Chilling Adventures of Sabrina, Ep 3.6, (Dir. Michael Goi)


sabrina

I couldn’t totally tell if I was being entertained by this episode. I’m gonna say no because it’s taken me a week to write this. I have to review Sabrina in stages like getting oral surgery. They root canal you- Sabrina Season Opener, They put bone and hardware up into your gums – mid-season Sabrina, and finally you get a new fake tooth and it’s over- Sabrina Season Finale.

If it weren’t the live tweet sessions with Lisa, I would’ve lost it long ago.  Those banter sessions make the show pretty fun; it’s a shame that the writers and directors can’t achieve that on their very own. In that same vein, if Harvey gets to be any more boring, he’s just going to be recapping his favorite scenes from “How it’s Made” on the Science Channel.  Hey Sabrina, you know what’re swell? Diving Helmets!

At least in this episode, Sabrina didn’t have to find anything. FFS, every episode has been

I miss Nick. But, Sabrina the Town. NIIIIIIIICK!  Sabrina wait….

NO, I’ve to find Judas’ silver, a stop sign, and an Easter basket and have it back at the rec center by Midnight!

Meanwhile courtly intrigue, Caliban is proposing to Sabrina to be his Queen of Hell and he’ll prove he’s on the up and up by making a crappy spell to turn Roz back from stone.  To do this, Harvey has to give up the thing he loves most – his 19th Century Danish Coin Collection.  He actually had to kiss Roz and it would make her not want to have anything to do with him anymore.  They should’ve just had Harvey try express a fully formed thought- she would’ve rolled her stone body the hell out of Greendale lickity split! The kiss didn’t work because he supposedly still loves Sabrina.  Instead, they just capture Circe and she changes everyone back from stone. Oh well.

Hilda is super-gross and nearly full-on spider. She puts a glamour on and decides to hang out with Dr Cee.  Unfortunately, she losses her glamour and he sees all of her spiderness.  He does what any fiance would do and gets her some fast food.  Why not?  While he’s gone, she eats a guy who must be 90% balloon, given the blood splatter.  When he does return, Hilda corners Dr Cee, has him fertilize her eggs (somehow yeech), and kills him.  Hilda tells her sister to come and bring a gun and Zelda kills Hilda.  Afterall, Zelda used to kill Hilda once a month; so, Zelda puts Hilda in the resurrection plot device out front and waits for Hilda’s return.

Lastly, Lilith seduces father Blackwood so that she will have a Satan baby to keep Lucifer from killing her.  Why not?

This episode was not terrible, but not great.  It kind of made me sad for Hilda and the actress herself because she rarely gets to show any range.  In this episode, we find out that she has a broadway quality voice. Oh well, Lisa’s got the next one. Tag, you’re it!

The Things You Find on Netflix: The Stand at Paxton County (dir by Brett Hedlund)


The Stand at Paxton County, which is currently playing on Netflix, opens with an ominous title card warning us that what we’re about to see is “based on a true story.”

I may be alone in this but I find the term “based on a true story” to be fascinating.  It’s signifies that the film that we’re about to watch was inspired by something that actually happened but it’s not actually a recreation of that event.  It’s an invitation to watch and to try to figure out how much is true and how much is just a product of a screenwriter’s imagination.  “Based on a true story” is a real cinematic tease.

The Stand at Paxton County tells the story of Janna Connelly (Jacqueline Toboni), an army medic who is still haunted by her memories of serving in Afghanistan.  When her rancher father, Dell (Michael O’Neill), has a heart attack, Janna returns home to Paxton County, North Dakota.  What she discovers is that, after she left home, the ranch fell into disrepair.  Dell only has one ranch hand, a seemingly amiable doofus named Brock (Greg Perrow) and it doesn’t appear that Brock’s been doing a very good job.

When Sheriff Bostwick (Christopher McDonald) shows up to do a compliance check on the ranch, he finds a lot of problems.  When he returns with a cold-eyed veterinarian named Dr. Morel (Marwa Bernstein), Dell is informed that his ranch is in such disrepair that the sheriff can take away his livestock and essentially put Dell out of business!

How can the sheriff get away with this, Janna asks.  Dell explains that, years ago, the voters of the state voted down a proposition that would have given law enforcement the right to confiscate a rancher’s livestock.  However, a bunch of unelected lobbyists and left-wing activists went ahead and forced the law through the state legislature!  Now, the sheriff can pretty much do whatever he wants and anyone who tries to stand up for their Constitutional rights is subject to harassment and perhaps even murder!

While all of this is going on, Brock vanishes from the ranch.  It turns out that Brock is a professional bad employee who goes from ranch to ranch and goes out of his way to mess things up so that the ranchers lose their livestock.  The livestock is then sold to the highest bidder or sometimes the sheriff will just keep a horse for himself.  With Brock gone, Janna hires sexy Matt (Tyler Jacob Moore) to be the new ranch hand and then sets out to get justice for her father.

I had mixed feelings about The Stand at Paxton County.  On the one hand, I’m not a fan of the government regulation in general and I’m always happy to watch a libertarian-themed film.  Christopher McDonald’s smug and corrupt sheriff felt like a stand-in for all of the authoritarian-minded politicians and bureaucrats who have recently come out of the woodwork and used the COVID-19 pandemic to increase their own power.  (“Hey, it’s Clay Jenkins!” I said as soon as the sheriff showed up.)  So, on that level, I enjoyed the film.

Unfortunately, The Stand at Paxton County doesn’t just stick to criticizing the government for overstepping their authority.  Instead, it also portrays animal rights activists as being a part of a sinister financial conspiracy and that’s where it lost me.  It’s a lot easier to buy into the idea of a corrupt sheriff than it is to imagine the head of the PSCA sitting in a darkened war room and ordering his minions to torment one rancher, all so he can resell the rancher’s livestock.  That doesn’t mean that activists should be immune from criticism or that there isn’t a legitimate argument to be made that even well-intentioned regulations are vulnerable to abuse.  But the film’s portrayal of its central conspiracy just got a bit too cartoonish to be effective.  Once the villains went from being smug to being downright evil, it became impossible to take the movie seriously.  If the film had simply stuck to criticizing government overreach instead of imagining a shadowy conspiracy, it would have been a lot more effective.

The Stand at Paxton County has some lovely shots of the North Dakota countryside and Christopher McDonald is a wonderfully smarmy villain.  I always appreciate a film that has an anti-authoritarian subtext but The Stand At Paxton County is ultimately dragged down by its own heavy hand.

TV Review: Chilling Adventures of Sabrina 3.4 “The Hare Moon” (dir by Viet Nguyen)


I have to admit that I groaned a bit when I discovered that the fourth episode of part 3 of Chilling Adventures of Sabrina was going to center around yet another holiday.  Seriously, how many holidays do these witches have to celebrate over the course of year?  This time, the holiday was the Hare Moon, which involves everyone dressing in white, going on a picnic, and not killing a rabbit.  The holiday itself doesn’t make much sense and, to the show’s credit, this episode opens with Sabrina telling her aunts that it doesn’t make much sense.

So, I wasn’t expecting much from The Hare Moon but, to my surprise, it actually turned out to be a pretty good episode.  At the very least, it held my interest and that’s more than I can say for the episode that came immediately before this one.  I think it helped that a good deal of this episode took place in the woods during the day, which meant that I could, for once, actually see what was happening without having to strain my eyes.  I know that I spend a lot of time complaining about how underlit and dark the majority of Sabrina‘s interior scenes are but I think this episode proved my point.  When I could actually see who was talking, it was a lot easier for me to actually care about what they were talking about.

The highlight of this episode came when, during the Hare Moon ceremony, the witches ran into the pagan carnival people, who were all celebrating a holiday of their own.  The interaction between the two groups was wonderfully awkward and, even more importantly, the carnival people seem like worthy adversaries to the witches.  The carnival people worship the Green Man and, by the end of the episode, they had delivered an ultimatum to the witches.  The witches can either worship the Green Man or they can die.  Since the covens powers have been weakened by a petulant Satan, the witches are momentarily at a disadvantage.

In other developments, Harvey and Roz decided to investigate the carnival on their own, which led to Roz getting turned into a statue and …. well, I mean, it’s Harvey and Roz.  If either one of them had a personality beyond Harvey being amiably stupid and Roz having an overprotective father, it might be interesting but they don’t so who cares?  Nick also ended up setting Satan free because Nick’s main reason for being on the show is to do stuff like that.  Of course, the Spellmans were going to free Satan anyway so that they could get back their powers but Nick decided to go ahead and do it so now the Spellmans are still weak and even more screwed than before.  Way to go, Nick!

Anyway, this was actually a pretty entertaining episode.  The carnival people are wonderfully sinister and Will Swenson was well-cast as their leader. Kiernan Shipka remains the show’s greatest strength and even Miranda Otto and Lucy Davis got a few good lines in this episode.  There was still a bit too much filler but all in all, this was one of the better episodes.  If only every episode was this good.

The Titan (Dir. Lennart Ruff)- Review by Case Wright


Titan guy

Movies should first entertain, BUT in a pandemic, they really just need to be on the TV and better than Hallmark Channel Christmas movie background noise.  Lennart Ruff, the director, has an IMDB page similar to the film itself:  there’s moments of talent, but they’re muffled by a plot and directing style that morphs more than the lead character and he loses his fingers and genitals.

The Titan is part of an ever growing eco-disaster film sub-genre that basically want us to recycle or die. If it means these movies will stop, I will sort my plastic (no…no, I won’t).  The Earth is in collapse, but that doesn’t totally make sense either because the film says that the Earth is overpopulated, causing this eco-disaster.  However, it posits that 50%+ of the Earth population will perish….Ok….so wouldn’t we just be Populated then and return to normal over a period of centuries?  This is where I don’t get environmentalism; it has this underlying “I Told You So! Now, it’s all over and there’s nothing you can do about it! HA!” feel to it.

Professor Martin Collingwood (Tom Wilkinson) has a plan to get us off earth and survive by moving to Brooklyn… no wait… Titan the moon that’s around Saturn. But how will Professor Collingwood accomplish this task? He will do it with forced evolution and yelling a lot.  The key to his plan is Lieutenant Rick Janssen. A number of critics and dry white toast claim that Sam Worthington is a bland actor.  I don’t really see that as much as I think he’s trying to be very Gary Cooper and maybe he succeeds. Professor Collingwood arranges to have all these military heroes and Rick go through forced evolution so that they can survive the horrible conditions on Titan, lose their genitals.

As the forced evolution goes forward, Rick changes into an alien. Well? So? That’s what he was supposed to become and …. he did.  I did not understand the outrage with that.  He does end up looking like a space alien mated with a Pandora escapee, but this is about saving the species- sort of.

The last act act was as entertaining as it was disconnected from the preceding plot-line. There was killing, speeches, more killing, a quasi-love scene, anime-tentacle stuff goin on, and he kinda flies at end. It was weird.  It did have some syfy elements, but overall – it was really really dumb.

The biggest issue that I have with the film is that it goes from being directed like a documentary, which was fun to watch like an Apollo 11 behind the scenes feel.  Unfortunately, it went from that to a marriage struggle film, to an Erin Brokovich feel, to a monster movie, and then there was the whole flying around thing, tentacles doing things. It was was more all over the place than a drunken Jackson Pollack.

If it had just picked one genre instead of 30, it would’ve been a pretty great film.  Who are we kidding? You can’t leave your house and those 4800 rolls of toilet paper aren’t making you any healthier.  Really, it’s either this movie or Tiger King. I knew about people in Arkansas getting tigers for years and never sought to know more.  I might watch it eventually, but it rubs me the wrong way for now at least.  See how annoying it is when a person goes off on a tangent?  Imagine that for about two hours, but The Titan is louder than background noise and has no genitals.

Chilling Adventures of Sabrina, S3, Ep2 “Drag Me to Hell” (Dir Alex Pillai)


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Have you have ever been in a relationship that goes sour, but occasionally you get the hang out phone call and it’s really fun? That is what this show is.  It’s usually terrible, but every now and again, it has an episode so good that you’re like- Why can’t it be like this all the time?!!! Why’d you marry Tom?!!!! I mean…TOM?! REALLY?!

This episode through me for a curve because the director – Alex Pillai is not known for horror, but he really knows the soul of this show.  It’s supposed to be suspenseful with some shots that show that we are in comic book reality with practical effects.  The episode established the stakes early on, built up the tension, and pulled you into the characters. In short, this director has a gift for horror and should be hired right away!

The writing by Ashley Chin was really well done as well. I was seeing a lot of dramatic pieces and wondered? How did he have such a great head for horror/thrillers? Then, I saw it: The Walking Dead!!! BOOM! I hope he writes more horror; he is gifted! WHY WHY WHY can’t it be like this anymore?!!!!!!

Sabrina is getting used to her job as the new Lucifer all while juggling being a…. cheerleader? Sure, why not? Fine.  It turns out that Sabrina needs to be like Sam in Reaper and take sold souls to hell.  The first soul she meets is this elderly chess master and she….lets him go? Why? Well, this does not sit well with Hell’s bureaucracy!

So, the next soul to take is this seemingly nice ice cream van vendor.  Sabrina was about to get all mushy with him too because she is preternaturally incompetent, but this changes when he says that he should get another 7 year extension by killing a child.  In fact, he already kidnapped her, sending Sabrina (and her much happier friends when Sabrina is not around) to find the child and send the ice cream man to Hell.  Side Note: could they have gone Reservoir Dogs on the ice cream man and shortened the episode by 45 minutes? Yes, but this poor judgement is in character for Sabrina to NOT think of that because as stated before she is BAD AT EVERYTHING!

Sabrina searches and searches and when she discovers the whereabouts of the child, she ignores her friend who says she should not do the rescue alone and…. she gets captured because of course she does.  Don’t worry Sabrina finds a way o….just kidding no way not Sabrina; she needs to be rescued because she is BAD AT EVERYTHING! Despite Sabrina’s incompetence, the episode did not let up the suspense, the plot moved nicely and there is a great practical effect pay off when the ice cream man is caught.

Other events: Blackwood is captured, becomes the new vessel for Lucifer, and the Eldritch terrors are coming.  So you know what that means: Nick is back and there’s gonna be trouble. Hey na, hey na, Nick is back!

Get ready for Lisa’s reviews of 3 and 4!!!

cheer!

 

 

Chilling Adventures of Sabrina, S3,Ep1, “The Hellbound Heart” (Dir. Rob Seidenglanz)


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Welcome to horrorth….Wait a minute, it’s not October….it’s …February?  Yes.  Chilling Adventures of Sabrina is like a failed marriage, aging football player, or your dad posting a video on YouTube; it should’ve stopped awhile ago.  Kiernan Shipka is a great actress, but it’s like she’s been shackled to the Detroit Tigers.  It doesn’t help that the director Rob Seidenglanz could make the Titanic sinking feel like watching C-Span.

The entire episode from the Party City inspired costumes to the bad middle school sets to the pedestrian camera angles….it was just awful.  Although I do like seeing a Lead Character as a self-centered incompetent, it’s refreshing and accurate for life.  Am I going to watch and review this season? Of course I will, but I will be sharing the pain with Lisa who will review episodes 3-6. We may even do another Livetweet … Fingers Crossed!

We left off last season with Nick trapping the devil inside his brain and got carried off to Hell to save humanity.  Well, I guess to heck with all that heroism because Sabrina misses her boyfriend and she REALLY doesn’t care about anything or anyone else.

First, going to take Nick out of Hell, puts everyone at risk who is strong-armed into going with her on this unnecessary adventure. Second, if they get Nick back and he dies, Lucifer is unleashed upon our world.  Third, I don’t need a third; this is dumb.

Sabrina decides that she wants to go to Hell and get Nick out. Fine. She of course does the reasonable thing and just takes herself into Hell and doesn’t risk her friends lives.  No, she risks everyone: Harvey, Theo, and Rosalind.  Side Note: Rosalind was blind for a while, but can see now…that’s weird.  Sabrina pushes her friends around and then they agree to go to Hell with her.  One note, the second Sabrina isn’t around all of her friends they start singing and start a band.  They need to read some self-help books about toxic friends.

The group goes into hell and it really looks like a British Columbia beach. They run into Theo’s uncle who’s being tortured in Hell. Of course, Sabrina insists that they stop and help Theo’s uncle. NO, Sabrina’s an Owner of Lonely Heart and she’s gotta get Nick back or there’s gonna be trouble hey na hey na. During the journey, we see that Lilith is ruling Hell in a Party City outfit and 10 dollar crown.  For some reason, Lilith is angry at Sabrina and it’s not clear why.  There’s also this boring intrigue competition for the throne of hell and can you blame them?! It’s British Columbia beach front!!!!

Sabrina confronts Lilith… because I just don’t know why. Sigh. Sabrina ascends to the Hell Throne – I’m assuming that’s what it’s called.  However, Sabrina is just going to run Hell part-time like an Uber side-hustle because she’s got debate team, mathletes, and 4H; so, this is the LAST extra-curricular. Period.  Lilith will advise Sabrina in her part-time Hell-gig.  This is the best of the worst: Sabrina gets Nick out of hell and them…. puts him in a … dungeon. Yep, after all that, she puts him in a dungeon.  Fine. There’s a lot of exposition that there’s some “Old Ones” coming to town and I keep thinking it’s going to be Wilford Brimley.  Maybe, Sabrina will come down with Dia-beetus? Beach party

The Perfection, Review By Case Wright


perfection

Let me begin by writing that I love watching Netflix and I REALLY love livetweeting with Lisa and the rest of the Shattered Lens staff. We can coordinate times well and it’s easy to sync up.  This time, I was given the movie choosing authority and perhaps it will be my last.  I heard that The Perfection was a bit gory, but I figured come on, this is Shattered Lens- we Rocktober the October over here with our Horrorthon!  When I saw that Steven Weber was in it, I felt like ok, this is going to be like a Tales From the Crypt experience.  Well……….not so much.

The Perfection has trashy components to it and some cheaply built sets and the director REALLY wants you to know that they splurged and actually filmed in China! The best way to describe The Perfection is as an unaware, pretentious, and boring episode of Tales From the Crypt.  It had the victim goes to victimizer TFTC theme and the over the top gore, but it was always trying to be serious and important when it was just an overly long TFTC episode without any humor.

The plot is pretty straight-forward: Charlotte is a prodigy Cellist who left her art to care for her dying mother for ten-years.  When she tries to return to her life, she finds that a younger classmate Lizzy has attained the Cello fame that she sought.  She sees her old Mentor Anton (Steven Weber) and Charlotte is now the clear has-been.  Charlotte executes a plan to destroy Lizzy forever.  Charlotte meets Lizzy, seduces Lizzy, drugs Lizzy, and convinces Lizzy to chop her hand off.  Yep, another Hollywood girl meets girl, girl drugs girl, girl gets girl to chop her hand off story.  The Perfection was actually the original script for Love Actually.  The “To Me You Are Perfect” scene was just going to be Andrew Lincoln throwing severed hands at people – “To Me you are a perfect…Target” *throws hand at Juliet*.

Just when you think this movie will be a fun version of Black Swan it takes a turn for the dumb, gross.  Yes, I get that this was made by a post-Weinstein Miramax and it was showing how fame could encourage and condone horrible behavior, but it was done with so much exposition that it really caused the film to jerk from long explanations to gore and long explanations to gore and long explanations to trying a Subway Cold Cut Combo – even terrible movies get hungry.

I’m not sure if I should spoil this piece of trash or not.  It’s really not worth your time. Instead of watching this film you could eat a sandwich, do your taxes, plot revenge. However, it is nice to see that Steven Weber is still working – there’s that.