We are back with Haunted MTL’s continuing coverage of the Chucky franchise. This week, we talk about Chucky S2 E4, “Death on Denial,” which presents a format break in the show and some of the wildest stuff seen this season.
Seriously. You’re not prepared for this week’s episode.
Chucky – S2 E4 – “Death on Denial”
Chucky, S2 E4, “Death on Denial” is a break in the established structure of the show to present a meta-humor murder-mystery farce. Plus, it opens with a talk-show-like wrap-around featuring Chucky. This episode is shockingly different for a show that has been more or less telling a fairly typically structured narrative. Right from the start, Chucky introduces the show in a faux-talk show setting, establishing it as a very special episode. Chucky directly addressing the viewers is nothing new to the franchise. Doing so directly and to such a degree shows something different is going on here.
The episode’s narrative picks back up with Tiffany/Jennifer back in Beverly Hills following her murder of Detective Sam Gavin. Shortly after, Glen and Glenda (Lachlan Watson, The Chilling Adventures of Sabrina) arrive for their 18th birthday (more on this at the end of the review). However, Tiffany/Jennifer’s plans for a small birthday gathering are disrupted when Glen and Glenda invite Jennifer Tilly’s real-life and reel-life friends. With this in mind, Tiffany/Jennifer hires help to guard a room in the house. However, when there is a shocking murder and everyone in the place is a suspect.
The episode’s central question is how much does anyone know about Jennifer Tilly? “Death on Denial” is a wild episode. It presents a break in the series format and swaps out the chaos of Chucky for a parlor-room murder mystery. The episode features Tiffany/Jennifer, Glen and Glenda, and real-life friends of Jennifer Tilly: Joe Pantoliano (Bound), Sutton Stracke (The Real Housewives of Beverly Hills), Gina Gershon (Bound), and Jennifer Tilly’s sister, Meg Tilly (Psycho II). Also, WWE Superstar Liv Morgan appears in a genre-blending Chucky-hosted wrap-around.
How Was It?
“Death on Denial” is probably the biggest, weirdest, swing-for-the-fences episode in the show so far. It even blows far past last week’s episode in that regard. If you thought a Good Chucky and a Swole Chucky were strange – an improvised murder-mystery party of a possessed actress and her real-life friends is certainly something that will catch most viewers off guard. I don’t think anyone, but Don Mancini could have directed this episode and been so successful in that regard. Everything from the act-signaling title cards to the non-linear structure to the wrap-around reflects his bold approach to the franchise in Seed of Chucky and beyond.
With that said, as fun as the episode is for someone like me who appreciates the weirdness and compartmentalizes the format break, this will be a divisive episode. Instead of continuing the threads of last week’s episode, we spend an hour at a farcical Beverly Hills birthday party that spirals out of control. We spend time with a wrestler, a reality-television star, four acclaimed actors, and three playing versions of themselves as the worst people imaginable, and it is hilarious. It’s an even campier Clue if you believe that possible.
Viewers and critics should pay extra attention to non-binary actor Lachlan Watson who steps into the roles of Glen and Glenda with confidence. The whole episode is full of Seed of Chucky references, down to eye-twitches and British accents on their part. Watson also pulls off the challenging prospect of making Glen and Glenda different characters while being part of an obvious split, unified personality. They also look great while doing it. The costume direction is fantastic and helps sell the differences in Watson’s take on the two kids.
The revelation of Nica’s long-term plan and how the fractured personality fits into the situation is also excellent, creating an explosive final 10 minutes. That 10 minutes also confirms the fate of a character who vanished in season one and opens up many narrative possibilities.
It’s hard to talk about this episode without running the risk of spoiling it, so some of these thoughts are best saved for my podcast. I wouldn’t suggest this as an episode for someone new to the franchise; it would be far too confusing. “Death on Denial” is a meta-heavy episode and every bit as ridiculous and hilarious as a “meta-heavy Chucky” episode would imply.(5 / 5)
Chucky – S2 E4 – Kill Count and Spotlight
Three new corpses pile up in this week’s episode, bringing the season total to eight. This week we have a poisoning, a shooting, and multiple stabbing. The stabbing is probably the most fun of the three, especially given the context and enthused joy expressed by both victim and perpetrator.
Again, this is a weird episode.
Seeds of Chucky
As always, each review features some notes on references and continuity in the whole Chucky franchise.
- Glen and Glenda’s age is a little complicated. Glen, as a singular entity, was born in 1998 during the events of Bride of Chucky. Glen and Glenda are a soul split into twins birthed by Jennifer Tilly in Seed of Chucky. The Valentine/Ray/Tilly family considers 2004 to be their actual birth.
- Chucky’s “affectionate” use of “Shitface” returns, contrasting Tiffany’s iconic “Sweetface.”
- The whole episode owes a lot to the murder mystery genre, but two significant influences up front are Clue (1985) and Agatha Christie’s novels.
- Regarding Clue: characters in this Chucky whodunit have color-based outfits that evoke those of the characters in the film and board game.
- Memory issues seem to be running with split souls. Glenda mentions a nightmare about killing a blond woman. Said woman is Joan from Seed of Chucky. Meanwhile, Tiffany/Jennifer doesn’t remember details about Meg and forgets Dianne Weist’s name and calls her Dianne West.
- Tiffany/Jennifer complains about losing an oscar to Dianne Weist in reference to the 1994 film Bullets Over Broadway.
- Far too many Bound references to convey here. The entire scene with Tiffany and Gina in a darkened bedroom features images pulled nearly directly from Bound. Specifically, a shot of the lips of the two women.
- The same trophy used to bludgeon someone in this episode is the one used to bludgeon Redman in Seed of Chucky.
- This is the first episode of the series not to feature Jake, Devon, and Lexi since their introduction.
- A certain… attachment to a character may reference the Evil Dead franchise.
That is the review and recap for this week. We’re continuing to cover the show at Kids’ Stuff – A Chucky Podcast. However, unlike these written reviews, our discussion show contains plenty of spoilers. If you missed the latest Kids’ Stuff, you could listen to it wherever you get your podcasts.
The Angry Black Girl and Her Monster (2023), a Film Review
The Angry Black Girl and Her Monster (2023) is an award-winning sci-fi horror film directed and written by Bomani J. Story.
The Angry Black Girl and Her Monster (2023) is a sci-fi horror film directed and written by Bomani J. Story. Inspired by Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein, this unrated and award-winning film stars Laya DeLeon Hayes, Denzel Whitaker, Chad L. Coleman, Reilly Brooke Stith, and Amani Summer. As of this review, interested viewers can enjoy this film from Shudder with additional availability through purchase or rent.
After a sequence of tragedies and loss, Vicaria (Laya DeLeon Hayes) seeks to cure death. Despite her genius earning her a private school education, few take this ambition seriously. Those who see it think of her only as an example of a girl separated from reality. But all that changes when she has a breakthrough. Unfortunately for her, the systemic issues that oppress her neighborhood can’t be solved as simply as curing death.
What I Like about The Angry Black Girl and Her Monster and Recognition Earned
This film received nominations from four separate film festivals. It won Best Narrative Feature by the Calgary Underground Film Festival and Best Horror / Sci Fi from Jim Thorpe Independent Film Festival. In addition, it received nominations for Best Narrative Feature from the Atlanta Film Festival and a nomination from the SXSW Film Festival.
The beautifully shot scenes earn respect, and the cast remains strong throughout. While Laya DeLeon Hayes executes the most demanding role, Reilly Brooke Stith (Aisha) and Amani Summer (Jada) elevate their material.
The Angry Black Girl and Her Monster dips its commentary into several hot topics. While I would have liked to see further exploration, it deals with scientific responsibilities, systemic issues facing Black Americans, and more. Needless to say, this film has ambition.
While particular elements vary in execution, this remains a unique approach to the dehumanization of these racist and systemic issues while telling an engaging story in the process. While I wouldn’t consider this an arthouse film, it dips into that category in many ways.
Tired Tropes, Trigger Warnings, and Considerations
For a better viewing experience, don’t take the film with the utmost realism in mind. An example of what I mean is how easily and unnoticed bodies are moved and hidden. As a metaphor or motif, it works better to serve the overall message.
As mentioned, many systemic issues come to light within the story, with varying levels of depth. Some examples include racial profiling, police violence, and microaggressions that stretch the “micro” aspect of the word. I also want to clarify that the film focuses on Vicaria’s personal story, using these experiences when applicable to the plot.
Drug addiction and gang violence play prominent roles in the plot. As mentioned above, The Angry Black Girl and Her Monster addresses many of the systemic issues that make a thriving drug industry as opposed to dehumanizing those participating in it.
The titular Monster evokes levels of realistic body horror. While it’s not particularly extensive, the rot remains present and vivid. Partly related, the film creates a surprisingly gory story.
What I Dislike about The Angry Black Girl and Her Monster
Several plot points remain underdeveloped or underexplored. This choice might indicate sequel material, but I don’t think that’s the case here. For example, viewers hear about a “body snatcher,” but the narrative doesn’t build the mystery until the end. Perhaps this requires a slightly longer run time, but it also could be cut with some edits to the script.
Her Monster didn’t particularly evoke fear. The rot evokes disgust but not terror. The Angry Black Girl and Her Monster remains more focused on the story than the horror.
For those looking for horror rooted in real issues but not afraid to delve into the absurd, The Angry Black Girl and Her Monster remains a strong choice. While it might not evoke the terror and haunting we horror fans hope for, the bittersweet film certainly provides many reasons to give this film a view.
(4 / 5)
Blood Flower (2022), a Film Review
Blood Flower (2022) is a Malaysian supernatural horror film directed by Dain Said. Originally titled Harum Malam.
Blood Flower (2022) is a Malaysian supernatural horror film directed by Dain Said. Originally titled Harum Malam, the film stars Idan Aedan, Bront Palarae, and Remy Ishak. As of this review, the film is available on Shudder and AMC+ with additional availability for rent or purchase.
After a family tragedy, Iqbal (Idan Aedan) has trouble finding focus as an apprentice healer. His family remains in shambles, and Iqbal struggles to find a purpose in the wake of this change. As his father (Bront Palarae as Norman) finds temporary work helping a family friend, a terrible horror becomes unleashed. Now, Iqbal must overcome his internal turmoil or lose even more.
What I Like in Blood Flower
The horror evoked here has some elements of fabulism with a heavy emphasis on the supernatural component. In general, I like the established world and how this supernatural element connects to the characters’ development.
Throughout Blood Flower, the acting remains consistent and engaging. The relationship between Norman and Iqbal, which provides the heart of the film, remains a particularly well-executed point. Even when the writing falls short, the acting wins me over more often than not.
The film builds up its horror, which elevates the execution and overall effect. I won’t claim that the horror truly haunts the viewer, but it remains unsettling and, even uncomfortable, throughout.
As for the design of the monster, it works. There are points that remain strong, forcing a rather uncomfortable visual or experience that provides an effective execution of Blood Flower’s vision. One especially effective choice is including stop motion in some of the scenes. This visual creates a somewhat jarring feel to the supernatural entity that still lingers in my mind.
Tired Tropes and Trigger Warnings
Blood Flower includes sexual assaults that remain clunkily included in the plot. When dealing with such material, especially when it remains essential to the story, the execution makes or breaks the quality. Unfortunately, the execution feels rushed and more for the shock of the reveal.
Possession-assisted suicide remains an element within the film. While I think the distance between such harm and the context of the film doesn’t rise above confusion, it deserves a mention in this section.
There are general decisions made for the sake of the plot. While this can fall into the dislike section, it’s within a range so as to not completely distract or undermine the viewing experience.
If any of these are deal breakers, then Blood Flower might be a skip.
What I Dislike in Blood Flower
Where this movie falls short is building up some of its elements to their conclusion by the end of the film. The previously mentioned sexual assaults make for a strong example, but another remains the human villain. As they are the reason for the monster, I am surprised by the general lack of attention and presence the character receives.
Iqbal unlocking his power feels underwhelming and lacks any real visuals or style. We have magic and special effects, but his power consists of holding out his hand. The issue lies in the execution, not the actor, as Idan Aedan does everything he can with the given command.
Going into the previous points, a spiritual master helps Iqbal train to become a healer. This person isn’t the one who unlocks their power. I still wonder why so little development on this important point remains in the film.
Blood Flower, or Harum Malam, remains an interesting supernatural horror that drops its execution towards the end. It provides a unique viewing experience with equal parts ingenuity and creativity to provide an effective horror. But it remains a flawed work with some wasted potential. Still, it earns its runtime for those interested in Malaysian horror.
(2.5 / 5)
Night’s End (2022), a Film Review
Night’s End (2022) is a supernatural horror film directed by Jennifer Reeder and written by Brett Neveu, starring Geno Walker.
Night’s End (2022) is a supernatural horror film directed by Jennifer Reeder and written by Brett Neveu. The cast of this film includes Geno Walker, Kate Arrington, Felonious Munk, Lawrence Grimm, and Michael Shannon. As of this review, this film remains accessible to Shudder and AMC+ subscribers.
Recently divorced and looking to start anew, Ken Barber (Geno Walker) passes the time by making YouTube videos. It soon becomes apparent that one of his videos catches something strange. The further he investigates this mystery, the more aggressive this phenomenon becomes. Despite making him an online sensation, it forces him to acquire help from unlikely sources.
What I Like about Night’s End
Night’s End provides the innovation and execution of a film on a tight budget and clear message. It brings out all the best qualities of a B film that understands what it wants to do. The setting remains a perfect example of this ingenuity, containing itself within Ken Barber’s apartment and using Zoom calls to add additional cast members.
Unrelated to the horror, I like the chemistry between Kate Arrington (as ex-wife Kelsey Dees) and Geno Walker. It’s not often we find an ex-wife depicted as a good person character, and when that does happen, it’s usually because he will win her over by the end of the story. This film doesn’t fall into these tropes. A similar point applies to the new husband, Isaac Dees (Michael Shannon).
There’s a psychological component to the horror, which improves the supernatural elements. While it does linger on Ken Barber’s ongoing battle with mental illness, Night’s End doesn’t exactly use this as an excuse to undermine what the viewer sees.
While there are some execution issues I will discuss, Night’s End provides a tight script and quality performance from its cast. Geno Walker’s Ken Barber requires a believable and complex performance for success, and the actor rises to the challenge.
Tired Tropes and Triggers
The biggest disclaimer remains the character’s mental health struggles. While I believe the film refutes many of the dangerous mentally ill tropes, it still allows for some degree of gaslighting. I also think it hints at a few potential issues without exploring any with greater depth. I noted potential alcoholism, OCD, and agoraphobia. But none of these are given too much attention, for better or worse.
Some minor body horror moments might be difficult for squeamish horror fans. However, it hardly makes it a proper introduction to the niche.
If these are deal breakers, perhaps Night’s End won’t satisfy your viewing needs.
What I Dislike about Night’s End
Night’s End goes so far in strategically applying its budget but provides a few scenes with bad CGI. If it had more style, I’d give it a B movie pass. But it’s just not substantive enough for that pass. While some CGI and special effects remain better than others, the film leans on lower quality.
Toward the end of the film, the characters allow the villain to do some random and weird things with little pushback. Only one person consistently pushes back against the growingly strange requests and receives so little screen time. Some of these people are supposedly experts in supernatural affairs or amateur enthusiasts. Regardless, anyone should have issues with some of these requests toward the conclusion.
While the film remains scary at points, it doesn’t terrify its audience. While the final moments pay off the build-up, we don’t particularly linger on the ramifications.
Night’s End provides a charming but not horrifying supernatural thrill. Ken makes a unique protagonist, struggling to overcome his issues as others seek to exploit him and bring about chaos. It remains an uncommon viewing experience but lacks the weight of a haunting horror.
(3 / 5)