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It’s been a few weeks since the last recap, but the show has marched on. I am going to continue to recap the series, but the revelation of cancellation just strips out a real sense of urgency. We have some other things in development here at Haunted MTL as well that have served to… distract. So, let me apologize about the lateness of this recap/review. We’re going to continue the project. The show is still great, which makes writing this series of posts kind of tough.

The Story So Far

This was a fairly low-key episode with a relatively undercooked bit of swamp evil and a plot of place-setting. That being said, the show is still fantastic.

Abby and Alec Working Together

The major narrative of the episode revolves around establishing the nature of Abby and Alec’s relationship given his new form. Abby is very much interested in doing everything she can to aid Alec in understanding his swampy fate. Alec, localized in the swamp, pursues the mysteries of the waters around Marais. The two essentially represent two different worlds and must work across their respective regions to solve the problems that bleed between them.

Unfortunately, this week, the threat feels a little underdeveloped.

Two men enter the swamp to cut down some trees that haven’t been picked over by local logging companies. The trees, enhanced by the pollutants, fight back, dropping a mummified corpse that was lost in the swamp on the men, scratching one of them.


The scratch causes hallucinations of one’s deepest nightmares, driving one of the men, a dishwasher at Delroy’s to kill himself when he hallucinates his arm under attack by a snake. He ends up stabbing himself in the arm repeatedly, and then for good measure jams his arm into the garbage disposal. During the struggle, Delroy, the owner of the bar gets scratched. Thus begins a low-key infection plot culminating with Abby herself getting infected.

Later, an infected and hallucinating Abby finds herself in Alec’s arms as he draws the evil from her and puts in back in the mummy. The mummy being the remains of a person who was infected by this evil and fled to the swamp to make sure it could harm no others. It wasn’t until Alec Holland arrived in the swamp when that could finally, truly happen.

The plot was fairly predictable, but it did a great deal of work to establish the what should be the standard, working relationship of Abby and Alec; a relationship that should be effective and entertaining.

Sunderland’s Schemes

It is not surprising that Avery Sunderland has a dark and tragic past. The episode opens with him destroying the remains of poor old Gordon and remembering an incident in his past where his most-likely abusive father berated him for being unable to kill a gator. The scene doesn’t really tell us anything we couldn’t have already assumed about Avery, but it should, hopefully, lay groundwork for a more significant revelation in the future.

The major thrust of the Sunderland subplot revolves around Avery’s manipulative nature; both toward the town and Maria as well. Avery still needs the dose of funding to keep Woodrue on the case regarding the biological properties of the swamp. While inviting survivors of “the green flu” to a crawfish boil, he spies Maria’s attention toward the young Susie.

Throughout the episode we see Avery manipulate everyone around him to try to get the young Susie into a position where he can bring her into the Sunderland home, to give Maria a new child to care for. Not necessarily out of the goodness of his own heart, however. After all, “the green flu” may be gone, but who knows what after effects might pop up. If only there was funding to keep Woodrue on the job…


Of course, he doesn’t know about the ghost of Shawna lurking around Maria… might there be a possession in the future?

Daniel and Xanadu and the Incoming Darkness

The cryptic teasing of Daniel Cassidy’s history and reason for being stuck in Marais moves at a snail’s pace this week. All we really learn is that he made a deal that forced him to stay in town. For comic fans already familiar with Cassidy, the implication is pretty clear, but for the average viewer, it is just more cryptic teasing. We do get a moment of heroism from Daniel when he helps disarm sheriff Cable that belies the nature of his potential future, however.

Meanwhile, Madame Xanadu is concerned her powers may be waning. She has hinted at the spreading darkness from the swamp, just as Alec has begun to sense if through the plant life in the area. Perhaps a trip to the source of the darkness on Xanadu’s part is what will bring these character together.

What Stood Out?

The scene with the stabbing of the arm and the garbage disposal was fantastic and keeps up that body-horror component of the show that has worked out so well so far. It’s been great that every episode has at least one incredibly gory or gross-out moment.

Also, kudos to the show for including the Swamp Thing in a daylight sequence, allowing us to see the details of the prosthetics and makeup. The work holds up incredibly well and, hopefully, means we’ll get some great, brighter lit scenes with the effects and outfit before the end of the series.

The Final Verdict on Swamp Thing

This episode is very much a place-setting episode, moving pieces around for a larger payoff. Thankfully, it was still very entertaining and keeps up the visual excellence that has been the hallmark of the show so far.


3.5 out of 5 stars (3.5 / 5)

Deep Roots

Comic connections are initially a little sparse this week. No real new introductions to characters are made, so there is nobody new to introduce from the comics. That being said, there is an exception regarding Abby’s hallucination. We see her confronted by a faceless man who talks about her mother as he threatens and berates Abby. She’s had nightmares about this man since childhood. This man is potentially Grigori Arcane, her father, also known as the Patchwork Man. As for his being faceless? Well, we all process trauma differently… though he could also, literally have been faceless. We’ll see if we encounter Abby’s uncle Anton later.

David Davis is a writer, cartoonist, and educator in Southern California with an M.A. in literature and writing studies.

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Movies n TV

If You Don’t Woe Me by Now



This is the second to last episode of Tim Burton’s Wednesday. And it’s kind of exactly what I expected it to be. But is that a bad thing? Let’s find out.

(Missed my last review? Click here to read it now.)

We begin at the funeral of the unfortunate Mayor Noble. While Wednesday seems to have been an invited guest, someone else in attendance isn’t. 

Uncle Fester, played by Fred Armisen. 

Fred Armisen as Uncle Fester in Wednesday.

His visit couldn’t have come at a better time for Wednesday, as almost all of her friends aren’t talking to her. When Thing is brutally attacked, it’s even better luck that Uncle Fester is around. 

This attack on Thing spurs Wednesday to speed up her search. With her uncle’s help, she breaks into the Nightshade library and finds that the monster attacking people is called a Hyde. A creature that can only be called upon by someone else. 

This means that instead of one killer, we are looking for two. And Wednesday is pretty sure she knows who the killers are. 

But of course, she’s still an idiot teenager, so she goes right ahead and confronts one of them, Dr. Kinbott, by herself. This has results that surprise no one. 

After this, Wednesday learns her lesson and gets Sheriff Galpin involved to catch her suspected monster. Their relationship seems to be getting better after he caught her and Tyler in the Crackstone tomb watching Legally Blond and didn’t rebuke them. Maybe he’s softened on the idea of Wednesday dating his son. 

Or maybe he wanted to use her to get around needing a search warrant for Xander’s art studio. Because why follow the law when you can risk the life of a teenager by sending her in to start grabbing up evidence in a flagrant disregard for the safety and rights of two kids? 


Because that’s exactly what happened. Honestly, poor Xavier has gone through so much trying to be friends with Wednesday. 

When you’re a fan of a certain genre, you’ll find yourself recognizing the beats of a story before they even happen. For instance, a murder mystery will often have a moment, right near the climax of the story, where it seems like the case is solved. 

Gwendoline Christie and Jenna Ortega in Wednesday

This was that episode. It appears like the case is solved, but it’s all a little too easy. And too early in the episode. Now, I don’t consider this a bad thing. It’s an expectation of the genre. Especially because this is a show for a young audience who might never have seen this before. And in this case, just because I saw it coming didn’t mean it wasn’t satisfying. 

This one was satisfying because of the implications. The real monster is revealed now. And if you’ve figured out who it is, you understand how difficult a job Wednesday is going to have to prove it. 

One thing I like about Wednesday is that there is no dishonesty in this child. If she thinks something, it comes right out. So of course she had no problem confronting her therapist as soon as she started putting the pieces together. Of course, the flip side of that coin is that she expects other people to behave like her. To be honest, at least some of the time. To attack from behind, and attack people other than herself to get her point across. Because, sadly, good people tend to judge others in the ways they would behave. 

I loved the addition of Fred Armisen as Uncle Fester. And I wasn’t expecting him to do a good job, honestly. I’m quite used to Christopher Lloyd as Fester, so this was kind of shocking. But as always, he was great. He brought a sense of levity and joyous foolishness that this character should always have.


All in all, this was a great episode. My biggest criticism is that the twist ending isn’t as unpredictable as one might like. When you’ve been a selfish prick to everyone around you, and all of your friends are done with your shit, but one person is still fine with it, that person might just have some ulterior motives. 

There’s just one episode left, and I’m excited to see how the story wraps up. I have high hopes for it. And I’m just thankful that the season has exceeded the rather dismal expectations I had for it at the beginning. 

3.5 out of 5 stars (3.5 / 5)

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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.

A woman with her mouth agape. Behind her is a dark background. Next to her reads, "The Beach House." Below is a scenic beach with a mountain in the distance.
The Beach House Alternative Cover Art

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.

White background, rubber stamp with disclaimer pressed against the white background.
Disclaimer Kimberley Web Design

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.

Woman looks shocked or horrified. Bushes or trees make up the background.
Liana Liberato as Emily

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.

Final Thoughts

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 out of 5 stars (3 / 5)

If this movie suits your fancy and you want more, Honeymoon seems an appropriate recommendation.


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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.

Laura Lippman stands out at the top of the cover, over a black background. Every Secret Thing appearing over a pool
Every Secret Thing Book Cover

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.

White background, rubber stamp with disclaimer pressed against the white background.
Disclaimer Kimberley Web Design

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.

Daughter resting on her mother's shoulder. Both are in the back of a car.
Diane Lane as Helen and Danielle Macdonald as Alice

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.

Final Thoughts

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 out of 5 stars (2.5 / 5)

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