It’s a new season for American Horror Story! Our beloved campy horror anthology series returns with another twist; the double feature! Double features appeared during the Great Depression as a way to boost ticket sales. The premise is simple: rather than show a single film to an audience you show two. Two full length features. As this applies to AHS Season 10, we get two distinct parts. While it’s unclear whether or not there will be any overlap (traditional double features are completely separate films) between the parts, we do know that some of the same cast will be coming back to different roles in Part 2. So, let’s crack into Episode 1, “Cape Fear”!
The episode begins with desolate and lonely shots of sand dunes and the ocean. The lighting is cold and flat. We’re given that this is not a beach goers paradise or even a cozy haven to escape to during the off season. A dark SUV drives down an empty road and we are introduced to our main characters. A family. White and upper middle-class by the look of the car and the clothes. In fact, it might as well be a nuclear family stereotype. We have the dashing husband, the blonde (and pregnant) wife and young daughter. The family is escaping life in the city -presumably NYC or possibly Boston – to find a quiet place for the husband Harry Gardner (played by Finn Wittrock) to find inspiration. Harry is a screenwriter and is under pressure to turn out a script to end all scripts. Harry’s wife, Doris Gardner (played by the amazing Lily Rabe), while unsure of the move, is supportive and is hoping that the move will help her interior decorating business get off the ground. Their daughter, Alma, has a disturbing habit of counting the number of roadkill that the car passes.
We find out that the family is temporarily moving to Provincetown, MA and it’s the winter months. Like most New England beach towns, the winter is the off season and we are again shown empty streets and boarded up houses; their owners having flocked to warmer climates in the south. As the family moves into their P-town house, we are led to believe that this house, like Murder House, Hotel and to a degree, Roanoke, is its own character. Time will tell if that pans out. But what we do see very quickly is that not all of the residents are as normal as they appear. There’s a distinctive “haves” and “have nots”. Throughout the episode, ideas on success, addiction and sacrifice are explored. There’s also something with red lights which I am interested to see more of.
As you would expect from AHS, we have fantastic acting. Aside from Finn Wittrock and Lily Rabe portraying a convincing husband and wife who are struggling to find success and recognition, we have some stellar performances. Sarah Paulson as the addict Karen has a great intro. I also want to call out the fantastic makeup done on her. I didn’t even recognize her at first. Evan Peters as the hot playwright Austin Sommers who also happens to have a great signing voice. Frances Conroy delivers another subtle but powerful performance as Sarah Cunningham, a writer with a great pseudonym. We even get great, if brief appearances by fellow AHS veterans Leslie Grossman and Adina Porter.
Episode 1 delivers a solid performance and setup for Part 1 of season 10.
Blood Vessel is an entertaining film filled with tension, Nazis and a lot of red lights.
Spoilers galore below!
The film starts out with a group of people stranded in a life raft. Their hospital boat was torpedoed by a Nazi ship (or maybe a submarine; I didn’t read the opening text on the screen). Suddenly, out of the mist, a Nazi minesweeper appears before them. The group is made up of three yanks, an Aussie, two Brits and a Russian. Cue up poor joke.
As the group approaches the boat, they notice that no one is on board. Through some gunslinging, the Russian is able to shoot a cable that the group uses to get on board. Naturally, one of their group doesn’t make it. The yank captain falls into the water and is sliced and diced by the propellers. A typical way to go in these films.
Upon boarding the deserted ship, the group begins to explore. They soon stumble upon several deformed and grotesque bodies on the boat’s bridge and engine room. It is almost certainly the crew though that is not explicitly stated. Realizing that something is definitely wrong, they decide to do the most logical thing they can: explore the ship some more. Although, to be fair, all the lifeboats on the ship have been sabotaged.
A few more minutes into their exploration they are startled by seeing a small girl crawl out from a dark niche down a hallway. Upon finding her again they confirm that she is not German (at this point she’s either Italian, Romanian, or Bulgarian according to the characters), they continue their exploration. Also, the girl, whose name is Mya, bites one of the Brits hands. And all Mya seems to say is something like “familia”.
As they get down to the next level, they run into a survivor – a German no less! After they convince the German that the group won’t kill him he begins to let his guard down. He then sees Mya and falls her “the beast” though not in an Alyssa Edwards sort of way. A scuffle ensues and the German guy shoots one of the other yanks before being stabbed by the Russian.
We’ve now lost 2 yanks at this point. Remaining: 1 yank, 2 Brits, an Aussie, the Russian, and the Italian/Bulgarian/Romanian girl.
Continuing with the exploration, the group splits up. One of the Brits decides to do his own thing, the remaining yank and Aussie do some more research and the remaining group are in the infirmary treating an injury from the earlier scuffle. Btw, the girl, Mya, looks at the blood in a hungry way. Probably foreshadowing. We also learn a little more about the Russian as backstory filler happens. Same with the Brit as well. We soon find out that the Nazis had a map of Transylvania, an ancient tome with a skull on the cover and several photos of men in front of an ornate looking coffin. I think we know what is about to happen in earnest.
The Aussie and the yank then find said coffin in the cargo hold. Of course, the yank decides to unchain the coffin and open it. Leading us to see what looks like a pretty hideous bat creature thing just laying in the coffin. Of course, the thing’s eyes open immediately and the creature (known as The Patriarch, thanks to the subtitles) rips out a good chunk of the yank’s neck. We’ve now lost all the Americans onboard. The Patriarch – or, let’s call him the Bat Dude – then attempts to attack the Aussie but he gets away. At the same time, we see Mya, back in the infirmary, go into a trance like state and attack the Brit lady. It seems that Mya and Bat Dude are connected since she attacked after Bat Dude woke up.
As Mya is about to turn the Brit lady into a midnight snack, the Russian shoots Mya who scurries away. We then switch to the other Brit who is on the radio trying to contact the outside world. In the background of the shots, we see Mya slowly crawling towards the Brit. As the Brit is yaking away with someone on the radio, Mya goes in for the kill. This is of course after the Brit decides to sell out his country to the Germans. We’ve now lost one of the Brits. We are down to The Russian, the Brit lady and the Aussie. Plus two undead creatures.
After watching a brief video, the remaining survivors realize what they are dealing with. Through the old tome mentioned earlier, the Russian figures out this creature comes from old Eastern European fairytales. We also learn that the only way to kill these fairytales is to use holy relics. And of course, there happens to be a box down in the cargo hold. Convenient as always. While this happening, Bat Dude finds another coffin and decides to wake up his long lost love. We now have three humans and three undead things. The odds are getting worse for the humans.
We find out that the Brit lady, who was bitten by Mya earlier in the movie, has been infected and is starting to change. Again, more foreshadowing. The group captures Mya in a small compartment. But Mya, having another trick up her sleeve, tries to confuse the group by being a small human child. But, unswayed, the humans burn Mya alive. Bat Dude, being engraved by Mya’s death, begins to exert his control over the Brit lady. She tries to fight it but she succumbs to Bat Dude’s whiles. It is then assumed that Brit lady dies when Bat Dude and Bat Dudette decide to dine on her neck.
We are now down to Aussie and Russian and Bat Dude & Dudette.
Russian gets bit by bat dude but is able to escape after shooting him with a flare gun. Aussie man gets tricked by Bat Dudette and almost looses his face. Russian then shoots Dudette with a machine gun and throws an axe to the Aussie who the proceeds to decapitate Bat Dudette. Now Bat Dude is really, really pissed off. The guys realize that they have to destroy the boat to prevent Bat Dude from escaping. This is further compounded by the fact that they hear another boat in the distance – presumably the Germans heard on the radio from earlier.
The film ends with the Aussie and Russian fighting more of the undead (who happened to be locked away in another compartment that they didn’t see until the end) as they attempt to reach the ship’s explosive armaments. The Russian stays behind to set off the explosives as he has been bitten and realizes that he is starting to transform. Russian blows up the ship and Aussie – who finds Brit lady at the last minute, both jump into the water as the ship is destroyed.
As Aussie and Brit lady are saved, she bites him. We slowly fade to black with the Aussie guy sinking to his death while Brit lady – now probably Bat Dudette 2 is the sole survivor.
The adjoins and action were pretty good. I’d give it a solid 3.5 out of 5.
So, in between my first introductory post and this one I cleaned out the lint trap in the dryer and threw in a load. But I’m sure that’s NOT why you came here. Earlier today, I rewatched a horror movie, that I admit, I was intrigued by when I first watched it. Gehenna: Where Death Lives is a horror film about time travel and coming to terms with ones sins. It starts out hundreds of years ago (before there was even a ‘MURICA!). A group of scantily clad men – my favorite – are standing around some old white man who is tied to a rock alter. A little chanting followed by some magic powder leads to a great scene that would make Ed Gein and Leatherface proud. Let’s just say that it doesn’t end well for the white guy.
Fast forward about four hundred years and we’re now in modern day Saipan. Fun fact, Saipan is the second largest island in the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands. You may have heard of its larger sister island, Guam. “Funner” fact, I thought Saipan was in the Philippines. “Funest” fact, I am a white American male, so, are you really surprised? But I digress. So, we are treated to a bunch of white people (mostly American with an Aussie thrown in) commenting about wanting to turn this lush tropical paradise into the next Daytona Beach. To help add in some authenticity to the film, Lance Henriksen (Aliens) makes a cameo as an executive/mentor to the main character…whose name I have already forgotten…again. #thankyouwine
Anywho, this group, being your stereotypical bunch of westerners, disregards the locals and customs. They are attempting to develop a plot of undeveloped land to turn it into an Instagrammers wet dream. But they run into a slight snag. You see, this undeveloped paradise happens to be an ancient site. The same site that we may have seen in the very first scene? What do you think?
So, they get to this plot of land. And wouldn’t you know, they run into an elderly local man…who happens to be wearing the face of the dude from the first scene hundreds of years ago! And wouldn’t you know, he has a warning for all of them. Basically, stay around here and bad things will happen. Of course they ignore it (I mean, did you want the movie to only be 20 minutes?). A little bit of foreshadowing later the group stumbles upon an old Japanese bunker from WWII. Being of sound minds, they decide to go into it even though there is NO mention of this bunker on any official documentation. They soon discover a bunch of bodies. As if that wasn’t horrible enough, they enter one particular room and are attacked by what is described as a “living corpse”.
Now, at this point, I have to admit that I am somewhat intrigued. But, we are already about 30ish minutes into the film. What follows is a tale of judgement for past sins with a bit of time travel thrown in. I won’t divulge any other information on that because it would count as a major spoiler and I don’t think I am that kind of turd. But this blog is young so you never know. Suffice it to say that this film is a slow burner with some cliche J-horror scares thrown in. The director is Japanese and the film is an American-Japanese collaboration. And while the scares are good (I have a soft spot for J-horror), it ultimately comes across as too little too late. So, what would I rate this as… well, I’d give it a solid half-bottle of wine. Don’t judge, I literally came up with the wine bottle rating system right now and have yet to even define what it means. Or judge, I don’t care.
This review was brought to you by a lovely Petite Syrah.