This episode delivered ends to a couple characters in hard hitting, gut wrenching ways.
We open the episode with a yoga class run by a guru. We see that Sarah Newlin is here and going by the name Noomi.
Pam confronts Eric about his illness. Eric says that he’s been sick with Hep V for about a month. Eric seems to have given up on living and is even unfazed when Pam tells him that Tara died. We get a flashback about fifty years ago in France, where Eric is taken with a human named Sylvie. Nan Flanagan shows up and reprimands Eric and Pam for not registering with their local sheriff. Nan describes a Japanese corporation bringing Tru Blood to market.
Pam agrees to cooperate with the Authority, but Eric curses at Nan. She says that he’ll be sorry and Eric definitely is when Japanese vampires show up and make him decide whether they will kill Pam or Sylvie. It is clearly a hard decision, but Eric saves Pam.
We see Sarah back at the yoga class as Noomi. She is the guru’s girlfriend and the two sleep together. Sarah puts on a robe and goes to get a bottle of wine when the same Japanese vampires break in the house and murder the guru when he will not reveal where Sarah is. This brings Eric’s past to modern day and relates it to Sarah Newlin. Interesting development. I love how unexpected this was and it shows that the corporation probably found out about Sarah’s killing of Suzuki in the plant.
Pam tells Eric that Sarah is alive. This motivates Eric to stay alive himself and he says “then let’s go find her.”
Making a Plan
Alcide gets out of the shower and finds that Sookie has gone. He follows her scent to Bill’s, but neither are there. We see Sookie and Bill walking into the woods after making sure that Alcide would not be able to follow their scent. Sookie’s plan is that she will become vampire bait and let the infected vampires take her to where they are holding Arlene, Holly, and Nicole. Bill will then find her and rescue her based on her fear.
Lettie Mae has become addicted to vampire blood. Reverend Daniels explains to Willa that Lettie Mae’s disease will create a vice out of anything. Daniels is really nice in explaining why he cannot keep Willa around and the two have a moment of tenderness and connecting before Willa is uninvited from their home. Daniels even lets Willa feed on him for the first time before she must leave.
Sam and his assigned vampire Matt encounter Vince and the townspeople with their guns drawn in the middle of the road. The two get out of the car and the townspeople kill Matt. Sam turns into an owl to escape.
Jessica and Andy arrive to bust Adilyn and Wade out of the holding cell Portia locked them up in. Andy takes the two to Jason’s house and tells them to stay inside and keep safe. Andy, Jason, Jessica, and Violet head out to take care of the mob.
James and Lafayette bond when they smoke weed together and Lafayette takes drugs and lets them work. James feeds on Lafayette’s drugged up blood and the pair get high together. Lafayette thinks that James is into him and James says that isn’t the wrong impression but that he’s with Jessica. James doesn’t seem that into Jessica though, so I see a future boyfriend for Lafayette, maybe?
The Hard Hitting Deaths
Jason, Andy, Jessica, and Violet find Sam’s abandoned truck. As they investigate, the townspeople emerge from the woods.
Andy and Jason demand they stand down, but Maxine Fortenberry shoots Jessica in the shoulder. Violet runs over and rips out Maxine’s heart while the group scatters. This was such a great death for the show and honestly, Ms. Fortenberry had this coming.
As Sookie and Bill wait for their trap to work, Sookie confesses that she doesn’t love Alcide as much as he loves her.
Sam and Alcide run into each other and both go looking for Sookie.
The infected vampires need to go out to get food again so they select Holly to go with them.
Holly runs into Sookie in the woods. As Sookie is trying to process why this is happening, the infected vampires attack Bill.
However, Jason, Andy, Violet, and Jessica come to the rescue just as Sam and Alcide also arrive. The crew shoots two of the infected vampires that are right next to Sookie and Violet takes Sookie to wash off her face of the blood after Alcide makes sure she didn’t get any in her mouth.
While Sookie is in the water, a person steps from the bushes and shoots Alcide twice – once in the chest and once in the head. Sookie rushes to his body. Jessica offers to turn him but she refuses, as she’s been down that road before. Sookie cries over Alcide’s dead body.
Alcide’s death feels much more complete than Tara’s did. Alcide died protecting the person he loved more than anything and that is very characteristic of Alcide. We got those moments of grief, especially from Sookie, that we were missing with Tara and we got to see Alcide’s death through. Although it was quite shocking, it was a great end to the character. Does this leave Sookie open to return to Bill? Maybe, but most likely not after Billith’s crazy journey last season. (5 / 5)
Shutter Island (2010): Review
Leonardo Dicaprio’s films rarely disappoint. It was interesting to see him flex different acting muscles in this psychological thriller Shutter Island alongside Mark Ruffalo and Michelle Williams. When I say that I was not expecting such a turn in the story, I mean that my jaw was pretty much on the floor the entire time. Without any further ado, let’s dive into its mastery, shall we?
A cliché setup done right
We have been here before a million times. A character stumbles into a scene to solve a mystery. Everyone is acting just the right amount of suspicion to make you wonder. Dicaprio’s Edward ‘Teddy’ travels to an extremely remote island where a woman goes missing from a psychiatric institution. He’s experiencing migraines and flashbacks to his murdered wife while receiving little to no help from the hospital staff.
Teddy soon suspects that the hospital is experimenting on patients which fuels his theories on what happened to the missing woman. Things take even more of a turn when his partner also disappears. Unsurprisingly, everyone insists Teddy came to the island alone. Feeling like he’s losing his mind, our protagonist finds out that this is exactly the case. He is a patient in the hospital and the entire investigation is an attempt to get him to understand the truth.
While the whole ‘it was all in your head’ trope has a bad rep for the fans of any genre, this film uses it masterfully. Watching it for the first time not knowing what to expect is obviously a shock and then watching it again, looking at all the clues that were the which you missed – that’s a treat on its own. After all, there’s nothing inherently wrong with using cliches if they are done the right way.
Things that go bump in our minds
A huge part of this movie’s storyline is Andrew’s inability to process the truth. The roots for it stretch far beyond the plot twist. Andrew is unable to acknowledge that his wife is mentally ill and believes that moving them to the countryside will fix everything. After she murders their children, he is further pushed into the world of delusion, convincing himself to be a hero because he couldn’t save his own family.
It’s interesting to note that in his delusion, Andrew is the one who set fire to their house. Is this a little sliver of his mind whispering the truth to him? Is it his subconscious villainizing himself out of contempt, searching for answers that are never going to come? Andrew’s psychiatrist pointed out that his moment of clarity has happened before, only to be undone quite quickly. Perhaps it was easier for Andrew to shut it off rather than live with the knowledge that he could’ve done something to prevent a terrible tragedy.
Shutter Island is a movie that provides both the entertainment value you would expect from a suspense thriller and a deeper layer of thought. Coated with a perfect atmosphere and amazing acting, it’s a piece that will definitely hold the test of time. (4.5 / 5)
Wheel of Time, Daughter of The Night
We’ve reached episode four of Wheel of Time, which means we’re halfway through the season. While it doesn’t seem like much has happened so far, this is the episode where things start heating up.
We begin this episode with a flashback. Ishamael is raising something dark and twisted. As we watch, it takes the shape of a woman.
More on that in a bit.
Meanwhile, Nynaeve is healing from her time in the arches. She is quiet and withdrawn. She’s also awkward and uncomfortable around Egwene now that she’s initiated and Egwene is not. Her new friendship with Elayne isn’t helping.
But the three girls come together when Liandrin tells Nynaeve that Perrin has been captured by the Seanchan.
However, Perrin is no longer in the clutches of the Seanchan. He was rescued by Elyas and a pack of beautiful wolves. Beautiful and deadly AF by the way. If you have any fear of dogs, this episode might not help that.
Elyas explains to Perrin that he is a Wolf Brother. This means that he can communicate with the wolves, and eventually will gain some of their abilities. While Perrin and Elyas don’t exactly get off on the right foot, he does find a fast friendship with one specific wolf. After a time, he introduces himself by showing Perrin an image of himself jumping up and down. From this, Perrin assumes his name is Hopper.
Finally, we return to Rand. He and Selene have been off in the mountains. They haven’t done much more than each other so far.
And that’s exactly what it appears they’re about to do when Moiraine bursts into the cottage and cuts Selene’s throat.
Rand is surprised and furious until Moiraine explains that the woman he knows as Selene is the Dark Friend Lanfear. With this shocking revelation, the two run off into the night.
It should be a surprise to no one that I loved the wolves in this episode. Hopper himself was worth an extra Cthulhu. But this is not just because dogs are cute. It’s also because the dog playing Hopper just does a great job.
On a more serious note, I loved how Nynaeve responded upon coming back to the real world. She isn’t okay.
And it’s a good thing that she isn’t. Too often in fiction we don’t see the fallout of emotional damage. Hell, we don’t usually see realistic fallout from physical damage.
But she is hurt by what she experienced. And you can tell. That’s realistic character building, and we don’t see that enough.
I also really appreciate the special effects in this episode. The first time we see Lanfear, she’s eerie. She’s frightening. Part of this is thanks to Natasha O’Keeffe, who does a great job. But the effects are what really sells this.
What didn’t work
If Wheel of Time has any fault, it’s that there is far too much sitting about and talking about things. In this case, there’s a lot of standing about and talking about things. Some of this was necessary, and some of it could have been done better. Honestly, there just has to be a better way to convey that characters are struggling.
This was most apparent with Rand and Selene/Lanfear. Honestly, anytime the two of them were on screen it was a great time for me to catch up on Instagram.
This might come as a surprise to anyone who hasn’t read the books, but Rand is supposed to be the main character. And here we are, four episodes into an eight-episode season, and so far all he’s done is mess about with his emo girlfriend!
That being said, the story is starting to pick up. With four episodes left, I can’t wait to see how far we go.
(3 / 5)
Elevator Game, a Film Review
Elevator Game (2023) is directed by Rebekah McKendry and is the first feature-length production of Fearworks.
Elevator Game (2023) is directed by Rebekah McKendry and is the first feature-length production of Fearworks. It adapts the supernatural myth and creepypasta of the same name while providing an original plot. This unrated Shudder exclusive stars Gino Anania, Samantha Halas, and Verity Marks. In full disclosure, I had the opportunity to interview Gino Anania and Stefan Brunner about the film.
Ryan seeks to find answers to his sister’s mysterious disappearance. To do this, he infiltrates a myth-busting web series that seems to have some ties to her final confirmed moments. Desperate to force a confrontation, he encourages them to play the elevator game. Unfortunately, there seems to be more truth to the myth than expected.
What I Like about Elevator Game & as an Adaptation
I am lucky to have additional insight into the development hell this movie overcame due to COVID. It’s commendable that the film manages to make it of that, even if it requires a lengthy delay of the film.
Usually, I provide a separate section for adaptation quality. However, the source material remains the ritual, which Elevator Game performs accurately. While the myth inspires many creepypastas, Elevator Game doesn’t directly take or adapt any of these works from what I’ve seen. Instead, it makes its own film based on the legend.
As the Fifth Floor Woman, Samantha Halas creates an eerie and disturbing character. While I won’t go so far as to say terrifying, she certainly makes an impression. The revelation that the stunts and performance are all her, as an actual contortionist, I give her more credit.
Gino Anania, given a more complex role than most of his cast members, really does bring a strong performance that creates either friction or synergy with his cast members. I suppose I wanted more of these interactions as some cut sooner than appreciated.
Another amusing element is that the entire motivation for the plot to follow is a forced advertisement from an investor. Something about the chaos being a product of appeasing some investors feels uncomfortably real.
The alternate reality remains surprisingly effective. To be clear, it’s not impressively realistic but stylistic. It genuinely seems like an alternate world with a skewered impression.
Tired Tropes or Trigger Warning
I feel weird mentioning this, but endangering a sister’s life to push the brother’s story forward seems a common trend beyond one form of media.
No discredit to the actors, but the romance feels rushed and unnecessary. Without going into too much detail, to avoid spoilers, there is synergy between the actors but little chemistry in the plot.
What I Dislike or Considerations
Elevator Game remains set in providing a B-movie experience. Its tight budget leaves little room to surprise the viewer visually. While I am surprised at what it accomplishes, it’s far from overwhelming. This film also remains the first production of Fearworks, which shouldn’t surprise anyone. I’m interested in the future, but Elevator Game leaves much to grow from.
Rebekah McKendry may have a directorial style that influences dialogue, but the line delivery evokes an overexpression that’s common in Lovecraftian films. I say this not as a direct negative, but it remains a required taste best known before viewing. As this isn’t Lovecraftian, I fear it removes some of the reality and tension of those haunting elements.
Many of the characters feel underdeveloped, making me wonder if cutting these roles might lead to more invested characters. While the performances hit their marks, a tighter cast might give each role more to work toward. As this is a tight cast already, it seems an odd issue to rectify.
Elevator Game provides an interesting B-movie experience for those who know the legend. For those expecting something different, this film may not work for you. This film overcame a lot to exist but doesn’t break the mold. While I am excited to see Fearworks pursue further ventures toward its ambitious mission statement, I find Elevator Game falling short of its goal.
(2 / 5)