Channel Zero: No End House (Syfy)
Episode 1: This Isn’t Real
Full of guilt and grief after the death of her father, Margot has withdrawn from the world. Her friend Jules stops by to break her out of this funk. Both get a weird video announcing the arrival of No End House.
Jules convinces Margot to go to a bar where they meet J.D. (a childhood friend) and Seth (handsome stranger). J.D. knows all about No End House and fills them in on the lore. Basically, it’s a highbrow pop-up haunted house that is the stuff of legends. There are six rooms. Each successive room gets weirder, more frightening. People who are brave enough to make it into the sixth room are never seen again.
The gang goes back to Margot’s house and end up discussing their nightmares and fears around the pool. Margot sees a commercial for No End House that finally reveals its location. The group ventures to NEH and despite seeing people leaving the house sick/vomiting, they go in…and life will never be the same.
Overall, it wasn’t a bad first episode. It left me with a lot of questions and I’m willing to stick around for the answers. I don’t think the following is spoilery, but if you haven’t seen the 1st episode this probably won’t make much sense. 🙂
How is No End House related to Candle Cove?
The series have at least two things in common right off the bat:
#1 words carved on flesh. (Mike from Candle Cove had carved “Come Home Mike” into his arm. Lacey, the very first person we see in No End House, has “This Isn’t Real” carved into her arm.)
#2 the long hallway of dread/
Will all of the stories in the Channel Zero series have a big, overarching story attached to them? Could No End House be a manifestation of Eddie and/or Mike from Candle Cove?
No End House
-I like that they turned the haunted house into and art installation. It gives the event an air of pretentiousness and explains why no one is disturbed about this structure appearing out of the blue.
-The house generously gives you an exit door for the first three or four rooms. There is more than enough warning, it essentially says to them, “I know what you are afraid of and you will meet your nightmares here.” The gloves come off when you miss your last chance to leave.
-I do wonder if people who take the exit really do get to leave, but I like to think the house plays fair.
Can We Trust The Narrative? (Or the incredible moving car)
I have a strong suspicion that we aren’t watching a linear narrative.
Quick Character Notes
J.D. – I think his bust did not change because, while others hide their fears inside, he wears his on his skin (tattoos). [Funny how he is the most enthusiastic about NEH but, per Jules, is the only oen of the group who hasn’t received an invitation.]
Jules – I hope her fears don’t have anything to do with succubi/sexuality.
Margot – I wonder if she has other reasons to feel guilty.
Seth – Um, he’s cute I guess. In a puppy dog way.
It’s 1895. Sherlock Holmes’ has returned to his home in Baker Street after being presumed dead. Having defeated Moriarity at Reichenbach Falls, he is a changed man – bored with life. With no arch enemy, life holds little to no meaning for him. He disappears for days at a time— indulging in drugs, exposing himself to deadly disease and other activities not suited to a man of his esteem. Easily solved cases do nothing to stir Holmes imagination.
Watson cares for his friend the best that he can. A doctor, he felt helpless when his beloved wife suddenly fell ill and died. Fighting his own guilt, he is determined to do whatever he can to keep Holmes on this side of human existence.
Then, a couple with a curious missing person’s case comes to Holmes for help. A man has disappeared from a locked room. Police aren’t interested because there hasn’t actually been a crime. Then, there’s another missing person and another. With each new case, it becomes clear that something very strange and dangerous is afoot.
There are whispers of a secret cult and a box that open unseen doors. Eventually, Holmes and Watson realize what they are up against. To these logical men, it is a revelation that Hell exists and has been waiting for them.
Paul Kane has created a fun story the weaves together Sherlock Holmes’ canon and elements of the Hellraiser universe. I recognized elements from several of the films/books: the vagrant, the pillar with “something” missing from, Lemarchand etc. This story takes place before Pinhead, but (if you pay attention) you may recognize him in a brief, pre-Cenobite cameo.
In fact, there are lots of cameo appearances that span Clive Barker’s literary universe. This can be a little distracting at times. It is a bit like watching a movie and recognizing all the celebrities playing minor characters; for a moment, you are taken out of the present story.
Even though it draws heavily from the movies, don’t be fooled. You may think you know where the story is going but it goes in another direction.
I recommend this book. 🙂
I probably won’t get around to seeing the new IT for a while.
I was resistant to a not-Tim-Curry Pennywise from the start. Yes, I know the miniseries has issues, but it was regular television, not cable. The writers and director were only going to get a fraction of the novel to the screen. Did it have a lot of gore? No, but – at the time – the show hit all of the creepy, scary, never-trust-a-clown buttons.
The early trailer for the new movie made me put my reservations aside. Pennywise in the slide projector was clever and the movie, in general, looked good.
Then, I saw a clip where the clown spoke….and the spell was broken. Pennywise sounded like a cartoon chipmunk (think Alvin’s uncle). IT went back to “meh”.
It also doesn’t help that I’ve been listening to the Castle Rock TV Podcast. They are doing a review/retrospective of the books and characters that will probably show up in Hulu’s Castle Rock, a new series based on the works of Stephen King. The first story they tackle is IT. Over several podcast they have explored the book and the miniseries.
So, in a sense, I’m full of IT. 🙂
I’ll get around to the new movie eventually; that opening weekend box office means IT will be haunting theatres for a while. The reviews and audience reaction suggest that I probably will like IT–when I give it a chance. For now, I’ve had my fair share of clowns.
It’s coming back! It’s coming back! As you can tell from the box above, I’m talking about Black Mirror, the horror/adventure game – not the tv show.
The original Black Mirror (2003) was about a man (Samuel Gordon) returning to his ancestral home to explore his family’s past and the evil that has plagued them for generations. It spawned 2 sequels and then the castle lights dimmed…
This November, Black Mirror is getting the re-imagination/reboot treatment. It works for movies, why not games? This time around, it’s David Gordon whose going back home to figure out what happened to his father. This trailer looks really good.
I hope this is the start of a new trilogy.
My mom visited recently and took over the remote. She loves horror movies but between cable, Netflix and Hulu she kept getting “duds” – poorly acted films that had decent cover art. Even the movies that were good quality-wise bored her because the plots ran out of gas.
When the conversation turned to our faves, I asked what horror films she would recommend to folks. Here is her list:
1) The Hellraiser Series
Mom: The first three movies are the strongest; the rest of them are okay. Everything but the last one. That was trash.
2) The Woman In Black
Mom: This had it all: story, atmosphere, that harry potter boy. It’s not just a haunted house; it’s haunted people.
3) The Abominable Dr. Phibes & Dr. Phibes Rises Again
Mom: This is how you do “horror” comedy right. It’s a simple premise, a bad guy motivated by his undying love. Dr. Phibes is a sympathetic character-even when he does really nasty things. It feels good to root for him. Plus, it’s not the same type of murder over and over again.
One hundred years ago, the founders of Antonio Bay did a horrible thing. On a foggy night, they purposely guided a ship, the Elizabeth Dane, into rocks. As the crew perished, they looted the wreck and used the gold to establish the town. Now, just as the town is gearing up to celebrate, the fog is back…and so is the crew of the Elizabeth Dane.
This movie is one of my faves. Let me tell you why.
The typical horror revenge flick has one killer who is targeting a group that has done him wrong. The targeted group almost always includes an “innocent” – usually a young woman who is nicer than the others. Maybe her heart wasn’t in the prank or she was in the wrong place at the wrong time. Perhaps she tried to convince the others not to go through with it. Whatever the case, she agreed to keep silent after the deed was done. While the audience gets a thrill out of watching the obnoxious bad guys get haunted and hunted down, the killer going after the innocent is supposed to feel as if vengeance is going a step too far.
The Fog doesn’t really do this. The killers – the ghost of a captain and his crew – are looking to take six lives. Because anyone in Antonio Bay can get it, the movie doesn’t ask us to be overly invested in the wellbeing of anyone in particular. No one wants the fog to snatch up little Andy…but you understand why the ghosts don’t care.
At the same time, no individuals stand out as being extraordinarily bad or evil. They are normal people going about their everyday lives.
The townspeople know the story of the shipwreck but they don’t believe it. There’s even a sanitized version that suggests the tragedy was an accident; it’s a local legend to scare children around the campfire. Because the town has worked so hard to whitewash the tale, the argument for innocent/ignorance really isn’t here.
On top of everything else – it’s good, creepy fun.
*Ghosts shattering car windows? The fog does not care about your property. What a riot!
*In an alternate universe, Laurie Strode escaped from Haddonfield, changed her name and hitched her way to Antonio Bay…and more trouble.
*Hard to find sanctuary in a church built with blood money.
Annabelle: Creation is a vast improvement over Annabelle. There’s actual action, suspense and a few scares that aren’t spoiled by the trailers. The acting is solid thoughout – even if the script requires the characters to walk into harms way. I didn’t realize the movie was rated R, so I was surprised when the movie “went there” so to speak. This movie is “haunted house” style fun.
It’s best to see the movie without viewing the trailers first. Beyond jump scares, the big “reveal” as to the how/why of Annabelle is basically explained in the trailer. I was waiting for there to be another big secret in the third act. There is a reveal that cements Annabelle: Creation to the first movie, but it didn’t feel like a big enough revelation to me. My reaction to it was “oh, okay” not “wow”.
I’m interested in finding out how the character of Mrs. Mullins, the woman of the house, evolved through the finalizing of the script. In a scene that takes place before tragedy befalls her family, a man asks Mr. Mullins a question but it’s Mrs. Mullins who gives him the answer. I don’t think Mr. Mullins even attempts to give a response. I get that feeling that she is the one who made the decisions while he went along for the ride. My guess, and this is just a theory with no foundation, is that Mrs. Mullins had a bigger role that was reduced and visual references to the demonic nun were shoe-horned in.
Any way, some other observations:
*If Samara had come up out of that well…
*Did no one vet the Mullins before allowing kids to live there? The Church doesn’t keep records?
*Creepiest house decorations ever – hanging dolls, outfits just hanging on doors for no good reason.
*Nothing against Sister Charlotte, she is a faithful protector of all in her care – but the Catholic Church has lost it’s banishing evil mojo.
*Is that Annabelle? Nope, just my knees and ankles cracking.
Kanopy is a streaming service that gives patrons of participating public libraries or colleges free access to a boatload of films. To see if your library or educational institution offers Kanopy, click here. (If your local public library does participate — you will need a library card…but you already have that, right?)
They offer a wide range of film – documentaries, instructional, drama, comedy, horror movies…etc. I recently received access to Kanopy thanks to the New York Public Library; there are 80 movies on my watchlist. Here’s just a few:
This isn’t Netflix; your local library does set limits. I can only watch 10 movies a month. But these are great films. Okay, maybe not the vampire motorcycle one… 😉
It’s England – in the time of ye old horse and carriage – and something is attacking young men who venture out into the woods at night. Inspector Quennell (Peter Cushing), the detective assigned to the case, is frustrated by his lack of progress and begins spinning unlikely theories. For example, could the killer be a giant eagle? The police officially go with the bird angle to put off the public while concentrating their efforts on finding a human villan. The truth is stranger than anything Quennell can imagine.
If you go to imdb or wikipedia, it will tell you upfront what/who the culprit is. It’s probably not possible to look this movie up without being spoiled in some way. I think the film is more enjoyable if the absurdity of what’s going on creeps up on you. (Anyone who pays attention will know who the problem lies with within the first 15 minutes; however, even knowing this doesn’t eradicate the wtf-ness of the creature reveal.)
Usually, a horror/mystery movie wraps up with a professor or policeman who connects all of the dots for the bewildered viewer. That doesn’t happen here. After the final credits roll, there are so many unanswered questions. How did this happen? Why would anyone do this? What does any of this have to do with Africa? .
Anywho some observations:
*”Raise the gas” – that’s interesting way to say it. Wait, did someone slip a fart joke in here?
*How do these men have daughters, but there no mention of wives or mothers. Were these kids hatched?
*The men wear suits to go fishing; no wonder they are so uptight.
*Peter Cushing is more offended by dust than death.
Tip: Don’t go necking in the woods if there’s a killer lurking about.
So, like, there’s this kid – Clare – who has a really horrible life. She gets bullied all the time by the popular clique at school and her dad is like a junk man who crawls through others people garbage. And, OMG, he does it outside of her school! That’s so embarrassing. Clare is an artist – just like her mother was. That kinda scares her because she doesn’t want to follow in her mother footsteps into an early grave.
One day, Clare’s dad finds this weird oriental music box in the garbage and decides to give it to her as a gift. Clare takes Chinese and paid enough attention in class to understand most of what’s written on the box. However, she can’t figure out that fine print… Whatevs! The mean girls are being mean on social media and Clare wishes that her main antagonist would just rot. And she does! That unexplained death that occurs later can’t be related to the wish can it? Can it?
I had fun at Wish Upon. It is not and never pretended to be a gory, bloody thrill ride. The goriest thing about the movie is the poster. Clare is a kid – so it’s a given that she’s going to make some bad decisions. I’m just happy that most teens in current movies are smart enough not to hang out in cemeteries.
Also, the movie hinted a teeny bit at some ideas that I wish (ha!) they had explored fully. What if the box isn’t granting wishes, but transporting Clare to another part of the multiverse where the life she wants already exists? Or, what if, as the box is passed from person to person in a community it creates it’s own ground-hog day type of scenario? What if people are dying and un-dying over and over again depending on who gets the box or what they wish for?
Okay, I may be putting more thought into the movie than the folks who created it.
Anywho, here are some of my thoughts during the movie:
*Wait! Is that the heart-throb from Cruel Intentions and I Know What You Did Last Summer playing somebody’s uncool, dumpster diving dad? I’m getting old. 😦
*The cast has some color in it. Now, I’m going to be nervous for these characters. (crosses fingers whenever they appear on screen.)
*The fine print is written in ancient Chinese? In essence, it’s an ancient Chinese secret? (groan)
*Clare, you can’t beat this by yourself. You need a priest. Or a monk. Kid, find an adult!
*That song played over the end credits is catchy.
Tip #1: Read the fine print first.
Tip #2: If you are going to put your soul in jeopardy, might as well wish big!