Welcome back to Haunted MTL as we cover Chucky – S1 E3 – “I Like To Be Hugged,” the ongoing series featuring America’s favorite killer doll.
This series of reviews will be spoiler-free for the events of each episode but will bring up plot points from previous episodes as needed to contextualize the current week’s events. For a spoiler-centric view, please turn to the podcast Kids’ Stuff for a detailed discussion.
Chucky – S1 E3 – “I Like To Be Hugged”
Due to Lexy’s vicious Halloween prank, Jake has been pushed to the edge. So, Chucky gives his new protege an education on what it takes to be a killer, pulled directly from his own experiences. We get our deepest dive into the childhood of Charles Lee Ray yet. Plus, what do you get when you mix a house party of tweens and one murderous doll?
How Was It?
This week’s episode, “I Like To Be Hugged,” is another intense episode for the series. However, it is not without an unusual lapse in logic. But before that, credit where credit is due. The episode was written by staff writer Kim Garland, series creator Don Mancini, and staff writers Nick Zigler and Sarah Acosta. (A brief note on these recaps: they are done immediately after the release of the episode. Some credits may not be available on IMDB until later during the week, but I will update them as I find the full credits.) The episode’s director, Dermott Downs, follows up his work in episode two – “Give Me Something Good To Eat.” The episode is solid with some critical moments for the series going forward. It widens the scope of the story a great deal as well. It also featured a shocking scene, even for franchise fans, regarding Charles Lee Ray’s origins that need to be seen.
The show has been an excellent vehicle for the character of Chucky, as voiced by Brad Dourif and puppeteered by Tony Gardner’s team. The doll puppet has been incredibly expressive and capable of fun, subtle motions. These lend a depth of comedy and horror not seen in the puppet since Seed of Chucky. Every little knife flourish and walk is genuinely creepy and fascinating to watch.
It helps that Chucky’s foils have been great so far in the show. Zackary Arthur’s Jake is fantastic as a tortured kid dealing with the absolute worst situation he can be in. He has shades of Alex Vincent from the first two Child’s Play films. He is just a little older and more morally ambiguous given what seems like an air of genuine menace. His expressions are compelling, and the rage and anguish he can contort into with his expressions are heartbreaking and worrisome. Alivya Alyn Lind’s Lexy is also incredibly good with a role so nasty it has caused viewers around Reddit to want to see a child die a painful death. She is pretty good and playing the worst teenage girl ever. Yet, subtle markers in her performance indicate there is more to Lexy.
Junior, played by Teo Briones, has moments that show the complexity of his situation, but he still very much feels like a cipher due to the script. Junior’s moment will arrive soon enough, and I am eager to see where Teo takes it. Bjorgvin Arnarson’s Devon continues to be adorable and likable. Still, some rather deliberate moments here and there suggest a form of social manipulation in the character of Devon, handled ably by Arnarson.
We get some fun developments in the episode and hints as to what is going on in the community. We spent more time with Logan and Bree Wheeler (Devon Sawa and Lexa Doig) and Mayor Michelle and Mr. Cross (Barbara Alyn Woods and Michael Therriault). There is a rather revealing, almost cathartic moment involving the revelation of Lexy’s bullying, presented by Miss Fairchild (Annie Briggs), the biology teacher. We also get a little more future tension between Det. Evans (Rachelle Casseus) and her son Devon. Both seem rather fixated on Jake, for different ends… though perhaps not so different at all?
I’ve not mentioned much about the cinematography in these reviews, but the show is lovely. I’ll likely speak on that more in the podcast.
Now the problem: The episode’s big finale is hilarious, dark, and scary, but also has a somewhat puzzling moment of the teens not having critical situational awareness in a Bluetooth headphone dance party. The scene as a whole is entertaining and ridiculous, but there is a certain threshold of suspension of disbelief I could not meet.
Despite the leap in logic in the episode that I could not overlook, Chucky – S1 E3 – “I Like To Be Hugged” really did deliver excellent cinematography, character development and has expanded the series of conflicts that will play out over the remaining episodes. Chucky has found his home, and it is on television. (4.5 / 5)
Chucky – S1 E3 – Kill Count and Spotlight
We get three kills in this episode. One in the present, two in the past, though curiously Chucky/Charles can only claim two of the three. Stabbing unifies the three kills. They’re not the most creative, but one might be the most brutal seen in the franchise, and the other is incredibly shocking.
Seeds of Chucky
Some elements of this week’s episode are callbacks to previous installments of the series. They may hint at the return of key figures from the past. Some other references to other horror classics may sneak in as well. Here are some of the highlights.
- Like in the original Child’s Play, we see that Chucky sure does like to watch the news.
- Also, right out of Child’s Play 2 we get a kicking Chucky on a victim’s back, just like with Kyle.
- We see the marker for Charles Lee Ray’s grave. The date of dath? November 9th, 1988, the same day as the US release of Child’s Play.
- The use of color in the show reflects some of the color choices in Giallo films, particularly those of Dario Argento.
- So each episode of the show does change up the title card to reflect an aspect of the episode as guess from the second episode’s Jack-O-Lanterns and Knives. This week? Gardening tools – the pointy kind.
- Chucky really needs to stay away from fire – he’s had a history with burns.
- Something about Miss Fairchild is supicious. Expect my tinfoil hat take on the podcast.
We will be covering the show episode-by-episode on Kids’ Stuff – A Chucky Podcast. However, don’t expect spoilers in these written reviews. You can expect them to fly during the podcast. If you missed the latest show, follow it on Spotify, listen to it on Haunted MTL, or find it on your favorite podcast app.
Cadaver (2020), a Film Review
Cadaver (2020) is a Norwegian post-apocalyptic thriller directed by Jarand Herdal and currently available on Netflix.
Cadaver (2020) is a Norwegian post-apocalyptic thriller directed by Jarand Herdal. This unrated film stars Thorbjørn Harr, Gitte Witt, and Thomas Gullestad. As of this review, the film is available on Netflix.
After an apocalyptic event, the survivors endure in a hopeless world. Among these survivors are Leonora (Gitte Witt), Jacob (Thomas Gullestad), and Alice (Tuva Olivia Remman), a family fighting the hopelessness of a lost world. Leonora desires to keep her daughter (Alice) hopeful, and when a theater opens in their decrepit city, she thinks she has found the solution to their despair. However, they will all soon learn how desperate people have become.
What I Like from Cadaver
Cadaver takes on a unique focus for a post-apocalyptic movie. While most in the genre tackle the question of where you find hope, the theatrical lens is not one I’ve seen before. It blends these two unique environments together for a pleasant concoction. As a fan of the post-apocalyptic genre, I must admit I find my niche in the everyday lives of someone in such a world.
Leonora’s (usually called Leo in the film) dreamer nature in this horrendously hopeless environment creates a sympathetic contrast. This dreamer nature doesn’t excuse some of her choices, but she evokes sympathy. While most post-apocalyptic entries provide this balance of hope and survival, Leo’s creativity and passion for the arts give her hope and a more focused ideal.
The relationship between Leo and her husband also creates a nice contrast, as Jacob plays the rationalist and survivor. In this decision, both characters provide that post-apocalyptic dynamic of survival and hope. These interactions allow both actors opportunities to create friction as they pull the plot from their differing perspectives.
I had the chance to listen to the dubbed version, which sounds good. I’m not much for dubs, especially on Netflix, but they did Cadaver with respect and a focus on quality. At the very least, it’s competent and doesn’t distract from the viewing experience.
Tired Tropes and Trigger Warnings
As hinted at earlier, there are some dumb decisions in the plot. While many fall within character traits, the actions don’t escape criticism. This flaw becomes incredibly repetitive when characters make the same mistake.
Implied suicide occurs throughout the film with one shown incident, but there are circumstances that change the context slightly. A world this bleak invites this depressive and dangerous state as a normality. However, one should prepare if this is a trigger.
What I Dislike or Considerations for Cadaver
Again, some decisions had me roll my eyes and endure the plot. This reaction isn’t exactly the experience I seek out in my horror. It’s more haunting to make sensible, or even intelligent, decisions and still endure unavoidable or unforeseen consequences.
It’s likely that nothing in Cadaver surprises you, which underutilizes the interesting premise. There are unique elements, certainly, but never a twist I didn’t see coming. It’s in that execution that Cadaver falls flat and fails to engage a viewer.
The film doesn’t exactly haunt the viewer, but the bleak world effectively depicts the hopelessness of a post-apocalypse. Don’t expect much genuine horror, but you can expect an appropriately uncomfortable and unnerving experience. In short, viewers of Cadaver likely want a unique twist in their post-apocalypse, not a traumatic horror.
Cadaver remains a unique viewing experience by adding a slight twist to its post-apocalyptic story. While not a haunting masterpiece, this bleak film will have you feeling the characters’ struggle. While lacking sensible decision-making skills, they are certainly sympathetic survivors struggling in a hopeless world. If this is your niche, it’s certainly worth a view.
(3 / 5)
Wheel of Time, What Might Be
Episode three of Wheel of Time was easily my favorite so far. It’s dramatic, dark, and speaks to the growing concerns about evil invading the world.
Let’s begin with Nynaeve. After showing little to no progress, Liandrin thinks she’s ready to go through the Trial of The Arches. This is an initiation that all Aes Sedai have to go through to become a sister. It’s dangerous, not totally understood, and doesn’t have a great survival rate.
One would think some cooler heads would prevail and not let the very new person do this so early. Especially since Nynaeve seems to have some issues with impulse control.
But she goes into the trial, seeing first a scene from her childhood where her parents are attacked.
The point is to walk back through the arches, leaving her family behind. This she does, but doesn’t look very happy about it. Her second trial involves finding herself back in Two Rivers, where a horrible plague has ripped through the people. Again, she has to walk away from the people that she cares about and come back to reality.
The third test is a little more tricky. It appears that Nynaeve comes back covered in blood, with no memories of what happened.
Terrified, she runs from the castle only to find Lan waiting for her.
In the real world, where Liandrin and the others are waiting for her, she simply never returns.
This shakes Liandrin. She decides she’s done holding Mat against his will, and lets him leave. Excited, but also smelling a trap, he takes Min with him.
Still not sure why she had him to start with, but I guess it’s cool that she let him go.
Meanwhile, Rand is working with a familiar face at his hospital. It’s Logain, who we might remember as the false dragon from season one.
Rand would love some advice about channeling as a man. But it appears that Logain might really have lost his mind.
My favorite scene in the episode was the one involving Perrin and Lady Suroth. This scene was perfect.
First off, the character design for Lady Suroth was just perfect. Without moving more than a hand and the crook of her mouth, she manages to be terrifying.
The massively scary nails help, as does the headdress that is both beautiful and reminiscent of an insect. The sort of insect that seems likely to bite and lay eggs under the skin of a victim.
Her absolute authority was terrifying. Uno certainly learned that.
What was more scary, of course, was who was standing next to her. Does she think she’s the one in charge? Or is she perfectly clear on where stands?
What didn’t work
One thing that I don’t love about this season is, unfortunately, not likely to change. It’s true in the books, and it’s true in the show.
The ensemble cast structure doesn’t work for me.
It fractures the story in too many directions. It’s too busy, there’s too much going on. At the same time, there isn’t enough going on with individual characters for me to establish an interest in all of them.
I care what’s happening with Egwene and Nynaeve. I care what’s happening with Perrin.
I don’t care as much about Rand right now. And she wasn’t as involved in this episode, but I don’t care about what Moiraine is going through either.
That could be because the world is coming to an end and they’re refusing to be team players. But maybe that’s just me.
Overall, this was a fun episode. It feels like pieces are being put into place. The characters are getting ready for something big. Something that we can only see the beginnings of.
Something that they clearly don’t think they’re ready for.(3.5 / 5)
American Horror Story Delicate, Multiply Thy Pain
American Horror Story Delicate began last night, Killer Queens. And it was, well, a complicated episode. This makes sense because this season is about a complicated topic.
Just in case you didn’t know, this whole season is based on the novel Delicate Condition by Danielle Valentine. If you haven’t read it yet, you should.
Anna Victoria Alcott is an actress who just got her big break. She was in a horror movie that no one can stop talking about.
Except Anna herself. Because this career success couldn’t have come at a worse time. She and her husband Dex are in the middle of the difficult IVF process. It’s expensive, time-consuming and painful. Ironically, so is trying to win an Oscar.
But Anna has other things to worry about. Someone is messing with her. Several women are watching her in public. Worse, someone appears to be getting into her home, slashing notes she leaves for Dex, and removing her vital IVF medication from the fridge so it spoils. Her calendar is hacked to move her doctor appointments around so she misses them. Worst of all, someone broke into her home and crawled into bed with her.
Of course, no one takes any of these concerns seriously. Her agent, Siobhan, is focusing on getting her an Oscar. Her husband, Dex, doesn’t seem to give a shit about her except for when it comes to having a baby. He’s frequently dismissive of her concerns and only seems to want her around when it’s convenient for him. He goes so far as to kick her out of his show opening because she’s on edge.
You know, maybe because she’s clearly being stalked by someone who is trying to keep her from having a baby.
AHS Asylum had a lot of dark and important things to say about mental health care in America. AHS Coven had a lot of dark and important things to say about race and gender relationships.
Last season, AHS NYC wasn’t so subtle. Yes, there was a killer. But the real historical horror of the AIDs epidemic in the 80s was the focus of the season. And that worked very well.
This season, the story is clearly about female body autonomy. Anna is a woman struggling with so many issues that modern women face. The balance between our careers and our families. Feeling like growing old is the most unforgivable thing a woman can do. And of course, the fact that our bodies often feel like they don’t belong to us.
I was also pleased to see some AHS alumni. Denis O’Hare as Dr. Hill was delightful. Leslie Grossman and Billie Lourd will be involved soon, and they never bring anything less than their A-game.
This episode also did something I never thought could happen. It managed to scare me with a calendar notification. That was a special moment for me as a horror fan and calendar-obsessed person.
What didn’t work
Here are some things I didn’t love. First off, the main character Anna is a pushover. She can’t say no to Dex, Talia, Dr. Hill, or Siobhan. No one gets a no from this woman!
Anna didn’t act like that in the book. She stood up to everyone all the time, it was great. She wasn’t getting any support, but she was advocating for herself! That was such an important part of her character, and I’m sad to see that she’s lost that here.
I also hate the changes made to Siobhan and Talia. Now, please understand that this isn’t me complaining that the book was different. That’s not my point. Siobhan was a kind, loving woman who supported her best friend even while dying of cancer. Talia was a smart, business-oriented woman who was still kind. She was trying to start a family with her transgender husband, and bonded with Anna over their IVF journeys. These were vital characters in the story.
I feel like they’ve been railroaded.
All that being said, this was a decent start to AHS Delicate. It’s not the best start of a season we’ve had. But it’s okay. I’m looking forward to seeing what the rest of the season is going to bring. (4 / 5)