REVIEW: ARROW – SEASON 2

Main Cast

Stephen Amell (Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: OOTS)
Katie Cassidy (Black Christmas 2006)
David Ramsey (Blue Bloods)
Willa Holland (Legion)
Emily Bett Rickards (Brooklyn)
Colton Haynes (Rough Night)
Manu Bennett (Spartacus)
Susanna Thompson (Timeless)
Paul Blackthorne (The InBetween)

Stephen Amell in Arrow (2012)

Recurring / Notable Guest Cast

Celina Jade (The Man With The Iron Fists)
Colin Salmon (Mortal Engines)
Summer Glau (Firefly)
Roger Cross (First Wave)
Dylan Bruce (Orphan Black)
Derek Hamilton (When Calls The Heart)
Adrian Holmes (V-Wars)
Caity Lotz (The Pact)
Michael Jai White (The Dark Knight)
Kelly Hu (The Scorpion King)
Kevin Alejandro (Lucifer)
Bex Taylor-Klaus (13 Reasons Why)
Michael Eklund (Van Helsing)
Colin Donnell (Chicago Med)
Teryl Rothery (Stargate SG.1)
Audrey Marie Anderson (The Unit)
Jimmy Jean-Louis (Heroes)
Clé Bennett (Jigsaw)
Jesse Hutch (Dark Angel)
John Barrowman (Torchwood)
David Nykl (Stargate: Atlantis)
Navid Negahban (Homeland)
Cynthia Addai-Robinson (The Accountant)
Mark Gibbon (Man of Steel)
Michael Rowe (Tomorrowland)
Dylan Neal (Fifty Shades of Gey)
Grant Gustin (Affluenza)
Jennifer Cheon Garcia (Van Helsing)
Sean Maher (Firefly)
Annie Ilonzeh (Chicago Fire)
Nicholas Lea (The X-Files)
James Kidnie (Robocop: The Series)
Shekhar Paleja (Sanctuary)
Katrina Law (Spartacus)
Alex Kingston (Flashforward)
Robert Knepper (Prison Break)
Tara Strong (Batman: TAS)
Jessica De Gouw (The Hunting)
Jeffrey Nordling (Big Little Lies)
Lochlyn Munro (Scary Movie)
Sean Rogerson (Bitten)
Jorge Vargas (Power Rangers Ninja Steel)
Carlos Valdes (The Flash)
Danielle Panabaker (Piranha 3DD)
Michael Daingerfield (Smallville)
Anna Hopkins (Shadowhunters)
Roark Critchlow (V)
Michael Adamthwaite (War For The Planet of The Apes)
Chelah Horsdal (Rise of The POTA)

Michael Jai White and Stephen Amell in Arrow (2012)Right off the bat, “City of Heroes” set the tone and direction for Season 2. We saw a despondent Ollie still crushed by the death of his best friend, Tommy, and having retreated to the island in a self-imposed exile. Though Colin Donnell only briefly reprised his role as Tommy this season, his character was very much a lingering presence driving the actions of Ollie and Laurel throughout the year. And his death formed the crux of Ollie’s renewed mission. It was right there in the revised opening sequence – “To honor my friend’s memory, I can’t be the killer I once was.” And that, more than Ollie’s battles with Slade Wilson or Sebastian Blood or Isabel Rochev, was the core conflict of the season.Graham Shiels in Arrow (2012)It’s easy enough to fight criminals by shooting them dead. But could Ollie muster the strength and the courage not to kill, even if it meant putting himself, his family, and his city in greater danger? It was a struggle, but the most satisfying element of the finale was the way Ollie definitively answered that question and established himself as a better class of vigilante.Manu Bennett in Arrow (2012)Overall, Season 2 was a good showcase for Stephen Amell’s acting talents. Ollie was haunted by demons and shouldering heavy burdens throughout the year. He suffered more often than he succeeded, and Amell conveyed that pain well. Most impressive was the way Amell was so capable at portraying Ollie at different periods in his life. We saw plenty more of Ollie’s life on the island in the various flashback scenes.Manu Bennett in Arrow (2012)Having already spent a year fighting for his life against men like Edward Fyers and Billy Wintergreen, flashback Ollie was closer to the man he is in the present, but not all the way there. And we even caught glimpses of a pre-island Ollie, most significantly in “Seeing Red.” More than the changes in hairstyle or fashion, it was Amell’s purposeful shifts in vocal intonation and body language that differentiated the different versions of Ollie.Having established himself as one of the better supporting players in Season 1, it was very gratifying to see Manu Bennett step fully into the spotlight and become the big antagonist of Season 2.Stephen Amell in Arrow (2012)That’s despite him not even being revealed as the secret mastermind of Brother Blood’s uprising until the mid-season finale, “Three Ghosts.” But it was crucial that the show spend so much time, both this season and last, in building up the brotherly bond between Ollie and Slade and the island. We needed to feel the pain of seeing them broken apart and Slade become a vengeful villain hellbent on tearing his former friend’s life down. And it wasn’t until much later still that we saw how that rift occurred and Slade turn his wrath against Ollie. It’s a testament to both the writing and Bennett’s acting that the character never quite lost his aura of sympathy even as he murdered Ollie’s mother and tried to do the same to Felicity. This was a man driven half-mad by the loss of the woman he loved and an injection of a super-steroid. But conversely, I appreciated how the finale took pains to establish that it wasn’t just the Mirakuru fueling Slade’s anger.Caity Lotz in Arrow (2012)Even now, super-strength gone and exiled back to the island, Slade is a clear and present danger to Ollie’s world.Three GhostsThe show introduced Sebastian Blood and Isabel Rochev as Slade’s subordinates, with Blood serving as the most visible villain for much of the season. I really enjoyed Kevin Alejandro’s portrayal of Blood. Alejandro’s Blood was so disarmingly charming that it was often difficult to reconcile him with the masked man kidnapping drug addicts and turning street thugs into super-soldiers. Ultimately, Blood became the sort of villain who does the wrong things for the right reasons. He had an honest desire to make Starling City a better place. And when it became clear to him that Slade Wilson wouldn’t leave a city left for him to rule, Blood did the right thing and aided Team Arrow.Most of the increasingly large supporting cast were given their moments to shine in Season 2.Katrina Law and Caity Lotz in Arrow (2012)I was often disappointed that Diggle wasn’t given more to do, but at least he was able to take a starring role in “Suicide Squad.” Diggle’s backseat status was mainly the result of Sara Lance stepping into the limelight early on and eventually becoming the fourth member of Ollie’s vigilante crew. The Arrow had his Canary finally. Sara’s own struggles with the desire for lethal force and reuniting with her family often made for good drama. But among Team Arrow, it was often Felicity Smoak who often had the best material. Emily Bett Rickards had much better material to work with this year, whether it was her unrequited love for Ollie, her burgeoning relationship with Barry Allen, or her desire to pull her weight alongside her more physically capable allies. The final three episodes all featured some standout moments for Felicity as she established herself as a force to be reckoned with.Manu Bennett in Arrow (2012)Elsewhere, Roy Harper was often a focus as he transitioned from troubled street punk to superhero sidekick. Roy’s temporary super-strength powers were a welcome story swerve and a fitting physical manifestation of his inner rage. His character arc received a satisfying conclusion in the finale when he proved himself worthy and received his own red domino mask, but lost Thea as a result.As for the various women in Ollie’s life, Felicity and Sara aside, Season 2 was a little more uneven. Moira definitely had an interesting ride. She started out Season 2 fighting for her life while on trial for her role in the Undertaking. Then, in an unlikely turn of events, she was spurred to run for mayor. And finally, her life did end when she became a pawn in Slade’s cruel game. It was a terrific finish for Moira, proving once and for all that, whatever wrongs she committed, she was only ever trying to ensure her children’s survival. Thea was more up and down throughout the season. She was often underutilized, but received a boost late in the season when she learned the truth about her parentage.Stephen Amell in Arrow (2012)Laurel’s character had her own crucible this season, spiraling into into drug and alcohol addiction and losing her job before hitting bottom, rebounding, and playing her part in saving Starling City.The Mirakuru drug served as a plausible, pseudo-scientific way of introducing super-strength and allowing Slade to transform into Deathstroke. And even when it came time to introduce the Flash midway through the season, Barry Allen never felt too out of place alongside the more grounded characters. Season 2 really opened the floodgates as far as drawing in characters and elements from other DC properties. Barry Allen’s debut was the most high-profile, but we also saw plenty more of Amanda Waller and A.R.G.U.S. “Professor Ivo became a recurring villain, along with a very different take on Amazo. And in a welcome twist, it turned out that even the Batman franchise is fair game with this show. Early on we learned of Sara Lance and Malcolm Merlyn’s connection to the League of Assassins. Nyssa al Ghul appeared in a couple of episodes, and we know her father is out there in the world, leading his shadowy organization in the hidden city of Nanda Parbat. Even Harley Quinn had a brief cameo.And beyond the introduction of all these new elements, the scope of Arrow really opened up in Season 2. The action was bigger and better choreographed. The scale of the conflicts was bigger. The producers simply seemed to have more money to throw around. And whether that was actually the case or just the result of experience and planning, the end result was the same. Arrow became a bigger, more cinematic TV series this season.

REVIEW: ARROW – SEASON 1

Main Cast

Stephen Amell (Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: OOTS)
Katie Cassidy (Black Christmas 2006)
Colin Donnell (Chicago Med)
David Ramsey (Blue Bloods)
Willa Holland (Legion)
Susanna Thompson (Timeless)
Paul Blackthorne (The InBetween)

Recurring / Notable Guest Cast

Colin Salmon (Mortal Engines)
Jamey Sheridan (Homeland)
Jacqueline MacInnes Wood (Final Destination 5)
Annie Ilonzeh (Chicago Fire)
Kathleen Gati (The Hosue Bunny)
Roger Cross (Continuum)
Brian Markinson (Sanctuary)
Ben Cotton (Slither)
Derek Hamilton (When Calls The HEart)
Hiro Kanagawa (Heroes Reborn)
Kelly Hu (The Scorpion King)
Ty Olsson (X-Men 2)
Emma Bell (The Walking Dead)
Byron Mann (Skyscraper)
Eugene Lipinski (Outland)
Michael Rowe (Tomorrowland)
Kirby Morrow (Staragte: Atlantis)
John Barrowman (Torchwood)
Christie Laing (Izombie)
Emily Bett Rickards (Brooklyn)
Sebastian Dunn (Downtown Abbey)
Eric Breker (Godzilla)
Chelah Horsdal (Hell on Wheels)
Steve Makaj (Travelers)
Shekhar Paleja (Sanctuary)
Valerie Tian (Izombie)
Currie Graham (Agent Carter)
Kyle Schmid (Six)
Sarah-Jane Redmond (The 100)
Jessica De Gouw (The Hunting)
Jeffrey Nordling (Big Little Lies)
Tahmoh Penikett (Dollhouse)
Alex Zahara (Horns)
David Milchard (Big Eyes)
Andrew Dunbar (Leprechaun: Origins)
Danny Nucci (Titanic)
Michael Daingerfield (Smallville)
Jacqueline Samuda (Stargate SG.1)
Ben Browder (Farscape)
Colin Lawrence (Riverdale)
Janina Gavankar (True Blood)
Eileen Pedde (Juno)
Seth Gabel (Genius)
Kurt Evans (Izombie)
Patrick Sabongui (Power Rangers)
Manu Bennett (Spartacus)
Agam Darshi (Sanctuary)
David Anders (Izombie)
Ona Grauer (House of The Dead)
Adrian Holmes (V-Wars)
Celina Jade (The Man With The Iron Fists)
James Callis (Battlestar Galactica)
Chin Han (The Dark Knight)
Rekha Sharma (V)
Colton Haynes (Rough Night)
Alex Kingston (Flashforward)
Anna Van Hooft (Flash Gordon)
Audrey Marie Anderson (The Unit)
J. August Richards (Angel)
Jessica Harmon (V-Wars)

Stephen Amell in Arrow (2012)After turning the story about Clark Kent’s evolution from humble teenager to world’s greatest hero into one of the most successful science fiction TV series of all time, what exactly do you do for an encore? The obvious answer would be a series about a young Bruce Wayne. Or maybe a crime procedural starring the men and women of the Gotham City Police Department. Instead, The CW gave us Arrow, a series that simultaneously explores Oliver Queen’s first months as a vigilante hero and the painful hero’s journey he undertook while stranded on a remote island. Even considering Green Arrow’s popularity in Smallville and Justice League Unlimited, it wasn’t the most obvious choice. Nor was it the choice many DC fans wanted. But ultimately, it was a choice that paid off.To their credit, they succeeded. Even right off the bat, there were many notable elements that he writers introduced into the Green Arrow mythos. Generally a loner in the comics, here Ollie was given a full family and circle of allies. Some were inspired by characters from the comics, while others were entirely new creations. Probably the most successful new addition was John Diggle as Ollie’s personal bodyguard-turned-ally in his war on crime. Watching the dynamic between Ollie and Diggle morph from cold and hostile to warm camaraderie was a treat. And the two sequences featuring Diggle in the costume rather than Ollie suggested that this show could have a life beyond that of its lead character.Image result for arrow pilotAmell’s performance grew stronger over time, and the subtle ways in which he distinguished his performances during the present-day and flashback scenes stood out.With other characters, it was more a question of the scripts shedding light on motivation and relationships before they really came into their own. This was certainly the case with Moira Queen (Susanna Thompson), who was a bit of a hard sell as a sympathetic mother figure until viewers came to understand her role in “The Undertaking.” Similarly, Tommy Merlyn (Colin Donnell) came across as a fairly flat and unimportant character at first. But by the end of the season, Tommy had emerged as the emotional heart of the series and Donnell’s one of the strongest performances.Seth Gabel and Stephen Amell in Arrow (2012)Jessica De Gouw in Arrow (2012)Felicity Smoak (Emily Bett Rickards) was endearing, her instant charm made fans fall in love with her making her a regular was the best choice when they headed into season 2. As Laurel, Katie Cassidy was excellent as future Black Canary, dealing with her emotions of seeing her former boyfriend back from the dead and the lost of her sister. Structurally, the season started out strong and finished even stronger. The writers managed to weave together an overarching narrative as Ollie slowly uncovered the truth of The Undertaking and his own parents’ involvement while contending with various smaller villains and conflicts. Anchoring the series throughout were the frequent flashbacks to Ollie’s five years on the island. The pilot episode offered a tantalizing glimpse of what had transpired over the course of those five years with the Deathstroke mask discarded on the beach. Various plot twists revealed just how complicated that story is, teaming Ollie with Slade Wilson (Manu Bennett) and Shado (Celina Jade) in an ongoing guerrilla war against mercenary leader Edward Fyers (Sebastian Dunn). Particularly once Slade entered the picture and his bond with Ollie became a major focal point, the flashbacks emerged as one of the strongest elements of the show.Stephen Amell and Jessica De Gouw in Arrow (2012)Everything in Season 1 culminated in two climactic episodes as Ollie fought for the survival of Starling City in the present and to stop Fyers from sparking an international incident in the past. These episodes offered a satisfying blend of big action scenes and emotional character showdowns. In particular, the final scene between Ollie and Tommy that closed out the season was perhaps the best the show has delivered so far.

25 DAYS OF CHRISTMAS REVIEW: NOELLE

Bill Hader and Anna Kendrick in Noelle (2019)

Starring

Anna Kendrick (The Voices)
Bill Hader (Power Rangers)
Shirley MacLaine (Rumor Has It…)
Kingsley Ben-Adir (The Commuter)
Billy Eichner (The Angry Birds Movie)
Julie Hagerty (Just Friends)
Diana Maria Riva (Sabrina: TTW)
Ron Funches (Powerless)
Michael Gross (Tremors)
Chelah Horsdal (If I Stay)
Anna Van Hooft (Flash Gordon)
Jay Brazeau (Bates Motel)

Noelle (2019)When Noelle Kringle was a little girl, her father, Kris Kringle, would return to the North Pole every Christmas night to happily celebrate with the family. He reminds Noelle’s older brother Nick that he must begin his Santa training to take over for him one day. Years later, Kris passes away five months before Christmas and Nick has yet to perfect his training. Noelle continues to give him her Christmas spirit support while also making her famous Christmas cards. With the pressure too much to handle, Noelle tells Nick to get away for the weekend so that he can relax before the big day. Seven days later, the reindeer return to the North Pole, but Nick is nowhere to be found. When Noelle admits that she told her brother to get away, all the elves turn on her for essentially ruining Christmas. The elves have no choice, but to appoint Noelle’s cousin Gabriel, the Kringle’s tech support, to fill in for the year.While moping in her room, Noelle discovers that Nick has been looking through her magazines (her only window to outside the North Pole) and realizes that he must be in Phoenix, Arizona. She takes the sleigh and reindeer with her childhood nanny, Elf Polly, unintentionally coming along and they end up in Phoenix in the middle of a mall. The manager, Helen Rojas, plans to have her evicted, but when the customers all appreciate the presence of the reindeer, especially a Petco employee she has a crush on named Dan, she allows her to stay as long as they tend to the reindeer. Polly stays while Noelle continues her search for Nick. After running into so many “naughty” people, she finds an ad and meets with a private investigator named Jake Hapman. Jake, a single dad who has just divorced, decides to help Noelle despite her strange apparel.Noelle (2019)Meanwhile, in the North Pole, Gabriel uses statistics for gift giving and reasons that there are only 2,837 nice children in the world and plans to give all the naughty ones a notice telling them to do better next year, much to the horror of the elves and Mrs. Claus. Noelle meets Jake’s son Alex who expresses a desire to cook, but is afraid of telling his dad who is terrible at it. Noelle promises that if he is nice he will get his Christmas wish, which is to spend Christmas with his whole family. While out searching, Noelle discovers that she has an inherent ability to decipher if somebody is naughty or nice and can pick up any language including American Sign Language after speaking with a homeless deaf girl. A brief interaction with a woman about her yoga pants has Alex discover that Nick is working at the local yoga studio. Noelle and Nick happily reunite, but get into an argument about being Santa, ending with Noelle storming out.Noelle’s favorite reindeer, a small white one named Snowcone, arrives with a letter from Mrs. Claus, telling her about what is happening at the North Pole. Noelle has Snowcone sniff out Nick to a yoga retreat at the Desert Botanical Garden. While he refuses to talk to her, she leaves him the letter. Nick meets up with her and Polly at the mall the next day and Noelle has him continue to train by being a mall Santa. While Nick discovers the text message being sent to children from Gabriel, Jake discovers that Noelle told Alex about his Christmas wish, something that is awkward for him as his ex-wife remarried. Noelle breaks down and reveals that she is Santa’s daughter, causing him to leave. When Nick is accosted by the actual mall Santa, Noelle intervenes and accidentally hurts a police officer, resulting in her getting arrested and later hospitalized for psychological evaluation.Anna Kendrick in Noelle (2019)Polly meets with Jake who reveals that she is, in fact, an elf and asks for his help in getting Noelle released. They successfully do so with Jake seeing the sleigh and reindeer fly and Noelle, Nick and Polly return to the North Pole before Christmas Eve. While meeting with the elders, Nick reveals that he has decided that Noelle should be the next Santa, as the Santa Covenant technically does not mention gender, and the elves agree after Noelle gives an impassioned speech. Noelle takes off for the night to deliver presents where she encounters numerous mishaps. She begins to feel down, but after returning to the homeless shelter and meeting the deaf girl again, Noelle feels empowered and her Santa uniform (which previously was too big for her) conforms to her. She finishes her entire route before giving Helen tickets to Hawaii for her and Dan and dropping Jake off at his ex-wife’s house to be with Alex.Anna Kendrick in Noelle (2019)Noelle is celebrated at the North Pole as Gabriel happily returns to tech support, Nick opens up a yoga studio and Polly becomes an elf elder (something Noelle “slightly” regrets). Noelle admits that she is proud to continue her father’s legacy for being the 24th generational Santa.Disney has captured a cute and enjoyable amount of Christmas spirit with this movie that was helped along way by Anna Kendrick. A Christmas movie should do one simple thing … give you the feels … The feels are delivered here.

HALLOWEEN OF HORROR REVIEW: ALTITUDE

CAST

Jessica Lowndes (90210)
Julianna Guill (Road Trip 2)
Ryan Donowho (Cabin Fever 3)
Landon Liboiron (The Howling: Reborn)
Jake Weary (Zombeavers)
Mike Dopud (Arrow)
Chelah Horsdal (Rise of The Planet of The Apes)
Michelle Harrison (The Flash)

In the prologue, the mother of Sara (Jessica Lowndes) is transporting a family of three (two parents and their son) in a small aircraft. The child is extremely nervous and starts hyperventilating. Wondering why he is so afraid, the parents suddenly see an out-of-control aircraft that crashes into them, and everyone plummets to the ground.Years later, Sara, who has recently received her pilot’s license, is planning to fly to a concert with her friends: her boyfriend Bruce Parker (Landon Liboiron), her cousin Cory (Ryan Donowho), her best friend Mel (Julianna Guill) and Mel’s boyfriend Sal (Jake Weary). While in the air, Bruce’s nerves draw ridicule from the others and Sara invites him to take the controls. They hit some turbulence and Bruce loses control, taking them into a steep climb.Sara tries to regain control, but a loose bolt has jammed the elevator. Only able to climb, they fly into a storm and lose radio contact. Sara explains that with the elevator jammed, they will keep climbing until they run out of fuel or reach the aircraft’s ceiling. They have less than an hour’s worth of fuel left; Bruce has a panic attack and is put to sleep with a choke hold by Sal. In an effort to save fuel, they jettison everything overboard. The only way to unjam the tail is to climb outside and manually remove the obstacle. Cory, who has experience as a climber, volunteers. He has climbing gear with him and a rope for to use as an anchor. Sal wraps the rope around himself and after some difficulty, Cory makes it to the tail and removes the errant bolt. Sal then sees a horrifyingly giant tentacle among the clouds and loses control of the rope. Cory slips and Sal is almost pulled out of the aircraft. Panicking, he cuts the rope and Cory falls, only to be caught by the monster tentacle.When Bruce awakens, he finds he has been tied up and learns Cory is dead, along with a monster outside. Bruce tells Sara that he was in the crash that killed her mother and his parents. Sara tries the radio again and hears a strange noise. Sal recognizes it as the monster that took Cory. Suddenly, the aircraft crashes into the monster’s open mouth. Bruce looks at a page of his comic which shows a blond woman being grabbed by tentacles. Immediately, a large tentacle grabs Mel and kills her. Bruce starts flicking through the comic book, as if he has discovered something. Sal threatens to kill Bruce for causing Mel’s death and tries to throw him out, but Sara intervenes and in the ensuing confusion, Sal falls out the door and plummets to his death.Bruce tells Sara he is causing all this; that his mind is recreating the comic book, something that happens when he gets very scared. The creature starts attacking the aircraft, and Sara demands that Bruce prove he is doing it by ending it all. His attempts just make things worse, until Sara kisses him, but is grabbed by the monster. She tells him that if he can do all this, then he can bring his parents back. After a struggle, the monster suddenly disappears and she falls back into the aircraft. As they fly out of the storm, they see another aircraft heading straight for them, carrying Bruce, his parents and Sara’s mother. They manage to take control of their aircraft, and don’t crash into the other.In the altered past Sara’s mother and Bruce’s family have arrived at their destination intact. Sara’s mother says “Everybody gets one near miss, right?”, and Bruce’s mom asks, “Do you think they made it?” to which Sara’s mother replies “I hope so.” The young Sara and Bruce are introduced to one another, holding hands and looking out into the sky.While I admit parts of the film could have been better. overall it was a enjoyable film. The plot was very similar to triangle and to be honest a little predictable.

 

HALLOWEEN OF HORROR REVIEW: THE TORTURED

CAST

Erika Christensen (Swimfan)
Jesse Metcalfe (Desperate Housewives)
Bill Moseley (The Texas Chainsaw Massacre 2)
Fulvio Cecere (Valentine)
Chelah Horsdal (Arrow)
Zak Santiago (Caprica)
Bill Dow (Stargate SG.1)
Brent Stait (Andromeda)
Aaron Pearl (Starate SG.1)
Yee Jee Tso (Antitrust)

The film tells the story of a couple, Elise Landry (Erika Christensen) and her husband, Craig Landry (Jesse Metcalfe), whose lives are shattered when a serial killer named Kozlowski (Bill Moseley), kidnaps, tortures, and kills their only son, Benjamin. Craig feels immense guilt, as he saw Benjamin being kidnapped, but could not catch up to the fleeing vehicle. Elise blames Craig for not watching the child more closely. During the trial, Kozlowski makes a plea bargain, and in exchange for providing details on other murders, is sentenced to only 25 years to life. Elise and Craig are livid with the court’s verdict. Elise asks Craig to get her a gun so that she can kill Kozlowski, but Craig refuses. Elise moves out of the house and Craig, left alone, contemplates suicide. Later, he meets Elise to say that just killing Kozlowski will not be enough, and the two formulate a plan to kidnap the killer.

Craig steals medical supplies and drugs from the hospital where he works. They follow Kozlowski when he is being transferred to prison via police van. The officers soon stop to get some coffee. Craig distracts them, while Elise spikes their drinks. After some time, the police van pulls over, and Craig is successful in hijacking the van with the prisoner inside. In the confusion and panic of the escape, Craig crashes the van and it rolls over a bridge. Elise, following behind in her car, is relieved to see Craig is all right, and the prisoner, though thrown from the van and severely injured, is also still alive. Elise soon receives a call from the case detective (Fulvio Cecere) informing her that Kozlowski had taken the police van and escaped. She is able to sound normal to avoid arousing any suspicion.

They take their captive to the basement of an abandoned cabin and chain him up, just as he did to their son. They gag him, stating that nothing he could say will make them change their minds. They berate him as less than human for his abominable actions. They begin to torture him in various painful ways. During one session, Craig hangs the key to the chains above the captive, taunting him. As the torture progresses over several days, both Elise and Craig are haunted by their deeds, but carry on, remembering the horrific loss of their son. Meanwhile, the police manhunt for the escaped Kozlowski begins narrowing down to the area near the cabin.
Image result for the tortured (2010)Back in the basement, Craig removes the gag in an attempt to suffocate the captive, who begs for a chance to talk. He explains he has no recollection of anything before the van accident. He claims he does not think he could be a vicious killer. The Landrys are taken aback, and retreat upstairs to discuss. Craig feels the torture is unnecessary on someone who cannot even remember his crimes. Elise is certain he is merely lying to avoid any more suffering. They return to the basement and begin crushing his foot in a vise until he tells the truth. Elise demands that he speak their child’s name. Under duress, he eventually says ‘Benjamin’, which convinces Craig that they can continue with their plan. They leave him alone for the evening, promising that the next day’s torture will be the worst yet. Through extreme agony, he manages to reach the key and free himself. He makes his way upstairs and there is a struggle. Craig is knocked down the stairs and the captive escapes out the back door.
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Simultaneously, the police finally track down and apprehend Kowalski in the woods nearby. He appears mostly unharmed, and shows no signs of the torture inflicted by the Landrys. Flashbacks show that, unknown to the Landrys, the prison van was actually carrying two convicts; Kozlowski, and another man serving time for tax evasion. Following the crash, Craig mistook the bloodied man thrown from the vehicle as Kozlowski, and took him hostage instead. The real Kozlowski later emerged from the van relatively unhurt and went on the run.
Image result for the tortured (2010)
At the cabin, Elise and Craig track down the man that they believe is Kozlowski, but in reality is the other prisoner, just as he hangs himself in the barn. He leaves a suicide note stating that, based on what the Landrys had told him, he must be a monster, and deserved everything they had done to him. He apologizes and begs forgiveness. He simply could not stand any more torture, so he hanged himself. Satisfied, the Landrys get in their car and leave, unknowingly passing the police– who are returning Kozlowski to prison.Image result for the tortured (2010)More for seasoned Horror fans.Great acting all the way through and each actor gave it their all, great directing, and most importantly great gore. Not really a hidden gem per say, but a decent genre flick that makes you think nonetheless

HALLOWEEN OF HORROR REVIEW: POSSESSION

CAST

Sarah Michelle Gellar (Cruel Intentions)
Lee Pace (The Hobbit)
Michael Landes (Lois & Clark)
Chelah Horsdal (Hell On Wheels)
Tuva Novotny (Nobel)
Dhirendra (Da Vinci’s Inquest)
William B. Davis (The X-Files)
Peter Bryant (Dark Angel)
Veena Sood (50/50)

Jess (Gellar) is a sweet-natured but driven lawyer who puts her career ahead of her personal life and ahead of her marriage to her artist husband, Ryan (Landes). The couple is on the verge of their first wedding anniversary, and though they are happy, the thorn in the side of their relationship is Ryan’s younger brother Roman (Pace). Where Ryan comes across as an honest and sweet man, Roman is the direct opposite. Roman is moody and violent, particularly with his casual girlfriend Casey (Novotny), and Jess is terrified of him, particularly as she met Ryan through Roman when she represented him in court on an aggravated assault charge. When Roman overhears Jess and Ryan discussing their plans to send him to a halfway house, he packs his bags and leaves in his car.
Jess calls Ryan, worried about what the impulsive Roman will do, and Ryan quickly heads home in his car. As the brothers cross the Golden Gate Bridge, they crash into one another and are both seriously injured. Jess goes to the hospital and learns that both Roman and Ryan are in comas. Casey arrives and shares a few words with Jess, who promises to keep her updated. Later, Jess gets her mail and finds one of Ryan’s weekly handwritten love letters. After several weeks, Roman suddenly awakens—but he immediately claims to be Ryan, begging Jess to believe that he is her husband returned to her in his brother’s body. He implies that something supernatural happened when their bodies were revived side by side on the road, but cannot explain the phenomenon. Jess is initially doubtful and hostile towards Roman, believing that he is disoriented from his head injuries, and she employs Casey’s help in trying to get him to regain his memories.
However, he maintains that he is Ryan, continually offering romantic gestures and recounting specific memories private to them. Eventually, after a year passes, once he accurately recalls the story behind a certain photograph of the two of them, she believes that he is truly her husband and they resume their romantic life. Despite the disapproval of Jess’ co-workers and a harsh reaction from Casey, who still believes that he is actually Roman, Jess and Ryan fall back into their former happy marriage, although Jess is still hesitant to turn off the machines keeping Ryan’s body alive. They are both soon thrilled by the news that Jess is pregnant. Casey goes missing, but when the police question them, Ryan merely says that she was “troubled”. Jess notices a discrepancy in a necklace that Ryan gave her before his accident, but brushes it aside until she discovers the original necklace hidden in a picture frame.
She then discovers that the box in which she kept all of Ryan’s many love letters and photographs has been broken into, and she realizes that Roman has in fact lied to her, having previously studied the pictures and letters to learn the details of their marriage to impersonate his brother. When she confronts him, he quickly grows violent with her, saying that he did it because he loved her and knew they were meant to be together, saying that she must have sensed that it was him all along, and it is revealed that he murdered Casey because of her suspicions. As Roman and Jess fight, Ryan, in the hospital, experiences a seizure. Jess finally manages to stab Roman with a pottery knife, and he dies as the doctors work on Ryan. Later, at the hospital, Jess learns that her baby sustained no injuries from Roman’s attack and that Ryan managed to pull through his episode, and she sits by his bedside, promising to wait for him and start their life over once he returns to her.Possession has an intriguing premise but a poor screenplay and execution. The story of a man possessed by the spirit of his brother could be an excellent horror, thriller, drama or even story of repressed desire. Unfortunately despite of the lovely Sarah Michelle Gellar, the plot is not well developed and has many flaws, like for example the fate of Casey or what would happen with Jessica after killing Roman. Worth seeing for SMG fans.

HALLOWEEN OF HORROR REVIEW: THE CABIN IN THE WOODS

 

 

 

CAST

Kristen Connolly (The Happening)
Chris Hemsworth (Thor)
Anna Hutchison (Spartacus: Ward of The Damned)
Fran Kranz (Dollhouse)
Jessie Williams (Grey’s Anatomy)
Richard Jenkins (Step Brothers)
Bradley Whitford (The West Wing)
Brian White (Beauty and The Beast)
Amy Acker (Angel)
Tim DeZarn (Fight Club)
Tom Lenk (Buffy)
Jodelle Ferland (Silent Hill)
Adrian Holmes (Arrow)
Ellie Harvie (The New Addams Family)
Patrick Sabongui (The Flash)
Sigourney Weaver (Aliens)
Nels Lennarson (Horns)
Rukiya Bernard (Van Helsing)
Peter Kelamis (Stargate Universe)
Chelah Horsdal (You Me Her)
Terry Chen (Jessica Jones)
Heather Doerksen (Van Hesling)

In a high tech underground facility, senior technicians Sitterson and Hadley discuss plans for a mysterious operation. A similar operation undertaken by their counterparts in Stockholm has just ended in failure. American college students Dana, Holden, Marty, Jules, and Curt are spending their weekend at a seemingly deserted cabin in the forest, a cabin recently acquired by Curt’s cousin. From their underground facility where they possess significant technological control over the area in which the cabin is situated, Sitterson and Hadley manipulate the teenagers by intoxicating them with mind-altering drugs that hinder rational thinking and increase libido. They take bets from coworkers as to what kind of monster will attack the teenagers and discuss the failures of similar rituals in other nationsIn the cabin’s cellar, the group finds many bizarre objects, including the diary of Patience Buckner, a cabin resident abused by her sadistic family. Dana recites incantations from the journal, inadvertently summoning the zombified Buckner family despite Marty’s warnings. By releasing pheromones, Hadley successfully induces Curt and Jules to have sex. Attacked by the marauding Buckner zombies, Jules is decapitated while Curt escapes to alert the group. Marty, a frequent marijuana smoker, discovers concealed surveillance equipment before being dragged off by one of the Buckners. Later, the facility workers learn that the ritual in Japan has also ended in failure, meaning that the American ritual is humanity’s last hope. It becomes apparent that the ritual involves blood sacrifice.Curt, Holden, and Dana attempt to escape in their RV, but Sitterson triggers a tunnel collapse to block them. Curt jumps a ravine on his motorcycle in an attempt to flee and alert the authorities, only to crash into a force shield, killing him. Holden and Dana retreat to the RV to plan their next move, but one of the Buckners, hiding within all along, fatally stabs Holden as they are driving away, resulting in the RV crashing and sinking into a lake. Dana escapes and swims ashore and is beset in turn. As she is attacked, Sitterson, Hadley, and their staff celebrate the successful completion of the ritual, viewing the events from their underground facility. The celebration is interrupted by a phone call pointing out that Marty has survived. His heavy marijuana use has apparently rendered him immune to Sitterson and Hadley’s manipulations.Marty rescues Dana and takes her to a hidden elevator he discovered under a grave. They descend into the underground facility, where a menagerie of monsters are imprisoned. Dana correlates them with the objects in the cabin’s cellar and realizes that those items gave victims the opportunity to choose the agents of their own deaths during the ritual. Cornered by the facility’s security personnel, she and Marty release the monsters, including zombies, goblins, mutants, witches, wraiths, a basilisk, a unicorn, a killer robot, and an evil clown. They wreak havoc and slaughter the staff; Hadley is killed by a merman and Sitterson escapes to the lower level.Dana and Marty flee the carnage (particularly menaced by a giant bat). Dana accidentally mortally wounds Sitterson, who begs her to kill Marty. Fleeing further, they discover an ancient temple and are confronted by the facility’s leader, known only as The Director. She explains that they are participating in an annual ritual sacrifice to appease the Ancient Ones (described as “giant evil gods”). Each facility’s ritual conforms to the rules of that region’s local lore; in America young people are chosen to be sacrificed based on similarity to certain archetypes: the whore (Jules), the athlete (Curt), the scholar (Holden), the fool (Marty), and the virgin (Dana). In order to complete the ritual the whore must die first and the virgin must survive or die last. Since all other facilities have failed, the penalty for not completing the ritual is the extermination of the entire human race. Hence, The Director urges Dana to kill Marty. Dana considers, but she is interrupted by a werewolf attack, while zombie Patience Buckner appears and kills The Director.Deciding that humanity is not worth saving, Dana and Marty share a joint while awaiting their fate. The temple floor collapses and a giant hand emerges, destroying the facility and the cabin itself.The genius of Cabin is the way director/co-writer Drew Goddard and producer/co-writer Joss Whedon have taken this mindset and embraced it. The film sat on the shelf for years when MGM suffered too many financial woes to afford a release, and yet its wit and invention remain as sharp as ever.  In the interest of keeping expectations managed, Cabin doesn’t reinvent the wheel. Its approach to horror is  original. The increasingly realistic and excessively gruesome style that they rode in on is far from universally loved. Cabin spills its fair share of guts, but it’s a good old-fashioned crowd pleaser.Cabin finds a way to access the reservoir of geekiness by engaging it rather than pandering to it.