HALLOWEEN OF HORROR REVIEW: CAM

Madeline Brewer in Cam (2018)

Starring

Madeline Brewer (Hustlers)
Patch Darragh (The First Purge)
Melora Walters (Boogie Nights)
Devin Druid (13 Reasons Why)
Imani Hakim (Burning Sands)
Michael Dempsey (Changeling)
Flora Diaz (Never Here)
Samantha Robinson (Once Upon A Time In Hollywood)
Jessica Parker Kennedy (The Flash)

Madeline Brewer in Cam (2018)Alice Ackerman works as a cam girl online, broadcasting live shows from a studio she has set up in her home under the name “Lola_Lola”. She is obsessed with her rank on the site, hoping to be number 1. Her mother is unaware of her career, believing that she works in web development. In one show, Alice simulates suicide on camera by pretending to slit her throat and using fake blood. This earns her large tips and increased popularity. She video chats with Barney, the site’s owner, and he suggests they meet while he is in town.Madeline Brewer in Cam (2018)In her next show, Alice finally hits the top 50, but barely has a chance to celebrate before her rank starts dropping due to a rival cam girl, Princess_X. Soon, Alice notices that “Lola” is currently streaming even though she is not online. She contacts the site’s customer service but they assure her that playing old shows is impossible. Alice is locked out of her account so she logs in to a spare account to watch the show. The “Lola” on-screen responds to Alice’s chats, proving that the show is indeed live. The woman on the broadcast looks and acts exactly like the real Alice. Alice’s account is banned for attempting to warn viewers of the doppelganger so she creates a new one.Madeline Brewer in Cam (2018)Meanwhile, her younger brother Jordan’s friends see a stream by the fake Lola, which they then show him. Jordan confronts Alice in front of their mother. Her secret exposed, Alice panics and leaves. The Lola double, meanwhile, stages elaborate shows with more effects, like simulating suicide by gunshot, bringing her rank up. At first, Alice suspects Princess_X is behind this but she is not. She contacts the police but they refuse to help. With no hope, she sees that a cam girl named Baby is advertising an upcoming live show with “Lola” and attempts to get into contact with the girl. During her meeting with Barney, Alice excuses herself to the bathroom, and “Lola” goes live. Barney sees it and confronts Alice, accusing her of lying about her identity before assaulting her. Alice is able to escape.Alice finds Baby’s real name, Hannah Darin. She then finds out that Hannah Darin died in a car crash months ago. The fact that Baby is still broadcasting live means that whatever created the Lola copy also made one of Baby. Alice watches Lola and Baby’s live show and identifies other cam girls she believes to be replicas. She notices that all of them have “Tinker” as their top friend and goes to confront him. He tells her he knows about the replicas, but that he is not behind them. He goes to the bathroom to have a private cam session with Lola. Enraged, Alice also interacts with Lola, who does not recognize that Alice is identical to her. Alice goes home and uses her vanity mirror, camera, and television to create an image which shows both her and the double. Viewers chalk up the two Lolas to special effects. Alice challenges Lola to a contest where they must imitate each other and whoever the viewers think does the best wins. If Alice wins, she gets to ask anything of Lola. The two compete by performing increasingly violent acts on themselves, culminating in Alice breaking her own nose. Alice is declared the winner and she demands Lola’s account password. She then deletes Lola’s account just as it reaches the number 1 rank. Sometime later, she prepares to start a live show under a new account, with her now supportive mother assisting. The film ends as she starts all over again with a new identity.Overall, Goldhaber and Mazzei have delivered a fascinating and unique film that pushes new boundaries while engaging in the emerging techno-thriller trend. I absolutely recommend it to anyone who thinks they can handle it.

 

REVIEW: 13 REASONS WHY – SEASON 3

Dylan Minnette in 13 Reasons Why (2017)

MAIN CAST

Dylan Minnette (Don’t Breathe)
Christian Navarro (Bushwick)
Alisha Boe (Paranormal Activity 4)
Brandon Flynn (BrainDead)
Justin Prentice (Izombie)
Miles Heizer (Rails & Ties)
Ross Butler (Shazam)
Devin Druid (Louder Than Bombs)
Amy Hargreaves (Wonderstruck)
Grace Saif (Doctors)
Brenda Strong (Supergirl)
Timothy Granaderos (Runaways)

RECURRING / NOTABLE GUEST CAST

Anne Winters (Mom and Dad)
Chelsea Alden (Unfriended: Dark Web)
Tyler Barnhardt (Tales From The Loop)
Benito Martinez (Sons of Anarchy)
Mark Pellegrino (Lost)
Kate Walsh (After The Sunset)
Steven Weber (2 broke Girls)
Michele Selene Ang (Elementary)
Wilson Cruz (Star Trek: Discovery)
Bex Taylor-Klaus (Arrow)
Parminder Nagra (God Friended Me)
Raymond J. Barry (Alias)
Derek Luke (Glory Road)

freepressjournal_2019-08_7de0229f-0b42-4203-b9cb-20cb73cfefb8_13Netflix’s popular series 13 Reasons Why has returned with its third season. The show has now shifted its focus from Hanna Baker and Jessica Davis’ rape to their abuser, Bryce Walker. The showrunners have tried hard to stay away from the controversies they stirred up with the first and second season. However, they do not deviate from highlighting bullying in schools and its consequences. While Season 1 makes you reflect upon your actions, Season 2 established that there’s another side to every story. Season 3 tries to explain that nothing’s black and white.Screenshot-2019-08-23-at-08.09.26-2The new season picks up right after the events of Liberty High Spring Fling when a gunned Tyler Down came in school premises to hurt his abusers. Since then, things have not changed much. These students are damaged as before but are trying to recover. But before they could recuperate completely, they are struck with the news of Bryce Walker’s death after a big Homecoming game. Everyone has a reason to kill the bad guy of Liberty, but you aren’t really sure who did it. The entire season is built on solving Bryce’s murder. During the course of the investigation, you realize nobody’s clean. They all have something they lied about. The trial and the revelations in season 1 and 2 have impacted these students a lot, especially Bryce Walker.cuka1jql6m5rndkuwaovFor a long time, we have seen that Bryce bullied students and he raped Hanna Baker, Jessica Davis and many other girls. He is convicted for sexually assaulting women but gets only 3 months of probation. In a way, we are habitual of seeing him in a certain way. Season three shakes that up and we finally see the other side of him. The good side of Bryce. The new season also progresses on Jessica front screening her journey from being a victim to a survivor. The girl who couldn’t gather enough courage to speak up until the end of season 2, leads the voices of survivors. Justin Prentice and Alisha Boe as Bryce and Jessica, offer intriguing, emotionally complex and layered performances. Prentice’s breakdown as Bryce will make you grieve for him despite all that he’s done in the past. Boe, on the other hand, stuns with her transformation. Her confidence is both rattling and inspiring.13rw-e1566448279569Season 3 also introduces new character Ani (Grace Saif), who’s kind of a replacement of Hanna Baker (Katherine Langford) to lead the plot. She does her job fairly well, to say the least. Apart from Bryce and Jessica, nobody is seen in a different light that you haven’t seen before. Clay Jenson (Dylan Minnette) is the same caring friend we have been watching since two seasons and Christian Navarro as Tony Padilla is also the same good looking tough guy with mysteries. The showmakers have made the transitions between timelines smoother than ever. Music wise, season three gets a remarkable soundtrack like its previous seasons and some of them will definitely make it to your playlist. If you have followed the show, 13 Reasons Why season 3 is likable. With lesser violence and more voice, it gives us some pondering moments. The new season is definitely better than the second one, however, the makers do not entirely reach the benchmark they had set with the first season.

REVIEW: 13 REASONS WHY – SEASON 2

Dylan Minnette in 13 Reasons Why (2017)

MAIN CAST

Dylan Minnette (Don’t Breathe)
Katherine Langford (The Misguided)
Christian Navarro (Bushwick)
Alisha Boe (Paranormal Activity 4)
Brandon Flynn (BrainDead)
Justin Prentice (Izombie)
Miles Heizer (Rails & Ties)
Ross Butler (Riverdale)
Devin Druid (Louder Than Bombs)
Amy Hargreaves (Wonderstruck)
Derek Luke (Biker Boyz)
Kate Walsh (After The Sunset)
Michele Selene Ang (Elementary)

2

RECURRING / NOTABLE GUEST CAST

Brian d’Arcy James (Smash)
Steven Weber (Izombie)
Wilson Cruz (Star Trek Discovery)
Sosie Bacon (Scream: The Series)
Tommy Dorfman (Fludity)
Allison Miller (17 Again)
Tom Everett Scott (Race To Witch Mountain)
Ben Lawson (No Strings Attached)
Robert Gant (Supergirl)
Chelsea Alden (Facd 2 Face)
Bryce Cass (Battle Los Angeles)
Brandon Butler (Ring of Silence)
Anne Winters (Mom and Dad)
Jackie Geary (NCIS)
Brenda Strong (Supergirl)
Anthony Raoo (Star Trek: Discovery)
Tommy Dorfman (Insatiable)
Meredith Monroe (Hart of Dixie)
Mark Pellegrino (Lost)
Jake Weber (Homeland)
Brandon Butler (Trinkets)
Ajiona Alexus (Runaways)
Josh Hamilton (Alive)
Sosie Bacon (Scream: The Series)
Andrea Roth (Cloak & Dagger)
Sean Blakemore (Bones)
Brandon Larracuente (Bright)
Steven Silver (Council of Dads)
Keiko Agena (Gilmore Girls
Parminder Nagra (God Friended Me)

“I know some people don’t want us to talk about what happened,” Tyler (Devin Druid) says in voiceover at the start of “13 Reasons Why’s” second season. “But if we don’t talk about it, it’s never going to change. So it’s important for everyone to understand how it all happened. The whole story.”  This is the very first thing viewers of the new season will hear — well, second, if you include the new trigger warning video featuring members of the cast that plays ahead of the premiere. But the warning and monologue are intertwined, because they’re ultimately about the same thing. The warning acknowledges that, while Netflix’s mega-hit series was well-received in its first season, it also drew plenty of controversy over how it treated its sensitive subject material: suicide, sexual assault, drug abuse, and so on.MV5BMThiMjMyMmUtMjcwMC00NjAxLWI0MDMtMmEwN2UzYTExNjIzXkEyXkFqcGdeQXVyMzUwMTgwMw@@._V1_SY1000_CR0,0,733,1000_AL_But Tyler’s monologue, which we soon learn is delivered from the witness stand, is a defense of season two’s very existence. Yes, the creators (including showrunners Brian Yorkey and Diana son) know of the criticisms. Yes, they know there are questions as to why a season two even needed to happen. But their argument is that the season is necessary — “important,” even. And considering how successful the show has been, the story we see in season two may not even be the end. The trial in question, which has compelled troubled gun aficionado Tyler’s testimony, is a lawsuit against Liberty High School by the parents of late student Hannah Baker (Katherine Langford). Hannah’s tapes explaining why she committed suicide provided the narrative arc of season one, with each tape focused on a different person in Hannah’s life. The trial serves the same function this season, with each episode centering on a particular witness’ testimony.13-reasons-why-season2The result is something of an inverse of the first season: instead of Hannah’s voice on the tapes, we hear the other students, teachers, and her parents. They open up parts of the story we didn’t hear in season one, though we’re left to to decide on our own if we trust them as our narrators. Reversing the narrative doesn’t do much to change the core of the series. Clay is the rock of “13 Reasons Why,” the anchor who keeps us chained to Hannah’s story. No matter whether we disagree with Hannah’s actions, get frustrated with the treatment of rapist baseball player Bryce Walker (Justin Prentice), or would perhaps rather follow the complex, challenging story of survivor Jessica Davis (Alisha Boe), Clay keeps us on track. This is about Hannah, the girl he loved but never got up the guts to tell. This is about his journey to make sure her suicide is avenged — whatever that personally means to him. And this is about his relationship to her and her memory, no matter how many forces of doubt come to challenge that.https _blueprint-api-production.s3.amazonaws.com_uploads_card_image_771242_269f95fd-56f8-4925-86ec-20d889c7690dMinnette is a marvel, turning in one of the most committed, insular, intense performances you’ll see anywhere on television. The 21-year-old actor reads as a blank slate when he’s still — maybe a hint of a perpetual grimace on his face, but ultimately inoffensive. As a result, Clay is often seen looking pensive, quiet, and expressionless. When he breaks, however, Minnette shines. Clay screams, cries, and generally loses his cool this season, and Minnette captures it all without missing a beat. Every bit of pain seems to leave an extra wrinkle or crag on Clay’s face. Minnette himself makes Clay feel heavier as the season goes on, like having to do any small thing would cause the young man to explode. Minnette plays Clay as a teen on the verge of a nervous breakdown, and you can’t take your eyes off him. A good deal of the cast is good this season — particularly Kate Walsh as Hannah’s grieving-but-furious mother Olivia — but Minnette stands above the pack. His is a tour-de-force performance that goes a long way to making “13 Reasons Why’s” second season feel worth the drama.

REVIEW: 13 REASONS WHY – SEASON 1

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MAIN CAST

Dylan Minnette (Don’t Breathe)
Katherine Langford (The Misguided)
Christian Navarro (Bushwick)
Alisha Boe (Paranormal Activity 4)
Brandon Flynn (BrainDead)
Justin Prentice (Izombie)
Miles Heizer (Rails & Ties)
Ross Butler (Riverdale)
Devin Druid (Louder Than Bombs)
Amy Hargreaves (Wonderstruck)
Derek Luke (Biker Boyz)
Kate Walsh (After The Sunset)

RECURRING / NOTABLE GUEST CAST

Brian d’Arcy James (Smash)
Steven Weber (Izombie)
Keiko Agena (Labor Pains)
Josh Hamilton (J. Edgar)
Tom Everett Scott (Scream: The Series)
Giorgia Whigham (The Punisher)
Robert Gant (Supergirl)
Ajiona Alexus (Runaways)
Michele Selene Ang (Elementary)
Tommy Dorfman (Insatiable)
Mark Pellegrino (Lost)
Sosie Bacon (Scream: The Series)
Tom Maden (All Night)
Andrea Roth (Cloak & Dagger)
Steven Silver (Council of Dads)
Brandon Larracuente (Bright)
Henry Zaga (Trinkets)
Wilson Cruz (The Finder)

High school is a crappy, messy experience for the vast majority of people. That fact has never really changed, even with all the talk of Millennials being more sensitive and open-minded than any generation that preceded them. If anything, high school bullying has only become a more serious problem in recent years with the advent of social media and smartphones. Kids have always had a knack for being horrible to one another, but give them the anonymity of the Internet and a screen to shield themselves from the consequences of their actions, and suddenly you have teenagers driven to suicide thanks to revenge porn or targeted online harassment. 13 Reasons Why is perfectly positioned to explore bullying and high school culture in the post-Facebook era. It’s an often depressing and even uncomfortable show to watch, but that only makes it all the more powerful.Based on the best-selling YA novel from Jay Asher and adapted for television by Brian Yorkey, 13 Reasons Why opens several weeks after the tragic suicide of high school junior Hannah Baker (Katherine Langford). Despite her death, Hannah remains a very active participant in the show’s narrative thanks to copious flashbacks and a narrative device involving a series of cassette tapes she recorded shortly before her suicide. Those tapes fall into the hands of Clay Jensen (Dylan Minnette), a socially awkward classmate still struggling to come to terms with Hannah’s death. Each of the series’ 13 episodes revolve around one of these tapes, with Hannah explaining in minute detail how her peers (including Clay himself) drove her to take her own life.It’s a pretty grim premise for a high school drama, even by the standards of death-obsessed YA stories like The Fault in Our Stars and Me and Earl and the Dying Girl. And apart from the occasional friendly banter between Clay and Hannah or the recurring joke about Clay and his fellow students being utterly mystified by the concept of cassette tapes, there’s little room for humor here. That can make 13 Reasons Why a pretty emotionally draining experience, particularly towards the end as the pieces really start to fall into place. The final episode in particular features one of the most uncomfortable scenes on TV.Not really a show that encourages binge-watching, in other words. But 13 Reasons Why definitely succeeds in its goal of exploring how countless small and large acts of malice, as well as simple indifference or inattention, can fuel a terrible tragedy. Hannah herself references Chaos Theory in one episode, and it applies to this situation as well as it does an amusement park full of hungry dinosaurs. Hannah encounters just about every form of humiliation high school life can possibly throw at someone – from social isolation and petty gossip to sexual harassment and worse. The outcome is a foregone conclusion, so it’s really more a story about how and why so many of those close to Hannah failed to save her in time.Though a newcomer, Langford shines in the lead role. There’s a bright spark to Hannah that slowly fades over the course of the series as she becomes progressively more worn down by life’s disappointments. Langford embodies that optimism and that profound sadness well. Minnette’s Clay is, by design, a much more stoic and reserved character. In the present, Clay is practically a walking zombie stricken equal helpings of grief, confusion and fear about what he’ll learn when he eventually reaches his tape. Even in the past, Clay is someone who struggles to express his emotions and open up to those around him. Minnette does a fine job in what’s often a difficult role, though the show does rely a little too much on shots of Clay gazing wistfully into the distance as he reminisces about his interactions Hannah.Langford and Minnette are often at their best together, channeling just the right sort of warm but awkward chemistry you’d expect from two teens who can’t quite admit to their feelings for one another. Each new bit of progress in their relationship feels like a major victory, one rendered all the more poignant by the knowledge that their friendship/nascent romance is inherently doomed. There’s a nice sense of mystery and unease to their relationship as well. For a long time, it’s very unclear just how close the two characters were prior to Hannah’s death or what exactly Clay might have done to earn himself a spot among the dreaded thirteen .In general, 13 Reasons Why boasts a strong cast that tends to make the most of the material. Initially, Clay and Hannah’s classmates seem to fit into the usual high school stereotypes – your jocks, your cheerleaders, your preppy overachievers, your slackers, etc. But as each member of the thirteen is fleshed out in turn, they show a real depth and angst that reminds viewers that Hannah was hardly the only one who suffered from loneliness and a deep malaise. Standouts include Alisha Boe as psychologically troubled cheerleader Jessica Davis and Brandon Flynn as her equally tortured boyfriend, Justin Foley. The show places a greater emphasis on adult characters than the novel, with memorable, emotionally charged performances from Kate Walsh as Hannah’s grieving mother and Derek Luke as the school’s embattled counselor.13 Reasons Why is far from the most pleasant viewing experience Netflix has to offer, but it is a very powerful and hard-hitting series. The show explores the build-up to and aftermath of a teen’s tragic suicide with great care, painting a compelling portrait of one teen broken by life and another determined to find answers. The show easily ranks among the best high school dramas of the 21st Century.