TV Review Archive 81 (Episode 3)

Archive 81

Hey horror fanatics it’s me Slick Dungeon, back to review another episode of the Netflix series Archive 81. Just a quick warning there may be spoilers for the first three episodes below so be warned before we get going.

The first episode set our story up with Dan being hired to restore videotapes found after a fire at a building called the Visser. Through these tapes we see the perspective of Melody who is doing a study of the residents of the building. The second episode ratcheted up the connection between the two characters by revealing *spoiler* Melody was being treated for mental health issues by Dan’s father. There is also the potential implication that the two of them possibly had an affair.

While watching these tapes Dan keeps seeing things that don’t make sense. He sees strange images at times, there is a song on the tapes he knows his sister played right before she died in a fire, and there seem to be times where Dan is almost talking directly to Melody.

In this episode, it gets weird. There are times as a viewer where we can’t tell if Dan is dreaming, hallucinating, or somehow actually seeing what it seems like he is seeing. We get more of the backstory of Melody in this episode and start to see that almost everyone at the Visser has something more going on than what it appears on the surface.

There is a subplot with a girl named Jess who seems to have some kind of seizures on a regular basis. While in real life when we would see this happen, we’d all probably have Melody’s reaction which is to want her taken to a doctor to be treated, this is a horror show, so there has to be more to it than that. There is a priest and Jess’ mother who seem to think exorcism is the right approach. There’s clearly some connection between the Visser, Jess, Melody, Dan and Dan’s father all happening at once but it’s still too early to say what it is.

I think one of the most interesting things about this series is that it’s kind of subverting the trope of someone being stuck in an isolated space where horror is happening. While Dan is largely on his own, and he knows this can be bad, the company he works for seems to have people watching him. They have cameras everywhere but they also have a groundskeeper woman who seems to know way more about what he is doing than she should.

This flips the script a bit because usually we want to scream at people to leave the location they are stuck in. Dan can actually leave, and does. But still, there’s something about these tapes and Melody that keep calling back to him. In addition, there were a couple of big reveals in this episode. I won’t get into them here just in case people haven’t watched this far but there was one story with Dan’s friend on the outside that really surprised me and again subverted expectations.

So far, this show is really clever and ratchets up the horror to a high degree without showing much gore or anything overly gruesome. I’m really curious where it will go next.

Horrifically yours,

Slick Dungeon

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TV Review Archive 81 (Episode 2)

Archive 81

Hey horror fans, it’s me, Slick Dungeon back to review the second episode of the hit horror series Archive 81 on Netflix. Be warned there will be some spoilers for episode one and two below. If you’re ready, set your camera down and take a look at the review below!

The first episode of this series did a good job of setting up a mystery with our main characters Dan and Melody. Dan is in our present while Melody is in our past. Melody was making a series of videos for an academic paper on a building called the Visser. Dan restores old film, video tapes, etc. for a career. Dan was hired by the mysterious group known as LMG to restore tapes recovered from a fire at the Visser.

This episode gets into strange territory, starting with a commercial for some kind of DNA tracing technology by a company called Wellspring. This also happens to be the name of the episode. The commercial was so realistic I honestly wondered for a moment if Netflix had suddenly begun putting ads in its shows.

The story moves forward with Dan restoring more tapes and us seeing flashbacks of Melody. On Dan’s end it’s clear people are watching him and he has limited access to the outside world. On Melody’s side she meets more of the residents of the building and let’s just say, they are far from normal. There definitely seems to be something under the surface that is out and out creepy. It’s too early to tell exactly what it is yet but definitely enough to make the viewer want to keep watching.

As the episode goes on we see more of a connection between Dan and Melody. They seem to be connected as Dan’s father has now shown up on the tapes. There is also a clear connection due to a song that Dan hears but is also showing up in the tapes with Melody.

Around the last third of the episode things get very bizarre for Melody and the threat of impending doom is palpable to the viewer.

This second episode is continuing the trend of having a pretty major reveal near the end. I’m not going to say what it is here but I can see why people have been binging this one. I’ll hold my judgement over the whole show until the end but so far the first two episodes have been well worth the time.

Horrifically yours,

Slick Dungeon

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TV Review – Archive 81 (Episode 1)

Archive 81

Hey movie fanatics, it’s me, Slick Dungeon, here to give a quick guide to the first episode of the hottest horror series on Netflix right now, Archive 81. There will be some mild spoilers below so be forewarned. I’ll be posting through the first season’s episodes but I have not seen past this first episode so let’s keep it spoiler light in the comments too okay?

Archive 81 is about an archivist named Dan who restores films, VHS tapes, basically any visual arts that use a film reel. He works for a film museum and one day he’s asked to restore an old VHS tape that has been damaged from a fire. We don’t know a lot about Dan other than he somehow lost his family and he at one point was, “feeling low” and has a friend who is concerned for his welfare. Soon into the episode the donor who asked for the video tape to be restored requests Dan come work for him in the Catskills where they have a collection of these VHS tapes. He’ll be secluded and on his own if he agrees though. The company hiring Dan seems a bit odd and the man who hires him seems to know way more than he should about Dan.

Of course, Dan agrees to go, and since this is a horror show, needless to say some strange things start happening. I don’t want to give too much of that away other than to say Dan is restoring tapes that focus on a building called the Visser. The tapes show him a woman named Melody who we can presume will be the focal point of the tapes and might provide clues as to what happened at the Visser.

It’s hard to judge a show from a first episode. Especially one that is meant to be totally bingeable and wants you to sit through eight hours of episodes. I still think it’s worth taking a look at each one on its own merits.

For a first episode, this one sets the tone quite nicely. There’s just enough odd going on that as a viewer you want to know what happens next. At the same time, it’s not giving so much away you see all the twists coming.

It’s clearly going to be weird but to my mind this whole series will end up making it or not based on the ending. I’m just going to say now if this has anything to do with aliens, I’m out. But so far, it has a lot of potential and I’d say it’s probably worth a watch.

Mysteriously yours,

Slick Dungeon

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Movie Review – Unfriended

Unfriended 2014 Film

Rating: 3 out of 5.

Hello people, it’s me Slick Dungeon! I’m back to review another movie for you. If you haven’t seen Unfriended from 2014 you may want to click away from your instant messaging apps, hang up from Skype and log off of Facebook so you can go watch the movie before I spoil the whole thing for you in this review. You have been warned.

For this review, I’m going to start with the good. The acting here is really solid and all the performances are more than believable. The idea of the movie is pretty clever. Basically, a teen girl was bullied into suicide a year ago. A year later a group of her friends are on a Skype call and weird things start happening. At first they blame one another but it’s soon obvious that it’s at the very least a hacker, if not something more supernatural trying to torment them. They use the technology of the time in a way where if that happened to you, you would probably be pretty freaked out by it. This did lend to some mystery and a few decent scare moments. I thought this was a good setup and was hoping for something good to come out of it.

Which brings me to the bad. Some of the problems of this movie are that you are basically watching a zoom call and people typing, editing, re-typing and all of the annoying things you see in a chat message in real life. This has the effect of being distracting and sometimes boring. There are also a ton of pop up windows, resizing frames, moving stuff around on the screen etc. that are just distracting and sort of pointless here. Some of this is actually a function of the fact that this was made in 2014 and it’s honestly kind of impressive how far we have come from then in the way of communication tools.

And like almost all good horror movies there is a twist at the end. I’ve got to say this twist was so obvious and telegraphed that I didn’t find it shocking at all. It’s pretty much what I expected. I think maybe in 2014 this would have worked but it doesn’t in my opinion now.

I feel like this would be an interesting re-make in the age of zoom meetings though and I wouldn’t be surprised if there was something out there like this that I don’t know about. Overall, this was an okay movie but I think the thing I found most horrifying in it was the video connection speeds and user interfaces we used to put up with. (shudder)

Digitally yours,

Slick Dungeon

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Movie Review – Don’t Look Up

Don’t Look Up

Rating: 4 out of 5.

Hello out there internet people, it’s me Slick Dungeon. I’m back to review another movie for you. I watched Don’t Look UP on Netflix. Fair warning that there will be spoilers below so if you haven’t seen it and want to, have a look first and then come back here.

Stop me if this sounds familiar. There is an impending global crisis, almost certain to wipe out all life on the planet. There is solid, irrefutable scientific proof of this event. However, due to political considerations, a distracted public, and enormous financial interests on the part of the wealthy, the clear reversal of this problem is completely ignored. The wealthy get to come up with alternative solutions more friendly to them at the cost of everyone else. Don’t Look Up is a disaster comedy that hits way, way, too close to reality.

The whole film is an obvious allegory for climate change but really it could apply to any number of impending global crises we have going on now. The film is chock full of big name stars, including Leonardo DiCaprio, Jennifer Lawrence, Meryl Streep and Jonah Hill.

While the subject matter of the film would make anyone who believes in science uncomfortable, there are laugh out loud moments that are impossible to ignore. As usual Leonardo DiCaprio puts in a fantastic performance but the lines that keep sticking in my mind in this movie come from Jonah Hill and Jennifer Lawrence. There’s also a really funny sequence involving a four star general and some snacks that cracked me up.

It’s also a very American film. The basic premise is straight forward. There is an impending comet heading toward Earth, large enough to be an extinction level event that will wipe out not only humans but a good chunk of the planet itself. The science is solid and the group of scientists who discover the comet have to go convince the president to do something about it. But, political times being what they are, the president is more focused on her poll numbers than committing to a real solution. Because of this inaction there is a wide swath of the population that simply doesn’t believe a comet exists at all. Soon people are on both sides of the issue, the media doesn’t want to cover it because there are stories that get better ratings, and the scientists are trying to get people to understand doom is actually impending.

All in all it is a brilliant film, if a bit on the nose. If you watch it, I promise there are laughs to be had but don’t go in expecting this to be a feel good movie. It’s just so close to the surface of reality it’s genuinely frightening.

Disastrously yours,

Slick Dungeon

Movie Review – Beasts of No Nation

Beasts of No Nation

Rating: 5 out of 5.

Hello out there internet! I hope you are having a great New Year’s Eve, unless you are reading this somewhere that has already reached the new year in which case, Happy New Year! Well, I did it, I finished my own movie challenge for the year. My final challenge was to watch a movie that helps you see the world with a different perspective. For this part of the challenge I watched the gripping film Beasts of No Nation. There will be some mild spoilers below so fair warning for that.

Beasts of No Nation tells the story of Agu, a young boy who is thrown into a war far outside of his control. It starts with him doing things typical of a young boy. He plays games with his friends, doesn’t really enjoy school, plays pranks on his brother and is overall a good kid. He might be a bit mischievous but he doesn’t do anything terrible. The film escalates quickly as government soldiers come and kill a bunch of people in his town. Pretty soon Agu is separated from his family, his older brother and father are killed and he ends up wandering in the jungle.

Agu is then recruited into a sort of guerrilla army made up of mostly child soldiers. Idris Elba plays the Commandant of these rebel forces. He expects these child soldiers to kill anyone he deems an enemy and brutally kills people himself. Agu obviously doesn’t have much choice but to join up. Things continue to get terrible through the rest of the film for Agu and his fellow child soldiers.

Idris Elba, as usual puts in an incredible performance but the stand out star has to be Abraham Atta who plays Agu with a touching and personal performance that is outstanding. We’re with Agu from start to finish in this film and you simply can’t look away.

The film is gripping, heartbreaking, terrifying, and yet somehow hopeful. The movie helped me see the world with a different perspective. It’s not like I didn’t know about child soldiers being a huge problem in war torn countries but this film personalizes it in a way that I think only film can. It’s this kind of film that makes us remember why we have a need to tell stories. The fact that it is a fictional story doesn’t take away any of the truth of it.

Sincerely yours,

Slick Dungeon

Movie Review – Death at a Funeral (2010)

Death at a Funeral (2010)

Rating: 4 out of 5.

Hey there, movie fanatics, it’s me Slick Dungeon. I’m still working my way through my movie challenge and for this one it was to watch a movie that makes you laugh so hard you cry. After this one I only have four more to go for the year so I am getting there. I decided to watch Death at a Funeral from 2010 which is an American remake of the original Death at a Funeral from 2007.

Death at a Funeral starts with a somber look at a man in a casket who turns out to be the wrong body. From there, the farce continues and things become more and more outrageous. I don’t want to spoil too much here because it takes away from the comedy if I do but let’s just say things get absolutely ridiculous. And by the end if you haven’t laughed, there may be something wrong with you.

There are solid performances from Chris Rock, Marin Lawrence, Danny Glover, Kevin Hart, Zoe Saldana and a host of other recognizable names.

While it doesn’t necessarily make you laugh from start to finish, the funny parts are funny enough that yes, I did end up laughing so hard I cried. So fair warning, don’t choke on your popcorn with this one. If you haven’t seen it I definitely recommend it. If anyone has seen both the original and the 2010 version let me know which one you think is better. I would have watched the original first but it wasn’t on any of the streaming services I have and I didn’t want to pay for it when I could already see the remake.

Hilariously yours,

Slick Dungeon

Movie Review – Pan’s Labyrinth

Rating: 4.5 out of 5.

Hey movie fanatics, it’s me Slick Dungeon. I’m still working on my 2021 movie challenges and I watched one that hit two categories for me. Pan’s Labyrinth is a film set in a fantasy world as well as a movie that was made in a country I do not live in. There will be mild spoilers for the movie below so consider yourself warned.

Pan’s Labyrinth is a dark fairy tale set against the backdrop of the start of Franco’s reign after the Spanish civil war. It was a very bleak time for the country. The film focuses on Ofelia, a young girl who is thrown into a new and unsettling world when her pregnant mother marries a captain in Franco’s army. They move to the countryside where Ofelia discovers a magical land of bizarre creatures and strange events.

Unlike most fairy tale films, the creatures in this film do not look friendly and inviting. The faun of Pan’s Labyrinth is no cute faun from Narnia. These creatures can be quick to anger and one gets the impression they are capable of great violence.

Just as gripping is the story of Ofelia and her mother who are simply caught up in events they cannot control. The film is very emotional and the ending is one the viewer will certainly remember.

I have not been a great fan of Guillermo Del Toro films but I can see why this would be considered one of his best works. There is a fair amount of death and gore in this movie and there were moments that made me cringe watching it. Toro does not shy away from the darkness in this film and it’s shockingly refreshing to see a film maker do that.

My only small complaints about the film are that at times the pacing is a little slow and the motivations of the creatures in the fantasy land are not very clear. But those complaints are not enough to make this anything less than a brilliant film.

Fantastically yours,

Slick Dungeon

TV Review – Ash vs Evil Dead (Episode 3)

Ash vs Evil Dead Season 1 Episode 3

Hey everyone, hope you all had a great Halloween. It’s me Slick Dungeon and I just watched the next episode in the Ash vs Evil Dead series. There are some spoilers for the episode below so fair warning.

The third episodes starts out with a mysterious woman driving a cool car who is willing to kill some deadites to find out where Ash is. That’s about all we know about her but obviously it looks like she’ll be an essential part of the show.

As soon as that is over we see Kelly, Pablo and Ash trying to get the book of the dead interpreted to put the army of the dead back where they belong. While trying to do this Ash decides the best idea would be to summon a demon who could tell them how to fix everything. He figures since the book already made things bad it can’t make things any worse. Or in his words, “It’s like spilling paint on a painting. It’s okay because there is already paint on it.” It’s lines like that which keep me watching this show.

You can bet things don’t go smoothly here but Ash, Kelly and Pablo do end up meeting up with Amanda, the cop who seems to know whaat is going on because she had to shoot her partner in the first episode. That doesn’t go so well either.

The show continues to be full of fun and entertaining comedy but I will say the special effects in this episode are not as good as the ones from the first two episodes. The demon that is summoned just doesn’t look as real as the people around it. I’m not expecting perfection here or anything and that is just a minor flaw in the otherwise solid episode but it does distract a bit.

Still, the plot and the comedy is certainly enough to keep me watching the series. So, until next time stay safe out there and don’t spill paint on any paintings.

Horrifically yours,

Slick Dungeon

TV Review – Ash vs Evil Dead (Episode 2)

Ash vs Evil Dead Episode 2

Howdy evil fighters, it’s me Slick Dungeon back with another review for the Ash vx Evil Dead television series. There are some spoilers below so go have a look at the episode before reading the review. Or in other words, “Focus up and let the boomstick do the talking.”

When we last left Ash he had just finished fighting off a bunch of Deadites in his trailer. His coworkers Kelly and Pablo are still new to the fact that the dead rise and are a bit overwhelmed by the bloody gore they’ve just seen. But Kelly is convinced her missing mother has turned up at home. She takes off on Pablo’s motorcycle so of course Ash and Pablo have to follow behind, hoping to protect Kelly.

The utter gore and insane humor of the series continues in the follow up episode, especially when Ash is told to play nice at family dinner. Bruce Campbell continues to ham it up in every good way in this show and it makes it well worth watching.

In addition to Ash some of the other characters have great lines in this episode, especially Kelly who gets to start to give as good as she gets. For example, “Pablo, believe it or not, the rude, middle-aged man you brought is kind of ruinin’ my mom time.”

The plot to this series is never going to be even the slightest bit believable but the fun factor here is just too good to pass up. I could attempt to write a super lengthy analysis of this episode but I think I will let the words of Ash sum it up, “Don’t you get it? If you snag a little fish, you’re not gonna eat it. No, you use it as a bait fish, to catch the whale. I’m the whale, Pablo.”

If this series continues like this I am going to be all here for it. Until next time Deadites.

Horrifically yours,

Slick Dungeon