31 DAYS OF HORROR REVIEW: URBAN LEGENDS 3: BLOODY MARY

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CAST

Kate Mara (Fantastic Four)
Robert VIto (My Best Friend’s Wife)
Tina Lifford (Queen Sugar)
Ed Marino (Sisters)
Michawl Coe (Everwood)
Lillith Fields (Dead Noon)
Olesya Rulin (Powers)
Rooney Mara (Side Effects)

Image result for urban legends: bloody maryOn November 5, 1969, three high school footballers tried to drug and kidnap their prom night dates. Their plan works with two of the girls but the third, Mary Banner (Lillith Fields), tries to escape. The football captain chases her into a storage room and punches her, knocking her out. Unable to revive her nor able to hear her heartbeat, he believes Mary to be dead. Panicking, he locks her body in an old trunk. Thirty-five years later, this story is told among three school girls during a sleep over. One of them, Samantha (Kate Mara), had written an article in the school paper critical of football players’ academic achievements and subsequently she, her friends, and her brother David (Robert Vito) are treated as outcasts by the rest of the school. They also jokingly conjure up Bloody Mary and the next morning all three are gone. After having been missing for one day, they reappear, waking up in an old deserted mill, with no knowledge of how they got there. While most suspect a hoax on the girls’ part, Samantha and David suspects that it is a prank by football players.Image result for urban legends: bloody maryWhile Samantha is haunted by visions of a dead girl bleeding from her head, several pupils die under mysterious circumstances resembling urban legends; for example, football player Roger (Brandon Sacks) burns in a sunbed, Heather (Audra Lea Keener), girlfriend to football captain Buck (Michael Gregory Coe), has spiders erupting from a swelling on her cheek, driving her to cut her face with a mirror, and football player, Tom (Nate Herd), is electrocuted while urinating on an old electrical fence, his ring finger being bitten or cut off. Buck blames these deaths on the Owens siblings. Before her death, Heather made up with Samantha and tried to tell her that this happened before. In her homework, Samantha finds notes sent to Heather about the disappearance of Mary Banner and the homecoming kidnappings of 1969, as well as notes referencing the events of the previous films. Browsing the school paper’s archives, they find out that Mary was never found, that another victim committed suicide years later and that the third, Grace Taylor (Tina Lifford), still lives in town.Image result for urban legends: bloody mary
They visit Grace, who claims that Mary, or rather, her “life force”, is exacting revenge on the children of the five people involved in the kidnappings but cannot (or will not) reveal the names of the perpetrators. While Samantha is prone to believe her, David remains skeptical and thinks that Grace is the killer. While sneaking around in Grace’s house, he also found out that Grace produced or collected artwork on Urban Legend and identifies Grace as the originator of the notes sent to Heather. The siblings go to warn Buck, who admits that he and his mates orchestrated Samantha’s disappearance and blames her for the death of his friends. He also reveals that his father, the football coach, was one of the kidnappers in 1969 but did not hurt Mary. Samantha, however, suspects that the coach was the one that killed Mary as she saw him put flowers on her headstone earlier. Her stepfather, who overheard her, tells her to reveal any solid evidence she has.Image result for urban legends: bloody maryMeanwhile, an upset Buck tries to relax by drinking and watching movie in a motel. Falling asleep, he wakes up from hearing a dripping sound and discovers the corpse of his dog. He is attacked by Mary, who crawls out from under his bed and kills him with his broken bottle. Different rumours about his death are spread immediately. Both siblings are trying to find clues about the fifth remaining perpetrator; Samantha by browsing through old photographs, David by visiting Grace again. Grace still refuses to reveal the names but directs him to the school archives. Going through the archives, he finds out the identity of the fifth person and rushes home, but finds Sam gone and is suffocated by a hooded man. Samantha meanwhile has visions of Mary again, revealing that the girl was not dead when she was locked in the trunk. and that she later awoke, realizing she was buried alive. The visions also reveal to Sam the whereabouts of the trunk.Sam visits Grace, who tells her to find and bury Mary’s corpse and reluctantly agrees to drive Samantha to the school. While Grace is waiting in the van, Samantha finds the storage room and the trunk with Mary’s corpse in it. The hooded man also appears and enters the storage room but Samantha locks him inside while carrying Mary’s remains outside to the van.Image result for urban legends: bloody maryFinding Grace unconscious, Samantha drives the van to the cemetery, where she begins to dig a grave for Mary under her headstone. Her stepfather, whom Samantha had phoned, also appears and helps her digging but suddenly hits her with the shovel. Suddenly Grace intervenes and tries to fight off Mr. Owens (giving Sam a chance to run) but he eventually knocks Grace out with the shovel. Pursuing his stepdaughter through the graveyard, Bill Owens (Ed Marinaro) reveals that he was the one that locked Mary in the trunk and that he also killed his stepson (Sam’s brother), David. He finally captured her and is about to decapitate her when Mary, in her living form, appears. Smiling towards Samantha, she kisses him, then reverts to her ghastly form and drags him with her into the grave. When Samantha wakes up, the grave is surrounded by police and medical personnel retrieving her stepfather’s corpse. She and Grace are bandaged and treated for their wounds, and sitting together, console one another. It is announced that Bill Owens has died of a heart attack while trying to dispose Mary Banner’s remains.Image result for urban legends: bloody maryI enjoyed the film, was slightly grossed out at parts, I think it’s at least a semi-faithful portrayal of one of the modern variations of the legend, and it’s rather satisfying to finally “see” Mary in some form.  If you’re a big horror film fan, it’s definitely worth buying.

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REVIEW: POWERS – SEASON TWO

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MAIN CAST

Sharlto Copley (Chappie)
Susan Heyward (Poltergeist)
Olesya Rulin (Greek)
Adam Godley (Battleship)
Max Fowler (Rage)
Michael Madsen (Kill Bill)

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RECURRING / NOTABLE GUEST STARS

Andrew Sensenig (Stray)
Logan Browning (Summerland)
Justin Leak (Insurgent)
Shelby Steel (The Friendless Five)
William Mapother (Lost)
Tricia Helfer (Battlestar Galactica)
Enrico Colantoni (Veronica Mars)
Michelle Forbes (True Blood)
Teri Wyble (Terminator Genisys)
Wil Wheaton (The Big Bang Theory)
Robin Spriggs (Containment)
Image result for powers season 2Powers’ first season was acceptable, but it was also noticeably faulty in many respects. For the first PlayStation Original Series, the show was a fair adaptation of its source comics, published initially by Image Comics, and later by Marvel’s Icon imprint, but it was also a show that pretty clearly established that PlayStation was nowhere near becoming the new television heavyweight. Fortunately, the second season of Powers is overall an improvement over the first (especially since, unlike Season One, it actually released here in Canada on time!), being founded on a decent mystery, and increasing some of the production values, complete with the show now having a proper intro for the opening credits, rather than just a lame title call like in Season One.Image result for powers season 2
Despite some of its improvements though, Season Two of Powers still feels like it’s trailing most primetime television shows, let alone many Netflix shows that are also vying for the streaming attention of 18-49 audiences. It’s also trailing even some lesser comic book shows on primetime syndication in its second season, though at least the show is moving in a forward direction, and a potential third season, which Sony hasn’t confirmed one way or the other as of this writing, could have the show better keeping pace with some of its competition on other TV platforms.
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First, let’s start with what the second season of Powers really did right; Its sense of mystery and intrigue. The season’s initial springboarding from the murder of Retro Girl led to two very enjoyable premiere episodes of three, even though the third premiere episode was a bit less interesting. The Retro Girl mystery was one that had a lot of angles, and its twist resolution, of the murder being a rather trivial act by a toy maker that wanted to sell a hot commemoration figure, was actually pretty solid too, and unfolded in another of this season’s best episodes. Compared to the Wolfe conflict from Season One, the Retro Girl murder felt tighter and more satisfying, especially when it could more closely utilize the same story arc from the Powers source comics.
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Another element of this season that was particularly strong were the individual arcs of Walker and Pilgrim, Walker especially. Walker’s past arrogance and fall as Diamond was effectively expanded upon this season, beyond the tutelage of Wolfe, and Walker’s connection to the now-absent Johnny Royalle, and the way that this tied into the present, with Walker having to be a begrudging mentor to a new team of superheroes, New Unity, was also pretty inspired. Likewise, Pilgrim’s connection to her father also had some interesting developments, with Pilgrim’s values especially being tested when she ends up falling for Kutter, who is critically injured later in the season by one of the principal villains, Morrison, a character with a big connection to Michael Madsen’s brand new legacy Power, SuperShock. Everything ending with Pilgrim getting her own abilities, and immediately seeming to be corrupted by them, is one of many things with solid promise for a potential third season of Powers as well.
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It’s at that latter point however that Powers’ second season especially runs into problems. For whatever reason, the show awkwardly changes gears just over the halfway point of Season Two, completely wrapping up the Retro Girl mystery, and instead moving into another conspiracy involving a mentally-degrading SuperShock. This would be fine on paper, though it sweeps way too many elements from earlier in the season under the rug, and makes most of the new character and story developments from the early episodes end up being completely pointless in the end. Another problem is that, while the idea of SuperShock being the downfall of himself and his own world, much to the delight of his fading arch-nemesis, Morrison, is great on paper, it shouldn’t have been crowbarred at the tail end of a season. It just leads to SuperShock’s sudden mental breakdown and murder spree feeling rather rushed and contrived. Michael Madsen was a cool addition to the cast for sure, but after a while, he sort of stopped trying in his performance, since even Madsen clearly knew that SuperShock’s storyline wasn’t given nearly enough room to be properly fleshed out, especially with SuperShock seemingly throwing himself and Walker into the sun at the end of the season.
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One lingering problem that the show almost completely failed to fix in Season Two as well is the same horrible lack of focus from the first season. The first season felt like it was very spread thin in trying to develop all of these many story arcs that didn’t always go together, and when you only have ten-episode seasons of Powers, especially when the episodes clock in at a mere forty minutes or so each, you can’t afford to get distracted with too much unnecessary world-building. The later portions of Season Two did tighten the focus a bit, in fairness, but the front half of the season especially jumped around way too much, and needed to pick a more consistent direction, especially considering the weird storyline shift from the Retro Girl murder to the SuperShock breakdown. Fortunately, making Zora, Calista, Krispin, and new addition, Martinez into one team in New Unity, could be a good way to fix some of the focus problems in Season Three, if Powers is renewed for a third season.
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Despite Powers still doing its best to be raw, mature and sometimes harshly violent, there still isn’t too much to dig into in Season Two, with the show clearly wanting to appeal to adults and fans of the source comics, but mostly still coming off like it’s primarily targeting adolescents. That said though, Powers still improved in its second season, however slightly, and could keep improving nicely in a third season, if it gets one. Like I’ve said more than once, you can only expect so much from a PlayStation Original Series, but Powers is still respectable, and has glimmers of brilliance, especially in some of Season Two’s better episodes.
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With a tightening of story focus and slightly deeper character arcs, a third season could finally start standing with the many other successful comic book shows of the current television era, even if Powers will probably never be in the same league as comic book series darlings like The Flash or Marvel’s Netflix shows. As a neat little bonus for PlayStation Plus subscribers that love superhero media though, Powers is becoming noticeably more worth your time in its second season, even if there’s still plenty of room to further improve.

REVIEW: POWERS – SEASON ONE

CAST

Sharlto Copley (District 9)
Susan Heyward (Poltergeist)
Noah Taylor (Game of Thrones)
Olesya Rulin (Urban Legends 3)
Adam Godley (Terminator: TSCC)
Max Fowler (Rage)
Michelle Forbes (Battlestar Galactica)
Eddie Izzard (Hannibal)

RECURRING / NOTABLE GUEST CAST

Logan Browning (Bratz)
Claire Bronson (Containment)
Aaron Farbs (42)
Justin Leak (Insurgent)
Mario Lopez (Nip/Tuck)
Bianco Amato (The Big C)
Andrew Sensenig (Beyond The Farthest Star)
Hayley Lovitt (The Originals)
Shelby Steel (Sleepy Hollow)

As the first original scripted show for the ‘PlayStation Network’ this show presents an original take on a genre that’s in abundance at the moment but also in high demand, from a renowned comics writer. It’s hard to imagine even the most ardent fans of this genre going out to buy a costly PlayStation for the sake of being able to watch this, even if they really enjoyed the pilot. This example therefore not only shows that a series like this has a large and clear potential audience, but also on the flip-side proves that this could have done much better had it been a network show or even on netflixs.Christian Walker was once a superhero with strength and flight, but losing his powers to super-villain Wolfe has left him grounded and now a detective with the ‘Powers’ division of the LAPD who police the many super-powered who live in the city. Partnered with inexperienced Deena Pilgrim they investigate the new threat of a designer drug killing many in the community, discovering unexpected links to old foes.
I like Sharlto Copley, and there are moments in which I felt he was well-suited for the role as he looked the part as an ex-superhero and begrudging cop. Villain-wise there’s one stroke of genius in the casting, that of Eddie Izzard as Wolfe, an incredibly powerful incarcerated villain who started out as a philosopher. With Izzard’s elocution and speech he fits the role very well.The story arc for season 1 is rounded off in the final episode, whilst ending on a cliffhanger to lead you into season 2. the second season wont air till 2016 so there is quite a wait.