’s one way of escaping the creeping assault of George.
She gets quite the greeting, when a man accosts her as a “whore” and Mr. Kinnear knocks him out in the road. Oh, so valiant, no? Well, we’ll see. There’s certainly a foreboding, ominous sense of his character, even before he showed up onscreen. Soon Grace arrives at the Kinnear place, where several people work the grounds, including a man named James McDermott (Kerr Logan), and the whole thing just feels uneasy.
More of the divide between what’s said and what is seen, just as it was in the Atwood novel. Grace tells Dr. Jordan about the new house, the cellar, her duties, the others like McDermott employed by Kinnear.
Amongst all this we’re shown a bit of the later horror in a shot of a hand taking the earring out of a bloody ear, no doubt belonging to Nancy at the bottom of the cellar.
Screen Shot 2017-10-11 at 7.15.21 PMAnd so forth is all youre entitled to
At the Kinnear house, Grace is introduced into the little world of that workplace. She sees both temptation and danger in various places, from Nancy’s strange demeanour to the master himself as a bit informal to McDermott seeming like a sensitive Irish dancer out in the barn. An odd place, indeed.
Note: The picture concerning the “apocryphaltale of Susanna, an addition to the Book of Daniel, is an interesting reference. A story of a falsely accused woman. Lying, lecherous old men. Everything ends swell for Susanna. But as it is in the Bible, so it is not in real life; virtue does not always win in the end. Grace is like Susanna, only left in the lurch in her current state after a lifetime of taking men’s shit. There’s also an interesting dichotomy of religion: a working class woman like Grace is unaware of the apocryphal Bible stories, versus Kinnear, a bourgeois man of privilege with access to knowledge, even so far as having a piece of art depicting the story on his wall. This is also where we begin seeing a divide in the house, where Grace starts getting to know James, seeing his view of the world separated into a class hierarchy. Although for all his Marxist ideals, he’s a bit of misogynist bastard, as well.
McDermott: “Never one to lick the boots of the rich
Screen Shot 2017-10-11 at 7.25.18 PMAnd so it all went for Grace. Work, work, work. In between, bits of intrigue. she also found herself watching McDermott, interested in him when she knew full well he was only trouble, in many shapes and forms. Likewise, Nancy kept her close, in a sort of dominant way of her own. All these forces tearing a woman apart.
Loved this episode! The mini-series gets better with each one. Part 4 comes next, and I’m excited already for more. Sarah Gadon is a revelation. Bless her, and bless the directing-writing team of Mary Harron and Sarah Polley. Fantastic adaptation.

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The Mist – Season 1, Episode 10: “The Tenth Meal”

Spike’s The Mist
Season 1, Episode 10: “The Tenth Meal”
Directed by Guy Ferland
Written by Christian Torpe

* For a recap & review of the penultimate episode, “The Waking Dream” – click here
Pic 1Stuck in a room together in the mall, Jay (Luke Cosgrove), Adrian (Russell Posner), Alex (Gus Birney), and Eve (Alyssa Sutherland) deal with the aftermath of believing Kevin (Morgan Spector) is dead. When Jay comforts Alex, Adrian whacks him with a paint can. Lying again, saying he and Kevin heard about the rape kit at the hospital confirming Jay was the rapist. Man, this kid is a psycho.
Elsewhere, on their way, Connor (Darren Pettie) and Nathalie (Frances Conroy) become closer, confiding in another. Sharing their secrets. Then they get to the mall, where Gus (Isiah Whitlock Jr.) and everyone else are elated to see the cop, though he has no answers. Plus, he’s gone in by himself without his messiah, to check it all out. Things are getting bad, too. The rations are just about gone, at least the ones everyone else knows about. Either way, all Connor cares about is his boy.
In the shadows Kevin surveys the situation. He sneaks through the dark hallways looking for his family when he runs into Mia (Danica Curcic), who’s naturally surprised to see him alive. She also fills him in, slightly, about Jonah (Okezie Morro), though she isn’t sure where he’s gone.
Speaking of, Jonah’s tied up at the hands of Wes (Greg Hovanessian). He’s figuring things out, that he’s the superior officer. There’s more to it, but at least he’s getting out of that chair.
Pic 1AConnor goes to his son, seeing Eve and the others with him. He takes Jay away, not worried about them. That’s when Gus and a few others come for the Copelands. At the same time, Connor brings his boy to Nathalie. She laments that “nature can be so cruel” while looking at him. Jesus, this is feeling creepier by the moment. Afterwards they force Jay out into the mist, believing – without proof – in his supposed horrible crime. While we know different.
We can only wonder if he’ll die out there, or if the mist will spare him as it did Alex. What’s scariest is the righteousness of Nathalie, as well as how deeply, how strong Connor believes in her. They’re both extremely ill spiritually. It’s only gonna get worse.
Things get even wilder inside, when the outer group go completely mad. The security guard winds up putting a bullet in one of the women when she protests: “We are not your prisoners!” Now, the game’s really fucking changed. And at the very same moment, Kevin runs across Adrian in the paint section of one of the stores. The kid tries running off, but dad beats him to the punch. Literally. He kicks the shit out of him rather than listen to anything he’s got to say, until Adrian blurts out that he knows where his wife and daughter are being kept.
So many things going on, like a hurricane. Jonah’s continuing to find things out about himself, slowly. Suddenly, Mia shows up interrupting his and Wes’ conversation. Who exactly IS Jonah? Regardless, he’s leaving Mia and his other friends. He wants to go with Wes, to figure out his true identity.
Screen Shot 2017-08-25 at 9.42.57 PMEve pleads for her daughter not to be thrown from the mall. When she tells Connor he MUST help, she then reveals the truth: he is the father of Alex, the reason why she’d been so adamant her daughter couldn’t be with Jay in the first place. WHOA! I suspected, for a moment. Just never thought it’d be true. Except the cop denies it, he didn’t know. So everyone calls her “sick” and a “whore” and then they’re taken to be thrown to the mist.
Kevin: “I wanna see you suffer. I want you to learn that therell be no salvation.”
Once Kevin lets go of Adrian a second, the kid lights a fire to get himself away. Now there’s a big raging inferno about to set the whole mall ablaze. As Kevin and Mia run for the entrance they find Eve and Alex, the rest of the people like an angry mob chasing away Frankenstein’s monster. Instead of let people walk all over them Kevin starts throwing fists before Gus pulls a gun on them. Everybody gets real personal, Gus taunting Kevin about his family’s secrets, others shouting “bastards” at them. Disgusting to see human beings act this way. Yet unsurprising, to say the least.
The Copelands and Mia are ran off, so they do some real running. Only once they get into the mist things become terrifying. Alex is wrapped up in a fog-like tentacle, it grips her tight, working into her mouth and filling her. Out of nowhere, who pulls her free? Jay. Then they all pile into the vehicle, safe for now. Well, except for Jay… the mist takes him instead, filling him until there’s no life left… only mist.
Meanwhile, Jonah and Wes are heading for Camp Arrowhead. To get answers. Or, is it all that easy? They’re going to see a doctor there. I’m curious as to whether Wes might lie to him, solely to get him back there. Maybe our man’s true identity is something more complex.
Pic 3People at the mall are surprised to hear Nathalie speak of being “natures messenger” and that the Black Spring is upon their town again. She goes on and on, as everybody listens, stupefied. Between her and the Chief Heisel, no telling what the law and religion can do together.
What’s better than that? The angry of a father. Kevin decides on busting open the mall entrance with their vehicle before leaving. They’ve got a nice sturdy military vehicle, as well. It does the trick. When they get stuck, Connor helps them get loose. He doesn’t stay, either. Alex calls him away, and he leaves with her. No more are the law and religion together. I never saw that coming, honestly.
As Lou Reed’s “Perfect Day” plays, Nathalie basks in the mist as it seeps through the mall. Others flee from it, or try, screaming. Most, if not all of them die. And Nathalie, she sees her husband, their dead baby, which she proceeds to breastfeed. One of the WILDEST, CREEPIEST montages I’ve seen in ages. Moments later Nathalie turns into a skeletal corpse herself and dies. Nobody’s safe.
Away from the mall flee the Copelands, Connor, Vic (Erik Knudsen), and Mia together. Into uncertainty, but together. On another road, Wes and Jonah go for the military base, not realising Adrian’s lying in the trunk. Everyone gone their separate ways.
Along the road Kevin an the others see a train on the tracks nearby. They rush for the station, hoping it’ll stop. It does. Unfortunately it’s no help. People in prison jumpsuits are tossed out, military men with assault rifles in the train cars.
What exactly is happening? Kevin knows: “Theyre feeding it.”
Pic 4Pic 4AOne of the best season finales of any show I’ve seen in the past couple years. Just powerful! Ran the gamut, from fear to black humour to devastating emotion, and all of it in between. I really hope there’s a Season 2, if not it’ll be a huge loss. Great horror television. Does Stephen King proud.

The Mist – Season 1, Episode 7: “Over the River and Through the Woods”

Spike’s The Mist
Season 1, Episode 7: “Over the River and Through the Woods”
Directed by Matthew Penn
Written by Daniel Cameron Talbott

* For a recap & review of the previous episode, “The Devil You Know” – click here
* For a recap & review of the next episode, “The Law of Nature” – click here
Pic 1Mia (Danica Curcic), Kevin (Morgan Spector), Bryan (Okezie Morro), Adrian ( Russell Posner) and Tyler (Christopher Gray) get through the mist to another one of the wards: the psychiatric wing. An orderly named Nash knew Mia’s mom, saying there was “nothing bad in her” and assuring she wasn’t like the other patients. Meanwhile, there’s plenty else to worry about than the mist, with Kevin still drugged up and having been exposed to it by the doctor, as well as Bryan and Mia’s now tenuous relationship.
At the mall,  Eve (Alyssa Sutherland) and Alex (Gus Birney) are holed up with Jay (Luke Cosgrove) and others. The protective mom is keeping an eye on the rapist, not willing to leave anything to chance. Not to mention there’s trouble with the new society in the mall, people eating too many rations. And people still believe the military’s coming. There’s a real hostility, too. Towards Eve. Although she manages to plant a baby monitor in the other camp, to figure out what’s been going on.
Over at the church, Nathalie (Frances Conroy) is having her face treated after taking abuse from that insane follower of Christ, the wayward sheep of Father Romanov (Dan Butler). The idea of faith, particularly Catholicism with its confession, is funny. You can do bad things, yet God is perpetually willing to forgive, so long as you repent. Thus begins Chief Connor Heisel (Darren Pettie) putting the priest to a confession, asking him if he’s responsible for what happened to the older woman. The cop beats Romanov to the floor, as Nathalie hums in the background. Eerie moment. Church and state coming apart, a new religion taking hold. However, the priest isn’t so innocent. This beating’s gonna put him over the edge.
Pic 1ABryan Hunt isn’t Bryan Hunt, he’s Jonah Dixon. He beat up the real Bryan, a soldier at Arrowhead military base. So she’s worried he could be “psycho” or it could be amnesia. The two talk about things, he tells her about meeting the real Bryan, that he was attacked. She then tells him about what happened at her mother’s house, the apparition of dear ole mom, the thought of fading into death. What brought her back was Jonah. In order to feel worthy of it, of anything, she’s doing a rapid detox. Harsh, brutal.
Particularly considering there’s a mist outside with terrible creatures inside.
Note: The score is absolutely perfect. Giona Ostinelli’s a killer composer, he’s done good stuff on several Mickey Keating films such as Darling and Pod. His music here comes perfectly fitting, punctuating the creepiest and most emotional moments alike.
Alone later, Adrian and Tyler talk about the worst things they’ve ever done. Tyler talks about beating up a guy who walked “swishy” and threatened his faux-masculinity, his closeted sexuality. Beat him then pissed on him. That’s how much he hates himself. So he apologises to Adrian, who offers forgiveness. Perhaps this is the relationship which helps a guy like Tyler accept himself. Maybe. Just maybe.
Nathalie questions Romanov about his beliefs. She’s reading the Bible, for the first time. He believes she’s holding people’s souls in her hands. But also, he admits to letting his insane follower do what he did to her, knowing it would happen. He speaks about a “trial by ordeal” that involves walking into the mist, seeing if God and nature spare the two of them: “Whoever dies, we will provide an answer for the people here.” Does she accept?
Pic 2When Adrian’s nowhere to be found, Tyler panics. He goes to Kevin, then the orderly tells them not to bother. That the kid’s a bad person, he can “see people” and who they are underneath. Turns out the orderly is not an orderly, he was a patient. An especially violent one. He runs off before the two can get to Adrian, who’s bound, gagged in a room. Not far from where the guy’s got a bunch of dead bodies stashed in a closet, piled atop one another like sides of beef.
At the same time, Jonah’s seeing Mia through her detox, a gruelling stretch ahead of them, as she sweats and cries and teases him with more information about his real identity. Lies from the throes of withdrawal? Or truth? Suddenly, he remembers bits and pieces on his own. And nothing good at all.
The ordeal of Father Romanov and Nathalie is set to commence. Whomever survives may have a chance at saving those in the church, rescuing them all from whatever’s in the mist. While the priest goes in his robes, she does so naked as the day she was born. As nature intended. Out from the doors they go, into the mist. They close their eyes and wait for whatever comes. Romanov hears the hooves of horses come near: the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse. The priest calls out scripture, receiving nothing in return but an arrow through his torso before they pull him back into the mist with them.
The only one left is Nathalie, so she goes back inside. Welcomed by everyone eager to hear what went on outside. One of my favourite couple scenes in this first season as a whole! Great, spooky stuff.
Pic 3Jonah remembers being experimented on, zapped, a woman speaking random words to him through all the pain. He sees all sorts of things coming back to him. He tells Mia about it, how he survived, and coaches her through the pain she’s feeling.
Simultaneously, Kevin’s trying to reason with Nash. He has serious issues, this dude. He talks about a nun that taught about the evil in people, having to beat it out of her. He’s gone past the deep end into an abyss. Determined to purge evil. Until Kevin says Adrian isn’t evil; he’s the one. This sets Nash after him, just long enough for Kevin to get in the room with him. They fight, tooth and nail. To the death.
Now people at the mall, some of them, are starting to look for a scapegoat. Why not start with the family who supposedly makes up rapes? That’s what the mother of the dead little girl’s suggesting. Not everyone is on board. But some are, and that’s scary.
And sadly, as Kevin and the others leave the hospital, Tyler refuses to go. Despite he and Adrian becoming closer in private. Teary eyed, the kid stays while his secretive gay lover Adrian, just as devastated, leaves with his close knit group.
Pic 4Wow, this episode was one of my favourites! If not the best of The Mist‘s Season 1. Such good stuff, on all ends. Interested to see what happens in many areas, like the gay relationship which is awesome – and so needed in this day and age for representation, very well written, at that – and also the budding trouble at the mall. Many things to come!
“The Law of Nature” is next week.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Preacher – Season 1, Episode 6: “Sundowner”

AMC’s Preacher
Season 1, Episode 6: “Sundowner”
Directed by Guillermo Navarro
Written by Nick Towne

* For a review of the previous episode, “South Will Rise Again” – click here
* For a review of the next episode, “He Gone” – click here
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After a whopping last episode, “Sundowner” begins with Jesse Custer (Dominic Cooper) at the table with DeBlanc (Anatol Yusef) and Fiore (Tom Brooke), as they’re explaining what’s inside of him. “Its a mistake,” says DeBlanc. Ominous. But the preacher wants more. He wants to know its origins. He starts using his powers against them: “Its called Genesis,” explains DeBlanc unwillingly. Lots of talk about heaven v. hell, an “endless war” and such. An angel and a demon conjoined. Something never meant to come into existence. The whole thing is beyond powerful. A comic, dark opener that I love. When DeBlanc and Fiore start stomping on a woman outside, Jesse rushes to her aide – only to find she’s a mad woman with superwoman strength. Fiore does the job and kills her. But damn, Jesse has gotten himself into a situation over which he holds no control. Well, at least the heavenly duo have found their phone again. Because it’s time to go: the woman regenerates and they’ve got other trouble to worry about. Seraphim are on Earth. Looks like DeBlanc and Fiore aren’t doing the greatest job, someone isn’t happy. And Jesse just keeps learning more and more about the holy world.
We discover Fiore and DeBlanc are on Earth unauthorised. Thus the reason for their predicament. When the Seraphim woman tracks them down at the Sundowner Motel, she blasts the two heaven-sent hitmen before getting into one bad ass fist fight with Custer. An amazing little sequence sees Fiore and DeBlanc regenerate, as they all try and take the woman down. They do. For the time being, at least. She regenerates and comes back for more. Poor Fiore takes the brunt of most of her assault. Problem is if they keep killing her, she keeps coming back. They’ve got to keep her down, restrain her, then deal with the aftermath somehow. I couldn’t get enough of this whole sequence. It hilarious, a bit bloody, filled with action. The first twelve minutes of this episode are a complete kick in the face, in the best possible sense. One of my favourites of the first season.
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Cassidy (Joseph Gilgun) arrives, only to mess up all their hard work by killing the woman off. Although the deed gets done soon enough. After a ton of blood and mess. Now DeBlanc and Fiore need Genesis back, so they can get on with things. Jesse wants to know more, though, and wonders why it chose him, how it did. Then reveals he’s keeping it. He feels Genesis is part of his duty. “God does not want this,” DeBlanc pleads. Oh no. The hubris of Custer is becoming dangerous. I wonder how this is going to play out for him after the two heavenly beings take the next step; and what IS the next step from here?
At school, Eugene (Ian Colletti) finds DIE scrawled on his locker. All the same somebody says hello to him; his first response is to apologise. I’m hoping nothing bad happens to him. Still, I keep wondering exactly what it is he did to Tracy Loach. We’ll figure more of that out, those of us who haven’t read the comics yet. In other news, Tulip (Ruth Negga) barges into Emily’s (Lucy Griffiths) place and threatens her, ordering her to stay away from her boyfriend. You know who. Initially Emily doesn’t say much, but doesn’t hold back when bitching Tulip out. They have a strange little moment after Tulip agrees to fix what she broke in her rage.
Oh and poor Mayor Miles Person (Ricky Mabe). He recently watched Odin Quincannon (Jackie Earle Haley) gun down a bunch of people whom he hoped were to be business associates. Now there are calls coming in about the folks that never returned from their business trip. Yikes. That can’t mean anything good, and I feel bad that such a mild-mannered guy like Person is wrapped up in Odin’s (and partially Jesse’s) madness.


At home, Cassidy and Jesse drink morning beers, stand around in their underwear while their clothes is in the wash, and catch up on what’s happening lately in their respective lives. “You look like a mens room wall,” says Custer re: Cassidy and his ink, as they each talk about tattoos. Jesse even has a tattoo for Tulip. That’ll be a wedge between them if they ever talk about Cassidy and his latest friendship with Ms. O’Hare. They get on to discussing Genesis. The vampire doesn’t think it’s a great idea to keep. Whereas Jesse thinks it’s best to keep it, keep on as he did before, and use it to make things better. Oh, so sadly misguided: “God doesnt make mistakes,” he tells Cassidy. And with that, Jesse is setting up a loud speaker outside the church. Just downright begging for trouble.
We also figure out more from Tulip – she once had a child. Once upon a time. That’s sad. Was it her and Jesse? Or someone else? Tragic, heartbreaking if it was with Jesse. For now, Tulip helps Emily out after they develop a small bond over motherhood. Fun to see these two women together, even if it’s a tenuous friendship at best. More like Tulip wants to keep her close, to make sure there’s nothing going on between her and the preacher.
Eugene finds some people willing to sit with him at lunch, as he slurps down a liquid meal. Two of the boys are slightly apprehensive, though one says he’s a good guy. Is this for real? I keep thinking something bad and terribly high-schoolish is about to go down. After school he goes with the trio of guys to a drainage tunnel where there’s supposedly something interesting. The closer Eugene gets, the more he’s apprehensive. The more it feels dark and dangerous. Then the boys light off some sparklers, as it lights up the tunnel, and Eugene revels in its beauty.


Setting up for an outside service of some sort, Jesse receives Mayor Person for a visit. He’s, of course, on edge, sweating not simply from the heat, but also the heavy guilt on his shoulders. The Green Acre Group are still calling, wondering where their people went. Miles gives a semi-confession, very vague, to the preacher, and tries to seek out “the right thing to do” without opening up too much. There’s a great parallel between their conversation, what Miles wonders about God and his own ego – telling “one from the other” – and what Jesse is feeling about Genesis. There’s just no guessing what will happen from here re: Miles and Quincannon’s mess.
We’ve also got Cassidy and Tulip being awkward – he’s finally figuring out about her and Jesse. A whole lot of messy stuff, from dead bodies to emotional baggage. Worst part is that Cassidy seems genuinely hurt, despite being a vampire; they’ve got feelings, too!
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When Jesse has his next service there are lots and lots of worshippers. All hoping to get saved. Eugene goes to see him first, saying he wants the preacher to reverse whatever he did with Mrs. Loach. “I dont want it,” says Eugene. He doesn’t feel worthy of redemption, clearly. You can already see the ungrateful side of Jesse, the hubris and the ego when confronted by Eugene saying that it’s cheating to be forgiven like he was, to have it all go away and be forgotten. There’s a dark side to Jesse waiting to burst forth onto Annville.
Then the unthinkable – as Eugene argues with the preacher, Jesse utters: “Go to hell, Eugene.” And nothing is left of the boy. He’s gone. Where? Oh, you know.
And Miles Person, the trusty Mayor of Annville, he gets rid of those pesky bodies. They’re all burned to a crisp now, and he plays the fool on the phone to Green Acre. There’s an amazing edit that cuts between Eugene disappearing and the burned bodies in the car that’s absolutely PERFECT. This show is so solid on every angle.

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What a great episode. One of my favourites this season, so far. I can’t wait for more with “He Gone” up next. Where’s Eugene? Will we see him actually in hell? Oh, god damn, I’m excited!

Outcast – Season 1, Episode 5: “The Road Before Us”

Cinemax’s Outcast
Season 1, Episode 5: “The Road Before Us”
Directed by Craig Zobel
Written by Robin Veith

* For a review of the previous episode, “A Wrath Unseen” – click here
* For a review of the next episode, “From the Shadows It Watches” – click here
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Allison Barnes (Kate Lyn Sheil), estranged wife of Kyle Barnes (Patrick Fugit), locks her door then starts to head for bed. She finds her daughter Amber playing, talking about drinking the “black poison.” She uses her dolls all to similar to what likely happened between her mother and father. Eerily reminiscent, for sure. Outside, Allison sees a car sitting in the darkness – inside sit Reverend Anderson (Philip Glenister) and Kyle. The torn up husband worries for his daughter, he worries about if whether a demon still resides in his wife. Anderson tries to talk Kyle out of anything foolish saying he can go and talk with Allison. The younger of the two worries about Mildred (Grace Zabriskie), and that Anderson can’t tell on his own anymore. They’re at odds.
So Kyle calls up his sister Megan (Wrenn Schmidt) asking her to help setup a meeting between him and Allison. Bad idea. The sisterly advice is he’ll only fuck his family up more. Megan offers to go see them herself, a good woman.
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Police Chief Giles (Reg E. Cathey) goes to see his buddy Fire Chief Ogden (Pete Burris) about the blaze down at the little shack. Of course he doesn’t get much. Though, without being too heavy on the puns here, a fire is lit under Ogden. He knows there’s more to Giles than just a bit of talk.
Meanwhile, Kyle and Anderson head over to see Roy Marcus (Jason Davis), who’s had an experience close to that of the Barnes family. Roy’s daughter is out on the streets now, as things have taken a turn for the worse. He’s a broken man. Not hard to see. Although Kyle is still not sure about the Reverend’s abilities after Mildred, and after their experience with Blake Morrow previously; both of which make him wonder if the demons can’t be expelled completely all the time.
At Allison’s place Megan arrives, unexpected. She tries to talk closely with her sister-in-law. She expresses her worry for Allison, for Amber, their well being. The young mother seems off, though it’s tough to tell whether that’s demons. Because it could easily be the fact she’s just under a ton of stress. There’s still love on Allison’s part for Kyle, just no trust, as Anderson pointed out earlier. She knows he’s a good father, but he also has a danger in him. Or, well, that’s the way it’s perceived. She, and Megan and many others, still don’t know the truth behind what really went on between them. For her part, Allison knows something is “blocking the truth” after discovering there are pieces of her memory missing.

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On the road again Anderson takes Kyle to see another soul he’s… helped. The guy is another broken down sort. His pet store is shut down. The wife left, got the house. Something is not right with him immediately – Kyle notices he strays from his handshake. So the young exorcist grabs the guy by his shoulders and things set off. The former pet store owner grabs his gun, pointing it at the duo before they take off. Smart idea. Only there’s a demon left sitting inside that man. Now they’re both incredibly worried for what the rest of the people Anderson has ‘saved’ are doing, out there, maybe still possessed. Then Megan calls Kyle, letting him know something isn’t right with his estranged wife. He wants to go see her. Uh oh.
In the meantime, Sidney (Brent Spiner) makes his way out to the Barnes residence. He  looks around, in the closet, the kitchen. Everywhere. Even straightens up a picture before laying down in Mrs. Barnes’ old bed. Over at the station, Officer Mark Holter (David Denman) brings Chief Giles some results from his work down at the burned down trailer. An ID and everything. Well, turns out they’ve got the “DNA of a missing woman” that was present at whatever happened in that creepy little camper. Giles suggests before making a big deal to do some follow-up and figure out whether the woman is actually disappeared. But Giles, he worries more, as Ogden is clearly into some troubled shit.


Kyle foolishly goes to see Allison. He wants to talk and does his best to make her feel comfortable, going so far as to take steps away from her off the porch. When Amber shows up things are brutally awkward. She calls her mother a bitch and says she wants to go with her father. In the midst of it all Allison accuses him of trying to turn their daughter against her. Not the case at all. However, we see a moment when Kyle ends up touching her, just for a second, and she flinches. The flinch of an abused woman? Or of a woman possessed by a demon?
Flash back to Allison waking up, beaten, bruised in a women’s shelter. She can’t remember anything from the trauma. Kyle admitted to beating her, though nobody knows the truth, and it all upsets Allison.
In the present, Giles goes to see his old buddy Ogden; gun ready to draw and everything. He talks about their friendship: “I might go so far as to say best friends, maybe,” says Giles. He’s clearly been hurt by the lack of trust between them. Yet Holter calls with news about the missing woman: she isn’t missing. Hmm. The plot thickens, so literally. There’s still something going on with Ogden, obviously. We’ll just have to wait and see exactly what.
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The devious Sidney goes to see Mildred. Right away, she understands who he is, no introduction necessary. That’s creepy. They have their chat about physical possessions, how they keep busy as human lifeforms, so on. Sidney wants to know about Kyle Barnes, planning on taking care of him and the Reverend Anderson. Moments later Mildred tries to suck the life out of Sidney, just as the demons often do to Kyle. Does this mean he and Sidney are similar, or one in the same? Very intriguing, brief moment. Mildred mentions something about “the merge” which almost seems like an event the demons wait to see.
On the streets, Kyle and Anderson are out looking for the missing, possibly possessed daughter of Roy Marcus. They find her and she leads them down into the subway tunnels. And she is most certainly still afflicted with a demonic influence. She rambles some madness at Kyle before attacking him, trying to suck that black force out of his body. A battle begins that soon sees Kyle being wrapped up in the black, fog-like, oozing substance from within the possessed girl. Just like his mother, she’s left catatonic.


Sidney: “Humans are so desperate to express their individuality, to separate themselves from each other. Seems so short sighted.”
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Allison discovers a trail of blood in her house. Or she thinks so, until discovering it’s red paint Amber tracked in from the garage to throw around the walls. This prompts the little girl to hide in a closet, so painfully similar to the way her father once hid from his own mother. We can see the direct parallel. At the very same time, Kyle is tearing himself up over the Marcus girl, now lying in a hospital bed; again, exactly like his own mother. So many things are directly paralleling his own existence and his life that it’s like a weight bearing down on his chest. Reverend Anderson believes those souls are “in Gods hands now” while Kyle isn’t happy with any of it. None of it is holy or redemptive to him. No miracles. “Cause no ones fuckinlistening. If your God is out there, hes laughinat you,” Kyle berates Anderson.
Back home, Allison is waiting for Kyle. He can’t explain exactly what it is compelling him to protect her. She also wonders why he hasn’t apologised for what happened, seeing as how he’s a chronic apologist, even for the smallest things. This makes her curious and begs the question: did he really do it? Then she goes in to kiss him. She touches him. Nothing bad happens. They embrace. “Youre safe,” he tells her quietly. Allison doesn’t understand, but can’t remember on her own. She begs to know the truth. But he can’t. The truth is too unbelievable, no matter how true. A rift still exists between them and unless Allison witnesses a possession, or experiences it again herself, there’s no telling if it will ever close.
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An amazing episode. The best so far, in my opinion. What a great chapter to this first season. Can’t wait for “From the Shadows It Watches” next!

Robin Hardy’s The Wicker Man: Fever Dream Memories of Christianity and Paganism

The Wicker Man. 1973. Directed by Robin Hardy. Screenplay by Anthony Shaffer; based on the novel Ritual by David Pinner.
Starring Edward Woodward, Christopher Lee, Diane Cilento, Britt Ekland, Ingrid Pitt, Lindsay Kemp, Russell Water, Aubrey Morris, Irene Sunters, Walter Carr, Ian Campbell, & Roy Boyd. British Lion Film Corporation.
Rated R. 94 minutes.
Horror/Mystery

★★★★1/2
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DISCLAIMER: as of this writing it’s been 43 years since the release of this classic, so if you haven’t see it I really don’t even need to tell you about any possible SPOILERS! Yet I do so anyway. This review is going to talk about the ending later. If you head on through expect for that to get talked of openly. This is your final warning.

Upon hearing Robin Hardy passed today, I was torn up. Honestly there’s nothing else he’s done that I’ve particularly been interested in. It’s the influence of his mysterious folk horror The Wicker Man that endeared me to him permanently. When I was young I remember catching this movie on some channel, whether it was Show Case here in Canada I can’t be sure; likely, but not positive. I remember how strange and dreamy the whole thing was, and the way in which its songs mixed into the creepy story to make something altogether different from anything else I’d ever seen at the time. So as an early teen Hardy influenced me greatly with a single hour and a half of film.
There are a few reasons for Hardy’s influential touch. First, it wasn’t until about age thirteen that I finally shed the influence of my Roman Catholic upbringing, after my parents were smart enough to give me a choice – church or not. I saw this movie around age eleven, maybe twelve at most. It was before that choice of mine to stop going to church and taking communion, all that. The religious elements at play in this film were incredibly interesting to me. Second off all, Hardy’s finale is one of the single most horrific sequences of all time. To me it is the epitome of folk horror, including the gradual build up to those moments. This is a successful horror movie that does not rely on an entirely physical element to make things scary. Rather, The Wicker Man pries up your skin and slithers beneath it, both disturbing you and even making you smile (or laugh) from time to time.
One thing’s for sure: imitators be damned, there is NOTHING like this one.
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Shaffer has done some good work other than this film, mainly FrenzySleuthMurder on the Orient Express come to mind. This is his crowning achievement. There’s of course the inclusion of David Pinner’s novel Ritual, but his work together with Hardy made for some terribly interesting story and characters. Forget the simple fact all that folk music thrown in is so unique and fun, Shaffer makes this paganism-styled religion out on the fictional Scottish island Summerisle partly unnerving and also an equal part intriguing. You want to know more, and as Sergeant Howie (Edward Woodward) discovers more then you sort of want to know less – in the best, mystery-horror hybrid kind of way. I love that there’s a great deal of attention paid to the Celtic traditions, paganism, as well as drops of history here and there. Shaffer uses all kinds of things, such as the Middle English folk tune “Sumer Is Icumen In” (you can find a proper copy of this in A Middle English Anthology edited by Ann S. Haskell) that you’ll find comes at a crucial moment. The song is a terrifying sound to hear when it’s sung. It is also very poignant for that scene, too. If you know a book called The Golden Bough by James Frazer then you can see how much Shaffer drew from when writing this script. What I love is that he creates a purely organic way for us to discover this Summerisle religion alongside Howie. Instead of feeling like a terrible load of exposition, while still being completely expository, the journey on which Howie goes to figure out what’s happening allows us to sift through the pagan island religion with interest. Other screenplays might make that feel boring. Shaffer manages to keep the pacing steady. Then you can also count the interesting musical pieces as a way to make everything feel compelling. Between the unique atmosphere, the songs and the dancing and the pagan-like rituals we witness, all the odd visuals (those first animal masks are horrifying), there’s enough to make this more than weird for weird’s sake.
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Some of the more enjoyable aspects stem from the theme of religion v. paganism, the centrepiece of the screenplay. Howie is a direct parallel to Lord Summerisle (Christopher Lee), whose hippy-like vision of religion appals the lawman, a staunch Christian. There are some genuine looks of horror courtesy of Woodward’s talented acting which really make you see how devastating the idea of pagan worship is to the straight laced, God fearing Christian worshipper. The awful irony is that Woodward’s Christianity leads him into curiousness and duty that is his downfall. That apprehension and judgement becomes a gateway into paranoia. In the end, this Christian paranoia re: heathenism alongside Howie’s dutiful police sensibilities combine in a lethal cocktail of curiosity. Something that’s worth noting is that on his way toward the finale, and his doom, Howie momentarily loses himself in the heathen pagan traditions: whilst wearing the disguise to follow Summerisle and his people, Howie sheds his Christian repression and slaps a few women on the ass gleefully. If only for a second he forgot his devout Christianity and let loose with the heathens. Probably all for the best, as the poor Scottish policeman isn’t long for this world, anyway.
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As I’ve mentioned, The Wicker Man is successfully filled with horror not because of any blood or gore, nor any jump scares. It isn’t due to anything typical. All the fun elements like the songs eventually transform into something treacherous and evil. By the final scene, singing is nothing but a vortex into madness. The masks and the pagan symbols are appealing early on, like the marks of island/small town charm. Later, as Howie discovers himself the ultimate fool – perfectly dressed just like Punch, eternal fool himself – those animal masks and all the nature imagery, it’s positively chilling. Christopher Lee gives a charismatic performance that set him so far apart from the typical Hammer Horror roles it’s amazing, and his determined attitude as Lord Summerisle is nothing if not psychopathic. Likewise, Woodward plays Howie perfectly, and for all his foolishness you truly pity him, especially once he sees the eponymous structure from which the film takes its name. Robin Hardy will always be remembered, fondly, for his weird and wild The Wicker Man. It is not merely a load of hype. It is a fantastic piece of folk horror and an unforgettably unique moment in cinematic history. Relish that. I do, every so often, and as damned often as I can.
We’ll miss you, Mr. Hardy. Thank you for your strange vision; it is forever a fever dream in my memory.

Outcast – Season 1, Episode 2: “(I Remember) When She Loved Me”

Cinemax’s Outcast
Season 1, Episode 2: “(I Remember) When She Loved Me”
Directed by Howard Deutch
Written by Jeff Vlaming

* For a review of the first episode, “A Darkness Surrounds Him” – click here
* For a review of the next episode, “All Alone Now” – click here
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I’ve been waiting for Friday to roll around so I could catch this next episode of Robert Kirkman’s Outcast. Excited to see how the characters and the supernatural elements all come together, flesh out. On another note, one thing I loved right off the bat about the whole show itself is the opening credits, the theme. Spooky, foreboding, and that ambient element you can tell Atticus Ross had his sweet little fingers in there. Gives each episode an ominous start that I love. Sets the atmosphere up without anything but some random images and the score.
This episode starts with a young Kyle Barnes. Everything is so light, breezy, beautiful. It feels surreal, in the tomb of memory. We see the change in his mother happen so fast, going from the nice mother to demonically possessed in the matter of minutes. Back in present day, Kyle (Patrick Fugit) is fighting back all that horror in his mind. Meanwhile, Reverend Anderson (Philip Glenister) preaches from the pulpit about the only thing that can “inoculate us from the darkness” – because he’s seen it. The congregation hasn’t, but he has, and Kyle, as well. Even if the latter tries to deny that at times, despite what he witnessed last episode. And all he knew as a boy at the hands of his insanely mad mother.
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Chief Giles (Reg E. Cathey) has some doubts about Kyle kicking around. He goes to talk with his friend Rev. Anderson and worries about how the young man affects the town. Everyone there is talking already. But Giles is only warning the reverend a little.
Other more nasty things are happening. Some animals are cut up, nailed on his property. Yikes. I can see now how this is about to play into everything else.
In the meantime, Kyle goes to sit with his mother in the hospital, in her catatonic state. He talks about the boy he and Rev. Anderson saved. Instead of feeling good about saving his mother from a demonic force, Kyle only feels guilt for putting her in that bed. Although he’s conflicted because of all the horror she put him through. “We were all we had,” he reminisces to her in pain. To see him fluctuate between the distinct memories of her being an awesome mom and those of her in that terrifying state is tough. Fugit does a fine job selling this role. I wasn’t sold right away in the pilot, though I loved the episode as a whole. Now, with this second chapter, I’m starting to understand completely why he was cast. Never should have doubted that, as I’ve enjoyed many of Fugit’s performances.
After a bit of trouble at the hospital Kyle decides to do something a little drastic: take his mother home. Norville (Willie C. Carpenter) notices and tries to offer his help, but Kyle refuses and goes to tend to his mother. Outside, a mysterious man from the church earlier lurks, watching. Awesomely enough, it’s someone played by Brent Spiner (Mr. God Damn Data to you).


Megan Holter (Wrenn Schmidt) shows up with groceries and all the necessities. When she does, Kyle has a little gift. He wants it to go to his little girl, but Megan knows there’s none of that allowed. Apparently he can’t have any type of contact whatsoever. Finally, Megan breaks down and takes the gift, advising him about everything from eating better to trying to fix his life: “Just take it slow.” He’s taking care of mother right now, though. And all those horrible memories are flashing back, more all the time. He keeps imagining her locked in that closet, the same one where she’d lock him. At this point she’s locked inside her own body.
Over at a little meeting with some of the church ladies, Rev. Anderson is preaching his ideas of growing the congregation, getting asses in the seats, all that sort of things. The ladies are a little worried about Kyle Barnes and his involvement. Anderson does his best to sell his good qualities, no matter all the bad mojo surrounding him because of his past.
Out in the woods, Chief Giles and Mark Holter (David Denman) are searching for the nailed and slashed animals. They talk about how things went down with the kid, Kyle beating him up. Mark doesn’t buy any of the exorcism bullshit. At the same time, Giles doesn’t discount it. Clearly his relationship with the preacher extends to more than just a little faith.
We get a bit more on Kyle and his ex-wife, their little girl Amber, tons of stuff. Even a brief mention of the little girl locking herself in the closet; coincidence? Either way, dig it. The thing I enjoy about these opening episodes of the series is that not everything is spelled out completely. The writing gives us bits and pieces without spoiling everything with all out exposition. That makes everything more mysterious and more fun.


Giles and Holter stumble upon the animals eventually. A bunch of them, all crucified in a row. Someone’s been doing naughty business out there in the forest. They find a dirty camper along the way, scratch marks everywhere inside and blood all over them. An eerie scene.
At the Barnes place, Anderson shows up. He knows about her being taken away and isn’t happy. He tries making Kyle realize what’s best for his mother. Regardless, they’re at odds. Kyle doesn’t know why curing his mother of the demon didn’t end like it did for the boy he helped. “What if its still inside of her?” he asks the reverend. I have a feeling they’re about to start messing around with something they don’t fully understand. Unless the ole rev knows something we haven’t figured out just yet. Well, they decide to go for it. Anderson breaks out his cross, the whole deal. They lay prayers down on her. The memories come back to Kyle, all that hardship he experienced. Nothing works, and this starts to drive Kyle batty. He opens up the wound in his hand then squeezes blood onto her, in her mouth. Still, nothing happens. After things settle Anderson has Kyle’s mother brought back to the hospital where she belongs right now.
Over with Kyle’s ex-wife and little Amber, Megan sees her niece open up the gift from her father. She watches uneasily, as if feeling guilty on both sides; for helping Kyle, for not doing more. A hard position in which to find oneself.

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Part of what intrigues me most so far is Kyle’s character, the guilt he feels and the overall loss of not having a mother because of a demonic influence taking over her body, her mind, her soul. Then he has his own power that isn’t something he yet understands. All this makes for a powder keg of emotions. Later after Kyle goes home, he finds a note from Megan that his daughter loved the present. This only adds that further bit of emotion to the character and his moral dilemma. We don’t yet fully know the extent of what’s happened between Kyle and his ex-wife, the daughter, but I have a few guesses.
Oh, and before the episode closes we see Brent Spiner’s character arrive to see Kyle’s mother Sarah in the hospital. He knows her well. He knows more that we’re going to see soon. Worst of all, it torments his mother even in her coma state. Then we watch a flashback to see the demonic thing exiting her back then, choking her young son Kyle by the neck, as if claiming him for its own. What an unsettling finale to this episode.
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I am beyond excited now for the third chapter, “All Alone Now”, which promises more development in these rich characters. Really great start to this series. No wonder Cinemax has faith and already greenlit Season 2. More to come, so stay with me, fellow fans! This is a solid show with plenty to offer on both the dramatic and horror ends respectively.

FatherSonHolyGore’s Exclusive Interview with Bradley James and Glen Mazzara from DAMIEN

I was lucky enough to have been invited by FOX to attend a screening of Damien’s Season 1 finale, “Ave Satani” – sadly, I couldn’t make it to Los Angeles. However, their publicity department sent me a personal finale screener. Incredibly impressed, I got to watch the episode several days before its premiere. Lucky me, right?
Well I only got luckier. Later I received another bit of correspondence asking if any of us critics who were given the screener might want to conduct an interview, either with Executive Producer Glen Mazzara or any of the actors. Naturally, I jumped at the chance to interview Glen specifically. From The Shield (on the top of my list for Best Series Ever; wrote many of my favourite episodes like “The Spread”, “Strays”, & “On Tilt”) onward everything he’s involved in I usually try and seek out. So then a conference call was set. Another unexpected turn; I figured the interview would likely be via e-mail.
And the hits just kept on coming: not only would I get the chance to ask Glen questions, but star of the show Bradley James was also slated to hop on the line with us. Anybody who doesn’t already know Bradley will certainly know him after Damien. He’s already got a built in fan club, though. As if women fawning over him weren’t enough, there’s the fact he played a pre-King Arthur Arthur on BBC One’s The Adventures of Merlin, he turned up in an episode of Homeland, as well as a handful of iZombie episodes.

Seriously, though – I get to talk with these guys?
I’ve never done any interviews for this site before. But my involvement on social media, coupled with the recaps and reviews I do weekly by episode, got me on the line with these two for almost an hour (half hour each). Between myself and a couple other media outlets, we asked Glen and Bradley some questions. Here’s some of their answers.

SPOILER ALERT: This article contains minor and major spoilers in regards to the May 9th season finale of A&E’s Damien. The areas which contain spoilers have further been marked as such.


Glen Mazzara
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Immediately, things turned to Season 2, as we’d all seen the finale that day. Glen told us he’s already mapped it out. For those of us curious how the show is put together, you can see Mazzara likes to think ahead. Not only that, he has specific episodes and ideas ready in terms of the the cast and characters, of whom he speaks highly. He made clear it’s enjoyable working with and writing for them. He told us there’s no mindset about not getting renewed either; he’s operating as if they’re full steam ahead. A confident approach as showrunner.
I asked Glen about the initial catalyst for why he felt Damien, as a series, was worth exploring. He told me he wanted to follow Damien as an Antichrist and to take that seriously. As in, Jesus is fully God and fully human, so the Antichrist should be fully human and fully devil. He hoped to explore the humanity of this situation. He likes the struggle of guessing what’s really going on. Mazzara says good horror makes us question: what is real and what is supernatural? It keeps you uncomfortable. Not only that, the human drama of Damien’s situation inflicts itself upon the other characters, which helps fill out the story and other arcs.
Mazzara first approached this series thinking of Jesus Christ – an unknown carpenter in a little backwater town in Galilee. How does that person start such a massive movement and change the world over two thousand years? He began powerless. In a contemporary version of such an ascent Mazzara knew people would expect an evil senator or similar character archetype. But he took aim at the meaning of religion with Damien as a young war photographer, not just some corrupt type of character that would make moves using the power of the Antichrist. Because where’s the fun in that? It wouldn’t provide much depth or development. First and foremost, Mazzara tried a completely different angle. Being raised Catholic and understanding the religion gave Mazzara his material. For him, the show is equal parts horror and religion. He considers his take not a subjective, judgemental view of religious faith, but rather an examination of that faith, what it means to people, and in turn how the opposite of faith in God (i.e. faith in Satan) would operate with that same devotion. And all through a wonderfully horrific lens.
It’s hard for a messiah to get people to die for them,” Mazzara says. Also a line he hopes to toss in somewhere throughout Season 2.
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Being a huge Barbara Hershey fan (all started due to her powerful performance in 1982’s The Entity), I asked Glen if we could look forward to more of her cutting and oddly masochistic behaviour, or at least an explanation (note: for those who don’t remember Ann cut a fresh 666 into her scarred inner thigh during Episode 3 “The Deliverer”). Being the massive horror fan I am, Mazzara is likely a bigger one. This moment comes from 666 on the inner thigh of the priest from the original film, which he revealed to Gregory Peck’s character before dying. Mazzara found it fun to consider possibly the priest was involved in the larger group watching Damien, somehow. Further than that, it ties into the Book of Revelations which states “his followers will be marked” also with the Number of the Beast. So Mazarra tied Ann into that larger conspiracy making her part of that secretive group watching over Damien, suggesting there’s an overarching connection to many of them with this branding. Even further, this also shows the devotion of Ann in a sick, twisted way to really elevate how dedicated to Damien, or better yet whoever The Antichrist would’ve been. The relationship between Ann & Damien, ultimately, is what Mazzara calls “the wicked heart of the show.”
“No one knows exactly how this is gonna come around,” Mazzara tells us re: the coming of the Antichrist. Ann feels there is a progression, but doesn’t know for sure. She’s there to nurture Damien’s potential. Mazzara claims she wants to be “first amongst his worshippers.” Ann is the Mother Mary figure: she loves Damien as a son, but knows he “belongs to history, he belongs to the world.”
Mazzara feels the show “did a good job” on the front of female characters, ones with actual developed stories affecting the plot/story. And that’s true: we start off with Kelly, she’s essentially the catalyst then for Damien really searching his soul, and of course Simone then becomes involved, then there’s Ann, Veronica, and you can’t forget Sister Greta (played by the ever wonderful Robin Weigert). As Mazzara mentions, a “large amount of story [is] driven by those women.” SPOILER AHEADThis last sentence & following paragraph reveals several fairly major spoilers from the May 9th finale. Please skip ahead before you watch. Even in the finale, John Lyons (Scott Wilson) gets outplayed by Ann, who is a better player in the game than he is, and gets the last laugh, so to speak.

We also discussed further female character strengths, as well as religious connections. During “Ave Satani”, Simone washes Damien’s feet – right in the middle of a manhunt for him. She is a “religious player in this story,” explained Mazzara. She is also a bit of a Christ figure, as well. She is killed, revived, and she doesn’t have any evil side; a “force of good,” Mazzara calls her. In contrast to her, there’s lots of evil in the finale – suicide cops in the opening, nun execution before a mass grave, then two people get buried alive. Simone represents that incredibly opposite good side. She stepped forward to take the bullet for Damien in the end and effectively illustrates her pinnacle of goodness.
Mazzara believes that above all else Simone’s character is about “gaining her voice.” Everyone’s telling her to shut up, essentially. Even in the finale she finds insects flying out of her mouth, choking her. What’s most interesting is that the series starts out with most people expecting Simone to be a disposable character. Only along the line she becomes integral to Damien’s journey.
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Warning: Ahead are some significant spoilers concerning the finale, “Ave Satani”, so if you’ve yet to see it please don’t read these next bits, or else be spoiled!
Mazzara confirms that Detective Shay has officially converted. He is now a believer, for better or worse, in the Antichrist after the finale’s events.
In addition, the last shot holds a great significance for the show’s DNA. Mazzara says that the last scene had been sketched out before they even sold the show. He knew at the end of the season Damien had to enter a “Faustian bargain”. Season 1 is Damien coming around, at the end is him essentially “sacrificing himself to commit evil”. Mazzara calls the season structure serpentine, in that it brings you back to the old film throughout the course of the season until in the finale’s final moment we are literally thrust back into 1976’s The Omen.


Bradley James
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When asked how he manages to get himself into the dark space required for playing the character of Damien, we receive an honest answer: “I’m maybe not quite as dark and twisted as [certain] scenes would suggest.” However, he went on to tell us that many of the tougher scenes were a “cathartic experience”, which he got through using moments in his own life that he related to Damien’s own struggles. Mostly, he credits the crew for making him feel safe in their atmosphere, so much that he felt very comfortable getting into the skin of the character.
I asked Bradley specifically what the most interesting part about Damien as a character was for him. He said the world weariness of Damien intrigued him, as “a 30-year-old man carrying the pain of someone much older” who has seen so much yet manages to still carry on as a functional human being.
Bradley tells us he didn’t know the full arc of the Damien Thorn character. It wasn’t until shooting Episode 7 or 8 when he read the scripts, and afterwards asked Glen to tell him the “endgame.” Before that, not knowing allowed him “fresh eyes” to tackle the character up until the point where Mazzara laid out his plans.
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Then, I ask a troubling question: who is his favourite actor to play off this season?
Most importantly, Bradley loves variety. He tells us how some actors are set in their way before even coming to the scene that day. Therefore, they’re not “alive in the scene at that moment.” In contrast, he went on to say everybody here provided a great atmosphere for a conduit towards their respective chemistry in various scenes. Being amongst a diverse cast, Bradley acknowledges each actor was different, making for good energy and even better scenes.
Morever, Bradley tells us he and Omid Abtahi (who plays Amani) are great friends now after shooting the show together. This helped the natural relationship between Damien and Amani onscreen, as they got closer offscreen.
He also made sure to add he loves Barbara’s presence as Ann Rutledge. He “felt very respected in [his] process.” Bradley also says there existed a mutual appreciation for and understanding of one another. Only too evident in the final product; their onscreen chemistry is undeniable.
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Regarding particular scenes throughout the series, the grave burial/tree wrapping scene in Episode 9 (“The Devil You Know“) was very physical according to Bradley. Shot in Canada, in the woods at 3am, he claims he didn’t “have to work for” his uncomfortable attitude for the scene, as nature provided that. Even worse, the mosquitoes were “relentless” and so he continually “bathed in bugspray.” As a Canadian, from the farthest East Coast, I know the pain. But he also tells us that drama school “hammer[ed] it into [him] to find the truth.” So aside from the physicality of certain scenes, he dug deep into the well of human emotion to make a supernatural story feel more rooted in reality. He adds Glen also wrote very honestly. He says their fearless leader has a “warped mind”, but is someone truthful that can likewise find it in these characters.

WarningAhead is one final (minor) spoiler pertaining to the season finale, “Ave Satani”, so please do not read this last paragraph before watching.
Of course someone had to ask about the original 1976 film. Bradley tells us he rewatched The Omen at the start of production. Later, they all had to look at it again for the final scene in Episode 10, mainly for technical reasons; to make sure the shot was framed right and looking proper. That look is one of “inner peace,” says Bradley, as Damien has finally come to a realization in the season finale. Evil, but a realization nonetheless.


It was a pleasure to interview these two, an honour really. The series became much better as the episodes wore on, so hopefully Mazzara gets a Season 2 to give us more Antichrist fun, and more of Bradley James’ excellent talent.

Colonia is a Glazed Over Historical Thriller

Colonia. 2016. Directed by Florian Gallenberger. Screenplay by Gallenberger & Torsten Wenzel.
Starring Emma Watson, Daniel Brühl, Michael Nyqvist, Richenda Carey, Vicky Krieps, Jeanne Werner, Julian Ovenden, August Zirner, Martin Wuttke, Nicolás Barsoff, Steve Karier, Stefan Merki, Lucila Gandolfo, Johannes Allmayer, & Gilles Soeder. Majestic Filmproduktion/Iris Productions/Rat Pack Filmproduktion.
Rated 14A. 110 minutes.
Drama/History/Romance

★★★
POSTER The story of Colonia Dignidad – a.k.a Dignity Colony – and its enigmatic, terrifying leader Paul Schäfer is not a story many in the Western world know. Schäfer was German, escaping charges of child molestation and sexual assault, and founded the colony in 1961. Under Schäfer, the colony was immersed in eccentric religion, as well as an authoritarian rule by their leader himself. They were not allowed to see their loved ones, from parents to children to spouses. Above all else, Schäfer was a misogynist whose deep-seated issues with women is evident through how he ran his little cult. Even the Angel of Death hismelf, Josef Mengele, has been confirmed to have been at the colony during some point by both the Central Intelligence Agency, and also famed Nazi hunter Simon Wiesenthal. So on top of the fact he was simply an abuser wrapped in the clothes of a father figure and a mentor, Schäfer further had ties with Nazi Germany and the SS, which only makes things more disturbing.
And so, with stories of people escaping, fleeing the brutal abuse and the authoritarianism, Colonia is based on true events. This is the story of one man whose disappearance at the hands of military men landed him in Colonia Dignidad, and whose wife never gave up looking for him. With a couple spectacular performances from Daniel Brühl, Emma Watson, and Michael Nyqvist, this is better than the average ‘Based On a True Story’ fare. Although, the film is not perfect. Whereas Schäfer was German, and many Germans were a part of the group, there feels to be a significant lack of Chilean actors and characters in general, outside of the military men and the brief appearances of General Augusto Pinochet. In a day and age where whitewashing films is all too common, and for a film that’s set in Chile, it’s hard to imagine why they didn’t include more of the Chilean people, as they were also very affected – not only by Schäfer, but by Pinochet, who used the colony as a secret camp for torture, murder, and much more.
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In 1973, Lena (Emma Watson) works as flight attendant, while her husband Daniel (Daniel Brühl) is a photographer and semi-activist. Joining protests in the streets against General Augusto Pinochet, Daniel gets abducted and separated from his wife by DINA, Pinochet’s secret police. He is whisked away to a secretive black site where they torture him relentlessly, at least until Paul Schäfer (Michael Nyqvist) comes to take him away after he’s almost been shocked into being mentally challenged. Schäfer takes Daniel to Colonia Dignidad, which is supposedly a charitable religious organization he runs. Only it is so much more. When Lena digs up the truth, she joins Colonia Dignidad. What she discovers ranges from sexual and physical abuse, to cult-like activities, as well as the fact Schäfer operates the colony as a black site where Pinochet brings various political prisoners for torture, and most often death. What follows is Lena’s desperate attempt to save her husband from Schäfer and the colony’s deadly grip.
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In terms of directing, there’s nothing overly impressive other than a generally decent atmosphere and look to the film. What’s most impressive in this mediocre film is the acting. Both Daniel Brühl and Emma Watson are each excellent in their lead roles. Brühl’s role is technically smaller, even if his character’s situation drives the plot, but that doesn’t mean it comes as any less intense. Especially when DINA rushes him off to Pinochet’s secret spot in the colony, then we watch him get tortured into an almost regressive state of human behaviour. Even better, his character then puts on act to try and keep himself under the radar, which showcases Brühl’s ability to jump from one part of his range to another quickly. Most of all, it’s Watson who carries the cast. She is a happy-go-lucky-type at the start, but as Colonia wears on her demeanour is forced to change. Through the series of events that come down her character Lena becomes someone paranoid (and rightfully so), impossibly tough, and also hardened. I’ve always loved Watson since Harry Potter because she is charming and energetic, and like Brühl has an incredible amount of range. If anything, you’ll stick with the film strictly to watch her performance.
Also, I can’t go on without mentioning Michael Nyqvist. He is a huge talent. Of course most know him after The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo and the whole Millenium trilogy alongside Noomi Rapace. Me, I’ve personally been a fan of his from the time of 2005’s horrifically psychological/Hitchcockian Norwegian thriller Naboer. First of all, Nyqvist actually sort of resembles the real life Paul Schäfer, which is always a plus for an actor playing a real life person; not always required if their performance can transcend appearance, but here it helps simply because Schäfer was an eerie sort of man. Nyqvist appears almost saviour-like in his first moments, then gradually we’re introduced to his other persona, the one which hides behind the big gates and the militarized border of Colonia Dignidad. Over the course of the film he becomes monstrous, so much so that even his presence onscreen is enough to unsettle you without requiring dialogue. If it weren’t for Nyqvist, Schäfer could’ve easily been a copy of a copy. Instead he is highly terrifying from one moment to the next, and the angry, misogynistic violence inside Schäfer can emerge explosively, unexpected with Nyqvist in the role.
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While director Florian Gallenberger doesn’t do anything wild in regards to directorial choices, he is successful at keeping Colonia extremely tense. Both Gallenberger and Torsten Wenzel have come up with a decent enough screenplay, despite not exploring the Chilean side of things/Pinochet enough for what the subject matter commands. Nevertheless, each scene is more tense than the last. And the finale is a particularly pulse-pounding experience, as you wonder whether the married couple will finally escape Chile, the colony, and above all Schäfer. But ultimately, Colonia is a 3-star film. If there were some better additions to the screenplay concerning the politics, the dark connections of Schäfer to people like the Nazis, Mengele, even Pinochet and DINA, then perhaps the story might’ve elevated things further. Yes, we do get bits and pieces of the Pinochet reign of power included, as the General comes for weapons, to check on those being tortured, so on, there just simply isn’t enough. Most of the story is focused on the day-to-day of the colony, and that’s fine. However, with a story that’s incredibly political, Gallenberger and Wenzel stick a little too closely to the smaller emotional story at its center. If you go in knowing this, expecting only a tight dramatic look at the married couple and their awful experience, then it may make the film better. There’s simply too much more in the real story that wasn’t told, and with only three solid actors to hold it up the film never reaches anything past being a decent historical drama with some romance and thrills mixed in for taste.