Categories
Comics

Tales From the Vault-Verse: The Last Book You’ll Ever Read

It seems as if my multidimensional friend neglected to mention that Olivia Kade’s book SATYR may be the root of mass violent hysteria on this Earth. They neglected to fill me in on that little fact until I was already on this Earth because and I quote, “I thought it would be funny to see your reaction. It was worth it.” So now I am sitting in the waiting room to speak with her during her book tour. Journalism is fun, right? It’ll just be nice for once to not have to explain the whole multidimensional traveler thing. Silver linings.

Interview with Olivia Kade

Credit: Cullen Bunn/Leila Leiz/Giada Marchisio/Jim Campbell (Vault Comics)

Dan: Ms. Kade, it is a pleasure to meet you. I like to start all of my interviews with a real heavy hitter…what’s your favorite sandwich?

Olivia: Did you know that it wasn’t that long ago that I was working at a sandwich shop? It’s true. I worked my way through much of college working at a deli, slinging turkey and swiss sandwiches. 

Funny how things change. 

And how rapidly. 

Anyway, in regards to your question, my favorite sandwich was a peanut butter and jelly sandwich that my father made for me when I was five. I remember sitting at the table, watching him work so meticulously to make that sandwich for me. His method of sandwich construction was so different from my mother’s. Mom would mix the peanut butter and jelly in a bowl before slathering it on the bread. Dad put jelly on one slice of the bread so evenly, so smoothly, and peanut butter on the other. He cut it into perfect halves. He cleanly sliced the crust off. 

It was the best sandwich I ever ate, because even at that young age, I appreciated that it was such a fleeting treat.

I knew it wouldn’t last. 

Dan: So SATYR…when did you start writing it?

Olivia: When I finished that sandwich maybe? (laughs)

This book wasn’t my dream. 

No, my dream was to write erotic horror fiction. I have several manuscripts somewhere in my office. They’re full of violence and bloodshed and sex. Most of them are unpublished. A couple of them saw print, but they were quickly forgotten.

I think I was working too hard to follow the “rules” of writing, and it stripped all the vitality from those pages.

Interestingly the unpublished manuscripts, the ones my agent quickly rejected, were much more satisfying. 

I started writing SATYR a couple of years ago. I went on a bit of a sabbatical, a retreat, to try and focus and prepare for my next novel. I secreted myself away at this great little bed and breakfast type place, out in the woods, away from everyone.

The book I planned on starting, though, didn’t come out the way I expected at all. It became, almost from the first word, the book you know as SATYR

It was the dreams, I think, that set me on that path.

The dreams…and the bellowing from the woods. 

Dan: The cover is a lot more tame than one would expect about a book exploring the morality of the human condition. What made you go that route?

Credit: Cullen Bunn/Leila Leiz/Giada Marchisio/Jim Campbell (Vault Comics)

Olivia: “Tame.” That’s an interesting choice of words, isn’t it? We’re all so tame. It’s true, though, I suppose. My publisher put together a number of different cover concepts, many of them far more sensational, even a bit shocking in some cases, but I thought it much more appropriate to start from a position of safety and comfort. The simple icon of a satyr, playing his pipe for all of us to dance to, seems appropriate. 


Dan: I heard you were recently attacked at a signing! I hate to bring it up but it’s my job…what was going through your mind as you were attacked?

Olivia: It’s to be expected, I suppose.

Credit: Cullen Bunn/Leila Leiz/Giada Marchisio/Jim Campbell (Vault Comics)

Dan: It seems as if a lot of attacks are happening and the media is trying to pin those crimes onto your book. How does that feel?

Olivia: You can’t really ask for better publicity, can you?

Certainly, there are times where I am frustrated with how my work is being represented… with how I am being represented as a writer… but I can’t control the message from the media any more than I can really control the message you’ll find in the pages of SATYR.

Now, you might say, “But you’re the author. Don’t you have complete control of the message?”

And that is a naive assumption, just as it is naive—even willfully ignorant—to say that my book is causing this collapse.

The collapse would be here with or without SATYR

I’m just trying to make the transition—the Wilding—a little less painful. 

Dan: Do you feel that your book shares anything similar with other famously controversial novels like Lolita, The Catcher in the Rye, and American Psycho to name a few?

Olivia: Hmm.

I don’t think a comparison to those books is quite right. 

If we’re going to make a comparison to a controversial book responsible for mass violence, maybe THE BIBLE?

Or maybe HOW TO STAY ALIVE IN THE WOODS.

Dan: In the book, you make a claim that people are becoming more feral…do you mean this in a way that we are more animalistic or less conservative with some of our etiquette?

Olivia: The concepts of conservatism and liberalism, moderation and orthodoxy, traditionalism and pliability, are flying out the window, and as the glass shatters, the structures housing those windows are collapsing. It’s not that any one person is becoming more feral. It’s that we’re all heading that way. So etiquette is going the way of the dodo, along with social graces and politeness and expectations and even laws. I mean, do we value those things anyway? We like to say we do. But those are old, self-inflicted wounds and we’re starting to pick the scab away in order to see how our flesh is scarred underneath. 

Credit: Cullen Bunn/Leila Leiz/Giada Marchisio/Vlad Popov/Jim Campbell (Vault Comics)

Dan: Do you think the written word holds the same power today as it once did before the invention of the technology the world relies so heavily on today? And we can keep this one off of the record Ms. Kade but I have to ask for myself, do you think you are going to be okay after all of this? If all of this does link back to you…how will you sleep?

Olivia: Soon enough, the technology of it all won’t matter. You see that, right? We won’t be communicating as we are right now, not using technology, not using the written word, definitely not using them in conjunction with one another. And yet, the written word, translated through technology, doled out in small bites without the safety blankets of intonation, intention, and context, have moved us towards the singularity. Our steadfast determination that our ideas, philosophy, and faith can be conveyed in less than 280 characters…our knee-jerk reactions to those distilled opinions and belief systems… have been gnawing away at the paper-thin skin of civilization for years. 

When the dust settles, I imagine I’ll sleep just fine, along with the rest of the pack, nuzzled up together in a dark, warm den, somewhere deep in the earth. 

I am, after all, right here in the middle of this with everyone else. 

My book isn’t the cause, I mentioned. It’s not even a testimony. It’s more of a survival guide, really. 

The Last Book You’ll Ever Read is on sale now from Vault Comics! Written by Cullen Bunn, art by Leila Leiz, colored by Giada Marchisio and Vlad Popov, and letters by Jim Campbell!

And a thank you to Cullen Bunn for the interview!

Categories
Uncategorized

Hawkeye: The MCU’s Latest TV Outing Hits the Bullseye

I am not a Hawkeye guy, I am not a Hawkguy. Clint has always been on the edge of the things I typically read. That was until my brother finally bullied me into picking up Matt Fraction and David Aja’s definitive run on the character. A run filled with heart, action, and characters who are often hot messes. Hawkeye on Disney+ takes much of its inspiration from the run, including Pizza Dog. It flips the roles though and Kate Bishop is treated as our POV from the jump. I thought my interest in the MCU was as dead as Tony Stark but Hawkeye pulled me right back in with a smile on my face.

Some time after Avengers: Endgame, Clint Barton AKA Hawkeye is trying to enjoy the holiday season in NYC with his kids. At the same time across town, Kate Bishop is quickly getting in way over her head. Both have to come together to face the ramifications of Clint’s time as Ronin during the blip. The first two episodes are filled with a lot of great character moments and some very funny gags.

Kate Bishop (Hailee Steinfeld) in Marvel Studios’ HAWKEYE, exclusively on Disney+. Photo by Chuck Zlotnick. ©Marvel Studios 2021. All Rights Reserved.

After the constant world ending threats of most of the films, pulling back to a more street level story is where the show finds its greatest strength. There are no major CGI monsters in the first two episodes and it leaves more room for the characters to shine in well choreographed fight scenes. The tracksuit mafia are wonderful villains that will often make you laugh but also bring some hard hitting street fighting against Kate Bishop. It blends a bit more of the comedy and the action more naturally than the other Disney Plus series. There are some elements of mystery and corporate intrigue in the first two episodes of Hawkeye that could lead to an exhilarating story of one silly hero facing the consequences of becoming a killer ninja.

(L-R): Kate Bishop (Hailee Steinfeld) and Hawkeye/Clint Barton (Jeremy Renner) in Marvel Studios’ HAWKEYE, exclusively on Disney+. Photo by Chuck Zlotnick. ©Marvel Studios 2021. All Rights Reserved.

Hawkeye really has its best moments when it’s just two characters interacting in the quiet in between moments. Hailee Steinfeld steals the show as Kate Bishop who can easily run circles around Clint if she was properly trained. There is a scene in the first episode shared with Kate’s mother played by Vera Farmiga where she is being reprimanded for a stunt she pulled. There are a handful of jokes but Farmiga acknowledges it before actually connecting with her daughter. Their performances are wonderful and make me excited to see what’s coming next.

Hailee Steinfeld as Kate Bishop in Marvel Studios’ HAWKEYE. Photo by Chuck Zlotnick. © Marvel Studios 2021. All Rights Reserved.

To quote the great Al Pacino, just when I thought I was out…they drag me back in. But I am not kicking and screaming because as much as I was lukewarm on Hawkeye going in, I truly ended up loving the first two episodes and am excited to see where the series go.

P.S. Pizza Dog is adorable, 10/10 for being a good boy.

Categories
Film

The Shrink Next Door Showcases Will Ferrell and Paul Rudd’s Acting Range in a Devastating True Story

Therapy is a scary thing for some people to accept but what if you finally accept it and your therapist turns out to be the devil incarnate? In The Shrink Next Door, based on the story of Isaac “Ike” Herschkopf, a therapist who controlled his patients lives for nearly 30 years. It wasn’t until 2019 that his license was revoked after the podcast of the same name, which the show is based on, exposed him to the world at large.

The Apple TV+ adaptation of the story and podcast is written by Georgia Pritchett who’s former work includes Veep, Succession, and The Thick Of It. The dialogue is sharp with its humor but it can quickly turn to a very real depiction of mental health. Michael Showalter serves as the series director who’s previous work includes co-creating Wet Hot American Summer and directing The Big Sick. The show has a lot of incredible talent with a story that takes place over a large gap of time. The directing for the scenes where Martin Markowitz, played by Will Ferrell, is receiving therapy from Isaac “Ike” Herschkopf, played by Paul Rudd, is incredible. The focus on the individual actors as they go back and fourth in therapy keeps the tension and emotion very tight.

Paul Rudd and Will Ferrell in “The Shrink Next Door” premiering November 12, 2021 on Apple TV+.

When I first saw the trailer for this show, I couldn’t wait to watch. Seeing actors who are mainly known for their work with comedy getting to play roles where they explore more dramatic stories is always interesting to me. Both actors have played dramatic roles in the past but putting these two up against one another allows for such raw emotional human moments. Will Ferrell has a panic attack at one point that has some comedic elements as his sister played by Kathryn Hahn tries to get him up. While it’s humorous, watching as Ferrell gets to the point of the attack as he is yelled at by a customer felt true to life. You can read it in his face before he has to excuse himself to hide and try to regain himself.

Paul Rudd plays the doctor, the devil in disguise of the show. The character is extremely charismatic and forces you to like him. He’s funny, insightful, and below it all is something insidious. Will Ferrell clearly doesn’t want to go to therapy until he gets there and Ike takes him out and about. With every scene, we can see how Ike quickly slips under Ferrell’s skin and start to guide his entire life. It’s a wonderful performance from Rudd as we can see glimmers of his true intentions under the veneer of a doctor. At its roots, it’s like watching a horror film. In a space where you go to be vulnerable, you are taken advantage of and twisted by a charismatic monster that just so happens to be played by Paul Rudd, who brings the heat to the performance.

Apple TV+ proves over and over again that it is a streaming service that is making it’s own space in the coliseum of services. The shows may not be as numerous but with shows like Ted Lasso, Dickinson, and now The Shrink Next Door, the ticket price is worth it for the amount of quality shows you get. The Shrink Next Door is worth checking out when it comes out on November 12th even if its just to see Will Ferrell and Paul Rudd as a duo.

Categories
Television

Dexter: New Blood Decimates Expectations with a Renewed Lease on Life

As hard as I have tried, I could not get over the ending of the original series of Dexter. It left me with blood splattered across my face and the question of “what’s next for Dexter Morgan?”. While some people prefer to leave doors closed after someone leaves their lives, I wanted to see what was next. How does a prolific serial killer get away with it all and then continue living? Thankfully, we now have Dexter: New Blood so my thirst can finally be quenched as neatly as a droplet of blood between two panes of glass.

Set 10 years after Dexter Morgan reportedly died in a boating accident, we find our main character in the small town of Iron Lake, New York. He’s now going by the name Jim and he’s just another friendly face in this small town. But the dead don’t stay buried for long as Dexter’s dark passenger appears and the urge to deal out his own brand of justice bubbles up to the surface. When Dexter’s estranged son Harrison shows up at his door step, things begin to spiral far out of control for a serial killer who’s just shaking off his rust.

Picking Up the Blood Trail

DEXTER: NEW BLOOD Key Art. Photo credit: SHOWTIME.

While the original series limped to the finish, Dexter: New Blood returns with the humor, sharp inner monologue, and the feeling the original series had in it’s earlier seasons. I watched the first four episodes and could not help but click play on the next one despite knowing I should space it out. The first episode’s set up of the new location is a much more interesting world than that of the previous Miami. Dexter’s new life is fleshed out with friends, a job, and a name that everyone in town knows. The set up is a perfect balancing act that I couldn’t wait to see how it starts to fall apart.

Seeing Dexter as a normal guy who works at a hunting shop and not a blood splatter analysist is a very nice change of pace. Watching a character that we know is a brutal killer do things like line dance, talk to friends about pets, and mundane stuff is a concept that I love seeing explored. The series is a welcome return when it could have just as easily felt like cashing in on the originals nostalgia. That isn’t to say there aren’t plenty of Easter eggs and things for fans to see.

Things Change

(L-R): Michael C. Hall as Dexter and Jennifer Carpenter as Deb in DEXTER: NEW BLOOD, “Cold Snap”. Photo credit: Seacia Pavao/SHOWTIME.

Dexter has changed as much as he can after leaving everything behind including his own son and the life he knew. But his Dark Passenger is still riding shotgun in his mind in Dexter: New Blood. Once it was a visage of his late father, his teacher in the ways of killing, now is replaced by his sister Deb whom he killed. This change brings with it a new style of Dark Passenger who constantly screams in Dexter’s face about what he’s doing. There are some stylized bits that I do not want to spoil but the change to Deb is the best move of the new series.

Michael C. Hall and Jennifer Carpenter have always had great on-screen chemistry but this is different. Carpenter doesn’t have to hold anything back as she did when Deb was a cop trying to keep her own life together. Her entire goal now is to point out her brother’s flaws and his missteps. Both give wonderful performances that made me miss seeing them every week for years.

No Secrets in a Small Town

(L-R): Clancy Brown as Kurt Caldwell, Johnny Sequoyah as Audrey Bishop, Jack Alcott as Harrison Morgan, Alano Miller as Logan, Julia Jones as Angela Bishop, Michael C. Hall as Dexter Morgan and Jennifer Carpenter as Debra Morgan in DEXTER: NEW BLOOD. Photo credit: Kurt Iswarienko/SHOWTIME.

The small town setting is such a strength for Dexter: New Blood to introduce its new cast. Dexter is dating the chief of police Angela Bishop, played by Julia Jones. Her performance is wonderful as she starts learning “Jim”‘s secrets. Everyone in the town smiles and waves at Jim but there is a lot of things going on in town with protests, disappearances, and all of the whispers you find in a place like that. There is so much set up to explore and find out during the season. It feels more contained than the original series does but that is why I think the show is very succesful in honing in on what made Dexter special.

Should You Watch?

Michael C. Hall in DEXTER: NEW BLOOD. Photo credit: Kurt Iswarienko/SHOWTIME.

It’s been a long time since I got to see Michael C. Hall on my screen every week. Dexter: New Blood is a wonderful return for long time fans but is definitely worth checking out for new fans as well who want to unravel the mystery of who Dexter Morgan was.

Categories
Television

Star Trek: Prodigy Gives a Spectacular Entry Point for New Fans

Growing up, I was an angry young man. I can admit that now as my entire worldview has changed. Star Trek was always a series I couldn’t be bothered with in the slightest because it was Star Wars or nothing. That is until I had the series gate crashed on my own podcast. Now, I am proud to call myself a Trekkie. I think a huge component of my inability to get into a Trek show was that there was never one aimed at younger audiences. They always felt boring as a kid and that cemented the view in my young mind. That has changed now as Star Trek: Prodigy is the ultimate gateway into the Star Trek universe for young viewers! Star Trek: Prodigy has a crew of outsiders and off-beat weirdos trying to find their place in the universe which instantly captured my heart. 

Star Trek: Prodigy was developed by the Emmy Award winners Kevin and Dan Hageman who worked on one of my favorite shows, Trollhunters. This is the first Star Trek show aimed at younger audiences and the crew reflects that as we follow 6 young alien outcasts as they journey through the galaxy. Another fun twist on the Star Trek formula that Prodigy brings is that they know NOTHING about their ship. The only other show even close to having a crew being so unfamiliar with their main base of operations is Deep Space Nine.

Pictured: Brett Gray as Dal of the Paramount+ series Star Trek: Prodigy. Photo Cr: Nickelodeon/Paramount+ ©2021, All Rights Reserved.

The one-hour premiere “Lost and Found” follows Dal as he tries to escape imprisonment and meets the people who will end up becoming his crew. Each character is completely unique with their own wants, needs, and fears. For me, what made me love the entire crew was that they were all weirdos. There was no typical “Captain” character with Dal just making things up as he goes along. The closest thing they have to guidance is Captain Janeway, with Kate Mulgrew reprising her role. This inclusion will be a plus for older fans of the show who can now enjoy Trek with their children.

Pictured: Brett Gray as Dal of the Paramount+ series Star Trek: Prodigy. Photo Cr: Nickelodeon/Paramount+ ©2021, All Rights Reserved.

With the show being CGI rather than live-action, they are able to pull off some much larger scale actions scenes along with a much heavier emphasis on aliens. Having a full cast of aliens in a live-action show would be a nightmare for the cast but in animation, it soars. The look of the show is unique amongst other Star Trek shows and it really makes the experience of the show that much stronger.

While the show is meant for younger audiences, I had a blast watching it as a new fan of Trek because it feels like I have my own crew now. Characters who I can watch develop, change, and grow over time as I have done since letting Star Trek into my heart. I have the highest hopes that this show is going to fill hearts with wonder, hope, and a sense of discovery.

Pictured: Rylee Alazraqui as Rok-Tahk of the Paramount+ series Star Trek: Prodigy. Photo Cr: Nickelodeon/Paramount+ ©2021, All Rights Reserved.

One final note, Rok-Tahk is the most wonderful thing that has been created for Star Trek since Quark.

Categories
Television

Aquaman: King Of Atlantis Chapter 2 “Primordeus” Keeps the Tides Coming In: Spoiler-Free Review

Who lives in Atlantis under the sea! ARTHUR CURRY! That’s right readers, another week and another Aquaman adventure in the Aquaman: King of Atlantis trilogy of specials on HBO Max. I have to be honest with you and say I am dreading next week. I love the idea of a three part series but this week’s episode made me fall so much more in love with the show. I don’t know how I am going to be able to let go. But just like Rose did with Jack, we will have to let it slip into the ocean when the time comes.

ANYWAY! Aquaman: King of Atlantis Chapter 2 “Primordeus” continues the laughs, heart, and action from Chapter 1. It has been a full year since we have last seen Atlantis as time passed differently where the gang was last time. The throne defaulted back to Ocean Master, again in the lapsed time. This week we find the new king (again) Aquaman and Mera as they chase Ocean Master who has taken Aquaman’s trident. During the chase, the heroes face one of Aquaman’s most dastardly foes… THE FISHERMAN! There are also some very interesting horror elements with some very well designed and goofy sea monsters.

Aquaman is struggling hard with being a good king in this episode. His trident was stolen, he cannot throw Ocean Master into jail, and his subjects think he is a joke. The pursuit of Ocean Master takes the duo of Aquaman and Mera through Atlantis as they have to deal with the destruction that Ocean Master is leaving in his wake. The only thing is though… the citizens keep cheering for Ocean Master. The bit is hilarious especially when Ocean Master causes two shops to crash together and their drivers still cheer for him. But beneath the humor we are seeing the Atlanteans cheering for the former king and a villain rather than Aquaman who is struggling with believing in himself. Atlanteans are the worst even in the comics, I will stick by this notion. But seeing Aquaman trying to prove himself to them to no avail is something that makes you root for him more. I think it’s a reason the character is relatable in general but the show captures this so well. 

The art style of this show is on full display in this episode with some very flamboyant Atlantean citizen designs. Each sea creature looks uniquely different from one another that makes the city feel fleshed out where it may not have if it was all copy and paste generic looks. There is a cutaway card with the word clams that made me almost choke on what I was drinking. While a lot of it is goofy and fun, the design of The Fisherman is actually pretty unsettling for as goofy as it is. There are also a number of sea monsters that come in later in the episode that are all extremely cool to look at. I found myself pausing the episode to get a good look at them.

I don’t want to spoil anything for the episode because it really is such a fun romp with a clear love for the characters and the world’s they inhabit. I do need to touch on one thing that all Aquaman fans will see and smile. Topo is in this episode for a brief moment and that is worth the price of a month of HBO MAX alone. Topo is a beautiful musical octopus. Speaking of musical, Aquaman sings in this episode to explain his powers. Any show that has a musical number is an instant classic in my book so I may be a little bias here. This series is very much worth your time. I hope you dive in and check out both chapters that are available. I need more of this so just watch it on repeat. Do it for Topo.

Categories
Books

Nothing But Blackened Teeth and Social Dread: Spoiler-Free Review

Horror is a genre that is much more flexible in approach than any other in my opinion. You can tell such unique stories that explore themes like sexuality, trauma, and mental illness through monsters and the unknown. While Nothing But Blackened Teeth does have some supernatural elements and monsters in its pages, what crawled up my spine most was the social dread brought upon by the group dynamics. It’s a very scary book but what truly terrified me most was the unknown element of what a group’s relationship history could unearth.

Nothing But Blackened Teeth follows said group of friends as they gather at an abandoned Heian-era mansion to celebrate a marriage. The mansion is supposedly packed full of girls who were sacrificed to keep the bones of a bridge company. If I were a better salesman, I would slap the walls of this mansion and make a joke about “this bad boy can fit so many skeletons!” This sounds like the perfect venue to celebrate what should be the happiest day of your life right? Things quickly descend into terror as the ghost bride with blackened teeth comes to the party.

This story is full of references to Japanese culture and lore which I cannot personally speak to. I found myself looking things up more out of curiosity to learn more rather than needing it to enjoy the story. There was one thing I did know, which happens to be about Tanuki and their big balls, if that tells you about who I am as a human being. But I will not be focusing on those things for my review of the story. I want to focus on friendship.

Cassandra Khaw created a fully fleshed out circle of friends with utmost accuracy to real feelings, complicated pasts, and the messy interworkings that come with time. Cat, our main protagonist, gives descriptions of her friends as only someone who has known them for years could. Khaw masterfully peels back the exterior layers of their characters, stripping the friends of the carefully curated masks they show the world to who they actually are underneath. Every character in the story is fully fleshed out with a web of emotions and pasts with one another. As I found myself sinking deeper into the abyss of other people’s lives, I could see the different pieces falling into place and could almost tell where some lines were going to cross. But then other things never came to be, truths that will always stayed buried like the many corpses holding this mansion up. Khaw’s writing in the 128-page novella created characters so well realized where some 500-page novels never accomplish such a feat.

Everything about this story is tight, cutting, and horrific. From the web of feelings amongst the group to the turn into the darkness it takes about halfway through, Cassandra Khaw has written a story that leaves you a bit shaken. I do not want to give anything away which is why I speak so vaguely but I want to make one thing clear. The ending of this story is truly horrific in ways you cannot comprehend until you read it. I just hope once you finish it, you don’t see the blackened teeth yourself.

Nothing But Blackened Teeth from Tor Nightfire is available for purchase October 19th, 2021 at your local independent bookstore or wherever fine books are sold.

Categories
Television

I Know What You Did Last Summer Modernizes 90’s Horror Vibes: Spoiler-Free Review

Reader, I will be up front with you and say that I have never seen the original I Know What You Did Last Summer. I come to this show with no nostalgia for the films whatsoever so I am nothing but a clean slate for a revenge tale. There is no reason to why I haven’t but it may be the only 90’s horror film I haven’t watched. Growing up in the 90’s meant sneaking as many horror films as I could, starting with my first horror film Scream. I always felt like I came in at the tail end of the slasher genre after the entire rulebook was being handed out on screen. Watching I Know What You did Last Summer brought back a lot of the feelings of watching a slasher for the first time as I sat and watched the first four episodes.

A lot of modern horror films are very cerebral in the mainstream and that’s totally great. But sometimes I want to watch a bunch of messy college students be dumb, horny, and just kind of awful to one another. The show follows the same model as the movie, both of which are based on the novel by Lois Duncan. A group of teenagers commit a vehicular manslaughter, all decide to keep the dark secret in the group, and the next summer… trouble comes calling. The show doesn’t rely on an urban legend killer like the film did with “the hook”. This is a vague summary because I do not want to give away a single piece of this incredible puzzle.

When I heard about this show, I was wrapping up my viewing of the Scream television shows third season so I immediately wanted to seek this out. While I liked Scream, I think IKWYDLS does a better job of adapting a story in a new and original way. The writer and producer Sara Goodman also worked on the series Gossip Girl which is why I feel comfortable saying that this show is the Gossip Girl of horror. It follows a group with a lot of secrets that will ultimately be their undoing. The friends have known one another since they were children so there are bound to be secrets amongst them.

The dynamics of the group are set up in one of the opening scenes at their high school graduation party. This party is flashbacked to throughout the first few episodes to show us new moments of vulnerability, betrayal, and connection between our main cast. The party is full of drinking, drugs, and larger than life scenes which is where I bought into the show. It harkens back to those horror films where this kind of party would happen to set everything up. Returning to the scene after we learn more about each character is a very well pulled off story telling element.

There is also an element in this show that a lot of horror lacks in the mainstream today, horniness. I debated whether or not to talk about this but I think it is integral to the genre that spawned this show, the slasher. Everyone describes movies like Friday the 13th as “a group of horny teenagers” and this follows closely in that vein. There is an abundance of overt horniness in the opening scenes and a lot of it leads to the problems for the group. The show doesn’t shy away from it’s sexuality across the board which leads to very interesting group dynamics and a show unafraid of the tropes of its genre.

While every actor gives a great performance, one that stood out to me was Madison Iseman’s role as Lennon & Allison, the twin leads of the show. She plays each in a way that they are uniquely different but with the dynamic that they are sisters with complicated feelings for one another. I cannot get into details because it would be spoiler country but if not for anything, watch the show to watch Madison’s performance because it’s mind blowing at times.

If you have never seen the film, the I Know What You Did Last Summer show is still worth your time. It captures the energy of a 90’s horror film in a more modern setting as each of the group faces their dirty little secrets head on as someone starts to kill them off one by one in this spectacular reimagining.

Categories
Television

Aquaman: King of Atlantis is a Home Run for the Underwater Hero

Growing up, Aquaman was my favorite superhero and is still to this day. Finding others who felt the same way wasn’t easy. Everyone else loved Batman, Superman, or the Flash. We all know the jokes about “he talks to fish” by now and how that became a really popular sentiment as I grew up. There is so much more below the surface of this but it doesn’t matter anymore because in 2018, I sat in a packed theatre full of people there to see Aquaman. My hero. Now, Aquaman is a character you can find almost everywhere. It’s only right that he get a cartoon fit for a king.

Aquaman: King of Atlantis is an absolute riot. When the first stills of the series were shared on line, a lot of people were quick to write it off for it’s outlandish animation style and goofy aesthetic. When I saw it, all I could think about was a whole new generation having an Aquaman cartoon while all I had was cameos. The show follows Aquaman, a freshly minted King of Atlantis after defeating his half-brother Ocean Master. It serves almost as a sequel to James Wan’s film, who serves as the show’s producer.

The first of three hour long chapters is called “Dead Sea” which follows Aquaman, voice by Cooper Andrews, and Mera, voiced by Gillian Anderson, as they go to look into the mysterious disappearance of one of Atlantis’s outposts at the edge of the kingdom. Through the adventure, we meet some delightfully vibrant characters that glow with the shows style and humor. The story showcases an Aquaman who is just learning what it means to be a leader and more importantly, a hero. The humor is sometimes aimed at Aquaman but it’s never in a way that makes him a joke as we have seen in media for years prior. The action sequences soar high to take full effect of the larger than life animation style of the show. Each swing and punch is larger than life in a way that brings pizazz to the show unlike any other superhero cartoon out right now.

One aspect I wanted to focus in on was Arthur and Mera dynamic with one another. Cooper Andrews and Gillan Anderson have a great chemistry in their voice acting as these characters. Mera is a Plan A punching-type character while Aquaman tries to figure things out with a bit more logic before punching. Their back and fourth in the first special is never bickering but more the playful banter of a young couple on a grand adventure. They’re both so much fun. There is a running gag of Mera not understanding baseball that is one of the funniest bits from the premiere. Another important thing of note is that Mera is never treated like a sidekick in the show, she is always Aquaman’s equal which is important because Mera could quickly become a hero for young kids as well. Both have their shortcomings which they overcome. I could watch the two sit and talk in a ship for hours.

As soon as I heard the angelic over the top theme song, I knew this was going to be a treat of a show. From start to finish, I was laughing with a big smile on my face. I hope there is a kid out there who is waiting for this to come out on Oct. 14th on HBO Max because they cannot wait to see their hero. It would have meant the world to me at a young age so I hope it finds it’s audience.

Categories
Film

V/H/S 94 Tears Back Into What Made the Series Special

Have you ever had the feeling that you weren’t supposed to be watching something? Maybe you were young and you waited till your parents were asleep to pop a horror film into the VCR. Or maybe you were watching horrific videos deep on the internet that you should not have been. Either way, you know that feeling of shivers running up your spine as you quietly peak over your shoulder out of the fear that something would get you or that you would be caught. V/H/S 94 captures that feeling as you watch a series of stories too cursed for human consumption. This is exactly what I wanted from the film and it hit the mark perfectly.

I don’t want to tread too far from the review but V/H/S: Viral really missed the mark and by a large margin. I thought that would be the end but when I saw that 94 was coming, my excitement had to be tapered. I couldn’t set myself up to have my heart broken again, NOT AGAIN. But my heart is in one piece even if I got covered in blood watching this movie. The first two films are what convinced me there was still so much potential left in the found footage genre as a whole. Each of the anthologies stories has a different writer and director that gives each segment it’s own unique feel. The frame story “Holy Hell” written and directed by Jennifer Reeder, follows a SWAT team raiding what they think is a drug lab but what they find is so much worse. What they find is a cult like group who holds thousands of V/H/S tapes of videos that could be compared to snuff films but they all have some weird supernatural elements in them. From there we get four stories in between the frame story elements.

The first of the stories is “Storm Drain”, written and directed by Chloe Okuno, follows a news reporter and cameraman investigating a rat man that has been seen in the sewers. This is a fantastic start for the anthology as it captures that grungy vibe with plenty of tearing in the video itself. Those elements of making it look like a real V/H/S just adds to that low budget feeling that stays through the film. Without spoiling too much, this story has some very cool practical monster work that had me rewinding to get a better look. As the main character is a news reporter, we get some cheesy local news bits that are very different from the start to the finish.

The second tale “The Empty Wake” by Simon Barrett, is a story about a young woman who is working at a funeral home where she has to be there for a wake that has overnight hours. Things get weird when only one person shows up. This story has some cameras set up around the room that really feed into the fear as things start to get weird. It’s a fantastic performance when the entire scene really focuses on one person to build the tension.

Souce: @Timobros on twitter

The third and best of the stories “The Subject”, written and directed by Timo Tjahjanto, is a mad scientist story. I don’t want to go into too much detail about this one because the camera use in it is fantastic. What really stands out in this one is the POV camerawork that is used to make you invest your hope in a young girl who has been experimented on by a mad scientist. She goes from fearful to an absolute badass by the end of the story. At some points, it felt like I was watching someone play a FPS game so much that I wanted to pick up a controller to help her. She even has a health bar! There are so many elements at play in this one that made it stand above the rest.

The fourth story “Terror”, written and directed by Ryan Prows, was the weakest of the film. It follows a group of satirical white supremacists as they plan to use a monster to attack a government building. This was the dud for me as there really wasn’t much to capture me as a viewer. It felt like I was watching a very weird episode of The Trailer Park Boys at times. I cannot explain that feeling any further.

Even with the final story of the batch being less than stellar, V/H/S 94 brought the series back to it’s former glory for me. If you enjoy found footage horror, I highly recommend you check this one out. It’s out now, streaming on Shudder!