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wreck season 2 2024

WRECK – SERIES 2

4 Stars  2024/274m

Directors: Louis Paxton, Chris Baugh / Writer: Ryan J. Brown, Ellie Kenderick / Cast: Oscar Kennedy, Thaddea Graham, Jodie Tyack, Harriet Webb, Peter Claffey, Miya Ocego, Alice Nokes, Amber Grappy, Warren James Dunning,  Niamh Walsh, Greg Austin, Joseph Arkley, Alan Dale, Orlando Newman, Anthony Rickman, Buck Braithwaite, Sam Buttery, Carolyn Bracken, Shaheen Jafargholi.

Body Count: 25

Laughter Lines: “She’s the worst person I’ve ever met – and I went to stage school.”


Gonna be honest, I didn’t expect there to be a second series of Wreck, the BBCs LGBTQ-peppered horror comedy series which, initially, skewered cruise ship culture for laughs and scares. For all its in-jokes (both horror and homo), nobody else seemed to be talking about it. The good news is that it must’ve done something right, because here we are again – and it’s even better than before.

After escaping The Sacramentum, pals-by-trauma Jamie and Vivian find exposing parent company Velorum for their Elite Hunting-esque set up impossible. The company either pays off potential witnesses or disposes of them – a fate which quickly befalls a number of the surviving crew members.

wreck series 2 2024 main cast

Meanwhile, in the beautiful woods of Slovenia (been there, it is that lush), a Velorum-backed hippie festival, Exodum, is about to launch. Headed up by the company owner’s daughter Devon (see Laughter Lines), it seems nothing has changed and bright young things who came to work there find themselves put aside for the killing pleasures of rich clientele.

Jamie and Vivian, along with the ever-loveable Cormac and Rosie, Lauren, and a reluctant Sophia (until her friends are murdered) meet up with inside-man Ben to try and save themselves from a pair of duck-masked killers, one of whom possesses Jason-like invulnerability. Also in attendance? Jamie’s ‘dead’ sister, Pippa, who makes it clear she and something of a resistance network are already on the case and intend to stick it to Velorum, with a little help from an unlikely source.

wreck series 2 2024

I watched Wreck S2 in the same week that I was involved in a conversation that mourned Scream‘s recent reluctance to raise the stakes and kill its darlings, something that is not a problem for Ryan J. Brown; characters we liked and even loved are not spared the business end of a blade this time, which adds an emotional weight to proceedings, rather than just bussing in a new serving of clueless schmucks as knife fodder. Look out for the scene with the heavy oak door and the pitchfork – sad, brutal, daring. It pays off.

Beyond the sad though, Wreck wrecks me with its humour. Sharp, cutting dialogue flies off the screen at locomotive pace (“despite the sensible shoes, I’m not a fur trader”) and the light disdain for festival culture (“this is some white people shiiit”) is endlessly amusing. The reassembly of the quirky, diverse group of underdog heroes is where it scores most impressively though, drawing out their likeable all-for-one qualities, albeit mocked by the bad guys, and keeping us rooting for them right to the end.

wreck series 2

Season 3 don’t wait too long!

Blurb-of-interest: Alan Dale was in Houseboat Horror.

Things that are

seance 2021

SEANCE

2.5 Stars  2021/93m

“A joke might have caused an awakening.”

Director/Writer: Simon Barrett / Cast: Suki Waterhouse, Ella-Rae Smith, Inanna Sarkis, Madisen Beaty, Stephanie Sy, Marina Stephenson, Seamus Patterson, Djouliet Amara, Jade Michael, Megan Best.

Body Count: 6


Spoilers. The epitome of average, Seance – ‘from the creators of You’re Next and Orphan‘ – leads us to believing that a group of boarding school girls have conjured up the vengeful spirit of a past student who committed suicide there in the 90s. A prank orchestrated by a couple of them seemingly scares poor bookish Kerrie to death, as the others find her dead on the ground outside minutes after she fled.

Shortly after, taking Kerrie’s space is British girl Camille, who almost instantly finds herself in the crosshairs of bitchy chief-prankster Alice. Seven girls are given detention and decide to try to contact Kerrie through a homemade spirit board and, thereafter, the girls begin meeting their maker as they find excuses to go off on their own. Is it the ghost? Is it Kerrie? It’s certainly someone in a papier-mache drama class mask.

Remarkably, after a series of disappearances and ‘accidental deaths’, the headmistress doesn’t close the school and send everyone home, allowing the killer to continue offing the pack, until we arrive at the now-requisite girl-tied-to-a-chair-for-exposition scene.

With such a small cast, the killer’s identity is no real surprise. The motive though, what the actual fuck? Covering up a stolen essay. For real. Fortunately, Seance has another trick up its sleeve, albeit not game changing, it at least provides some context, and a couple of the kills towards the end are pretty gnarly. I know I won’t remember a damn thing about this a year from now.

In the shadow of the rainbow

cruising 1980

CRUISING

4 Stars  1980/18/102m

“Al Pacino is cruising for a killer.”

Director/Writer: William Friedkin / Writer: Gerald Walker / Cast: Al Pacino, Paul Sorvino, Richard Cox, Karen Allen, Don Scardino, Joe Spinell, Jay Acovone, Randy Jurgensen, James Remar, Ed O’Neill, William Russ, Powers Boothe, Gene Davis.

Body Count: 5

Laughter Lines: “C’mere. I wanna show you my night stick.”


How many 80s/90s films dealt with ye olde sexy police woman going undercover as a stripper/hooker/exotic dancer to weed out a serial killer? Tons. Literally, this was the plot to every third steamy late night cable thriller back in the day.

So it says quite a bit about social attitudes that inverting the template, inserting a male cop into a gay environment where he has to blend in – really blend in – resulted in critics mauling the film, protesting from gay rights groups concerned about the depictions in the film, and, to this day, fierce online debates about it all.

cruising 1980 shades

Friedkin’s bleak, grimy film takes place in ’79-’80 New York City, where the discovery of dismembered body parts in the Hudson River leads investigating detectives to trace victims to the seedy underground leather scene. Enter Pacino’s Steve Burns, selected by his superior given his physical similarity to several of the victims. Burns agrees (somewhat eagerly) to go undercover and infiltrate the community to try and lure the killer.

His girlfriend (Allen) is kept in the dark and, as Burns goes deeper into the clubs, bars, and general life, he finds himself torn in two directions. The leather-clad, silky voiced killer, meanwhile, continues slaying men in public park cruising grounds and a porno theater, often heard singing a little rhyme in a creepy tone. The cops begin focusing on a suspect who works in a steakhouse that has many of the same type of knife being used, and Burns hangs out with his sweet natured playwright neighbour, Ted.

cruising al pacino paul sorvino 1980

Friedkin deliberately fucks with us throughout, changing which actor plays the killer more than once in difference scenes to disorientate and confuse – at one point, an actor who played the killer then switches to be the next victim (although all are overdubbed by James Sutorius). Such is the interchangeability of the larger situation, the homogenic aesthetics of the scene, and the ambiguity around the film’s coda.

Cruising is a confronting vehicle, likely especially for heterosexual audiences in 1980, with the added discomfort of watching men casually and intimately touch the ‘straight’ lead. Gay men remain divided on it; at a time then gay rights were gaining a little bit of traction (just prior to the AIDS crisis), protestors saw the film (based on a novel and a series of genuine, unsolved murders) as a step back towards optics they were trying to distance themselves from: Predatory, sex-fuelled, vampire-esque lifestyles of hedonism that, by day, could be the guy at the store, at the gas station, waiting your table…

cruising 1980 al pacino

Around 40 minutes of footage was excised over around fifty submissions to the MPAA which, according to Friedkin, mostly consisted of X-rated antics captured at the clubs. It does feel like something is missing as we speed towards the end, but the is-it-or-isn’t-it note things end on is, it seems, likely intentional and plays into the is-he-or-isn’t-he nature of existing as a gay person in society, especially at that point.

But it is a slasher film? Hmm… like a leather daddy straddles his sub, Cruising can play around with versatility. More than enough is borrowed from stalk n’ slash antics for it to be of interest (oddly, the film it reminded me of most was Maniac, from which Joe Spinell plays a skeezy beat cop here). It’s probably too high-end, too polished, despite the filthy gutter it plays in, to qualify, but …why the hell not? Taste the rainbow.

cruising 1980 al pacino

Decidedly not for all audiences – gay or straight – relievingly non-judgmental about the counter culture it explores, and exquisitely shot. Have fun spotting all the before-they-were-famous faces: Ed O’Neill, Powers Boothe, James Remar, Burr DeBenning.

Blurbs-of-interest: Don Scardino was the lead in He Knows You’re Alone; Joe Spinell was also in The Last Horror Movie; James Remar was in The Surgeon; Gene Davis (the crossdressing informant, DaVinci) played the nudie killer in 10 to Midnight; Burr DeBenning was in A Nightmare on Elm Street 5.

Doll Domination

chucky season 2 2022

CHUCKY – SEASON 2

2.5 Stars  2022/381m

Directors: Jeff Renfroe, Samir Rehem, Don Mancini, Leslie Libman, John Hyams / Writers: Don Mancini, Kim Garland, Rachael Paradis, Mallory Westfall, Nick Zigler, Alex Delyle, Isabella Gutierrez, Amanda Blanchard / Cast: Zackary Arthur, Bjorgvin Arnarson, Alyvia Alyn Lind, Brad Dourif, Devon Sawa, Fiona Dourif, Jennifer Tilly, Bella Higginbotham, Rosemary Dunsmore, Lachlan Watson, Alex Vincent, Christine Elise, Andrea Carter, Lara Jean Chorostecki, Meg Tilly, Barbara Alyn Woods, Carina Battrick, Billy Boyd.

Body Count: 15

Laughter Lines: “You’re worried about me? There’s a corpse in the closet and a killer doll on the loose – I’m worried about me.”


Given the ajar ending of Season 1it was pretty clear that we’d be coming back to the valley of the dolls, which rapidly ties up how things were left off, with Andy in the truck o’ Good Guy Dolls, at (doll) Tiffany’s gunpoint. He succeeds in driving it over a cliff and everybody thinks the nightmare is over.

Several months later, Jake and Devon have been fostered by other families far apart, while Lexy is attending therapy at the behest of her politically-thirsty mom and liberally popping pills to get through each day. When the three of them reunite on Halloween, Chucky reappears to finish them off and ends up detonating a bomb that kills Jake’s pre-teen foster brother. Naturally blamed and written off as problem kids, the trio are packed off to the Catholic School of the Incarnate Lord – Charles Lee Ray’s boyhood residence – ruled by the rather dogmatic Father Bryce (Devon Sawa, but reportedly no relation to either of his earlier characters).

chucky season 2 2022

Bad kids galore should provide a buffet of meat for Chucky to torment, a la the military academy seen way back in Child’s Play 3, but instead Season 2 embarks on a rather restrained path, with the few remaining dolls being quickly dealt with and, in one case, deprogrammed and turned into a Good Good Guy, who Jake quickly believes, along with new team member, Nadine.

Meanwhile, Tiffany struggles to prop up her Jennifer Tilly identity, and, when non-binary twins Glen and Glenda arrive for a visit, they’re accompanied by Jennifer’s real-life sister Meg, Gina Gershon, Joe Pantoliano, Sutton Stracke, and a mysterious butler. The episode openly excludes the other narrative entirely, functioning as a bizarre farce that ends with quad-amputee Nica being liberated, while Chucky ‘presents’ to the audience. It’s a weird bump in the road, exploiting Tilly’s comedic muscle, but sadly really sucks you out of the flow, reminding me of a review I saw way back when that posited the series has become a bit of an in-joke that only Tilly and Don Mancini are in on.

chucky season 2 2022

Things eventually realign: Kyle and Andy return, the priests and nuns finally face up to the reality of Chucky, the kids fall out, make up, fall out, make up, and then it kinda stops with one episode to go. In the finale, we leap another few months forward, to Christmas, back in Hackensack, where the final Chucky doll makes a play for the kids one last time, and Tiffany, now wanted for murder, tries to get her mitts on a new doll to transfer herself into.

Where the movies had slowed to an instalment every few years, the demands of a 10-part series and all of the criss-crossing storylines built up over thirty-plus years becomes an entanglement difficult to write itself out of. Consequently, the result is choppy and peppered with ideas and concepts seen in earlier movies as various character motivations collide. Dare I say, Mancini might need to kill some of his darlings for the next season to up the stakes.

chucky season 2 2022

Blurbs-of-interest: Dourif’s other slasher film credits include Color of NightTraumaUrban LegendChain LetterDead Scared, Rob Zombie’s Halloween and its sequel; Jennifer Tilly was also in The Caretaker and Far From Home; Devon Sawa was Alex in Final Destination; Meg Tilly was in Psycho II.

Embarrassing Bodies Bodies Bodies

bodies bodies bodies 2022

BODIES BODIES BODIES

“This is not a safe space.”

1 Stars  2022/15/94m

Director: Halina Reijn / Writers: Sarah DeLappe, Kristen Roupenian / Cast: Amandla Stenberg, Maria Bakalova, Myha’la Herrold, Rachel Sennott, Chase Sui Wonders, Pete Davidson, Lee Pace.

Body Count: 5

Laughter Lines: “And you know what? Your parents are Upper. Middle. Class.”


Somewhat ironically, I saw a TikTok skit where a group of TV producers pitched a Real Housewives-esque show called ‘Women Screaming at Each Other’. Beware spoilers spoilers spoilers.

A group of privileged young folks gather for a ‘Hurricane Party’ at the sprawling mansion owned by David’s family. To this comes the recently-done-with-rehab Sophie – David’s childhood best friend – and her new girlfriend, Bee.

Mid-drinks n’ drugs, the power goes out – crucially taking out with it the wifi – and the group elect to play the titular game (‘Murder in the Dark’ to most of us), warning newcomers Bee and Greg that it could get ugly. Accusations and arguments ensue, with Greg out first, then David, who storms off, only to appear a short while later outside the window, throat slashed.

bodies bodies bodies 2022

Those still awake – all the girls – suspect Greg and shit goes down, but they soon find out they’re wrong when another body turns up, leading to a total breakdown of the group, mucho name calling, backstabbing, and more death. When it’s just Sophie and Bee left, fighting each other, they stumble upon David’s phone, and on it a video showing him trying to record a TikTok of him sabring a champagne bottle and accidentally cutting his own throat.

The gag? There was no killer – just paranoia. This revelation comes literally seconds before the end and is, bluntly, way too little too late after 90 minutes of people walking around in the dark and little else.

bodies bodies bodies 2022

For a film written and directed by women, the core message stemming from all of this seems to be that girls are stupid and irrational. That the proximate cause of it all was a man’s stupidity might be the intended conclusion here, but once it’s over, it’s only the female characters who have been drawn as nasty backstabbers, all male characters are effectively absolved of responsibility due to their absences. The Slumber Party Massacre remake dealt with this much, much better.

It’s an overarching jab at Gen-Z networking; the four-way row that sees the girls screaming about being gaslit, triggered, emotionally abused – “I can’t believe you’re making this about you!” It’s the best scene, and if you’ve witnessed an online argument in the past five years, you’re going to hear most of the terms used here.

bodies bodies bodies 2022

An interview with director Reijn revealed that the crumbling of trust is activated by the loss of wifi, reducing the capabilities of the youngsters to otherwise function, a joke that ends the film, the last line of which is: “I have reception”.

Tech-addiction allegories notwithstanding, Bodies is just boring. Really fucking boring. A 30-minute anthology segment may have been the best showcase for such a slight, oh-was-that-it? punchline, but still too long exposure to the least likeable bunch of characters you’re ever likely to see on screen. I don’t know if there’s a genuine inability to write characters we might – gasp! – care about, or just a casual disinterest.

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