American Horror Story: Chapter Two – Nurses (Review)

Sarah Paulson as Shelby Miller

Before you can say “squeal like a pig” the second chapter of American Horror Story continues its re-enactment of a new murder house. This one inhabited by deadly nurses and a little ghost girl named Pricilla who wants to kill everyone one.

There are more piggy noises in the night and a giant burning cross with a pig’s head on the top of it and lots of entrails and other bits of dripping meat hanging off the cross strut.  Lee, the former cop and prescription drug addict, has a major meltdown when Flora is taken away by her ex-husband.

Lee’s self destructive streak is so severe she changes her drug of choice to alcohol.

Chapter two follows a horrified, and scared out of her mind Shelby as she runs from the scalped man in the woods. Matt finds her and after a night in the hospital she is allowed home. Not without the local police checking her blood system for hallucinogenics first.

The hillbilly clan were scarce this week. They were accused of much but made no appearances at all.   The pig head wearing man makes a couple of appearances. One of which was  a seat jumper and Lee (Bassett) really sold that scare to the audience.

(On a sidenote, Ms. Bassett could almost tie Ms. Coulson who proved as far back as Serenity that she can work that scream.)

Chapter two introduced the two nurses, one of whom was seen when the couple bought the house. These murderous women liked to play the name game a bit differently. Running a home for the elderly, the nurses murdered patients and spray painted the first letter of their surname on the wall.

Denis O’Hare as the professor “and author” relates their story via a found video tape.  They were never caught, despite murdering a number of helpless patients and the letters MURDE, were a permanent fixture on the wall. 

The word was wallpapered over and after seeing the tape Matt goes and peels off the paper to reveal the word. (If only wallpaper were really that easy to remove, redecorating would be an absolute breeze…)

Lee kidnaps her girl and this time Pricilla lures the youngster outside of the house.  The highlight of the episode was Lee, and Matt and Shelby, finding Flora’s  yellow hoodie way up towards the top of that  very tall tree.

Creepy and chilling is the best way to describe that scene.

Matt watching the two nurses murder an old woman in her hospital bed was the close runner up of best scene. “M” is for Margaret was the topper in the house and the choking bit with the rag was a close third.  Really quite disturbing.

Shelby and her husband confront the bank about selling them a murder house (Ah, first season…) only to find that the institution will do nothing. They can sell the place to the Deliverance gang or stay in the house.

The show is slowly winding up the tension and piling on the creepiness of the place. So far it looks like Lee may be the first “casualty” after the disappearance of Flora. Clearly this poor stressed out woman may just beat Shelby to the “crazy” finish line.

American Horror Story is delivering a pretty good season in terms of being creepily entertaining.  While the show does not contain the originality of prior sessions it is still a crowd pleaser.

One bone of contention, however, has to do with Kathy Bates and her odd accent.  Seems like Ethel the bearded lady may reside in her new character’s body.  Not that it is not interesting, it just feels like a poor fit for the meat clever welding woman. 

American Horror Story ends with  things shifting into high gear. Lee’s kid is missing and things have taken a turn for the worse.

The series airs Wednesdays on FX.


The Devil’s Tomb (2009): Event Horizon Wanna Be

The Devil's Tomb
The Devil’s Tomb (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Okay. So on Netflix it seems to be Cuba Gooding Jr month or year, maybe. I have seen Gooding’s name on the movie lists of Netflix in about five different lists. It’s not the same film listed several different times either. It’s at least five different films.

Or six.

Someone on Netflix must have gotten a great distribution deal on Cuba’s films. Either that or no-one else wants them. Because if the rest of these films are like The Devil’s Tomb? It is probably the latter conclusion that fits best.

Directed by Jason Connery (better known for working on the other side of the camera) The Devil’s Tomb looks like Jason’s first directorial foray into feature film. Not so says IMDb (which interestingly lists The Devil’s Tomb as Connery’s first directed film chronologically)  Jason’s ‘maiden’ feature film is Pandemic even though it is after The Devil’s Tomb on Connery’s filmography.

I could have forgiven the film some of it’s most obvious flaws if it was Connery’s maiden voyage. Okay maybe not, because let’s face it, the flaws are many and they range across the spectrum of ownership. The script, the acting, the location…You see where I’m going with this?

I have had a moan before about characters that I am supposed to care about not making the grade. What The Devil’s Tomb has is characters that lack dimension entirely. They have been created so haphazardly and sloppily that they aren’t even two-dimensional cardboard cut-outs of characters.

The plot is basic. A group of mercenary (add a question mark here, because in the Cuba Gooding Jr voice-over at the start of the film he refers to his little band of soldiers as mercenaries, but it appears that they aren’t…really) soldiers are told that they have to rescue Hellboy…Sorry, Ron Perlman from hole in the ground in the middle of the desert.

English: Ron Perlman at the 2011 San Diego Com...
English: Ron Perlman at the 2011 San Diego Comic-Con. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Gooding’s gang of merry men and women are joined by Valerie Cruz who, it turns out, is Hellboy’s daughter and she has to save only him from the hole. Nothing else is allowed to be taken from this secret location.

So a helicopter takes the group and deposits them outside a secret manhole cover with a combination coded lock and before leaving tells them they have six hours.

It is at this point that the film tries it’s hardest to be Event Horizon but in a hole in the ground. To be fair though the film has tried from almost the first frame to emulate the far superior Horizon by having Gooding’s character have flashbacks (brilliantly filmed in sepia tones so that there can be no mistake that these are indeed flashbacks) to an event prior to this latest mission.

Unfortunately these flashbacks include an almost unrecognizable Ray Winstone (it must have been the uniform, I honestly did not recognise the man until the end of the film) and they are so short, frequent and unedifying that only at the very end of the film do we learn the supposed purpose of them being here.

Once inside the tomb the small band of saviors encounter a priest with a really bad skin condition and Bill Moseley. I’m a huge fan of Moseley and was disappointed to see his cameo wasted as badly as Winstone’s. Quite frankly the producers could have used any unknown in either role, but they obviously thought the names would put a few extra bums in seats.

I don’t want to head into spoiler territory here (Are you kidding me? I hear you cry. What spoilers??) but after they all get ‘trapped’ in the lower floors of the underground facility everything goes ‘Pete Tong‘ (wrong) and they start seeing things and it all goes Event Horizon like but in a bargain basement, ‘we really don’t know how to do this,’ way.

If you look at the shooting budget of 10 million dollars, it is mystifying and downright difficult to figure out where the money went. It most certainly didn’t go into getting a decent script. Or even in getting a decent location. *In the Goofs section of IMDb they point out the very American graffiti that is present in an Iraqi underground bunker that is 900 floors beneath the desert floor.*

Now don’t get me wrong, I like Cuba Gooding Jr. Up until now he’s never failed to move me when I’ve seen him in other films. But in The Devil’s Tomb he just does not deliver. Jason Connery I’ve seen act and I like his work. He has a little bit to go on the directing front, but hey, he has to be given some decent material to work with.

My final verdict on The Devil’s Tomb? Put it back under the sand where it came from. For me a film has to be bad if all I can say during the end credits is, “Huh. So that’s it then.”

They didn’t like the movie either…