Friday, November 3, 2017

Every Haunting Hour Ever #76: Goodwill Toward Men

Season: 4
Episode: 10
Original Airdate: November 29, 2014
Director: James Head
Writer(s): Billy Brown & Dan Angel

This is it, ladies and gentlemen! We are at the final episode of The Haunting Hour! That's right. Not only is this the final episode of season four but it's also the final episode in the entire series. I don't know about you guys but it seems kind of odd to end a series with a holiday themed episode. Oh well, maybe it will be good.

The Jordans, an extremely wealthy family, are preparing for a Christmas Eve party at their country club. Lyle Jordan (Tobias Slezak), Mrs. Jordan (Ingrid Torrance), and their son Henry (Jeffrey Ballard) are spoiled, selfish, and elitist while the family's daughter Missy (Joey King) is the only person who shows any kindness to Jake Donaldson (Iain Belcher) and his parents Pete Donaldson (Aaron Pearl) and Mrs. Donaldson (Anne Marie DeLuise), their hired help who handle the yardwork. After Missy offers Jake cookies and invites him into the house, Mrs. Jordan scolds her and Lyle fires the Donaldsons. Later that night, Jake returns to the Jordans' home and gives Missy a present explaining that someone placed it in his hands at the mall and told him to "give it to his sister". The present turns out to be a beautiful angel statue which Missy keeps on her nightstand after her family ridicules it. Late that night, the statue comes to life (Carly Bentall) and marks Mr. and Mrs. Jordan's and Henry's doors with large strings of fire. 

When Missy awakens the next morning, the Jordans find themselves in an alternate reality where the Donaldsons own "their" house. After being kicked out by the police (Michael Adamthwaite) that were summoned upon being in the neighborhood, the Jordans wander the streets until they come across a group of homeless people living in an abandoned barn. Mr. and Mrs. Jordan and Henry continue to be selfish, while Missy tries to make the best of their situation by paying for food (Colin Foo as the food truck owner) and offering a sandwich to a starving woman (Sharon Van Duk). After the family falls asleep, Missy discovers the angel standing on the roof of the barn and begs her to put things back the way they were. 

A brilliant light shines and Missy finds herself back in her bedroom on Christmas morning. But reality has permanently shifted where she is now the daughter of the Donaldson family while the Jordans are their servants. This is a positive as the Jordans are much kinder and nicer than they previously were while the Donaldsons are generous with their extensive wealth where they even gave the Jordans a day off. The episode closes with the angel narrating that she spared the Jordans more torture because everyone rich or poor deserves Christmas cheer.

If you're put off by me summarizing the whole episode, I apologize. But there is a reason for this, which I'll elaborate more on later in the episode. 

Now one of the things I liked about this episode were a couple of little touches. For example, in the scenes that take place at the house, the place is flooded with reds and greens, which feels reminiscent of other Christmas films like Home Alone that also filled its settings with reds and greens. The other small touch I appreciated was how every once in a while, a narrator would pop up telling the audience various things in rhyme, which feels like a nod to films such as How The Grinch Stole Christmas. 

One of my gripes with this episode is the story. Now as is, the story is kind of weak. It's not the worst but it's not anything that great either and I feel like it could be a lot stronger. Remember when I said I'd elaborate on why I summarized the whole episode later in the review? Well, it's later! So the reason why I did that is because I feel like the plot of this episode could be much stronger and carry more emotional weight through a rewrite. Here's how that would play out. 


For the first part of the episode where nothing too crazy happens, I would keep it mostly the same, though I would make the comments regarding how Missy doesn't fit into the family a bit more subtle. 

After the angel comes to life and makes symbols out of fire, there's a flash of bright light and the episode cuts to a scene where all of the members of the Jordan family (except Missy) wake up and find themselves lying in an alleyway wearing nothing but their pajamas. The family panics and wonders where they are and what's going on. Then the father calms everybody down and says he can whip out his phone and pull up a Google Maps-esque app to figure out where they are. 

The rest of the family likes the idea and the father goes to pull out his phone, which he keeps on his person, even when he's sleeping. However, when he fishes through his pockets, he finds that his phone is gone and asks the other family members if he can borrow one of their phones. However, their phones are also missing and the family comes to the conclusion that their phones must've been stolen. Because of this, the son suggests that they ask someone if they can borrow their phone. The father rejects his suggestion and says that he doesn't want anybody to see them in their pajamas. The son counters this and says that they can't just stay here, as someone might try to rob them again. However, the father is still reluctant to try the idea. That is, until his wife kisses him and says, "Please Lyle. Can we just give it a try?" Lyle then loosens up and agrees to give it a shot. 

They wander around the streets until they find a business man waiting for the bus. The mother begs the man to use his phone to just do one thing and one thing only, which is figure out where they are. The man agrees and the mother eventually figures out their location and tries to call the family's personal driver to come pick them up. However, the businessman tells the mother that she is going back on her promise of borrowing the phone for one thing. The mother gets super upset and goes off on the businessman. He tries to take the phone back but the mother pulls on it roughly and claims that they need the phone more than him. Lyle eventually restrains his wife and the businessman runs for his life in the opposite direction. 

The family then argues about the ordeal and wonders how they're going to get home now. The mother decides that they should wait for the bus like the businessman was doing. However, the idea is shot down by Lyle and his son, claiming that buses are nothing more than moving buckets of crime, disease, and filthy homeless people. All of a sudden, their stomachs starts to growl and the family decides that getting something to eat is more important than getting home and head on over to the nearest grocery store to pick up food. When they're done shopping, they discover that they have no money and decide to sneak out of the store in the hopes that no one will notice. 

However, a store detective follows them out and calls to them to come back with the merchandise. The family makes a break for it with their fully loaded shopping cart in tow. The chase ends when their shopping cart crashes into a tree. During the chaos, all but two cans of beans and some plastic spoons were lost. The family is distraught and angry about this as they collect what's left. But surprisingly, they have a faint sense of hope as they at least have something to eat. While they look for a place to sit down and eat, they come to a street corner and wait for the signal to change. As they're doing so, a bus comes speeding down the street and runs over a giant puddle of water that splashes them and makes them feel really cold. 

By the time they find a safe place to eat in a local park, the sun begins to set and the wind grows chiller. They pass around one of their newly opened bean cans and try to figure out why they're running into misfortune everywhere they go. By recounting their actions prior to this moment, they figure out that for every greedy or selfish deed they do, they are punished for it. After figuring out this pattern, the father comes to the conclusion that performing a generous and selfless deed might grant them with good luck. However, the mother asks how they would go about doing that and the father says that he doesn't know how. He then wishes Missy were there to help them, as she would've given them about five ideas by now. 

The family then goes quiet as they continue to eat their beans. As they do so, a disheveled middle age woman comes up to them and asks them if they have any food to spare, as she's very hungry. The mother notices that she has a grocery bag full of food and asks her why she can't take something out of there. She says that she could never do that, as it's food for her family. The father apologizes and says that they don't have much food to spare. The woman politely says, "Oh that's okay. I'll just ask someone else," and walks away. A few moments later, the son feels terrible for the woman and wishes there was some way to help her. Then, something dawns on him and he frantically searches for the other can of beans. He eventually finds them and runs after the woman, yelling for her to wait up. He soon meets up with her and hands her the can of beans, to which the woman is very grateful for. She then hands the son a piece of paper with her address on it and says that if his family needs a place to stay, she has a bedroom to spare. 

The son comes back and tells his parents about the incident with the woman and how she offered them a place to stay. At first, his parents think he's lying but are eventually convinced when the son shows them the paper he was given. Later that night, they arrive at the woman's home and are greeted by her at the door. She tells them that they can stay there on one condition. They must help around the house, as everybody else, like her daughters Lilly and Alex, has a set of chores they need to do like cleaning different rooms of the house and putting away the clean dishes. While the son eagerly agrees, his parents accept the condition nervously, as they weren't informed about it ahead of time. The woman kindly tells the son to set the table, tells the mother to help her with the cooking, and tells Lyle to help chop some wood for the fireplace. 

They eventually eat dinner and are surprised by how delicious everything tastes and thank the woman for her hospitality. The woman then shows they family to the empty bedroom and the woman gives some of her late husband's old clothes to them. After that, they retire for the night. The next day, Lilly, Alex, and the Jordans are at the table eating a small breakfast while the woman is taking care of other things. While they're eating, the woman asks if one of them if they can get the newspaper for her and the mother agrees to go. When she is bringing the paper back to the house, the mother discovers something interesting. She sees an ad in the Help Wanted section for a group of gardeners at their former address and also notices that the pay is rather generous. 

She tells her family about this and they're all very happy about the news. The mother spots a phone number in the ad and asks the woman if she has a phone they can borrow. The woman says they can make one call and the mother says that she won't make any other calls. The family eventually finds out that the people who put up the ad feel like they're a good fit for the job and want them to come to the advertised address. The mother happily agrees and hangs up. The family thanks the woman for her hospitality again and head on out. 

They get to the address via bus, which they find out is surprisingly clean. Once inside, the family finds Missy in the kitchen baking cookies. The family excitedly greets Missy and tells her how much they miss her. However, Missy doesn't recognize them, much to their dismay. She also tells them that her name is Kristy Donaldson. Lyle apologizes to Kristy and tells her that she looks a lot like their daughter Missy. Thinking that Missy is deceased, Kristy tells Lyle that Missy is up there looking after them and that she is always with him in their hearts and memories, which brings a tear to his eye.

After their encounter with Kristy, Lady Donaldson enters the room and greets the Jordans, asking them if they're the family who got the job and introducing herself as Rachel in the process. She also introduces her daughter Kristy and offers to introduce the rest of her family. After that, some calm Christmas music plays and the narrator gives a speech to the audience about the value of kindness and generosity towards other people. The credits then start to roll.


Now is this a perfect rewrite? Obviously no. But at the same time, I feel like it fixes a few of the issues I had with the original story. For example, one of the issues I had with the original story was that most of the main characters, especially the rest of the Jordan family, don't really change until the very last minute, which cheapens the emotional impact the happy ending is supposed to have. I get that this show only has a half an hour for each episode but even then, I think you could've still worked in a bit more character development. 

Another problem I had with the original story is that Missy shouldn't have been dragged along with the rest of the Jordans. In the original, Missy showed nothing but kindness and respect yet she is forced to join the rest of her family, who are selfish as hell, in their punishment. To me, I feel like her involvement isn't warranted and besides the fact that she's part of the family, there doesn't seem to be a reason why she's dragged into all of this. Now you could argue that when the angel marked the doors with flames, that was a sign that the person behind the door would be forced into some sort of punishment. However, from what I've seen, the only doors that were marked were the doors to her brother's and parent's room so her involvement still makes no sense. 

Overall, Goodwill Toward Men is an episode that does a good job giving off a Christmasy vibe but its story leaves a lot to be desired. 

Overall Grade: C-

Overall Season Grade: 

Studs: 6/10
In-Betweeners: 2/10
Duds: 2/10

I apologize if this review was a little long but I did have a lot to say about this episode. Anyway, much like season three, the forth season of this show has more Studs than In-Betweeners or Duds. Despite this, season four feels like more of a mixed bag. While I do think the quality of some of the episodes plays a big part, I also think the season's ridiculously short length plays a role in it too.

So on that note, I'm finally done with the Every Haunting Hour Ever marathon and honestly, it feels rather bittersweet. I've been doing reviews of The Haunting Hour since August of 2015 and along the way, I thought I would only make it up to a certain point and stop altogether. But time and time again, I've proven myself wrong and eventually made it all the way to the end, which is something that makes me feel really proud. However, I also feel kind of sad that this marathon is over because I really like this show and talking about what elements in an episode work and don't work. 

While The Haunting Hour may have its fair share of Dud and In-Betweener episodes, I definitely think you'll find a lot more gems in this series. Speaking of gems, when an episode shines, it shines brightly and doesn't apologize for it. The Haunting Hour is also a show that almost never talked down to its target audience and for that, I respect it. 

Oh and in case you're wondering, no. I'm not going to be doing anymore reviewing marathons in the near future, as I have other projects that I need to focus on right now. Though if I did want to do another reviewing marathon, I would do one focusing on the television series called The Facts of Life. I would call the series one of two names. The first would be "All The Facts of Life Marathon" and the second one would be "The Facts of Life Reviewed". While the series is much longer than The Haunting Hour (clocking in at about nine seasons), it's still an interesting series to talk about. However, I would probably make a separate website for this marathon.

With that said, this has been Azu reviewing an episode of The Haunting Hour for the final time.

Friday, October 27, 2017

Every Haunting Hour Ever #75: Spores

Season: 4 
Episode: 9
Original Airdate: November 22, 2014
Director: Ken Friss
Writer(s): Natalie LaPointe & Greg Yolen

Opening with Melvin Dixel locked in the family car while his parents pound on the doors howling at him. Earlier Melvin's overly-competitive father, who wants to beat his office rival's record of hiking, had taken his family hiking through the woods of a national park. Before getting there they are warned by a Park Ranger. He's "perfect slasher material" according to Melvin's sister, Jacquelyn.
While hiking, Melvin's family gets picked off. First Janet, then Jack, then Jacquelyn and finally Jack Jr. by a strange cloud of spores that turns its victims one by one into mindless mutants who become covered in fungal growths.

One of the things I liked about this episode was the father character. At times, his ego can get in the way and because of this, he acts like a jerk. Despite this, he still manages to care about his family. For example, when his wife goes missing at one point in the episode, he rounds up the rest of his family and takes time out of their hike to find her. During the search, Melvin says that every vacation they go on seems to be his vacation and that they're never allowed to do their own thing while on said vacations. The father responds to him by saying that it wouldn't feel like a family unit if everyone did their own thing and says that he doesn't want Melvin and the rest of his kids to grow up too fast. What I find especially interesting about this character is that he seems like a better written version of the father character from Bad Egg (who I called Dr. Douchebag), as he seems to have a better balance of flaws and strengths. As a result, this makes the character feel more three dimensional. 

Another thing I liked about this episode was the type of threat the episode went with. In this episode, the threat isn't a monster or cursed object but a fungus that infects most of the characters by the end and turns them into grotesque looking plants and makes them act like mindless mutants. For this show, this is an interesting and somewhat unique threat. I also like how it explains some of the character's actions such as the father's desire to hike to Lookout Point and the supposed psychic connection between Jacquelyn and Jack Jr. 

Overall, Spores is an entertaining and somewhat creative episode. While the story is fairly simple, it did a good job keeping me engaged. 

Overall Grade: B+

Friday, October 20, 2017

Every Haunting Hour Ever #74: Lotsa Luck

Season: 4 
Episode: 8
Original Airdate: November 15, 2014
Director: James Head
Writer(s): Nicole Dubac

"Can you make Leprechauns scary?" This is a question that has plagued mankind since the dawn of time. First there was Leprechaun. Then Leprechaun 2. Then Leprechaun 3. Then Leprechaun 4: In Space. Then Leprechaun in the Hood and finally Leprechaun vs. Chucky. Okay I made that last one up but I wouldn't be surprised if it was actually real. Anyway, despite man's efforts, these films didn't make Leprechauns scary. But years later, The Haunting Hour would take a shot at the "Make Leprechauns Scary" challenge. Did they succeed? Let's take a look! 

Greg is an Irish-American kid, whose luck has always been bad. So he uses his mother's own family spell-book to trap a Leprechaun and shake him down for good fortunes. Only for him to learn that this leprechaun has an ulterior motive.

One of the things I liked about this episode was the leprechaun named Shamus. First of all, the lore behind the leprechaun was pretty interesting, especially when it came to learning how Shamus' wishing system worked. According to Shamus, when someone makes a wish, there needs to be something to replace it, which is exemplified in the case where Greg wishes for luck at the cost of having his father's luck go sour when he gets fired. What makes this part interesting is that the system is clearly explained and you actually get to see it being put to use throughout the episode. Not only that but as the episode goes on, he becomes more and more threatening until he becomes quite frightening at the end. 

The other thing I liked about this episode was the the mother. In the episode, she is of Irish descent and comes from a family who has a history with Shamus. While it would've been very easy for her to have "Irish" has her only character trait, the episode actually avoids that by also making her a mother who genuinely loves her son. I think the scene that really shows how much she cares is the scene where she teams up with her son to ward off Shamus towards the end of the episode. Not only is it a cool scene but a parent becoming very involved in the plot is something that isn't seen very often on this show. 

Overall, I really enjoyed Lotsa Luck. Whether it's St. Patrick's Day or any other day, it's still a very good episode to check out.

Overall Grade: A

Thursday, October 12, 2017

Every Haunting Hour Ever #73: Argh V

Season: 4
Episode: 7
Original Airdate: November 8, 2014
Director: Allan Harmon
Writer(s): Jack Monaco

When this episode was new, I thought the title was "Argh Five" because the letter "V" also stands for the number five in Roman Numerals. It wasn't until much later when I understood the wordplay they were going for.

Sam's parents are not as responsible as she'd like and their latest impulse buy takes them on a road tip to an unfamiliar area.

One of the things I liked about the episode was Sam. In the episode, Sam seems to be a very no-nonsense type of person who's extremely committed to her schoolwork and I gotta be honest, I think that's the first time this show has had a main character like this, though I could be wrong. 

The other thing I liked about the episode was how the story was told. In this episode, whenever Sam is in or around the R.V, she starts seeing things like glaring headlights, hearing sounds like horns honking and children chanting, and even believes that the R.V moved by itself at one point. Throughout the episode, it isn't made very clear if these things are really happening or if Sam is just nuts until the very end. 

The only problem I had with this episode is that once I got to a certain point in the third act, I could predict how the ending was going to play out. However, the ending didn't really ruin the episode for me. Why? Well, I'm not going to spoil it but there's a part in the ending that I thought was very well done. 

Overall, Argh V was quite solid and I can safely say that it's certainly a vast improvement over the last episode, Near Mint Condition

Overall Grade: A-

Friday, October 6, 2017

Every Haunting Hour Ever #72: Near Mint Condition

Season: 4
Episode: 6
Original Airdate: November 1, 2014
Director: Ken Friss
Writer(s): Erik Patterson and Jessica Scott

So back in 1996, Mattel released a variant of Cabbage Patch Kid dolls called Snacktime Kid. Their gimmick involved being able to eat plastic food. When a child placed the plastic food near the doll's lips, it would start "eating" the food. It was able to do this thanks to a built in battery powered motor that was really powerful. The food would then go to a hollow spot in the doll's stomach that opened, allowing the child to reuse the food. However, the doll had a tiny problem. It would eat anything you put near its mouth, which meant that it could eat human hair and even fingers if someone wasn't careful with it. Eventually, complaints started pouring in about this defect and as a result, Mattel had to recall about two hundred thousand remaining Snacktime Kids from toy stores. If this isn't the inspiration for today's episode, then I'll be very surprised! 

Ted, an online auction addict and vintage toy-collecting geek, blows his new-car money on Mangler, a rare cybernetic teddy bear from a 1980s cartoon that was recalled for allegedly killing and maiming its owners. When Mangler goes after his brother and his friend, Ted must come to terms with his problem and destroy the bear.

One of the things I liked about the episode was the Mangler commercial. In the beginning of the episode, Ted shows a commercial for Mangler to his brother and his friend. Without giving too much away, from the song that plays to the way it's shot, the commercial is so cheesy, it's hard not to enjoy it. 

The other thing I liked about this episode was Mangler, especially his design. To me, Mangler looks like it could've been made in the 1980's and he seems to share some similarities with another toy from that era called My Pet Monster. For example, like My Pet Monster, Mangler has soft yet cheap looking fur and his armor looks like it's made out of plastic. 

Unfortunately, one of the biggest gripes I have with the episode is the story. When it comes to the whole "Creepy Psychotic Doll" story, this episode has all the clichés that come with it. Now this wouldn't be too much of a problem if they did something with them but unfortunately, this episode plays them straight. Because of this, it's quite easy to predict where the story is going to go and what's going to happen to the characters. As a result, it's next to impossible to feel any tension or suspense when watching the episode. Oh and to add insult to injury, this show has done this sort of plot twice already. Once with Really You and once with The Return of Lilly D

Overall, Near Mint Condition wasn't all that great. While I did enjoy it a bit more than Return of The Pumpkinheads, it's not an episode I intend to watch again. 

Overall Grade: D+

Friday, September 22, 2017

Every Haunting Hour Ever #71: Return of The Pumpkinheads

Season: 4
Episode: 5
Original Airdate: October 25, 2014
Director: Jon Rosenbaum
Writer(s): Erik Patterson and Jessica Scott

Wow! I'm halfway through this season already? Well that sure went by fast! Anyway, this is the third time that this show has made a sequel to an existing episode. In season two, we had The Return of Lilly D and in season three, we had Dead Bodies. As far as sequels go, I thought they were pretty good. What do I think of this one? Well, let's find out.

Karen and her own family move to a farm that used to belong to Farmer Palmer, an insane farmer who kidnapped, decapitated, and mutated several kids (who trespassed on his property) into a murderous pumpkin-headed zombies, and learn that Farmer Palmer may be dead, but his pumpkins are alive and ready to claim more victims.

One of the things I like about the episode was the Pumpkinheads. In the original, the Pumpkinheads looked silly but the music and atmosphere kept them from being laughable. The same can be said here only they seem a bit more unnerving and at times threatening as you get to see more of what they're capable of. For example, there's a scene where you see them lurking around and stalking the family, two scenes where the Pumpkinheads attack one of the parents, and a scene where the aftermath of the parents transforming into Pumpkinheads is shown.

However, the thing I take issue with is the ending. Throughout most of it, the lighting is nearly pitch black and as as result, I could barely see what was going on. I don't mind dark lighting, especially when it's used to create a scary atmosphere, but the way it's used in this part of the episode is just rather irritating. I mean, how am I supposed to enjoy this part if I can't see most of it? 

Overall, Return of The Pumpkinheads is an episode that I didn't particularly care for. Based on how this show handled its other sequel episodes like The Return of Lilly D and Dead Bodies, I kind of expected a bit better than this. It's not the worst episode in the series but it's still rather weak.

Overall Grade: D

Friday, September 8, 2017

Every Haunting Hour Ever #70: Miss Worthington

Season: 4
Episode: 4
Original Airdate: October 18, 2014
Director: James Head
Writer(s): Melody Fox

So earlier this week, I started my online college classes. It's a bit too early to determine how well I'll do with them but since both classes have something to do with technology, I can't imagine that they'll be extremely difficult. 

Nate is a young artist whose sister bullies him and whose mother takes her side. That all changes when his drawing of an old woman named Mrs. Worthington, who dishes out punishments to bad kids, came to life and becomes their own babysitter for the evening.

One of the things that works about this episode is Mrs. Worthington herself. In this episode, Mrs. Worthington tortures Molly in ways that I found disturbing such as serving her eyeball soup, tying her up like a mummy and literally zippering her mouth shut with a voodoo doll of her, imitating her mother's voice when she tries to call her for help, and even putting a scorpion on her head. What makes this even more disturbing is that at the beginning of her visit, we see her taking stuff out of her bag such as a bear trap and a giant pair of pliers that old timey dentists would use to extract teeth. Although she never uses these tools in the episode, it indicates that she has the tools to dish out even worse punishments if she absolutely wanted to and that the punishments she gives Molly seem rather tame for her. But Molly isn't the only person she wants to torture. At one point, Mrs Worthington tries to make a voodoo doll of Nate's mother and expresses her desire to punish her for not doing anything about her daughter's abusive behavior. However, she asks Nate to get a picture of her, which her fails to do, and eventually drops the plan. She also decides to torture Nate by pulling on the tongue of his voodoo doll and threatening to cut its tongue off after Nate called her out on her sadistic nature. 

The other thing that works about this episode is its portrayal of sibling abuse. Throughout the episode, Nate's sister does nothing but treat him like garbage. For example, she verbally abuses him multiple times, blames him for things he didn't do, destroys his stuff for her own gain, and even kicks him at one point. If that wasn't bad enough, his mother doesn't even make an attempt to stop or even address the abuse that's going on. As somebody who has been through a similar situation in the past, I can say that, for the most part, this is a pretty accurate portrayal of what it's like and I really had a lot of sympathy for Nate. Not only that but depicting the situation like this makes the scenes where Molly is getting tortured all the more cathartic. 

Overall, Mrs. Worthington is one of the darkest episodes of the season thus far without being bloody or gritty. It's kind of like what would happen if Mary Poppins was told as a horror story and if that's sounds like something you'd enjoy, go ahead and check it out.

Overall Grade: A

Friday, August 25, 2017

Every Haunting Hour Ever #69: My Old House


Season: 4
Episode: 3
Original Airdate: October 11, 2014 
Director: Neill Fearnly
Writer(s): Natalie Lapointe & Greg Yolen

Before this episode was released, I thought it was going to be an Alice in Wonderland themed episode based on iMDB's plot summary of it. When the episode came out however, I got something completely different. 

Alice and her family are moving to a new house, but Alice doesn't want to leave — and Alice discovers that the house doesn't want her to leave it...ever again. 

One of the things I liked about this episode was how they handled the personification of the house. With something like this, it would've been very easy just to make the house have cartoonish, over the top expressions to express its feelings. However, with the possible exception of the face in Alice's room made of wall lamps and an air vent, this episode goes in a more subtle direction with it. For example, when Alice is talking to the house, it uses the lights above the fireplace to answer her questions (one flash for yes, two flashes for no). It also opens doors to certain areas if Alice requests it. The house also talks but I feel like the house's talking bits are handled better than the demon's talking bits from Grandpa's Glasses. For one thing, it only speaks in short sentences once or twice throughout the episode and while the voice they chose isn't anything phenomenal, it was a type of voice that I could at least take seriously. 

The other thing I liked about the episode was the source of the atmosphere. Unlike in other episodes with heavy atmosphere, the main source of it in this episode comes from Alice herself. At first, Alice's love for the house isn't anything too over the top, especially given the situation. However, as the episode progresses, it becomes clear that she is so obsessed with her old house, that she comes off as somebody who has some underlying mental health issues, which is rather unnerving to watch. 

The only thing I'm unsure of is the ending. So the episode ends with  After Alice's parents come searching for her, Alice realizes that she needs to back home, but the house refuses to let her leave. The two "eye" sconces extend from red ropes and form a snake head behind Alice and it grabs her as she screams in terror. Later on, an unnamed new family moves into Alice's old house. The parents discover one of Alice's baby teeth in the fireplace where her box was burned. When the daughter looks at her new bedroom, she discovers not only the light sconce vent face, but an actual smiling human face (presumably Alice) in the wall.

On the one hand, the whole eye ropes effect looks rather fake and kind of resembles low budget CGI from a 1990's film. As if that weren't bad enough, the snake head looks rather silly as well. But on the other hand, the human face in Alice's old room is rather terrifying and the wonkiness of the special effect makes it all the more effective, as it seems to amplify the frightening nature of it.

Overall, My Old House is an episode with an odd concept but it's executed in a way where it works most of the time.

Overall Grade: B+

Friday, August 11, 2017

Every Haunting Hour Ever #68: Grandpa's Glasses

Season: 4
Episode: 2
Original Airdate: October 4, 2014
Director: James Head
Writer(s): Billy Brown and Craig S. Phillips

So from what I've read, this seems to be an episode that people really like. Do I agree with what they say? Well, let's take a of closer look. 

While visiting his deceased, estranged grandfather's house, Bo discovers his grandfather's glasses, which give him the power to see a demon that may be haunting the house — and uncover why his mother hates talking about her father.

One of the strongest elements of this episode is the characters. For one thing, they seem to react to things in a somewhat realistic manner. For example, when the mother is listening to Bo's claims, she is skeptical but she tries to believe what she's saying. She also figures out that Bo might be telling the truth rather quickly. Second, I felt like the characters got just enough development for me to care about them but not too much to where it bogged down the episode. For example, Bo's grandfather abandoned his family to travel the world, as he felt that it was more important than them. However, when he realized that this decision came with major consequences in both the physical world and the afterlife, he decided to take responsibility and right his wrongs with the help of his grandson. I also like how we get to see how the situation affects all of the characters, rather than just the main character. 

Unfortunately, there is one major problem with this episode that just irks me. I'm of course talking about the demon's voice. So in the episode, a demon (which turns out to be the mother's anger personified) is trapping the spirit of Bo's grandfather and preventing him from moving on. The best way I can describe the voice is that it's a generic, guttural sounding voice, which is the most clichéd type of voice you can give a demon. In fact, it's so clichéd, that the voice comes off as unintentionally funny. Now when the demon first appears, it doesn't talk while it's stalking Bo and trying to scare him. During this time, the scenes where it's trying to be scary and/or disturbing are more effective. However, when the demon starts to talk, it's almost impossible to take it seriously. Maybe it's just me but I personally prefer monsters who don't talk because it seems like most of the time, I feel like talking monsters are difficult to take seriously. If you're wondering why I'm dwelling on this so much, it's because this show has taken plots that have been done to death and put their own spin on it. So I know this show can do better with handling clichéd elements like this.

Overall, Grandpa's Glasses is an episode that isn't too bad, as it can pull off the emotional moments with the help of its strong characters. But when it tries to be scary, it just falls flat on its face most of the time and that's a shame because there have been other episodes that have pulled off both the emotional and scary/disturbing moments before

Overall Grade: C+

Friday, July 28, 2017

Every Haunting Hour Ever #67: I'm Not Martin

Season: 4
Episode: 1
Original Airdate: October 4, 2014
Director: Neill Fearnley
Writer(s): Mitch Watson

Hello there ladies and gentlemen! This is Azu here and welcome to season four of The Haunting Hour! So as I mentioned in my last review, this season is a lot shorter compared to season three. In fact, this season seems to be the black sheep of the series, as it only has about ten episodes. Why you may ask? Well, my best guess is that when The Hub (the channel that The Haunting Hour was on) became Discovery Family, they decided to let the episodes that were finished air before presumably dropping the show from the network, as it didn't seem to fit their new image.

Now unlike the other season openers, which were all two parters, this one is a standalone episode. Is it any good? Well, let's find out!

Sean is laid up in the hospital with tonsillitis on Halloween, and ends up back in 1952 where the doctors and nurses mistake him for a boy named Martin Charles who needs his rotting foot removed.

One of the things I liked was the atmosphere. Much like in Ghostly Stare, this episode has a strong emphasis on atmosphere. I think this comes from the way the episode is shot, paced, and scored. Not only that, but the doctors and nurses in the 1950's hospital act like everything is normal instead of acting like over the top, joker-esque characters, which I think really contributes to the unsettling atmosphere. Because of this, I feel that this makes the more disturbing and intense scenes all the more effective.

The other thing I liked about the episode was the tension. Compared to some of the other episodes in this series, the danger seems rather mundane. However, the episode still treats it as if it were legitimately life threatening and because of this, the tension is really strong, which helped me stay invested throughout most of the episode.

If I had one complaint with this episode, it would be the ending. So the episode decides to go with the whole, "It was all a dream but not really" type of ending. For me, this feels like a cheap and lazy way to end a story most of the time and here, it's no exception. Now the season two episode Sick, which I praised the hell out of, has a similar ending. Looking back however, I don't feel it's as cheap because at the very least, they do try to put their own spin on it. But in I'm Not Martin, they don't really do anything that creative with it and while it didn't completely ruin the episode, I felt like it was a rather weak note to end on.

Overall, I'm Not Martin isn't actually that bad for a standalone season opener and for what it is, it's actually quite entertaining. If you can stomach the cheap ending, I think you might enjoy this episode.

Overall Grade: B