Wicked City: Episode 102 Running with the Devil (Preview)

ED WESTWICK, ERIKA CHRISTENSEN

Wicked City keeps up the intensity of the pilot and the white knuckle ride continues as Detective Jack Roth (Jeremy Sisto) and his new, and unwanted, partner Paco Conteras (Gabriel Luna) try to stop serial killer Kent Galloway (Ed Westwick) from killing his next victim.  Karen McClaren (Taissa Farmiga) is spotted talking with Roth and Galloway choses another victim. The police race to find the woman before she becomes the next victim.

Despite a slow open, the newest addition to the ABC lineup promises to deliver once the series finds its feet.  Wicked City gives us flawed heroes and a killer who apparently finds his perfect mate.  Westwick as the child loving killer spares his previous victim Betty BeaumontaIne (Erika Christensen) because she has kids. 

He learns, as she does, that this single mom, and nurse, is up for just about anything and the killer sets about seeing just how far she is willing to go.  In the pilot, he intimidates her into leaving work to meet him at the club. Once there, when he gives up going after McClaren, she agrees to go along on a “threesome.”

Running with the Devil could be describing Betty’s journey with killer Kent. She willingly goes along with his sexual plans for Mallory. Things go awry however after a bit of bondage when Kent and Betty fall asleep after their threesome  and the woman disappears.  In the episode, Galloway must track down the missing Mallory before the police find her.

Apart from Wicked City looking at 1980s Los Angeles with its abundance of drugs, sex, Hollywood hopefuls and decadent debauchery, the series looks at the “perfect storm” connection of two people who look to become the 1980 Southern Californian version of  Raymond Fernandez and Martha Beck,  aka (The Lonely Hearts Killers).

This episode shows the new partners, Roth and Paco starting to work together instead of against one another. It also gives the viewer another glimpse at the world of the 1980s, as the two cops head to an MTV music video shoot. Roth states that a channel with only music videos will never last, an attitude that was shared by many in when MTV started.

As another nod to the real world of Los Angeles in the 1980s Joe Walsh, who changed the Eagles‘ style and attitude in 1975, has a brilliant cameo as the MTV music video director who Roth and Conteras question during their investigation.

Joe Walsh
Joe Walsh (Behind the scenes.)

As the two detectives follow leads and struggle to get ahead of their suspected serial killer, Roth upsets an old flame and McClaren finds new purpose.  Wicked City offers the audience some complex characters with a lot of depth and real touches of truth.  Sisto is convincing as the family man who is wants to stop another Hillside Strangler from becoming a headline and racking up a number of victims.

Farmiga is compelling as the girl with a dream caught up in some pretty horrifying circumstances. Erika Christensen manages to make her “Nurse Betty” a real woman with enough insecurities and complexities that her attraction to Galloway feels right.  Someone who might have gone their whole life without ever exhibiting “bad behavior” until meeting Kent.

Brit actor Ed Westwick makes his killer charismatic, personable and attractive enough that he feels as real as the rest of the cast. A terrifying charmer who loves kids and is compelled to murder beautiful women.

Wicked City airs Tuesdays on ABC. Tune in and discover Los Angeles back in the 1980s where serial killers seemed to lurk around every street corner or seedy club. Running with the Devil airs November 3.

 

 

The Tortured Torture Porn With a Message

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Directed by Robert Lieberman, The Tortured can be firmly classified as “torture porn” it is certainly not pretty and it does pass into the realms of pornography as they’ve been set up by “experts.”

It is surprising. Jesse Metcalfe who played the lovelorn cuckolding gardener in Desperate Housewives, the teenage satyr in John Tucker Must Die, is very suited to light comedy and it was a treat to see him in a role that required more of him than to just be good looking. Erika Christensen, I remember from the 2002 “teen Basic Instinct” film Swimfan. She played a transfer student with an unhealthy obsessional trait.

Bill Moseley‘s  name immediately made this a horror film and one that could be expected to contain buckets of gore. His character in both the Rob Zombie films as Otis Firefly, the elder brother of Baby, the violent sociopathic killer have pretty much stamped him, in my mind at any rate, as gory horror actor.

basement

The plot is pretty simple. It is an “eye for eye” affair. Elise  (Christensen) and Craig  (Metcalfe) Landry have their six year-old son Benjamin snatched from their yard by John Kozlowski (Moseley). Kozlowski is a serial child killer who kills their son. He is, somewhat amazingly caught, but only after he has horribly murdered their son.

At his trial, instead of getting life with no chance for parol, he gets 25 years to life, which means he could actually get out on parole in 10 years. The Landry’s are beyond furious. They decide that they are going to practise their own brand of justice. They kidnap the prisoner on his way to another prison and take him to a cabin in the woods.

This cabin is not a Whedonesque type affair, it is just an old broken down property.

With a basement.

I will not go into the particulars of the rest of the film but the clue is in the title, The Tortured. And it does what is says on the label. I wasn’t surprised, but I was disturbed at the coldness of the camera lens. It dispassionately gets us up close and personal with the grizzly details and it makes for uncomfortable viewing.

The only redeeming factor in the film, is the ending. This is torture porn with a message. A pretty good one too. But I cannot divulge it without giving away a huge plot twist.

I will tell you this, as a horror film aficionado, I did’t see it coming. The twist I had in mind, did not exist.

So good job by Marek Poseval who wrote the thing and to Lieberman who directed it.

But…

Unless you are strong of stomach, I am as a rule, I watched it while eating my tea (dinner in the US). But even I could feel my gag reflex attempting to cut in a couple of times.

For plot twist alone, I’d give this a 3 out of 5 stars. I knew it was going to be a horror film, as I said, Bill Moseley, of whom I am a huge fan, almost guaranteed it. It was just a bit too much torture porn for my tastes, despite its message.

prisoner

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