Wednesday, July 27, 2016

Scream Season 2 Episode 9

The big news this week is that Emma knows what Audrey told Noah, thanks to a mysterious email that seems to have been sent by Zoe, even though Zoe’s denies it and Noah, somewhat controversially backs her.
Emma is naturally pissed at Audrey and that makes Kieran and, to a lesser degree, equally pissed at Audrey. I mean, it’s valid. Audrey confessing to bringing Piper to Lakewood is kind of a big deal.
Really, a lot of this episode has to do with Piper. A visit to Ms. Lang in the hospital by Emma goes badly as Ms. Lang reacts like she’s seeing a monster. Still, Kieran snags the keys to Ms. Lang’s place before he goes. Before that, though, one of Ms. Lang’s cassettes is found dangling in Emma’s locker, which makes the teacher’s obsession with Emma a little clearer and also makes it clear she sees Emma as some kind of raging monster.
Of note, though, the message on Emma’s locker was written in lipstick, which is only interesting because right before that scene we were shown Stavo snagging a tube of lipstick from Brooke’s bedroom.
(I’m not really sure why I’m going through this episode backwards, it just seems to make more sense.)
Stavo continues to look creepier, not just for stealing Brooke’s lipstick but his dad finally told Emma’s mom what happened in Phoenix - that Stavo and a friend were playing with a gun, a gun that went off and shot Stavo’s friend in the face. Stavo, though, was cold as ice about it and sat and drew his friend dying. Stavo’s looking a bit more like a sociopath, but, along the way, he finds out that The Mayor was paying Jake to burn down his development that was losing money.
Brooke instantly confronted her dad who didn’t have much to say in his own defense.
A couple loose ends - we didn’t see Eli this episode and we haven’t seen his mother in weeks. If she’s still doing dirty business for the mayor, she could have set the fire in the development, but we still don’t know the tie between that and the bodies upstairs.
Meanwhile, Noah tries to prove to Audrey and Zoe that Zoe didn’t send Emma the email with Audrey’s confession attached. But Zoe definitely sent the email to herself and the fake email it was sent from was also registered to Zoe. Noah stood up for her anyway and then, finally, Zoe and Noah totally knocked boots. And we got a ‘Phantasm 2’ reference thrown in to boot.
Kieran and Emma found a picture of Piper and Ms. Lang together at an old foster home and decided to investigate, only to find that someone had decided to throw a rave there - and all the invites were from Emma and Audrey, even though they didn’t have anything to do it.
Creepy Haley reared her head again, this time knowing who actually threw the party saying it was ‘someone she’s seeing.’ Said someone then killed her in rather gruesome fashion.

We have three episodes left and there’s still a lot of mystery to solve, which is good. Stavo being a sociopath really doesn’t help his cause but there’s still a ways to go.

Monday, July 25, 2016

Lights Out

“Lights Out” started as a two minute short film that got a lot of buzz going around the horror circuit a couple years ago. Making a full length feature out of something completely devoid of actual story, though, is another matter completely. Luckily the creators of the full length “Lights Out” have kept the pure thrill of that initial short but then, smartly, made it part of a story that’s heavy enough on its own, even before the boogeyman starts appearing in the shadows.
Similar to recent movies like “Oculus” and “Mama,” “Lights Out” puts into a protagonist’s life that’s already filled with drama. Here we have a young boy stuck in his house with an increasingly crazy mother. His father was killed and his big sister got out as soon as she was old enough. Because of the scary thing in the house, he can’t sleep, which is causing him problems at school. Problems his mother doesn’t seem especially equipped to help him address.
When mother fails to pick him up from school, the duty falls to the boy’s twenty-something sister, Rebecca, played by “Warm Bodies” alumnus Teresa Palmer as a sharp-edged rocker chick who won’t let her boyfriend too close, even though he’s obviously madly in love with her. She’s also in no position to take over parental duties from her mother but, as things escalate, she’s faced with some hard choices.
The mother here is played by Maria Bello, always a strong presence, here a broken mix of anxiety, depression and terror. As we learn more and more about the creature in the darkness, we start to see her character unspool, learning this far more than a simple house haunting and the sadness that defines their family is far from an accident.
At the center of “Lights Out” is a monster that can only survive in the darkness. It avoids any and all light and as long as you can keep yourself surrounded by light, you’re ok. This leads to an assortment of scenes where lights flicker and the monster appears, only to vanish when the lights stay on, or, in some cases, to be able to make a move when the darkness stays.
As slight as “Lights Out” sometimes is (and even at 81 minutes it still feels padded toward the end,) it’s still working off a foundation of something serious. These are hard characters who have lived a hard life, they’ve hurt one another and been hurt. Palmer’s Rebecca is independent and defiant but knowingly lost. Her decision to take care of her baby brother is not she’s prepared for, but still one she takes, knowing that doing so would put her back near the danger she had fled from so many years ago.
Bello, too, is playing to a serious mental trauma in her character. She’s both manipulated and terrified, a victim from so many directions. She’s lost two men and her daughter to this curse and knows she’ll lose her son. In one scene she attempts to save him by having him embraced by the darkness. She’s the one that gets the most hurt. It’s the tragedy of her situation that fuels the movie’s frantic finale.
Fear of the dark is the basic staple of horror movies. “Lights Out” takes that basic idea and drills into a family dynamic, blurring the line between the horrors of real life and the horrors of the supernatural. It may not be able to completely support its own weight but, even when it falls short, there’s still enough going on in the shadows to make you shiver.

Wednesday, July 20, 2016

Scream Season 2 Episode 8

This week’s episode of “Scream” took us to the annual Lakewood Carnvial, where people eat dangerously unhealthy food and ride even more dangerous portable rides but the real danger is, of course, the killer that’s on the loose and targeting Emma directly while still screwing with Audrey along the way.
Last week left us with Ms. Lang lying in a pool of blood at the bottom of a high school stairwell, while we didn’t learn the specifics of her fate this week, the Sheriff did find her box of interview tapes with the Lakewood 6 and then hid a tape she made with his creepy son Stavo. (Seriously, though? TAPES? Does she not have a digital recorder?)
Brooke and Zoe were mostly relegated to pageant prep, with Zoe being nervous about an awful Belle-inspired dress and speaking in public. Brooke saved the day with a better dress and then promptly eased her tension by getting really drunk off a flask Zoe brought, then letting the entire town have it in her pageant speech.
Zoe totally blueballed Noah again, for the record. Poor guy can’t catch a break.
Emma, meanwhile, did Emma stuff - this time with Audrey in tow, as Audrey really wanted to tell Emma the truth about bringing Piper to Lakewood the season previous (although we still don’t know if that’s the whole truth and nothing but the truth.)
Creepy Stavo and Eli didn’t help their causes too much. Stavo’s dad, the sheriff, couldn’t find the mask that Stavo has, but Stavo told him if he thinks he’s the killer to prove it. Still, dad did find a drawing of Branson tied to the bedpost. The problem there being I don’t think he has any way of knowing that happened, which leads us to believe it was his video camera in the room that night. He’s still in Brooke’s good faith, hopefully that won’t bite her in the ass.
Eli, meanwhile, was revealed to have a restraining order against him from some girl in Atlanta and when he pushed Kieran’s buttons too much, got a right hook or three for his troubles. For his own troubles, Kieran ended up captured in the funhouse by the killer. Of course he was just bait for Emma to go looking for him but, of course also, she got away and Kieran got saved.
Another episode that sort of ran in place - the dangers of long-form murder mysteries is that it’s tough to have huge reveals every week. But next week Audrey should finally tell Emma everything she needs to know and we can assume the killer(s) will make another move.
Seriously, though, things don’t look good for Stavo or Eli. One of them will probably be a red herring. I’m not sure which one, though.

Wednesday, July 13, 2016

Scream Season 2 Episode 7

“Scream” last week left us last week with one character short one hand, the mayor making a mysterious allegiance with Kieran’s aunt and Audrey telling Noah a version of the truth about her involvement in the previous season’s festivities.
This week’s episode is another seemingly major turn in the events. Lots of people are paired off, Noah and Zoe go on a real date, Emma and Eli sneak off together, the sheriff and Emma’s mom are off being cryptic together, and Audrey tries to help Brooke clean up the mess she made with Branson (even though they have no idea what actually happened to him.)
We’ll start with Zoe and Noah. As Noah and Audrey go to get coffee, Zoe asks Noah if he wants to get together to study. Noah agrees, only to find out later that Zoe had something more romantic on her mind than studying. Which is all well and good - except the episode kept showing that he was blowing off Audrey during the date, which could be no big deal, but it still felt a touch calculated.
Emma and Kieran were weird and then she went off with Eli. Oh, the opening showed that Eli likes to sneak into peoples’ houses and watch them sleep. It definitely had an ‘American Psycho’ vibe to it. He does tell Emma about his game, although, it doesn’t sound quite as creepy as he describes it. (Fun fact, Charles Manson and his followers used to sneak into peoples’ houses just for the fun of it too. They called it ‘creepy crawls,’ Eli calls it ‘Goldilocksing.)
Brooke, meanwhile, goes to Audrey saying she needs help fixing the mess she made with Branson, namely that she left him handcuffed in a hotel room. (They don’t know what happened next.) They go to the hotel (which still uses actual keys, seriously, what century does this take place in?) only to find that there’s no evidence of the bloodbath that befell Branson, nor is he anywhere to be found. But whomever cleaned the place up left a video camera which caught the girls being there.
One thing I was presumably right about was Ms. Lang’s movitvations - she’s trying to write a book about The Lakewood Six. If there’s more to it, they seemingly took her off the table of being a killer when the killer threw her off a staircase. She could still live, and maybe she has some information on her tapes that would help solve the puzzle (maybe putting she and Noah closer to play off his crush on her from episode 1.)
Audrey and Brooke ended up at the school where the killer had set a trap for them (the same trap that resulted in Ms. Lang being tossed onto the concrete from a few levels up) but the janitor who arrived to help seemingly messed everything up. We don’t know what the killer had in store for Audrey, or, was it for Brooke? He went out of his way to separate them.
Still, Audrey ran to Noah after the scene at the school, effectively cock blocking him as he was about to score with Zoe. Zoe, meanwhile, listened to the recording Noah made of Audrey confessing to bringing Piper to Lakewood and then emailed it off. Hmm.
Emma’s mom (seriously, does she have a name, I cannot remember) and the Sheriff found a picture of young Emma at the old farmhouse.
Eli and Emma ended up at a model home which is also the home where the killer was storing the bloody bodies of Branson and the guy from the hotel. Just as things are heating up between the two of them, they literally start heating up as the building bursts into flames, and quickly burns to the ground, seemingly killing Branson who was still alive at that point. But that was the end so he could still survive. Sort of.
More importantly, though, while the killer was active this episode, nearly all the major characters were accounted for. Only Kieran, Gustavo, the Mayor and Eli’s mother were off the grid when it was all hitting the fan.

Wednesday, July 6, 2016

Scream Season 2 Episode 6

After last week’s more reflective episode the promise for this week seemed to be chaos and repercussions. While it may have been a little less chaotic than imagined, still, more and more true colors are being revealed, not that it’s becoming much clearer who the killer is, or, more likely, who the killers are.
The big cliffhanger last week, though, was Noah stealing Audrey’s phone and learning about all the contact she’s had with the killer. And, I gotta say, that was a helluva cliffhanger.
This week we find Noah a bit shellshocked to say the least, especially when Emma visits and finds Audrey at the center of Noah’s big board of suspects. Emma doesn’t believe it and Noah, interestingly, does not sell Audrey out. Emma wants proof, which Noah has, but he lets it go.
The mayor is up to shenanigans, too. He goes to Kieran’s aunt (who’s name escapes me) sort of seduces her and then says he has an off-the-record job for her. Does that mean he’s pulling the strings and she’s the one running around in the Ghostface costume now? Well, they want us to think that. What was going on between Jake and him was clarified a bit, and it certainly fuels the notion that the Mayor’s involved.
For the record, I love the smarmy mayor. Bryan Batt should be a lot more famous than he is.
Meanwhile, no one knows the kid from the hotel is dead yet, which is interesting. Apparently they don’t have very good cleaning crews at the local motel. But he’s still responding to Noah’s texts and arranges a secret meet-up to identify Piper’s accomplice.
The meeting is at an abandoned carnival. It’s so ridiculously a bad idea, right? Still, Noah goes, gets appropriately freaked out and bails, only to be captured and waking up tied to a broken down funhouse car, with Audrey tied to the car behind him.
Fearing his own death, Noah confesses all sorts of ridiculous things, hoping Audrey would join in and confess her crimes. She does ... to an extent, only to reveal this was all her plan to get them alone and to prove her innocence. The problem with that is the real killer decides to show up.
Emma decides to show up to. And Kieran. So the four of them seemingly save one another. Although, they probably could have ganged up on the killer too, who was still close enough to chase down. But then we wouldn’t have much to do for the next few episodes.
Oh, the emails from long-dead Riley that were being sent to Emma’s dad presumably came from Emma. Which is odd. But we don’t learn more about that.
Gustavo does some recon for Brooke, most notably that Branson’s apparently banging the new psychology teacher and she’s his alibi for the night Jake died.
What’s been our lesson so far on this show: Don’t F**K with Brooke. First she schedules a meeting with the teacher and says she was banging Mr. Branson and that she hooked up with him the night of Jake’s death. The teacher’s reaction proves she wasn’t with Branson. So Brooke arranges a rendevous with Branson, ties him to the bed and gets all the information she wants out of him. And a little bloodshed. Again, don’t f**k with Brooke.
The big piece of information from this scene, though, is that Jake was bribing Branson to get out of town and leave Brooke alone. And Jake said he was getting the money from The Mayor, which explains the texts on Jake’s phone that the sheriff has read.
Still, Gustavo enjoys playing with his prop killer mask a little too much.
Audrey goes to Noah and finally confesses everything. That she brought Piper to the city because she didn’t have anyone. She says she didn’t know that Piper was the killer, that Piper denied it even after they started happening. It explains a few things, but not everything. We still don’t know why Audrey’s girlfriend in season 1 had to die.
Oh, Brooke left Branson to escape the hotel room. But the killer found him first.

The end.