Spoiler-Free Review of “Saved by the Bell” Reboot on Peacock TV: Bayside Gets a Reality Check

**This is a spoiler-free review so feel free to read on!**

It’s alright because Bayside is back! Well…sorta.

Saved by the Bell (2020) premiered on Peacock TV on November 25th 2020 with ten new episodes available to stream now. While the Peacock app is free, you need a premium subscription to watch the show for reference. The reboot sitcom stars Haskiri Velazquez, Mitchell Hoog, Josie Totah, John Michael Higgins, Elizabeth Berkley Lauren, and Mario Lopez. Each episode runs for approximately 25-28 minutes. 

Based on the original sitcom, which aired from 1989-1993, the reboot of the beloved iconic 90’s show brings us back to Bayside, but things have certainly changed. Zack Morris is now the governor (still married to Kelly), Jessie is the guidance counselor, and Slater is the gym teacher.

We get a brand new set of students, which include Zack and Kelly’s son, Mac, and Jessie’s son, Jamie, along with a group of students from the other side of town that were recently displaced from their own high school. The students will now all attend school together, which shakes up the Bayside self-absorbed bubble quite a bit.

Here is the trailer:

Saved by the Bell (2020) has the chance to give fans some nostalgia while creating something new and different for a new audience, but does it still capture the charm of the original series while finding its own identity? Let’s find out…

The Pros:

Saved by the Bell Reboot Review 1

Images courtesy of Peacock

Welcomed nostalgia.

 The gang is back! Well, most of them anyway. While some of our favorite characters only return for cameos, Jessie and Slater have recurring roles throughout the series. While a lot of the references were kind of forced upon the audience, I thought that episode 8 was absolutely fantastic and the best episode by far.

If you have mixed thoughts about the reboot, I recommend that you at least check out this episode. It really was a lot of fun!

Saved by the Bell Reboot Review 2

Images courtesy of Peacock

A reality check for Bayside.

When I go back and watch the old episodes, Bayside almost seems like it is completely displaced from actual reality. Real issues are discussed, but a lot is sugar-coated. I thought it was really smart to have the new students attend Bayside, shattering the self-absorbed normalcy some of the characters had while keeping everything fresh and relevant for its new audience.

In a way, the show playfully makes fun of itself, but in a good way.

The Cons:

Saved by the Bell Reboot Review 3

Images courtesy of Peacock

Trying a little too hard.

While the reboot has a fresh and new take on things, it tries a little bit too hard to force some of the references on the new audience. I loved the change up with the iconic “Time Out” scenes, but I also thought that a lot of things might be totally lost on the new audience.

There needed to be more of a balance between the nostalgia and the new plot and the opening episodes were almost painful to watch because of this.

Having said that, each episode actually got better as the show went on and I think that’s because the show settled down on its identity and just had fun with it.

Lacking laughs.

As cheesy as it was, the original episodes always made me smile, chuckle, or laugh. While some of the jokes did land, I thought that the majority of them missed the mark. I also felt that Zack’s son was slightly obnoxious and lacked the charisma of his father.

Sure, Zack Morris was a schemer and he made a lot of wrong calls throughout the show, but his son’s character didn’t really have any redeeming qualities and I thought that layers were missing for many of the new characters. We saw glimpses here and there, but I honestly wanted more from them.

Our new principal was the perfect choice, however! 

So am I in or out?

Saved by the Bell Reboot Review 4

Images courtesy of Peacock

I’m in about 75 percent.

I’ll be honest. I was initially not feeling this show at all. The first two episodes really didn’t grab my attention and I didn’t connect at all. However, I stuck around (mostly because I just got this subscription to Peacock) and I’m glad I did.

The show eventually did find its identity and also gave us some welcomed cameos and nostalgia to balance things out. There were enough entertaining moments to keep you invested and intrigued.

I would recommend giving it a chance even if you absolutely hate the first two episodes and at least check out episode 8!

I hope you enjoyed the review and feel free to post your own thoughts and theories on Saved By the Bell (2020) in the comments section below. Thanks so much for reading and happy viewing!

Best,

Amy Koto, TV Fanatic Girl

DON’T TAKE THE JOB…

Girl Number Thirteen Lurking Promo

 

It was only supposed to be temporary…but when Olivia Crewe accepts a new position that seems too good to be true, she soon discovers that twelve other girls previously had the same job as her. Only none of them lasted for more than thirty days. No notice. Nothing…right before they mysteriously disappeared without a trace.

My new supernatural thriller Girl Number Thirteen is out now! I hope you enjoy!

Girl Number Thirteen is available here!

**If you enjoyed this blog, I would love it if you would click the follow button on your way out to subscribe.  Thanks for your support!

Spoiler-Free Review of “The Flight Attendant” on HBO Max: Fasten Your Seat Belts for Your Next Binge-Watch

**This is a spoiler-free review so feel free to read on!**

Impulsive decisions can have deadly consequences…

The Flight Attendant premiered on HBO Max on November 26th 2020 with three new episodes. The series will feature 8 weekly episodes in total. It stars Kaley Cuoco, Rosie Perez, Zosia Mamet, Michelle Gomez, and Michiel Huisman.

Based on the novel of the same name, we follow a flight attendant named Cassie who has her carefree/party-girl life brutally turned upside down when she wakes up in a hotel room with a dead man and has no memory of what happened. As she pieces together the mystery, she begins to wonder if she is the killer or if another threat is still out there.

Here is the trailer:

The Flight Attendant has a premise that draws you in, but will it be smooth skies or bumpy turbulence? Let’s find out…

The Pros:

The Flight Attendant Kaley Cuoco

Images courtesy of HBO Max

Kaley Cuoco’s character is a mess…but a charming one!

I’m not sure that another actress could have really pulled off this role. Cassie does not have it all together…in fact she’s spiraling out of control, but Kaley Cuoco’s portrayal gives her a quirky edge that makes you root for her that much more.

There is a dark humor weaved into the thrills and Kaley Cuoco is absolutely amazing! Can we also just take a moment to appreciate and laugh at her badly timed but awesome ringtones? Two of Hearts is stuck in my head and I’m loving it!

The whole cast is talented and I was also very excited to see a familiar face show up as a potential villain (no spoilers). More please!

The Flight Attendant Kaley Cuoco 2

Images courtesy of HBO Max

Binge-watch friendly.

The show hooks you from the very start. As soon as I started watching the first episode, I had to binge-watch the next two and now I am impatiently counting the days until Thursday so I get more episodes to watch.

This show is clever, addicting, and fast-paced. The unconventional and bizarre hallucinations somehow just work, the mystery is a good one, and the show is off to a fantastic start.

The Cons:

The Flight Attendant HBO Max

Images courtesy of HBO Max

Troubling behavior glossed over.

There is another real issue for Cassie…addiction. We see her drinking and making rash decisions in almost every scene, but I feel like her real problems are being glossed over to make way for the mystery at the center of the plot.

That being said, we are getting glimpses into Cassie’s past and I am hoping that this develops more, but it is troubling to see her going down a dark path without really addressing it fully yet.

So am I in or out?

The Flight Attendant Kaley Cuoco 3

Images courtesy of HBO Max

I’m in 100 percent!

Your next binge-watch is officially here. This show is quirky and fun, but there are so many unexpected twists and turns that will leave you wanting more. Kaley Cuoco is absolutely fantastic and I can’t wait to see what happens next!

I hope you enjoyed the review and feel free to post your own thoughts and theories on The Flight Attendant in the comments section below. Thanks so much for reading and happy viewing!

Best,

Amy Koto, TV Fanatic Girl

DON’T TAKE THE JOB…

Girl Number Thirteen Lurking Promo

It was only supposed to be temporary…but when Olivia Crewe accepts a new position that seems too good to be true, she soon discovers that twelve other girls previously had the same job as her. Only none of them lasted for more than thirty days. No notice. Nothing…right before they mysteriously disappeared without a trace.

My new supernatural thriller Girl Number Thirteen is out now! I hope you enjoy!

Girl Number Thirteen is available here!

**If you enjoyed this blog, I would love it if you would click the follow button on your way out to subscribe.  Thanks for your support!

Spoiler-Free Review of “Big Sky” on ABC: Highway Thrills and Spills

**This is a spoiler-free review so feel free to read on!**

Beware the open road…

Big Sky premiered on ABC on November 17th 2020. The series will feature 10 weekly episodes. It stars Katheryn Winnick, Kylie Bunbury, Ryan Phillippe, and Brian Geraghty.

Based on the novel, “The Highway,” this new David E. Kelley series follows a small town kidnapping mystery, revealing character connections along the way.

Here is the trailer:

Big Sky may be the new roadside thriller we need, but does it do enough to keep us invested? Let’s find out…

The Pros:

Big Sky ABC 2

Images courtesy of ABC

Enough twists to keep you coming back for more.

I wouldn’t say that this thriller is delivering anything new, but it’s just what I need right now. I want to know more and the twists grabbed my attention. That will at least have me coming back for two more episodes to see what is going on here.

There are some creepy and intense moments sprinkled in as well, but we need more!

Big Sky ABC 1

Images courtesy of ABC

Supporting characters steal the show.

There are plenty of familiar faces in this series and I was excited to see Ryan Phillippe back on the small screen. I’m a huge fan of Cruel Intentions and I Know What You Did Last Summer, but I really enjoyed his performance in the suspense series, Secrets and Lies that came out a few years ago.

However, I have to give props to some of the minor characters who managed to keep this show alive in the midst of some lacking performances. The potential victims are a lot more interesting than some of the obvious stars and I want to know more about them.

The Cons:

Big Sky ABC 3

Images courtesy of ABC

The sub-plot is lacking…

I mean, really lacking. We jump into these soap-opera-esque cat fights filled with bad dialogue and acting. I was honestly ready to turn the show off during several points because of this. The mystery is enough to keep me invested for now, but that can quickly change.

Weird mentions of the pandemic.

I don’t know if this was meant to be intentional because of the timing of this release, but we get a few misplaced mentions of the pandemic. Only we don’t see anyone wearing masks and there is little context here.

I’m not sure that this was really necessary and it didn’t do the show any favors.

So am I in or out?

Big Sky ABC 4

Images courtesy of ABC

I’m about 50/50 on this one.

The acting and writing is lacking in a lot of areas and it may be enough to make you tune out on this one for good, but if you enjoy guilty-pleasure thrillers, there is enough happening to keep you coming back for more.

I have to admit that the twist at the end of the pilot episode changed my tune and now I want to see what happens next. Either way, I’m in for a little bit more, but I’ve definitely lowered my expectations.

I hope you enjoyed the review and feel free to post your own thoughts and theories on Big Sky in the comments section below. Thanks so much for reading and happy viewing!

Best,

Amy Koto, TV Fanatic Girl

DON’T TAKE THE JOB…

Girl Number Thirteen Lurking Promo

It was only supposed to be temporary…but when Olivia Crewe accepts a new position that seems too good to be true, she soon discovers that twelve other girls previously had the same job as her. Only none of them lasted for more than thirty days. No notice. Nothing…right before they mysteriously disappeared without a trace.

My new supernatural thriller Girl Number Thirteen is out now! I hope you enjoy!

Girl Number Thirteen is available here!

**If you enjoyed this blog, I would love it if you would click the follow button on your way out to subscribe.  Thanks for your support!

Spoiler-Free Review of “Alone” on Demand: Sometimes less is more

**This is a spoiler-free review so feel free to read on!**

“What do you want from me?”

Alone premiered on Demand on September 18th 2020. The film stars Jules Willcox and Marc Menchaca. It is approximately 1 hour and 40 minutes long.

A strange man begins stalking a widow on her road trip, quickly revealing his sinister intentions.

Here is the trailer:

Alone has the potential to chill us to our core with edge-of-your seat moments and a beyond creepy stalker, but does it do enough to stand out as a noteworthy thriller? Let’s find out…

The Pros:

Alone Thriller 1

Images courtesy of Magnet Releasing

Delivers without over-complicating things.

If you’re like me, then you are watching this movie because you want to witness a fast-paced edge-of-your seat thrill ride and this film absolutely delivers. We are immediately thrown into the plot without too much set-up and while some moments may seem somewhat predictable, the film embraced its simple formula without doing too much and it worked. There are very few actors in this film, but I thought the simplicity of it made it that much more entertaining.

More please!

Alone Thriller 2

Images courtesy of Magnet Releasing

A worthy villain.

Sometimes the most monstrous beings out there are the ones that hide in plain sight. They seem to be friendly or harmless and maybe they even convince everyone around them that they are the good guys, but don’t ever underestimate a creepy whistle…

Seriously, I’m still creeped out!

Alone Final Girl

Images courtesy of Magnet Releasing

A Final Girl contender!

I haven’t been this excited about a potential Final Girl in a while and I thought that Jules Willcox was so believable as Jessica. I rooted for her and I embraced her courage. Seriously, she kicked ass!

The Cons:

Alone Thriller 3

Images courtesy of Magnet Releasing

Lack of initial character connection.

In the beginning of the film, I was wondering why I should really care about Jessica. While I appreciated the lack of fluff, I also wanted to connect to our main character. That being said, this happened for me later on as bits and pieces of Jessica’s past and character were revealed, but I thought it needed a few more glimmers of it in the beginning to truly capture our attention.

So am I in or out?

Alone Thriller 4

Images courtesy of Magnet Releasing

I’m in!

I was thoroughly entertained from start to finish. I was honestly on the edge of my seat the entire time and there were some moments that were truly twisted and chilling. I thought the simplicity of this movie was really smart and as long as you manage your expectations, you will enjoy this movie.

Sometimes less is more and I thought that this movie delivered as an entertaining thriller and then some!

I hope you enjoyed the review and feel free to post your own thoughts and theories on Alone in the comments section below. Thanks so much for reading and happy viewing!

Best,

Amy Koto, TV Fanatic Girl

DON’T TAKE THE JOB…

Girl Number Thirteen Lurking Promo

It was only supposed to be temporary…but when Olivia Crewe accepts a new position that seems too good to be true, she soon discovers that twelve other girls previously had the same job as her. Only none of them lasted for more than thirty days. No notice. Nothing…right before they mysteriously disappeared without a trace.

My new supernatural thriller Girl Number Thirteen releases on November 12th 2020! Available for pre-order! I hope you enjoy!

Girl Number Thirteen is available here!

**If you enjoyed this blog, I would love it if you would click the follow button on your way out to subscribe.  Thanks for your support!

Spoiler-Free Review of “The Queen’s Gambit” on Netflix: Your Move

**This is a spoiler-free review so feel free to read on!**

“Chess isn’t the only thing in life…”

The Queen’s Gambit is a limited series that premiered on Netflix on October 23rd 2020 with seven episodes. The series stars Anya Taylor-Joy, Thomas Brodie-Sangster, Harry Melling, Moses Ingram, and Marielle Heller. Each episode is approximately 50-60 minutes in length.

Based on the 1983 novel of the same name, The Queen’s Gambit follows the journey of chess prodigy orphan, Beth Harmon, who embarks on a quest to be the world’s greatest chess player. Over the years, Beth deals with addiction and grief while struggling to prove her worth in the male dominated game to earn her rightful place. The series takes place during the 1960’s.

Here is the trailer:

The Queen’s Gambit has so many defining layers that draw you into this world immediately. While female empowerment automatically comes to mind, the story that is told extends well beyond that, reminding us that even those of us with extraordinary talents can damage everything with the choices we make.

The Queen’s Gambit is filled with aesthetic appeal, a talented cast, and an inspiring story, but is it worthy of your next binge-watch? Let’s find out…

The Pros:

The Queen's Gambit Anya Taylor-Joy

Images courtesy of Netflix

Anya Taylor-Joy is perfection.

I was already a fan of hers, but she blew me away in her portrayal of Beth Harmon. She was magnetic on screen and so convincing down to the tiniest detail. Her wardrobe was fantastic and her emotions were so raw and convincing. I think she absolutely deserves some awards in the future for this role.

A story that pulls you in from the very start.

I didn’t immediately add this show to my watch-list and it’s not normally something that I would select on my own. However, I am beyond thrilled that I took this recommendation and I quickly found myself lost in the story.

There’s something about this story that transcends its premise. It has a lot of heart and inspiration embedded in its core, but it also doesn’t hold back when it comes to the mistakes and hardships either, which made me connect to it even more.

The Queen's Gambit addiction

Images courtesy of Netflix

Important lessons that really strike a chord.

While I loved the female empowerment elements in this series, I thought that the struggle with addiction was even more vital. Spiraling out of control into addiction isn’t usually defined in one moment. It’s slow and develops over time. Perhaps it stems from a past event or something beyond our control, but when it starts to cripple and destroy the extraordinary talent that so many of us would love to covet, it’s absolutely heartbreaking to witness.

The series could have really hit us over the head with a lot of this and I thought that its approach was simple, but effective. I think that there were a lot of really important messages throughout this series that should not be ignored and when we talk about overcoming something in life, we are the only ones with the power to change it.

The Cons:

The Queen's Gambit Cons

Images courtesy of Netflix

I don’t have a single con to mention…check.

So am I in or out?

The Queen's Gambit Netflix

Images courtesy of Netflix

I’m in 1000 percent! Checkmate!

I honestly went into this show without knowing what to expect. I thought that it might be somewhat interesting, but I was worried that I would lose interest quickly. Well, I was completely wrong and I am so glad that I started watching this show.

It was one of the best shows I have watched all year and it truly resonated with me. I recommend that you move this to the top of your watch-list even if it doesn’t seem like your cup of tea…trust me, you’ll love it!

I hope you enjoyed the review and feel free to post your own thoughts and theories on The Queen’s Gambit in the comments section below. Thanks so much for reading and happy viewing!

Best,

Amy Koto, TV Fanatic Girl

DON’T TAKE THE JOB…

Girl Number Thirteen Lurking Promo

 

It was only supposed to be temporary…but when Olivia Crewe accepts a new position that seems too good to be true, she soon discovers that twelve other girls previously had the same job as her. Only none of them lasted for more than thirty days. No notice. Nothing…right before they mysteriously disappeared without a trace.

My new supernatural thriller Girl Number Thirteen releases on November 12th 2020! Available for pre-order! I hope you enjoy!

Girl Number Thirteen is available here!

**If you enjoyed this blog, I would love it if you would click the follow button on your way out to subscribe.  Thanks for your support!

Spoiler-Free Review of “The Craft: Legacy” The weirdos are back…sorta

**This is a spoiler-free review so feel free to read on!**

“Air, fire, water, earth…”

Blumhouse’s The Craft: Legacy premiered on Demand on October 28th 2020. The film stars Cailee Spaeny, Zoey Luna, Lovie Simone, David Duchovny, and Michelle Monaghan. It is approximately 1 hour and 40 minutes long.

Based on the original film, The Craft (1996), The Craft: Legacy follows Lily, who moves in with her mom’s new boyfriend and his family. After getting off to a rough start as the outsider in school, she meets three girls who have been practicing witchcraft.

Here is the trailer:

The Craft happens to be one of my favorite films of all time.

The Craft

However, I went into this watch with an open mind, but it’s not easy channeling the cult classic that made us all want to be “the weirdos” playing light as a feather, stiff as a board. The Craft has paved the way for shows like Charmed and others, but a fresh take on the film could be promising. Let’s find out if it can stand on its own merit…

The Pros:

The Craft Legacy

Images courtesy of Blumhouse Productions

Fun tributes and throwbacks to the original with a cameo worth waiting for.

I was a little worried about this, but I thought the film did a good job of throwing in some welcomed throwbacks to the original film without overdoing it. We got a classic line thrown our way, an epic cameo, and some familiar spells and rituals.

New spells and story to spice things up.

The reboot has the formula to pretty much replicate the original film, but we did get some twists thrown in and some new spells as well. 

The Cons:

The Craft Legacy 2

Images courtesy of Blumhouse Productions

No layers to our new four.

Part of the reason why the original film worked so well is we got to peel back the layers for every member of the coven. It helped us connect to them more and it also really emphasized the “personal gain” or consequences of magic aspect that much more.

Magic is fun, but it can be deadly and I was missing the connection to every single character in this film. Why do we care about them? Do I really care if the coven splits up?

Questions like this continued to come up and I was disappointed because the formula was there, but the effort was not demonstrated.

Forcing the female empowerment angle.

Much like the new Black Christmas (2019) film, The Craft: Legacy hits us over the head with female empowerment vs. uninspiring and played out misogyny. I was expecting a lot more here.

So am I in or out?

The Craft Sarah

Unfortunately I’m out on this one…

The film is not bad at all. In fact, you can watch it and be somewhat entertained. However, it just pales in comparison to the original film. It doesn’t do anything really unique or different for the new generation. While there are glimmers of potential sprinkled in, they fade rather quickly. Other than the cameo at the end, I was pretty disappointed overall.

If you are looking for a newer version of The Craft, I recommend watching the series, Light as a Feather on Hulu instead. 

I hope you enjoyed the review and feel free to post your own thoughts and theories on The Craft: Legacy in the comments section below. Thanks so much for reading and happy viewing!

Best,

Amy Koto, TV Fanatic Girl

DON’T TAKE THE JOB…

Girl Number Thirteen Lurking Promo

It was only supposed to be temporary…but when Olivia Crewe accepts a new position that seems too good to be true, she soon discovers that twelve other girls previously had the same job as her. Only none of them lasted for more than thirty days. No notice. Nothing…right before they mysteriously disappeared without a trace.

My new supernatural thriller Girl Number Thirteen releases on November 12th 2020! Available for pre-order! I hope you enjoy!

Girl Number Thirteen is available here!

**If you enjoyed this blog, I would love it if you would click the follow button on your way out to subscribe.  Thanks for your support!

Spoiler-Free Review of “The Undoing” on HBO: Nicole Kidman returns to the small screen

**This is a spoiler-free review so feel free to read on!**

The Undoing is a new mystery drama limited series from Big Little Lies creator, David E. Kelley. It premiered on HBO on October 25th 2020. The series will air six weekly episodes on HBO and HBO max. It stars Nicole Kidman, Hugh Grant, Donald Sutherland, Lily Rabe, and Matilda De Angelis.

Based on the novel, You Should Have Known, The Undoing follows Grace Fraser, (Kidman) who is a successful therapist living in New York City with her husband and son. After meeting a new mom at a school auction group, a mystery emerges and secrets begin to unravel.

Here is the trailer:

Those of us missing Big Little Lies may be extremely excited about the team-up between Kelley and Kidman once again, but comparisons are not always the best thing for a new show. Does The Undoing do enough to earn its own merit? Let’s find out…

The Pros:

The Undoing Cast Nicole Kidman HBO

Images courtesy of HBO

Incredible cast!

Much like Big Little Lies, The Undoing has an amazing cast. The acting is incredible and Nicole Kidman really shines as Grace. I am also really intrigued by Elena’s character. There is this magnetic mystery radiating from her and I want to know more! 

I can’t say enough good things about Nicole Kidman, but I need to take a moment to fully appreciate how stunning she is in that dress at the auction…wow! I have a feeling we will see elegant and timeless fashion from her over the episodes.

I want to know more! Mission accomplished.

The Undoing Nicole Kidman HBO 2

Images courtesy of HBO

There is this slow burn approach to the series, as we immerse ourselves in Grace’s life and the drama that surrounds it. The acting is so good and I was never really bored.

As soon as we got to some of the reveals later on in the pilot episode, I was hooked. I have so many questions and I need to watch the next five episodes immediately.

The mystery is a good one and I’m invested for sure.

The Cons:

The Undoing HBO 3

Images courtesy of HBO

Comparisons to Big Little Lies.

It’s hard not to make comparisons when you have the same creator and the same lead actress, but comparing this show to Big Little Lies is not doing it any favors. Rather, I think that if you take a step back from that and treat this show as something completely separate, you will enjoy it more.

This is supposed to be a psychological thriller with drama and it is succeeding so far. While I do see the similarities between the two shows, I am going to give this show the proper chance it deserves.

So am I in or out?

The Undoing Nicole Kidman HBO 4

Images courtesy of HBO

I’m in!

This show is exactly what I need right now. It presents us with a compelling mystery that hooks you right away. Nicole Kidman is incredible and I can’t wait to watch more episodes!

I hope you enjoyed the review and feel free to post your own thoughts and theories on The Undoing in the comments section below. Thanks so much for reading and happy viewing!

Best,

Amy Koto, TV Fanatic Girl

DON’T TAKE THE JOB…

Girl Number Thirteen Lurking Promo

It was only supposed to be temporary…but when Olivia Crewe accepts a new position that seems too good to be true, she soon discovers that twelve other girls previously had the same job as her. Only none of them lasted for more than thirty days. No notice. Nothing…right before they mysteriously disappeared without a trace.

My new supernatural thriller Girl Number Thirteen releases on November 12th 2020! Available for pre-order! I hope you enjoy!

Girl Number Thirteen is available here!

**If you enjoyed this blog, I would love it if you would click the follow button on your way out to subscribe.  Thanks for your support!

Spoiler-Free Review of “Helstrom” on Hulu: Where’s the horror?

**This is a spoiler-free review so feel free to read on!**

“I’m not here to hold hands or save a cat from a tree or respond to false alarms….”

Helstrom is a new superhero horror series on Hulu, which premiered as part of their Huluween line-up on October 16th 2020 with 10 episodes available to stream now (approximately 55 minutes in length). It stars Tom Austen, Sydney Lemmon, and Elizabeth Marvel.

Based on the Marvel Cinematic Universe character, Daimon Hellstrom (Son of Satan), the series follows siblings, Daimon and Ana Helstrom. The estranged siblings possess supernatural abilities that aid in their quest to exorcise demons and eliminate threats, while they come to terms with their dark past.

Here is the trailer:

A horror superhero series could be filled with lots of potential, but it’s concerning that Marvel removed its name from the title. Either way, I went into this show hoping for some welcomed dark horror, along with some new unique characters. But does Helstrom do enough to earn a watch? Let’s find out…

The Pros:

Helstrom Elizabeth Marvel

Images courtesy of Hulu

Elizabeth Marvel is bloody fantastic!

I was a fan of hers already, but wow does she play this part well. She is the mother of Daimon and Ana and is showing signs of being possessed by a demon. We’ve seen show after show featuring some kind of demon possession, but I have to say that she frightened me and in a very good way.

Ana’s wardrobe is to die for.

Helstrom Ana

Images courtesy of Hulu

Every single time she made an entrance, I was drooling over her wardrobe and then some. Ana was the stronger character for me throughout the series, but her amazing outfits definitely helped capture my attention.

The Cons:

Helstrom on Hulu

Images courtesy of Hulu

Slow, unfocused, and sloppy.

I really had high hopes for this show and the cast had the potential to really bring it to life, but the execution did not translate well. The pacing is extremely slow, the reveals are not rewarding enough, and the characters don’t have enough layers to keep you invested. 

There have been plenty of shows about demonic possession and jaded antiheroes reminding us of the good vs. evil premise that just do this better. Shows like Lucifer, Constantine, Outcast, and Supernatural come to mind.

Unworthy of the horror label.

I was actually really excited to watch another horror superhero premise. There is something to be said about the dark line between right and wrong and the darkness that lurks beneath the surface of humanity.

Unfortunately, Helstrom never really earned its horror badge. There were a few cringe-worthy scenes that were displeasing to the eye, but that’s about it…

So am I in or out?

Helstrom on Hulu 2

Images courtesy of Hulu

I’m in for the fashion, but unfortunately I’m out on this watch.

The show fell into the forgettable limbo of overdone demonic possession shows for me. The pacing was slow and there were a lot of missed opportunities. 

I hope you enjoyed the review and feel free to post your own thoughts and theories on Helstrom in the comments section below. Thanks so much for reading and happy viewing!

Best,

Amy Koto, TV Fanatic Girl

If you have time, I would love it if you would check out my book, Dash and Seek in the link below. Thank you and I hope you enjoy!

PLAY BY THE RULES…STAY ALIVE…

Main promo smaller

A harmless night of fun turns deadly for six college friends but the game has only just begun. Take a mystery thrill ride right from your own living room. Dash and Seek is out now! I hope you enjoy!

READ IF YOU DARE…

Dash and Seek is available here!

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Spoiler-Free Review of “The Walking Dead: World Beyond” on AMC: Walkers are now Empties

**This is a spoiler-free review so feel free to read on!**

“We’re monuments to the past…but we are the future.”

The Walking Dead: World Beyond is the latest series in TWD universe. It will run for a limited time with two seasons, featuring 20 episodes in total. World Beyond stars Aliyah Royale, Nico Tortorella, and Alexa Mansour.

This series centers around a live-in compound where two sisters decide to explore life outside the walls in order to track down their long lost father, introducing them to threats and reveals along the way.

Here is the trailer:

If you are a fan of TWD, then you may be super excited to get another series added to the lineup of TWD (now approaching its 11th final season) and Fear TWD, which just started its sixth season, but we also know that there is a Rick Grimes film series coming our way and apparently a Daryl and Carol spin-off, so it may seem like the zombie apocalypse is never-ending.

The Walking Dead: World Beyond presents us with a young-adult centered cast, but does it do enough to keep you coming back for more? Let’s find out…

The Pros:

 

The Walking Dead World Beyond 4

Images courtesy of AMC

Connection to the three circles.

If you have been watching TWD, then you know there are a lot of questions and theories surrounding the mysterious three circle symbol. We get this talk about someone being an “A” or a “B” on TWD and Fear TWD has also featured a full episode devoted to this symbol so it is coming up again in World Beyond, which might give us more information and reveals to connect the dots.

Compelling flashbacks.

The flashbacks we witness are violent, raw, and emotional. I thought that they had the most action and deserved even more screen time. Sometimes you can learn everything you need to know about a character from them and we also get this somewhat interesting link between two of the main characters.

The Cons:

The Walking Dead World Beyond 2

Images courtesy of AMC

Having a young-adult focus is not enough.

There are certain shows that have really nailed the young adult vibe. Teenagers are thrown into the apocalypse and have to deal with this threat while handling their own issues. Shows that have done this well are Buffy the Vampire Slayer and Stranger Things.

But why were they so successful? It’s because they balanced the far-fetched supernatural components with everyday problems while allowing us to see all sides of the characters. The characters were far from perfect, but it worked and it gave the premise an authentic quality even in the midst of fantasy.

While this show has the set-up to follow this same formula, it is not connecting. Sending a group of teens on a mission needs more. Think of classic films like The Goonies and Stand by Me. There is humor and incredible bonds that form along the journey.

I’m not saying that World Beyond can’t get there, but it’s off to a slow start…

The Walking Dead World Beyond 1

Images courtesy of AMC

Uninspiring characters.

The acting isn’t bad on this show. In fact, I’m a big fan of Nico Tortorella (Younger, Scream 4, The Following). However, the characters are just kind of blah. The sister bond isn’t grabbing me the way it should and even when Nico’s character starts having an emotional dialogue during episode 2, it was a snooze fest. 

If I don’t care about the characters, I don’t care if the “empties” snack on them.

There’s still room for character growth, but I am losing interest.

So am I in or out?

The Walking Dead World Beyond 3

Images courtesy of AMC

Unfortunately I’m out on this one.

I am a long-time devoted fan of TWD franchise and I have watched every single season of TWD and Fear TWD even through its ups and downs, but I don’t want this to feel like a chore and so far it has felt that way.

Connecting the three circle mystery is not enough to keep this show going. While I appreciate that it will only run for a limited amount of time, there just isn’t enough going on to bring me in.

When I think back to the earlier seasons and even the pilot episodes of both TWD and Fear TWD, I remember being on the edge of my seat and completely shocked. That didn’t happen here. I think that perhaps the show should have started off with the earlier flashback to lure the viewer in, but there was not enough going on in either of the first two episodes to hold my attention.

I hope you enjoyed the review and feel free to post your own thoughts and theories on The Walking Dead: World Beyond in the comments section below. Thanks so much for reading and happy viewing!

Best,

Amy Koto, TV Fanatic Girl

If you have time, I would love it if you would check out my book, Dash and Seek in the link below. Thank you and I hope you enjoy!

PLAY BY THE RULES…STAY ALIVE…

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Spoiler-Free Review of “The Haunting of Bly Manor” on Netflix: Perfectly Splendid

**This is a spoiler-free review so feel free to read on!**

“Everything yields to time…even the soul.”

The Haunting of Bly Manor is the second season of The Haunting of Hill House horror anthology series. Based on The Turn of the Screw by Henry James, the second season takes a fresh take on the classic ghost story. The Haunting of Bly Manor stars Victoria Pedretti, T’Nia Miller, Tahirah Sharif, Amelia Eve, Oliver Jackson-Cohen and Carla Gugino. The second season premiered on October 9th 2020 with nine episodes (approximately 55 minutes in length).

Dani is looking for a fresh start in London and comes across an ad for a live-in governess position at Bly Manor. Upon her arrival, she quickly discovers that there is a mystery surrounding the property, endangering the lives of the children as well as her own.

Here is the trailer:

The Haunting of Bly Manor has the potential to take this ghost story to the next level, but after the disappointing 2020 film, The Turning, it may need to do a lot more to keep its audience invested. Does The Haunting of Bly Manor live up to the welcomed scares of the first season? Let’s find out…

The Pros:

The Haunting of Bly Manor Dani 2

Images courtesy of Netflix

Chilling and intense scares.

I wouldn’t say that the second season scared me as much as the first one, but it was a different kind of fear building throughout the episodes. It was more of an unrelenting chill that wedged itself deep within my bones. While it was a different approach, the fear was real and there were some genuinely scary moments sprinkled in that will have you on the edge of your seat.

The Haunting of Bly Manor Rebecca

Images courtesy of Netflix

Incredible characters.

You will recognize some familiar faces in season two as many of the actors from the first season returned to reprise different roles, which was a lot of fun. Some of the newcomers were absolutely brilliant as well and I have to say that the characters all had so much depth.

I think that the women really stood out for me in the second season. Each character flashback or reveal was so powerful and it really helped me connect even more to the characters.

The Haunting of Bly Manor

Images courtesy of Netflix

Reveals that are worth the wait.

Each puzzle piece was threaded together with perfect execution. As soon as I thought I had something figured out, I was thrown for a loop. The slow burn build was extremely rewarding and well worth the wait. Even though the episodes were on the long side, I was completely mesmerized by every single scene.

The Cons:

The Haunting of Bly Manor Carla Gugino

Images courtesy of Netflix

I really don’t have one con to list. The only thing I will mention is that this may be more of a beautiful piece of gothic romance rather than a true ghost story. However, I thought that worked perfectly. What I witnessed transcended the need to classify this show to a specific genre. The presence of a storyteller really allowed the classic words to come alive across the screen while bringing in new elements to the story.

So am I in or out?

The Haunting of Bly Manor Dani

Images courtesy of Netflix

I’m in 1000 percent!!!!!!

This may be the best show I have watched all year. I thought that everything was executed perfectly. This show struck me to my core. I laughed, I cried, and I found myself beyond connected to all of these characters. There is something to be said about a piece of work that can resonate with you that much even after it’s over.

Perfectly splendid and then some!!!!!

I hope you enjoyed the review and feel free to post your own thoughts and theories on The Haunting of Bly Manor in the comments section below. Thanks so much for reading and happy viewing!

Best,

Amy Koto, TV Fanatic Girl

If you have time, I would love it if you would check out my book, Dash and Seek in the link below. Thank you and I hope you enjoy!

PLAY BY THE RULES…STAY ALIVE…

Main promo smaller

A harmless night of fun turns deadly for six college friends but the game has only just begun. Take a mystery thrill ride right from your own living room. Dash and Seek is out now! I hope you enjoy!

READ IF YOU DARE…

Dash and Seek is available here!

**If you enjoyed this blog, I would love it if you would click the follow button on your way out to subscribe.Thanks for your support!