REVIEW: THE TEXAS CHAINSAW MASSACRE (2003)

CAST

Jessica Biel (The A-Team)
Jonathan Tucker (Hostage)
Erica Leerhsen (Wrong Turn 2)
Mike Vogel (Bates Motel)
Eric Balfour (Skyline)
Andrew Bryniarski (Batman Returns)
R. Lee Ermey (Full Metal Jacket)

On August 18, 1973, five young adults—Erin, her boyfriend Kemper, and their friends Morgan, Andy, and Pepper—are on their way to a Lynyrd Skynyrd concert after traveling to Mexico to buy marijuana. While driving through Texas, the group pick up a distraught hitchhiker walking in the middle of the road. After trying to talk to the hitchhiker, who speaks incoherently about “a bad man”, she shoots herself in the mouth.

The group goes to contact the police, when a woman named Luda Mae tells them to meet Sheriff Hoyt at the mill. Instead, they find a young boy named Jedidiah, who tells them Hoyt is at home. Erin and Kemper go through the woods to find his house, leaving Morgan, Andy, and Pepper at the mill with Jedidiah. They come across a plantation house and Erin is allowed inside by an amputee named Monty to call for help. Kemper goes inside to look for Erin and is killed with a sledgehammer by Thomas Hewitt, also known as “Leatherface”, who drags his body into the basement and finds an engagement ring meant for Erin.Meanwhile, Hoyt arrives and disposes of the hitchhiker’s body. After Erin finds that Kemper is missing, she and Andy go back to Monty’s house, and Erin distracts him while Andy searches for Kemper. Monty realizes Andy is inside and summons Leatherface, who attacks him with his chainsaw. Erin escapes and heads towards the woods, but Leatherface cuts Andy’s leg off and carries him to the basement, where he is impaled on a meat hook. Erin makes it back to the mill, but before she and the others can leave, Hoyt shows up. After finding marijuana on the dashboard, he orders Erin and Pepper to get out of the van, gives Morgan the gun he took from the hitchhiker, and tells him to reenact how she killed herself. Morgan, disturbed by his demands, attempts to shoot him, only to find that the gun is unloaded. Hoyt handcuffs Morgan and drives him to the Hewitt house, taking the van’s key with him.Erin and Pepper are attacked by Leatherface, who is wearing Kemper’s face as a mask. When Pepper attempts to run, she is killed by Leatherface. Erin runs and hides in a nearby trailer belonging to an obese middle-aged woman known only as the Tea Lady, and a younger woman named Henrietta, who give her tea. Erin discovers they have kidnapped the hitchhiker’s baby, but passes out before she can escape, as the tea is drugged. Erin wakes up at the Hewitt house surrounded by the family: Leatherface, his mother Luda Mae, Hoyt, Monty and Jedidiah. Luda Mae informs Erin that Leatherface was tormented for his whole life because of a skin disease that left his face disfigured, and that she felt no one cared for her family besides themselves.Erin is taken to the basement, where she finds Andy and kills him to end his suffering after failing to get him off the hook. Afterwards, she finds Morgan handcuffed in a bathtub. Jedidiah, who does not agree with his family’s actions, leads them out of the house and distracts Leatherface long enough for them to escape. Erin and Morgan find an abandoned shack in the woods and barricade themselves inside. Leatherface breaks in and discovers Erin, but Morgan attacks Leatherface, who kills him with his chainsaw. Erin escapes into the woods, pursued by Leatherface. She finds a slaughterhouse and attacks Leatherface with a meat cleaver, chopping off his right arm.Erin runs outside and flags down a trucker, who she tries to convince to drive away from the Hewitt house, but he stops to find help at the eatery. As the family is distracted by the trucker, Erin sneaks the baby out of the eatery and places her in the sheriff’s car. Erin hot-wires the car and Hoyt tries to stop her, but she runs him over repeatedly until he is dead. Then, Leatherface suddenly appears in the road and slashes the car with his chainsaw, but Erin manages to escape with the baby, and he watches in anger as she drives away.The atmospheric and chilling sound effects are especially well done, on a par with any other horror movie. The iconic, hulking serial killer Leatherface is a man mountain of maniacal mayhem, and who’s physiognomy is the stuff of nightmares – he’s comfortably one of the all-time horror genre greats. Jessica Biel is absolutely fantastic in the lead role as a headstrong and ballsy woman, who’s early shock and terror at her hellish predicament is quickly subsumed by her sheer determination to survive against all the odds.

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REVIEW: POSEIDON

CAST

Josh Lucas (Hulk)
Kurt Russell (Guardians of The Galaxy Vol 2)
Jacinda Barrett (Ladder 49)
Richard Dreyfuss (Tin Man)
Emmy Rossum (The Day After Tomorrow)
Mia Maestro (Alias)
Mike Vogel (Bates Motel)
Jimmy Bennett (No Ordinary Family)
Kevin Dillon (Entourage)
Freddy Rodriguez (Ugly Betty)
Fergie (Nine)
Andre Braugher (The Gambler)

The MS Poseidon, a luxury ocean liner, is making a transatlantic crossing. Former New York City Mayor and FDNY firefighter Robert Ramsey (Kurt Russell) is traveling with his daughter Jennifer (Emmy Rossum) and her boyfriend Christian (Mike Vogel) to New York, soon to be engaged. Also on board is former Navy submariner-turned-professional gambler Dylan Johns (Josh Lucas), architect Richard Nelson (Richard Dreyfuss), Maggie James (Jacinda Barrett) and her son Conor (Jimmy Bennett), stowaway Elena (Mía Maestro), and waiter Valentin (Freddy Rodriguez).As the passengers are celebrating a New Year’s Eve party in the ship’s ballroom, officers on the bridge see a huge rogue wave bearing down on the ship. To survive the wave, they try to turn the ship to take the wave bow-first. However, the ship does not turn fast enough. The wave swamps and capsizes the ship, killing the bridge officers and many passengers. Badly injured, Captain Bradford (Andre Braugher) tries to restore order and assures the remaining passengers that help is on the way, and that they should remain in the ballroom. Unconvinced, Dylan leads Conor, Maggie, Robert, Richard, and Valentin towards the bow, where he believes they will have the best chance of escaping from the capsized liner.As they head up, they have to cross an elevator shaft, into which Valentin falls before being crushed by the falling elevator. They reunite with Jennifer, Christian, Elena, and gambler Lucky Larry (Kevin Dillon), who had all been in the nightclub section of the ship and to find that they are the last remaining survivors out of all of the occupants in the nightclub. The group crosses a makeshift bridge across the lobby, where Lucky Larry gets crushed by the engine. The pressure from the water finally cracks the ballroom windows, drowning and killing its occupants, including Captain Bradford and New Year’s singer Gloria (Stacy Ferguson). With the water rising rapidly, the group is forced to escape through an air duct and some ballast tanks, although Elena hits her head underwater and drowns.With the ship slowly sinking, the survivors soon find themselves in a crew lounge where they find the bow section is flooded, until an explosion of the engine room lifts it out of the water. The group enters the bow thruster room and are horrified to find the thrusters still running. With their path blocked by the propellers, and knowing that the control room is submerged in water, Robert swims away to turn off the engine. He finds the ‘shut off’ switch to be broken, but presses the reverse button instead, before drowning. With the propellers now spinning in the other direction, Dylan throws a nitrogen tank into it, causing an explosion that destroys the engine and leaving an opening for them to escape through. The group jumps out the thruster and swim to a nearby inflatable raft, and as they are getting into the raft, the ship starts to right itself. As they are paddling away, the waves push the raft further and further away from the sinking liner. Across the water, the survivors look on as the stricken ship sinks stern-first into the Atlantic. After firing a flare, two helicopters and several ships arrive to rescue the six survivors, having tracked the location of the Poseidon’s GPS beacon.Watching the latest version of the Poseidon Adventure, I wasn’t expecting much . But boy was I wrong! The first ten minutes of the movie are the usual for a disaster movie, we get to know the characters and why they are on the ship. But then a wave hits the Poseidon and the real thrills begin. This movie will keep you on the edge of your seat and make you wonder what is going to happen next. The Effects are some of the best I have ever seen and the acting is no where near as bad as everyone says it is. With a big name cast including Josh Luacs, Emmy Rossum and Kurt Russell, Poseidon is an excellent film and must be seen.

REVIEW: RUMOR HAS IT…

CAST

Jennifer Anniston (Leprechaun)
Kevin Costner (Man of Steel)
Shirley MacLaine (Valentine’s Day)
Mark Ruffalo (Avengers Assemble)
Richard Jenkins (The Cabin In The Woods)
Mena Suvari (American Pie)
Christopher McDonald (Fanboys)
Mike Vogel (Bates Motel)
Jennifer Taylor (Two and a Half Men)
Kathy Bates (Misery)
Erinn Hayes (The Watch)
Jaime Ray Newman (Veronica Mars)

In 1997, Sarah Huttinger (Jennifer Aniston), an obituary and wedding announcement writer for The New York Times, travels to Pasadena, California, for her sister Annie’s (Mena Suvari) wedding, accompanied by her fiancé Jeff Daly (Mark Ruffalo). At a pre-wedding party, Sarah learns from her grandmother Katharine (Shirley MacLaine) that her mother Jocelyn ran off to Cabo San Lucas to spend time with her prep school classmate Beau Burroughs (Kevin Costner) the week before her wedding to Sarah’s father Earl (Richard Jenkins). Jeff points out Sarah’s parents were married just short of nine months before her birth, leading her to wonder if Beau might really be her biological father. Sarah also discovers her grandmother might have been the inspiration for Mrs. Robinson, an infamous character in the novel The Graduate.After the wedding, determined to find out more about Beau and her mother’s past, Sarah decides to fly to San Francisco, where Beau, now a highly successful and very wealthy Silicon Valley Internet wizard, is addressing a seminar. She meets him; and he admits to the affair but assures Sarah he couldn’t be her father because he suffered blunt testicular trauma while playing in a high school soccer game and, as a result, is sterile. The two go out for drinks, and the following morning Sarah wakes up in Beau’s bed in his Half Moon Bay home.Although guilt-stricken by her behavior, Sarah allows Beau to convince her to be his date at a charity ball, where she meets Beau’s son Blake. Beau explains his wife wanted a biological child and was artificially inseminated to become pregnant. Mollified, Sarah kisses Beau and is caught by Jeff, who has returned to California to find her. Following an ensuing argument, Jeff leaves her. Dejected, Sarah returns to visit Katharine, who flies into a rage when she learns Beau has slept with her granddaughter. The two learn Annie suffered an anxiety attack while flying to her honeymoon and wants to talk to Sarah. Sarah tells her sister about the relationship three generations of Richelieu women have had with Beau. She reassures Annie she truly is in love with her husband, Scott, and in doing so realizes she’s ready to marry Jeff.It is also revealed that Earl was the one who accidentally caused Beau’s testicular trauma. This makes Beau somewhat nervous to be around Earl, though Katherine is quite pleased by the revelation. Earl reveals to Sarah he always knew about Jocelyn and Beau’s affair. Despite Beau being a fling for her, Jocelyn returned to Earl because she loved him and he was someone with whom she could build a life. On the night she returned, Sarah was conceived. This explained the date difference between her birthday and her parents’ wedding.Determined to win Jeff back, Sarah returns to New York City and tells her fiancé about her feelings. They reconcile on the condition, if they ever have a daughter, she would not be allowed anywhere near Beau. The film ends with Sarah and Jeff’s wedding.A shaky script that is admirably supported by the cast, but all the kudos belong to Shirley MacLaine who made this movie watchable.

REVIEW: CLOVERFIELD

 

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Lizzy Caplan (Mean Girls)
Jessica Lucas (Gotham)
T.J. Miller (Deadpool)
Michael Stahl-David (In Your Eyes)
Mike Vogel (Bates Motel)
Odette Annable (The Unborn)
Theo Rossi (Luke Cage)
Brian Klugman (Bones)
Liza Lapira (Dollhouse)
Chris Mulkey (Whiplash)

The film is presented as found footage from a personal camcorder recovered by the United States Department of Defense. A disclaimer states that the footage is of a case designated “Cloverfield” and was found in area US447, “formerly known as Central Park”. The video consists primarily of segments taped the night of Friday, May 22. Occasionally, older segments are shown from a previous video that was mostly taped over.

The first video segment shows Beth waking up on the morning of Monday, April 27 having had sex with Rob, a previously platonic friend, who is filming her. They make plans to go to Coney Island that day. The footage then cuts to Friday, May 22, when Jason, Rob’s brother, and his girlfriend, Lily, prepare a farewell party for Rob, who will be moving to Japan. Their friend Hud uses the camera to film testimonials during the party.

After Beth has an argument with Rob and leaves the party, an apparent earthquake strikes, and the city suffers a brief power outage. The local news reports that an oil tanker has capsized near Liberty Island. When the party-goers leave the building, the decapitated head of the Statue of Liberty is hurled into the street in front of them. Hud records what appears to be a large creature several blocks away, which collapses the Woolworth Building. Later, during the evacuation of the city, the creature’s gigantic tail destroys the Brooklyn Bridge, killing Jason and several other people. News reports show the Army National Guard’s 42nd Infantry Division attacking the monster, and smaller “parasite” creatures falling off its body and attacking nearby pedestrians and soldiers.[5]

Rob listens to a phone message from Beth, saying she is trapped in her apartment and unable to move. Going against the crowd, Rob, Hud, Lily, and Marlena (another party guest) venture to Midtown Manhattan to rescue Beth. They get caught in a battle between the creature and the National Guard and run into the Spring Street station, where they are attacked by several of the parasitic creatures inside the subway tunnel. Marlena is attacked and bitten by one of the creatures. Exiting the subway via the 59th Street station, the four come to a command center and field hospital, where Marlena develops a reaction to the bite, which causes her abdomen to inflate and explode, killing her. One of the military leaders tells the group when the last evacuation helicopter will depart before the military executes its “Hammer Down Protocol,” which will destroy Manhattan in an attempt to kill the creature.

The group eventually rescues Beth, who was impaled on exposed rebar, and the four make their way to the evacuation site, where they encounter the creature once more over Grand Central Terminal. Lily is rushed into a departing Marine Corps helicopter and escapes. Moments later, Rob, Beth, and Hud are taken away in a second helicopter and witness a U.S. Air Force B-2 Spirit bomb the creature. The bombing appears to harm the creature, causing it to fall, but it then lunges at the protagonists’ helicopter, causing it to crash into Central Park.

The film skips to Saturday, May 23 (less than an hour later), with a voice on the crashed helicopter’s radio warning that the Hammer Down protocol will begin in fifteen minutes. The three friends regain consciousness and flee the remains of the helicopter, leaving the camera behind, but when Hud goes to retrieve it, the creature suddenly appears and kills him.

Rob and Beth grab the camera and take shelter under Greyshot Arch in Central Park. As air raid sirens begin to blare, and the bombing starts, Rob and Beth take turns leaving their last testimony of the day’s events. The bridge crumbles and the camera gets knocked out of Rob’s hand and buried beneath some rubble.[6] As the air raid approaches, Rob and Beth each proclaim their love for each other just before another bomb goes off, at which point they both can be heard screaming while the monster roars in pain, presumably killing them all.

The film then cuts to the footage of Rob and Beth’s Coney Island date on April 27. Unnoticed by them, something in the far distance falls from the sky into the ocean. Rob faces the camera towards him and Beth, and zooms in on Beth, who says “I had a good day.” The tape then freezes and cuts out. After the end credits there’s a voice saying “Help us” and in reverse it says “It’s still alive”.The film had been hyped for months via viral marketing, JJ Abrams fan boys, and media coverage/ monster speculation. Did it live up to the hype? The answer is yes Cloverfield is by far the most intense monster film I have seen in a while.The monster itself is actually not seen in its entirety only being viewed from different angles for the audience to piece it together as the survivors themselves are, you pretty much know as much as they do about everything going on making you actually feel like you’re there. Critics compare the film to Blair Witch meets Godzilla but it is so much more than that, Cloverfield is the definitive American Monster Film.

REVIEW: SHE’S OUT OF MY LEAGUE

CAST

Jay Baruchel (Fanboys)
Alice Eve (Star Trek Into Darkness)
T.J. Miller (Deadpool)
Mike Vogel (Bates Motel)
Nate Torrence (Get Smart)
Lindsay Sloane (Sabrina: The Teenage Witch)
Kyle Bornheimer (Blades of Glory)
Jessica St. Clair (Bridesmaids)
Krysten Ritter (Jessica Jones0
Debra Jo Rupp (That 70s Show)
Geoff Stults (The Finder)

Kirk Kettner (Jay Baruchel) is a twenty-something TSA officer employed at the Pittsburgh International Airport along with his friends, fellow TSA officer Stainer (T. J. Miller), airline reservations agent Devon (Nate Torrence), and baggage handler Jack (Mike Vogel). Kirk has a poor track record with dating and is hoping to reconcile with his self-centered ex-girlfriend, Marnie (Lindsay Sloane), who despite having broken up with him two years earlier, and having since found a new boyfriend Ron (Hayes MacArthur), has remained close with Kirk’s parents (Debra Jo Rupp and Adam LeFevre), brother Dylan (Kyle Bornheimer), and pregnant sister-in-law-to-be Debbie (Jessica St. Clair).
At work one morning, an attractive young woman, Molly McCleish (Alice Eve), arrives at the passenger terminal to board a flight to New York City. While proceeding through the TSA security checkpoint, Molly’s striking looks attract unwanted attention from several male TSA officers who try flirting with her awkwardly. Kirk is the only TSA officer to treat Molly courteously. On the airplane, she realizes that she accidentally left her cellphone in the airport security area. Calling up her phone, Kirk answers and arranges a time to meet the following evening so that Kirk can return it.
When Devon and Kirk arrive at the Andy Warhol Museum, where Molly, a lawyer-turned-event planner, is managing an event, Kirk collides with Molly’s sister, Katie (Kim Shaw) and spills his drink on the museum director. Kirk takes the blame for the incident to protect Katie, after which a grateful Molly offers Kirk tickets to a Pittsburgh Penguins hockey game at the Mellon Arena. When Kirk and Stainer meet Molly and her best friend Patty (Krysten Ritter), who develops an immediate mutual loathing with Stainer (he subsequently refers to her as “The Hamburglar”), at the game, Kirk, still convinced Molly is not interested in him, assumes Molly meant to set him up with Patty, until Patty explicitly tells him of Molly’s interest.
The two begin to date after this, with Kirk confiding in her his dream of becoming a pilot someday, though Stainer predicts their relationship will fail as he deems Molly a “10” in a scale of attractiveness, and Kirk only a “5”, telling him a girl he loved once broke up with him for this very reason. Patty, for her part, believes Molly had only chosen Kirk because he was a “safe” choice after being hurt by her last boyfriend, Air Force pilot Cam (Geoff Stults), who assumes Kirk is a waiter and attempts to order drinks from Kirk when they first meet, and then believing Kirk to be a homosexual friend of Molly’s.
Molly then invites herself to Kirk’s family lunch, where she charms his family and even Ron after highly intimidating the men of the house with her looks. Molly’s attentions to Kirk stir jealousy in Marnie, who feels upstaged by Molly’s attractiveness, and takes a sudden interest in Kirk again.
After returning to Molly’s apartment, Kirk ejaculates prematurely in his pants when things start to heat up, just as Molly’s parents (played by Alice Eve’s real-life parents, Sharon Maughan and Trevor Eve) arrive for a surprise visit. Desperate to conceal the stain on his pants, Kirk seems discourteous by avoiding to stand up and shake hands, and quickly leaves Molly’s apartment. Molly grows cool to Kirk after this, believing he fled to avoid meeting her parents. At Jack’s urging, Kirk admits the true reasons for his leaving, and their relationship resumes. During a date, Kirk suggests to Molly that she throw a birthday party for Katie (with music provided by Stainer’s Hall & Oates tribute band, “Adult Education”). Kirk is troubled, when Molly is intentionally vague about Kirk’s line of work to her parents. To add to his troubles, Molly’s macho ex-boyfriend Cam shows up and messes with Kirk by deliberately alluding to Molly having some sort of “defect”.
After the party, both of them go back to Molly’s apartment and make out where Kirk discovers Molly’s “defect” is slightly webbed toes, which Kirk considers so minor that he decides that she is indeed too perfect for him. Molly is upset that Kirk is so insecure that he felt he could only be with her if something was wrong with her. After telling Kirk that she and Cam had broken up because of his own insecurities, with him even cheating on her, she admits she had indeed asked Kirk out because she considered him safe and breaks up with him. Kirk leaves and later resumes his relationship with Marnie, planning on a family trip to Branson. Stainer and Patty realize their mistake in telling Kirk and Molly it wouldn’t work out; Stainer tells Kirk that he is a “10” too. They pull Kirk off his plane as the aircraft prepares to depart to Branson as he tries to leave with his family and Marnie, while Patty brings Molly to the airport. Kirk rejects Marnie during an unorthodox airport pursuit and meets Molly in the airport where she tells him that he is out of shape and she asked him out because she thought he was safe and wouldn’t hurt her. She then continues to tell him that she doesn’t care what he is employed as and that she misses him and wants to be together with him. Kirk and Molly then make up and resume their relationship, even if their friends don’t approve it.
Later, as a surprise, Kirk is seen walking on the airport Tarmac with Molly where he takes Molly on a trip in a small plane, with him as the pilot. The couple are last seen happily together in a small plane taking off from Pittsburgh airport.
She’s Out of My League is essentially a rom-com aimed more at a male audience than your Sex and the City crowd and to do that, it does its best to avoid a conventional route. Of course, with this being your typical “boy girl fall in love against the odds” movie, it is impossible to avoid some of the usual scenes that fill this genre. Thankfully however, the cast, which includes Jay Baruchel, Alice Eve and Krysten Ritter, are well suited for their roles and there is a good mix of characters with Nate Torrance’s Devon of particular note. Dialogue is funny throughout, if nothing new, and their are some funny situation

 

REVIEW: BATES MOTEL – SEASON 1-3

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CAST

Vera Farmiga (The Conjuring)
Freddie Highmore (Finding Neverland)
Max Thieriot (House at The End of The Street)
Olivia Cooke (Ouija)
Nicola Peltz (Trasformers 4)
Nestor Carbonell (Lost)
Kenny Johnson (Cold Case)
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RECURRING / NOTABLE GUEST CAST

W. Earl Brown (Deadwood)
Keegan Connor Tracy (Final Destination 2)
Mike Vogel (Cloverfield)
Terry Chen (Almost Famous)
Vincent Gale (Battlestar Galactica)
Brittney Wilson (Rogue)
Peter Bryant (Dark Angel)
Ian Hart (Michael Collins)
Aliyah O’Brien (If I Stay)
Ian Tracey (Sanctuary)
Jere Burns (Justified)
Ben Cotton (Stargate: Atlantis)
Hiro Kanagawa (Heroes Reborn)
Alexander Calvert (Arrow)
Keenan Tracey (Rags)
Michael O’Neill (Sebiscuit)
Rebecca Creskoff (Quintuplets)
Michael Eklund (Watchmen)
Brendan Fletcher (Smallville)
Paloma Kwiatkowski (Perry Jackson)
Martin Cummins (Dark Angel)
Michael Vartan (Alias)
Andrew Airlie (Final Destination 2)
Agam Darshi (Sanctuary)
Kathleen Robertson (Hollywoodland)
Tracy Spiridakos (Revolution)
Kevin Rahm (Mad Men)
Ryan Hurst (Saving Private Ryan)
Joshua Leonard (The Blair Witch Project)
Peter Stebbings (Never Cry Werewolf)
Tom McBeath (Stargate SG.1)

If Alfred Hitchcock were alive today, I’ve got a feeling he’d enjoy Bates Motel. This kinda-sorta prequel re-imagines the story of Norman Bates, his equally unbalanced mom Norma and their relationship at the business that bears their name, mixing the ordinary and the bizarre with unpredictable, broad strokes in a more modern setting. Hitchcock always intended his classic film as a pitch-black comedy…and from that perspective, Bates Motel shares a few similarities beyond its central characters and the all-too-familiar motel grounds.Filmed in British Columbia, the show’s foggy appearance and small-town backdrop will immediately remind viewers of landmark shows like Twin Peaks and The X-Files. It feels like a perfect fit, reminding us that we’re either in the midst of trouble…or it’s just around the corner. More often than not, however, Bates Motel is just as much “comedy” as it is “pitch-black”, piling on mountains of over-the-top absurdity that, for unknown reasons, feels kinda normal within the series’ unusual boundaries. As a total package, this is compulsively watchable, suspenseful, goofy, dramatic and, above all else, unpredictable television.Such unpredictability can be a massive gamble…but much like Psycho (and by extension, Robert Bloch’s original novel), Bates Motel has been designed to keep its audience perpetually off-balance. At the same time, there’s a constant cloud of guilt, paranoia and dread floating above this season, magnified by the unpredictable behavior of Norman (Freddy Highmore) and his mother Norma (Vera Farmiga) in the face of several horrifying events: one leads them to White Pines Bay, and the others happen after they arrive. The immediate and focused suspicion of watchful sheriff Alex Romero (Nestor Carbonell) makes us wonder if he’s just extremely good at what he does…or if, in fact, he’s secretly pulling the strings. As the initial story arc gradually shifts midway through this first season, lies multiply, layers of mystery keep us interested in this small town and, eventually, we realize that just about everyone’s a villain here.

This first season of Bates Motel includes ten episodes and several new characters, from Dylan Bates (Norman’s rebellious half-brother, played by Max Thieriot) to the amusingly named junior detective Emma Decody (Olivia Cooke) and popular student Bradley Martin (Nicola Peltz), who is substantially more feminine than her name implies. The casting and performances are universally excellent, especially our unpredictable leads and the countless scenes they have with each other and outsiders. Vera Farmiga is especially impressive from start to finish, consistently stealing her scenes with reckless abandon and deliciously black humor. It’s just one more reason why Bates Motel is more than the sum of its parts.

Season Two expands on these characters and, not surprisingly, adds in a few more for good measure; it makes Bates Motel feel more complex without being overcrowded. Standouts include Caleb (Kenny Johnson, The Shield), Norma’s estranged brother; Zane Morgan (Michael Eklund), the new drug kingpin whose hot-blooded personality leads to an all-out war; Jodi Wilson (Kathleen Robertson), Zane’s sister and the real mastermind of the operation; Christine Heldens (Rebecca Creskoff), an exhausting social butterfly who takes Norma under her wing; George Heldens (Michael Vartan, Alias), Christine’s brother and a potential love interest for Norma; Nick Ford (Michael O’Neill), a “friend” of the Heldens’ with deep political connections; and Cody Brennen (Paloma Kwiatkowski), a rebellious girl who helps Norman come out of his shell, for better or worse. What’s more is that, despite their shared running time with Bates Motel’s established cast, there are very few lags during this ten-episode season. Even Emma Decody, who felt like an afterthought during the first year—and Season Two’s first half, especially—is given more to do in later episodes, and she’s all the better for it.

On the whole, then, this character-driven season path gives Bates Motel even more potential for future seasons. Much like NBC’s Hannibal, this series builds on an established franchise successfully and, as a result, plays out much better than expected. Production values are high, giving Bates Motel a potent, effective atmosphere from start to finish.

Soon after the events of the second season, Norman Bates (Freddie Highmore) begins his senior year at school. He experiences hallucinations there, so his mother, Norma Louise (Vera Farmiga), decides to homeschool him. After Norma’s mother dies, her brother Caleb (Kenny Johnson) returns to town, seeking to bond with Dylan (Max Thieriot). Norman takes a liking to new guest, Annika Johnson (Tracy Spiridakos), but she later goes missing. When searching Annika’s motel room, Norma finds an invitation to a gentlemen’s club. She infiltrates the club, but Sheriff Romero (Nestor Carbonell) catches her and promises to look for Annika. Romero later asks Norma to identify a woman’s body, and she is relieved that it is not Annika.

Romero meets with Bob Paris (Kevin Rahm), who runs the gentlemen’s club, to get information about Annika. Norma meets psychology professor James Finnigan (Joshua Leonard), who offers her his assistance. Norman has a blackout and submerges himself in a bathtub, hoping to recall whether he had anything to do with Annika’s disappearance. Norma saves him from drowning, then goes to lock up the motel. Annika arrives with a gunshot wound, gives Norma a USB flash drive, and dies. Norma is determined to access the password protected flash drive, and asks Dylan to help decrypt it. Norman follows Dylan to his cabin one night, discovering Caleb. He threatens to tell their mother, but Dylan begs him not to spoil the good relationship he has been building with her. Bob ransacks the motel office in search of the USB drive. Later, a man runs Norma off the road and tells her to give Bob the flash drive. Dylan insists that Norma should give the USB to Romero. Norman becomes confused over recent events, thinking he has already told Norma about Caleb when he hasn’t. Romero meets with Bob again, who admits he wants the flash drive back but won’t reveal its contents. Dylan’s friend Gunner (Keenan Tracey) decrypts the USB, finding a financial ledger inside from the town’s illegal drug trade.Bob agrees to a motel billboard near the bypass in exchange for the USB. When Norma is told of Caleb’s return, she packs a suitcase and storms out. Arriving in Portland, she buys a new outfit, trades her car, and ends up at James’ house, where she confesses that Norman killed his father during one of his blackouts. Dylan struggles with Norman’s separation anxiety, which includes an episode where Norman assumes Norma’s personality and wears her robe. Romero is shot and hospitalized; Marcus Young (Adetomiwa Edun) visits and tells him that his time as sheriff is nearing an end. Romero follows Marcus to the parking garage and kills him. Norma realizes that she is still a mother and returns home. She honors her sons’ wishes to meet with Caleb, who breaks down and apologizes upon seeing her.

Dylan grows closer to Emma (Olivia Cooke), learning from her father that she is a lot sicker than she lets on. Romero discovers his mother’s name on the ledger and confrontations his father in jail. His father used his mother’s name in order to get drugs into the prison. After being attacked by Norman, James tells Norma that he needs help. Norma cooks a family dinner in order to get closer to Norman. She invites Caleb, whose presence angers Norman, and Dylan invites Emma. Bob abducts and tortures James to get information about Norma. He then tells Romero about Norma’s relationship with James, and that Norman killed his father. Romero ends his friendship with Norma when she maintains that her husband died in an accident.

James tells Norma that he told Bob everything, and skips town. Dylan takes a risky job in order to gain money for Emma’s lung transplant. Following a blackout, Norman discovers Bradley (Nicola Peltz) has returned to town. After finding out that her mother has quickly recovered after her “death”, Bradley initiates sex with Norman, but he envisions Norma there and leaves. Norma tells Bob she’ll give him the flash drive, but he states that she has nothing left to bargain with. Desperate, Norma ransacks Romero’s house to find the USB, only to learn from Romero that the DEA is investigating it. Their heated argument hinges on her stating the truth about her husband’s death. She ultimately says that they both know who killed him.

Before Caleb leaves town again, he tells Norma about Norman assuming her personality and attacking him. Dylan gives Emma’s father the money for her lung transplant, but later gets a call from him saying that Emma has disappeared. Dylan finds her, and she informs him of her fears about the surgery; the two then kiss. Romero calls Bob to warn him of his impending arrest. Bob goes to the marina and finds Romero there, who shoots him dead. Norman plans to leave town with Bradley and argues with his mother about his mental state. She knocks Norman unconscious and drags him to the basement. Norman escapes and runs off with Bradley. In Norma’s persona, he pulls Bradley out of the car and kills her. He then rolls the car into the bay, as he and his “mother” watch it submerge.Image result for bates motel UnconsciousI really loved all the seasons! this season is even better and more intense! Norman and Norma just keep getting better! The reunion with Norma’s brother was seriously touching! The hooker was great! Norman’s expressions get really psycho looking! Just such great, great acting! It is so much fun! It is funny, yet, disturbing and all at once!! This show is just phenomenal.