REVIEW: TRUTH BE TOLD – SEASON 1

Truth Be Told (2019)

Starring

Octavia Spencer (Ma)
Aaron Paul (Breaking Bad)
Hunter Doohan (Your Honor)
Lizzy Caplan (Now You See Me)
Elizabeth Perkins a(28 Days)
Michael Beach (Aquaman)
Mekhi Phifer (Lie To Me)
Tracie Thoms (Cold Case)
Haneefah Wood (Schooled)
Ron Cephas Jones (Luke Cage)

Octavia Spencer in Truth Be Told (2019)

Recurring / Notable Guest Cast

Tami Roman (Saints and Sinners)
Rico E. Anderson (Hole In One)
Annabella Sciorra (Jungle Fever)
Brett Cullen (Lost)
Molly Hagan (Izombie)
Nic Bishop (Snowfall)
Barry Livingston (Argo)
Katherine LaNasa (The Campaign)
Lyndon Smith (Crazy Ex-Girlfriend)
Jeff Kober (Sully)
Laura Allen (The 4400)
Cheryl White (Major Crimes)
Tim DeZarn (The Cabin In The Woods)
Billy Miller (Suits)

Aaron Paul in Truth Be Told (2019)Octavia Spencer, Aaron Paul and Lizzy Caplan star in this Apple TV+ mystery crime drama about a journalist who creates a podcast to exonerate an innocent convict. These stories always start with a jaded veteran cop who comes out of retirement for one final case: the case that made (or broke) his career. Except in Truth Be Told, the story starts with a jaded veteran reporter who leaves The New York Times to start a podcast: a retelling of the case that made her career.Creator Nichelle Tramble Spellman based this series on the novel Are You Sleeping by Kathleen Barber, which in turn was heavily inspired by Sarah Koenig’s juggernaut investigative podcast Serial. The plot centers on a decades-old murder case that may have convicted the wrong killer (what else is new?). Oscar-winner Octavia Spencer stars as a journalist who feels creeping guilt from having condemned a teenage boy accused of murder 20 years ago and publicly reinvestigates the case in order to redeem herself and exonerate him. Her podcast narration becomes our framing device, full of bon mots about truth and justice. Think of it as a gritty, long-game Murder, She Wrote.cristo-coolSpencer’s Poppy Scoville-Parnell made her bones publishing stories on the violent 1999 death of Stanford professor Chuck Buhrman and the weirdo neighbor kid eventually sentenced for the crime. But when a tape surfaces showing Buhrman’s teenage daughter being coached during her statement to the police, Poppy decides to reopen the case, putting herself at risk from her judgmental family, the sinister Buhrmans and the supposed murderer himself, played by Aaron Paul. (Can he please do a rom-com or something? This guy is bumming me out.) The timid teen has grown into a snarling prisoner covered in swastikas, which presents logistical and psychological challenges for Poppy, who grew up in a family of radical civil rights activists.MV5BODE2MjIzNDI4MF5BMl5BanBnXkFtZTgwNTk2OTIwMjE@._V1_SY1000_CR0,0,1489,1000_AL_The racial undercurrents of the show are one of its core strengths — how frequently do you get to see a successful, plus-size black woman on TV absolutely owning her writing career and intimidating the hell out of her naysayers? (Spencer nails this commanding role.) But so many people close to Poppy question why she would help a guy in the Aryan Brotherhood that you, too, start second-guessing her endeavor. As Poppy might tell you, something something justice, something something the truth will set you free. Watching the episodes, replete with weak coincidences and dopey plotlines, I did not care at all if Paul’s character was guilty or not, nor did I care who even killed this professor. (You literally learn almost nothing about him, anyway.) Instead, what occasionally thrilled me were the compelling family dynamics at play here, with prosperous Poppy returning home to the Bay Area — and her family’s biker bar — after living an entire other life out on the East Coast.MV5BODE2MjIzNDI4MF5BMl5BanBnXkFtZTgwNTk2OTIwMjE@._V1_SY1000_CR0,0,1489,1000_AL_We’re also treated to some delightfully creepy adult twin interactions here, thanks to Lizzy Caplan’s compelling dual performance as Buhrman’s daughters Lanie and Josie. It’s just too bad these nuanced relationships are stuck inside a mediocre murder mystery bound to a meaningless title. While Poppy reopens old wounds in Menlo Park, furtive Lanie and Josie play out their own psychodrama far from prying eyes. Lanie, a brunette hospice care doula and likely sociopath, raises alarms when Poppy comes sniffing around all these years later, but has no one to turn to but a protective aunt. Her twin sister vanished without a trace years ago, though the audience soon learns she’s now blonde, living in New York City under an assumed name and an assumed British accent. The mystery of why she disappeared is the only captivating question mark of the series, a credit to Caplan’s vacillating vulnerability and menace, which she infuses into both characters simultaneously. “You terrify me,” Josie tells her sister. (Josie narrates the original novel, where Poppy was a mere supporting character, so the switch-up here is a fascinating choice.)MV5BODE2MjIzNDI4MF5BMl5BanBnXkFtZTgwNTk2OTIwMjE@._V1_SY1000_CR0,0,1489,1000_AL_I was most interested in Poppy’s relationships with her biker family, including her skeptical sisters, played by Tracie Thoms and Haneefah Wood, and her prickly father, played by Ron Cephas Jones. I appreciate the authenticity of Poppy and the Scovilles’ complicated connection, despite her stereotypically glamorous TV job. Wood particularly stands out during a brief but heartbreaking silent scene where her character is arrested and processed in jail, gradually humiliated as an officer removes all of the elements of her femininity. It’s a cold and powerful look into the dehumanizing experience of the American penal system. Jones is magnetic here, playing a former Black Panther who may be in the early stages of dementia. With his long face and daunting stare, he reminds me of a sea deity — a King Squid — and his patriarchal imperiousness chilled me, as though I were his daughter. Poppy, still traumatized by her mother’s early cancer death, struggles to know what to do about “Daddy’s” erratic behavior. When he speaks to her hatefully during a fugue state and later grabs her after a tense family moment, Poppy doesn’t just let it go and forgive. Instead, she holds on to her pain because of her self-respect and because she knows it might help save her dad. These are the moments when Truth Be Told sings. I would watch a version of this show as a biting family drama, but its gaze into the court of public opinion leaves it toothless.

 

25 DAYS OF CHRISTMAS REVIEW: BAD SANTA 2

 

CAST

Billy Bob Thornton (Mr. Woodcock)
Kathy Bates (Misery)
Tony Cox (Date Movie)
Christina Hendricks (Drive)
Brett Kelly (Dead Like Me)
Ryan Hansen (2 Broke Girls)
Jenny Zigrino (Fifty Shades of Black)
Octavia Spencer (Mom)
Mike Starr (Kill The Irishman)
Jeff Skowron  (The Good Shepherd)
Cristina Rosato (Mother)

Set thirteen years after the first film, Willie Soke remains depressed as ever, upset his “happy ending” did not pan out, as he is again addicted to sex and alcohol. As he tries, and fails, to kill himself, he is visited by Thurman “The Kid” Merman, who has just turned 21 and works at a sandwich shop. Unfortunately, Thurman’s father has abandoned him and his grandmother is no longer living – making Willie the closest thing to family he has left. Thurman delivers to Willie a package containing a large sum of cash, and Willie soon finds out it’s from Marcus, his former partner who has been released from jail after the events 13 years earlier. Marcus, expressing sincere remorse for betraying Willie, tells Willie he has an opportunity in Chicago, a deal that can potentially net them millions, though he is unwilling to disclose the name of his contact. Willie reluctantly agrees, while unsuccessfully trying to help Thurman lose his virginity before he leaves for Chicago.Upon their arrival, Willie is annoyed to learn that not only is a target of the con a charity, but that his estranged mother, Sunny, who uses “shit stick” as a term of endearment for Willie, is Marcus’s contact. Willie reluctantly agrees, since Sunny is suffering from early stages of Parkinson’s Disease, though he secretly makes a deal with Marcus to cut Sunny out when the time comes. Forced to don the Santa suit once more, Willie is arrested when he beats up another Santa (after a misunderstanding causes Willie to think the other Santa is a pedophile) but is bailed out by one of the charity’s founders, Diane. Though she wants to fire Willie for his behavior, she relents when he agrees to attend AA meetings with her. Diane’s husband Regent, who also runs the charity and is cheating on Diane with his secretary, orders his head security guard Dorfman to track and follow Willie, becoming suspicious of how much time he’s spending with Diane.Meanwhile, Marcus, after doing recon work, tries to seduce Gina, another security guard so he can obtain the keys to Regent’s office where the charity’s safe is kept but he fails to do so as Gina is high maintenance. Elsewhere, while Willie starts a sexual relationship with Diane, he and Sunny start to bond, especially when they pull a job just between the two of them, robbing a mansion with Willie posing as Santa and Sunny as Mrs. Claus. Bonding over their haul afterward, Sunny gives Willie a gun so he can betray and take revenge on Marcus despite Willie’s insistence that Marcus has changed.Thurman soon arrives in Chicago, having followed Willie to the city. Willie at first considers leaving him at a laundromat but soon takes him to the shelter at the charity. Thurman ends up joining the children’s choir, which is set to have a concert on the night of Willie, Sunny and Marcus’s heist. Willie soon encounters Gina, who, thanks to Sunny’s prodding, believes Willie wants to sleep with her. They end up having sex in the bathroom of a bar, and Willie obtains the keys. On the night of the show/robbery, Willie catches Thurman singing, which makes the kid very happy. As Willie cracks the safe, Marcus is about to betray him again, but they escape just as Regent and Dorfman discover the con. However, Sunny reveals she is betraying them both, telling Willie the bullets in the gun she gave him are blanks before shooting Marcus. She drives and attempts to make a get away at a Santa Con Event. Willie, Regent and Dorfman chases her; despite her blending in, Willie catches her and attempts to take the bag of stolen cash by saying the kids need it more. He then shows her the flier of the Santa Con event proving he was on to her. Sunny threatens to shoot him if he doesn’t let go, but she shoots anyway and the shot is muffled by fireworks, shocking Willie. In the final struggle, Sunny kicks the bag accidentally releasing the money. Enraged, Sunny attempts to shoot him again, but Thurman ends up taking the bullet in his behind while trying to give Willie a hug. Both Sunny and Willie are arrested, but Willie is not charged due to his help in catching Sunny. While he recovers, he is visited in the hospital by Diane who wakes him up with manual pleasure.Willie soon takes a job as a janitor at the charity, where he continues to visit Thurman – finally accepting his father figure role in Thurman’s life. The film ends with Willie visiting an injured Marcus, proceeding to “tea bag” him, as revenge against Marcus for doing the same thing to him.I wasn’t expecting much going off other people’s reviews saying it was not good. This sequel is hilarious I was laughing pretty much the whole movie it’s just as good as the 1st movie. Just as crude and inappropriate definitely worth watching it’s one of the funniest movie I’ve seen this year

25 DAYS OF CHRISTMAS REVIEW: BAD SANTA

Untitled

CAST
Billy Bob Thornton (Eagle Eye)
Lauren Graham (Evan Almighty)
Tony Cox (Guns, Girls and Gambling)
Brett Kelly (Dead Like Me)
Lauren Tom (Futurama)
Bernie Mac (Mr. 3000)
John Ritter (Bride of Chucky)
Ajay Naidu (The Guru)
Alex Borstein (Family Guy)
Billy Gardell (Mike & Molly)
Octavia Spencer (Mom)
Ethan Phillips (Critters)
Cloris Leachman (Wonder Woman)
Tom McGowan (Ghost World)
Ryan Pinkston (Spy Kids 3)
Bryan Callen (How I Met Your Mother)
Matt Walsh (Ted)
Willie T. Stokes (Billy Bob Thornton) and his dwarfed assistant Marcus (Tony Cox) are professional thieves. Every year, Willie disguises himself as a department store Santa Claus and Marcus disguises himself as an elf in order for both of them to rob shopping malls blind at night. Willie is an alcoholic, a sex addict, and is gradually unable to perform his Santa duties appropriately with children, much to Marcus’ dismay. When they are hired at the fictional Saguaro Square Mall in Phoenix, the vulgar remarks made by Willie shock the prudish mall manager Bob Chipeska (John Ritter), who brings it to the attention of security chief Gin Slagel (Bernie Mac).
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At the mall, Willie is visited by Thurman Merman (Brett Kelly), a friendly but exceedingly naive and gullible, overweight boy who thinks Willie is really Santa. The boy is a target of taunt and torment from a skateboarding gang. At a bar, Willie meets Sue (Lauren Graham), a woman with a Santa Claus fetish, and they begin a sexual relationship. Willie is harassed by a man in the bar, but Thurman intervenes. Willie gives Thurman a ride home, then enters the boy’s house where he lives with his senile grandmother (Cloris Leachman). Thurman reveals that his mother died, and his father, Roger, is away “exploring mountains” (meaning he is actually in jail for embezzlement) until next year. Willie tricks Thurman into letting him steal from the house safe and steals a BMW owned by Thurman’s father. Bob informs Gin that he overheard Willie having sex with a woman in a mall dressing room; Gin starts to investigate. Willie goes to his motel room and sees it being raided, causing him to take advantage of Thurman’s naivete and live in his house. The next day, Marcus gets angry at Willie for taking advantage of Thurman, stating his disapproval of Willie’s sex addiction.
Gin’s investigation of Willie includes visiting Thurman’s imprisoned father, who reveals that Willie is staying with Thurman illegally. He confronts Willie at the mall, and takes him and Marcus to a bar. There, he reveals that he has figured out their plan, blackmailing them for half of the cut to keep silent.
Willie attempts to commit suicide by inhaling vehicle exhaust fumes. He gives Thurman a letter to give to the police, confessing all his misdeeds. Willie notices Thurman’s black eye, which persuades him to make an example of the skateboarding bully. A renewed sense of purpose for Willie has him attempt to train Thurman in boxing. Enraged at Gin for blackmailing him, Marcus and his wife Lois (Lauren Tom) set up a trap for Gin, feigning needing a jump start for their vehicle from Gin’s. Lois hits Gin with the car, then Marcus kills him.
On Christmas Eve, when the heist is almost complete, Willie goes to get Thurman a pink stuffed elephant that he had wanted for Christmas. Just as he gets the elephant, Marcus reveals to Willie that he intends to kill him, fed up with his increasing carelessness. Lois tells him to hurry up and kill Willie so they can get away with the money and merchandise. But just as Marcus is about to shoot Willie, the police swarm the trio, tipped off by the letter Willie gave to Thurman. When Marcus opens fire, the police shoot at him and Willie flees. Determined to give Thurman his present, he leads the police on a chase to Thurman’s house, ignoring orders to freeze. He is repeatedly shot on Thurman’s porch, but survives.
The epilogue is told through a letter from Willie, who is in a hospital recovering. He expresses his gratitude for Thurman in giving the letter to the police and his name was cleared of unarmed robbery. Shooting an unarmed Santa embarrassed the police, and Sue is granted guardianship over Thurman and his house until Thurman’s father, Roger, is released. Willie also explains that Marcus (identified as Santa’s Little Helper) and Lois are serving time behind bars for their actions, while expressing hope Roger is wise to avoid the two. The movie ends with Thurman finally standing up to his bully by kicking him in the crotch causing him to fall to the ground. Thurman is seen riding his bike away flipping off the bully.
Bad Santa is not a film for those easily offended, however it does manage to be genuinely funny, and makes a welcome diversion for adults.

25 DAYS OF CHRISTMAS REVIEW: MOM – HORNY-GOGGLES AND A CATERED INTERVENTION


MAIN CAST
Anna Faris (Scary Movie)
Allison Janney (Spy)
Blake Garrett Rosenthal (New Girl)
Matt Jones (Home)
Mimi Kennedy (No Ordinary Family)
Jaime Pressly (My Name Is Earl)
Beth Hall (Mad Men)

HORNY-GOGGLES AND A CATERED INTERVENTION

GUEST CAST
Octavia Spencer (Insurgent)
Sara Rue (Popular)
Lamont Thompson (Mike & Molly)
Christy and Bonnie try to be supportive when Regina (recurring guest star OCTAVIA SPENCER) tells them she doesn’t think she’s an alcoholic. Also, Wendy tries to convince the women to attend a sober holiday dance.
A great Christmas episode that’s hilarious in places whilst showing the problems of alcoholism especially round Christmas. The show has always been good at going from comedy to drama very easily and its nice to end on a funny moment with the dance.

REVIEW: SEVEN POUNDS

 

CAST

Will Smith (Suicide Squad)
Rosario Dawson (Sin City)
Michael Ealy (Flashforward)
Barry Pepper (Battlefield Earth)
Octavia Spencer (Insurgent)
Woody Harrelson (The Hunger Games)
Bill Smitrovich (Ted)
Amanda Carlin (Liar Liar)
Audrey Wasilewski (Red)
Charlene Amoia (How I Met Your Mother)
Kevin Cooney (Legally Blonde)

Tim Thomas (Will Smith), while carelessly sending a text message while driving, veers across the center line into oncoming traffic and causes a multi-car crash in which seven people die: six strangers and his fiancée, Sarah Jenson (Robinne Lee).Two years later, in a bid for atonement, Tim sets out to save the lives of seven good people by donating his own vital organs, a process that will be completed after his planned suicide. A year after the crash, having quit his job as an aeronautical engineer, Tim donates a lung lobe to his brother Ben (Michael Ealy), an IRS field agent. Tim then steals his brother’s federal IRS identification badge and credentials, puts his picture over Ben’s, identifies himself by his brother’s name, and uses Ben’s privileges to check out the financial backgrounds of further potential candidates for his donations. In each case he “interviews” them first to determine if they are good people.In one case, the director of a hospice nursing home facility, who had an unsuccessful bone marrow transplant, seeks a six-month extension on his back taxes. Tim, now going by his brother’s name, is unsure of the man’s ethics, because he claims to be insolvent, yet drives a new BMW. To resolve the issue, “Ben” passionately asks a resident patient, an elderly bedridden woman, to tell him whether he is a “good man”, only to discover that the man is punishing the woman for refusing to take a new medication by not allowing the nurses to bathe her. Six months later, “Ben” donates part of his liver to a Child Protective Services social worker named Holly (Judyann Elder). He then finds George (Bill Smitrovich), a junior hockey coach and donates a kidney to him. He then donates bone marrow to a young boy named Nicholas (Quintin Kelley), opting to have no anesthesia during the procedure, an evident consequence of his desire for atonement. In each case he does not tell the people what his intentions are for his donations, despite being repeatedly asked.Two weeks before he dies, he contacts Holly and asks if she knows anyone “in the system” who needs and deserves help but is too proud to ask for it. Holly suggests Connie Tepos (Elpidia Carrillo), who lives with her two kids and an abusive boyfriend, but can’t afford to leave. When “Ben” arrives to “interview” her under the guise of dealing with the IRS, Connie is embarrassed and humiliated that he knows what’s been going on. She defends her boyfriend, is offended by “Ben”‘s suggestion that she should leave with her kids, and kicks him out of her house. In the meantime, “Ben” moves out of his house and into a local motel, taking with him his pet box jellyfish—decidedly the most venomous creature on earth, with its sting causing death in three to five minutes. That night, after being beaten by her boyfriend again, Connie contacts “Ben”. He meets her, tells her not to be weak, and gives her the keys and directions to his beach house. She takes her two children and they move into the house. Then she reads a letter from “Ben” which includes the deed to the house, again giving no explanation, and asking for her to (1) respect his wishes, (2) not try to contact him, (3) not tell anyone how she got the house, and (4) “live life abundantly”.

“Ben”‘s sixth candidate is Ezra Turner (Woody Harrelson), a blind telemarketer for a meat company, who plays the piano. “Ben” calls Ezra and harassed him at work weeks earlier, to see if he was quick to anger; when Ezra remains calm and humble through the abuse, “Ben” decides he is worthy. “Ben” then contacts Emily Posa (Rosario Dawson), a wedding announcement/greeting card printer who has a congenital heart condition and rare blood type that has left her with only weeks to live. “Ben” “interviews” her at her home, again under the guise of an IRS investigation, and more or less stalks her at the hospital. But then he starts to spend time with her, walking her Great Dane called Duke, weeding her garden, and fixing her rare Heidelberg Windmill press. He visibly fights his affections for her, again seeking atonement for the death of his fiancée, but he slowly falls in love with her.At one point, while comforting Emily (who’s in the hospital after an emergency), he tells her the ‘tale of a young boy named Tim, who wanted to fly and became a space engineer.’ Emily recognizes this is an actual story of his childhood and suggested the boy was named Ben, but “Ben” corrects her by sheer reflex, telling her that the boy is called Tim… obviously himself. Tim’s brother, the real Ben, finally tracks “Tim-Ben” down at Emily’s house, saying that he must return his IRS credentials. After a passionate sexual interlude with Emily, and with Ben waiting outside her house, Tim disappears out the back door, leaving her sleeping. He returns on foot to the motel, first stopping by the hospital to ask the doctor if there is any chance that Emily will improve. Discovering that she will likely die before a donated organ becomes available, he decides “it’s time”.Tim then fills the motel bathtub with ice water to preserve his vital organs, calls 9-1-1 emergency and reports his own suicide, climbs into the tub, and releases his box jellyfish into the water with him. The jellyfish wraps its tentacles around his arm, causing a quick but excruciatingly painful death. At the hospital, his best childhood friend Dan (Barry Pepper) acts as executor of Tim’s living will to ensure that his organs are donated to Emily and Ezra. Ezra receives Tim’s corneas, which cure his blindness, and Emily receives his heart. Afterward, Ben finds letters from Tim that he is to give to each person explaining why he did what he did. This leaves Emily heartbroken. Emily finds Ezra (now a school teacher) at his kid’s choir concert at a park and stops him as he passes by. Having never met before, Emily is fixated on Ezra’s eyes, knowing they belonged to Tim. Emily begins to break down, which clues Ezra in to who she is. When he says, “You must be Emily,” she breaks into tears and they share a heartfelt embrace out of mutual love and respect for Tim.An excellent film. Brilliant acting from all. And, yes, Smith truly shines in this role.

 

HALLOWEEN OF HORROR REVIEW REVIEW: PULSE (2006)

CAST

Kristen Bell (Veronica Mars)
Ian Somerhalder (The Vampire DIaries)
Christina Milian (Bring it On 5)
Rick Gonzalez (War of The Worlds)
Jonathan Tucker (Hostage)
Samm Levine (Not Another Teen Movie)
Octavia Spencer (Mom)
Ron Rifkin (Alias)
Riki Lindhome (Million Dollar Baby)
Brad Dourif (Child’s Play)

When Josh Ockmann (Jonathan Tucker) enters a dark university library intending to meet his friend Douglas Zeigler (Kel O’Neill), he is attacked by a humanoid spirit that sucks the life force out of him. Some days later, Josh’s girlfriend, Mattie Webber (Kristen Bell), visits his apartment, seeing evidence that it has not been well kept. Josh tells Mattie to wait in the kitchen while he walks off. While waiting she finds Josh’s pet cat, locked in a closet dying from severe malnutrition. But when she rushes to tell him, she finds he has committed suicide by hanging himself with an Ethernet cable.
Mattie and her friends begin to receive online messages from Josh asking for help but assume that Josh’s computer is still on and that a virus is creating the messages. Mattie learns that Josh’s computer has been sold to Dex McCarthy (Ian Somerhalder), who finds a number of strange videos on the computer. Mattie receives a package that Josh mailed two days prior to his death. Inside are rolls of red tape and a message telling her that the tape keeps “them” out, although he does not know why. Later, Dex visits Mattie and shows her video messages Josh was sending to Ziegler. Josh had hacked Ziegler’s computer system and then distributed a virus. This virus had unlocked a portal that connected the realm of the living to the realm of the dead. Josh believed he had coded a counter to the virus and wanted to meet Ziegler at the library. Josh’s counter-program is found on a memory stick taped inside the PC case with red tape.Dex and Mattie visit Zeigler and find his room entirely plastered in red tape. They believe the red tape keeps the spirits out. Zeigler tells them of a project he worked on where he found “frequencies no one knew existed.” Opening these frequencies somehow allowed the spirits to travel to the world of the living. Zeigler also tells them that these spirits “take away your will to live” and where to find the main server infected with the virus. Dex and Mattie find the server and upload Josh’s fix, causing the system to crash and the spirits to vanish. Moments later, however, the system reboots and the spirits return leaving Mattie and Dex with no option but to flee the city by car. Over the car radio, Mattie and Dex hear a radio report from the Army announcing the location of several “safe zones” where there are no Internet connections, cell phones, or televisions. As Dex and Mattie drive to a safe zone, the film concludes with a voice-over from Mattie saying “We can never go back. The cities are theirs. Our lives are different now. What was meant to connect us to one another instead connected us to forces that we could have never imagined. The world we knew is gone, but the will to live never dies. Not for us, and not for them,” and clips of abandoned cities, including a window of an apartment with Josh looking through it.
pulse-stillAll the acting was up to the task without being exceptional. The story, while rather linear, was interesting enough to keep everything going, and I personally found the ending quite satisfying. It proves that horror does not merely have to need to have lots of gore, but can rely on an interesting premise.

HALLOWEEN OF HORROR REVIEW: DRAG ME TO HELL


CAST

Alison Lohman (Big Fish)
Justin Long (Waiting)
Lorna Raver (Freeway)
Dileep Rao (Avatar)
David Paymer (Howard The Duck)
Molly Cheek (Spider-Man)
Octavia Spencer (Insurgent)
Ted Raimi (Ash vs Evil Dead)
Alexis Cruz (Stargate)
Bridget Hoffman (Total Recall)

In 1969 Pasadena, California, a couple seeks the aid of the medium Shaun San Dena (Flor de Maria Chahua) saying their son (Shiloh Selassie) has been hearing evil spirits’ voices after stealing a silver necklace from gypsies. San Dena aids the family by carrying out a seance, but they are attacked by an unseen force that pulls the boy into Hell. The medium says she will encounter the force again one day. In present-day Los Angeles, bank loan officer Christine Brown hopes to be promoted to assistant manager over her co-worker Stu Rubin. Her boss, Jim Jacks, advises her to demonstrate that she can make tough decisions to get a promotion. Christine is visited by an elderly gypsy woman, Sylvia Ganush, who asks for an extension on her mortgage payment. Though empathetic with the old woman’s crisis, Christine denies Ganush an extension to prove herself to her boss. Ganush begs Christine not to repossess her house and kneels in front of her. Christine gets scared of the woman’s bizarre pleading as she is helping her to stand up and calls security, who take Ganush away while Ganush blames Christine for “shaming” her and vows to take revenge. Jim compliments Christine on how she handled the situation.
When Christine goes to the bank parking garage to drive home, Ganush attacks Christine in her car, rips a button off Christine’s coat and uses it to place a curse on Christine. Later, Christine and her boyfriend Clay Dalton meet the fortune teller, Rham Jas who tells Christine that she is being haunted by an evil spirit. At home, Christine is attacked by the spirit and has nightmares about Ganush. At work the next day, Christine snaps at Stu and has a projectile nose bleed that soaks her boss in blood. She runs away and Stu secretly takes a file off Christine’s desk.

Christine goes to talk to Ganush but learns that she died the previous night. Christine returns to Rham Jas, who explains that as long as Christine is the owner of an accursed object, she will be haunted by a powerful demon called the Lamia (loosely based on the Greek child-eating demon) that will torment her for three days before taking her to Hell for eternity. He suggests a sacrifice to appease the demon. Desperate to stop the attacks, Christine reluctantly sacrifices her pet kitten. At a dinner party with Clay and his parents, she is again tormented by the Lamia, but this time through the use of illusions, which frightens the Daltons.Screen-Shot-2015-03-20-at-1.01.31-PMChristine returns to Rham Jas who says that Shaun San Dena will risk her life to stop the demon for a fee of $10,000. San Dena prepares a seance to trap the Lamia’s spirit in a goat and kill it, and then allows the Lamia to inhabit her body. Rham Jas tries to persuade it not to steal Christine’s soul, but it vows never to stop until Christine dies. Christine then places San Dena’s hand on the goat, causing the spirit to enter its body. San Dena’s assistant, Milos, attempts to kill the goat, but is bitten by the goat and becomes possessed, attacking the members of the seance. San Dena banishes the Lamia from the seance, but dies in the process. Christine thinks the medium has overcome the Lamia, but Rham Jas explains that she only managed to drive the spirit away until the next day. Then he seals the cursed button in an envelope and tells Christine that she can get rid of the curse by giving the button to someone as a gift, thereby passing the curse on to that person.

Christine decides to give the envelope to Stu in revenge for his stealing her work, but changes her mind after seeing how pathetic, tearful and panicky Stu is when he meets her. With guidance from Rham Jas, Christine learns that she can give it to Ganush even though she is dead. Christine digs up Ganush’s grave and jams the envelope in her mouth just in time before dawn. Christine returns home and prepares to meet Clay at Los Angeles Union Station for a weekend trip to Santa Barbara. She gets a message from her boss telling her that she landed her dream position after Stu confessed to stealing her work and was fired. At the station, Christine also buys a coat that she has been wanting as a sign of a new beginning. Clay, planning to propose, reveals to Christine that he found the envelope containing the cursed button in his car. Christine then realizes she mixed up her envelope with another that she gave to Clay when she accidentally dropped it. Horrified, Christine backs away and falls onto the tracks. As a train barrels towards her, fiery hands suddenly emerge from the tracks and drag Christine into the neverending flames of Hell, as a horrified Clay watches from the platform above with the cursed button still in his hands.This is the kind of film that Raimi was born to make, and it has his stamp and particular brand of chaotic and bizarre black humour all over it. Raimi is an absolute master of manipulation, and the scares and laughs come thick and fast, with plenty of gross-out moments. Projectile nose-bleeds, talking possessed goats, cat sacrifice and flying eyeballs are all on the agenda. Drag me to Hell is a film that has been skilfully created to make you jump, giggle and cringe in equal measure, and turns out to be one of the most enjoyable films in its genre for many years.