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.

 

 

Wicked City: White Knuckle Nostalgic Crime Drama

Ed Westwick

Los Angeles in the 1980s was a force to be reckoned with, Hollywood, Sunset Boulevard and driving ambition were all part of the scene and Wicked City, the ABC white knuckle crime drama full of nostalgia delivers this new offering on October 27, 2015. Anyone who visited the city of angels in the late 1970s early 80s will remember the hookers on street corners and the XXX rated clubs between Hollywood Boulevard and Sunset. The strip had more drug dealers and deaths per square inch than any other part of the city.

Having seen the pilot it is easy to see that this will be one heck of an addition to the ABC lineup. Set in the time were serial killers were falling over themselves in the world of glitter, glamor and drugs, Wicked City packs a punch in its opening episode.

Starring Jeremy Sisto, Taissa Farmiga, Erika Christensen, Ed Westwick and Gabriel Luna Wicked City follows an ambitious young reporter Karen McClaren (Farmiga), a detective Jack Roth (Sisto) and a serial killer, Kent (Westwick).

The show takes us back to a time where pagers were cutting edge and Pat Benetar could be heard on most rock channels. Smoky clubs along the strip, like Whiskey A Go Go, were packed with wannabes and Billy Idol performed live. The Hillside Stranglers were behind bars and the police were terrified of the possibility of copycat killers.

McClaren meets a helpful man at the “Whiskey” who likes to pay back and Roth is a cop with some baggage. Kent is pretty disturbing and the three main players are joined by a group of characters that include an undercover cop, a fast burner detective and a lot of victims.

This new crime drama boasts a more than capable cast and the sets look so convincing that one almost needs to look out the window and double check that we have not somehow been transported back to 1982.

Taissa Farmiga proves that she does not need American Horror Story to give a great performance and that those chops are improving with each project. Jeremy Sisto convinces as the detective who is determined to put another serial killer behind bars before he can kill again. Ed Westwick is truly unsettling as Kent and it is brilliant to see W. Earl Brown as Captain Williamson.

The pilot of Wicked City packs a lot of suspense into the series open and while there are no car chases, overly gratuitous violence and only the most modest of sex scenes, the episode excites. More of a mystery thriller than cop show, this new offering from ABC looks to be entertainment with a capital E and guarantees some solid performances and white knuckle viewing.

The show airs October 27 on ABC. Tune in and take a trip down memory lane or if you are too young for that, have a look to see what “The Strip” was like “back in the day.” Fans of Farmiga will be pleased with what she brings to the show and Ed Westwick kills it as Kent (Pun intended.).

http://www.disneyabcpress.com/abc/video/vgq63_7qluycv0zlvek7ydn8j16lvwdi/embed?t=170

Wrong Turn (2003): The Right Stuff

Cover of "Wrong Turn"

With Eliza Dushku being a hot property (Buffy, Angel, Tru Calling) off television and a cast of well known, if not star calibre yet, actors that included the ever lust worthy Desmond Harrington ( I’ve known full-grown women who go weak at the knees from just a mention of his name) Wrong Turn was a sure-fire money-maker. If not in the cinemas (where it did more than alright), it would reap great home sales benefits for the makers.

It did.

In fact Wrong Turn did well enough that it has spawned four sequels the last of which, Wrong Turn 5 is due to be released later this year. I’m not going to talk about the sequels or prequels. I have no interest in any of them, unless of course Dushku or Harrington show up which is very doubtful.

Directed by Rob Schmidt, Wrong Turn was his second feature-length film. Armed with a more than adequate cast and a straightforward story plus prosthetic makeup effects by the legendary Stan Winston Studio, Schmidt came up with a real winner of a horror film.

Using the age old plot of ‘strangers in a strange land’ aka ‘The Deliverance motif,’ the film places six young people in the middle of nowhere in the Appalachian mountains of West Virginia. Chris Flynn (Harrington) is a medical student running late for a job interview. He decides to take a shortcut around a four lane pile up and runs into Jessie Burlingame (Dushku) and crew who have had their tyres slashed by barbed wire placed in the middle of a back road.

As Chris literally runs into them or at least their vehicle and effectively renders both cars unusable, he strikes out with Jessie and newlyweds Carly and Scott (played by Emmanuelle Chriqui and Jeremy Sisto respectively) to find a phone to call for help. *On a side note here, Chriqui and Sisto fit so well together that major kudos go to the casting folks and for the actors themselves  for really selling their characters.*

They leave behind Evan (Kevin Zegers) and Francine (Lindy Booth) who have only a few moments of screen time and to live. In the short time they are on the screen they paint a brilliant picture of two self-centered, fun-loving Bohemians who have somehow found one another. Booth also has the funniest line with her, “Come on boy, don’t be a sissy. Take off them trousers.” which signals the beginning of fun and games with Evan. Off screen of course.

Oh, it’s trouser time again.

The first few frames of the film have already shown us that the woods are a scary place in West Virginia and that the local inbred population are a little hard on folks who cross their path. So when the killing starts  we are not surprised. The genius of this film is that the casting works so well and the actors sell their characters well enough that we actually care when they start to die.

We are rooting for them to get out alive and we feel badly when another one is taken by the grotesques of inbred hillbillies who treat the youngsters as prey. As the group is slowly whittled down (almost literally) it begins to look very unlikely that anyone will make it out alive.

The real power of the film is the group of actors who play the victims searching for an escape from the nightmare they’ve found themselves in. The script and the actors all work to get us, the audience, behind them. The whole thing is also helped by the grotesque inbred creatures that are hunting them. We never really get to see too much of them. Even the ‘lingering’ shots of the sleeping monsters are no more than a second or two in length.

No, I don’t want any damn candy!

The FX are top-notch. Speaking of FX, Wrong Turn is the first film to use CGI to brilliant effect in the area of pupils. When one of the group is killed quite graphically, CG was used to show the pupils dilating. According to the ‘making of’ featurette on the DVD, this film was the first to use CGI in this way.

The film delivers an entertaining time with the right mix of terror and humour, a likeable cast and suitable boogeymen to jump at and enough gore to remind you that you are indeed watching a horror film.

It is a ‘must see’ for Dushku and Harrington fans and I’d recommend it to anyone thinking of making a horror film. Wrong Turn show how it should be done with more than two-dimensional characters as the victims and damned scary villains. It moves at a great pace and the humour is well placed.

My final verdict is that it’s one that you should watch with all the lights off…

I spy with my little eye…