Twin Peaks: The Return pushes the ‘Lynchometer’ too high. TV series review

Twin Peaks is, arguably, the best TV show ever made. Mind you, it’s not my favourite – even though season 2 is among the closest ones to my heart – but its influence on quality TV shows is undeniable. As undeniable are its own values.

Twin Peaks 1At the beginning of the 90s, the first two seasons of this iconic TV show had revolutionised the language of modern TV series with the story of FBI Special Agent Dale Cooper (Kyle MacLachlan) investigating the murder of homecoming queen Laura Palmer (Sheryl Lee) in the fictional town of Twin Peaks, Washington.

Continue reading “Twin Peaks: The Return pushes the ‘Lynchometer’ too high. TV series review”

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A feature-length Goosebumps episode; only less scary and very uninspired. Wish Upon – movie review.

After Mortal Kombat: Annihilation (1997), Butterfly Effect 2 (2006) and Annabelle (2014), it’s now official: John R. Leonetti is among the worst horror directors ever!

Mind you, I never go into a flick wishing (no pun intended) it’s awful. As a matter of fact, I’m quite excited whenever I watch a film, even when the synopsis sounds laughably bad. Sure, I have my opinions on certain subjects or directors, but I try not to be biased while watching a film. For instance, I’m not the biggest fan of Andy Muschietti, but I can’t deny IT is one of the best horror films of the year and that he made a pretty great job with the material he had to work with.

All of this boring and self-referential intro is to explain that, no matter how hard I tried to find redeeming qualities in Wish Upon, this is a God-awful movie.

Firstly, the plot is taken by an episode of the Goosebumps TV series – Be Careful What You Wish For – which is more entertaining than Leonetti’s movie, despite the TV series campiness and the fact that it was made for children.

Wish Upon 217-year-old Claire (Joey King) is bullied at school, unpopular and unlucky with boys; until her father gives her a Chinese wish box. Claire uses it to wish for a better school life but soon enough discovers that every desire she tells the box requires a blood payment and people around her die inexplicably.

Before going into the analysis of technical flaws, let me just state that the script is highly stupid, almost downright offensive.

Wish Upon 1Claire, the character we are supposed to root for, discovers she has 7 wishes at her disposal and decides to use them to harm school rivals, get the boyfriend of her dreams, gain popularity. Not even once she thinks about, I don’t know, wish for world peace? End of terrorism? Nicolas Cage for President of the World?

Seriously, though, her character has been written so badly and that’s entirely Barbara Marshall’s fault and her dumb script.

Besides a terrible person as the lead and a silly script, Leonetti’s direction of Wish Upon is totally formulaic and aims to naïve horror viewers. For example, I counted the horror tropes (dog sensing things, dark shades moving around, lights out for no reason…) utilised in the movie: twenty-four! Basically, this flick rips off everything that has been done, with better results, in previous movies.

Plus, the soundtrack is mundane at best. It doesn’t match the tone of the movie and seems more suitable for a straight to television rom-com.

Even the colour scheme is generic and uninspired: this film uses a bluish tone throughout, a la The Ring, that should make us feel in danger, while the only feeling I got from this movie was boredom.

Wish Upon 3Also, other than an unintentionally laughable scene (a slap-fight in school between two girls), Wish Upon doesn’t even belong to the ‘so bad, it’s good’ category. Which is something that could have made this movie slightly enjoyable!

As a scary movie, Leonetti’s work fails on every level possible: throughout the entire runtime, there isn’t a single tense moment, a single effective jump-scare. Gore and violence? Forget about it. As a PG13 flick, Wish Upon doesn’t even dare using those techniques.

In conclusion, add the aspects mentioned above with some product placement and a few unimaginative deaths, and you’ll get a soulless, money-grabbing flick with no redeeming quality whatsoever. I feel sorry about being so hard on this movie, but that’s what it deserves. Cheers!

The long-time waited – and deserved – sequel to Regan’s story. The Exorcist – TV series review

The Exorcist (2016-2017) tells the story of Angela (Geena Davis), a mother in a wealthy family overwhelmed by tragedy and issues: her husband Harry is recovering from serious brain damages, her older daughter Kat is dealing with a serious trauma and consequent depression and her younger daughter, Casey… well, she’s possessed by a vicious demon.

The Exorcist TV 2Father Tomas Ortega (Alfonso Herrera), their community’s priest and “rising star” within the Church’s hierarchy, investigates on the case and tries to help the family go through their troubles, whilst being backed up by outcast exorcist Father Marcus Keane (Ben Daniels).

Meanwhile, a satanic cult – led by demons who reached the fully possession of their hosts – is trying to take over Chicago and kill the Pope in visit to the city.

Divided in 10 episodes, each one of them directed by a different person and based on the William Peter Blatty’s novel of the same name, The Exorcist is a sequel to the movie The Exorcist (1973). Which, mind you, I was completely unaware of, since I went into this series without knowing anything apart from the cast members.

So, if you have not seen it yet, I recommend you to go watch it immediately, without proceeding further in this review – which is going to contain minor spoilers and hints to the plot twists. I would only say that The Exorcist is probably the best horror series since AHS: Asylum (2012-2013).

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As was made obvious since the synopsis of the series, Father Tomas and Father Marcus team up to defeat – i.e. exorcise – the demon that’s possessing Casey, which seems to have a grudge against Angela’s family.

The demon itself is an entity that horror fans got to know already 44 years ago: Pazuzu, who, after having haunted Regan MacNeil in the movie, is now craving for the Rance family’s souls in the TV series.

Pazuzu – masterfully played by Robert Emmet Lunney – is a pivotal character in the series and is given a backstory and in-depth explanation of his behaviour which make him a very compelling villain.

Thus, the series perfectly links to the original film, enriching the characters and providing different outlooks to the story.

Moreover, contrarily to many TV series, all the actors have been cast appropriately, with Ben Daniels and Hannah Kasulka being the standouts. Geena Davis instead, who plays Angela Rance, seems quite an unlikable and unreliable character throughout the first 5 episodes. However, once her motivations and backstory are revealed, she becomes arguably the best, most rounded character in the series and she carries along huge chunks of the plot in the final episodes.

the-exorcistThe chemistry between Tomas and Marcus is also astounding. It reminds me of the contrasting relationship between Rust Cole and Marty Hart in True Detective (2013) – although such high levels of perfection could hardly be reached, in my opinion. Marcus (Ben Daniels) gives the required physicality to his role and avoids to going for the over-the-top route, which in some sequences must not have been easy.

Casey (Hannah Kasulka) is also a pleasant surprise: her character ranges from adorable and defenceless to unsettling and terrifying – in the first episode, for example, she’s absolutely frightening in the scene in the attic.

Despite the high-budget to their disposal, the directors decided to rely on CGI only in a few, minor scenes, whereas the practical effects and, especially, the makeup are always spot-on. Which is something worth-praising.

To be fair, I was a bit afraid when I’ve seen that every episode would have been directed by a different person. I thought the continuity could have suffered from it. Instead, the plot flows seamlessly and The Exorcist looks more like an 8-hour-long film than a series of 40-minute-long episodes.

Even though the series flows well, three episodes stand out in my opinion: the first one (captivating and suspenseful), the fifth (action-packed and intense) and the last (powerful, fulfilling and, surprisingly, emotional).

I can’t end this review, though, without mentioning the score: jaw-dropping! My ears were in pure delight listening to the remake of the original soundtrack from The Exorcist – the movie.

Overall, The Exorcist is an intense and satisfying ride that humbly pays homage to the film and novel of the same name. It also rarely holds back and combines horror elements (including bloody, violent and hyper-sexualised scenes) with intriguing sub-plots and interesting social commentaries, carried along altogether by a top-notch cast. Highly recommended. Cheers!