Movie Review- Horror Noire: A History of Black Horror

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Horror Noire: A History of Black Horror * 2019 * Not Rated (Suggested 16+) * 1 Hour 23 Minutes

😸😸😸😸😸 5/5 Happy Lap Cats

Horror Noire is a documentary feature film that traces traces the history of African-American people in horror settings, starting with the 1915 film Birth of a Nation, which used white actors in blackface to portray the African-American characters. Horror Noire continues to cover the history of African-American involvement in horror films in front of and behind the camera up to the time of the film’s completion, including the 2017 film Get Out, which was written and directed by Jordan Peele, who went on to work on a Twilight Zone reboot and HBO’s Lovecraft Country.

Though it had a theatrical premiere, Horror Noire is normally available exclusively on the Shudder network. It’s currently included free with Amazon Prime membership until 10/31/20. The film is based on the 2011 book Horror Noire: Blacks in American Horror Films from the 1890s to Present by Robin R. Means Coleman, PhD. The documentary was directed by Xavier Burgin, produced and written by Ashlee Blackwell and Danielle Burrows, with cinematography by Mario Rodriguez, for Stage 3 Productions.

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Movie Review and Analysis: I’m Thinking of Ending Things

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I’m Thinking of Ending Things * 2020 * Rated R * 2 Hours 14 Minutes

😸😸😸🌑🌑 Rated 3/5 Happy Lap Cats

I’m Thinking of Ending Things focuses on a young woman whose name changes throughout the film, so she’s billed as “Young Woman”. We’re introduced to her as Lucy, so I’m going to refer to her as that, because I hate it when major characters are treated like objects. Lucy is played by Jessie Buckley, who was amazing in the critically acclaimed HBO miniseries Chernobyl last year (2019) as Lyudmilla Ignatenko, the pregnant wife of a firefighter with severe radiation exposure.

Lucy has a newish boyfriend, Jake, played with understated creepiness by Jesse Plemens of Black Mirror: USS Callistor and Breaking Bad. Plemens is good at what he does, making it hard to separate the actor from the character. Plus, for attentive viewers, the first glimpse of his character shows him watching Lucy in the street from a 2nd floor window, with some strange, mumbled dialogue playing in the background. The sinister stalker vibe is established immediately.

An elderly man (Guy Boyd) is seen from the window first, who then turns into Jake. Before long, brief scenes of the elderly man working as a janitor in a high school where the musical Oklahoma! is rehearsing are intermittently inserted into the main storyline.

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The Passage Season 1 Episode 7: You Are Like the Sun Recap

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The title of The Passage, season 1, episode 7 is a deceptive one. In the universe of The Passage, the metaphor You Are Like the Sun can mean that you are the life-giving center of my universe or that you are like a deadly poison. Since the sun itself is both life-giving and deadly, so it is also a metaphorical stand-in for the virus.

The focus in this episode is on the main characters’ important relationships and tragic backstories. Amy, in particular, needs to face her past so that Fanning can’t use it against her, the way he’s used their past against so many others. It’s also time for Brad, Lila and Clark to unravel their complicated history in regard to Eva’s death.

Fanning is focused on Elizabeth as the potential replacement 12th viral and someone he can win from Jonas, while Jonas is fighting the loss of his beloved wife with everything he’s got. Elizabeth needs to make the same choice we saw Carter make, between life as a viral in Fanning’s “family” or death as the person she’s always been. Though presented quietly, with dignity, her scenes in this episode are among the most powerful and moving of the series.

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In the Flesh Season 1 Episode 3: Finale Recap

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Everything comes full circle in the season 1 finale of In the Flesh. Episode 1 ends with Bill Macy pointing his gun at Maggie Burton, a harmless old woman and PDS sufferer, and pulling the trigger. Appeals to his humanity don’t sway him, but he does have Maggie take out her contacts so that he can see that she’s partially deceased while he shoots her.

Episode 2 ends with Bill’s son Rick Macy pointing a gun at 2 feral PDS sufferers, and then at Kieren, when Kieren steps in front of the gun to stop the unjust killing. Rick refuses to admit that he’s a PDS sufferer, but he does respond to appeals to his humanity. He gives up when Kieren takes out one contact to remind Rick that the feral zombies are the same as Kieren.

Episode 3 ends with a third person looking down the barrel of a gun, but this one knows he’s on the side of justice, and doesn’t hesitate to fire.

There are several moments of truth in episode 3. Bill decides that Rick must redeem himself by killing Kieren, who he says is a disgusting, evil rotter. Rick decides to prove to his father that PDS sufferers aren’t evil by forcing Bill to face that his son is one. Bill draws the opposite conclusion from this.

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In the Flesh Season 1 Episode 2: Recap

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In Episode 2, Kieren’s best friend and secret boyfriend, Rick Macy, returns home from Afghanistan, now a PDS sufferer. As he was in life, Rick is torn between his father, Bill, who is toxic masculinity made flesh, and Kieren, who brings out another side to him, a softer side that’s hated by his father. In fact, Bill hates Kieren.

Kieren visits his own grave and becomes reacquainted with his undead hunting partner, Amy Dyer, who tells him about the day trips she’s been taking to get out of the house and move on with her life. She’s attracted to the Undead Prophet, so they debate the merits of the group. Amy helps Kieren find the strength to face the townspeople and makes quite an impression on them herself.

Dean finds a pair of feral PDS sufferers in the woods, leading to a showdown between Kieren and the HVF, with Rick in the middle. We learn that the government’s paying a hefty bounty for feral PDS sufferers who are brought in uninjured. We also learn that not all feral zombies are vicious killers.

Bill Macy accepts his PDS sufferer son back into his life, but refuses to acknowledge who his son is, either as a partially deceased person or in any other way that varies from his macho expectations for Rick. Rick goes along with the ruse, as he’s clearly always tried to live up to his father’s expectations. It’s already killed him once. Now, not only does he deny who he is, he allows his father to feed him cup after cup of poison and to almost convince him to murder other PDS sufferers like himself. When Kieren and Amy try to remind him of who he is and what his needs and limitations are, he denies reality. More tragedy is sure to follow.

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In the Flesh Season 1 Episode 1: Recap

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Let’s take a break from Nazis, and have some fun with sentient zombies during these last few days before Halloween! In the Flesh is a BBC/BBCAmerica show from 2013-14 that was cancelled after 2 short seasons, leaving it with a grand total of 9 episodes. Each season tells a complete story, so no worries about being left on a cliffhanger, though threads were left open for season 3 to continue the story. (Bring it back, please!!) The show was created and written by Dominic Mitchell, who’s gone on to write and produce for Westworld.

In the Flesh is currently streaming on Hulu and included with Amazon Prime, or if you’re in the UK, on the BBC website. Even if you’re not in the UK, the other videos on the site aren’t geolocked, and there’s a lot of great stuff there.

This  is my favorite zombie show ever, rivalled only by season 1 of The Walking Dead. It was recently featured in IGN.com’s article The 15 Best Horror TV Shows of the Last 10 Years along with my other relatively obscure personal favorites Crazyhead and Dark, both on Netflix. (I will recap season 1 of Dark, hopefully before the end of the year. Or before season 2 is released. Or the timeline changes. I have a draft started.)

In this universe, the recently deceased all rose on one specific night in 2009, for unknown reasons, then rampaged the world, killing humans and eating their brains. Eventually scientists figured out that they were eating brains because they were missing a specific brain chemical. Once a medication was created to replace what was lacking, the zombies’ mental state returned to normal. Their physical state remains more zombie-like, though it’s improved from the feral state.

But in the intervening years, many people died, among both zombies and the living. Volunteer militias were formed in small towns to cope with the zombies, since the military was spread too thin. These Human Volunteer Forces, or HVF, were the big heroes of the day, and some are having trouble returning to normal life.

The populace as a whole has difficulty accepting the Partially Deceased Syndrome sufferers, as the zombies are now known, back into their midst. The PDS sufferers grow resentful at being blamed for actions that were outside of their control. They are victims of a chronic disease, not criminals. Some begin to feel that they should wear their PDS proudly, as a badge of honor.

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Castle Rock Season 1 Episode 10: Romans Recap and Season 1 Analysis

 

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(My quick review of Castle Rock episode 10: Romans and Season 1 is HERE.)

That was an enlightening exciting disappointing season finale.

Later in this post I’ll give my favorite explanation of events, which tries to incorporate everything that happened and didn’t happen, because I can never resist a little pseudo-fan fiction writing of my own. I could tell you at least half a dozen others that I’ve made up since the episode was released. Every viewer has their own versions, just like we all had theories through out the season. It’s part of the fun of a mystery.

But I didn’t watch this show as a choose your own adventure/write your own ending show. I resent writers who try to pass off lazy writing and an unfinished story as an artistic choice. And make no mistake, that’s what creators Sam Shaw and Dustin Thomason have done. They thought it would be cool to leave the ending up to the viewer, and didn’t even decide on an ending between themselves.

This show was set up as a mystery, and the payoff at the end of a mystery is discovering answers to the bulk of the questions the series has posed. That way, viewers who are matching wits with the characters and writers have closure and satisfaction. This would have been an acceptable, but still disappointing, season finale for the first season of a 3-5 season mystery series that was going to explore a complex science fiction/supernatural mystery, like Orphan Black or 12 Monkeys.

Since season 1 was advertised as a self-contained story, I call BS. They can leave questions about the nature of their universe open, but this season’s mysteries needed to be solved. They could have left us with an amazingly ambiguous but thought-provoking ending, like the best anthology series often do. But this wasn’t thought provoking. It was just flat. We’re left going in the same circles we’ve been running in all season, not contemplating some deeper philosophical truth.

For the showrunners, this isn’t a show that’s about something. This is a show that wants to stump the viewer with unsolvable, unpredictable mysteries and dazzle them with cool ideas.  I think of it as the Legion syndrome. You could just as easily call it the Lost syndrome. The creators were so busy showing off how talented they are and what huge Stephen King fans they are, that they forgot to tell a coherent, compelling season long story with a consistent through line, an earned conclusion for each character and a satisfying ending. You can’t solve the mystery because the clues purposely don’t add up.

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Castle Rock Season 1 Episode 10 Review

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(This is a review. My full recap and analysis are HERE.)

After three fantastic but very different Castle Rock episodes in a row, and a season which left plot threads and secondary mysteries dangling right and left, I was looking for the season finale, Romans, to tie most of them up, and hopefully bring some of the subplots together to explain what it all means. Like a well-written show would do. Which this show has often seemed to be. But apparently that was a red herring.

Instead, what we got this week was a jumble of repeated moments from previous episodes, a sudden return to long forgotten concepts from the first half of the season, and a weak cop-out of an ending. What we didn’t get was satisfying answers to our questions or a mind-blowingly ambiguous ending.

The creators of Castle Rock have gone on record now, after the season has ended, as saying that the season was structured like a trial for the two Henry’s. The questions of who Kid is and whether each Henry is good or evil are left for the audience to decide as members of the jury. This is why episodes 1 and 10 begin with our Henry making a speech to the jury during Leanne’s final court appeal about how to determine reasonable doubt, especially in a case that will end with someone sentenced to death.

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Castle Rock Season 1 Episode 9: Henry Deaver Recap

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So…The Kid’s name isn’t Matthew Deaver Jr, but he is Ruth and Matthew’s son, the alternate timeline counterpart of the baby who died in this timeline. Instead, he’s named Henry, and has lived a life that mirrors the Henry Deaver from this timeline in many ways. We were given both Kid’s memories and the other Henry’s missing experiences this episode, though not because Andre Holland’s Henry remembered them. Our Henry is exceedingly stubborn. I’m beginning to think he might never accept what he remembered in the anechoic chamber as his real memories.

And I’m beginning to think we might never find out for sure who the girl on the rooftop in the series main graphic is, though we were given some good clues in this episode. Is it Ruth? Is it the 200 year old ghost of a French settler turned cannibal? Is it Ruth possessed by a cannibal ghost? Is it some version of Molly? Or the girl who was slicing her own wrists inside the portal? Stay tuned for the season finale.

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