We are back with Haunted MTL’s continuing coverage of the Chucky franchise. This week, we talk about Chucky S2 E2, “The Sinners Are Much More Fun.” The momentum of a new season continues to establish new players and returning favorites. We also get a surprising team-up and a whole school full of potential victims of a killer doll.
Plus, we get probably the biggest tease in the run of the television series thus far.
Chucky – S2 E2 – “The Sinners Are Much More Fun”
Jake, Devon, and Lexi find themselves in a tough predicament as the house rules of the school restrict their movements. Meanwhile, a Chucky doll has arrived with a mysterious new plan. Jake (Zackary Arthur) deals with the loss of Gary. Devon (Bjorgvin Arnarson) takes the new situation in stride. Lexy (Alyvia Alyn Lind) befriends someone new – while reawakening an old enemy.
Chucky airs Wednesday nights on SyFy and USA.
How Was It?
“The Sinners Are Much More Fun” wastes no time establishing a new set of characters and wastes some folks. It also touches on a significant development from last season’s finale that did not make this season’s premiere. The episode is neatly divided between the developments at the Catholic School of the Incarnate Lord and the developments with Tiffany/Jennifer and Nica back in Hackensack.
Our A-plot involves the immediate arrival of a Chucky doll disguised as a donation for a toy drive. He wastes little time getting to work and making his presence known to the kids. Curiously, he seems to be taking photos of his work, but to what ends? We are also introduced to Nadine (Bella Higginbotham), who quickly takes to Lexy. However, Lexy immediately starts trouble with an old frenemy, Trevor (Jordan Kronis). Jake, however, takes some of this new religious discussion to heart, given his guilt. He is quickly focused on by Father Bryce (a returning Devon Sawa).
Meanwhile, in Hackensack, Tiffany Valentine, still playing the role of Jennifer Tilly (as played by Jennifer Tilly), has kept Nica Pierce (Fiona Dourif) trapped. However, the foundations of her fragile domestic state begin to crumble as Nica continues to resist. A mysterious visitor (Sergio Di Zio), a surprise in the bed, and the inevitable return of the twins, Glen and Glenda, threaten to throw this situation into complete chaos.
Don Mancini and Mallory Westfall co-wrote this week’s episode. Samir Rehem returns to direct his third episode, following the season one standouts “Cape Queer” and “Twice the Grieving, Double the Loss.” Rehem is a good choice for this episode, given it has a plot of place-setting while also introducing intriguing new directions. The episode is also gorgeously shot, especially the rich, chiaroscuro lighting that consumed the school even during the day. While other shows can struggle to shoot effectively in the dark, Chucky manages it quite well.
I am eager to see where next week goes, especially given the growing cast of children and how that may play into whatever this Chucky’s mission is. We have quite a mystery on our hands this season, and the tease of Glen and Glenda at the end of the episode, after a very poorly-timed murder, promises to delight. (4.5 / 5)
Chucky -S2 E2 – Kill Count and Spotlight
Two kills are added to this season’s roster, bringing the season to three. One kill evokes an anti-climax of Child’s Play 3 as a fun little nod. The other is a hasty, bad decision in a traditional slasher sort, and while not the flashiest, offers a ton of potential for next week’s episode.
Seeds of Chucky
As always, each review features some notes on references and continuity in the whole Chucky franchise.
- This week’s title card features hundreds of Nica and Chucky photos. Given the reveal later on, this makes a ton of thematic sense.
- Chucky gets some air in this episode, referencing a popular train of thought on how most people would respond to him.
- I can’t believe the show casually dropped a reference to Jennifer Tilly’s “The Simpsons” money.
- By the end of the episode, the Chuckybusters seem to have an idea of what this Chucky’s job is. The Chucky memory loss element will be a major part of the season.
- I mentioned on the podcast that we’re getting a remix of Child’s Play 3. That seems to be lining up, given one of this week’s kills.
- The franchise trope of leaving traumatized children alone in a room with the doll is continued.
- I had covered in the podcast for the show’s latest episode that I felt confused by the timeline of events. Still, the show has finally addressed that. The events of this episode are about a year removed from the finale, which helps soothe some of my confusion.
- Introducing a new Devon Sawa character every season seems perfectly in line for this show.
- Speaking of which, some references this week include Sawa’s own Idle Hands (1999), The Godfather (1978), and Psycho (1960).
- We get the briefest of teases of Glen and Glenda as they arrive to the sounds of The Slits’ “Heard it Through the Grapevine,” and I loved it.
We’re continuing to cover the Kids’ Stuff – A Chucky Podcast show. However, unlike these written reviews, our discussion show contains plenty of spoilers. If you missed the latest Kids’ Stuff about S1 E2, “Halloween II,” you could listen to it wherever you get your podcasts.
The Dead Take the A Train Review: Queer Magic and Monster Mayhem
“Julie crawled onto the table, straddling her intern, both hands around the knife. She torqued it downward, cursing. Brad shrieked harder.” -pg 57, The Dead Take the A Train by Cassandra Khaw & Richard Kadrey
The Dead Take the A Train is the first book in a duology by authors Cassandra Khaw and Richard Kadrey. It was published in 2023 by Tor Nightfire (like the Scourge Between Stars, which I reviewed here). I was not previously familiar with Kadrey’s work, which most notably includes the Sandman Slim series. However, I was introduced to Khaw through The Salt Grows Heavy (review here), which I absolutely adored in all its twisted, gory glory. Therefore, I was thrilled to pick-up The Dead Take the A Train, which promised similar heart in a modern cosmic horror package.
In The Dead Take the A Train, a magical fixer named Julie must hunt down eldritch monstrosities threatening the lives of those around her. To do this, she has to go up against her shitty ex, a questionable angel, finance executives, and her own sobriety. When an old friend shows up, Julie is terrified to find herself making a retirement plan that doesn’t involve getting murdered by a demon.
The Dead Take the A Train is reminiscent of N.K. Jeminsin’s The City We Became, with both featuring queer characters tackling eldritch horror plots in New York City. In the same way, the novel was reminiscent of a gorier version of Dimension 20’s Unsleeping City actual play series. However, it clearly carves out a space for itself among the droves of cosmic-horror inspired love letters to New York City. For one, it is mostly unconcerned with borough beef, which (not to sound like a curmudgeonly Midwesterner), is so refreshing. The book also has a relatively novel way the world works, which helps it stay memorable.
Overall, I really liked The Dead Take the A Train. First off, the characters are fun and easy to root for. Julie is a mess in pretty much every aspect, but her bad decisions are understandable and she is charismatic. Her romance with her friend, Sarah, also serves to make Julie more likable. It helps that the villains are so easy to hate too. What’s not to hate about rich Wall Street assholes engaging in human sacrifice? Speaking of which, I liked the juxtaposition of corporate Wall Street and cosmic cultists. The actions taken were evil, but more importantly, they were just business.
The prose was flowery, but not quite as much as in The Salt Grows Heavy. So, if you struggled with Khaw’s other works for that reason this may be a much easier read. Personally, I enjoyed the prose in both. There is quite a bit of gore in The Dead Take the A Train, but I didn’t find it to be overwhelming. I think you could still enjoy the book if you don’t love gore, though maybe not if you have a weak stomach.
One of the largest issues I have with The Dead Take the A Train, is the lack of clarity in power levels of the various characters. Especially since all their forms of magic work in different ways, it is sometimes unclear the level of danger present. This can also sometimes create room for plot holes. For example, Julie has a friend who is tapped into anything and everything happening online. This is an absurdly powerful ability (and is used as such). But there were moments where the main conflict probably could have been avoided or solved using that power. It also felt odd that no one else in this thriving magic community felt strongly about stopping a world-ending catastrophe. Because of this, the magic underground of NYC could feel smaller than I think was intended.
Having been familiar with Khaw’s work previously, The Dead Take the A Train clearly feels like a mix of Khaw’s style with someone else’s. This could be a boon or a hindrance, depending on your view of Khaw’s distinct prose and storytelling. Either way, if you are interested in learning more about the process or the authors, check out the interview they did for SFF Addicts Podcast!
I recommend The Dead Take the A Train, especially for those who are fans of modern urban eldritch horror. The book is an even bigger steal if you are looking for danger, gore, and queer characters. Check it out! And keep your eyes peeled for the next book in this duology.
Dolores Roach, A Fillet of Left Cheek
The second season of Dolores Roach started with a bang. The first episode was dark, gristly and in a strange way whimsical. It certainly brought to light new elements of the character.
We begin our story with Dolores somewhere, talking to someone. I’d like to be more specific, but that’s all we know right now.
She tells this unknown person about her flight from Empanadas Loco. How Jeremiah killed Luis. How she, whether she meant to or not, killed Jeremiah. How she then set the building on fire by blowing up the fryer in the kitchen.
Scared and alone, Dolores then ran for the underground. Dragging her purple massage table she runs into a hole in a subway track and finds herself in a whole different world.
Almost at once, she finds a place where someone is living. There’s a hot plate, a kettle and several packets of ramen. Even better, everything has Jeremiah’s name on it, literally written on it. Exhausted and alone, Dolores makes herself a cup of ramen and goes to sleep on her massage table.
She’s woken sometime later by a small man named Donald. He knows her because he knew Jeremiah. Dolores proceeds to tell him an abridged version of events that led up to Jeremiah’s death. And by abridged, I mean she blamed Luis for everything, throwing him under the bus so hard I’m surprised she didn’t pull something.
Donald seems inclined to help Dolores. He tells her that if anyone messes with her she should go further down, down a stairwell that he points out for her.
Dolores thanks him, then tries to go back to sleep. She’s soon woken again by a young woman collecting Jeremiah’s things.
While Dolores has an issue with this, she’s willing to let it go. Until that is, this woman tries to take her table. Then, Dolores does what she does best. Because one thing is for sure. Dolores is going to take care of herself.
One thing I love about this series so far is that our main character, Dolores, is crazy. And hearing her rationalize her crazy is both terrifying and fascinating. I hate/love how sweet and soothing she can be. Even with the rat that she killed in this episode. She cooed at it, encouraging it to come to her, even calling it a subway raccoon.
Then she killed it and started crying.
I also love the underground community. It’s both horrific and whimsical. It reminds me of Neil Gaiman’s Neverwhere, which is full of worlds most people don’t see but are all around us. It’s also horrific because there are so many people that our society has failed, that they’ve gathered underground and made their own little society. That’s not great. There just shouldn’t be that many people who need homes.
What didn’t work
Unfortunately, this episode did have two major flaws. And the first one is a personal pet peeve of mine.
In the last episode of season one, certain things were established. Dolores said she was carefully rationing her weed. She said she didn’t have anything to eat since coming down to the tunnels. She still had her massage table. This episode rewrote a lot of that.
Frankly, I hate when stories do that. It may or not make a difference to the story. It just strikes me as poor planning and lazy writing. This show has proven it’s capable of doing better.
All things considered, I thought this was a great start to the season. I’m invested in the story, curious about the new characters, and worried about the well-being of everyone Dolores comes in contact with. And that’s all as it should be.(3.5 / 5)
By the way, if you like my writing, you might want to check out my latest sci-fi horror story, Nova. It’ll be released episodically on my site, Paper Beats World, starting February 5th.
The Golem (2019), a Film Review
The Golem (2019) is a folk horror film directed by Doron and Yoav Paz, starring Hani Furstenberg and Ishai Golan.
The Golem (2019) is a folk horror film directed by Doron and Yoav Paz. The cast includes Hani Furstenberg, Ishai Golan, Kirill Cernyakov, and Brynie Furstenberg. As of this review, the film remains available to Amazon Prime and fuboTV subscribers with additional purchase options on other platforms.
Set in 1673, a small Jewish community faces hardships from others as the Black Plague spreads. When these hardships reach a boiling point, Hanna takes matters into her own hands. Having secretly learned to read, she seeks to perform a ritual that would create a protector for her people. Yet, this act brings about a steep cost.
What I Like about The Golem
The film received three nominations in 2019. These nominations include Best Actress, Best Sound, and Best Cinematography from the Award of the Israeli Film Academy. While The Golem wouldn’t win these awards, the nominations indicate a strong film.
I won’t claim to know the accuracy and intricacies of the golem in relation to its religious origin, but the film certainly brings to life its concept. The effort to create such a creature and the toll it takes from the summoner create an emotional throughline for viewers to follow.
Hani Furstenberg’s Hanna and Ishai Golan’s Benjamin bring a complicated but realistic relationship to the film. Viewers see the love between them, even as their own society attempts to cast them from each other. They feel like a couple who understand the other’s wants and needs. However, we begin to witness the decaying of this relationship.
Hanna, specifically, provides a complex character that incentivizes the viewers to root for and against her at different points in the movie. Though she navigates blatant sexism and discrimination, she remains far from flawless. These flaws and ambitions establish Hanna as an interesting character.
The Golem can be brutal. This film provides a period-accurate look into antisemitism and systemic oppression, which certainly evokes a different form of horror. However, the golem itself brings brutality through its smiting.
Tired Tropes and Triggers
As the film deals directly with systemic issues of 1673, understand that antisemitism, sexism, and hate crimes remain important elements within the film.
An assault leads to a miscarriage, which seems a point worth mentioning for potential viewers who are sensitive to such points. Fertility and bodily autonomy, generally, also play roles within the provided film.
If any of these are potential issues for your viewing experience, perhaps skip The Golem.
What I Dislike about The Golem
Aleksey Tritenko delivers a wonderful performance for an interesting antagonist, but the role of Vladimir serves limited purposes. In many ways, he’s the representation of his societal antisemitism. While this remains perfectly valid, he somewhat disappears from the narrative until he becomes relevant. His marauders should be an oppressive threat within the society, looming over it with malice.
I can’t deny the lack of intimidation the golem’s aesthetic brings. While some films evoke an eeriness through silent children to horrific effect, this didn’t sit well with me. It should be eerie, but something was missing in execution.
The Golem focuses on a more human horror than the supernatural elements might suggest. While not a direct critique, prepare your viewing expectations accordingly. The Golem remains a folk horror film, using the folk story to represent human evil and flaws. It won’t particularly haunt you with the gore.
The Golem brings the old legend of the golem folk story to life. If you thirst for a human horror that shines a light on the flaws of the people within, The Golem might satisfy you. However, it’s not a particularly frightening film, choosing instead to tell a story of loss and overcoming suffering. (3 / 5)