13 Reason Why Review

The series, not the book.

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13 REASONS WHY (2017)

Creator: Bryan Yorkey

Based on the book by: Jay Asher

Starring: Dylan Minnette, Katherine Langford, Christian Navarro, Alisha Boe, Brandon Flynn, Justin Prentice, Miles Heizer, Ross Butler, Devin Druid, Amy Hargreaves, Derek Luke & Kate Walsh

Synopsis (IMDb): “Follows teenager Clay Jensen, in his quest to uncover the story behind his classmate and crush, Hannah, and her decision to end her life.”

SPOILER-FREE as always.

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I binged Netflix’s 13 Reasons Why in one sitting, so obviously it is not bad. I’m not exactly in a target group as I’m not a teenager or even close but then again, I still enjoy watching silly teen dramas. Then again, 13 Reasons is not silly. At all. It’s quite sad and not the easiest to watch. There are even warnings before some of the episodes. But still it gets you hooked. Or at least it got me and quite many of my friends.

I haven’t read the novel that the series is based on and I’m glad I didn’t because I liked the way the story unfold episode by episode. I really wanted to know what happens next. I read that the book is kind of a thriller but the series is not. At least I didn’t see it that way. It’s pure drama with very sad background story. Well, it is about suicide after all.

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The story itself is cleverly made, I liked the way that each episode is one of the reasons “why” and tells a story from one point of view. But when the story goes forward, a viewer will get another point of view. Nothing is black and white. Everyone of the characters evolve on the way, almost all of them are more than one dimensional, they’re flesh and blood. These days it seems to be rare that kids or teenagers in TV are very real, they are more like something that none of us “normal” people are, like princesses or princes of Upper East Side (Gossip Girl) or way too beautiful and fashionable like in Pretty Little Liars. But in 13 Reasons teens are normal with normal faces or bodies or clothes. They come from different backgrounds with different problems. They are jocks, outcasts or something between. They’re real. And that’s what I liked this series the best besides the structure of storytelling.

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All actors are top-notch. Some characters could be a little bit more developed but everyone on board makes the best out of it what’s given. There are some tacky dialogue but not that much that it bothers. The story itself is for me a bit strange as I’m very optimist person, so it’s hard for me to relate that deep problems that takes you to kill yourself or even just be depressed. But even though it was hard for me to relate, episodes were so well done that it wasn’t that hard to see “why”.

The biggest problem for me was that I really didn’t like Hannah who is the driving force behind the whole story. She’s really annoying. But at the same time when I just wanted to throw something at her, I admired that the second protagonist of the story is someone that you don’t really like. It made it probably a bit more real. And as I wrote these kids are what I see as normal, so basically all of them are a bit sh*t like teenagers around the world tend to be.

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As I don’t want to spoil anything as it’s important to view episode by episode to see the big picture, I wonder how they will continue in the second season. It has to be the another story basically. But I’ll be watching. These kids are worth of your time.

Starring: **** (out of 5)

The Best Picture Reviews: Arrival & Manchester by the Sea

2017oscarsYes, I’ve been absent again for a while but let’s get back to that later. It’s the Oscars week and I’m so behind. Here are my thoughts on the first two best picture nominees that I saw. And what are their chances on Sunday evening.

arrivalposterARRIVAL (2016)

Directed by Denis Villeneuve
Written by Eric Heisserer
Starring Amy Adams, Jeremy Renner & Forest Whitaker

Denis Villeneuve’s last two films I liked a lot. His style is extraordinary and in Arrival it is on its full potential. Arrival is astonishing. I absolutely loved it! It will probably be at least in top-3 of my films of 2017 or if not, this will be helluva year. I think Arrival deserves every praise it gets and then some more.

First of all, Villeneuve obviously is the master here, it’s his vision that shines through. Also the screenplay is spellbinding. I was totally hooked. At some point I had grabbed the seat on front of me (in cinema) and was sitting right on the edge of my own seat without realising that I was doing that, I was so absorbed into the film. And that’s what I talk about when I say it is Villeneuve’s vision. Unbelievable. And to support that there’s beautiful production design, simple but effective.

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Cinematography. Well, of course. If you’ve seen the film, you know how suitable eerie it looks. And editing obviously clearly makes the pace, perfectly. Sometimes dwelling in feeling, sometimes throwing the viewer in the middle of a mess. And again here we can see how cleverly the script is written. The film never lets you off the hook. And it makes you think. And feel. And perhaps, if you think and feel hard enough, understand. It is actually hard to write about it as it is that kind of a film you need to use all your senses and no words would do honour for it.

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What still makes me angry, is that Jóhann Jóhannsson wasn’t eligible for the score because it’s stunning! He is quickly becoming one of my favourite composers if not the one. In Arrival music and sounds are so, so important. And that’s why I really feel that it should win for the sound editing at least and also for mixing.

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It bums me out that Amy Adams wasn’t recognised as she is as good as ever. She’s my favourite actress and I don’t think she’s ever bad and surely she wasn’t here. But thankfully it’s been a very good year for female leads as there were too many to choose from. Adams is the player here, everyone else is just there to make the story go further. Except the aliens. They’re important. And I never complain when I see Mr. Renner on screen.

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So, to sum it up. I would love to see Arrival to win for cinematography, maybe editing, both sounds and as I appreciated its simplicity, also production design. And tie with directing. I think. I still haven’t seen all the nominees (yeah, I know, so late!!!), so it’s hard to say yet plus there was one that I also loved, so…But still, perfection.

Rating: ***** (out of 5)

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MANCHESTER BY THE SEA (2016)

Directed by Kenneth Lonergan
Written by Kenneth Lonergan
Starring Casey Affleck, Lucas Hedges, Michelle Williams & Kyle Chandler

So, I saw these two films in a row and in this order. That might have affected somehow how I viewed Manchester by the Sea. I can’t really say if I’d liked it more if I hadn’t watched Arrival just before it. Or maybe I wouldn’t have liked it as much as I did because I was already in the mood to watch great movies. I don’t know but I know I did like Manchester quite a lot. It was a good cinema day.

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Manchester by the Sea is nominated for six Oscars and will most probably win for the leading role for an actor as Casey Affleck is impressive. It is his show as much it is director-writer Lonergan’s. Affleck is mesmerizing. He does so little but tells so much. All those suppressed feelings are there for the viewer to see and feel. Manchester by the Sea is heartbreakingly sad story of ordinary people. People who are like anyone of us. Besides Affleck, Hedges and especially Williams have earned their nominations. That scene in the movie poster is perhaps the most moving scene in the film and it’s such a showcase for Affleck and Williams; they’re so authentic, so raw, so full of emotion. If Arrival is a story of human kind, Manchester by the Sea is a story of humans.

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Besides acting, Manchester is nominated for the original screenplay, directing and the best picture. It could win for all and I wouldn’t really mind. But I think it will win for the screenplay and it definitely should. I adored it. I loved the way the story was told the way that it just began, like when meeting a new person. And then you get to know them, little by little. You start to understand why they do something, why they say something, why they like or don’t like something. Manchester is like that. At first you are like “who the f is this guy and why he is there” but then, a little by little, you start to understand and sympathize. Life is life and you just have to live it. Also, big points for the ending.

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This has nothing to do with the film but she’s beautiful. From January Elle magazine.

One thing that I didn’t really like was the music, it’s too hard. It annoyed me. But otherwise, beautiful film and sad story about life that I think I will definitely see again. And I’ll be mad if Lonergan won’t win for the screenplay and Affleck for the lead actor, they are THAT good.

Rating: ****½

P.S. 2017 is already better movie year for me (as I’ve seen all nominees this year) than the last year was. Yay for that!

The Best of the Best – Films of 2016

Gosh, I’ve been away again for ages. There’s a reason for that but I’ll get back to that later. Now it’s time for the traditional best of the best in the end of the year. Mine is so sad, though. As I live here in the middle of nowhere (that’s Finnish Lapland to you who don’t know), I haven’t been to cinemas for over two months and haven’t seen the latest, like Rogue One for example. Or Arrival. Or Nocturnal Animals. As said, my list is sad but here it is anyway. And yes, I know that some of these came out in the States in 2015 but not in Europe or at least in those countries that I go to.

10)

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The Lobster

9)

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Steve Jobs

8) 

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The Revenant

7)

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Son of Saul

6)

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The Invitation

5)

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Doctor Strange

4)

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Captain America: Civil War

3)

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The Big Short

2)

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Deadpool

1)

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Spotlight

Not a very good year as the number one is the only one with total 5/5 (or 10/10 at IMDb) and I’ve given 9/10 only five films this year. Sad. Let’s hope the next year will be better. And in February I’ll have a chance to see all those films I’ve missed during the last couple of months.

HAPPY NEW YEAR!

 

Doctor Strange Review

doctor_strange_posterI should go back to my Oscar predictions but let’s take a look to another Marvel Cinematic Universe movie first.

DOCTOR STRANGE (2016)

Directed by Scott Derrickson

Written by Jon Spaihts, Scott Derrickson, C. Robert Cargill & based on Marvel comics by Steve Ditko

Starring Benedict Cumberbatch, Tilda Swinton, Rachel McAdams,  Chiwetel Ejiofor, Mads Mikkelsen & Benedict Wong

Synopsis: A former neurosurgeon embarks on a journey of healing only to be drawn into the world of the mystic arts. (IMDb)

I didn’t know anything about Doctor Strange beforehand. I’m not a fan of comics, I find them kind of silly. I used to find comic films silly as well but Marvel changed it. Since The Avengers I always have high hopes for MCU film and sometimes I’m a bit disappointed (meaning I give a film 8 out of 10 at IMDb) but usually I’m not and Doctor Strange is not exception. It’s a solid film with great visuals, interesting story and well, with that cast, obviously strong performances.

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I kept thinking during Strange that it is quite an achievement from film industry to make these huge blockbusters with actors who have been recently nominated for Oscars or some have even won some like Tilda Swinton in this case. No wonder characters in these kind of films are not bland anymore like they used to be. There is much more depth to them even if scripts are weak. The script of Doctor Strange is probably the simplest thing in it. And for some reason, villains in recent comic movies have been on the weaker side too. And Doctor Strange is no exception. But at least its villains are not black or white. What brings me to the point of Doctor Strange being accused of “white washing”. What? There’s Ejiofor, there’s Wong and there’s a woman as an Ancient One. And internationality more than most of the films.

Marvel Studios Hall H Panel

The best element in Strange is the pace. I was never bored. The story starts right away, you get the feeling who we’re dealing with Dr. Strange and Cumberbatch draws the character perfectly. We see how he deals with others, what kind of a person he is. And we don’t really like him but we get to know him and see him grow and we definitely start to care about him. I also liked a lot of McAdams’ character even though she’s quite on the side. And there are some very, very nice one-liners. As always when it comes to MCU movies.

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In general Doctor Strange is great! It might lose some of its magic (ha haa) when watching it again (and again which I will probably do) and on the first time, I loved it. Is it perfect? No, but it’s entertaining as hell. I recommend. Half of the star in rating is given because I got overly excited because of the first end-credits scene, it sure was the best one so far!

Rating: ****½ (out of 5)

The Best of the Best – Disney Company Films

To celebrate 93rd birthday of The Walt Disney Company I wanted to list my favourite films produced by the company. Walt Disney is one of my biggest heroes. He was the man who made fairytales to become live. My all time favourite quote is his

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and I always try to keep that in mind when it feels I can’t. We all can. 🙂

There might be some films missing but I blame IMDb if not my fave Disneys are on the list, as these were the ones the search of ever reliable IMDb gave me. There are some minor SPOILERS in videos.

10)

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Ratatouille (2007)

9)

Enchanted (2007)

8)

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Freaky Friday (2003)

7)

Beauty and the Beast (1991)

6)

Mary Poppins (1964)

5)

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Frozen (2013)

4)

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Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl (2003)

3) (This breaks your heart. The best montage ever.)

Up (2009)

2)

The Lion King (1994)

1)

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Wall-E (2008)

Lovely, lovely films! It’s great that there are still people who make you feel good with creating this kind of films.

And there’s more to come like live-versions of Beauty and the Beast, Tim Burton’s Dumbo or Cruella with Emma Stone starring. Even the trailer for the fifth Pirates of the Caribbean looked promising. Mary Poppins also returns and Lasse Hällström is going to direct Keira Knightley and Helen Mirren in The Nutcracker and the Four Realms, that should be interesting. And yes, the live version of  The Lion King sounds scary idea.

Films of the Week Vol. 12

I’ve been so lazy at watching films. Then again, I’ve been working 7 days in a row and today is one more. But then I have some time off. And the last time I had time off, I watched some TV, read about it here. But during the last week I saw two films; The Hunger Games (again) and a bit newer stuff, Florence Foster Jenkins. Here’s my thoughts on them.

hungergamesposterTHE HUNGER GAMES (2012)

Directed by Gary Ross

Written by Gary Ross, Billy Ray & Suzanne Collins

Starring Jennifer Lawrence, Josh Hutcherson, Stanley Tucci, Donald Sutherland, Woody Harrelson, Elizabeth Banks, Wes Bentley & Lenny Kravitz

Synopsis (IMDb): “Katniss Everdeen voluntarily takes her younger sister’s place in the Hunger Games, a televised competition in which two teenagers from each of the twelve Districts of Panem are chosen at random to fight to the death”

Yeah, I know, everyone has seen the films already and bla bla bla but as I’ve reviewed three other parts already (here, here and here), then why not do the first one as well. I’ve already mentioned before I liked it, so there’s not much to add but as I still liked it, after seeing it, I don’t know, probably tenth time, I may as well say something about it.

It was a bit surprising that The Hunger Games still works. It was on TV and I watched it “live” with commercial breaks (I know! So weird.) and it took something like three hours but that time flew by. It is that good film. The pace is perfect, the introduction of situation
hot_jennifer_lawrenceis over quickly and in no time Katniss is on her way to the Capitol where they waste no time in introducing more characters and how our heroine works together with others. We even get couple of nice twists and then it’s game time. Even the emotional pace works nicely. So, well done Gary Ross, that’s the way you direct a film based on a youth novel.

And as said 1001 times, Jennifer Lawrence is perfect as Katniss. She’s strong and vulnerable at the same time but she’s also genuine and manipulative. And a spectator can’t be sure of her motives. Josh Hutcherson’s Peeta is no match to her but I’m still totally Team Peeta. He’s still somewhat endearing. And those youngsters from areas one and two actually feel dangerous.

I also like how the film is set, the production design, make-up, costumes and obviously the music are nice too. The film is a bit one-dimensional and goes on a bit too long and some of the actors are wooden but otherwise; no complaints.

Rating: **** (out of 5)

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FLORENCE FOSTER JENKINS (2016)

Directed by Stephen Fears

Written by Nicholas Martin

Starring Meryl Streep, Hugh Grant, Simon Helberg & Rebecca Ferguson

Synopsis: “The story of Florence Foster Jenkins, a New York heiress who dreamed of becoming an opera singer, despite having a terrible singing voice.”

I have no idea how truthfully Florence Foster Jenkins is told but if it is, it is quite amazing which lengths people would go for their loved ones. That’s beautiful and quite moving.

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First of all, Meryl Streep is still amazing actress. I’m quite sure she again will gain an Oscar nomination for this role. She’s fearless and can, apparently, act anything. I also appreciated Simon Helberg’s work here and I’m so glad he gets recognition from somewhere else too than The Big Bang Theory. And it was refreshing to see Hugh Grant playing something else than single douchebag. I’m not sure how much make-up he has here but he’s old and that’s weird.

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Simon Helberg

I liked the way the film looked, it’s very pretty with all those clothes from 1940s and always fabulous New York and its Carnegie Hall. The film is nicely told, the pace is ok and it made me feel good. But that’s about it. I was a little bit bored, there’s not enough of story to be told, I think, and as the film is not too emotional, it’s a bit bland. I really wanted to like it more but it’s one of those films you will forget you even saw. Streep is great but as she is always, it’s nothing exceptional. Oh, there’s some nice music if you like classical music. There’s not much to say about it. I saw it and I’m quite sure I will never watch it again, it is just not interesting enough. I also wanted to give it 2,5 stars but as everything works, it deserved more.

Rating: *** 

TV of the Week Vol. 4

Vol 4! Really?! Well, I assure you I do watch A LOT more TV (or well, streaming services) than that. But this weekend I had a lot of free time, so I caught up with some of my favourite television.

breakingbadBREAKING BAD (2008-2013)

Created by Vince Gilligan

Starring Bryan Cranston & Aaron Paul

Synopsis (IMDb): “A high school chemistry teacher diagnosed with inoperable lung cancer turns to manufacturing and selling methamphetamine in order to secure his family’s future.”

Yes. I know. I’m still watching this. Shocker. I have no idea why I haven’t seen this before. It’s been something like two years or more when I started to watch this but it was a thing that I did with my then-roommate and after we moved apart, I let it be for quite a while. But the last week I finally continued watching this. The problem is that it really affects me oddly deeply and I can watch something like four episodes and then I need to watch something really fluffy and comforting. It’s really weird because I can’t remember any series going so badly under my skin. I don’t know why this one does. Oh no, not true, Hannibal was even worse, I couldn’t watch it at all after few episodes.

Obviously most of you, who read my blog, have seen the series and I also started the fourth season couple of days ago but again I find it difficult to go back to it. But when I do, I enjoy the writing and acting immensely. Especially the writing, it’s so amazing, the pacing is unbelievable. There are people who probably don’t like how it’s told, at points so slowly, that it’s hardly moving and then it hits you hard on the face when it moves so quickly that it almost hurts. But I actually think that is why Breaking Bad was and is so popular. It also e3e520e96df88334d79b5cbed18fbd58helps a lot that all of the players are amazing. Especially Bryan Cranston. But then again, isn’t he always. He is one my favourite actors of all time. And it makes it easier to relate when these people are a lot like us with their problems and especially how they look. Aaron Paul is cute as a bunny but he could be any bad, but so hot, boy from your high school.  Great series and even though I know the ending it is still a pleasure to watch this even though it’s taking its toll on me.

Rating: ****½ (out of 5) (I might give it full five after finishing it.)

DOWNTON ABBEY (2010-2015)

Created by Julian Fellowes

Starring Michelle Dockery, Laura Carmichael, Hugh Bonneville, Jim Carter, Brendan Coyle, Joanne Froggatt, Rob James-Collier, Phyllis Logan, Elizabeth McGovern, Sophie McShera, Leslie Nicol, Penelope Wilton & Maggie Smith

Synopsis: “A chronicle of the lives of the British aristocratic Crawley family and their servants in the early 20th Century.”

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I would have never, ever thought that Downton Abbey would be one of those series that I end up loving. Before starting to watch it I assumed it’s a soap. A very lavish and stylish, made with a lot of sterling but still a soap. And yes, maybe it is a bit. No, I can’t say that because that word underestimates Downton Abbey too badly. Although I have to admit that some twists in the plot are straight from soap opera world. But all in all, Downton Abbey is affecting drama with a lot of sugar and spice.

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When I started watching Downton Abbey, I watched four seasons in 10 days or so. That hasn’t happened for a while that I get caught so badly to any series. And what was the most surprising I absolutely fell in love with the characters. And that is where the richness of Downton Abbey lies. Its characters. They’re the heart of the whole thing. Yes, the series downton-abbey-ladieslooks amazing, the music is beautiful, English language is always amazing to listen when spoken so elegantly as here (some might call it snobbishly but I love it!) and as a big England fan, I love the scenery. But without rich and full-bodied characters, Downton would be nothing. It’s been a while since I’ve cared fictional characters this much. Even the ones that I don’t like that much. But Fellowes and co. have managed to make every character a human, a breathing, living, mistake-making human. And you accept them as those, love them despite their flaws.

I’ve been shocked to my core by Downton Abbey, I’ve cried so much, felt despair and love with the characters and lived every moment with them and it felt so good! I’m sad that it’s downtonabbey_mrsvioletlanghamnow over. But I’m glad they wrapped it up before it got sour. Btw, it’s surprisingly funny and big thanks for that goes to Maggie Smith. There is a reason why she’s been honoured because of the role again and again. She’s amazing.

Rating: ***** (out of 5)

SCREAM season 2 (2016)

Created by Jay Beattie, Jill E. Blotevogel  & Dan Dworkin

Starring Willa Fitzgerald, Bex Taylor-Klaus, John Karna, Carlson Young & Amadeus Serafini

Synopsis: “What starts as a YouTube video going viral soon leads to problems for the teenagers of Lakewood and serves as the catalyst for a murder that opens up a window to the town’s troubled past.”

I already reviewed the first season within the films, you can read it here. The second season continues the story in a same way, no big changes here. Murders are still bloody slashers, characters are still young high schoolers and plot repeats itself. No big revelations here. It’s entertaining and quite hooking but that’s it. I did like the first season more.

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The biggest annoyance here is the leading lady, Emma, played by Willa Fitzgerald. Her character is just really, really annoying. She just can’t see outside of her own life. And she’s such an angel. Ugh. I do not like her. So it makes that much harder to watch this. I heard they’re going to do two episodes special or something for Halloween and I kind of hope they will wrapped it up with it. There just isn’t enough steam to continue. But that is just my opinion. Or if they will continue, I hope they make some nice changes like kill the main character in the beginning of the third season. At this point, if feels like writers are playing it safe. But I do admit that the beginning of the season worked and so did the end of the season but as it is 12 episodes long, they could cut at least half of them and viewer would not lose any excitement. There’s basically no character development and the story itself is starting to be boring. Despite my negative thoughts, I did watch it in two nights. And was that scared that I needed to watch some Friends before going to bed.

Rating: *** (out of 5)

P.S. Nice pastiches of classic horror films including the titles of episodes.

Brooke Episode 204