HALLOWEEN OF HORROR REVIEW: THE ATTICUS INSTITUTE

CAST

William Mapother (World Trade Center)
Rya Kihlstedt (Heroes Reborn)
John Rubinstein (Robocop: the Series)
Sharon Maughan (The Bank Job)
Harry Groener (Buffy: The Vampire Slayer)
Ivar Brogger (Andromeda)
Aaron Craven (Izombie)

The story of the film is presented in documentary format, with footage of the events punctuated by interviews with people related to them. In the early 1970s, Dr. Henry West (William Mapother) founds the Atticus Institute in rural Pennsylvania, hoping to find evidence that proves supernatural abilities such as ESP are real. Despite the best work of West and his aides, however, every subject that comes to the institute seeming to display such abilities are ultimately proven to be frauds. The team is demoralized in their work by the time Judith Winstead (Rya Kihlstedt) is brought to the institute by her sister Margaret, who is troubled by her disturbing behavior. Judith immediately proves to be a different case than the previous subjects, passing all the tests with incredible proficiency and leaving no doubt that her abilities are genuine. Her behavior remains erratic, however, and many of West’s staff become uncomfortable with her, even while their boss’s fascination with her increases. With the usual tests proving to be no challenge for Judith’s incredible power, the team gradually introduces new tests that show her to possess even greater abilities than first imagined.Judith’s behavior grows more unstable as her abilities evolve, disturbing West’s staff. Bizarre events begin to happen to the aides and their families outside of the institute, which they suspect Judith is somehow influencing, and many of them resign from their positions to escape from her. As the situation escalates, the team seeks help from the United States military; under the influence of military advisors, they conduct new tests that lead to Judith manifesting new abilities such as telekinesis and pyrokinesis. One day, Judith experiences a violent reaction to a spectral photography experiment, and when the images are checked, a cloud-like entity is observed temporarily leaving Judith’s body during her convulsions. This leads the team to realize that Judith’s powers are the result of demonic possession.With this discovery, the military seizes full control of the institute under a pretext of national security, and the situation spirals completely out of control. Soon, the military decides that Judith’s abilities can be utilized as a weapon against the Soviet Union in the Cold War, and they begin conducting increasingly inhumane experiments on Judith against West’s objections. Using methods such as electroshock therapy, the military try to tame the demon and force it to cooperate in exercises such as identifying the location of enemy bases, ignoring the effects these tests have on Judith. As these experiments ultimately prove fruitless, the military decides to try removing the demon from Judith by having a priest perform an exorcism while a soldier is connected to Judith via machinery. The process shows promise at first, but Judith suddenly lashes out and gravely injures the priest, disconnecting the electrodes attached to her before passing out. As the staff try to reattach the electrodes, Judith experiences a violent seizure while the demon attacks West through the body of the soldier connected to her. An unseen force blasts through the facility, killing all present. As the cameras come back online, Judith – now free of the demon’s control and restored to her true self – breaks down when she sees the carnage around her. The demon enters the room in West’s body, having fully consumed his soul, and stands before Judith’s cell as she pleads for help. West kills Judith by telekinetically bursting her heart, then calmly exits the room and disappears.The film concludes with a note revealing that Judith’s body was buried in an undisclosed location following an autopsy, and her case remains the only instance of possession officially certified by the United States government. Dr. Henry West, after disappearing on October 23, 1976, was declared legally dead in 1982 and his whereabouts have been unknown for over forty years.Overall The Atticus Institute is one of those mediocre horror films that you can coast your way through if you are just determined to watch it. There isn’t any real connection given between the character development and the audience. The horror and chilling elements aren’t really scary or affective unless you are 12 and really creeped out by demons and paranormal stuff. The framing device and story arc is so done to death, that it becomes a bit boring and you find yourself asking “why am I watching this?”.

REVIEW: HOW I MET YOUR MOTHER – SEASON 9

Starring

Josh Radnor (The Hunt)
Jason Segel (Sex Tape)
Cobie Smulders (Avengers: Endgame)
Neil Patrick Harris (Gone Girl)
Alyson Hannigan (Buffy: The Vampire Slayer)
Cristin Milioti (The Wolf of Wall Street)
Bob Saget (Full House)

Jason Segel and Sherri Shepherd in How I Met Your Mother (2005)RECURRING / NOTABLE GUEST CAST

Sherri Shepherd (Precious)
Wayne Brady (Foodfight!)
Suzie Plakson (Red Eye)
Marshall Manesh (Will & Grace)
Robert Belushi (Devil’s Due)
Roger Bart (Good Trouble)
Frances Conroy (Catwoman)
Virginia Williams (Fuller House)
Edward Herrmann (The Lost Boys)
Rhys Darby (Yes Man)
Harry Groener (Buffy)
Cristine Rose (Heroes)
Bryan Cranston (Breaking Bad)
John Lithgow (3rd Rock From The Sun)
Nancy Lenehan (Two Guys and a Girl)
James Van Der Beek (Varsity Blues)
Alan Thicke (Growing Pains)
Stacy Keibler (The Comebacks)
Nazanin Boniadi (Homeland)
April Bowlby (Doom Patrol)
Eva Amurri Martino (Saved)
Joe Nieves (Stuck In The Middle)
Adam Paul (One For The Money)
Lou Ferrigno Jr. (S.W.A.T.)
Sarah Chalke (Scrubs)
Ashley Williams (A Most Violent Year)
Bill Fagerbakke (spngebob Squarepants)
Abby Elliott (Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles)
Matt Walsh (Ted)
Ray Wise (Agent Carter)
Tracey Ullman (Into The Woods)
Lucy Hale (Truth Or Dare)
Chris Kattan (Undercover Brother)
Jon Heder (School for Scoundrals)
Chris Elliott (The Abyss)
Kyle MacLachlan (Twin Peaks)
Laura Bell Bundy (Anger Management)
Emily Chang (The Vampire Diaries)
Jorge Garcia (Lost)
Kal Penn (Superman Returns)
Jennifer Morrison (Star Trek)
Alexis Denisof (Dollhouse)
David Burtka (Neil’s Puppet Dreams)
Abigail Spencer (Cowboys and Aliens)
Taran Killam (12 Years a Slave)

Alyson Hannigan, Josh Radnor, and Cobie Smulders in How I Met Your Mother (2005)With the exception of the very last episode, the entirety of season nine takes place in the 56 hours leading up to Barney and Robin’s wedding.Neil Patrick Harris, Alyson Hannigan, Jason Segel, Josh Radnor, and Cobie Smulders in How I Met Your Mother (2005)Marshall, who is stuck in Minnesota, desperately tries to find a way to get to the wedding in time. Meanwhile, in Farhampton, the time is slowly counting down to the wedding, with a new problem arising in almost every episode. It is revealed that Lily is pregnant and that she and Marshall will have a daughter. It was also revealed that Ted’s children are named Penny and Luke. In addition, the 200th episode detailed the Mother’s eight years before meeting Ted, while later episodes gave viewers a glimpse of Ted and the Mother together in flash forward scenes.Josh Radnor and Cristin Milioti in How I Met Your Mother (2005)In the series finale, it was revealed that after three years of marriage, Barney and Robin decide to divorce. Barney ends up fathering a child conceived through a one-night stand. Marshall eventually becomes a judge, and he and Lily have three children. Ted’s wife, Tracy, dies of illness in 2024, six years prior to Ted telling his children the full story of how they met. Upon finishing the story, at the urging of his kids, Ted decides to ask Robin out. Alluding to the first season, the finale ends with Robin looking out her apartment window to see Ted on the street holding the blue French horn.Josh Radnor and Cristin Milioti in How I Met Your Mother (2005)Season 9 may have a controversial ending but it’s nice to see a show have a proper ending with so many shows ending early they often fail to finish. How I Met You Mother proved it could stay the distance and the ending will be talked about for years to come.

REVIEW: HOW I MET YOUR MOTHER – SEASON 5

Starring

Josh Radnor (The Hunt)
Jason Segel (Sex Tape)
Cobie Smulders (Avengers: Endgame)
Neil Patrick Harris (Gone Girl)
Alyson Hannigan (Buffy: The Vampire Slayer)
Bob Saget (Full House)

Neil Patrick Harris and Jason Segel in How I Met Your Mother (2005)

RECURRING / NOTABLE GUEST CAST

Joe Manganiello (Justice League)
Rizwan Manji (The Dictator)
Lindsay Sloane (Sabrina: TTW)
Lyndsy Fonseca (Kick-Ass)
David Henrie (Paul Blart Mall Cop 2)
Olga Fonda (The Vampire Diaries)
Marshall Manesh (Will & Grace)
Julianna Guill (Captain America: Civil War)
Alan Thicke (Growing Pains)
April Bowlby (Doom Patrol)
Matt Jones (Mom)
Eva Amurri Martino (Saved!)
Sarah Wright (American Made)
Chris Elliott (The Abyss)
Christina Pickles (Masters of The Universe)
Bill Fagerbakke (Spongebob Squarepants)
Suzie Plakson (Disclosure)
JoAnna Garcia Swisher (The Internship)
Charlene Amoia (American Pie: Reunion)
Matthew Moy (2 Broke Girls)
Benjamin Koldyke (The Finest Hours)
Bob Odenkirk (Better Call Saul)
Harvey Fierstein (Mrs. Doubtfire)
Rachel Bilson (Jumper)
Stacy Keibler (The Comebacks)
Joe Nieves (Stuck In The Middle)
Amanda Peet (Identity)
Larry Poindexter (17 Again)
Taran Killam (12 Years a Slave)
Bar Paly (Pain & Gain)
David Burtka (Neil’s Puppet Dreams)
Carrie Underwood (Soul Surfer)
Jennifer Lopez (The Cell)
Laura Prepon (That 70s Show)
Brooke Nevin (Scorpion)
Anne Dudek (Mad Men)
Cristine Rose (Heroes)
Harry Groener (Buffy: TVS)
Arianna Huffington (The Cleveland Show)
Michael York (Logan’s Run)
Malin Akerman (Watchmen)
Judy Greer (Ant-Man)
Chris Kattan (Undercover Brother)

Alyson Hannigan and Jason Segel in How I Met Your Mother (2005)Ted begins his job as a professor of architecture, standing in the middle of a classroom – although the mother was present, it turns out to be an economics class as he’s in the wrong lecture hall. Barney and Robin have had a sexual relationship throughout the summer and Lily locks them in a room, forcing them to come to terms with their relationship. After a rough patch they decide to break up. Robin describes it instead as “two friends getting back together.” Barney immediately goes back to his old ways, using the playbook to score with women. Throughout the season Barney and Robin show feelings of regret over their break-up.Neil Patrick Harris and Josh Radnor in How I Met Your Mother (2005)Ted dates a graduate student named Cindy (Rachel Bilson) and it is revealed her roommate is his future wife. Robin meets Don Frank (Benjamin Koldyke), her new co-anchor on her 4 AM TV show. Though she initially dislikes him, the two start dating and eventually she moves in with him. At the end of the season they break up when Don takes a job in Chicago — a job which Robin had previously turned down to stay in New York with Don. Marshall uses his fourth slap on Barney, once again at Thanksgiving. Ted buys a house, which needs to be fixed up badly, but is later revealed to be the future home for Ted and his children.Neil Patrick Harris and Cobie Smulders in How I Met Your Mother (2005)Lily and Marshall are still unsure about having children. After watching four doppelgangers of their group (Lesbian Robin, Moustache Marshall, Stripper Lily and Mexican Wrestler Ted) they decide to leave the big decision to the universe’s “infinite wisdom” and start trying when they have seen Barney’s Doppelganger. In the season finale, Barney disguises himself to have sex with a girl from every country in the world, and Lily and Marshall mistake him for the final doppelganger. When Marshall finds out, he decides not to tell Lily, fearing she will want to wait even longer to have children. Lily eventually finds out and decides to wait. In the season finale, Lily thinks she sees Barney’s doppelganger as a hot dog vendor, which causes the group to realize she is seeing what she wants to see, and play along. Eventually Barney agrees having babies is not a stupid idea and Lily and Marshall should go forth. The season ends with Lily asking Marshall to “put a baby in my belly”.Neil Patrick Harris, Alyson Hannigan, Jason Segel, Josh Radnor, and Cobie Smulders in How I Met Your Mother (2005)Another great season which leaves you wanting to find out what happens next in season 6.

 

 

REVIEW: HOW I MET YOUR MOTHER – SEASON 2

Starring

Josh Radnor (The Hunt)
Jason Segel (Sex Tape)
Cobie Smulders (Avengers: Endgame)
Neil Patrick Harris (Gone Girl)
Alyson Hannigan (Buffy: The Vampire Slayer)
Bob Saget (Full House)

Alyson Hannigan and George Clinton in How I Met Your Mother (2005)

RECURRING / NOTABLE GUEST CAST

Lyndsy Fonseca (Kick-Ass)
David Henrie (Paul BLart Mall Cop 2)
Michael Gross (Tremors)
Cristine Rose (Heroes)
Charlene Amoia (American Pie: Reunion)
Joe Manganiello (True Blood)
Joe Nieves (Stuck In The Middle)
Dawn Olivieri (Bright)
Valerie Azlynn (Julia X)
Bryan Cranston (Breaking Bad)
Jane Seymour (Wedding Crashers)
Morena Baccarin (Gotham)
Tom Lenk (Buffy: The Vampire Slayer)
Patricia Belcher (Bones)
Todd Stashwick (The Originals)
Kate Micucci (The Big Bang Theory)
Wayne Brady (Colony)
Harry Groener (Buffy: The Vampire Slayer)
Lucy Hale (Truth or Dare)
Ryan Pinkston (Clipped)
William Schallert (Innerspace)
John Ducey (Sabrina: TTW)
Meredith Scott Lynn (Legally Blonde)
Rachelle Lefevre (Twilight)
Jessica Barth (Ted)
K Callan (Lois & Clark)
Meagen Fay (That’s My Boy)
Marshall Manesh (Will & Grace)
David Burtka (Neil’s Puppet Dreams)
Candice King (The Vampire Diaries)
Scoot McNairy (Batman V Superman)

Josh Radnor and Cobie Smulders in How I Met Your Mother (2005)The second season of How I Met Your Mother continues with a similar tone to the first season. The show follows a couple dramatic storylines that affect the lives of the cast, all the while doing and saying goofy things. Notably, Neil Patrick Harris repeatedly steals the spotlight as the overzealous, egotistical, and downright fun character Barney Stinson.Cristine Rose, Michael Gross, Josh Radnor, and Cobie Smulders in How I Met Your Mother (2005)In the close of the show’s first season, Marshall’s life was turned upside down. Lily was accepted into an art internship. The catch is that it meant spending the summer in San Francisco. Marshall gave Lily an ultimatum, the internship or their relationship. She picked San Francisco. As season two begins, Marshall is approaching relationship rock bottom. Having lost the woman of his dreams, he quickly spirals down a destructive path. While Ted would normally be there for him, he has his own issues to deal with. At the end of season one, Ted realized his feelings for Robin and pursed her (again). In season two, they test out relationship-waters.Alyson Hannigan, Joe Manganiello, and Cobie Smulders in How I Met Your Mother (2005)As the second season continues, Marshall pines over Lily and the Ted-Robin relationship blooms. The contrast between Marshall and Ted makes for a hearty chuckle, as they are as night and day. Life for Marshall is not all bad. One day he wakes up and understands it is time to move on. He becomes himself again (as much as he can without Lily) and even tries to meet women. These outings are fantastic, with Barney continually stealing the show (and the women!). Then boom! Lily returns from San Francisco and tries to adjust to life without Marshall, which includes getting a dumpy apartment and moving in with Barney. Marshall and Lily eventually get back on track and conclude the season with a wedding.Neil Patrick Harris and Alyson Hannigan in How I Met Your Mother (2005)In the early half of the season, Ted and Robin’s relationship is roses and daffodils. They are getting along great… in fact too great. They start to get pretty serious, which includes saying I love you to each other, although Robin has some difficulty expressing it. The two decide to move in together, which Barney wholeheartedly disapproves of. “Moving Day” is a really silly story; Barney goes out of his way to stop Ted from moving into Robin’s place.Neil Patrick Harris, Jane Seymour, and Jason Segel in How I Met Your Mother (2005)In addition to the second season’s relationship story arcs, there are some plain old fun episodes. “Brunch” is a great story. Ted reveals the details leading up to when he learned about his parent’s divorce. It is a hilarious sequence of events, with the entire cast shining. “Aldrin Justice” is silly episode where Barney tries to tame a wild beast. He uses sex to persuade Marshall’s tough law professor (Jane Seymour) into grading easier. “Single Stamina” is a simply ridiculous. Barney’s gay, black brother James (Wayne Brady) comes to visit. The fun part about this episode is Brady’s performance, as he does a fine job mimicking Barney’s outrageous personality, except he targets men.Neil Patrick Harris, Alyson Hannigan, Jane Seymour, Jason Segel, Josh Radnor, and Cobie Smulders in How I Met Your Mother (2005)The season’s remaining episodes offer a fun compilation of fun storylines . It is hilarious and entertaining material. In the end, How I Met Your Mother’s second season is a solid collection of episodes.

REVIEW: BREAKING BAD – SEASON 2

 

STARRING

Bryan Cranston (Power Rangers)
Anna Gunn (Sully)
Aaron Paul (Central Intelligence)
Dean Norris (The Big Bang Theory)
Betsy Brandt (Magic Mike)
RJ Mitte (Final Recall)

Bryan Cranston and Aaron Paul in Breaking Bad (2008)

RECURRING / NOTABLE GUEST STARS

Krysten Ritter (Jessica Jones)
Steven Michael Quezada (Girlfriend’s Day)
Charles Baker (Abysm)
Christopher Cousins (The Grudge 2)
Matt L. Jones (Mom)
Bob Odenkirk (Operation: Endgame)
John de Lancie (Star Trek: TNG)
Tom Kiesche (The Animal)
Michael Shamus Wiles (The Bronze)
Raymond Cruz (Training Day)
Giancarlo Esposito (Money Monster)
Tess Harper (Amityville 3)
Mark Margolis (Noah)
Carmen Serano (The Flock)

Harry Groener (Buffy: TVS)
Jonathan Banks (The Lizzie Borden Chronicles)
Sam McMurray (Drop Dead Gordgous)
Jeremiah Bitsui (The Reunion)
Nigel Gibbs (Eagle Eye)
Jessica Hecht (J. Edgar)
Danny Trejo (Machete)
Caleb Landry Jones (Get Out)
Dale Dickey (My Name Is Earl)
DJ Qualls (Road Trip)
Michael Bofshever (United 93)

Bryan Cranston in Breaking Bad (2008)My goodness. Look how far we’ve come. We started watching this show with a pretty simple, though hard to believe, premise. A teacher needed extra money to leave behind for his family in the event of his death. He cooked meth with his former student and by the end, he had earned the respect and business of Albuquerque’s craziest drug dealer, Tuco, by blowing out the side of his office. Of course it sounds silly written out like that, but the source of Breaking Bad’s power isn’t its realism, it’s its realism based in its fantasy; at the end of the day, it’s still a TV show. Walt had set out with a goal and achieved part of it by the end of the first season, but by the final scene, we were given that glimpse of just the trouble Walt and Jesse had just put themselves into, a glimpse of what was in their future.Bryan Cranston, Raymond Cruz, and Aaron Paul in Breaking Bad (2008)That is, Season 1 was a preview. It was a taste of what the series was about, from the character development to the explosive scenes to the use of science in every day life to the tortuous limbo Walt had put his family in.Dean Norris and Aaron Paul in Breaking Bad (2008)Season 2 was a beautiful thing, maybe one of the best seasons in television history. Even though we knew the show for its explosiveness, its ability to fool us and to build on characters, it enriched its soil, providing richer loams from which to grow. Jesse has always been a good character at heart. No doubt that Season 2 was tough on him. He moved from a wannabe tough guy to a kingpin poser to a heroin junkie. He was kicked around a lot, physically and mentally. He crashed through a port-a-potty while breaking into an impoundment lot so he could find a place to sleep for the night. He lost the only girl he’s ever loved. We also found out just how much Walt cares for him, though, and there’s reason to believe he’ll be back on his feet in Season 3. Perhaps he’ll attain redemption before the series is over. Skyler meanwhile proved she’s just as smart and strong as she appeared to be in season one. Hank was crass, but loveable, and showed that his interior isn’t as tough as his exterior. The rest of the cast has proven to be well-rounded characters, capable of good and bad, everyone having their two sides, but each one with their own line drawn in the sand.

Bryan Cranston in Breaking Bad (2008)Walt has been leaning into evil, he’s shown his inner conflict: (1) in “Bit by a Dead Bee,” where he saw the effects his absence had created (the three times when he looks at the painting on the wall in the hospital were, I think, the best part of the season), (2) the scene on the cots in the camper in “4 Days Out,” where he admits to Jesse that he deserves “this,” and (3) the scene on the couch in the finale when Walt Jr. explains how Walt is his hero and his eyes mist over.Breaking Bad (2008)Walt’s leading this chimerical lifestyle and it kills him inside. Again, part of that is the brilliant acting by Bryan Cranston, of giving those heartfelt words and moments while being able to turn around and say “f**k you” at Gretchen through clenched teeth or tell some cook wannabes to get out of his territory. He has that fire in the belly, that passion to succeed, even if it’s through illegal means, but he sees that its costing him the life he had, the family he loves. Though it seems like it’s heading towards Walt’s eventual corruption, Walt could continue to walk that fine line. Besides, Breaking Bad has already thrown enough curveballs to make us second guess any predictions.Bryan Cranston and Aaron Paul in Breaking Bad (2008)And might I add, the series has done a great job of not abusing Walt’s science acumen to get him out of tough situations. The occasional use of chemistry has been infrequent enough to not warrant a “How will they get out of this situation with chemistry this time” weekly guessing game. Maybe, just maybe, what made Season 2 so great was how well they were able to give us the explosiveness we desired without tipping their hand to it. There were also numerous surprises that were just as meaningful, but not as physically explosive. By the end of Season 2, Walt established the connections he has wanted from the start, but at a big cost—and in the finale, he receives his cosmic justice, as the consequences of his actions rained down upon him.Bryan Cranston in Breaking Bad (2008)There was so little wasted in Season 2, so little plot that didn’t lead to something bigger, that it deserves a second, third and fourth viewing. It was impressive. Impressive if only because we started out with this neatly wrapped package and it exploded into this galaxy of deceit, despair, hope, trickery and the unraveling of our two antiheroes – all in thirteen episodes. Season 1 showed us Pandora’s Box and Season 2 opened it with a sledge hammer. Even in the end, when we were thrown that curveball ending, we wanted more.