Welcome back to Haunted MTL’s extensive recap and review series for Swamp Thing on DC Universe. Sadly, this is where it ends. Swamp Thing was canceled early on in the year, shortly after the first episode aired.
The show was a pleasure to watch and recap, but unfortunately, the shortened episode order had a real effect on the final moments of the series. Let us take one last jaunt around the swampy-town of Marais.
Where the Stories End
Abby and the Swamp Thing
It is a real, real bummer that Abby became sidelined a bit during the latter half of the season. A lot of her work in the narrative was sort of that thankless stuff that dragged her away from the action and away from Swamp Thing. Though it was Abby who led the charge to rescue Swamp Thing, the Blue Devil showed up and stole the show a bit in an intense, creepy sequence in the last episode.
Sadly, Abby doesn’t do a whole lot in the finale. She is mostly relegated to reacting to events. The underlying tragedy of her falling for the not-even-a-human Swamp Thing is tragic, and Crystal Reed sells it, but there is just not much to do for Abby beyond reacting to what is going on around Marais. Her arc for the episode begins with her trying her best to connect with Swamp Thing, saying that he is still Alec. However, he must deal with his own pain and he heads into the swamp. So, she decides to work with Liz to find out more about The Conclave.
Swamp Thing, grappling with what he is, is visited by a hallucination of Alec Holland. Their conversation is haunting and effecting, and Swamp Thing comes to realize that Alec lives on in his own rudimentary plant-brain. What is most important is that Abby does not see him as a monster. Now Swamp Thing must decide who he will be.
The pair reunite in the lab of Alec Holland. She truly feels something for Swamp Thing, and that is enough for now. He warns her of the darkness that still lurks in the wild, but she refuses to give up on him. Together they will face the growing darkness that rises in the swamp.
Villainous Machinations Made Moot
Abby’s journey around Marais during the episode ties up some lingering plotlines. She goes to Maria to find some information, but the poor woman is too far gone. Madame Xanadu is there as well and offers Maria relieve in a delusion. Maria is gone now, consumed by a hallucination that her daughter lives and is there with her.
It is a tragic, sad ending for one of the stronger antagonists in the show.
Avery attempts to get involved with a group of paramilitary enforcers for The Conclave into the swamp to find the creature. This does not go well for him, as he is pushed aside outright by Ellery. Avery, rejected by The Conclave as a wildcard, turns to drink to deal with his woes.
The Conclave’s operation, meanwhile, is a resounding failure. The Swamp Thing uses his rapidly expanding control of plant-life to isolate and hunt down the team, led by guest star Jake Busey. It’s a brutal sequence that only leaves Ellery alive. Swamp Thing tells Ellery to let The Conclave know what has happened, and that they will not return to his swamp.
Avery, bottles deep by now, learns of Matt Cable’s accident and rushes to the hospital. Lucilia is there and he makes a desperate, grasping bid to reconnect to his would-be murderers. Lucilia tells Avery that will never happen. She’ll never forgive Avery for making Matt a murderer.
Lucilia leaves and sits in her cruiser. An angry Avery springs up from the seat behind her and stabs her. She blacks out. When she returns to consciousness, it is inside the trunk of the cruiser that Avery has sent into the swamp to finish her off. He watches the car submerge beneath the water.
The Loose Ends
Three principal characters also need to be covered in this finale.
Jason Woodrue’s story was a slow burn through most of the season, with little glimpses into the obsessive personality that lied beneath the arrogant exterior. The madness that is Woodrue really came forward during the penultimate episode “The Anatomy Lesson,” but goes full bore here. Kevin Durand plays Woodrue with a menace that reminds you of why he is a genre-darling. He menaces his wife, Carolyne, who is tied to a chair. Jason tries to feed her the cooked pieces of Swamp Thing’s harvest organs, believing they are the cure to her affliction.
He, of course, tests it himself, but he collapses. Jason regains consciousness, becoming even more of a terror and he tries to fight off Abby who does her best to help Carolyne. Unfortunately for him, Abby’s 911 call went through. We see Jason being led out from the house in handcuffs, screaming, almost feral.
In a post-credit tag, we see some time has passed in Marais where a previously comatose Matt has regained consciousness. He returns to the police department and finds it overgrown. He then stumbles upon a plant-man… Jason Woodrue, now the Floronic Man.
Our last visit with Daniel, The Blue Devil, finds him hurriedly packing up to finally leave town. He leaves the shop to Liz and, still wracked by the voice of the devil, speeds away from the town to an uncertain future. A future we’ll never get to see. At least his mission from The Phantom Stranger has been fulfilled.
What Stood Out?
Swamp Thing’s rapidly-growing power being unleashed on the mercenaries was a great way to show how much more powerful he has become. It also does a lot to establish him as a real danger if left unchecked. One could imagine in the future, had the show been given further seasons, Swamp Thing potentially succumbing to more feral, dangerous characteristics in his attempt to save the Green.
The Final, Final Verdict on Swamp Thing
As a series finale “Loose Ends” really just doesn’t feel satisfactory. It can work for a season finale, as many of the elements presented were meant to. Yet, the whole series sort of rests on the arrival point of “Loose Ends” and it just crumbles away. “Loose Ends” is a solid episode, but the weight put upon it just sinks the whole affair. It bounces around between a lot of stories and tries to tie them up. Some of these are better handled than others.
As a whole, the show just worked. It was respectful to the lore, adapted many key elements, and as a whole delivered something for Swamp Thing fans and casual viewers. At its best, the show was a Southern Gothic drama with a badass swamp monster and magic, and I will miss that.
Swamp Thing deserved better than to be canceled the way it was.
(3.5 / 5)
We’re never gonna see Swampy go toe-to-toe with the Floronic Man, and that hurts.
Rest in peace, Swamp Thing. You were beautiful while you lasted.
Movies n TV
The Beach House, a Film Review
The Beach House (2019) is a body horror film directed and written by Jeffrey A. Brown starring Liana Liberato, Noah Le Gros, and Jake Weber.
The Beach House (2020) is a body horror film directed and written by Jeffrey A. Brown. This film stars Liana Liberato, Noah Le Gros, Jake Weber, and Maryann Nagel. As of this review, this film is only available on Shudder.
Desperate to rekindle their strained love, Emily (Liana Liberato) and Randall (Noah Le Gros) escape to a beach getaway. They soon learn to find that family friends of Randall’s father, Mitch (Jake Weber), and Jane (Maryann Nagel), also had a similar idea. After getting used to each other, a mysterious fog engulfs the town. Unfortunately, they realize too late the danger they find themselves in.
What I Like
Body horror gets under my skin, and The Beach House certainly lives up to the standard. There’s something magical about creatures terraforming your body to their preferred environment, turning humans into nothing more than conscious prisoners in their own flesh. While I wouldn’t consider this film the most traumatic or unsettling example, it utilizes wonderfully grotesque scenes.
Aside from the body horror, the film drops a few Cosmic Horror–or Lovecraftian–vibes that go together perfectly. Another favored genre of mine, this combination ensures the odds are overwhelmingly against our human leads.
Beyond the grotesque, visuals might not overwhelm but certainly succeed in their goal. Several scenes provide an intentionally tranquil experience that contrasts with the grotesques and improves their effectiveness.
In terms of performance, each actor hits their mark. While some roles require less effort, each contributes to the plot as intended. The standout performance goes to Liana Liberato’s Emily, who acts as co-lead. She simply has the most to work with and lives up to the part.
Tired Tropes and Trigger Warnings
As “body horror” should indicate, this film will hit hard for the more squeamish viewer. While horror by nature has some amount of grotesque, body horror brings that grotesque to the next level. While I don’t particularly find The Beach House hitting harder than its competition, it certainly respects its chosen genre.
What I Dislike or Considerations
A few scenic montages may hit or miss depending on your interpretation. While I have my own theories, that speculation goes beyond the scope of this review. Many of these scenes overlap more philosophical conversations and musings that may annoy or add layers. This strategy seems a common practice in Cosmic Horror, which forces characters to rationalize the irrational.
It’s hard for me to understand how secretive or known this event is supposed to be in the film’s world. Individuals know something outside of the town, with evidence implying governmental knowledge. This information creates a contrivance–perhaps, even a plot hole–because the characters had to reach this isolated town without any opposition.
One of the visuals didn’t exactly grab me. While I won’t go into too much detail, an effect looked too visually similar to a common animal that barely survives rain. It’s hard to be threatened by that. It also doesn’t exactly match up with some of the other visuals. Even the creatures that look similar to it still look different enough to provide a more alien assumption.
There are moments when the infected chase our main characters by crawling at them. While the context works, with injured characters helping to sell them, I can’t help but find these scenes amusing as opposed to frightening. Yes, it’s certainly visually different from the plethora of zombies out there, but it’s also less frightening than zombies that leisurely walk to their targets.
The Beach House combines cosmic and body horror to create an uncomfortable film that tests its characters. For those who enjoy these genres, it will certainly entertain you, but I doubt it will frighten you. I imagine the mood to watch it again might strike me, but I’m not entirely certain it will stand the test of time. (3 / 5)
If this movie suits your fancy and you want more, Honeymoon seems an appropriate recommendation.
Movies n TV
Every Secret Thing, a Film Review
Every Secret Thing (2014) is a crime thriller directed by Amy J. Berg and written by Nicole Holofcener, based on Laura Lippman’s novel.
Every Secret Thing (2014) is a crime thriller directed by Amy J. Berg and written by Nicole Holofcener. This R-rated film stars Diane Lane, Danielle Macdonald, Dakota Fanning, and Elizabeth Banks. Based on Laura Lippman’s novel of the same name, the film adaptation is accessible through MAX and DirecTV.
When a little girl goes missing, Nancy Porter (Elizabeth Banks) spirals into an all too familiar tale. As pressure mounts, Alice Manning (Danielle Macdonald) and Ronnie Fuller (Dakota Fanning) become the leading suspects. The strained frenemies unravel under the attention and reminders of their shared past.
What I Like
The film unravels in a non-chronological structure but makes it easy for the viewer to follow. It helps that the age difference clearly divides the younger actors, who change actors. One casting choice resembles their older counterpart, and the acting reflects a strong direction for their shared role.
Unreliable narration remains expertly communicated with scenes that change perspectives depending on whose perspective we view them from. This choice adds a reason to view the film twice, providing extra ambiguity for some of these events.
The camera gets up close and personal to an uncomfortable degree, which almost certainly presses the actors’ performances. This choice places the viewer in the character’s perspective and limits us from others’ perspectives to add extra credence to these biases.
Every Secret Thing provides a spiraling mystery that unravels with several twists and turns. Assuming the novel provided the outline, this film executes these points and keeps a consistently engaging experience throughout the runtime.
Tired Tropes and Trigger Warnings
Child abuse and neglect remain the central plot points of Every Secret Thing. Little of this abuse appears in scenes, but there is no escaping the danger children are in throughout the film.
Self-harm and suicide are shown throughout the film (once in the case of suicide) through one specific character. It isn’t glorified or romanticized nor addressed with particular sensitivity. For those sensitive to these subjects, it might be triggering.
Racism, the assumed motive for the bi-racial victims, plays a small role in the film’s narrative. However, character motives remain more complex, but going further spoils some elements. This film decision does create the reality that bi-racial children are the victims of child neglect and abuse in the film with little additional context. It does invite uncomfortable speculation, but speculation it would be.
Sexual assault is another concern for viewers, specifically statutory rape. This issue seems particularly mismanaged, considering the survivor remains an antagonist. One can be both survivor of assault and an antagonist of a film without needing to discredit the assault. While little appears of this issue, and the manipulation angle can indicate a perspective shift, it’s hard to refute how the film wants to represent this attack.
What I Dislike
Loosely tied to the above point, one character seems mentally off and purposely so. This point doesn’t inherently create an issue, but there seems to be a choice to make this character a mastermind. Perhaps this is better addressed in the book, but the execution is far from perfect here.
A newspaper montage reveals essential information which feels oddly misplaced. Practically the entire setup for the film appears through this montage, which creates the necessity to read these headlines in the minimal time given.
As a horror, nothing but the events are haunting. Children being abused or kidnapped always haunts, but the terror of this remains secondary to the mystery. While the mystery is nice, this film won’t particularly scare the seasoned horror fan.
Every Secret Thing unravels a mystery of opportunism, selfishness, and deception. While the movie won’t haunt the viewer, it certainly unravels a mystery that shocks them. The nuanced and deceptive characters add a layer of engagement that creates a unique experience, but I doubt this movie will linger in my mind.
(2.5 / 5)
Movies n TV
Quid Pro Woe
We’ve now reached episode six of Tim Burton’s Wednesday. And after the last episode, this one did not disappoint.
We start with Wednesday attempting to contact Goody Addams. Last episode, if you’ll recall, Morticia explained the difference between a psychic dove and a raven. Since Goody Addams was the last raven psychic in the family line, it’s got to be her that trains Wednesday.
But her seance is a failure, and Wednesday is interrupted by a magazine note shoved under the door. It says to meet someone at a crypt for answers.
When she gets there, it turns out that her friends have put together a surprise birthday party for her. Before she can cut the cake, however, she has a vision.
Goody Addams tells her that she must find a specific gate. After some investigation, Wednesday discovers it’s the gate to the old Gates house.
Wednesday goes to investigate, but she isn’t the only one. She is nearly discovered by Mayor Walker. He is also investigating the Gates family, even though they’re all reported to be dead. He leaves a message for Sheriff Galpin and is almost immediately run over by a car.
This incident is enough to get Wednesday’s town villages revoked. Though this seems like an empty punishment since the whole school is on lockdown. Someone burned Fire Will Rain on their front lawn.
Wednesday isn’t one for believing the rules apply to her. She has it in her head that she’s meant to save Nevermore Academy, probably from whatever descendent of Crackstone who’s still around. So she has no problem lying to Enid and Tyler and convincing them to help her sneak off campus and explore the Gates house further.
This, of course, is an incredibly informative trip. The kids find a hidden altar to Crackstone, as well as the missing body parts from the monster’s victims. They also find evidence that someone’s been staying in the house. Someone who’s staying in what looks like a little girl’s room.
Before they can find anything more, the monster finds them. They barely escape, and go to the sheriff with what they find.
Of course, the house has been cleared out by the time Sheriff Galpin arrives. Furious that his son was almost killed, he tells Wednesday to stay away from him.
Because that always works, right?
Galpin isn’t the only one angry. Enid is fed up with the way Wednesday has been treating her. And so she leaves their room to bunk with someone else, leaving Wednesday alone.
This episode was well done. The discoveries at the house were exciting, and I’m almost sure I know who’s behind the murders at this point. Overall, this was a good ramp-up to the season finale.
Finally, this episode did something I was worried just wasn’t going to happen. And for that alone, it deserves praise.
Wednesday has been incredibly selfish and inconsiderate since the first episode. She’s been rude and demanding towards Thing. She’s ignored her friends’ needs and emotions while insisting they put themselves in danger for her investigation. She has respected no one’s boundaries, even while other people have at least tried to respect hers.
And now, it’s finally come back to bite her. All of the people who have been doing their best to show her kindness and support are finally done with her bullshit.
Yes, this is a good thing! Characters are best when they’re allowed to learn and grow. When they don’t come to us flawless. When they mess up and learn from it. Especially for a show aimed at kids, this is essential.
If you’d asked me at the beginning of the season if this character was going to experience honest character growth, I’d have assured you it would never happen. Much to my surprise, it’s happening. I hope that Wednesday is going to come out of this a better person. With two episodes left in the season, there’s plenty of time for that. (4 / 5)