April 26, 2015


I went into Netflix's latest new series, Bloodline, without having read anything about it. A friend had recommended it, so I decided to avoid all spoilers and go in blindly. This turned out to be an excellent slow burn kind of family drama about a black sheep who brings much trouble to this otherwise picture perfect group.

This show was created by brothers Glenn and Todd Kessler, who previously did the show Damages while Todd also worked on The Sopranos. They take their time fleshing out the characters and thoroughly laying out all the plot details, so much that you will come to sympathize with the villain as much as you will the rest. It's all set in the beautiful Florida keys.

Ben Mendelsohn is mesmerizing as the sociopath brother, Danny, who comes home and starts causing problems from day one. I wouldn't be surprised to see him earn an Emmy for his role here. His older brother, played by Kyle Chandler, is the local sheriff and their sister, played by Linda Cardellini, is a lawyer. Sam Shepherd and Sissy Spacek play the parents, and multiple Tony winner Norbert Leo Butz plays the younger brother. They are all part of a wealthy, well-known and well-respected family who don't need all these dark secrets coming to light.

As things play out, you will learn of their complicated relationships all stemming from the death of a young sister. Danny was blamed though the truth of what happened isn't revealed until the later part of the series. More complications will arise and pretty soon everyone is crossing moral and legal lines. As Chandler's character says toward the end of an early episode, "We're not bad people, but we did a bad thing." If you want to find out what they did, check out this great new show on Netflix.

April 16, 2015

V/H/S: Viral

The first two V/H/S movies were wonderful collections of short horror stories built around a creepy premise where some folks find a cache of old VHS tapes depicting awful happenings. This third movie fails in comparison to everything that made the first two great. It's shorter than before and the individual stories just aren't as good.

One of the stories is about a small-time magician who winds up with a cursed cloak that grants him amazing powers but he has to feed it people to keep it up. That's it - a magician who kills people by draping his cloak over them while they sleep. In another that had more potential than it delivered, a man develops an inter-dimensional door in his house and then travels to the other side and finds a nightmarish world. It has some unfortunately awful and cheap-looking effects that make it laughable. Another story has a bunch of punk kids go down into Mexico to skateboard and they stumble across a Satanic ritual that results in an overlong series of attacks while they run away. The whole thing is encapsulated in a story about an van running amok in the city.

The premise of these films is that they fit into the "found footage" category of movie, but here there are numerous violations of this genre. Far too many cameras are used and there's too much editing, which defeats the whole purpose. This movie only offers a couple of tense moments whereas the two previous films were filled with them.

Don't bother with V/H/S: Viral even if you liked the first two movies in the series. It really doesn't have anything that stands out as being worth your time.