Wicked Wednesday: Cry_Wolf (2005)

I have an admission to make: I enjoy reading the last page of books. If a story is too suspenseful or there’s a character I really like, I need to know if they survive or who the killer is.

Considering the amount of mysteries and thrillers I read, this probably makes me a bad person. But that being said, I also think I’m pretty good at guessing a killer before I look at the last page of a book.

That being said, it takes no super sleuth to untangle the ‘mystery’ of Cry Wolf.

Last week, I went on a (minor) rant to my co-workers about how I don’t really care for the aesthetic of 00’s films. I hate the eyebrows, the low-rise jeans, the editing… But I decided I wanted to eat my words and watch an entertaining teen horror romp. When I read the words “boarding school” and “secrets” in the synopsis, I was immediately convinced I needed to watch Cry Wolf.

Cry Wolf is set at the fancy Westlake Preparatory Academy, home to the children of the elite. Joining their ranks is the English Owen. Upon his arrival, he bumps into Dodger, a girl he immediately takes a liking to. She explains to Owen that there is an assembly on about a townie who has gone missing after “screwing the wrong guy”.

Later that night, Owen’s new roommate, Tom, invites him to sneak out and meet his friends at a chapel, including Dodger. She tells Own the rules of a game called Cry Wolf. She, the shepherd, chooses someone to be a wolf and the rest of the “sheep” must discover who the wolf in the group is until one by one they’re picked off.

After playing their game, Dodger later suggests that the group play a bigger version of the game. One that involves the entire school. Together, the kids invent a serial killer. He’s The Wolf. He carries a hunting knife, wears an orange ski mask and camo jacket, and travels from campus to campus killing people. Dodger also suggests that the kids pretend that the missing girl (who was earlier discovered in the woods, killed by a gunshot wound) was the first victim.

Owen sends off the first email and the story takes off like wildfire.

Later, Owen gets an instant message from The Wolf. The messages are threatening, and he begins to suspect the Dodger, Tom and the rest of their friends.

The ‘pranks’ begin to get more bizarre. Tom and Owen find a bloody body piercing. Their room is ransacked. Randal goes missing.

Then one day, Tom goes to his journalism class and a hunting knife falls out of his bag. His teacher, Mr Walker (played by the very studious Jon Bon Jovi), takes Tom away to get expelled or whatever. But Tom manages to stop Mr Walker with one thing: the knowledge that Mr Walker is having an affair with Dodger. The boy had previously seen the two making out in Mr Walker’s office.

But his ‘friends’ begin to distrust him. He skips the Halloween dance, and is later pranked into believing that The Wolf is after him. He and Mercedes (who chases Owen dressed like The Wolf) get into trouble, as do the rest of the group.

The friends are all forced to stay at school over the weekend. But considering it’s a boarding school, I’m not sure why this is such a drag.

Owen gathers the gang together at the chapel, where they begin to admit to their deeds. But this somehow, according to Dodger, makes Owen seem guilty. The others turn on him.

While at the chapel, Mercedes’ boyfriend calls her and they hear her being attacked over the phone. And the one-by-one the kids are seemingly killed off.

Owen gets a call from Dodger who tells him about the gun in Mr Walker’s office. He goes to get it, but is caught by Mr Walker. The two begin to scuffle, and Owen ends up shooting Mr Walker in the chest.

And it’s seemingly all over.

It’s revealed that none of the kids had actually died. They were all (mostly) in on a prank to get back at Owen and Mercedes. Again, this seems pretty steep but whatever. Owen ends up not getting murder charges when his father reveals that Mr Walker was in a relationship with the townie that was killed.

It’s also revealed that Mr Walker had other damning evidence against him. And while it’s seemingly “that’s that”, the film throws in a final twist.

But…it’s not really much of a twist.

Unfortunately, the film is very heavy-handed on the foreshadowing. It makes guessing who the real mastermind easy to spot by a mile away. I almost had hoped that the the obvious suspect wasn’t guilty. But instead we get the very obvious ending. And for me, it made the movie really difficult to enjoy.

I loved the aspects of the children playing horrible pranks on each other. Something about a bunch of rich kids being jerks and getting their comeuppance makes me feel weirdly satisfied.

And while this isn’t typically a type of film I enjoy, I do think that Cry Wolf had its moments. It’s laughably outdated thanks to its technology, but if you can see beyond that (and it’s terribly predictable plot), it’s an alright way to spend 90 minutes of your night.

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Riverdale ep. 3.21 recap “Chapter Fifty-Six: The Dark Secret of Harvest House”

Was last week’s prom not over-the-top enough for you? Do you want organ harvesting and fake-out deaths? Well good! Riverdale is here to serve you everything in your insane dreams!

Now in the belly of the beast, Betty continues her investigation into The Farm. She’s mostly ostracized by the others (go figure). But straight away it’s clear why Edgar extended the invite to Betty.

Alice sits down with the family and admits “the truth” to Betty. She tells her daughter that she has the “serial killer gene” that no one else in the family has. After this bombshell, Edgar suggests hypnotising Betty so that she can, I don’t know, come to peace with herself?

Betty agrees, mostly because she’s a really thorough detective. In her hypnosis, Betty meets her “other self” one that tells Betty that she pushed Polly down the stairs and drowned her cat. When she wakes, she seems fairly unshaken. Which can only mean 1.) she’s totally crazy or 2.) she’s clever enough to spot a lie a mile away.

She calls Juggie about the new addition to her routine. She also sets him on the mission to hunt down the chain of people that delivered the letter to her on the night of the prom. The trail leads Jughead to his sister, then Little Ricky, and on to Princess Ethel.

When Jughead finds Ethel in the bunker, she seems pretty upset. She tells Jughead that while she left the “false king” of the Sisters, she’s still in love with the Gargoyle King. He convinces her to leave and take her to safety, along with a gang of Lost Boys (aka the seemingly feral boy scouts). They go to retrieve the littlest Lost Boy and come face-to-face with the hooked Black Hood.

Jughead eventually escapes with Ethel and the boys, which gains Ethel’s trust. She blesses him with the true name of the Gargoyle King: Jason Blossom.

When Jughead shares the news with Betty, she barely bats an eye. She’s in full-on Riverdale mode and is as unsurprised as we all are at this point. Plus Betty has something bigger and more pressing to deal with: The Farm’s organ harvesting.

Betty had started to become suspicious when the others at The Farm told her that Edgar took their emotional pair and channeled it into something physical. Er, win win?

She later sees Evelyn sitting in a chair to receive dialysis. She also notices that the woman is receiving anti-rejection medication. The type taken by someone who has had an organ transplant.

Also, all the stars for the Easter egg of Evelyn reading The Picture of Dorian Gray.

Betty later gets into the room with all the organs. She immediately takes it to Cheryl (who was on the cusp of losing faith anyway after the whole “you-can’t-run-for-prom-queen thing”), who believes her cousin when she sees the organ in the ice chest.

Cheryl immediately helps Toni escape, at the expense of her own freedom. And Betty is tackled by Fangs and Kevin, who hand her over to be Edgar’s next victim.

Meanwhile, a little closer to reality, Archie meets with his mom’s FBI friend! (I did say a little.) Together, the FBI agent and Veronica begin working together to arrest Hiram, who is apparently going to buy Riverdale. As if that’s a thing.

Veronica, the FBI and Archie work together to get Hiram. Archie challenges Hiram to a match. Le Bonne Noit (which Hiram technically owns) takes illegal bets. FBI raids Le Bonne Noit. Hiram gets arrested during the illegal boxing match.

And it all seemingly goes without a hitch.

But after his mother’s coaxing, Archie goes to see Veronica and admit his feelings for her. Only when he arrives, he learns that he’s been beaten by Reggie. It’s a pretty sad state of affairs. But I’ve always thought Archie was better off without Ronnie (that’s both in this TV show and in the comics in general – and I’ll stand by that).

So the kids are seemingly close to wrapping up their mysteries. But somehow, it’s not that likely that things can be so simple. Could it really be Jason this whole time? Well, in Riverdale Land, it’s very well possible. But we saw his body at the funeral, as a rotten corpse, and shot in the head in a video. Sure it could all be fake, and it takes a show like Riverdale to just tell us that “it’s possible!”

There’s some shifty shenanigans going on that are sure to make us scream in next week’s finale. I doubt that Hiram will be down for long. And I’m sure he’s already cooking up delicious revenge.

Let’s just hope that this time, they can cook up a good storyline for him.

Riverdale ep. 3.20 recap “Chapter Fifty-Five: Prom Night”

“Prom is this weekend? We still do things like that here?”

Yes. Yes you do, Ronnie. But as ever, in the most Riverdale of fashions, with serial killers, a Ren Faire theme and rigged Prom Queen elections.

This week Riverdale took a little bit of time to get back to its roots again: high school. And while the kids faced the usual unusual, there was also a bit of the kids being a bit, will, like the 17-year-olds they supposedly are.

The largest and most obvious reminder of how young these kids are was the presence of Molly Ringwald again as Mary Andrews. This episode marked the first after Luke Perry’s death. Her entrance is clunky (she gets more screen time in this episode than Perry did all season), but how on earth could it have gone smoothly?

Fred takes off on a business trip, leaving Mary to head from Chicago to watch over Archie. She realises his growing fondness for boxing and shows some reasonable reluctance towards the latest hobby.

Behind his mom’s back, Archie signs up for a big fight. Of course this leads to issues when Mary introduces him to her friend at a Naval academy. She tells Archie about their boxing program, and he only seems slightly interested. But to please his mom, he agrees to an exhibition fight. Conveniently this conflicts with the regional classic that he signed up for in secret.

Meanwhile, speaking of sneaking, Betty begins investigating her father’s fate after the bus that was transporting him crashed. When she speaks to the coroner, she learns that he can confirm her father’s death.

But let’s face it: none of us are convinced here. Including Betty.

Betty gets another call from the coroner, this time to see a body. The coroner shows her and Jughead the boy’s back, which is covered in G&G tattoos.

They go to a tattoo artist (presumably the only one in Riverdale?) and ask him about the marks. He tells them that he did a similar one for another man a year earlier. One with sandy hair and blue eyes. Betty immediately assumes that it’s Edgar Evernever, but it’s pretty clear her prejudice is making her jump to conclusions. It also describes her own father…and Chic.

Jughead shows Betty the book he had fond on the Gargoyle’s bus. It’s a sort of Gargoyle King “gospel”. They discover that there is a way to lure the king out by crowning a queen (and who better than Betty?).

At the most delicious 80’s Fantasy Prom, the couple get to work. Using the Pretty Poison’s help, they rig the Prom Queen election in Betty’s favour.

But she’s called away via fancy invite by the Gargoyle King, and she isn’t even there for the crowning. Like her mother years before, Betty goes into the ladies’ toilets and finds the chalices. She leaves the bathroom and comes face-to-face with the Gargoyle King AND a Black Hood WITH A HOOK!

For what might be the first time ever, Betty is shook. Turns out scared Betty isn’t totally convincing, but as she stumbles across body after body of fellow classmates, her fear increases. She’s eventually found by Jughead, and all the excitement ends for the night.

But with two serial killers on the loose, Betty doesn’t feel safe. She goes to find Alice, and before she can convince her mother to go into hiding, Edgar offers her security inside The Farm. And Betty actually accepts it.

So who is the real Black Hood this time? Is it Hal? Did Hal cause the bus to crash a la Michael Myers and manage to get a hook? Is it Chic? Is it Edgar? (He has shown off his clean, and sculpted, back.)

I don’t know. MTV was at my prom, and even I can’t say that was half as much fun as Riverdale’s.

Wicked Wednesday: Monster (2005)

The Babadook has to be one of the best horror movies released this millennium. Let’s be honest, it’s a bit of a modern classic. Director and writer Jennifer Kent handles the themes of fear, trauma and grief all with an intelligence.

So when I first read about her short film Monster, I knew it was another one to watch.

Monster explores many of the same themes that Babadook does. In fact, it’s very much in the same spirit. A mother lives with her young son in their rather unclean home.

The son spends his day fighting off a rather creepy doll. The mother seems to know this doll and doesn’t like it. After she finds the doll ‘trapped’ under some of the boy’s things, she throws the doll into a cupboard.

The boy later tells his mother that he has been trying to kill the monster for her. He also claims that the doll has been threatening to kill him…again.

The mother later returns to the cupboard and sees a face in there in place of the doll. It frightens her, and she then offers to allow the boy to sleep in her bed that night.

While cozying up together, the figure from the cupboard appears to the mother and son. But before the monster can hurt the boy, the mother does what any mother does best: scolding.

The monster is eventually shamed and sent back to her cupboard. The boy and mother are allowed to have some peace together at last. But after the boy goes to sleep, his mother gets up and pours a glass of milk, which she leaves outside the cupboard for the monster.

Like Babadook, this short film carries many of the same messages. We see a parent trying to protect their child’s innocence. In Monster, it’s almost as though the mother welcomes the monster. She wants the monster to stay in her place, but it does mean her child stays by her side as his sole protector.

This little black-and-white piece is only 9 minutes long, and definitely manages to tell its story in that short amount of time. All while creating an eerie, effective ambiance.

Kent has a great eye. It’s excellent to see her growth is a filmmaker between the two stories, which are very comparable. Certainly a must-watch for anyone that loved the terrifying Babadook. But it’s also a great mini-introduction to Kent’s style and themes for those yet to dip in their toes.

Wicked Wednesday: The Baby-Sitters Club “Dawn and the Haunted House”

This week’s Wicked Wednesday is a bit different than usual. Instead of the usual blood fest and gore, we have…The Baby-Sitters Club.

As a very young girl, I loved The Baby-Sitters Club TV show. The show, while originally a HBO/Nickelodeon venture, the reruns were shown on the Disney Channel from 1994 to 1997, which meant I couldn’t have been older than 6-years-old when I watched. It’s was shortly before the time that I was forced to watch Mars Attacks! and Scream 2 and my life was ruined forevermore.

But at that age, much more simple things can be scary: something on the other side of a locked door, a basement, a mysterious person. It’s what made The Adventures of Mary-Kate & Ashley work so well for me. That made a BEE KEEPER terrifying. Bee. Keeper.

It’s just a part of being an ignorant child, and that’s exactly that the girls in the Baby-Sitters Club are.

The episode’s title is rather misleading. For one, there is no haunted houses here, but instead an old, “witch” woman than the children of Stoneybrook love spreading rumours about.

Dawn loves a bit of a ghost story. During a biking trip, Dawn stops the other baby-sitters and tell them about Mrs Slade, the woman who lives there. She tells them that she believes that Mrs Slade kills animals for her experiments. And somehow, the girls seem pretty convinced.

Later, Dawn and Claudia baby-sit a trio of young children who leave near Mrs Slade. While they’re at the home, the little boy tells his baby-sitters that he’s found bones that the “witch” has buried.

This somehow prompts the girls to take the children on a walk through the woods. They study the pet cemetery that the boy has seen and begin to freak themselves out. When they hear a calling in the woods, they feel (mostly) certain that it’s either the wind…or the witch! 

Meanwhile, Claudia is struggling with school. Her mother asks her to give up some of her extracurricular in order to focus on studying. Claudia is immediately on the defensive and begins to argue. She even drops in some quotes from the show’s theme song which makes for a pretty compelling argument, if you ask me.

But regardless, Claudia is still a child and this is The Baby-Sitters Club, so Claudia begins her tutoring. She also keeps it a secret from the other baby-sitters.

At a slumber party, the baby-sitters indulge in scary movies and stories. Dawn, of course, tells stories about Mrs Slade. But later Claudia gets defensive when she believes Dawn is calling her dumb.

Later, while baby-sitting the young trio of kids again, Stacey sees Claudia in the window of Mrs Slade’s house. She (somehow) becomes convinced that Claudia is under a witch’s spell. She calls the other baby-sitters to have them rescue Claudia. Stacey, meanwhile, stays with the kids but prank calls Mrs Slade about an injured dog in the woods.

Mrs Slade rushes to the woods in order to save the dog, allowing the baby-sitters a chance to sneak into the house. When the girls find Claudia, she explains that she’s not under a spell but rather having tutoring. From Mrs Slade…a former vet.

Realising their mistake, the girls go into the woods to look for Mrs Slade. To their credit, the girls do apologise. Claudia even strikes up a friendship with the old woman after she paces her science test.

So there’s no haunting here. But it definitely is an episode of television that highlights the fears of silly children. And let’s face it, many children (if not all) can be silly. Most of the fear is created in their minds, making even the smallest of things bigger and more terrifying.

Yeah, the episode is a bit daft. It’s cheesy and silly and heavy-handed on the wholesomeness. But the shows sweetness reminds me of brighter days. The things here certainly won’t spook anyone over the age of 8 or 9, but it’s got all the bare bones of what it means to be both safe and scared at the same time: scary stories at slumber party, urban legends about honest neighbours.

It was certainly nice to watch something different. Though I’m not quite sure if I’d ever write about another for WW. For one, I think I’ve used up all episodes with spook names. Not sure if “Dawn Saves the Trees” or “The Baby-Sitters Remember” will really have the right vibe. But I guess you never know.

Riverdale ep. 3.19 “Chapter Fifty-Four: Fear the Reaper”

Why am I still watching this show? Furthermore, why am I recapping it?

Each week we get further along into season 3, I’m finding Riverdale more and more tedious. Is it a bad show? Nope. It’s just as wacky as ever. But there really isn’t something working, and it’s maybe time for a long good-bye.

Now. This week’s episode was good. It was very airtight. But, there were several things about it that only solidified why I’m increasingly over this show.

But the big one: “Chapter Fifty-Four” marks Luke Perry’s last episode on Riverdale. Perry a few great moments with KJ Apa here, and it reflects the relationship Archie and Fred had in season 1. But it also proves how much Perry was wasted for much of season 2 and 3.

As the show became more lofty, it ignored everything that anchored it to the ground. Much of Archie’s character has been rebuilt on during the latter half of the season. It’s been working well, but it’s still not the guitar-playing sweetheart to loved working with his dad. The core four are superheroes now. Not characters we can really enjoy spending time with.

A large port of it, I think, is that this show does not benefit from the 22-episode series format. Season 1 was snappy: there was a murder and 13 episodes later we solved said murder. Many of the plots here are good, but they’re stretched beyond their best-by dates.

I miss the season 1 silliness. It was teen, but it had bite. It wasn’t Veronica running around like a boss CEO. It was fun when she was more human. When she made more mistakes. Her storylines are so boring. She’s constantly swooping in and sorting messes when she should be cheering with the Vixens and wearing dramatic capes.

Josie’s send off this week was incredibly anticlimactic. We get to see her interacting with her father again, which was incredibly sweet. But she too had been stripped of everything about her character. Her Pussycats. Her mother. She was Archie’s girlfriend (which she played well) and someone who popped up for a good musical number.

Betty, as always, is chasing after The Farm. But this cult hasn’t been interesting for weeks now. I was hardly disturbed when Evelyn was revealed to be Edgar’s actual wife (let’s just pretend we don’t notice the 10+ year gap between Murray and Grand Maison). The babies are split up. The aunt takes one. I don’t know. Betty – just get a new fucking hobby.

Hopefully the escape…I mean “death” of Hal in the bus accident wakes her up. We all know this is some Michael Myers Halloween shit so let’s just move on to it already.

But I think what I’m getting to is this:

If you’re not having fun anymore, why are you still here?

And it’s question I’m asking myself every week. I love Archie comics, and will continue to support them and their zany ways, but I think it’s time for a long, long break. I’ll be finishing off season 3, and then just watching Riverdale in my own free time of my own free will.

Maybe we will have a story arch where we fall in love again. Maybe I’ll just be shipped off to the spin-off. But whatever it is, I’m so relieved there’s only three episodes left.

Wicked Wednesday: Witchcraft (1988)

When I saw that many of the films from the Witchcraft series had been added to Amazon Prime, I thought, “Finally. This is my moment.”

I had been wanting to watch this series for ages. Or, at least I thought I did. It took me until about only 10 minutes into this movie to realise that I was confusing Witchcraft with Witchboard. You know, I movie I already watched.

But despite being a complete idiot, I rather enjoyed Witchboard for what it was. Which is simply a mash up of Rosemary’s Baby and Tommy Wiseau’s acting skill. Throw in a dash of witchcraft Satanism and you’re all set to go!

Grace Churchill (a Polish immigrant, which is obvious from her name) gives birth to a baby boy, seemingly entering him into a world of bliss. Grace and her husband, John, move in with John’s mother in order for Grace to get help with the baby.

When Grace arrives at her mother-in-law Elizabeth’s house, she increasingly has visions like she had during her labor. She often sees images of a couple being burned at the stake for being witches. She also begins to feel unwell, and is given tea made by Elizabeth.

But Grace is a plucky Pole, and continues on with her normal life. At her post-baby-having baby shower, she shows her friend Linda around the house. They go to an area of the house that’s off limits to Grace, and they’re stopped by Elizabeth’s butler, Ellsworth.

The two women go back downstairs where they greet Grace’s priest. He turns to the baby, William, and sees visions of flames around the baby’s cot. He flees to the toilet where he’s sick. He then sees the vision again in a mirror before fleeing the home.

One day after the party, Grace manages to sneak into the “off limits” part of the home. She finds a series of unfinished rooms, including one with a large mirror hanging on the wall. When she looks into the mirror, she sees a vision of the priest hanging himself.

Later, the event happens in reality. The priest hangs himself outside of Grace’s house, his face disfigured.

Grace takes Linda to the off-limits room and shows her the room. But Linda isn’t convinced of her friend’s claims, believing that Grace is only upset about the lost of her priest.

Grace begins to become more unsettled living in her mother-in-law’s home. She pleads with John to let her leave, and he eventually admits that their home burnt down nearly a week ago. Upset with her husband, Grace tries to leave the home with baby William to see the ruined home. But Elizabeth convinces Grace to leave William behind.

When Grace reaches her house, she see that it has been ruined by a fire. But when she speaks to an older woman outside the home, she learns that the house had only burnt down the day before.

Grace returns to Elizabeth’s home and finds that it’s empty. When she goes into the off-limits room, she has more visions of the witches. She faints from her visions and wakes again with bandages around her wrists.

Linda visits Grace, and tries to sooth her friend, whom she believes has tried to take her own life. Linda agrees to stay the night and keep Grace company. In the night, Grace dreams that Linda is missing and she instead finds a chest of items in a room.

In the morning, Grace discovers that she’s holding onto the cross she grabbed in her dream. The same cross the priest gave her, and the same cross supposedly sitting at Linda’s home.

The two women explore more of the off-limits part of the home. When they split up, Linda’s life is swiftly ended, leaving Grace all alone. She’s swiftly knocked out and wakes up to find herself tied up.

Grace soon discovers that her husband and mother-in-law are the ones responsible. They tell her that they are reincarnated witches, waiting for their son to be born into the world again. With the help of the butler, the witches are killed off.

But while that’s the ending, I feel like I’m left with more questions than I have answers for. Why did the butler work for Elizabeth if he planned on killing her anyway? Is Grace a witch? How can she do all of these magical things? Or is it just Elizabeth and John being massive witchy jerks? Also, can I dress like Linda and get away with it in 2019?

Linda is my kindred spirit. Shame she wasn’t the Final Girl.

The acting and dialogue in Witchcraft is at least at a level of enjoyably bad. If you can get through the long, meandering scenes, it’s worth a watch. Though I’m not quite sure if I can stomach 15 sequels. It’s kind of difficult to wrap my mind around how this movie spawned so many sequels. But I suppose there could be worse things in this world.

So it was a mistake to watch Witchcraft, but it was certainly a happy mistake.