Television

The Red Road (TV series)

the_red_roadOn a whim I decided to watch The Red Road on Netflix and was pleasantly surprised. It has a dreary sort of atmosphere reminding me of The Killing. I kept thinking that at any moment Linden and Holder were going to come out and start questioning people. Despite the show being very easily paced, every episode felt surprisingly quick. My friend kept asking if it was only a half hour show, but each of the six episodes were about 45 minutes each. It is a Sundance TV original series that started in February of last year.

It starts with a college student gone missing in the Ramapo Mountains in Walpole, New Jersey. We see local cops like Harold Jensen (Martin Henderson) looking for evidence as to his whereabouts.  We also see Phillip Kopus (Jason Momoa) breeze back into his hometown after a long absence, asking about the missing boy. We get the feeling he is not with the cops…all we know is that his father sent him and probably drugs are involved. In a side story there is a Romeo and Juliet sort relationship with a Lenape boy and the daughter of the Jensens whose mother seems to have a hatred for the tribe. This side story soon turns into a much bigger, complicated issue that soon causes problems for everybody. In fact it’s the trigger that catapults everything into motion.

This show is just the right amount of tense drama; there are no overly violent or gratuitous sex scenes. Don’t get me wrong, there are some fight scenes but mostly they pull away pretty quickly. This show is a mix of The Killing and True Detective; whereas sometimes The Killing episodes seemed too long and True Detective would sometimes meander to the point where I was confused about things, I feel The Red Road is short and to the point. It is a lighter version of some of the heavier dramas, but I feel it is full of emotion…kind of like Breaking Bad was full of emotion despite the grit. The acting on all sides was so well-played. I saw this through Netflix and I’m not sure if they are playing reruns on the Sundance channel, but if there is any way you run into it I think you should give it a try. I definitely want to watch the second season when it starts on April 2nd.

*~Mild Spoilers Character Discussion~*

the-red-road-1Harold Jensen is a local cop in the fictional town of Walpole, New Jersey. We don’t really know what his deal is besides that it seems he and his wife are having some sort of problems. He seems an honest enough kind of man and pretty level-headed in comparison to his wife, Jean. Jean (Julianne Nicholson) is a recovering alcoholic, she seems withdrawn from her husband and overly protective of her daughter. Which at first seems okay, but then you start to wonder about her out right. Rachel (Allie Gonino) is the daughter that she is intensely worried about and rightly so…being that Rachel is the most infuriatingly rebellious daughter who manages to put herself into very alarming situations all the time. I pretty much hated her throughout.

I have to give Jason Momoa some praise because he gives such a strong performance as Phillip and even though he plays this threatening guy, you can feel that he is conflicted. He is without a doubt menacing but there is a vulnerability about him that is pretty strong. He is pretty confident in what he does and more than competent but when you see him put in scary situations you feel for him. In fact out of all the characters I feel for him more than any other. I don’t really feel that bad towards Harold besides the fact that he loves a woman who doesn’t seem to really care about him that much. Everything he does is for her and I don’t think she is worth it. She sure as heck doesn’t seem to appreciate it.

Another great performance was by Tom Sizemore who played Jack Kopus, Phillips father. Jack is so sleazy and creepy that just seeing him on-screen makes me itch. Anytime anyone went to his apartment I was freaked. He doesn’t even treat Phillip like a son either, more like a lackey and it’s sad to see Phillip trying to help his father when Jack doesn’t even seem to care about him personally.

The-Red-Road-TV-Series-image-the-red-road-tv-series-36650059-1024-683 I feel bad for Phillip and Junior because they are pretty much victims of their family poverty and bad environment. There are characters who seem to have made a decent life for themselves despite that, but still in Phillips case you can tell he wanted to live a straight safe life but everything was just working against him.

Phillips mom, Marie (Tamara Tunie) is a pretty straight character but even till the end I’m not sure how I feel about her and how she treats her biological son. He has to ask permission to hug her and she doesn’t seem to really feel anything towards him, despite the fact that he has only ever been sweet to her. She is raising Junior (Kiowa Gordon) who to this point I’m not even sure what he is to her. I think she just took him in when his parents died. He is pretty decent and kind-hearted and takes a real liking towards Phillip who he views as a brother and vice versa. I think it would have been easy for Phillip to feel resentful towards Junior who actually seems loved by a mother who doesn’t seem to love him, but Phillip seems to genuinely care about the boy. I mean despite the fact that he does involve Junior in some illegal activity; he seems to only include him when he really needs him. He tries to exclude him when he can.

When I step back from this drama it seems a show about family and the lengths one would go to protect and please. What road will you choose to take when things get rough? I think all these characters wish they had taken a different one.

 

 

U-Turn (2008 4-prt Special Movie)

I was making a comment on u-turns when I remembered this special television project I saw a while back. It’s a Korean four-part mini movie that’s an advertising commercial. I know that sounds weird, because aren’t movies full of product placement anyway? U-Turn is more like a long entertaining commercial. I wish they’d do that here, it would be neat to see a commercial for light bulbs made into a mini movie with Stephen Colbert or something…but what do I know? Lol.

Details, Please
U-Turn is a comedy, drama and spookiness all in one. Ji Sub is driving home one day when a peculiar girl shows up out of nowhere and doesn’t remember anything. Who is she, and why did she appear to him?

Each part is a little over 5 minutes long.
Part 2
Part 3
Part 4

P.S. I love So Ji Sub, but he’s sort of a yelling jerk in this…plus can you guess what they’re trying to sell?

Soul (2009, MBC horror miniseries)

I’ve never watched a horror miniseries before, and usually when I see Korean dramas I see romantic comedies. This was my first foray into horror television (not counting The X-Files) and the one thing that stuck solid in my mind was Im Joo Eun’s solid acting performance. Apparently she beat out 1,058 girls for her role as Hana. This is my first choice of peril for Carl’s R.I.P. VI challenge.

Details, please
The opening of Soul starts in medias res, there is no dialogue in the first seven minutes — just action. “Kill me,” are the first words spoken and we as the audience don’t know why the heck this girl wants to be killed and worst off the guy looks like he’s going to do it…then she wakes up.

Im Joo Eun is Yoon Hana, a happy-go-lucky high school student who happens to suffer from nightmares and is carrying some sort of repressed memory that the audience doesn’t know the story behind. She gets through her everyday life with her loving twin sister Doo-na. From the onset we are made aware that there’s a serial killer on the loose, targeting high school girls with long hair. Shin Ryu (Lee Seo Jin) is the criminal profiler assigned to the case. Si-Woo Hana’s classmate is Ryu’s biggest fan.

All the horror starts happening when a girl commits suicide and on the way to her death makes eye contact with Hana. This would naturally traumatize anyone, but it goes beyond that. It’s not just trauma it becomes possession.

So what?
A line frequently used in the drama is, “the dead are throwing their tempers,” and although this is indeed true, this is really more than a ghost story or even possession. There’s this running theme about how criminals can change and if rehabilitation programs really work and such. It feels like a social commentary on the justice system. The bad guys actually use the law as their weapons, and so that’s another kind of terror. But at the heart of it all, Soul is really a revenge story, and in it people try to play angels and others God. I never thought the line, “let’s help God paint his picture,” would freak me out. It gave me chills.

I really loved Hana as a character. Her relationship towards almost everyone in this drama was as a protector, and to see her placed in many situations where she was helpless or unaware of what was happening through her was frightening. She really was a tragic character. I as an audience member wanted to protect her and Doo-na. Unfortunately every vengeful ghost within a ten-mile radius found her body the perfect place to live. It’s almost comical.

A character I wasn’t expecting to like was Si-Woo, the amateur sleuth/profiler. From the beginning we see he’s a bit of a loner who is weak and Hana comes to his rescue in degrading situations. When she asks why he doesn’t stick up for himself he says he deserves it because,

“My birthday happens to be my mother’s death anniversary. It seems she died not long after she gave birth to me. On my 9th birthday, my dad had a major car accident. I cursed my mother after I was born.They also said that I’m a cursed child. That’s why you should not meddle in my affairs again. My bad luck may pass on to you.”

Later on towards the end of the first episode we see him in a similar situation and when he tries to tell her he is cursed Hana retorts with:

“My birth date is the 28th of March 1993. To be exact, it was 5:30 p.m. At 5:30 p.m. on March 28th 1993, at that same time, train number 117, which was traveling from Seoul to Busan overturned at Jeok Baek, 78 people were dead and 112 of them were either heavily injured or had minor injuries. It’s reported to be the most deadly accident in Korea in the 100 years of railroad history. Do you need more? On March 28th 1979, in an American nuclear reactor plant there was a radiation leak resulting in 22,000 people with cancer as of 2009. On March 28th 1941, Virginia Woolf died. On March 28th 1969, Eisenhower died. On March 28th 1985, Chagall died. Do you still need more? Then, am I also considered a cursed child?”

This conversation shows you a bit of Hana’s personality, and of course the irony is that the audience starts to wonder if she really is cursed. All that to say that Si-Woo started as a weak person, and because Hana got through to him he becomes strong and would do anything to keep her safe (almost in a disturbing way… a scene with turtles comes to mind.)

The profiler Shin Ryu was probably the biggest mystery of all. There is no grey area on Ryu’s stance on criminals. He defends a mysterious person for killing them, because they’re “merely clearing out garbage,” besides, “Is there a need to hesitate when killing a cockroach?” As the series progresses we see why he has such strong feelings on the subject. The two men in Hana’s life both think they’re protecting her or helping her to do what they think is right, and throughout the drama it’s fun to see our perceptions of each change.

Things I noticed:

*Nothing good ever happens in a parking garage.

*You’re not even safe in a glass elevator (where you are clearly visible)

*The cops in this drama seriously need to be trained again…at various crime scenes they missed a book bag, a sweater, a phone, and a bike. How they managed to miss all this evidence was a bit puzzling.

*A ghost is strong enough to open a car door at the bottom or a river, yet it can’t save someone from drowning in a bathtub.

*An interesting thing I kept thinking to myself was that the ghosts in this drama weren’t as scary as the living…maybe that was the point.

Overall

The acting and directing were well done, but the point of focus was a bit scattered. Soul went from being about serial killers, to ghosts, to a somethings wrong with our justice system story, and although there’s nothing wrong with that…it didn’t really mesh. It’s like they were trying to make purple but they didn’t properly mix blue and red. In my opinion things started falling apart around episode six (although there’s a cool fight scene in episode 7.) Some of the scenes got a bit redundant at times, but you have to give Im Joo Eun credit for having to convey so many different faces of terror. Despite saying all that, I felt the drama was polished. Is that weird? It came across like a glossy book with pretty pages. I just wish it hadn’t deviated into rabbit trails and that the ending wasn’t severely lacking.

For those interested:

Dramabean’s Recap of episode 1
Watch the whole miniseries on DramaFever

Mwahahahahahaha! R.I.P. VI

Woot! It’s finally time for Carl’s R.I.P. VI Challenge!

My choice of Peril:

I’ve been wanting to see Secret Investigation Record which I heard was like a South Korean version of The X-Files. Two things I love: South Korean anything and The X-Files, what could go wrong?

Also Lee Seo Jin has two television dramas that fall in the horror category: Soul and Freeze.

I really wanted to participate in the group reads, but since starting school I’ve had about a million mini freak-outs at everything I’m expected to read. So Bear who told me grad school was easier…I don’t get you. So I’m going to stick with the dramas for now. 🙂 They are fairly short…I think Freeze has five episodes…

Carl’s one demand is that you enjoy yourself, and that’s what I plan to do.

It’s not to late to sign-up…The R.I.P. Challenge runs from September 1 through October 31.

P.S. I’ve missed you all!

X-Files/30 Days of Night: Final Recap

Story by: Steve Niles & Adam Jones
Art by: Tom Mandrake
Cover by: Andrea Sorrentino

Final issue! So picking up on that awful cliffhanger Scully is trying to get the phone to work when she notices the shadow on the wall of someone behind her. She grabs the handle to a briefcase the phone is in and…

Right before it’s about to descend on her she shoots it with that extra fast gun and kills him. Opening the door to leave, she sees two others running towards her.

On the other side of the compound Mulder finds a police man hiding under a desk saying he shot one of the vampires six times and it just laughed at him. He mentions that everyone on the compound must be dead, because out of nowhere the vampires came and killed everyone. Nothing could slow them down.

Everyone wants to leave but when Igor come back without Scully, Mulder wants to know where she is. Mulder rushes outside and among some corpses finds Scully’s badge covered in blood. Mulder can’t believe she’s dead as all the bodies are male, despite all the blood he sees.

The police man, going slightly crazy with fear just wants to leave saying she’s dead and they are too if they stay. The Russians agree with him about taking the snowcat to the airport. Next scene Mulder is leaving with the three other men, and what the heck?! One protest,and he leaves Scully behind?!

The police man is talking about the good ole days and how now everything is messed up…blah,blah,blah…he thought you had to die first before you saw hell. A body emerges in front of the snowcat. I think it’s that freakish baby corpse they fed that is now all huge.

The police man freaks and goes out to shoot it (gosh, two pages earlier he said no gun would kill them…) and the vampire tears his arm off and goes for the others in the truck.

Igor pulls a grenade and everything blows, including the vampire (now without a body) still trying to speak.

Mulder tells Dimitri he is going to get help and runs into a greenhouse like building. Of course not having any luck he grabs the phone and agent French turned vampire is there to make his life difficult.

He starts trash talking Mulder saying he never liked him, but acknowledges that Mulder was right about everything…he was just searching for the truth. He asks Mulder if he wants his apology as he moves in to bite him and Mulder is like um..no thanks. He starts beating up Mulder when Scully walks in. Of course she wasn’t dead! Stupid Mulder. Mulder is shocked and tells her not to come in, but now agent French wants to tear her apart in front of Mulder, but Scully being Scully turns on the UV sun-spot switch on the wall that ends up frying French. He’s now a french fry (har har)

Mulder’s like, “I thought you were dead” (yeah, you spent all of two seconds looking for her), and she said she was out looking for him (sigh.) The lights start popping and this is what they see….

Mulder and Scully eventually venture outside and see the little girl Scully tried to save earlier (who is of course a vampire.) She waves to Scully and takes off with the rest. Um…okay.

Epilogue

Dimitri is surveying the compound from a clifftop, (guess he survived) and is ready to leave U.S. territory. Back at FBI Headquarters official word is that Orkrose has been transferred and French has taken extended leave. Mulder says that this isn’t over that there’s going to be a pandemic spreading through the Arctic Circle. Scully says that the entire case is being handled by a different department, the town has been contained and is off limits…locals have relocated.

Skinner walks in and Mulder asks if they are being shutdown again. He doesn’t like doing it but, yeah they are off the case. Mulder still has the book Captain Norborg gave him and Skinner takes it, and tells them to get on a plane for Texas there’s another case they need to be on. Dismissed!

In an underground military detainment center in Nevada, French is teaching other agents about interrogation techniques…ironic since he’s the vampire they are planning to interrogate.

Orkrose is overseeing everything. French says it’s only a matter of time till they escape again.

Back on that ship in the Arctic, it’s full of vampires plotting to move further into Alaska.

End of Issue/ Series

What?! I know an X-File is a case that has been deemed unsolvable, but really? This is the end? I have more questions than answers.

I’m not even sure what the heck happened at the end. I think that was French in the cell, but wasn’t he burned up, and wasn’t Orkrose dead too?  Why did the vampires let Mulder and Scully live? They looked angry enough outside the greenhouse. It just felt really anticlimactic. I wonder if 30 Days of Night fans liked it?

I enjoyed seeing my favorite duo on paper, but I don’t usually feel so unsatisfied when watching an X-File episode on television. What was the mysterious book from issue 4? And was the corpse baby the king of vampires or something? I feel like I would’ve gotten a better ending if the Scooby gang were on the case.

The ending really killed this crossover, and I’m still pissed that Mulder practically abandoned Scully…that would have never happened in the show. Yeah he ditched her a lot, but left her to die? Pfft, please.

Does this look like a man who would leave Scully to die? And no, he's not gnawing her arm off.

Thanks for sticking with me! What are your thoughts?

X-Files/30 Days of Night: Issue 5 Recap

Story by: Steve Niles & Adam Jones
Art by: Tom Mandrake
Cover by: Andrea Sorrentino

The creepy baby corpse from the last issue, now with enough blood morphs into an even scarier version of itself (sort of like when they wake up Viktor in Underworld.) Oddly enough the guys who fed him now look scared as this thing leaps and attacks them. He morphs into a grown vampire with an insatiable thirst.

At the same time, Agent French and his partner are interrogating some people. He’s mad that while doing this Mulder and Scully are out “contaminating” his case. So he calls Skinner. Skinner basically tells him there’s a reason he sent them there and hangs up on him.

Back on Little Diomede the agents and their Russian friends return to their vehicles to see all their comrades killed. They’re worried because they didn’t hear anything and Scully wants to go check on Captain Norborg in the cave. Mulder yells for her to wait but Igor goes with Scully and Mulder is left to help move the bodies, but Mulder doesn’t want to touch the crime scene. One man was left alive. He says they attacked while everyone was taking a smoke break.

While telling his story Mulder mentions the guy needs medical attention, the guy lifts his head and…

The last survivor had become a vampire. Mulder’s Russian friend shoots the vampire. Back at the cave everything is destroyed. Everyone wants to leave but Scully want to take some of the bodies to examine.

Concurrently, agent French and his partner find two deserted police snowmobiles and they get attacked by vampires. They bite agent French but let his partner live because he seems to be related to the vampire.

Scully along with the other agents are at the lab examining the captain’s body. Scully is puzzled as to where the little girl is (from issue 2.)

Scully is amazed at Captain Norborg’s body because whatever he was suffering from appears to have changed his entire physiology. Everything seems to be dead inside his body except for the heart. While conducting the autopsy there’s a blackout.

Meanwhile agent French wakes up a vampire and attacks his partner. He is shown overlooking the compound where Mulder and Scully are.

Back to the blackout, the agents and their Russian friends seem to be the only people around and Scully wants to go to her room for a special phone. Igor doesn’t want to leave her alone, but gives her his weapon that is faster than bullets.

Of course Scully goes to her room and what do we see? Yikes!

End of Issue.

I guess this vampire with one eye is the one Mulder shot in issue 3. It would’ve been more interesting if this vampire ran into Mulder first, as Mulder is the one responsible for his injury. Artistic wise, I like how the window in the background made an “x” shape where the vampire’s eye should be. Already five issues and Mulder and Scully haven’t met the leader of the vampires. I guess it all comes together in the next and last issue.

X-Files/30 Days of Night: Issue 4 Recap

Story by: Steve Niles & Adam Jones
Art by: Tom Mandrake
Cover by: Andrea Sorrentino

Issue opens up with a circle of vampires surrounding the one Mulder managed to shoot in the eye. Speaking another language, their leader demands he get up and relate what happened.

Back to the helicopter crash, Mulder and Scully are stranded with no food and no way to call for help. The only positive thing is the warmth from the burning wreckage, but not for long since it’s the coldest time of year and they’re standing on a frozen ocean.

They decide to follow their impact trail, but are quickly surrounded by Russians with heavy weapons pointed at them. Well at least they’re not vampires.

Scully mentions they’re probably on the wrong side of the date line. The helicopter crashed on Big Diomede Island, Russian territory, on the way to Little Diomede. The main man says it’s an honor to meet them, as they have been following their work for a long time. Apparently they do the same investigations into paranormal situations.They bring up the man without limbs..

Meanwhile the vampires come across the helicopter, and follow the agents tracks in hopes to be led to the man without limbs. Gosh, Mr. popular, this guy is…

Meanwhile on Little Diomede Island, American territory, the Russians accompany Mulder and Scully to a cave. The man without limbs has lived there for over a century, and hardly speaks…

Pfft. Yeah right, the limbless man spends the next three and a half pages telling his story. His name is Norborg and he was the captain of the ship from the earlier issues. He thinks he was responsible for killing his men not with his hands but with his intentions to search for an artifact without telling his crew.

This artifact was believed to hold the secrets of eternal life, but instead he found never-ending death. He guided his crew of 120 to a small patch of frozen land above the Bering Strait, and ordered the crew to load and hide this item. Unfortunately, someone else sought the artifact as well. These men killed the crew, and they moved through the night like shadows, and no weapon could slow them down. They had clawed fingers, black eyes and teeth like a barracuda.

They came after the captain, and he denied them the information they wanted. They tortured him and punished him by tearing his limbs off. As he lay dying they spit into his open wounds…it was considered a curse, because his heart gained strength again.

They cursed him to live in that utter misery and then they mysteriously went into the night. He lay there until the sun finally came and the natives of the island found him. They took him and placed him in the cave where they have cared for him with love and respect for generations. Before I start to really think this is weird, he explains that his undying body held special meaning for them. He was considered a good luck charm and they even have a saying about him:

“If the man who cannot die, dies, darkness falls over the Island forever.”

He mentions that forever has come and he tells Scully (who he keeps referring to as his beloved Eleanore,) to take a certain book and leave. I’m thinking that Scully looks like the figurehead on the front of the boat in his cave.

Of course once the agents leave, the vampires find Norborg and end up finding the artifact from the story inside the figurehead that really does look like Scully. Norborg freaks, and begs them to kill him but they want him to die suffering.

Meanwhile Mulder and Scully have questions about the book. Mulder starts to mention Norborg’s story and Scully doesn’t want to take him seriously, because Norborg is probably suffering from an advanced form of phocomelia, and living in isolation has driven him mad.

Back in the cave, the vampires break the artifact and find a small fetus of some kind. The vampires drip blood onto it and it wakes up asking for more blood.

End of Issue.

Eep! What the heck? This issue definitely had a darker tone then the first three. Finally we hear the story of the limbless man, although now I wish they’d skimped on the details… And if Norborg is now dead what does that say for the hope of the Island? The natives are going to freak. Also, what was that book that Mulder and Scully took? Well, there has to be some kind of encounter with the agents and vampires next issue…and I’m looking forward to that.