Pretty Little Liars: Original G’A’ngsters – Boom (Review)

LUCY HALE

Pretty Little Liars “G’A’ngsters” waited till the very end to have the FBI knock on Ezra’s door and…Boom:  “We have reason to believe that Nicole is still alive.”  That will wipe that smile off Aria’s face.  Of course that call from Nicole’s phone, the one that Emily told Aria to ignore, was a real hint that this was a dead body that refused to stay buried. (Like many of the “dead” bodies in Liars.)

Sara’s body is taken out of the hotel while the Liars are in the club eating. Soon after the group all watch as Jenna cries for the police.  The Liars are not impressed by her award winning performance and say so. Aria’s expression when Jenna “looks” at them is priceless.

This episode managed to make the blind Jenna look downright menacing at least twice. In the above mentioned scene and then right after when Spencer sees Jenna move toward her. Never have black sunglasses and a white can been so threatening.

Jason reappears to take over duties as Ali’s caregiver he shows the papers to Mary and then orders out of “his” house. He and his sister argue about Ms. Drake and he enlists Aria to help him put some distance between Alison and Mary.

Ezra talks Aria into eloping and Emily takes her mother (Nia Peebles)  out for a birthday meal that actually puts a smile back on Pam’s face. (Sidenote: More Nia Peebles please.) Initially the meal is strained when a “hen’s party” enters the restaurant.

Later, the rowdy group send drinks to Emily and Pam. Em’s mother joins the women and has a blast. But the end of the birthday evening new friends are made and Pam has a new lease on life.

Hanna tells Caleb about the laptop which may have information on it that could lead to A.D.  and he promises to help her retrieve it.

Cue a funny scene where Caleb gives Jenna a massage, courtesy of the hotel, natch. He grabs her lockbox key for Hanna. “You know you could turn the lights on. She’d never notice,” says Hanna.

She and Spenser go and find the lockbox (no laptop) and Noah Kahn comes in. He puts something in the box as they hide under the bed. Noah makes a call to Dr. Cochrane and leaves a message. He then knocks over a table.

(Kudos to the set design folks for finding a bed tall enough for both Liars to fit under. Most hotel rooms have those “flush to the floor” beds…)

Spencer visits Yvonne (Kara Royster) as she checks out of the hospital and Toby reveals that the only thing missing from the airstream was the stolen file. She urges him to take Yvonne and get out of Rosewood. 

Jason lays his cards on the table, with a little help from Aria.  Mary reveals that she was there when Jessica turned Jason away before.

Toby tells Spencer that he might have started building the house for her, but  he really loves Yvonne. He plans to move to Maine, where Yvonne’s family lives, and start their family.

This episode had a double whammy. On top of Ezra’s “dead” fiancé coming back to life, apparently, things come to a head for the rest of the girls.

The Liars, sans Aria, head to the secret “lair” (as Hanna puts it) in Aunt Carole’s storm cellar. It was Jessica DiLaurentis’ hidey hole. The place has pictures of all the Liars and files for each. Hanna strikes again when she sees an old photo: “Damn, my hair looked good.”

As Alison takes a trip down memory lane, the car alarm goes off. They are rush outside and Spencer finds her keys are missing. A,D. has clearly taken them.  All four get in the car and close the doors to stop the alarm.

The doors lock and a countdown begins from a digital display on the dashboard. As it reaches zero (and all the girls put their hands over their ears) it reads: “If you find out who I am before I find out who killed Charlotte. YOU DIE. -A.D.”

Jessica’s secret lair explodes into flames and A.D.  writes on the back of the car window, “I see you.”  A mysterious figure takes Noel’s file and sets fire to it in a room full of boxes and a desk.

Pretty Little Liars managed to pile on the pressure this week. The storyline lowered the boom on all the Liars. It will be interesting to see how Ezra reacts to the news that Nicole may be alive. If he ever learns that Aria got that call it seems pretty certain that the elopement to Tuscany will be off.

There was a good blend of comedy and tension in this episode.  On a sidenote, Mary has dropped her all black ensemble.

The series airs Tuesdays on Freeform.  Tune in and see what the Liars get up to next.

Cast:

Guest starring Dre Davis as Sara, Tammin Sursok as Jenna,  Brant Daugherty as Noah Kahn and Drew Van Acker as Jason.

Werewolf: The Beast Among Us (2012): Entertaining Hokum

Still from Werewolf:The Beast Among Us
The 2012 film Werewolf: The Beast Among Us directed by Louis Morneau (Bats, Retroactive) is entertaining hokum with a European setting that features a slight nod to the werewolf legend of old, aka Universal’s Larry Talbot (as played by Lon Chaney Jr.). The film even features a character quoting a line from the 1941 classic film The Wolf Man which declares:

Even a man who is pure in heart
and says his prayers by night
may become a wolf when the wolfbane blooms
and the autumn moon is bright.

Gwen The Wolf Man (1941)

Rather interestingly, this film is also from Universal. Only in this case it is Universal 1440 Entertainment, what used to be Universal Home Entertainment, and this straight to video production joins others on the Universal assembly line of cheaply made films with one or two “names” to promote the movie.

In this instance it is Irish actor Stephen Rea (with the most impressive pedigree), who has the least amount of screen time but is crucial, sort of, to the plot, and Nia Peebles. Both have been cast to give the feature a little gravitas. Nia, who has a solid fan base from the soap The Young and the Restless as well as playing Emily Fields’ mother in Pretty Little Liars and roles from a lot of other popular TV shows, has little more to do than Rea in the film, but her character does get to play the sacrifice card.

The story of Werewolf: The Beast Among Us has surviving villagers buying the services of a Great Hunter Charles (Ed Quinn), whose profession has been passed on from his father. A werewolf has exterminated an entire village and is moving through the area killing freely. A young man Daniel (Guy Wilson) who is studying with the local doctor (Rea) wants to help. Daniel’s mother Vadoma (Peebles) has a secret and she meets with the Doc to get medication for a condition.

Charles and his band of hunters take on the challenge of killing the creature. Suspicion shifts between various characters until finally the guilty party is found and dealt with. All in all this is an entertaining little movie that does not disappoint although it does feel a little old fashioned.

The film feels like one of the old Drive-In second, or even third, features that ran before one was allowed to see the main picture. Classically referred to as ‘B’ films “Werewolf” sits easily in this category.

For all intents and purposes, the story, its action and the storyline could be termed middle of the road. There is enough action to keep things moving, enough blood and gore to hint at horror and no sex at all. (Although there is a local brothel, Daniel’s mother works there.) The kills by the beast are gory, but the camera never lingers over entrails or pools of blood. Wounds are not focussed on either.

Rather oddly, for all this lack of attention to the bloodletting, corpses are never given a close up the film got a rating of ‘R’ which really is confusing. There is no nudity and despite the MPAA saying that there is “bloody violence and grisly images throughout,” the film is pretty tame.

The film has a cast that has come predominately from television, some better known than others based on what is popular at the moment, for example Steven Bauer who plays Avi on Ray Donovan is quickly recognizable despite his character’s eyepatch. This does not harm the film at all as each performer acquitted themselves very well.

In terms of interest and pacing the movie does not bore or drag and the reveal at the end, while not surprising, is different.

Werewolf: The Beast Among Us does feel a little too tame for true horror but the film is good enough that one never feels the urge to turn it off part way through. It is solid fare with good performances and perhaps the only real complaint is that there was not enough of Nia Peebles or Stephen Rea. 3.5 out of 5 stars and the film is streaming on US Netflix at the moment. While it is not “Larry Talbot” the film is still very watchable.

Pretty Little Liars: Last Dance (review)

The liars at the barn prom
Last week Pretty Little Liars was a continuance of “build-up” to the penultimate episode; Last Dance. In FrAmed Alison violated Lorenzo’s trust, Clark was acting very suspiciously and “Rhys Matthews” was obviously a DiLaurentis and part of the Carissimi Group.

This week sees the Liars coping with the reality of a prom ban, and their commencement ban, Clark’s true purpose is revealed, Alison shows her friends that even partial familial blood is “thicker,” Sara shows up for Em’s prom, the one she is not supposed to be at, and drops a hint, but Emily does not catch it. Toby forgives Spencer for the candy fiasco that got him suspended from the force, but Lorenzo has not yet forgiven Ali for her indiscretion/crime.

A lot has been cleared up in Rosewood, even while dropping some big clues about where the plot may be heading.

Question: Did anyone else clock the book in Kenneth’s house? On the small end table that, as Veronica Hastings points out, has DiLaurentis’ scotch on it, there was, next to the drink, a copy of Patricia Highsmith’s Strangers on a Train. Since Alison’s father is clearly not a crime/thriller “noir” type this has to be a clue.

The book is glimpsed for an instant and is clearly a signpost of sorts. Looking at the scene that follows, where the mother’s of the Liars meet Rhys Matthews (Charles?), actor Caleb Lane‘s hairstyle looks an awful lot like Robert Walker’s in the Alfred Hitchcock film version of Patricia’s book.

For those who do not follow film-noir or Alfred Hitchcock (or even Highsmith) the plot of Strangers on a Train deals with two chaps who meet on a train and agree to swap murders. This has got to be the big reveal coming up, obviously Charles and A did some sort of swap, or as Bruno Anthony (Robert Walker) says in the film a “Criss cross.”

Stepping away from that scotch and book laden end table for a moment: High point of the Liars’ mothers group, apart from getting trapped in the basement, is Nia Peebles getting the line of the evening with her slightly restrained version of “We had one job to do,” without the repeat. They did indeed screw things up, opting to follow Veronica’s lead and drink wine rather than hover nervously in the background looking out for their daughters and “protecting” them from Charles.

The episode provided a little in-depth look at Spencer’s mother. It really is not surprising that Spencer has issues. Even without the body in the back garden event, that mother Veronica will never get over, Mrs. Hasting’s is a real “type-A” force to be reckoned with and must be a real joy to share a house with. Fans of the show who watched it from the beginning know this already, as a Pretty Little Liar noob, however, it was a revealing evening in Casa Hastings.

Ezra shows up for Aria at the “mini” barn prom and later accompanies her to the real deal at the school. These two are a treat to watch. In the untrustworthy stakes, Sara shows up at the prom and rather ominously tells her date, “Emily, I want you to know that whatever happens…you mean a lot to me.”

Uh-oh.

Cue a reveal that will most likely upset the hell out of Em. Something along the lines of Sara lying about just how long she was in the doll house would fit. This little subplot will most likely segue nicely in with the Rhys is Charles main plot. As Aria’s mother Ella (Hollie Marie Combs)says in the DiLaurentis house when they meet the Carissimi Group exec, “I think we just met Charles.” So whoever takes that mask off at the real prom, which prompts Ali to gasp, “Oh my God,” is clearly not Rhys Matthews.

Nor is it Clark, who turns out to be a 22 Jump Street type cop (college man versus 21 Jump Street high schooler). Aria seems almost disappointed that Clark is not a stalker type comrade of A or Charles.

Speaking of Aria, what about that cringe moment where she mistakenly thought Ezra was going to follow her to LA? Almost as awkward as the “will you go with me to the prom” scene from last week. On the plus side for the Liars, Toby has clearly forgiven Spencer for her drug laced candy and Caleb turns out to be a knight in shining armor for Hanna and Lorenzo looks like he may be able to eventually forgive Alison as well.

The mothers being locked in the DiLaurentis basement was a great moment and as Pam Fields says, they had one job…one job! In their defense, it is hard to focus on your kid’s safety when talking about bodies in the garden, drinking wine, and searching for the family next door’s skeletons.

The show’s “Masque of the Red Death” motif at the prom, where a slew of red robed, and hooded, figures can be glimpsed was interesting if not a little wasted as Ali asked the first non-red-robed waiter if he was Charles. Seems that Hanna is not the only Liar who cannot be counted as the sharpest tool in the shed.

All that remains, is for the show to provide that somewhat anticlimactic moment of who Alison is “OMG-ing” about. Certainly with a huge buildup like this, there will be a certain amount of disappointment and disillusionment. Still, that Strangers on a Train hint must mean that whoever fans think is under that mask will not be revealed in the next, episode, aka the mid-season finale. It will be someone else. Who did Charles “criss-cross” with?

‘A’ obviously, but who is it? Next week should clear all that up despite odds that it will not be anyone that fans have placed in the big bad category. Kudos this week to Lucy Hale, Troian Bellisario and Ashley Benson. Honorable mention to Ian Harding as Ezra, “unless I have to dress up as a troll or something…I don’t, do I?” He and Hale have a wonderfully awkward chemistry together.

A personal plea…More Holly Marie Combs please.

Pretty Little Liars airs Tuesdays on ABC Family, next week is the mid-season finale…do not miss it. Until then, who do you think is going to be under that mask? Answers, not on a postcard please, but in the comment section below and one last thought…

How brilliant was the music this week?