Web of Darkness
Jim here. Do you like horror with an anthology flavour? If so, check out Web of Darkness, the brand new original series from the T+E channel. Voodoo Priestess and I got our hands on an advanced viewing of the first episode and let’s say this is a program we’re happy to come back to. So, sit back and relax. Let Jimbo drive a NO SPOILERS review of Web of Darkness – the Good, the Bad, the Ugly style!
It’s Quick n Dirty. T+E touts this as ‘bite-sized’ horror and they deliver. Okay, so this isn’t the Bite-Sized Horror podcast Nicole and I are taping, but I do like the concept of something that won’t make your butt cry when you’re sitting down to watch. The beauty of the bite-sized format is that you can watch an episode in one sitting or multiple ones! That’s right! You don’t have to be a slave to your TV when you’re consuming horror.
Got a minute or two? Great! Watch one story. Got a few dozen more minutes? Awesome! Have a seat, we’ve got the popcorn ready for ya!
Plus, a bite-sized horror anthology means if one story isn’t working for you, well, fear not true believers! We got a few more different ones coming at ya.
Production value. We’ve all seen some content that I won’t name that really drags or the editing is goofed or the sound is subpar or the or or or….right? Well, T+E put their stamp of approval on this one and it reflects their brand. You get slick; you get smooth, and you get some scares. The production value rivals larger studios and completely sinks a lot of the made-for-TV stuff. Voodoo and I especially like T+E’s ‘commercial break’ visual concept. I’m not sure if that’s going to be in the aired episode, but it works really well from what we’ve seen.
Variety is the spice of life. Voodoo and I thought maybe the Web was interwoven stories (maybe…maybe not! You’ll have to find out by watching!) but what works well in an anthology is a lil bit for everyone. That is the vibe we get when watching this-it’s a little bit for everyone. It’s family friendly (from what we’ve seen, but please be the judge for your own family). It’s story telling done well.
POV and Voice Overs. First person POV is hard to do in any genre that has an ‘ultimate’ ending. Why? It’s tricky to narrate something if you’re dead. It can be done (see: found footage, or ghosts) but it can fall flat more oft than not. This, along with using voice overs to explain things physically happening on the screen while the voiceover is going on, is a weak spot for some stories. It takes the audience out of the moment and forces to realize ‘oh right, it’s just a show’.
Scare factor. Voodoo and I are hard core horror lovers. We could see where these could be very scary (like I said, the production value is great!) but sometimes the writing falls. There are some interesting parts. There are some creepy moments. There are some good plot ideas. The writing didn’t allow for a full scare, though. It isn’t like a previous movie we reviewed where the third act is missing. It’s more of an audience direction thing. I think little kids would fear this. I think late at night if I were to watch this alone in an old house with a thunderstorm going on…it might work. I would love to see an increase in Scare Factor but I’m willing to give this show a second episode. It’s difficult to gauge scare based on one episode.
Blood, guts, and monsters! I mean ugly in a good way! This, again, goes back to production value. T+E has great taste in effects and the acting, music, and lighting is spot on. Heck, there is one where I wish a far bigger budget item like Game of Thrones had T+E’s lighting sense (you’ll know exactly the episode of which I speak when you see it). This is one reason Voodoo and I not only are willing to give Web of Darkness a second episode look, but look forward to it. We know, jumps or not, we’ll be entertained.
Web of Darkness – The verdict
Web of Darkness is an original series by T+E. As a horror site owner, I push for original content (heck we have an Original content section!). Also, I like T+E so much I pitched a series called Humbug! to them (more on that later…). More horror (in entertainment) in the world, the better. I love hearing from fresh voices and seeing a well loved production. Web of Darkness is all that and more. Yes, it has some flaws (see Voice Overs) and the target audience might be on the younger side—but that’s good! How boring it would be if every TV show were the same? We need new contact for a whole new generation of horror fans and I think Web of Darkness fits. It is fast; it is sleek; it is well done and, as the PR says, it is bite-sized.
My score is a 3.5 out of 5. It’s definitely worth the watch, and I encourage anyone looking for that anthology fix to check this out. If you check it out, let us know what you thought via twitter @HauntedMTL
Until then, boys and ghouls…. (3.5 / 5)
T+E’s new original series Web of Darkness (8×60’) is a dark, modern-day anthology series that pays homage to the classic horror and sci-fi genre. Inspired by horror stories found in the deepest recesses of the web, each episode follows five chilling tales narrated by everyday characters reliving their nightmarish run-ins with the unexplained. From ghosts seeking revenge to encounters with UFOs and a resentful witch bearing a grudge, Web of Darkness accelerates the terror to deliver bursts of fright in a bite-size format. The series shows audiences what could happen if our world ever intertwined with the supernatural, offering a vivid portrayal of modern-day horror stories often caught on camera by the main characters. The world broadcast premiere of Web of Darkness airs Tuesdays at 10 p.m. ET/PT onT+E, starting June 8.
The first two episodes of Web of Darkness include:
• Episode 1 – Not So Scary Now, Are You?
June 8 at 10 p.m. ET/PT
A nurse is plunged into a frightening battle with mysterious patients who infect her with their dark qualities. A farmer is in mortal danger from a “scarecrow” that is terrifyingly more than what it seems. A UFO crash puts a doctor in an impossible and deadly battle with alien lifeforms. When an old theatre reopens, a clown ghost is reawakened and embarks on a frightening rampage. A teen couple are having fun live streaming their explorations of haunted places until they find themselves way in over their heads.
• Episode 2 – The Game’s Just Begun
June 15 at 10 p.m. ET/PT
At a school with a sordid past, a desperate ghost reaches out to an unsuspecting new teacher. On Hallowe’en, a young man fatally misjudges what he thinks are only frightening decorations. Discovering her boyfriend is part of a horrifying offworld experiment, a young woman realizes she’s their next target. The only survivor of an office massacre returns to work, only to be trapped with the killer who died at the scene. Discovering his family’s brutal past when he returns to their old homestead, a tailor tries to outrun ferocious, newly-awakened spirits.
Web of Darkness is produced by Saloon Media, a Blue Ant Studioscompany, in partnership with the U.S.-based MY Entertainment. Michael Kot,Betty Orr, Julie Chang, Joe Townley and Michael Yudin serve as Executive Producers. Paul Kilback and Tara Elwood serve as Series Producers. Overseeing the series for T+E is Sam Linton, Head of Original Content for Blue Ant Media’s Canadian channels. Web of Darkness is distributed by Blue Ant International. Studios company
T+E is a Blue Ant Media specialty channel and the ultimate destination for totally entertaining programming, providing an escape into a world that is brimming with mystery, intrigue, and unforgettable storytelling. As the home to spine-tingling paranormal encounters, T+E combines thrills and chills with fan-favourite cult series and can’t-miss TV events. tandetv.com.
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)