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: AGENTS OF S.H.I.E.L.D. – SEASON 5

Ming-Na Wen, Henry Simmons, Clark Gregg, Iain De Caestecker, Natalia Cordova-Buckley, Chloe Bennet, and Elizabeth Henstridge in Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. (2013)

Starring

Clark Gregg (Captain Marvel)
Ming-Na Wen (Stargate: Universe)
Chloe Bennet (Nashville)
Iain De Caestecker (Filth)
Elizabeth Henstridge (Reach Me)
Henry Simmons (Taxi)
Natalia Cordova-Buckley (Bates Motel)

Jeff Ward in Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. (2013)

RECURRING / NOTABLE GUEST CAST

Jeff Ward (Plus One)
Joel Stoffer (Death Ring)
Eve Harlow (Heroes Reborn)
Dominic Rains (Jinn)
Florence Faivre (The Expanse)
Pruitt Taylor Vince (13 Sins)
Coy Stewart (Devil’s Whisper)
Catherine Dent (21 Grams)
Lola Glaudini (That Awkward Moment)
Dove Cameron (Descendants)
Brian Patrick Wade (The Big Bang Theory)
Briana Venskus (Let’s be Cops)
Maximilian Osinski (In Time)
Spencer Treat Clark (Glass)
Peter Mensah (Spartacus)
Adrian Pasdar (Heroes)
Nick Blood (Trollied)
J. August Richards (Angel)
Zach McGowan (The Scorpion King 5)
Reed Diamond (Bones)
Ruth Negga (Preacher)
David Conrad (Roswell)
Derek Mears (Swamp Thing)
Rya Kihlstedt (Home Alone 3)
Patrick Fabian (Better, Call Saul)
Willow Hale (The Ones)
Joel David Moore (Julia X)
Patrick Warburton (Family Guy)
Jake Busey (Starship Troopers)
Alyssa Jirrels (Alexa & Katie)
Gabriel Hogan (Heartland)
Craig Parker (Reign)
Raquel Gardner (The Boy Next Door)

Dominic Rains and Elizabeth Henstridge in Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. (2013)Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. has done the impossible. It went from one of the most throwaway action dramas in recent history with season one to one of the most memorable. Over the course of five long years, the series has re-invented itself, and slowly forged a capable band of misfits that are worth watching week after week.Henry Simmons, Clark Gregg, Eve Harlow, and Michelle Toh in Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. (2013)It was somewhere around season three that I started truly enjoying the show, and by the time the artificial intelligence-driven LMD arc hit in 2017, I was hooked. Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. has the power to do what basically no Marvel film (with few exceptions) has done to date: make us laugh and cry in the same short span. Clark Gregg, S.H.I.E.L.D. star Agent Coulson always said that people should give the show time to grow, and while I’d argue four years is far too long of a wait, it’s worth investing in at this point. Season five mostly carries that legacy upon its back with a few missteps.Rya Kihlstedt and Dominic Rains in Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. (2013)While I’ve grown fond of S.H.I.E.L.D. it’s very easy to poke Swiss cheese-sized holes into it. The writers still don’t seem to know how to handle Yo-Yo, the Inhuman that can run so fast that it seemingly stops time, only to return to her original location. They created a figurative monster, one that could basically end every conflict before it starts, and they’ve had to come up with weird ways to curb her power, some of which are incredibly hokey. They’re also constantly wandering aimlessly with her character arc, putting much of the burden of her budding personality onto her partner, Mack — one of the brightest parts of the show.Florence Faivre in Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. (2013)The lack of John Hannah and Mallory Jansen, two of the strongest parts of last season, is felt, but others, whether it’s newcomers or old friends like Adrian Pasdar, have stepped up. Really though, the trophies should go to the principal cast, who are stuck together like a family for this long despite being on the bubble every year. Ming-Na Wen is one of the most underrated action performers on TV right now, and Chloe Bennet managed to transform Skye into the formidable Daisy mostly on her own, evolving and learning alongside of the show with charisma and relatable flaws to boot.Ming-Na Wen, Clark Gregg, and Willow Hale in Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. (2013)I miss the smaller focused arcs of the past few seasons, but this year S.H.I.E.L.D. has mostly settled on two acts: the future, and a lead into Infinity War. The former was a very bold and tricky maneuver, and I think they pulled it off. For a while, there S.H.I.E.L.D. pivoted into a bleak sci-fi operation, more so than it ever has been in the past, with some of its darkest sections to date.Ming-Na Wen and Clark Gregg in Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. (2013)The thing about the future portion of this season is that you never really know what’s going to happen. Coupled with an ominous theme bad things were always piling onto the crew, to the point where you really felt that they had no chance of making it out alive. By the end of it, when most of them do, it feels like their actions still have weight to them, something that was wonderfully communicated in the previous season. It’s not so much cheesy callbacks as it is genuine character development, as the team works to make this pseudo-MCU world one worth exploring. It’s also nice to see Marvel throw S.H.I.E.L.D. a bone, giving them at least one worthy villain and the entire Kree race to work with.Ming-Na Wen, Clark Gregg, and Chloe Bennet in Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. (2013)Its second act isn’t nearly as strong, sometimes focusing far too much on Hydra (a concept that’s been touched on nearly every season now to mixed success), it eventually culminates in a worthwhile showdown with one of the most formidable foes yet with actual consequences. Is S.H.I.E.L.D., or the Marvel universe completely done with Hydra? Probably not, but for now it seems like new problems are on the horizon.Dove Cameron in Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. (2013)Ultimately, season five of Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. ends with at least one twist and several turns. It’s beautifully filmed as a series finale just in case they didn’t get that one last renewal (which they recently did), and despite the truncated action scenes that still show how little of a priority S.H.I.E.L.D. is for ABC, it more than gets the job done for a network TV show.

REVIEW: HEROES REBORN

CAST
Jack Coleman (Kingdom Hospital)
Zachary Levi (Thor: The Dark World)
Robbie Kay (In Bruges)
Danika Yarosh (Shameless USA)
Kiki Sukezane (Death Yankees 2)
Ryan Guzman (Pretty Little Liars)
Rya Kihlstedt (Deep Impact)
Gatlin Green (Criminal Minds)
Henry Zebrowski (The Wolf of Wall Street)
Judith Shekoni (Garfield 2)

RECURRING / NOTABLE GUEST CAST

Toru Uchikado (Underdogs: Rising)
Jimmy Jean-Louis (Arrow)
Krista Bridges (Narc)
Pruitt Taylor Vince (Identity)
Jake Manley (The Order)
Carlos Lacamara (The Mexican)
Francesca Eastwood (Outlaws and Angels)
Hiro Kanagawa (Caprica)
Eve Harlow (Jennifer’s Body)
Clé Bennett (The Tick)
Nazneen Contractor (Star Trek Into Darkness)
Dylan Bruce (Orphan Black)
Tammy Isbell (Bitten)
Sendhil Ramamurthy (Beauty and The Beast)
Masi Oka (Get Smart)
Michael Therriault (Reign)
Cristine Rose (How I Met Your Mother)
Greg Grunberg (Alias)
Ari Cohen (Smallville)
Lucius Hoyos (What If)
Sara Mitich (The Expanse)
Rachael Ancheril (Star Trek: Discovery)

A year ago, a terrorist attack in Odessa, Texas, left the city decimated. Blamed for the tragic event, those with extraordinary abilities are in hiding or on the run from those with nefarious motives.

Tim Kring pulled off a minor miracle, reviving the Heroes franchise after it sank so far during its first four seasons. In those seasons, there were elements of each that I really liked, but the overall story quality seemed to become more disconnected and surreal. Heroes truly has been reborn.

Kring and the Heroes crew have revived a universe of mystery and wonder. These people–these “evos”–do things that no human body could physically do, like the miracles of old. It gives us hope. They call them “evolved ones” or “evos,” but there is something wonderfully spiritual about this. We have new characters, new abilities, new mysteries and new challenges. I call it a “minor miracle,” because the hot potential Kring originally created, was always there, heavily squandered in seasons 3 and 4. Here, I like what they’ve done. I’m enjoying these new friends and enemies. I especially like how they portray the enemy as unknowingly selfish and arrogant, but who also accuse others of being selfish for wanting to save their own lives. There is so much of that going on in the American government these days, as it did in Nazi Germany nearly a century ago. The parallels are chilling. Yet, the promise of the heroes is gratifying.

The fact that Earth’s magnetic field goes to zero and leaves the planet vulnerable to a violent, civilization-ending solar storm, is a wonderfully solid scenario — far better than the “2012” film’s neutrino absorption nonsense. It reminds me of the wonderfully upside-down deliciousness perpetrated by the UN, NASA, governments and the Corporate mainstream media — turning science into a popularity circus (“consensus”) and stifling debate with cute catch phrases like “settled science” and “deniers,” all the while distracting people from the real horror story that Global Cooling is bad and Global Warming is good. Why? Because we’re in an Ice Age. When the Holocene ends, 7+ Billion people will be in jeopardy, just as they are in this mini-series. Art mimicking reality, despite all the propaganda to keep us from seeing that reality. Nice when entertainment can wake some people up, instead of making them brain dead. The show has some flaws but all in all its a decent mini series with the only problem being the cliffhanger ending knowing that this is just a one off season.