Available on PC, PS4, and Xbox One
Rated M for Mature
Well now, the time has finally come. I can finally tell you if the Resident Evil 7: Biohazard Season Pass is worth getting. A whopping 10 months after the last chunk of DLC, the Not a Hero additional chapter teased at the ending of the main game is finally here. That’s the kind of gap that lets me forget a game’s entire control scheme/plot/number of headshots required to get a kill. On the plus side, it’s now free, and releases at the same time as another new chunk of DLC, End of Zoe.
I want to give every piece the attention it deserves, but I’m going to gloss over the Banned Footage Vol. 1 & 2. It’s old news at this point, but is good enough to be worth mentioning. I’m tailoring this review for people who have not yet gotten any of the RE7 DLC, and are even possibly newcomers to the game (tis the season and all). So right off the bat, none of the DLC affects the main game in the slightest. You get some extra story stuff, but you will not unlock any gear, guns, or buffs in the main story for purchasing and playing the Season Pass. This is all just new and unique content.
The mileage you get out of Banned Footage Vol. 1 & 2 is going to heavily rely on how much you want to play their respective repeatable challenge modes. Vol. 1 comes with a wave survival “Nightmare” mode, challenging you to conquer waves of enemies while crafting weapons and items with collectable scrap. It works well, and will take multiple runs to unlock all the extra weapons and buffs. You get stronger the more you play, so repeated runs give you a sense of genuine pride and accomplishment. Vol. 2’s repeatable chunk is a time trial mode called “Jack’s 55th Birthday.” You’re tasked with collecting as much food for a ravenous Jack Baker as possible before the time runs out. There’s a large inventory management aspect to it, as combining foods with spices will yield more valuable food. You’ll also have to kill monsters to increase your timer, so managing how many bullets you carry around becomes a factor as well. It’s goofy, decently challenging, and all the poop monsters are now wearing funny hats. Delightful.
There are also three new narrative chapters between the two volumes (one in Vol. 1 and two in Vol. 2), titled “Bedroom,” “Daughters,” and “21.” “Bedroom” stars Clancy—the cameraman from the prologue—and is entirely puzzle and exploration focused. You start off tied to a bed, as Marguerite enters and demands you eat a plate of… food? As soon as she leaves, you’ll have to unshackle yourself and explore the room. The goal here is to solve puzzles to collect a series of items, but doing so will make noise. Noise draws Marguerite back to the room, which so you’ll have to return to the bed before she returns. The trick here is that if anything is out of place, she’ll notice and attack you. This means you have to remember where everything was, and be sure not to load up on items so you have time to return it all. It’s the most robust of the narrative chapters, and incredibly tense.
The two that come in Vol. 2, “Daughters” and “21,” are a bit shorter. “Daughters” tells an even earlier prologue for Resident Evil 7, and is played from Zoe’s perspective. On a rainy night, your dad brings in an unconscious Eveline. Predictably, shit starts going whack. You must escape as your family devolve into their monstrous murderous forms. It’s a pretty standard run/sneak around to use items and escape. There’s a very hard to get “True Ending” that will probably require a strategy guide to figure out, but overall this is more of a story segment than anything.
“21” once again stars the lamentably fated Clancy, as he plays a murderous game of Blackjack with the sadistic Lucas. There are three stages, each with their own sick punishment, and as you go on you’ll earn tokens that can modify your hand. There’s a trick to beating it all, after which you’ll unlock the ability to play the game again in a repeatable survival mode. You unlock more items in ways similar to the “Nightmare” and “Jack’s 55th Birthday” DLC, but I don’t see why you’d play this more than maybe two times.
Overall, the DLC you’re getting from Vol. 1 & 2 is a great mix of story driven and silly arcade fun. None of the replayable stuff is as robust as the previous game’s “Mercenaries” mode, but the sheer variety makes it well worth your time. It’s hard to imagine there isn’t something in this mixed bag that you would find memorable.
Now, onto the exciting new stuff. First up is Chris Redfield’s chapter, “Not a Hero.” Originally slated to release in Spring as part of the Season Pass, we’re now getting it in December for free. Advertised as being a more combat focused variant of RE7, I was really looking forward to slipping back into the boulder-punching shoes of Chris. I imagined gunning down hordes of Molded, the only limit to my power being the constriction of my sleeves on my massive biceps.
Having played it, I come away with the most unexciting opinion of, “pretty good.” It feels like a condensed version of the good parts of RE7. You’ll hunt for items that help you progress, and complete various challenges along the way. It does fulfil its promise of being more combat focused, but I was a bit let down that you only get two guns. Chris is far more adept than Ethan in the art of murder, delivering whalloping punches that can send even the towering Molded flying back. But… he never punches a boulder into a volcano. I’m being a bit sarcastic here, but overall the combat just didn’t live up to my high expectations. The shotgun didn’t have the oomph I expect from a shotgun. Certain evolved white Molded can only be killed with a very limited supply of special RAMROD rounds, but they go down in a single shot.
None of the puzzles were particularly challenging, but there were some memorable segments. There’s one sequence where you’re running around a labyrinthine catacomb pursued by unkillable monsters, and must ration grenades to stun them just long enough to escape. Ammo is never really scarce, but enemies are plentiful enough to make you use up a serious amount of it. And for the first time in Resident Evil history, the knife doesn’t suck. If they had given me a few more guns and changed the RAMROD ammo into something more meaningful (e.g. I have to shoot off a series of regenerating limbs in a time limit), I probably would have really loved it. As it stands, I played through it once, beat the boss, and felt fine. It’s the Jimmy John’s lunch of Resident Evil 7 content.
The final piece of Season Pass content, End of Zoe might be the crowning achievement of the entire franchise. If you had asked me a week ago what would improve Resident Evil 7, I would not have thought to say, “hillbilly bumfights.” And I would have been dead wrong. Prior to playing, I had not a single clue that End of Zoe even existed. *SPOILER* As a bit of backstory, there’s a part in RE7 where you have to pick between Mia (your wife that has been trying to murder you the whole game) and Zoe (your only friend and an innocent victim of her family’s insanity). The choice is hollow and pointless, as you can only get the good ending if you pick Mia.*SPOILERS OVER*
Picking up from the point where Zoe becomes a calcified mold person, you play as Jack Baker’s previously unmentioned older brother, Joe Baker. Similar to Jack, Joe is also a psychotic hillbilly, but without the mold infection. Upon discovering shambling mold monsters on his premises, Joe decides to take the shambling hordes on with his fists. It’s not that he doesn’t have weapons, in the opening cutscene he’s show interrogating a dude with a knife. He just walks outside, looks at his bare meaty paws, and goes, “good enough.”
You do eventually also get caveman spears that you primarily use to hunt giant infected alligators. Joe also thinks that green herbs are for pussies, instead preferring to eat bugs. I’m not kidding. Aside from a scant few health potions, Joe will just scarf down grubs, crawfish, and fucking centipedes live.
Combat is as straightforward as it can be, with a combination of left and right punches stringing together to deliver beatdowns on all manner of the Molded monsters. As you can imagine, the turd monsters that can absorb multiple headshots are hard to take down with just some fisticuffs, so you’ll want to knock them down and stomp their brains out. There are also stealth kills, wherein you sneak up behind an unsuspecting monster, grab its head by both sides, and squeeze until it pops like an overripe tomato.
There’s so much ridiculous shit in the hour and a half of End of Zoe that I can’t even begin to describe it all. You just have to experience it. There’s a boss swamp monster that follows you around the whole game, and during one fight with it you seriously Batista Bomb it while hooting like madman. Then, you rip its head off and throw it in the water. And then it comes back. By the time I was punching its eyeballs out with a charged up falcon punch, I could not be more erect.
Oh, yeah, you also get to do falcon punches. Towards the end of the DLC, you get an experimental power glove that turns your already savage blows into explosive shockwaves of pwn. I’m honestly not afraid of spoiling anything, because it’s just all so ridiculous that it defies logic. I seriously had to pause a couple of times, put my head in my hands, and just try to wrap my mind around what I was witnessing. It’s incredible. Before the credits role, we get a telephone appearance from Ethan, fulfilling his promise to Zoe that he wouldn’t forget her. It was so saccharine and stupid, a perfect end to such a ridiculous DLC.
Playing through takes only about two hours, but the runtime is significantly padded by the extra challenge modes. After beating it, you can run through again while completing a number of timed challenges. Your reward? A bloodsucking machete. You get a permanent version of the power glove for beating the game, which is crucial if you want to take on the insanely hard “Joe must Die” difficulty. Similar to Madhouse in the main RE7, “Joe must Die” mixes everything up to provide a nightmarishly difficult challenge. There are so many monsters, traps, and altered pathways, that it’s almost an entirely different game. Beating it will take serious time and commitment. And what do you get for beating it? A dual power glove, and more timed challenges.
So obviously I loved End of Zoe. As part of the pizza dinner that is the Season Pass, it’s the pitcher of beer. Altogether, the amount of hours you get out of the combined DLC should rival the main game. Which is important, since they are now both $30. Meaning if you buy Resident Evil 7 used, you’re actually paying more for the Season Pass. As awkward as it is to recommend such a price gap so late into a game’s life, it’s 100% worth it. If you’re waffling between the Gold Edition at $50 and a used copy of the base game at $20, I’d have to say go for the Gold. It goes a long way towards making Resident Evil 7: Biohazard one of the best horror games of the decade.
If you had asked me a week ago what would improve Resident Evil 7, I would not have thought to say, “hillbilly bumfights.” And I would have been dead wrong.
7 GUARDIANS OF THE TOMB Review – Rest Easy, Indiana Jones, There’s Not Much To See Here
Starring Kellan Lutz, Bingbing Li, Kelsey Grammar
Directed by Kimble Rendall
If it only weren’t for those friggin’ spiders. Kimble Rendall’s adventurous flick, 7 Guardians Of The Tomb is one of those “wanted to be, yet couldn’t quite hit the mark” action-films that will probably entertain those looking for some cave-dwelling escapades caught on celluloid, but for the more picky aficionado of said slam-bang pics, this one might be viewed as a bit stagnant. Let’s strap on our mining helmets and pick around this one, shall we?
Acting as a bit of a search-and-rescue formation, the movie tails alongside Dr. Jia Lee (Li) as she hunts down the whereabouts of her missing brother after losing contact with him while he was on expedition in Western China. Apparently he was looking for a secretive Emperor’s tomb that supposedly holds a potion that can reanimate, or re-invigorate…or rehabilitate – anyway you slice it, the juice has got some pretty potent powers. So a search team is assembled, led by Mason (Grammar – glad someone got Frasier off of the barstool), and he’s latched onto all-American fella Jack (Lutz) to assist this operation. As it turns out, the initial journey is cut off fairly quick when a violent electrical storm forces the group to head underground, and that’s when things get creepy and crawly…like 8-legged style. The film is ripe with some feverish action and a few decent performances, but it’s the overall framework that acts as the big bully, tauntingly kicking sand in the little guy’s face at the beach.
We’ve got love interests, a flurry of backstories, and oh my lord, those spiders! Yep, even the heartiest of CGI can effectively ruin a good case of the willies when it comes to arachnids and their powers of sucking humans and animals dry of their lifeforce. It’s an intently goofy movie, and even the dialogue seems a bit showy at times, leaving plausibility and intelligence at the entrance to the caves. Lutz is fun to watch as the burly rescuer, and he looks as the type who is just waiting for his cinematic moment to step into the spotlight. What pains me is that this movie really could have been something much bigger, and apparently it looks as if the majority of the film’s budget was wasted on those hokey-looking computerized spiders.
All in all, 7 Guardians Of The Tomb is spotty entertainment, even if you despise those little skittering aphids racing towards you, programmed or not. Give it a peek if Raiders Of The Lost Ark isn’t readily available at your disposal…even that crappy Crystal Skull one.
A film that could have been so much more adventure-wise instead comes off looking like a lesson in how not to waste too much time on computer imagery.
Who Goes There Podcast: Ep 160 – A QUIET PLACE
Lately, it seems as though comedy actors are cutting their teeth as horror directors and absolutely killing it! This year’s indie horror darling comes in the form of John Krasinki’s A Quiet Place. Chris has been sick as a dog, so the haomie Christine from Horrible Imaginings Film Fest is filling in to discuss whether A Quiet Place is 2018’s horror heavyweight, or just a lot of noise.
What Bruno took was what changed me; it only amplifies your essence. It simply makes you more of what you already are. It’s the Who Goes There Podcast episode 160!
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THE DEVIL AND FATHER AMORTH Review: Friedkin Goes Mondo Catholic
Directed by William Friedkin
Hitting theaters this weekend in NYC and LA is William Friedkin’s new documentary, The Devil and Father Amorth. And right away I am asked: “Is it ‘good’?” You don’t watch a documentary like this with that in mind. Faces of Death, Traces of Death, Mondo Cane. They are not here to be “good”—they are beyond words like that. Beyond good and bad.
It is more like the sideshow—Behold! See what has not been seen before! The Horror! The Forbidden! And you hand the man your ticket — you see The Arabian Giantess at the flea market in New Jersey, and maybe it is a sleight of hand and made of papier-mâché, but it was worth that dollar, and now you have a story. You have bought your way into the unknown.
The Devil and Father Amorth is light on science (and length – it runs just 68 minutes) and heavy on faith. If you have been exposed to Friedkin’s — or more specifically, William Peter Blatty’s — work, there is the struggle with belief in the Roman Catholic faith, and also in the search for evidence of the miracle. You could also prove the Force of Divine Good if you could face the opposite side of the coin—the Force of Evil, in the vernacular of Catholicism—the Devil himself. Paradoxical, yes—faith exists without proof; and so what is the drive to tell the world God exists, the Devil exists?
In the documentary we learn Rome is filled with the possessed. Hundreds of people are contacting the Church about their own possession or the possession of their loved ones. The Most Holy Father Amorth is the person the Vatican has tapped to perform exorcisms—thousands of them. And sometimes he has repeat business. Christina is one such woman, exorcised nine times and still susceptible to the Force of Evil. Those of us who are non-believers look at this woman as someone who is troubled—but “through the eyes of faith,” obviously it is a demon.
Surrounded by her family, the rite begins, and you see… an actual exorcism. There is no enhancement, no Dick Smith make-up; it is not as dramatic as we want it to be. Should we get her help that is not in the form of a witch doctor? What about doctors? And so we meet them.
Friedkin brings the footage to top hospitals in NYC. Psychologists give their point of view. Then neurosurgeons. They don’t know what’s going on—the exorcism seems to help, but they do see that it might be a cultural remnant. There is a medical diagnosis for it, as it can affect anyone of any faith. But the doc never digs too deep. I am disappointed: I needed to know more. I don’t believe it.
Are they hurting Christina? Is she just another female the Church is suppressing, as they did with witches—the control, the stigma, of the female body and identity? None of this is explored because it’s just a 1-dollar ticket under the striped tent, just left of the dancing girls and the strong man—Actual! Exorcist! Footage! Hurry up and see!
As Friedkin mentioned himself, when someone asks you to film an exorcism, you say yes. So see it for the freak show. Expect nothing else. And either you believe or you don’t, based on how you were raised — mythology, religion, or superstition.
See it for the freak show. Expect nothing else.
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