Masters of Horror: Pro-Life (TV) - Dread Central
Connect with us

Reviews

Masters of Horror: Pro-Life (TV)

Published

on

Pro-Life reviewStarring Ron Perlman, Caitlin Wachs, Mark Feuerstein, Emmanuelle Vaugier

Directed by John Carpenter

Original Airdate: November 24th, 2006


***WARNING: This review contains spoilers***

This is a very difficult episode for me to review. Normally when I do these, I watch it and bang out a review right away while my feelings are still fresh (and so we can get a review up quickety-split), but this time I had to watch the episode twice … and then sleep on it … and I’m still not entirely sure how I feel about it. Maybe that’s a good thing, and maybe it’s not…

“Pro-Life” is set up to be a controversial episode in the annals of Masters of Horror history given its subject matter (and if you can’t tell from its title, I’m not giving anything away telling you most of the drama takes place in an abortion clinic). It begins with a couple Mark Feuerstein (Dr. O’Shea) and Emmanuelle Vaugier driving in to work as they playfully argue with each other … Vaugier is attempting to remind Feuerstein that they’re trying to conceal their relationship from the rest of the staff, most especially their boss, Dr. Kiefer. Despite some adorably clever banter (the script was written by Drew McWeeny aka Moriarty of AICN and Scott Swan, the same duo who did “Cigarette Burns”) in which she tells him he might as well purchase a t-shirt emblazoned with “I GOT LAID LAST NIGHT” for mornings such as these and he quips back with a charming smile (and Feuerstein does have a charming smile), “They have those?”, I just didn’t buy the chemistry between the two. At no point throughout the episode did they actually feel like a couple.

Amid their sweet nothings, we get interspersed shots of a young woman, Angelique (Caitlin Wachs), running through the forest, obviously being pursued by something or someone. And of course, within mere minutes, these two scenes collide – or nearly collide – as the two lovebirds narrowly avoid hitting the girl as she runs into the road. They leap from the car to ascertain her wellbeing and assure her they are, at this very minute, on their way to a clinic, where they will take her and examine her thoroughly to ensure she’s all right … and with the barest nod of her head, they pile her into the car and are back on the road! This all happens fairly quickly and seems a little strange to me – it struck me as a little unbelievable that a doctor would just scoop her up into the car and drive off with her – but I guess it’s a small nitpick.

The trio reach the clinic, which is gated and guarded, shortly ahead of an ominous red van that neither Angelique nor the staff are happy to see – and as they whisk her inside, this is where the fun begins. Inside the van is Angelique’s father, Dwayne Burcell (Perlman, who is fantastic as always). Dwayne is no stranger to the guys at the clinic; in fact they have a restraining order barring him from coming closer than 500 yards, hinting that he’s gotten up to some trouble in the past, most likely having to do with his militant anti-abortion beliefs. But this is a little different as this time they have his daughter and he’s determined to get her back. The staff inside quickly learns that not only is Angelique several months pregnant, but they suspect that the baby is the product of rape and incest and that is the reason she was running from her father and insisting she only got pregnant last Saturday… and that God wants them to kill her baby.

Of course, while all this is going on inside, Dwayne is outside, plotting how to get his daughter back. He and his passel of commando sons contrive a plan to cut the clinic’s phone lines and then go in and take Angelique by force, during which time Dwayne prays … and receives a message from God: Protect the baby. Once the group enter the clinic compound, gorehounds are going to get satisfied with some really great FX shots; this episode doesn’t run with rivers of blood, but what’s it got is pretty gruesome. However, it’s once they’re inside that things started to feel a little off kilter for me. Feuerstein and Vaugier now become sort of background characters, there merely to react to Angelique’s strange pregnancy. And Dwayne…

It’s Dwayne’s self-professed goal just to get Angelique and get out without hurting anyone (or at least that’s what he tells his sons), and yet he spends most of the episode confronting Dr. Kiefer in a rather gruesome scene (Note to potential viewers: Don’t watch this while eating tacos, I made that mistake) while down the hall his daughter quickly comes to term and goes into labor with the demon seed inside her and shrieks in pain. I considered that he just really doesn’t care about her, but once Dwayne finds Angelique, he tenderly takes her hand and prays to God that she won’t die, even thinking that she’s had an abortion, which doesn’t gel with a man who doesn’t care about his daughter.

But I’m a nitpicker, so maybe they just have soundproof walls … at an abortion clinic for some reason. Anyway, moving on; it’s at this point that Daddy shows up! That’s right, Daddy is the big bad demon monster most people have seen the stills of and he is pretty badass looking. I really felt for poor little Angelique getting raped by that monster. I hate to be a spoiler for those of you who haven’t seen it yet but don’t get all excited. Daddy doesn’t really do … well, much of anything. He kills a couple of people, I think, We don’t actually see any of it. And that’s about it. This battle is really between Angelique and her father. He believes God wants her child to live and she believes God wants her child to die. And in the end, it turns out she was right and Daddy picks up his dead demon spawn and walks away.

At the end of the day, I can tell you what I liked about this episode; it looked good (almost all of the Masters of Horror episodes do), and the acting was fairly decent (although some of the random commando sons were a little melodramatic), and I like that it had something to say. I think horror as a vehicle for social and political commentary is a powerful tool. The sound design was nice too (I blame Uncle Creepy and The Woman In Black for my recent focus of attention on this particular arena); at one point there’s this great, subtle constantly fast ticking that was putting me on edge and took me several minutes before I realized was coming from my TV and not a stopwatch somewhere in my house. The music was nicely done, and even the secondary characters were interesting (although I could have done without the asshole father in the waiting room).

I’m not so sure I can easily list what I didn’t like. The ending was a letdown for sure, but that wasn’t all. Perhaps it was that, while it was obvious the filmmakers meant to take a stand on the issue, that’s really all there was to it. In the end, it felt as if the story needed less politics and more meat.

3 out of 5

Discuss “Pro-Life” in our forums!

Get this site 100% Ad Free Support Us on Patreon!
Continue Reading
Comments

Reviews

AHS: Cult Review – Clowns, Cults, Politics, and Peters

Published

on

Starring Evan Peters, Sarah Paulson, Billie Lourd, Cheyenne Jackson, Frances Conroy, Mare Winningham, and Allison Pill

Created by Ryan Murphy and Brad Falchuk


** NO SPOILERS **

It’s here. We’ve reached the end. The newest season of “American Horror Story” has ended and now we are here to provide you guys with our season review of AHS: Cult.

Spoiler free.

To start things off let me say I’m not the world’s biggest fan of “American Horror Story”. It breaks down like this: I enjoyed the absolute hell out of the first season of the series (“Murder House”), couldn’t get through “Asylum” (I know, I know, I’ve tried), dug “Coven” for what it was, really enjoyed “Freak Show”, and again I couldn’t get into “Hotel” or “Roanoke”.

That’s the story of me and “American Horror Story”. Plain And simple. But what did I think of the new seventh season of the notorious horror anthology series? Let’s find out.

Back when the seventh season of AHS was first announced (then going by the title “AHS: Election”) I was immediately intrigued by the new season because I heard it would not include any supernatural elements. Like the fourth season, “Freak Show”.

Now I’m a fan of ghosts and weird creature-men with drills for d*cks, don’t get me wrong. But the series has thus far relied almost exclusively on horrors of the supernatural variety (other than “Freak Show”) so this major change of pace was again welcomed by this guy.

Instead of vampires, aliens, and witches this season relied on terrors of the mind. Psychological fears and anxieties. The horrors man does to man. Deep issues.

Oh, and clowns. Like a lot of clowns.

But just because this new season didn’t include anything supernatural, that doesn’t mean the 11-episode season wasn’t filled with twisted visuals and horrifically disturbing acts. No, sir. This season boasted some showstoppers including S&M, gimps, and a house of horrors that wouldn’t be out of place in a Rob Zombie flick. It was all good.

But let’s backtrack a bit here.

Allow me to rundown the season’s plot for those who may be unaware. “AHS: Cult” tells the tale of a world post-election night. The literal dawn of Trump’s America. In one corner we have Sarah Paulson’s soccer mom, trying to fight through life with a series of crippling phobias (including clowns, holes, blood, and being a good person).

And in the other corner, we have Evan Peter’s angry, white (blue-haired) male, looking to seize Trump’s new position of power to bring about the end of… Actually, I want this to be a spoiler-free season review, so I’m just going to say the dude’s got big plans.

Like Manson-size plans. Let’s leave it at that.

With these two characters established, the new season then proceeds to send them spiraling into a collision course of political sabotage, intrigue, and clown-based nope, nope, nope-ing that can only end with one – or both – of them dead as Dillinger.

Overall “AHS: Cult” belonged end-to-end to Mr. Evan Peters. The young actor has continued to show his striking range from season to season of Ryan Murphy’s horror show and this season was no different. Peters’ turn as not only Kai, the blue-haired leader of the titular cult, but as infamous leaders such as David Koresh, Jim Jones, and Charles Manson – to name a few – owed this season.

I can only hope he doesn’t pull a Jessica Lange and opt-out of more AHS next year.

Speaking of top performances, “AHS: Cult ” showcases some other chilling and memorable turns with Alison Pill’s strangely vulnerable, put-upon wife character being the best next to Peters in my eyes. This actress needs to be in more films/TV!

Along with Pill, actress Billie Lourd killed it time and time again. The “Scream Queens” breakout star and Carrie Fisher spawn was yet again a highlight in her second Ryan Murphy series. Bet she has the starring role in next season. Mark my words.

Add to that, the season also boasts a handful of fun cameos, including John Carroll Lynch’s return as Twisty the Clown, Emma Roberts as a bitchy reporter that will do anything to end up on top, and Lena Dunham as SCUM Manifesto writer Valerie Solanas. The cameo cast killed it and I wish they would have been present for more episodes. What are you gonna do?

On the sour side of the season, I didn’t dig Sarah Paulson’s character. At all. But I’m sure that was the point. Right? I’m still not sure. But, boy, I wouldn’t even want to be stuck in line behind her at a Starbucks for three minutes, let alone spend the better part of this season’s 11-hours with her and her whiny bullshite. Urgh.

That said, she pulled it out by the finale. That’s all I’ll say.

In the end, I enjoyed this season as much as – if not more – than any other of the series. “Murder House” will still no doubt go on as my favorite season of the series, but “AHS: Cult” will rank third after season one and “Freak Show”.

While I was on the fence about the season after three episodes, the show ended up ditching Paulson’s character (and/or shifting her arch) after a lull so the episodes picked up quickly. Whenever the season turned its focus back towards Peters (in whichever incarnation he was playing at the time) the show got better and better. Every time.

Not a bad way to spend my Tuesday night for the past 11 weeks.

Bring on season 12.

  • American Horror Story: Cult (2018)
3.5

Summary

The seventh season of Ryan Murphy’s American Horror Story was Evan Peters’ show all the way through. The young actor pulled out all the stops time and time again to make what may have been a lackluster supernatural-free season a winner.

Sending
User Rating 4.43 (7 votes)
Get this site 100% Ad Free Support Us on Patreon!
Continue Reading

News

The Axiom Review – A Stylish and Clever Slice of Independent Horror

Published

on

By

Starring Hattie Smith, Zac Titus, Nicole Dambro

Directed by Nicholas Woods


The Axiom is an ambitious, well directed, impressively acted and stunningly shot independent horror film that has just a few, teensy little flaws holding it back from greatness (and therefore will have to settle for just being really, really good, instead).

The first thing you realize when watching The Axiom is that this is a beautiful film. Everything is framed and shot in a lush and stylish manner, but one which is always tonally appropriate for the scene.

The second thing you’ll notice, and keep noticing as the film plays out, is that the movie really struck gold with this cast. Not only is there a total lack of the sort of stilted and unnatural acting seen in countless other microbudget horror affairs, but the performances are genuinely fantastic across the board. The main characters are believably chill and relatably normal in the early scenes, and the acting remains just as impressive once things start getting a bit more… intense. It’s not often that an independent horror film has so many good performances that it makes it hard to pick the movie’s acting VIP, but that is undeniably the case here. Taylor Flowers delivers what is probably the showiest performance (and does it very well, indeed), but the entire cast really is quite good.

The central premise of the film is both interesting and original, and touches upon the real life fact (given some recent attention in the ‘Missing 411’ books and documentary) that a lot more people sure seem to go missing out in the woods than seems reasonable, while simultaneously weaving all sorts of folklore, fairy tales and urban legends into the mix. It’s also clever in the way that it very naturally reveals aspects to the relationships between characters that serve to later – or sometimes retroactively – explain some of the more questionable decisions they make or attitudes they display. While that may sound like screenwriting 101, it’s surprising how many films fail to do this. The Axiom rewards the viewer’s attention in other ways as well, with many aspects of the movie that initially feel odd or unnatural receiving reasonable explanations (within the context of the movie) by the end. It’s not quite as challenging (or as rewarding) in this regard as, say, something like Session 9, but it does add a nice layer of complexity to the storytelling.

The film’s score, by Leo Kaliski, is also quite good. There may be a moment here or there where the music hits an overly familiar beat, but overall it not only fits the movie’s tone, but does quite a bit to help set that tone as well.

The only thing that I don’t feel the movie quite pulls off – and I’m trying to be vague here, because I feel like the less you know going into this film, the better – is some of the makeup effects work. The gore stuff is very well executed, but some of the other stuff feels like it was crafted with the intention of shooting it in a more… stylized manner. Instead, filmed as it is here, the result is sometimes less than impressive and can fail to make the impact that the movie seems to be implying that it should. And while some of what the makeup effects lack in execution is made up for with the ingenuity and creativity of their design, it’s still a bit of a shame when they don’t quite pull them off because, aside from a few niggles that I have with the writing, the effects are the only aspect of the film that occasionally fails to live up to the high level of technical proficiency that The Axiom otherwise demonstrates.

ADDITIONAL THOUGHTS:

  • Man, the acting in this movie is really good. The dialogue may stumble once or twice, but these actors always sell it anyway.
  • Give back Mia Sara’s DNA, Hattie Smith!
  • If you’re going to put your female lead in shorts this small, I hope you’re not sensitive to viewers unleashing a nonstop parade of “Has anyone seen my pants / OH GOD WHERE ARE MY PANTS!” jokes.
  • “You just pop this here ‘Blair Witch Stick Person / Anarchy sign’ sticker up on that there windshield of yours, and them park rangers? Well – heh heh – they won’t bother you none, no sir.” Hmmmmm…
  • The film really is shot amazingly well – better than a lot of mainstream releases. Cinematographer Sten Olson has a real future ahead of him.
  • As does writer / director Nicholas Woods, for that matter. Any director who can get this level of quality out of their cast and crew on their first ever film is someone to keep an eye on.
  • “I’ll make a run for it and get help,” says the female lead, and I’m like “Yeah, let her go – she has no pants to weigh her down.”
  • The gore effects in the movie are both realized and utilized very well.
  • Welcome back to horror movies, “I’ll be right back” dialogue spoken unironically by and/or to ill-fated characters.
  • The Axiom
4.0

Summary

In the end, The Axiom is a solid and entertaining flick that manages to wring a level of quality and originality out of the somewhat tired “Don’t Go in the Woods” horror subgenre not seen since 2012’s Cabin in the Woods. The cinematography and acting are hugely impressive, it features a nice, unnerving score, the premise is original and captivating, and the whole thing moves at a nice pace that helps keep the film’s flaws from dragging it down.

Sending
User Rating 4.14 (14 votes)
Get this site 100% Ad Free Support Us on Patreon!
Continue Reading

Reviews

The Dollmaker Short Film Review – Welcome to Heebie Jeebie City!

Published

on

Starring Perri Lauren, Sean Meehan, Dan Berkey

Directed by Alan Lougher


The loss of a young child drives a mother to take a set of unusual measures to preserve his memory, and all it takes is one call to The Dollmaker.

When the short film by Alan Lougher opens up, we see a rather disturbing image of a little boy inside a casket, and the sound of a grieving mom speaking with an unidentified man in the background – he’s requesting something personal of the child to help “finish” his product, and it’s not before long that mom has her little boy back…well, kind of. What remains of the child is the representation of his former self, although it’s contained within the frame of a not-so-attractive doll, and the boy’s father isn’t a believer in this type of hocus-pocus (or the price to have this constructed, either). The doll comes with a specific set of instructions, but most importantly, you cannot spend more than one hour a day with the doll, or else you’ll go mad thinking that the soul inside of it is actually the person that you lost – sounds reasonable, doesn’t it?

Well this is just too good to be true for Mommy, and as the short film progresses, we’ll just have to wait and see what happens to her mind – it’s ultimately a depressing scenario, but Lougher gives it that creepy feel, almost like visiting a relative’s home and seeing their dearly departed pet stuffed and staring at you over the fireplace – HEEBIE-JEEBIE CITY, if you ask me. All in all, the quickie is gloomy, but ultimately chilling in nature, and is most definitely worth a watch, and if I might use a quote from one of my favorite films to apply to this subject matter: “Sometimes…dead is better.”

  • Film
3.5

Summary

Ultimately chilling in nature!

Sending
User Rating 3.41 (17 votes)
Get this site 100% Ad Free Support Us on Patreon!
Continue Reading

Go Ad Free!

Support Dread Central on Patreon!

Join the Box of Dread Mailing List

* indicates required

From Around the Web

Trending