I get so tired of watching ads on television for movie thrillers. In these ads they usually show you the best, or most arresting, parts. You watch the movie and find the rest is pretty tepid. Not so with 10 Cloverfield Lane, a genuine thriller that will get your heart racing and rivet your attention to the screen. In it, a young woman (Mary Elizabeth Winstead) comes to after an automobile accident to find herself in a bunker run by survivalist John Goodman.
She’s told that there’s been trouble outside and the air is poisonedand that she is only safe in the bunker, but she comes to suspect that crazy old John has trapped her for other reasons. I can’t tell more so I won’t ruin the surprises, but let’s just say that Goodman is magnificent, good enough to earn an Oscar nomination, though those aren’t generally give for this sort of movie. Genres are combined and bent and the ending will astonish you. This is one thriller that delivers! It’s available now on an immaculately produced Blu-ray with terrifying surround sound that also includes a DVD and a digital copy.
I can’t believe that a sci-fi/horror film geek like myself missed the whole first season of this remarkable, and oh so very scary show. Gosh, it was created by Guillermo del Toro, one of my favorite horror directors who directed The Devil’s Backbone, one of the greatest ghost story movies ever made and Pan’s Labyrinth, one of the greatest fantasy film stories
ever made. And it stars Corey Stoll, who was so brilliant in the first season of House of Cards. No cost has been spared to created great, sometimes gruesome special effects. Del Toro himself tautly directs the first episode.
The story starts when an airplane arrives on the New York tarmac with all but four passengers dead. A virus is feared and that’s right, but it turns out to be a disease that was totally unexpected. There are vampires of a special sort loose and the infected passengers begin to infect other people and on and on it goes. Stoll plays a CDC inspector who finds out the truth and through circumstance draws a small band of people in to help him. One of these is an elderly professor who has had experience with this plague during World War II when he was a Jewish prisoner of war. It is The Master, pictured below, who has started everything rolling and it is The Master who was on that plane. Prepare for a few jolts in this
adult series (watch it when your kids are safely in bed asleep). Prominent characters bite the dust, characters are forced to do things they find unpalatable, and it’s often all about survival. Season two premieres Joly 12 at 10 p. m. on FX . But don’t go in unarmed, you have time now to binge on Season 1. Hulu (Called Hulu Plus until earlier this week. Now the Plus has been dropped) has all 13 episodes which makes its modest monthly fee seem quite low. While you’re there you can also binge on the first three seasons of Spiral, the gritty French crime procedural. That makes Hulu pennies an episode, and they have a lot more, too, including a huge collection of Criterion films and some very old TV shows in great shape.
Note: The first photo above is the original promotion art forf season 1 but it was withdrawn. I can’t imagine why. One of the ways the vampires can infect a person is to splatter these tiny “worms” that can enter the body through the nose, ear, or yes, the eye.
I’m a bit behind the curve on this, but my goal is to share with you anything I discover that’s quality home entertainment. Now there have been a lot of shows on TV lately about zombies and resurrected humans, but it is only now that I have discovered the best one, the French TV series The Returned. It’s set in a small town in France that has an elderly, creaking dam positioned above it. In the past that dam broke and killed most of the population; now, when the water is low, you can see a church steeple poking out above the water line. And that water line is getting mysteriously lower and lower, while the dam shows no cracks. The first episode takes us back two years when a school bus loaded with kids plunged over a railing, killing them all. In the present ,one of those kids comes back, unscathed and unable to remember what happened.
Others return, including a weird looking boy who was murdered in a home invasion 35 years ago. He finds his killer alive in a most unusual place. A serial killer comes back, and a young man who committed suicide on his wedding day. His intended betrothed is now about to marry a police captain. Even animals come back. A wolf slated for taxidermy comes back with a growl. Then some of the returned and some of the regulars get hideous skin lesions. And well, no more spoilers, there’s a surprise around every corner in this series. It’s well acted and directed, scary as can be, eerie as can be, and shot in HD with a surround soundtrack. And it’s streaming on Netflix and Amazon Prime. If you don’t know about it, Netflix streaming is one of the best bargains on the planet, now licensing more and more foreign television. The Returned is also going to be on DVD and Blu-ray in February 2015. Finally, A & E is going to produce an American version to air in March 2015, but even though it has Michelle Forbes in the cast, I’m betting the original will still be better. Oh yes, the original has subtitles but they’re easy to read.