Dead of Summer: Home Sweet Home – Amy a Bad Seed (Review)

 TONY TODD

After last week’s Dead of Summer episode, where Amy killed Joel and survived three bullets to the chest, “Home Sweet Home” lifts the lid on Malphas. We learn a  lot more about Amy who, it seems, was  a  bad seed way before Stillwater. Holyoke was wrong about the “state” of Amy. Of all the things she could be called, “innocent” is clearly not one of them.

In this penultimate episode there were buckets of blood and a very impressive body count, even before Amy went all “Lizzie Borden.”

Flashback sequences showed a young Amy with her parents and older brother.  The scene was not a happy one. The girl lived in a house with parents who ignored her and a big brother who disliked her.

She lets his pet mouse free. Later it is found dead in the garbage disposal unit. He locks her in the garage and the unhappy child falls asleep. The next morning, mum, dad and big brother are all dead from carbon monoxide poisoning. Amy scores her first kills years before Camp Stillwater.

As episodes go, this was an almost epic win. There were enough nods and  winks to other films to satisfy the most devout horror geek. Some may have been unintentional. The bus scene for instance felt a little Jeepers Creepers II (but really only a little).  The scene where Jessie throws lake water on Amy was straight from The Exorcist. Just compare the two:

Jessie: “The water washes your filth away…”

Father Merrin: “The power of Christ compels you.”

Very similar, both are a six word phrase,  and both have the same effect on the intended.

Deb, along with Drew and Blair, gather the remaining children up and put them on a bus. As they flee the camp, a great wave of blood splashes the windscreen.  The vehicle hits something and then stalls.

The bus driver gets out to check on what they hit. Apart from his face being smashed into a bus passenger window, he does not return.

At Holyoke’s cabin the exorcism has begun and seconds into the ceremony, Holyoke melts and disappears.  It is left to Jessie, Alex and Garrett to continue.  Amy/Malphas cajoles  and pleads with her captors.

“Deb” arrives and knocks on the door. (The one Holyoke tells them must stay closed.) She tells the kids inside about the bus and her concern for Amy. They open the door. The woman standing there may look like Deb but it is a trick. Pure lake water is flung on the thing and it is repelled.

It was a distraction to allow Amy to escape her bonds. She quickly takes over the proceedings.

ELIZABETH LAIL

Like “The Exorcist” the whole thing has gone pear shaped.  The possessed is now in control and the “good guys” are in serious trouble.  Taking a note from Father Karras’ bible,  Jessie invites the demon into her.

She is then plunged into the vat of pure lake water and killed. (Holyoke did say if the possessed was put into the water they would die…) Amy brings her back with CPR and it all  looks to be over.

Meanwhile back at the bus. Drew keeps attempting to restart the vehicle. When Amy brings Jessie back, the blood on the windscreen dissolves and the bus starts.

Deb bumps into her old “Dharma Bum” pal who starts throttling the life out of her while lecturing the camp owner on how this was all her fault. Once again, as Jessie wakes up, Deb’s dead boyfriend disappears in a red mist.

Amy is “cured” and her three saviors all want to hit the road immediately.  Amy says she needs a moment to reflect.

At the start of the episode there is a young woman; Margo Tate,  who is looking for Camp Stillwater. Her car is broken down and a local gives her a lift.

Deb shows up at Camp Stillwater to confront Amy, who still has the demon in her.  As she and Amy talk, Margo arrives and gets the chop. Deb plunges a knife into Amy/Malphas but ultimately loses the battle.

Cue a montage sequence that shows Amy was a very, very busy killer bee.  After it finishes Amy starts to clean the blood off and Jessie asks if  she is coming. Smiling, Amy answers, “Be right there.”

The season finale airs next week. It seems that the demon has won after all. Deb has been killed, Holyoke banished and poor old Margo Tate finally got to Camp Stillwater only to die.

It will be interesting to see where the last episode goes. Will the survivors of Camp Stillwater rise up to shove Malphas out? Has Jessie, as the really “pure” vessel be able to finish what they started?

PAULINA SINGER

Tune in and catch the season finale of Dead of Summer.  Hopefully this is not the end of Holyoke although, to be fair, he did get it so wrong.  The series airs Tuesdays on Freeform.

CAST:

Dead of Summer: The Devil Inside – Switch (Review)

 PAULINA SINGER

Dead of Summer just pulled a switch. “The Devil Inside”  does a role swap at the last minute between Amy and Holyoke. On top of that little shocker,  another counselor dies, Jessie’s DUI backstory is revealed and Garrett has turned into a trigger-happy (suspended) cop.

Plot:

An unscheduled eclipse causes Jessie to have a vision. Cricket returns and tells her to throw Holyoke’s bones into the lake. If she does not, everyone will die.  Jessie must then convince the other’s in the group to let her carry out the task.

Cricket visits Jessie again and tells her the demon’s name. Despite being told not to, Jessie turns and sees the enormous winged creature rise from the lake. The name of the entity is Malphas and it is this creature  that the counselors, and Deb, must defeat.  Amy  is apparently possessed by the thing and it controls her. The gang must outwit the girl to keep everyone from dying.

Joel gets on board when he tries to burn down the cabin. He learns from Holyoke himself that Amy has been possessed by the demon.   Jessie finally throws the bones into the lake and everything changes. It suddenly switches from day to night.

Another vision reveals that Holyoke was not evil personified. He was the scapegoat of a Satanist sect. His followers were all murdered by the worshippers and he was turned in by the killers.  Only Joel and Jessie see this flashback to what really happened to Holyoke’s followers.

Deb tells the counselors that the camp is closing down after the events of last week. The kids have to pack up and leave before the reporters and cops invade Camp Stillwater.

Jessie’s Backstory:

Jessie’s mother turns out to be a self-centered, passive-aggressive woman who does her best to keep her daughter from becoming a success. From sabotaging her interview for college to forcing Jessie to take the rap for her drunken accident; “Mom” is a real piece of work.

SHARON LEAL
Sharon Leal as Jessie’s mother.

The result is that Jessie has some trust issues but does ultimately trust herself to do what is  right.

Holyoke:

Turns out that this guy was not a villain after all. He has been trying to alert the kids              to the coming of Malphas.  He was set up by the Satanists and has been wrongly accused of mass murder for centuries.  Holyoke now has Jessie and, briefly, Joel on his side.

Later the kids bring Amy to his cabin and he prepares to defeat Malphas. It seems that he does not want to kill the girl but the demon hiding inside her.  He orders Joel and Jessie to help him save the girl.

Amy:

Alex takes Amy out to Eagle Creek, to stargaze, but the two start making out. Amy instigates the switch to sex and palms Alex’s knife.  Deb and the counselors break up the make out session. Amy holds the knife to Alex’s throat.

ELIZABETH LAIL, MARK INDELICATO
Amy before she goes knife happy…

Joel talks her down and in response she lets Alex go but kills Joel by stabbing him in the throat. Garrett pumps four rounds into the possessed girl. Amy hits the ground and then gets right back up. Holyoke appears and grabs Amy. “You know where to find me,” he says. He drags her to his cabin.

Finish:

The still alive Amy is tied in a chair in Holyoke’s cabin.  Garrett and Jessie arrive and when they enter, the door slams shut after them. Amy begins screaming and it becomes deeper, more guttural as the camera zooms into her mouth.

Thoughts:

This was one of the better episodes.  It actually made me jump a couple of times. (The scene in the mortuary with all those drawers and Damon rising was impressively creepy.)

The switch, where Holyoke suddenly becomes a “good guy” was well done. Although there are some disturbing elements to his agenda. He says he wants to save Amy, but earlier he wanted her dead. Could his version of “save” equal death?

Jessie’s backstory explained a lot about her character.  It gives a believability and a truth that was missing before.

Amy Mitchell finally got to do a bit more than just show up occasionally and look worried. This lady has got some massive chops; let her use them.

Tony Todd as hero…Lovely bit of  casting against type and Todd is brilliant enough that he pulls this off effortlessly.

Garrett may never become sheriff if he does not curb that inclination to empty his pistol into the bad guys.

On the downside, the creature that rises from the lake was a bit too CG. In the first draft I even referred to the thing as:  “the computer generated demon…”

Overall Dead of Summer “The Devil Inside” moved things up a notch or two.  We got another death (of a likable character) and Amy turned out to be hiding something really bad…

The series airs Tuesdays on Freeform.  Tune in and watch  this slow moving horror show pick up speed.

CAST:

Dead of Summer: The Dharma Bums – Deb (Review)

 DYLAN NEAL, ELIZABETH MITCHELL

Dead of Summer  starts with Cricket’s effects being taken from the camp. “The Dharma Bums ” continues with a trip down memory lane for Deb. 1970s America included Camp Stillwater and Jack Kerouac for the young camp director. It also included Keith, a poetry writing Kerouac wannabe who was in love with  Deb.

This episode gave some brilliant backstory to the director and featured a great “beyond the grave” love story.  Keith comes to visit and apart from consummating their love, offers some advice. “You may be able to save these kids,” he says before vanishing in a cloud of fog rising from the lake.

Cryptic, a little cool (with shades of Ghost) and a chance to see what really makes Deb tick. Interestingly this woman is a Harvard lawyer, not a good fit as she seems too naive in many ways.

Still the flashbacks, which got a little confusing at times,  gave great insight into the optimistic nature of the young Deb. There is a little bit of a discordant note being struck here though.  Would such a “save the world” young woman have a satanic mask in her wardrobe?  And…how can she so effortlessly get caught up in Keith’s visit from the grave.

This ghost is corporeal. He touches Deb, in more ways than one, and can even start campfires.  The younger Deb found the man dead of an overdose and even, apparently, scattered his ashes at Camp Stillwater. (Coincidentally, her trip to the closed camp revealed it was for sale. Ergo Keith was responsible for the camp being reopened.)

So how could she so willingly go along with not only walking and talking to her dead boyfriend but presumably shag him as well?  Are Harvard lawyers so willing to suspend their disbelief?

RONEN RUBINSTEIN, MARK INDELICATO
Collecting Ingredients for a seance

Leaving Deb’s love story aside, Blair decides to speak with Cricket’s spirit and find out what really happened. He and Alex collect a “spirit board” (Which looks suspiciously like a Ouija Board.) and some ingredients from the kitchen.  Ginger and chicken’s blood are essential to a successful spirit chat, according to Blair’s abuelita (granny) who was a Santeria.

The rest of the counselors are united in their belief that something bad is happening at the lake.  Joel opts out of the spirit board seance though.  Once Blair gets the ball rolling, things get pretty exciting. Amy is possessed and not only does Cricket come through but so too does Holyoke.

Poor Amy, not only is she the “doorway” but she also needs to die before whatever evil plan Holyoke’s has can reach fruition.  Jessie does some spirit drawings which she later takes to Sykes.

The possession included white eyes, no pupils, a bit of back popping and Amy awkwardly trying to slit her own throat. In essence some pretty good stuff. Not as impressive as those hands, or whatever those white things were, flailing at the windows. That was easily the creepiest bit of the entire seance.

ELI GOREE, PAULINA SINGER, MARK INDELICATO, RONEN RUBINSTEIN

Jessie and Sykes try to follow the clue left by his dad. (Earlier the lawman discovers his dad’s old cufflink had a clue hidden in it.) When Braces turns up with the drawing, Sykes figures out that this is the missing piece to his puzzle.

They begin digging up buried items placed in the shape of a pentagram. The deer heart is found but  when they look for the skull, aka Blotter’s head, they find blood only. The thing has been moved.

Sidenote:  And here is the only real problem with this episode. The head, which should have been uber creepy, was obviously fake. Someone did not realize, apparently, that when the masked figure  plopped  the head in its new grave, he/she was going to push it onto the ground. The head “gave.” In other words, it was clear there was no skull in Blotter’s decapitated bean.  Seconds later, even the shovel of dirt caused the head to “give.”  Sorry chaps but that little moment stole every bit of thunder this episode had.  

Despite the monumental cock up with Blotter’s skull-less head, “The Dharma Bums” was pretty good. It increased the mystery and allowed those pesky Satanists to mention “the teacher”  again.

There were things that did not set well.  The Harvard lawyer bit still does not feel quite right for Deb for instance.  Plus the whole I’m not going to question the dead guy making love to me bit was a bit odd.  But overall, leaving out  the severed head debacle,  the story is progressing nicely.

However, there really needs to be a bigger body count and less build up. Dead of Summer has left behind its allusion to “Friday the 13th” type horror and is sloppily meandering between sub-genres of horror.  *Come on guys. Pick one or two.*

On the plus side, great focus on Deb as she really was far too one-dimensional for so long.

Dead of Summer airs Tuesdays on Freeform.

CAST:

Guest starring Dylan Neal as Keith

Dead of Summer: How to Stay Alive in the Woods – Finally (Review)

TONY TODD

After last week’s focus on  Drew and his issues, Dead of Summer finally stops pussy-footing around and  delivers more Holyoke.  “How to Stay Alive in the Woods” also focusses on another counselor, Joel. It turns out that the next Spike Lee has known about  the Tall Man for quite a while.

Joel’s big brother Michael was haunted by the dead spiritualist and kills himself the night of his prom. Before slashing his wrists and writing “He will never leave me alone” Mike gives his dodger shirt to Joel. This is the shirt he has been wearing at Camp Stillwater.

In this episode Joel’s past dealings with Holyoke is shown in detail. The ghost of Camp Stillwater haunted him on the night of his prom as well.

The campers and counselors all head out for a camp out  in a meadow. Roasted marshmallows and watching the blood moon are on the agenda.  Cricket warns the children and her colleagues to be careful in the woods.

There are, she says, bear traps everywhere.  Later, while she and Alex are collecting wood for the campfires, he almost steps on one.  Cricket warns him to be careful and to watch where he is walking. Considering what happens later this scene reeks of irony.

Holyoke appears to Joel and tells him to kill Amy or “someone else will die.” At one point it looks like an asthmatic little girl will be the  spirit’s victim. Apart from Joel seeing the Tall Man, he seems to have issues with hallucinations or vision that do not deal with the dead.

Last week, Joel and Deb meet in the woods and had sex.  Joel now feels that he and Deb have made a connection. When he tries to  act on his feelings, Carpenter rebuffs Joel.  He hesitantly asks about the night before and Deb reveals that all they did was walk in the woods.

Apparently, the young man imagined the entire thing.

ELIZABETH LAIL
ELIZABETH LAIL

Joel uses his camera to show him what is real. Almost every time that the ghost appears he uses the device to filter out Holyoke. Although the last time he tried to cancel the spirit out, it failed. Joel can see the Tall Man on his camera and the ghost reminds the young man that he needs to kill Amy.

The camp cameraman sees other  things as well.  He sees Amy with her eyes coming unfocussed as blood streams down her face.  In an earlier episode he saw Deb standing at her window in her bra. He thought, at the time, she was flirting with him. When he reviews the taped event he sees that this was not true.

Joel confesses to his fellow counselors that he is being haunted by the Tall Man.
They are concerned that about their friend who reveals that the ghost is telling him to kill Amy.  Joel talks about his brother as well. As he recounts his long history with Holyoke, Anton (Allan Fisher) arrives.

The Russian lad reports that Holyoke has told him that it is too late to kill Amy. He says that someone else will now die instead of her.

Cricket is still infatuated with Alex and later she goes to meet him in the woods.  Alex has apparently turned over a new leaf. He asks Blair what Cricket’s favorite song is and he takes a flower along for his date.

As she closes in on Alex for their romantic interlude, she spies a bear trap. Cricket changes course and is met by a masked figure who gives her a shove. The girl flies through the air and her head lands dead center on the trap.

Cricket’s head is skewered by the the teeth of the device.

ELI GOREE
ELI GOREE

“How to Stay Alive in the Woods” picked up the pace and trotted out some pretty impressively  creepy bits.  More is revealed about the Tall Man’s backstory and it appears that Garrett Sykes also has  previous history with Holyoke.

The shock end to Cricket was done very well as was the brief scare when the masked figure  suddenly appeared to shove her onto the trap.  Kudos for the pretty decent jump scare at the old house as well.

At long last Tony Todd’s character has been allowed to speak.  This combined with the increased sightings and interactions with Joel have pumped this show up.  Todd gives great bad guy, he alway has, and his  presence was needed  to increase the fear factor.

Mad props to Elizabeth Lail and her “unfocussed” eyes during Joel’s vision. Super creepy and disturbing, her slight eye crossing along with that dazed, “I’m dying” look was spot on.

This episode was not only scarier, it was a tad grim. With one suicide, Joel’s brother, and then later Joel almost slitting his wrist as well, made for  serious viewing. It was heart breaking when Joel learns that his camera can lie after all.

(On a sidenote, the program makers warn that the show deals with suicide at the start.)

ELI GOREE, AMBER CONEY, ELIZABETH LAIL
ELI GOREE, AMBER CONEY, ELIZABETH LAIL

Cricket’s death brings the Tall Man’s victim count up to two counselors. He is also getting very pushy with his demands to kill Amy.  It was sad to see Cricket go, but honestly, she was marked for death last week.

Dead of Summer airs Tuesdays on Freeform.  Head on over and watch this one, it is picking up, as is the body count, and is worth a look, if for no other reason than to see Tony Todd do what he does best.

CAST: