Tagged Ronen Rubinstein

Dead of Summer – Season 1, Episode 8: “The Devil Inside”

Freeform’s Dead of Summer
Season 1, Episode 8: “The Devil Inside”
Directed by Mick Garris
Written by Steven Canals & Richard Naing

* For a review of the previous episode, “Townie” – click here
* For a review of the next episode, “Home Sweet Home” – click here
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Chicago, 1988. Jessie (Paulina Singer) arrives back at her place to find her mother partying, the place filled with smoke. Seems like she’s living in a place not built for what she wants to do, which is study, try to get into a good college and likely get up out of that neighbourhood. Her mom convinces her to let loose and have a bit of fun. Cut to ’89, she talks to her mom on the phone. They’re in a much different place than they were last year. What happened that night?
Well, right now there’s stranger things afoot. Camp Stillwater is rocked by the “terrible things” that have recently gone on. Deb Carpenter (Elizabeth Mitchell) says everything’s over. She is shutting the place down, to the chagrin of Amy (Elizabeth Lail), Joel (Eli Goree), Blair (Mark Indelicato), Alex (Ronen Rubinstein), Drew (Zelda Williams), and Jessie. Nobody’s pleased. Although they’re setting out to make their last couple days at camp memorable.
I’m sure Holyoke (Tony Todd) is looking to do the same. And when a solar eclipse begins to darken the sky, Jessie’s mind begins to darken. She sees a dead Cricket (Amber Coney), who warns about the dangers at camp: “Its not over. Its awakening.” She says Jessie has to take Holyoke’s bones to the lake. But it doesn’t feel like she’s there as a helping hand. Maybe this is more Satanic madness. No telling yet.
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The counsellors go out to play Blind Man’s Bluff. Of course, Jessie is first. As she spins, voices encroach on her sanity, she hears strange noises and whispers. Amy notices. Jessie tells her about what she saw, what Cricket prophesied. But Amy believes it’s Holyoke trying to manipulate further events. “The only people we can trust are each other,” she assures Jessie.
Back to ’88. Jessie is straight laced, she’s going into work and also preparing for her North Western interview. Something has clearly caused a huge change in her within that one year from where she is now at Stillwater, to where she was then.
In ’89, Jessie talks with Garrett (Alberto Frezza). He worries because the teacher, his supposed old family buddy, says he didn’t kill the counsellors. Who did it? For the time being Garrett believes the ritual awakened the demon. He goes on the journal of his father. He worries about the eclipse, as it’s a sign the demon has been conjured. Only the journal says they have to “kill the vessel” – and the vessel = Amy. Jessie tells him about what dead Cricket advised her to do. They have to throw Holyoke’s bones in the lake.
Joel feels compelled to end things because of his brother Michael’s torture at the hands of Holyoke. He wants to burn down that old cabin, to somehow cleanse the place of that evil presence.
Meanwhile, Jessie is sneaking out to the morgue just as Joel finds his way into the creepy cabin. This is an excellently edited scene, cutting as back and forth. Jessie finds the bones and gathers them up. However, the dead bodies of the cult members come to life, Damon (Andrew J. West) speaking in the voice of her mother. The place turns into a horrorshow. Simultaneously, Joel discovers a book full of Satanic writings. He rushes to find Jessie – Holyoke is indeed trying to trick her. The demon needs those bones to go in the lake. Jessie and Garrett believe otherwise; that Amy, the vessel, has already been possessed by the demon. Drastic measures ahead.

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Garrett and Jessie go to Amy, they ask her about Malphas and whether anybody said the word in that cave. They’re testing her. That golden cross Jessie wore is given over to Amy, as protection. There’s no real reaction, though. Soon, Alex bursts in and lets Amy in on what’s happening. Uh oh. Trouble in the ranks. Maybe this is what Holyoke wants, dissent between the friends. A little while later dead Cricket comes to Jessie again, revealing a vision of the demon headed for them if the bones do not go into the lake.
We switchback quickly to ’88. Even though Jessie almost missed her interview, due to her mother messing up and not being there to bring her on time, everything went well. There’s still something coming here, something that will change the mother-daughter relationship.
Drew and Jessie have connected. They have trust in one another. Drew tries to make Jessie believe in herself and trust her own thoughts, follow her own path. Not so easy, I guess. Considering whatever happened in Jessie’s past.
Well, the bones get tossed in the lake. Then the sky goes completely dark, all light disappears. It’s as if Joel and Jessie are now in a different time. They see Holyoke (Tony Todd) leading people into the lake, followed by Satanic cult members who start murdering everybody. Seems Holyoke was framed for being a crazy cult leader bringing people to suicide. When all along the eerie cult has been responsible. Joel and Jessie are led back to the cabin. “What you think you know, you do not,” Holyoke explains to them. He says the demon still resides in Amy. He wants to save the girl: “Let no harm come to her. That will only empower the demon.” Oh, Holyoke! You’ve turned into someone completely different than we imagined back at the beginning. So exciting.
We get one more glimpse into ’88. Jessie fights with her drunk mother. Mom is a selfish woman who believes she’s being left behind by her daughter, a.k.a Jessie’s going to college to better herself. So they get in the car, drunk mom driving. Then a car smashes into them. We can see this coming a mile away: Jessie takes the shit for her mother. This dashes her chances at a great college. So, so tragically sad.
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The gang are all mostly on the same track. They even let Deb in on it. Problem is the fifth point on that map Garrett found is where Amy and Alex are with the camp kids. Once they find Amy, she puts a knife right to Alex’s throat. Joel manages to stop. Before she sinks the knife into his throat instead. “Fooled you,” she taunts while holding up a palm branded with a cross.
And rather than do what Holyoke intended, Garrett tries blasting Amy away. Doesn’t work that easy. Not when a demon’s involved. Holyoke then appears to haul Amy and the demon inside her away. Whoa! What a turn of events. Plus, another camp counsellor down as Joel bleeds out from his neck wound.
Out at the cabin, Holyoke sets out to try exorcising the evil spirit within Amy.
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I’m so pumped! This Mick Garris-directed episode was great. Unexpected, too.
Next is the penultimate Season 1 episode titled “Home Sweet Home” – I can only imagine what sort of things will come out. Very, very excited.

Condemned is a Gross Out and Nothing More

Condemned. 2015. Directed & Written by Eli Morgan Gesner.
Starring Johnny Messner, Michel Gill, Jon Abrahams, Ronen Rubinstein, Lydia Hearst, Dylan Penn, Michael Drayer, Jordan Gelber, Genevieve Hudson-Price, Anthony Chisholm, Kea Ho, Michael DeMello, Perry Yung, & Tuffy Questell. Caliber Media Company.
Not Rated. 83 minutes.
Horror

★★1/2
POSTERDirector-writer Eli Morgan Gesner is obviously a lover of New York City, setting Condemned in the Big Apple, as well as previously directing the documentary Concrete Jungle and serving as a consultant on 12 episodes of How to Make It in America. So I’m not sure if he’s trying to make a statement at all with this one, or if it’s simply easiest to set his grossout, low budget horror in a city he knows best. Either way, I can’t say this is spectacular. Its cheap style shows in many places, as do its influences. What Condemned lacks in style and overall execution it makes up for in a few good laughs, plus a heft dose of weirdness.
There are gore horrors, then there are grossout horror films. This falls into the latter category. There are certain parts of the grossness which really work well for its horror, then other scenes are simply too nasty for no good reason and it turns even me off. Don’t get me wrong – I love a nice gory horror flick. However, there’s a limit to how badly things are done that I will reach. This movie surpasses my limit, simply because it doesn’t do enough with all its other elements to justify such nastiness. For instance, movies like Dead Alive and Cabin Fever are blood-filled, gory movies I enjoy; the first because Peter Jackson brings an incredible pace to the film and pumps gallons upon gallons of blood onto the viewer, the second due to Eli Roth’s campy sense of humour and ability to turn our stomachs with body horror imagery. But Gesner’s film never amounts to anything near either of those, ultimately falling short in pacing. Although, a couple of the characters and the actors by whom they are played lend enough interest that I sat through this and chuckled a few times. I also chose, after the first little while, not to get a snack.
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After Maya (Dylan Penn) gets fed up with her parents and their constant fights, she moves in with her boyfriend Dante (Ronen Rubinstein). Only thing is Dante lives in a building on the Lower East Side of Manhattan where everyone is squatting. The place is ‘run’ by an older man named Shynola (Anthony Chisholm) and is filled with the strangest kinds of people. Included among the residents are junkies Vince (Jon Abrahams) and Tess (Lydia Hearst), a massive drugged up Jew called Big Foot (Jordan Gelber), Cookie (Perry Yung), Gault (Johnny Messner) and his human toilet Murphy (Michael DeMello), among others.
But soon they’ll all be living in worse squalor than ever. A virus spreads throughout the apartment building, made up of all the disgusting waste and garbage from the rotten mess of all its tenants, and one after another people are infected. They become angry, dangerous killers, which eventually turns the building into stories of madness.
As the city outside lives on, the people inside are dying to get out.


Certainly, if anything, you can enjoy some hideous practical effects. Many of the warts and boils on the people as they become infected are spot on gross. Probably most of the budget went towards making the near neon vomit, the puss-filled sacks, and so on. There is a decent look and feel to the movie, it attains a gritty, grim atmosphere with a dark visual style. But mostly, Gesner aims to disgust. Alongside those brutal effects, from hanging eyeballs to torn up guts to leaking yellow-cream pus, the sound effects themselves are enough to make you sick. Part of all that makes the grossness effective. In other movies that just go for gore, gore and more gore, often times it’s all visual; just throw a load of blood in the frame. At least Condemned opts to work with the sound design by using it appropriately in tandem with the bloody mess created onscreen.
Some of my favourite gore: 1) Tess takes a knife in the forehead/eye which is awesome enough, but then she goes on a manic rant about New York; 2) a hand gets ripped off and it looks good, even better Dante apologies frantically for having torn it away from the owner’s body; 3) someone’s stomach is disemboweled, then the guts get pulled on like a rope; and 4) a perfectly executed chopped off head reminiscent of some of the best in horror. Also, the makeup itself is best on Gault on Murphy, the gay muscle couple, once they start to find themselves infected; almost reminded me of a Rammstein video, in a great way.
I’m not a fan of horror-comedies per say. Though, I am indeed a fan of horror films which go for darkly comedic stories, dialogue, et cetera. There are a couple scenes where I actually laughed out. Most of the movie is straight up grim and savagely gross, but some moments are really funny. Such as the aforementioned Tess rant re: New York, the “NAZIS!” scream from Big Foot, even the two musclebound gay guys are funny (until they’re ultra frightening). This screenplay is nowhere near amazing. It is competent enough to provide some black comedy. Unfortunately, Gesner never provides us with enough to justify the plot, he only gives us what’s needed; nothing more. A grossout gore flick doesn’t really need to have a ton going on, but there’s simply no way to put this above any other films of its kind, there’s just nothing elevating it beyond mediocrity.


There are definitely a couple decent performances. Overall, the cast isn’t great; some of the characters were highly underused, some were made out to be more important than others then found death quickly. If I gave this any higher than a 2&1/2-star rating it would bother me. There’s nothing here, even the makeup effects, which takes it above and beyond that level. Whereas there are a few effects here worth seeing (see: head chop), the majority of Condemned is easily forgotten. If anything, see this to be a completist if you’re like me. Another gory, nasty little flick to tick off the list of films floating around out there. Other than that, throw on something else with more to offer.

Some Kind of Hate: A Ghostly, Savage Bullying Tale

Some Kind of Hate. 2015. Directed by Adam Egypt Mortimer. Screenplay by Brian DeLeeuw & Mortimer.
Starring Grace Phipps, Spencer Breslin, Andrew Bryniarski, Sierra McCormick, Lexi Atkins, Brando Eaton, Ronen Rubinstein, Maestro Harrell, Noah Segan, Michael Polish, Justin Prentice, & Jasper Polish. Caliber Media Company/Revek Entertainment.
Not Rated. 82 minutes.
Horror

★★★1/2
POSTER
Low budget indies can go many ways, from weird and wild, to impressive, to downright pieces of trash. I’ve seen a bunch of reviews saying Some Kind of Hate falls into the last of those categories, not many giving it any praise. And while there are some places where the movie could use a huge tweak, namely some of the acting and parts of the screenplay, this is a decent indie horror. It is at times gory, serving up more than a fair share of blood, and others it comes off as a tense, brutal horror with teeth.
Part of the movie, a large part, plays on the collective knowledge, and for some experience, of bullying. It’s not hard to fall into enjoying this if you’ve been a victim yourself, or even if you’re someone who bullied others in high school then changed years later for the better. The story of Lincoln, our main protagonist, is a tough one at times. Just watching him be pushed to the brink, even those first few minutes of the film is harrowing. But on top of everything else there’s a supernatural aspect to Some Kind of Hate. While director Adam Egypt Mortimer and his writing partner (on this picture) Brian DeLeeuw could take a typical revenge-type route with this story, they instead opt to turn it into an entirely different picture. The savagery ultimately makes things intense, but Ronen Rubinstein does a fantastic job in the central role, and the plot keeps everything pretty damn interesting.
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Lincoln Taggert (Ronen Rubinstein) has been bullied for years, by the people at school who call him a faggot, push him around, and even at home where his father (Andrew Bryniarski) drinks and yells at him for no reason. One day, Lincoln finally steps up and protects himself. Except for the fact he stabs his bully in the face with a fork.
This brings Lincoln to a camp for… wayward teens, such as himself. There he meets a few people, such as Isaac (Spencer Breslin), some of whom seem overly interested in his past. Problem is that the abuse Lincoln suffered only starts all over again when a teen at the camp named Willie (Maestro Harrell) bullies him. It’s as if nothing will ever change for Lincoln. This time, though, there’s someone watching, someone who cares and understands exactly what he’s going through. A girl named Moira (Sierra McCormick) was driven to kill herself there years ago. And after Lincoln summons her still angry spirit to help avenge him, she unleashes hell upon the camp and anyone who falls into her path.
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Even though the budget of the film is small, I love the look. Not simply the choices in direction and cinematography in general, but also how they use anamorphic lenses which gives it a throwback feel. Most of all this aesthetic makes everything seem natural – the daytime sunny scenes feel very light, very beautiful, whereas the darker moments look even more grim. The camera work at times is a little unsteady, yet it works. Because during most scenes there’s a steady and framed flow. Then once Lincoln gets agitated and thrown into a situation where he either must fight or run, the handheld camera comes into play, throwing us off balance and unnerving our senses. This isn’t a film that relies totally on a shaky cam aesthetic, it employs the technique where appropriate. When used correctly, it’s a solid way to express the raging emotions of teenagers, specifically Lincoln in his world of near constant abuse and ridicule.
Added to the look, Some Kind of Hate has a great soundtrack filled with hard metal. More than that, I love the sound design and the score. There’s this ambient, haunting sound floating through certain scenes, which again amplifies into a heavier distorted noise when the stress on Lincoln gets heavier. These are excellent moves that, along with acting, help emphasize how Lincoln loses control. Composer Robert Allaire (I know him from his additional music credits on American Horror Story) does an impressive bit of work, and his score combines with the sound design to create a general air of uneasiness at so many different points. With such good sound design, score, and cinematography, Some Kind of Hate does better things than so many other indie flicks of its type.
Ronen Rubinstein and Sierra McCormick are both excellent here. Can’t say the others are all as good, but these two make up for any shortcomings the film has in the end. Rubinstein is dark and brooding, he truly captures the emotion of a person who’s been beaten down hard by the people around him, even his own family. As the time goes on, he comes out of his shell slightly, goaded by a girl who seems to understand him. There’s a totally different quality to the Lincoln character, which is great because revenge-styled films are usually starkly contrasted; here, Lincoln becomes different, but not completely. He sort of glides in his transition, eventually becoming someone a little different than he was in the beginning. Rubinstein can be loud and boisterous when needed, in those angst-y scenes, then there’s the quiet, subdued nature of Lincoln he brings out in other moments. With McCormick playing the Moira character, their chemistry is unbelievable. And the contrast between Lincoln and Moira is huge, as it turns out. At least once the plot progresses and we come further towards the end. McCormick is filled with anger, she expresses it perfectly without always having to resort to a yell or a scream, though, she certainly does give us those now and then. But it’s her emotive abilities, the way she conveys things with her eyes that give her performance more intensity. She’s able to be both coy and smug, as well as vengeful and nasty. A proper combination of talented actors in McCormick and Rubinstein. I guess Grace Phipps isn’t bad, either. Nothing compared to those two.
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Without hesitation, Some Kind of Hate gets 3&1/2 stars. There are plenty of other similarly styled horrors out there, lower budget indie flicks, which try hard and never hit the mark. Meanwhile, this film has a nice little plot, a couple solid lead actors, and then lots of nasty blood and gore. Even with the gory bits, I’ve seen much more vicious films in that regard. But this one brings it to an acceptable level, one we’d expect with a spirit coming back after her terrible suicide to take vengeance for another fellow victim of bullying. Every element here does well to create an atmospheric horror. There are times I wish the script were tighter, and others I hoped for better acting (nice to see Noah Segan in there even if in a small role; he is a treat, always!). Overall, I’ve seen much worse. It’s refreshing to see revenge switched up now and then from the cliche plotlines we expect. The supernatural stuff adds a twist that I found plenty enjoyable as a lover of horror. Check it out and give it a chance. Don’t listen to all the negatives, judge for yourself.