We come now to episode seven of Hulu’s Monsterland. As this is the second to last episode of the season I was expecting sort of a meh episode. While I wouldn’t say it was all that boring, it wasn’t as great as some of the earlier ones.
On the other hand, I didn’t feel like I needed to talk to my therapist after watching it, so that’s a plus.
Lauren is a lonely kid. She doesn’t have a lot of friends, and her mom’s a full-on lush. She has one good friend, a girl named Elena.
Elena has everything Lauren wishes she had. A loving mother, loyal friends, a boyfriend. Lauren even covets Elena’s hair.
The two share a fascination with the white woods, a local forest where girls often die. There was even a serial killer called the Lumberjack who brutally killed four young women.
After a fight between the two girls, Elena disappears into the white woods and is never seen again.
Ten years later, Lauren is getting ready to marry Stan. He just happens to be the same boy Elena was dating before she vanished. They’ve made a happy life together after they both went to med school. Lauren’s been adopted by Elena’s mother after her beer-soaked mother kicked her out. She’s even perfected Elena’s hairstyle.
She is, in short, living the life Elena would have. If she hadn’t vanished in the woods that is.
How did that happen? Why didn’t Elena come home from the woods that night? We have Lauren’s story, that Elena ran off after a fight to smoke weed in the woods. We also have what Abby, one of Elena’s old friends thinks happened. That Lauren killed Elena.
I mean, what would you think, watching some girl dress in what should have been your friend’s wedding dress? Getting ready to marry your friend’s boyfriend while your friend’s mother watches on with maternal pride?
Of course, what happened to Elena ten years ago isn’t revealed until the last. And it’s not exactly what anyone thought.
This episode had some striking visuals. Lauren, running through the woods in a wedding dress. Blood on the bodice, dirt on the hem. It’s a scary image, whatever the circumstances. Then there’s the forest itself, which is hauntingly beautiful. It feels like the sort of place that would lure someone in, then never let them go.
While this wasn’t the strongest episode, it also wasn’t the worst. I enjoyed the story from start to finish. I’m looking forward to watching the last episode of what’s been a really strong season.
What do you think? What’s your favorite episode of Hulu’s Monsterland so far? Let us know in the comments.
February Titles for Arrow Streaming
Wow, January sure flew by fast! But guess what? It’s time to see what goodies Arrow is bringing to the small screen soon. Let’s find out!
Feb 3rd: Robert Altman: Giggle and Give In and Made in the USA
February 3 Joyce documentaries about the American indie film scene: Robert Altman: Giggle and Give In and Made in the USA (both US/UK/CA/IRE). Joyce’s documentary profile of Altman, originally produced in 1996 includes contributions from Altman, Elliott Gould, Shelley Duvall, assistant director Alan Rudolph and screenwriter Joan Tewkesbury.
Feb 3rd: Charles Band: The Puppetmaster
February 3: Charles Band: The Puppetmaster (UK/IRE/US/CA). Triple-threat writer-producer-director Charles Band has been pulling the strings making horror, sci-fi and fantasy features since the 70s and his films were a massive part of making the 1980s home video boom, well, boom.
Charles Band: The Puppetmaster brings together many of his wildest and most fun work, from murderous pint-sized puppets to re-animated horrors, from time-travelling Trancers to a terrifying Tourist Trap, and even the re-tooled Doctor Strange movie starring Jeffrey Combs as a slightly different sorcerer supreme. And I LOVE Jeffrey Combs!
Titles Include: Puppet Master, Doctor Mordrid, Trancers.
Feb 6: Killer Tech
February 6, while shopping for a gadget for your sweetheart, ARROW uploads Killer Tech (UK/IRE/US/CA) to the service.
We all want the latest gadgets, but in Killer Tech screen time means scream time.
From cursed videotapes and phone calls to the dangers of the dark web and vicious virtual reality, ARROW’s newest, smallest, lightest, fastest, most expensive curated collection doesn’t just have the best screen, largest amount of storage and the coolest camera – it also comes with a guarantee that the newest tech equals instant death.
Titles Include: .com For Murder, Laguna Ave, Edge of the Axe.
I recommend Edge of the Axe!
Feb 10: Cinematic Void Selects
February 10, ARROW hands the keys to the kingdom to Cinematic Void, a Los Angeles-based cult film screening series into the mouth of cinemadness. Focusing on all oddball gems of all genres, the Void unleashes an onslaught of horror, eurotrash, exploitation and gonzo action on the silver screen at the American Cinematheque. CV film programmer Jim Branscome has selected a few of his favourite films of the genre for your viewing pleasure in Cinematic Void Selects.
Titles Include: Deadly Games, Deep Red.
February 14 celebrates Valentine’s Day with the perfect pairing: the undead and the living dead.
Two Orphan Vampires (UK/IRE/US): A pair of teenage girls, who are blind by day, but when the sun goes down, they roam the streets to quench their thirst for blood.
Zombie Lake (UK/IRE/US): In a small village, somewhere in France, German soldiers, killed and thrown into the lake by the Resistance during WWII, come back.
Also Valentine’s Day:
Jean Rollin: The Fantastique Collection Part IV (UK/IRE/US).
Led by the brand new and exclusive documentary from filmmakers Kat Ellinger and Dima Ballin, Orchestrator of Storms: The Fantastique World Of Jean Rollin, welcome to ARROW’s final volume of horrifying dream-like sauce from the master of conjuring up erotic nightmare fuel, Jean Rollin, The Fantastique Collection Part IV.
Titles Include: The Living Dead Girl, Lost in New York, Dracula’s Fiancee.
Feb 17: The French Hitchcock: Claude Chabrol
February 17, with The French Hitchcock: Claude Chabrol (UK/IRE/US).
For five decades Claude Chabrol navigated the unpredictable waters of cinema, leaving in his wake more than fifty feature films that remain among the most quietly devastating genre movies ever made. Sardonic, provocative, and unsettling, Chabrol’s films cut to the quick with a clarity and honesty honed to razor sharpness.
Though influenced by Fritz Lang, Alfred Hitchcock and Jean Renoir, Chabrol’s voice was entirely and assuredly his own, influencing in turn filmmakers like Bong Joon-ho, James Gray and Dominik Moll. His amused, unblinkered view of life and refusal to judge his characters makes his films timelessly relevant and accessible to all.
Dark, witty, ruthless, mischievous: if you’ve never seen Chabrol before, you’re in for a treat.
Titles Include: Cop au vin, Madame Bovary (1991), The Swindle.
Feb 24: King of Karate: The Sonny Chiba Collection
February 24 hits it off with King of Karate: The Sonny Chiba Collection (UK/IRE/US/CA).
Put up your dukes and prepare yourselves for brutal and lightning-fast martial arts action starring the King of Karate: Sonny Chiba.
Whether you’ve only heard of Sonny through Clarence and Alabama’s True Romance triple-bill, have seen him sword-making for The Bride in Kill Bill, or know Shinichi Chiba from way back in the 70s martial arts boom where his lethal mastery of karate, judo and kenpo made him an in-demand anti-hero to legions of fans, there’s plenty of bruising bad-assery to be had in King of Karate: The Sonny Chiba Collection.
Titles Include: The Street Fighter, Wolf Guy, Battles Without Honor and Humanity: Hiroshima Death Match.
Feb 28: Millionaires’ Express
February 28 closes out the shortest month of the year with Millionaires’ Express (US/CA).
All aboard for the all-star action-packed adventure of a lifetime as martial arts maestro Sammo Hung (Heart of Dragon) brings East and West crashing spectacularly together in Millionaires’ Express!
Sammo himself plays Ching Fong-tin, a former outlaw with a wild scheme to make amends with the citizens of his struggling hometown of Hon Sui: explosively derail a brand new luxury express train en route from Shanghai so that its super-rich passengers will have no choice but to spend money in the town. He’s not the only one with eyes on the passengers’ deep pockets, however; a gang of ruthless bank-robbing bandits are on the way, looking for a priceless map being guarded by a trio of Japanese samurai. Bullets and fists will fill the air in equal measure, but will Hon Sui Town be left standing?
Head over to ARROW to start watching now.
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ARROWEssentials curates collections based on genre, decades and themes; and ARROWStories takes a fresh look at the world of film and TV with exclusive documentaries, interviews and video essays diving deeper into the many curated seasons and titles on the platform for a richer and deeper viewing experience.
With a slickly designed and user-friendly interface, and an unparalleled roster of quality content from westerns to giallo to Asian cinema, trailers, Midnight Movies, filmmaker picks and much, much more, ARROW is the place to go for the very best in on-demand entertainment.
ARROW is also home to ARROW Stories – an ever-growing collection of interviews, trailers, documentaries and additional extras, both newly created exclusives for the service and from the company’s extensive archives. The service will be updated regularly with fresh content, new curation focuses and never-before-seen content, all selected by the ARROW team as well as the filmmakers themselves. With a slickly designed and user-friendly interface ARROW is the new alternative place to go for the very best in On-Demand entertainment.
Be on the look-out because in the coming months, ARROW will be adding Oscar-winning hits, European classics, Asian cinema masterworks, rediscovered Westerns, offbeat gems and much more as part of ARROW’s international strategy to support and celebrate the medium of film.
Dahmer, The Good Boy Box
I think if it were possible to awkward someone to death, Dahmer never would have had to use any other weapon. Because if episode four is any indication, the man was a walking personification of awkwardness.
We start this episode with Dahmer talking with the police detectives after his arrest. He doesn’t seem to have any issue laying everything out for them, starting with the murder of the hitchhiker from the last episode. He’s seeing a psychiatrist, which feels overdue. And the psychiatrist is bringing back some memories. Starting with his graduation from high school.
A few days after graduation, Lionel Dahmer finally decides to look in on his family. He comes home to find no one but Jeff there, drunk and scribbling out the faces of his classmates from his yearbook.
After taking some time to blame Joyce, Lionel sets himself to the task of fixing his son. He first sends Jeff to Ohio State. Within a semester, Jeff is expelled with a GPA of .45. So, Lionel sends him to the army. And for about a year, that seems to work out. Jeff goes through basic training and everything is fine. But then, he’s discharged.
It’s not outright said in the show why Dahmer was discharged. He later tells a woman that it was because of his drinking. But he lies and gives half-truths to everyone without any remorse. So there’s no way of knowing.
Finally, we pick back up where we left off a few episodes ago, with Jeff’s grandmother finding the stolen mannequin in his bed. She throws it away, and he starts to unravel.
He goes to a state fair and gets arrested for masturbating in public.
Honestly, there are a lot of masturbation scenes in this episode and the last. Probably more than we needed.
Every time Jeff seems to get some sort of handle on his life, he manages to mess it up. He loses jobs and starts drugging men at bars. Finally, he finds himself in bed with the body of a beautiful young man he brought home the night before.
I liked this episode. It was a deeply disturbing portrait of a mentally ill young man trying and failing to get himself together. It’s easy to feel bad for Dahmer. To feel like there should have been a way to save him from himself.
And there should have been, to be clear. Dahmer was throwing up enough red flags early enough that someone should have been able to do something.
And yet, nobody did until seventeen men were dead. It does make you wonder if it would have gone on so long if Dahmer hadn’t preyed on gay men. If he hadn’t been a white man. And maybe it should make us wonder that.
I’m sure this point will be made clear to us as we watch the second half of the season.(4 / 5)
The Last of Us: Episode 2: Infected
*WARNING: This review contains spoilers.*
If you haven’t read the review on The Last of Us’ first episode, click here.
HBO’s The Last of Us‘ second episode, “Infected,” released January 22, 2023. It was directed by Neil Druckman and written by Craig Mazin. The episode takes us to Jakarta in 2003, just days before the outbreak. Dr. Ratna (Christine Hakim) is a mycology professor at the University of Indonesia. The Indonesian government orders her to examine a dead body they killed at a flour factory. During her examination, Dr. Ratna discovers Cordycep mycelium growing in the body’s mouth. After learning the full story behind the dead body, including the high infection rate and its symptoms, Dr. Ratna’s only conclusion is to bomb the whole city because “there is no vaccine for this.”
Fast forward to present day and we once again witness the aftereffects of Dr. Ratna’s discovery.
Is that everything you hoped for?
In episode one, Tess and Joel learned an infected bit Ellie a few weeks back and are reluctant to keep traveling with her. Joel threatens to shoot her the moment she starts showing symptoms, but it’s Tess who convinces him that they need to keep going to the Capitol Building to hand the youth off to the fireflies.
One of the most exciting scenes in episode two is when the trio takes a shortcut through a history museum that is almost identical to the one in the game. They enter a dark room and all seems well until they hear a slow, ominous clicking sound nearby. An infected with torn clothes and cordycep covered body creeps around them. When it hears Joel step on a piece of glass, it attacks.
Clickers are the third stage of infection and it takes about a year for them to reach this point after exposure. They can’t see their prey, but have an incredible sense of hearing and communicate through clicks. (If you want a real life example, they sound awfully similar to crows clicking in conversation.) More clickers enter the museum room and Joel, Ellie and Tess fight them off, brutally killing them one by one, barely making it out alive.
When the trio reaches daylight outside, Ellie realizes she was bit. “If it had to happen to one of us…” she jokes, still shaken by their encounter. But Tess is less than amused; she’s furious by how narrow their escape was. Even when Joel and Ellie have a sweet moment, the first sign of warmth Joel gives the girl on their journey together, Tess interrupts and tells them to keep going because there is still a long way to go.
The Last of Tess
After two episodes, HBO’s The Last of Us mirrors the video game while creating a brand new story. Spores moving through the air are a significant threat in the video game, but are merely a terrifying thought in the show’s universe. Instead, HBO’s version illustrates how the Cordyceps’ mycelium creates a “hive mind” in infected. If one infected is killed, a message is sent to everyone else it’s connected to.
After escaping the museum, the trio eventually make it to the capitol building, only to find that all the Fireflies they were supposed to meet are dead and gone. Tess rummages through the bodies’ clothes in hopes of finding a map, but there’s nothing. Suddenly, a runner lunges into the air and tries to take them down. When Joel shoots it, the mycelium hive mind alerts the rest of the infected outside the building. They swarm to their new pray.
Joel is in a rush to get going. But before they can all escape, it appears that Tess was bitten at the museum, too. In just a short amount of time, her bite has worsened while Ellie’s remains the same. Tess holds Ellie’s arm up and shows it to Joel. “This is real,” she cries, desperate for Joel to believe her. She needs him to keep taking Ellie out west, to wherever Marlene needs them to go. Maybe there is a cure after all.
Episode two continues to show promise of The Last of Us being a great video game adaptation. It maintains the game’s plot while creating new rules to make the story more suitable for TV. When the episode begins in Jakarta, we see how the world, not just the United States, is devastated by the impacts of this disease. And it is hopeful we will see the state of the present day world in later episodes, too.
Additionally, the filming of mycelium growing and spreading throughout the infected is convincing for the new hive mind theory. While spores and gas masks worked well for the game, many of those rules were still inconsistent; it’s for the best that The Last of Us‘ writers did away with spores in the show. The makeup for the bite marks and prosthetics for the clickers make the fight scenes more high stakes and terrifying. The actors, from infected extras to the main cast, are phenomenal. Bella Ramsey as Ellie especially shines, particularly with her whipsmart comebacks and various facial expressions.
It is evident the creators did not cut corners when it came to filming, makeup and casting these last two episodes. If they wanted to create as authentic an experience as possible for this video game adaptation, they did not disappoint.(5 / 5)
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