This television season we are being assaulted with a non-stop torrent of genre based series. Shows such as Invasion and Threshold are taking up the battle for science fiction fans with cautionary tales of Pod People. The forthcoming Night Stalker redux with Stuart Townsend is trying to generate a new generation of X-philes. The WB’s slick teeny-bopper thriller, Supernatural, seems to be scaring the pants off of most television critics. I call it a “thriller” only out of pressure from the studios to make sure that we don’t mistakenly label something with ghosts, demons, and a lot of killing as a horror show. Everyone seems to be jumping on the train for the genre serial hit station. Yet, as they do, and the more that networks want to add genre elements to their shows, the less they want to use our seal as a selling point.
For better or worse, the shows that the networks have put out have been critically embraced. With the exception of NBC’s giant monster extravaganza Surface, they have been given the highest forms of acceptance in the nation’s newspapers, periodicals, and Internet sites, where faceless, whining critics have dropped their downward nose leers and accepted the material as fresh, but not horror.
In bounces CBS’s Jennifer Love Hewitt vehicle Ghost Whisperer, and I have just lost all patience for the whole ordeal. This show is an insult. It is nothing more than an over-produced, over-acted, over-wrought attempt to make a hit show out of an idea that has been done elsewhere with greater style, talent, and originality. NBC’s Medium, USA’s The Dead Zone, and movies like The Sixth Sense and every derivative piece of crap that was spun out after M. Night’s opus made piles of green stinking moolah all have better grasp on what makes this type of thing popular. Yet, here we are given a show that lacks all of the elements that have made genre affairs such as The Ring so very successful.
1. NO SCARES: This is not horror. It’s nothing but a weepy, non-creepy variation of Touched by an Angel, Joan of Arcadia, Wonderfalls, etc. Here we have a woman who hears and sees things she does not want to but has to in order to be compelled to put right what went wrong. Tru Calling-lite is what we ought to call this. Tru has a bit of an edge over Whisperer for being in existence first. Ghost Whisperer has only its sad sack attempts to generate nothingness out of pretentious drivel.
2. NO MYSTERY: There is nothing to figure out other than how far Hewitt’s breasts will sag once she hits the same age as Bette Davis was when she played Queen Elizabeth in the Virgin Queen. Sure it seems that each week the Ditz-stery Machine will have to come in contact with a new spooky on the show, but the bus stops there, and the gang just wallows in touchy-feely schlock that kills all of the nerve endings in the base of my brain. Hewitt’s portrayal of a medium comes off as nothing more than a large bit of hookeyness. She seems to have no purpose other than to stand and listen to the ghosts and then do what they want. This could be interesting if there were other repercussions like eternal damnation, insanity, or instant mammography. Instead we get INNER TURMOIL, RELATIONSHIP STRESS, and a lot of CLAIRVOYANT ANGST.
3. NO POINT: There are a lot of supportive spouse talks between Hewitt and her counterpart, an actor I have not the will nor the desire to look up. There are a lot of moments where Hewitt’s character tries to understand the pain of the specter. Jennifer is a two-note wonder type of actress. She either just stares with an “Am I cute?” look on her face, or she stares with a deep loving attempt at looking like she empathizes deeply.
Nowhere in this show is there an ounce of fear, tension, or malicious intent. I do not know what the producers had planned, but this Highway to Heaven style bullshit is not, not, not the basis for a genre show. What I am trying to say is that this is not a show that anyone who calls themselves a horror fan should watch. This is the type of insanity that is corrupting the minds of the horror loving youth of the world. Each time a warm and meaningful moment crosses the screen, we get the same setup: Jennifer Love Hewitt gets teary, and the ghostly specter stares back at her with a deep appreciation. UGH! Every time this happens I have the urge to go Jocasta on my eyes. This is an insult to the genre! It is filth like this that makes me think that desperate measures should be taken to keep horror’s sanctity under protection.
Listed as a co-executive producer is James Van-Praagh, a medium who has a string of books after his name like Talking to Heaven, Reaching to Heaven, Healing Grief – Reclaiming Life After Any Loss, and Heaven and Earth – Making the Psychic Connection. It seems as if this guy is the Dr. Phil for the undead — not the best choice if your goal is make a scary show.
Having a thing such as Ghost Whisperer define what is horror for anyone is an act of treason that the founders of this great land were staunchly against. Their first words in the Constitution read, “We The People…”
This show is not for The People. It is for The Idiots.
Directed by John Gray
Starring Jennifer Love Hewitt, David Conrad, and Aisha Tyler
0 out of 5
Totem Review – It’s Not Always A Bad Thing To Look Up From The Bottom Level, If You Like That View
Starring Kerris Dorsey, James Tupper, Ahna O’Reilly
Directed by Marcel Sarmiento
Following the untimely death of a family’s matriarchal figure, a young woman finds out that managing to hold all of the pieces in place becomes increasingly more difficult when otherworldly infiltrators make their presence felt. We’re going to have to work our way up this Totem, as
17 year old Kellie is the leading lady of the home following the passing of her mother Lexy, and with a needy father and tiny tot of a baby sister, she still keeps things in working order, regardless of the rather large hole that’s been left in the dynamic due to the death. Kellie’s dad after a while decides to ask his lady-friend to move in with the family, so that everyone can move onto a more peaceful existence…yeah, because those types of instances always seem to work seamlessly. As fate would have it, Kellie’s sense of pride is now taking a beating with the new woman in the mix, and her little sister’s new “visitor” is even more disturbed by this intruder – only question is, exactly who is this supernatural pal of sorts? Is it the spirit of their dead mother standing by to keep watch over the family, or is it something that’s found its way to this group, and has much more evil intentions at hand?
What works here is the context of something innately malicious that has found its way into the home – there are only a couple moments that come off as unsettling, but the notion of having to weave through more than half the film acting as a sullen-teen drama is rather painful. The presentation of the “broken family” is one that’s been done to death, and with better results overall, and that’s not to say that the movie is a complete loss, it just takes far too much weeding through at times stale performances and even more stagnant pacing to get to a moderately decent late-stage conclusion to the film. Under the direction of Marcel Sarmiento (Deadgirl), I’d truly hoped for something a bit more along the lines of a disturbing project such as that one, but the only thing disturbing was the time I’d invested in checking this one out. My best advice is to tune into the Lifetime channel if you want a sulky teen-melodrama with a tinge of horror, or you could simply jump into this one and work your way up…but it’s a LONG way to the top.
Sulky, moody, and ridden with teen-angst buried in the middle of a supernatural mystery – SOUNDS like a decent premise, doesn’t it?
IAMX’s Alive in New Light Review – A Dark, Hypnotic, and Stunning Musical Endeavor
Recording eight albums is an achievement no matter the artist, group, or band. This is especially true for Chris Corner’s IAMX, his solo project after the trip hop group Sneaker Pimps, which has enchanted listeners since 2004’s Kiss + Swallow with its dark electronic aesthetic. There’s something fascinating about the music Corner puts out as IAMX. Perhaps it’s the underlying melancholy that seems to pervade the music, almost certainly a result of the musician’s battle with depression and chronic insomnia [Source]. Perhaps it’s the unexpected melodies that reveal themselves with each new measure. Whatever it is, IAMX’s music is a constant delight.
On Alive in New Light, Corner reveals that his eighth album was a product he created as a way of “…breaking free from demons that have long plagued him,” per an official press release. Strangely enough, this uplifting attitude may easily be overlooked but repeat listens unveil a sense of hope and wonder that are simply breathtaking. The title track echoes with almost angelic choir pads that positively shine as Corner exultingly cries in a shimmering falsetto, “I’m alive in new light!” This comes after the Depeche Mode-esque “Stardust”, which offers the first collaboration with Kat Von D, whose pure voice is a beautiful addition to the pulsating track.
The third track, “Break The Chains”, has an opening that immediately called to mind Birds of Tokyo’s “Discoloured”, which is meant as a compliment. It’s followed by the Nine Inch Nails influenced “Body Politics”, which meshes Corner’s crooning vocals with a 90’s industrial backdrop. “Exit” has an almost sinister progression lurking in the background that builds to an aggressive, in-your-face third act. The cinematic Middle Eastern flairs of “Stalker” mutate effortlessly into a heartbeat pulse that features back-and-forth vocals between Corner and Von D. The haunted circus vibe that permeates through “Big Man” is mirrored by its playful gothic aura, ghostly “oohs” and “aahs” sprinkled carefully here and there.
While the album has been a delight up to this point, it’s the final two tracks that took my breath away and left me stunned. “Mile Deep Hollow” builds layer after layer while Corner passionately cries out, “So thank you/you need to know/that you dragged me out/of a mile deep hollow/and I love you/you brought me home/because you dragged me out/of a mile deep hollow.” The way the song’s melodies back these wonderfully uplifting lyrics feels grand and epic, as though a journey is coming to an end, which is where “The Power and the Glory” comes in. Far more subdued, it’s a beautiful song that feels almost like a religious experience, a hymn of a soul that is desperate to claw its way to salvation and escape a life of pain and darkness.
What makes Alive in New Light so wonderful is how much there is to experience. I got the album and listened to it no less than five times in a row without pause. I simply couldn’t turn it off because each return revealed something new in the music. Corner also makes fantastic use of Von D’s vocals, carefully placing them so as to make them a treat and not a commonplace certainty.
While some may be disappointed that there are only nine tracks, each of the songs is carefully and meticulously crafted to be as powerful and meaningful as possible. It really is a stunning accomplishment and I’m nothing short of blown away by how masterfully Alive in New Light plays out.
IAMX’s Alive in New Light is a triumph of music. Full of beauty and confidence, it doesn’t forget the foundation that fans have come to know and love for over a decade but instead embraces that comfortable darkness with open arms. Corner states that this album was a way to break free from his demons. It certainly feels like he’s made peace with them.
The Hatred Review – A History Lesson Dug Up From The Depths Of Hell
Starring Zelda Adams, Lulu Adams, John Law
Directed by John Law
I don’t know about the scholastic interests the masses had (or have) that read all of the killer nuggets that get cranked out on this site, but when I was an academic turd, one of my true passions was history, and it was one of the only subjects that managed to hold my interest, and when the opportunity arose to check out John Law’s ultra-nightmarish feature, The Hatred – I was ready to crack the books once again.
The setting is the Blackfoot Territory in the late 1800s, and the pains of a lengthy conflict have taken their toll on the remaining soldiers as food has become scarce, and the film picks up with soldiers on the march in the brutal cold and snow covered mountainside. In tow is a P.O.W. (Law), and the decision is made by the soldiers to execute him in earnest instead of having to shorten their rations by feeding him, so he is then hung (pretty harshly done), and left to rot as the uniformed men trudge along. A short time later the group encounters a small family on the fringes of the territory, and when the demands for food are rebuked, the slaughter is on and the only survivor is a young girl (Adams) who prays to an oblivious god that she can one day reap the seeds of revenge upon those who’ve murdered her family. We all know that there are usually two sides to any story, and when the good ear isn’t listening, the evil one turns its direction towards those who need it most, and that’s when the Devil obliges.
The answer to the young girl’s prayers comes in the resurrection of the prisoner that was hung a short time ago, and he has been dubbed “Vengeance” – together their goal will be achieved by harshly dishing out some retribution, and the way it’s presented is drawn-out, almost like you’re strapped into the front-row pew of a hellfire-cathedral and force-fed the sermon of an evil voice from the South side of the tracks. It’s vicious and beautiful all at once, Law’s direction gives this visually-striking presentation all the bells and whistles to please even the harshest of critics (hell, you’re reading the words of one right now). The performances, while a bit stoic in nature, still convey that overall perception of a wrong that demands to be righted, no matter how morally mishandled it might be. Overall, I can absolutely recommend The Hatred for not only those wanting a period-piece with ferocious-artistry, but for others who continue to pray with no response, and are curious to see what the other side can offer.
The Hatred is a visually-appealing look into the eyes of animus, and all of the beauty of returning the harm to those who have awarded it to others.
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