Kyle discovers his daughter Amber is of great significance to the Great Merge; as is Megan, for disturbing reasons.
Megan must face the consequences of her actions. Meanwhile, a disappearance in Rome leads Kyle & Anderson to a new, dangerous consequence of the rise in possessions.
Mark's body turns up, making Megan feel guilty as she struggles to understand what happened. And Sidney lurks around Rome.
Kyle Barnes picks up the pieces to move on, as he & Chief Giles still hope to uncover Rome's demon problem in its entirety. But Reverend Anderson is drawn in another direction by his guilt.
Season 1, Episode 10: “This Little Light”
Directed by Loni Peristere
Written by Chris Black
* For a recap & review of the previous episode, “Close to Home” – click here
* For a recap & review of the Season 2 premiere, click here.
The Holter place is no longer safe. Megan (Wrenn Schmidt) has been fully taken possession of by a demon. It’s infiltrated her to the core, now her husband Mark (David Denman) is dead. Her daughter and niece are still in the house, which is terrifying. Luckily, or unfortunately, Amber’s seen this type of thing before. So she knows that calling her father, Kyle (Patrick Fugit), is likely the best possible option.
Because aunt Megan is sick. Very, very sick.
When Kyle does get there along with Rev. John Anderson (Philip Glenister), they find the absolute carnage strewn about the house. Kyle discovers Mark’s corpse, bled out on the bathroom floor. All the signs of an awful scene having gone down. In the upstairs closet, he finds the girls: “It was just like mommy,” Amber cries to her dad.
Now, the search is on for Megan. She’s out in the night, possessed, headed who knows where. For the time being it’s out onto the football field, as she wanders barefoot in the grass before going insane when the sprinklers turn on.
Kyle: “I should‘ve never come out of my house”
Kyle and the Rev go get Chief Giles (Reg E. Cathey), so he might provide a bit of help. As if anybody could help right now. They let him in on what’s happening, as well as the fact it isn’t Megan doing the killing. However, Giles isn’t so keen. Yet he’s being pressured to make sure everyone perceives the death of Mark how they wish it to be seen.
Meanwhile, Sidney (Brent Spiner) is still lurking, waiting. Whatever’s coming for Rome is definitely not going to be pleasant. Oh, and the Ogdens – Lenny and Kat (Pete Burris & Debra Christofferson) are doing his bidding, taking care of more tortured souls in the eerie basement filled with mannequins. I’m sure it’s easy to sleep down there.
Outside a restaurant Megan’s mistaken for a homeless woman. After which she runs off into the darkness again when headlights flash at her; like “some of them” being kept by the Ogdens, light is not their friend. The Rev and Kyle cruise to try finding Megan, just barely missing her on the streets. Kyle wants to get to her before the police, to pull that demon inside her out. At the same time, Giles calls Mark’s death in as an accident.
Giles wife winds up calling Kat, asking what’s going on in their town. Kat’s busy, though. She has another soul from Sidney: Megan Holter. Oh no.
Patricia’s boy Aaron goes to the Chief’s place. He plays innocent, talking about the “devil coming to town” and all sorts of things. But you know that is a mere con. He pushes his way inside the house, and all bets are off.
The search for Megan is still on. Kyle and Anderson hear from Giles: Amber is with Aaron now, surely soon to be with Sidney, too. Things are getting quite scary now. Anderson tries to make Kyle realise that Sidney is the devil in the flesh: “If this battle is to be won, it can‘t be won alone.” All the younger of the two cares about is his own flesh and blood, the daughter who’s been through so much already.
Kyle and Sidney find themselves on a dark road, meeting in only the headlights of a car. The devilish man in black requires Kyle to get into the trunk of his car blindfolded. Looks like we, and Kyle, might get some answers to what it all means. When he arrives at the destination, Amber’s there. Although they’re locked in a room. Sidney speaks cryptically of the demons, where they’re from, and why he’s keeping Kyle locked away; for when they “need” him. “For what?” Kyle yells after him, getting no answer. Simultaneously, Megan’s being ushered over to the other side of humanity, dropping further into the abyss of demonhood.
Anderson’s laying in wait and comes across the little basement where Sidney has Kat and Lenny tucked away, taking care of those tortured people. The Rev helps bust Kyle out, or at least until Lenny has it out with Anderson. Securing Amber safely in the room, Kyle hulks out and finishes the door off, getting to the Reverend and pulling him out of trouble. Lenny lets some of the specimens loose, one of whom tries sucking a bit of essence from Kyle. Another of whom is Kyle’s poor sister, lost in the daze of demonic possession. She finds her way to Amber. Then her brother confronts the demon within. Megan is still in there, but the evil has taken hold. She attacks him. Trying to suck more of that essence from his body.
Once Amber puts her hands on aunt Megan, she reveals a power like her father’s, astonishing them all. It releases the black liquid from out of her possessed soul. Everybody is safe. For the moment.
Except now Megan must face the reality of Mark being dead. Kyle does his best to pass it off as an accident, trying hard to make sure she doesn’t shoulder all the blame. Anderson can’t take the weight and has to leave. But Kyle stays with his sister and hopes to help her through it, every step of the way.
The Rev has other things to do. He douses the trailer where Sidney stays in gasoline, lighting the place ablaze. Is Aaron inside? Is Sidney even home? Well, let’s hope the former isn’t the case. Because that could put Johnny in one hell of a tight spot.
Will a new day bring anything better?
Turns out Aaron’s missing, Patricia is worried sick. We can see where that’s headed. Particularly once the Rev notices Sidney driving down the street, alive and in his glory. Uh oh, to the power of a thousand. Just the look in the Rev’s eyes spell a troubled conscience.
At the gas station, Kyle and Amber gear up for a road trip. He wants to find a quiet place, where nobody knows about his and daughter’s “super power” like they take to calling it. Smart idea. Only I wonder how long that might last, either way. Not like they’re getting far. People are already staring at them; a half dozen or more standing silent around Kyle and Amber, their eyes focused solely on the pair.
The demons can sense them. They’re not going anywhere.
What a perfect, creepy, exciting end to Season 1! Loved this finale wholeheartedly.
I hope for many seasons on this series. It’s been a great ride the whole way through, often getting exponentially better with every episode. Let’s all comb through the episodes again between now and whenever Cinemax graces us with the next bunch of episodes.
Season 1, Episode 9: “Close to Home”
Directed by Howard Deutch
Written by Adam Targum
* For a review of the previous episode, “What Lurks Within” – click here
* For a review of the Season 1 finale, “This Little Light” – click here
Megan Holter (Wrenn Schmidt) is out in the woods. She crushes a piece of glass in her hand, crying. Remembering all the pain of Donnie Hamel (Scott Porter), what he did to her as a girl, what he’s caused her husband Mark (David Denman) to do, everything.
Then there’s a strange look in her eye. Are those demons? Is she headed for a possession? That would be an awful thing for Kyle Barnes (Patrick Fugit) to have to deal with, especially considering the state of Rev. John Anderson (Philip Glenister) and whatever’s going on with the ever terrifying Sidney (Brent Spiner).
Who knows what’s around the next dark corners.
Lenny Ogden (Pete Burris) and his wife Kat (Debra Christofferson) are leaving town. Although he’s not exactly happy with that. He chastises Chief Giles (Reg E. Cathey) for not understanding what’s happening, or being able to have the clarity to see what’s soon going to happen. Very ominous stuff, as it seems Len’s got a bit more knowledge than we an tell.
Taking care of his daughter while trying to take care of other things, Kyle ends up at Megan’s place. She is on the couch, not wanting to talk to anybody. He’s hoping to get his daughter back into a normal life, back to school. Even if her mother is off who knows where. But Kyle’s planning to go get her. Wherever that is.
Anderson and Patricia (Melinda McGraw) become closer now. He gives up more about his son, his former life. He’s a little embarrassed by his recent behaviour, wondering how his son might react if he were around. For her part, Patricia reminds him he is not a bad man. Furthermore, she wants them to move in together. Probably good for the ole Rev. Later, he tries to figure out a way not be replaced at the church, although there’s no guarantee that’s going to pan out well at all.
Before they can get out on the road, Kat encounters Sidney in a gas station bathroom. He’s sad she didn’t say goodbye. Well, he has a “new job” for her to complete. Uh oh.
Amber: “You‘re lyin‘”
Kyle: “Why do you say that?”
Amber: “Cause that‘s what grownups do”
Kyle’s genuinely worried for Allison (Kate Lyn Sheil), so much that he recruits his brother-in-law to help him, who gladly agrees. Particularly because his mind is changing concerning Kyle, and y’know, his days as an officer have come further to a close.
Over at the church, Rev. Anderson tries to say his piece to the board. He makes clear that he loves Rome, the people of his congregation. Then, out from the shadows, Sidney presents himself. They’re all very impressed with him, forthcoming donation included. He fronts as somebody, something else. Rather than play nice, John starts beating the shit out of Sidney, which only serves to aid the Reverend’s downfall. Giles gets called in, of course, though doesn’t see that it’s all a part of the plan Sidney has for John. Ends up with Giles slapping the cuffs on the Rev and taking him over to jail. Hmm.
Over at Allison’s, Mark helps Kyle break in: “One of the perks of not bein‘ a cop anymore,” he says while smashing a window to get the door open. Inside they have a look for anything suspicious, any sign of her or what may have happened, where she’s gone. Kyle hears a noise upstairs, but no Allison. Just an open window and wind blowing through. We get to see a bit of bonding between the brothers-in-law after Mark admits he may have been too tough on Kyle. Then he gets a call – Megan’s gone home sick. Are we seeing a demon possess her gradually? I wonder. That’ll be the final test and revelation for many people around Kyle, as well as it could mean terrifying things for Megan. Let’s hope that isn’t the case.
And then Allison’s mother Lauren shows up, finding Kyle there amongst broken glass where he’s not supposed to be. She laments the change in her daughter after the events of her marriage to Kyle. What’s most clear is that the possession of Allison altered everything in her world, from relationships to everyday life.
Giles lets Anderson go, which is not a surprise. But what is the Man of God’s next move?
Speaking of moves, the Ogdens are on to their next job for Sidney – for the dark lord. “There is something wonderful coming,” Kat tells her husband when he isn’t sure of what they’re doing, stuffed away in some basement with a ton of mannequins. Curious. They haven’t left town, they’re tucked into their little spot. Doing what, exactly? Should be intriguing to see what they’re up to. A step up from looking after specimens in the woods.
Poor Megan threw up in front of everyone at school. Now she’s home, resting. There’s more than just worry, guilt, apprehension about the situation with Mark’s charges at work. Oh, and she’s pregnant. “It‘s like some kinda sick joke,” she complains to him. She doesn’t want to keep it, but Mark feels differently. He sees it as a sign. However, is morning sickness the only thing plaguing her right now?
Off Kyle goes on his own to a hospital; a psychiatric ward. He manages to find Allison, who checked herself in recently. She’s not well. Kyle tells her about his mother, about the thing “inside of her” that made her do those horrible things. He reveals his connection to whatever darkness lurked inside of his mom. He tells her as much as possible, all to make her understand it’s not some psychiatric issue, not a mental illness. It’s evil. Nothing human. Yet she tells him: “You can‘t protect me anymore.” And she all but relinquishes her parental rights, believing herself unfit to raise their daughter. What a heavy scene. Devastation.
Anderson finds out Patricia’s boy Aaron has been spending time with Sidney. He confronts the kid, trying to help. Only to make things worse. Sadly, the Rev is one of the only people who can actually see what’s destroying Rome from the inside out. More than that a sort of warning comes from Sidney through the boy.
Meanwhile, Megan is experiencing a strange event. She first taps her face against the bathroom mirror then slams her husband’s face into it when he checks on her. Yes, she is absolutely possessed. Now, Mark lies bleeding out on the floor, as Megan literally plays around in his blood. A process she helps along. Oh. My. God.
Over at Kyle’s place the Rev and he have a chat. John even references Sisyphus and his eternal struggle in relation to his own. He admits jealousy, of Kyle and his power. Although the younger of the two assures him: “You shouldn‘t be.” Because all the people around him are succumbing to madness, the possession of demons and evil forces. We now know this is only getting worse.
When Kyle gets a call from his daughter weeping, saying that Aunt Megan is sick “like mommy” his whole life gets turned further on its axis.
What a wild, devastating, emotional, twisted ride! This episode is a candidate for best of the first season, no doubt. The finale is titled “This Little Light” and I am beyond pumped to figure out what will happen. Plus, we already have known a while that there’ll be a Season 2, so no grinding our teeth in anticipation. Let’s take the last leg of this ride before our wait!
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
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.
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 it‘s 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.
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.
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.
Preservation. 2015. Directed & Written by Christopher Denham.
Starring Wrenn Schmidt, Aaron Staton, and Pablo Schreiber. The Orchard. Not Rated. 90 minutes.
I’m a fan of the survival thriller sub-genre, whether it’s something strictly thriller based, or a film that’s a little more horror oriented. I’ve enjoyed films like Southern Comfort, the classic Deliverance, and even horror survival movies such as the 1981 cult classic Just Before Dawn and more recently Eden Lake. Preservation is a pretty good little movie, but fails to reach the heights of the movies I’ve previously mentioned. Christopher Denham (most of you will remember him from various projects as an actor like The Bay, Argo, a small role on The Following, and the excellent sci-fi indie Sound of My Voice) did a really great job directing his first film in 2008 – a found footage horror called Home Movie about one family’s harrowing path to madness. I really loved that movie/own it. While I do enjoy Preservation, and think there are several awesome aspects to it, I don’t enjoy it near as much as his previous effort.
This movie tells the story of Mike Neary (Aaron Staton – most recognizable as the face of the video game L.A Noire) and his wife Wit Neary (Wrenn Schmidt), along with Mike’s brother Sean (Pablo Schreiber – the well-known Porn Stache from Orange is the New Black), who take a camping trip together out into the great outdoors. Mike and Wit are having some intimacy issues, as his job seems to be coming before their relationship – not to mention the fact that early on we see Wit is hiding a possible pregnancy from her husband. Further than that, Mike’s brother Sean has recently come home on leave from the army. Or at least that’s what he first told Sean. Once in the woods, things start to change.
After they go to sleep on their first night out, the three of them wake up: all their belongings have vanished, including Sean’s loyal dog, and each of the three have a large X marked on their forehead with marker. From there things become a gripping story of survival, as Mike, Sean, and Wit have to defend themselves against unseen assailants hiding amongst the trees of the forest.
There were a few surprising moments throughout the film. I wasn’t totally shocked or anything – the kills weren’t particularly gruesome. At least not for someone like myself who watches a ton of horror, and I do mean a ton. Too much even. I’m not totally desensitized. Some say they are, but that’s too bad for them. I still have fun and get excited and get freaked out at the movies. Preservation didn’t really have any awful kills. Though, they were done well, I must say. I liked the tension mostly. Denham did a great job at drawing out the suspense and really grinding on the tense moments. One specific scene I really enjoyed was when Mike gets trapped for a few minutes in a portable outhouse – I thought the tension was thick as hell here. Really good stuff. Being a horror hound, I would’ve enjoyed more raw kills here. This was a good movie, decent enough, but could have definitely turned things up a notch with a bit more gore. Maybe. Maybe not, as well. There was just something missing along with all the tension Denham managed to work into the movie.
One thing I did enjoy was the character of Wit. Past here, we’re getting into SPOILER TERRITORY, so please – if you don’t want to get the movie spoiled you should turn back now!
I think Wit’s whole situation, involving the initially hidden pregnancy, really played into the whole plot and helped her character stay very interesting. Personally, I found the aspect of her not being able to shoot an animal and then having to face off against real human killers a little tired. This sort of angle has been played out far too many times. What I really did enjoy about Wit was the fact she was about to become a mother. I think once we discover these are just kids hunting them down for, basically, a laugh, it really becomes something much more intense for Wit particularly. She has just discovered awhile ago that motherhood is upon her. Now, all of a sudden, these kids are reigning terror upon her life. I mean – if that’s not birth control food for thought, then what is? This angle of the plot was really interesting for me, and fresh. We’ve seen the kid killer thing, even the pregnancy plot, but combining the two worked here. Not exactly unique or wholly fresh material. Just executed nicely.
This is a pretty good little thriller with a bit of horror thrown in. I would mostly call this a thriller. Definitely a psychological aspect. There are a couple really good performances. All three of the main characters are pretty excellent. Though, Pablo Schreiber doesn’t have a huge part I really did enjoy him here. Usually he seems to be pigeonholed into playing the creepy jerk, or the weirdo, the psychopath, whatever – here, he does a great job at playing an outsider type character, but essentially a good guy. He has some acting chops, I’ve always thought that since first seeing him. Aaron Staton is pretty good here, as well. Mostly, though, it is the Wrenn Schmidt show in Preservation. She plays a complex female character who isn’t perfect, who gets the hell beat out of her, and who has to do things no expecting mother would ever want to have to do – and she comes out of it a whole different kind of lady. I loved her performance. This was definitely the shining point.
One other thing worth mentioning before I clue things up – the score is a real treat, and I couldn’t get enough of it. Really added a nice element to the entire film. I’d actually enjoy having it as a standalone soundtrack. Great work.
All in all, this is about a 3 out of 5 star film. I didn’t think it was amazing, but I’ve absolutely seen other movies in the same sub-genre that didn’t satisfy me near as much. Christopher Denham is a pretty good horror director. I’ve enjoyed a lot of his acting – Sound of My Voice is probably his best work in that sense. I do prefer Home Movie over this, although I’d absolutely, and will absolutely, watch this again. This goes recommended for people who enjoy the sub-genre. If not, you may walk away from this less than thrilled. For the fans I don’t think you’ll be disappointed. Just don’t expect Denham to have reinvented the wheel on this one. Plus, it’s one of the rare modern survival thrillers where you don’t have to watch a woman get sexually assaulted, or have the implications of such things happening off screen – nowhere to be found here. Personally I don’t shy away from something just because of such things, but I do hate movies that use it as a silly exploitation move. Luckily, Denham does no such thing. Sit back, watch a bit of thrilling fun. Might not be the best of the sub-genre, though, it beats some of the lesser titles to death.