Rose's mental state gets worse. Matilda and Hal each investigate their own clues.
Freeform’s Dead of Summer
Season 1, Episode 10: “She Talks to Angels”
Directed by Steve Miner
Written by Edward Kitsis & Adam Horowitz
* For a review of the previous episode, “Home Sweet Home” – click here
The finale is directed by none other than Friday the 13th Parts II and III alumni, Steve Miner! Very exciting, as we finish off Dead of Summer‘s wildly fun and unpredictable first season.
Amy (Elizabeth Lail) has been fully taken over by Malphas, as the rest of the crew are left without much clue. Jessie (Paulina Singer), Deputy Garrett (Alberto Frezza), and Alex (Ronen Rubinstein) only have the camera with all of Joel’s (Eli Goree) taped material. At least they have some kind of proof. For now, if Malphas doesn’t decide to eradicate that, or them, too.
They shove off from Camp Stillwater, each unsuspecting of the evil still lurking in Amy. When the cop car Garrett drives goes dead, the battery suddenly shutting off, things get spooky. The demon in Amy reveals itself, saying that Holyoke (Tony Todd) left the “last piece of his soul” inside Jessie. Worst is when Amy brings out the dead t0 help her – Joel, Cricket (Amber Coney) – and now everything is scarier than ever before.
Garrett sees his father Jack (Dan Payne) out on the dock at Camp Stillwater. He disappears into thin air. Then he wakes up. It’s the day before all the counsellors show up for summer in 1989. He tells Sheriff Boyd Heelan (Charles Mesure), a.k.a the teacher. But no real help there, clearly. I guess hanging out with a weirdo you don’t yet know is a weirdo would be much better than where they are now, running from Malphas and his legion of undead.
“How do we stop a demon?” asks Alex. Right before they discover a bunch of murdered corpses in the cabin. Afterwards, Malphas drops in to cause a bit of mischief. Meanwhile, bussing all the kids away from camp Drew (Zelda Williams) and Blair (Mark Indelicato) get an eerie, urgent warning from the little boy who used to see Holyoke. He tells them to go back; their friends need help.
And they do. Garrett’s hurt, although he makes sure Jessie and Alex know: “This is bigger than us.” They’re forced to leave him behind. Such is the case when you’re in a supernatural horror mystery for real, I guess.
A flashback takes us to Blair before camp. Cricket comes to see him with a new mix tape. He’s busy washing HOMO off his car; so sad. She tries to assure him things will change now that they’re finished high school. He’s a romantic, though, and wanted to meet a guy. Sadly they take about it being “me and you forever” and things we know can’t come true because of her untimely death. In their present situation, Blair and Drew try calling the cops. I don’t know if that’ll do any good. Kudos to the writers: not often in horror does anybody actually try the police.
Lots of creepy shit is happening now in the woods. Alex and Jessie come across Blotter’s severed head on a tether-ball pole. At the same time, Malphas-Amy is calling out to anybody left at camp to play a game of capture the flag. Except the flag “is Jessie,” the demon cackles through the speakers. That scene honestly felt like it came right out of Stephen King. Dig it.
When the cops arrive at Stillwater they’re greeted by Amy – similar to how she looked as child, informing the firefighter her family is dead: “They‘re dead. They‘re all dead.” Only problem being that she now has the place totally under control. Over the speakers, Malphas-Amy talks in the policeman’s voice; the one she’s dispatched. Because the demon needs more blood to fill the lake.
Alex tries going head-on with the demon. He gets an axe to the chest, savage and bloody. Yikes. A quick and nasty death for the poor Russian immigrant, just looking for a better life. Now, Jessie is on her own out in the forest with the demon hunting her down. Soon enough she finds Garrett, Drew, and Blair.
Either way, Jessie lures Malphas-Amy into a cabin where they circle her inside purified water along the floor. In the other cabin Garrett plays the music from Holyoke’s recording, but there’s nothing on it anymore. Remember when Amy stroked the wax before they discovered she was still possessed? I knew it. God damn you, Malphas!
Well the shit hits the fan. Undead Joel, Cricket, Deb, they all show up.
Ah – Garrett remembers the tape. It has the music on it. So he broadcasts it through the walkie into the cabin, causing Malphas-Amy and the undead great pain, repelling them.
And when Malphas is weakest, Jessie plants an axe right into Amy’s head. The blood runs out of her, the demon returning to Lake Stillwater and disappearing below the surface, hopefully never to return again.
They’ve survived, those who are left – Garrett, Jessie, Blair, and Drew. Out in the water, the dead wade back down to the depths. A fitting goodbye to them all, as the friends watch them all go.
Plus, Townie and Braces are once again together. Or are they? He’s just a ghost. I knew it, again! He died out on that bench in the woods. Love allowed him to linger on as a spirit; the light from Holyoke gifted him the extra time to help. That’s better than what I predicted before – him becoming another undead during the last big fight.
The three remaining souls walk themselves out of Camp Stillwater, for the final time. Ghostly Garrett heads into the water of the lake, to his friends, and his father. A place for everything and every thing in its place. Life moves on with Jessie going to college, Blair and Drew road tripping to Seattle for a Bowie concert (and totally in love with each other). All is well once more.
I honestly loved this show’s first season. Hoping there’ll be a Season 2. While it wasn’t perfect, it both played up to the horror genre tropes and also subverted expectations in that regards, as well. It didn’t have to be perfect. The nostalgia, without going too overboard, along with decent writing and interesting characters made for lots of fun.
And now Stillwater’s up for rent. What could happen there? Oooooooooh.
Freeform’s Dead of Summer
Season 1, Episode 9: “Home Sweet Home”
Directed by Alrick Riley
Written by Ian B. Goldberg
* For a review of the previous episode, “The Devil Inside” – click here
* For a review of the finale, “She Talks to Angels” – click here
Heading into our penultimate Season 1 episode, Joel (Eli Goree) is dead, and the others have now discovered that Holyoke (Tony Todd) isn’t the madman they thought he was, nor is anything as it seems.
A young woman hitches a ride to Camp Stillwater, saying she’s worried about a friend. Hmm.
Amy (Elizabeth Lail) is possessed. Everyone is prepared to do what they can to turn her back into who she was once upon a time. At Holyoke’s cabin, Garrett (Alberto Frezza), Jessie (Paulina Singer), and Alex (Ronen Rubinstein) prepare to do a “purification” on Amy, to try and get the demon out of her. Holyoke explains what must be done, as well as the fact it’s not going to be easy. At all.
While the counsellors are trying to get rid of the demon, Deb Carpenter (Elizabeth Mitchell) busses the campers off, as Blair (Mark Indelicato) and Drew (Zelda Williams) make preparations of their own.
Everybody’s waiting to face off with the big bad demon. Soon enough.
Back to 1980 – a young Amy doesn’t get much love from her family, mostly just annoyance and misplaced aggression. Her brother is the worst, telling his younger sister their parents don’t want her anymore. She winds up killing her brother’s pet rat, by accident. And we can see that Amy has always been a little different, a little innocent. Meanwhile, in ’89, Holyoke is explaining things about the demon to the young people now helping him. “We must call to the spirits of light,” Holyoke tells them. It all starts with a few hymns on the piano. From the lake something rises. Then Holyoke himself is evaporated into thin air, blood and bone and all.
Nobody is safe.
Once again in ’80, Amy’s brother plays a trick on her. He locks the little girl in their garage and she’s there until morning. A firefighter comes in to find her laying on the floor. This act of childishness by her brother wound up saving her life: Amy’s entire family die of carbon monoxide poisoning after the flue in the fireplace closed. Wow. That’s god damn heavy.
In ’89, the young counsellors and deputy try figuring out what went wrong. Garrett wants to go the original recordings of the hymn Holyoke played. But Jessie wants to “be the spirits of light” on their own. She thinks by using the knowledge they have, the books and notes, so on, they can do the ritual themselves. In order to save Amy’s soul. Reluctantly, Garrett and Alex go along. Not as if they’re wrong to do so. Jessie has her heart in the right place, and also – who the hell knows how anything works in a world filled with ghosts, demons, Satanist cults, and more? Either way, Jessie, Alex, and Garrett do their best to call Amy back to herself, away from the demon. That demon Malphas doesn’t make anything too easy for them, though.
Blair, Drew, and Deb bus the kids through the woods. Yet the further they go, the thicker a mist appears in front of them. Like a wall. Until blood starts raining down over the bus, covering the windows, frightening all the children. The bus driver heads out to make sure they didn’t smash something onto the road. Big, big mistake, as he gets dragged off into the misty horizon. Something outside scrawls LET ME OUT on the bloody windows.
At the cabin, Malphas uses Amy to toy with each of the counsellors – talking to Garrett in his father’s voice, coming on to Alex with seductive Russian. Not a good time. Jessie and the boys press on with the ritual, and it isn’t any easier on Amy than it is on them. All the pain of her life flows outward. She later bites into Garrett’s neck. Malphas fights to stay in his vessel and they fight against him. Things get real wild once Malphas takes full control, tossing people around the cabin and manipulating everyone/everything in his path. He has Amy prepare Garrett for a hanging, unless Jessie opens the cabin door to let him free.
But I can’t help worry for Deb, out in the woods alone, as Drew and Blair try getting the bus to move. She finds the bus driver, dead and bloody, and something growling in the nearby woods. “If you want someone, take me,” she says in the darkness. Keith (Dylan Neal) comes out of nowhere. To comfort? No, to kill. He strangles Deb telling her all the young people will die, because of her: “You brought her here – the perfect vessel.”
And in the cabin, Jessie allows Malphas to take her as the vessel.
In he goes. So what next?
Alex puts Jessie in the lake water, closing her in. Keith disappears into the lake, the blood clears from the bus and it starts again. All is right once more. Well, not everything. At least Amy’s alive, Garrett is safe, so is Alex. Except Jessie gave herself over to defeat Malphas, which isn’t something Amy feels good about. So she pulls her friend out and tries doing CPR. After a properly dramatic wait, Jessie spits out the water, breathing hard. And defying the prophecy of Holyoke that nobody could survive the process; Jessie is one pure lady!
When all is said and done Amy takes a moment alone. To say goodbye to the place.
We go back to a month before Camp Stillwater opened. Amy meets Deb at the edge of the lake. She finds that there’s no space for another counsellor – unless a counsellor doesn’t show up, or drops out, the like. So we go to that night when Amy and her friend Margot went to the party; that fateful night. Now, the events are shown in a much different light. All to get to Camp Stillwater, Amy lets her friend go. “Unfortunately there is only room for me,” she chillingly tells Margot before letting her grasp slip. That girl from the opening scene of the episode – it’s a friend who witnessed the aftermath at the party. That’s intriguing. Even more so once she shows up, only to get murdered with an axe by Amy.
Yikes. Poor Deb has really been through the ringer. She has to deal with an axe-wielding Amy, confessing to killing her own family and all the evil she’s been up to, even before Malphas came along. She was an evil little seed, anyway. The demon only made things more epic in nature. Oh, yes – Deb gets the axe, too.
A nice little montage takes us through the deaths at Camp Stillwater, each perpetrated by Amy herself under one of those eerie cult masks made out of wicker. She was there, lurking everywhere. Behind Garrett when he shot the Teacher. When Blotter got his head cut off. Every single death.
And for the time being, Malphas has everyone convinced he’s long gone.
Wow – this is my favourite episode so far! I loved it. Death, blood, wild revelations, some backstory. All sorts of madness. The finale is titled “She Talks to Angels” and I’m so excited to find out what Dead of Summer has in store for us.
Freeform’s Dead of Summer
Season 1, Episode 7: “Townie”
Directed by Mairzee Almas
* For a review of the previous episode, “The Dharma Bums” – click here
* For a review of the next episode, “The Devil Inside” – click here
In 1982, a pair of little dudes ride bikes and then head to their principals house to “redecorate his car” a.k.a smash the shit out of it. One is more reluctant while little Garrett is the more angry of the two. Then Jack Sykes (Dan Payne) shows up with his partner. He takes his son for dinner, to try and explain to his young boy he needs to calm down. He’s trying too hard to buck back against his dad’s rules, his profession. “You‘re fourteen now, it‘s time to decide what kind of man you want to be,” Jack tells his boy.
In ’89, grownup Garrett (Alberto Frezza) is laying out what he knows so far about the creepy cabin up near Camp Stillwater for Sheriff Boyd Heelan (Charles Mesure). He talks about the ritual the Satanist cult members are trying to finish. Next up is “sacrificing an innocent” – or, murder like Garrett makes painfully clear. But does Heelan know more than he lets on? I believe so.
And remember that little kid with Garrett? That’s one of the Satanists, Damon (Andrew J. West). Whoa.
Boyd and Garrett have a plan. They bring it to Deb Carpenter (Elizabeth Mitchell), although she’s not at all pleased with having all the campers, the counsellors in harm’s way. Sykes wants to use Amy Hughes (Elizabeth Lail) as bait, seeing as how she’s the cult’s main target, so it seems. Well, at least Heelan doesn’t seem too greasy. Yet.
Everybody’s in either way after Amy says she’s willing to do what is necessary. Drew (Zelda Williams), Alex (Ronen Rubinstein), Joel (Eli Goree), Blair (Mark Indelicato), they’re all prepared to help however they can.
At the same time, Damon and his cult are getting ready, too. They have a sacrifice: a nice tongue. A bit of blood never goes astray in serious Satanic worship.
Before anything else, we skip back to ’82 after young Garrett is forced to go to camp. He meets a younger Jessie (Paulina Singer). They begin a bond that will last a long, long time, as he takes part in a team with her for tug-of-war. Mostly he proves how volatile of a temper he has after somebody makes a nasty joke about his mother. We also get the first utterance of their little nicknames – Braces and Townie, though they’re said in anger.
So now in ’89, Sykes and Heelan initiate their plan. Amy sets up for camp games pretending to be unsuspecting, as Heelan hovers waiting in the trees. Then he sees one of the eerie wicker masks drawing him away.
When Garrett goes to check on Amy and talk with the Sheriff, he finds neither of them nearby. Only their radios are found. Further out, Amy wanders as if in a trance until meeting Damon and his cult members, blowing a bloody horn to call her. Now that’s some creepy madness.
’82 again. Garrett’s dad shows up, but not for him. Someone is having visions of a cave, needs to be checked into a psychiatric wing. Hmm. Is that Michael (Lovell Adams-Gray), Joel’s older brother?
Quickly, we’re back to ’89. Garrett frantically looks for Amy, calling back to Deb who further asks everybody to come back in. Blair and Drew are on lookout, not wanting to go back, and he ends up twisting an ankle. Uh oh, that definitely means mayhem coming up; when a character in a horror trips and falls, hurting themselves, you just know there’s a death or a near miss soon. And we get an answer on Michael – when Joel, Jessie, and Alex bring Garrett a picture the young boy Anton (who sees Holyoke) drew earlier: the same cave Joel’s older brother once drew. Daaaamn. That was the summer that really messed up Michael’s head. All these elements add up to make Garrett incredibly suspicious of what’s about to come next.
At the Satanist ritual, Amy hangs by her torso from a rope, as Damon tells her the “teacher” will arrive shortly. They’re all geared up to finish, to summon up the demon for which they hope to dearly. “We‘re just gonna need some of your blood,” says Damon.
Amongst everything evil going down, Drew and Blair get a little closer, talking about their respective experiences. I love this little plot between them because they were semi-romantic, and yet they still are, despite any biological gender Drew might inhabit. I’d love to see them come together further because regardless of any orientation, there’s an obvious connection happening.
Another brief flash back to ’82 makes me wonder exactly what Boyd Heelan is holding onto. I can’t tell if he’s complicit in anything, or if he’s a decent local cop who’s unaware of the depth of all the events surrounding Camp Stillwater.
In the cave with the Satanists, Amy is graced with the presence of their teacher finally come to claim his prize.
Drew: “Far as ways to go, death by Satanists is pretty punk rock.”
During ’82, Garrett is drawn into a trap while playing Capture the Flag. Instead of them getting the upper hand Garrett distracts them long enough for Jessie to sneak the blue flag away and back to win the game. “You did it, Braces – you won,” Garrett cheers her on.
This time, in ’89, Garrett has a team behind him again. Except he’s by himself when he comes upon the cave. Within it he finds the horrifying ritual underway, a now conscious Amy screaming for help. Damon and Garrett, those old buddies, they’re confronting one another for the first time in so long. Damon tries to sell his one time friend a good load of bullshit about being “powerless” and so on. He’s deluded by the cult.
Then one of the craziest things yet occurs – the cult members all slit their own throats, mixing their blood with that of Amy’s. Speaking of her, she slips from the rope and falls into the pools of blood and water below, disappearing in its depths. Garrett dives down to save her. Until something deep down comes up to grab her; a scaly, creepy hand. It lets go after Jessie turns up in the cave to pull the rope for Garrett. Yay Team Stillwater! Poor Amy, though. She’s left scarred emotionally and physically. Safe for the time being.
As is the Sheriff – could he be the teacher? I’m really beginning to wonder.
Back at camp, other things are happening. We FINALLY FINALLY FINALLY get a kiss between Drew and Blair. Yes! Lots of good things. Plus, Jessie, Garrett, Alex, Joel, each of them are on the same page together. They all know about Holyoke, the cult, the eeriness of the cave. Yet Garrett is now convinced it’s all just people, no demons or ghosts or anything. Joel especially, he believes otherwise. Also, Garrett’s lying to them and himself about seeing anything unexplained (that fucking hand!).
Ah, the slip up. Boyd mentions Damon taking his own life. He didn’t know that officially. He’s revealed himself as the teacher. Luckily, the younger of the officers is able to draw his gun. Then he discovers what he told Boyd, back in ’82, is why his father was killed; he got too close to Michael’s visions. Boyd claims none of the dead bodies lately were his doing. So, we can be sure Holyoke is about, doing. If you didn’t already know. Heelan wants Garrett to join the cult. When he underestimates Sykes, he takes a few shots to the chest.
In the distance, a wicker-masked cultist lurks, watching. But who’s left? Deb? Who could it be?
Excited for “The Devil Inside” because I feel the show gains steam as the episode wear on. Loving some of what’s happening, digging most. Stay with me, fellow fans.
Freeform’s Dead of Summer
Season 1, Episode 6: “The Dharma Bums”
Directed by Michael Schultz
Written by Richard Hatem
* For a review of the previous episode, “How to Stay Alive in the Woods” – click here
* For a review of the next episode, “Townie” – click here
At Camp Stillwater in 1970, a young Deb and a young man named Keith obsessed with Jack Kerouac are out in the woods burying a book by the author, so that if they ever need to remember they can just dig up their greatest summer. The episode’s title comes from the Kerouac book, The Dharma Bums.
Back to their present – 1989. Cricket (Amber Coney) is dead, her things are being cleared out. A grown up Deb (Elizabeth Mitchell) counsels everybody, allowing them to call anybody they need to, whatever’s necessary. Poor Cricket’s family is left devastated. As are Amy (Elizabeth Lail), Joel (Eli Goree), Blair (Mark Indelicato), Alex (Ronen Rubinstein), Jessie (Paulina Singer), and Drew (Zelda Williams). But Deb blames herself, for not leaving “the past in the past” and trying to recapture her own glory days.
Then in her cabin, Deb finds Keith (Dylan Neal). He’s turned up after all these years? Something is definitely afoot at Camp Stillwater.
Joel still thinks Holyoke is the culprit responsible for Cricket’s death. The others sceptical, though anything is possible. Blair and Alex look throughan old cellar until they come across an old Ouija board. There’s talk of Santería, Blair’s abuelita was into the whole thing. They all agree to meet back there later to try talking to Cricket beyond the grave.
With Deb, she’s not particularly interested in having Keith around. Although it’s what drove her back to Stillwater that part of her life is over. At least that’s what she feels in the moment.
We flash back to Deb at a Children’s Defence League table outside a building. She reads poetry by Keith, asked by a friend about him. Deb gets a little sass from a lawyer, before being hit on. We see that she’s very passionate, in many ways. Another flashback later, Deb is in a big office, and the lawyer that sassed her is now her man. She went from hippy to big shot lawyer, married to another lawyer.
Finally we’re back to Deputy Garrett Sykes (Alberto Frezza). He’s asking his mother (Janet Kidder) about what his father may have been investigating out at the cabin in the woods. In the cuff link Garrett found, there’s a tiny piece of paper with a file number on it. Something that likely got him killed. After Garrett starts looking he comes across the file. It’s filled with creepy drawings, and an ominous note left by his father to warn anybody that might be following “the trail” like he once did.
Blair gets a bunch of things together – like ginger, chicken blood. Y’know. Santería-type shit. When Deb shows up, he gets a bit pissed. He throws everything in her face, figuratively, and runs off. So we get another look at the old Deb, or the new Deb that came after the old one. She and Keith run into one another. He’s having a rough time financially. Being a poet isn’t proving much for the wallet. Keith wants them to run off and dig up their time capsule. Or really, he just wants to sleep with her. The conflict is clear in her. Perhaps why seeing him again at the camp in ’89 is more thrilling. Yet she’s still conflicted: “I don‘t deserve to be this happy,” she tells him while they dance next to the fire together.
In their cabin, Blair starts the Santería ceremony – he sets out three candles, brings out a white rose, then begins a recitation involving the chicken blood. “Don‘t do this,” Joel begs him quietly. But the boy is determined to contact his friend Cricket in the afterlife.
When nobody feels it’s working, the Ouija board rocks, the fire lights up. And something makes its way inside Amy, possessing her, nearly cracking her back in half. Through Amy, the voice of Cricket speaks to them. Blair weeps for answers. All they get is a cryptic message, someone coming for her. Then it’s Holyoke, possessing Amy to try and kill some more. Blair manages to quell the magic. However, Jessie gets a bit possessed, too. Her hand unwillingly scribbles an eerie Satanic drawing before the pen whips from her fingers, pinning it to the wall. Awesomely creepy stuff. A little while later they all try to figure out what to do next. Joel is optimistic that at least they’ve got a better idea of what’s going on, but there’s still plenty they don’t know.
Deb’s busy getting down in the woods with Keith. They’ve had quite a good reunion. Of course he’s ready to up and take off, which doesn’t feel too good after their romantic night. He basically disappears into the woods.
Simultaneously, Jessie goes to Sykes. He reveals what he’s found so far, about Holyoke, Satanic rituals, all that nasty stuff. He thinks he’s an idiot, that none of it is really happening. Once she hands over the drawing from their seance, this only helps compound all those weird things Garrett’s uncovered so far. When he puts the drawing over the map, there’s a suggestion of where the cult may be operating.
Worse is our flashback to Deb, going up to meet Keith. That’s where she finds him on the floor, drugs in his arm. Next to him a map of where they buried their capsule, the Kerouac book.
It’s now we finally understand that Keith is a ghost, an apparition. He’s there to remind her: “You have to stay here for them.” She wants to go with him, into the darkness of death. The ghost of her old lover reminds her that he’s always there for her. Although he warns of “dark things” on their way, coloured with a slight optimism that she may be able to help the kids under her care now. Another flashback shows us that Keith’s ashes were poured on the grounds of Camp Stillwater. So are there more ghosts to come? And what about Cricket, Blotter, will they turn up somewhere eventually?
In ’89, Deb has decided to take initiative. She admits her own faults, as well as the fact that talking to ghosts isn’t the best way; something she and Blair now fully understand. Deb uses the idea of the time capsule to preserve their memories of Cricket, everybody placing an object in the old box where once Deb and Keith kept their own memories. It’s a beautiful, highly emotional scene. One that also sees Blair and Drew get a bit closer in a sweet way. But everyone gets a chance to try moving on.
Elsewhere in the woods, Sykes and Jessie find a box with an unmentionable item inside. Furthermore, Garrett notices the points of the pentagram with the skull in it from Jessie’s drawing have numbers on it, each corresponding to where Cricket was found, Dave, et cetera. This leads them to the next number where they find a hole seeping blood.
Funny enough, the weird biker Satanists are watching, and even they don’t know who moved their bloody little treats. In another hole, a masked cult member buries what looks like Blotter’s head, or could be any head. The madness is getting madder.
Plus, there’s the next number on the pentagram. Who will meet death next?
A pretty intense, fun episode. I like the Deb storyline, as it sorts of amps up the ghostly aspects of Camp Stillwater more. Excited for the next episode titled “Townie” because I bet, by the name, we’ll get more on Sykes, and hopefully on his father’s connection to the investigation into Holyoke and the Satanist cult.
Freeform’s Dead of Summer
Season 1, Episode 1: “Patience”
Directed by Adam Horowitz
Written by Ian B. Goldberg, Adam Horowitz & Edward Kitsis
* For a review of the next episode, “Barney Rubble Eyes” – click here
I’ve anticipated this one. Good or bad, I’m rolling with the reviews for this season.
Our first episode opens in Stillwater, Wisconsin during 1871. The Tall Man (Tony Todd) plays a piano in candlelight, as a bunch of men come for him. They tie him. At the same time, there are flashes, visions of dead bodies floating in the water.
With that we’re transported to the summer of 1989, three days before Camp Stillwater opens up. There’s a camp reunion of people going back, though Amy Hughes (Elizabeth Lail) is a newcomer. The rest of the gang seem to know one another, from camcorder-wielding Joel Goodson (Eli Goree) to Blair Ramos (Mark Indelicato) and more. They’re all fairly welcoming. Although we can already see the archetypal slasher horror characters set up. That’s not a bad thing considering the writers are going for that type of atmosphere. I dig it. Later when everybody gathers with the head honcho at camp, Deb Carpenter (Elizabeth Mitchell), another straggler appears – Drew Reeves (Zelda Williams). There’s a nice ’80s feel to everything so far, as well, and best part is that I don’t feel it’s forced. They don’t overdo it.
We know the place closed down in ’84. That’s our first clue to something having happened there. I wonder what the eerie secret is?
Well we’ve got the new girl in town, Amy, so that’s a nice setup. She has to navigate high school and being new around the place, which is of course not always easy. At camp, she has a bit more of a safer place to be herself, as Deb preaches to them. Maybe she’ll be able to open up and have some fun instead of being judged constantly. Around the campfire they all start to immediately talk about creepy stories, so much so it gets a bit too real. We get the obligatory jump scare from one of the crew sneaking around in the dark. Further than that we get more of Amy. In the woods, she comes across Dave (Darren Moore) the gardener, who prophetically tells her that she needs to leave: “You don‘t know what this place is,” he bellows.
The next morning things get going, from camp activities to recounting giving handjobs at the age of thirteen; ahhhh, camp! A semi-sexual moment happens when Joel is filming with his camera and catches Deb in her window, only a bra on – she doesn’t close the window, smiling slightly, as Joel wonders what the hell’s going on. Yowzahs. This summer is definitely going to get wild.
When a couple of the girls find a gutted deer in the nearby woods everybody’s a little disturbed. Amy tells Deb about Dave’s scary warning the previous night. We’re cooking with gas now. Already the paranoid suspicions typical of the sub-genre have begun.
Flash to Amy back at school when first arriving. We get more of her personality. She isn’t the type to get roped into anything bad. But there’s always something sinister lurking, at high school or at camp. Back at Stillwater, they’re all doing some nighttime swimming. There’s a brief moment where we see a bit of Carolina Diaz (Amber Coney), how she doesn’t want to take her shirt off and go in a bra; will that lead to some character development? Either way, when Amy finally goes in her luck ends up with a discovery of a dead body: Dave.
Cops arrive at the camp. Deb doesn’t seem too put off, though is clearly concerned with the camp counsellors. Nobody’s overly beat up about Dave’s death. That night when Amy goes to get some water she runs into an off-duty Deputy Garrett Sykes (Alberto Frezza) who wants to have a better look at things in Dave’s old cabin. He walks Amy back to camp. He endears himself to her, talking about his “first everything” and so on. Could this guy have sinister intentions? You’ll never be sure. For now, he seems perfectly on the level. Yet even the very earth and the trees itself seem to drip with evil.
Amy and Garrett go into the gardener’s cabin – stupidly, a police officer brings someone in there, in the dark at that. Nevertheless, these are tropes of the sub-genre. And they do find some goodies – fermenting appendages, a skull, strange old photos including one of the Tall Man from a little over a century ago. Either Dave was up to some strange shit or somebody’s planted it to look like he was a Satanist, or something eerie. Then a fire breaks out, nearly trapping the pair. Amy gets out, managing to chop out some boards from the side of the cabin to get Garrett out. A-ha. There’s definitely SOMEONE pulling greasy tricks behind the scenes. The supposed claim is that the fire was electrical. Garrett knows better than that. Even better he managed to slip an old map out; it points to the centre of a beast-like shape where the camp is located. Back at the other cabins, everybody speculates as to what happened with Dave. And more creepy little moments happen – Drew sees a little girl with a red balloon outside, before she then disappears quickly. Inside, the crew talk about movies from Rosemary’s Baby to the original The Wicker Man. At least before some cattiness goes on, Jessie Tyler (Paulina Singer) leading the way, as usual. Poor Amy, yet again, is tasked with going out into the dark, always on the losing end of the teenage call of NOT IT. Well, she and Alex Powell (Ronen Rubinstein) kiss, anyway. Not sure if that’s a good or bad call. What I enjoy is the cutting between past and present, that helps expand Amy’s character. Right after that we’re shocked when she sees a ghostly presence behind her and Alex. Then she gets sucked into a closet where dead hands grab at her everywhere. A terrifying vision.
The morning after, Amy sits by the lake. She flashes back to her and Margot (Morgan Taylor Campbell), preparing for a party, prior to the latter’s mother freaking out; one of those uptight mothers wanting their child to go to a certain school. They’re sneaking out for a party: “Sometimes you have to do things that scare you,” being their mantra. Back to the lake and Amy is confronted by a faceless, dark shape in the night. It stalks her before she runs into Garrett. Only she can see what’s coming for her, and this automatically puts her at odds with reality. Unfortunate for her. Back to when she and Margot go to the party, Amy drinks, she dances, as her friend feeds her shots. This is a great instance of writing and editing put together, which goes from the party to the lake and back again. On a wharf she finds hands grabbing her; hands that aren’t there. At the party, police officers arrive at the house and Margot panics trying to get out, which results in her tumbling out the window and hitting the ground – the only thing left after Amy tries holding on is the charm bracelet she still wears at camp. This is what drives her psychosis in the present timeline. Garrett helps calm her then they talk a bit more about the Dave case, albeit cryptically. Then more nighttime swimming. Camp goes on, right? Jessie isn’t happy when she sees Amy close to Garrett. And then Guns N’ Roses plays, the titular “Patience” of this episode. Everyone swims, has fun.
Up in her cabin, Deb pulls out a little box from under her bed. She also finds Joel taping her again, except this time she shuts the blinds. Mysterious. We start getting a look behind the mask of all these characters, each and every one of them with their own secrets, their own pasts and mysteries. This begins filling things out for us, even within the first episode, so that hopefully the writing will build off this good stuff. Finally we get a look at Drew, who is actually a woman if anyone wasn’t able to tell. More of a look at Jessie, too, as she reveals herself to be the Braces to Garrett’s Townie. Ah, so that’s why she looked so bitchy.
The end of the episode reveals, through the camcorder, an entity standing in the background while everybody swam earlier – is that The Tall Man? Or someone else equally as ominous?
Let’s find out together. Next episode is titled “Barney Rubble Eyes” and you can expect a recap/review very soon. Digging this first episode. There are silly moments, but I’m almost assuming those are meant to feel typical to the slasher sub-genre. Still, I’m willing to keep giving this a shot. I liked their first episode. Here’s to hoping the writers and directors can keep up the pace, the excitement, all tinged with some blood and horror. Who knows what’ll happen.