Spoiler-Free Review of “Ju-On: Origins” on Netflix: Stomach-Turning Terror

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

If you thoroughly enjoy the horror film franchise, Ju-On or The Grudgeyou may have been counting the days until the release of the streaming television series, Ju-On: Origins.

Ju-On: Origins is a Japanese horror series that premiered on Netflix on July 3rd 2020. It features 6 episodes (28-30 minutes in length). The series is available with subtitles or dubbed in English.

It’s difficult to present fans with something truly unique and different when coming from such an extensive franchise, but the series manages to bring us back to the beginning. We witness several timelines involving a house with unexplainable connections to horrific acts of violence and murder, as a paranormal investigator tries to obtain as much information as he can to get to the truth.

This show has the potential to truly terrify you with a satisfying binge-watch, but does Ju-On: Origins do enough to step out from the shadows of the films? Let’s find out…

The Pros:

Ju On Origins Netflix 1
Images courtesy of Netflix

The anthology style works.

Since there are only six episodes and each one is actually pretty short, the anthology style works well. We learn about several different characters who have all entered the house in question throughout the late eighties and into the nineties, presenting us with connections and a real mystery.

The series is supposed to represent the true events that actually inspired the franchise and this particular style allows Ju-On: Origins to branch out and form its own identity.

Moves away from jump scares/tropes.

I don’t know about you, but there are several moments from The Grudge movies that still don’t sit well with me. I’m constantly checking under the covers and that sound still haunts me to this day.

The series takes a different approach and moves away from the jump scares that we are all accustomed to. Rather, it leans more on some disturbing scenes of gore and a slow burn approach, revealing that sometimes cruel and unthinkable acts of humanity may actually be more terrifying in the end, which gives the audience something to truly think about.

While the show didn’t really scare me, there were some moments that really made my stomach turn. Seriously, I skipped breakfast today just because of it.

The Cons:

Ju Origins Netflix 2
Images courtesy of Netflix

Slow moving at first.

There are only six episodes, but things really didn’t pick up for me until episode 4. Once the mystery started unraveling more and more, I became more invested and I was actually really interested in some of the character connections and the reveals.

It would have been great if the show had this same feel from the very start, but there are moments in each episode that have that shock value to grab your attention.

Not for the faint of heart.

As I mentioned earlier, there are some real disturbing moments of gore featured in the series. However, there are also some scenes that are extremely difficult to watch and I hope that Netflix considers adding a few advisories to these particular episodes that show a violent sexual assault and an extremely disturbing scene involving a pregnant woman.

As of right now, Netflix codes the show as being for mature audiences, featuring violence. However, I think that extra advisories should be added for episodes 1 and 4. Please be aware of these scenes during your watch.

So am I in or out?

Ju On Origins Netflix 3
Images courtesy of Netflix

I’m about 50/50 on this one. I think that true fans of this franchise will thoroughly enjoy the series. If you are a horror fan looking for something quick to binge-watch, it only takes about three hours to get through all of the episodes.

The show does have some interesting qualities and I really did become more invested during episode 4, but I think we could have captured this feel from the very beginning and some of that was missed with the slower pace.

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

Best,

Amy Koto, TV Fanatic Girl

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Ranking “The Purge” movies from Best to Worst

“Commencing at the siren, any and all crime, including murder, will be legal for 12 continuous hours…”

Since I’m running low on new programming for television, I thought it would be the perfect time to go back and binge-watch all of The Purge films. I’m a huge fan of the franchise and I also absolutely loved the television series. I’m still disappointed that it was canceled, but I’m looking forward to seeing Purge 5, even though I’m sure the release will be delayed for some time.

There’s just something about these films. They are highly entertaining and addicting! The masks are creepy, the death scenes are cringe-worthy, and the characters truly make you want to root for them. Each film reveals another aspect of Purge Night, which prevents these movies from feeling repetitive while still keeping you on the edge of your seat.

Please note some spoilers are ahead.

Without any further delay, let’s find out exactly how I ranked The Purge films and why.

1

The Purge: Anarchy

The Purge Anarchy 1
Images courtesy of Blumhouse Productions

The sequel is rarely better than the original movie, but I absolutely adore the second film in the franchise and it is my absolute favorite one. Released in 2014, The Purge: Anarchy stars Frank Grillo, Carmen Ejogo, Kiele Sanchez, and Zoë Soul.

While the first movie focused on a home invasion, the second film gives us a chance to see Purge Night on the streets. We follow Frank Grillo’s character, Leo, who is the ultimate bad-ass of this franchise. Leo is looking to Purge after losing his son, but he runs into a group of strangers and decides to intervene to help save them.

Standout Purger:

Who can forget the Purger in the creepy God mask? The wave really seals the deal and makes you want to run for your life. I absolutely love that the mask later appeared in The Purge series (season 2), giving us a fun Easter Egg and a bit of an origin story.

2

The Purge

The Purge 1
Images courtesy of Blumhouse

The original Purge film really came out of nowhere. It was a lower budget film and it ended up being very successful. Released in 2013, The Purge stars Ethan Hawke, Lena Headey, Edwin Hodge, and Adelaide Kane.

Hawke’s character, James, designed the security system for their home, as he stays in with his family on Purge Night, confident that they will be safe. However, things take a drastic turn when his son lets a bloody stranger into their home to save him, which angers some local Purgers.

The original film has a completely different feel from the other films. We focus on one individual family and their fight for survival. The film is chilling and extremely entertaining and we really connect with this family.

Standout Purger:

The Purge 1 2
Images courtesy of Blumhouse

The leader of this group of twisted Purgers is quite sinister. He even takes off his mask and tries to reason with James and his family. However, once he doesn’t get what he wants, he proves to be quite ruthless and a worthy opponent.

3

The Purge: Election Year

The Purge 3
Images courtesy of Blumhouse

In the third film, we finally take some time to look into the mysterious NFFA and their ties with the government. Released in 2016, The Purge: Election Year stars Frank Grillo, Elizabeth Mitchell, Mykelti Williamson, and Betty Gabriel.

Once again, the amazing Leo is back and better than ever. He has somehow landed a job as the head of security for Senator Charlie Roan, giving us even more bad-ass fight scenes. Seriously, he’s unstoppable. Senator Charlie Roan is running for presidency and wants to put an end to Purge Night, but the loyal followers of the NFFA refuse to give up without a fight.

After an assassination attempt is made on Charlie’s life, she and Leo end up on the streets and run into some characters who try to help protect her, recognizing what is at stake. The third film has quite a lot of action, but there is a lot going on and it gets carried away at some points.

Standout Purger:

The Purge 3 1
Images courtesy of Blumhouse

Who could forget the candy girls? I mean, it seems like a stretch for someone to Purge over a candy bar, but these girls are ready to seek out revenge on Joe’s deli and they show up dressed to the nines in a car covered in twinkling lights. Talk about making an entrance…

Fun fact: Elizabeth Mitchell starred in my favorite show, Lost, and the infamous Apollo Bar is the candy bar in question. Gotta love a great Easter Egg!

4

The First Purge

First Purge
Images courtesy of Blumhouse

The annual Purge had to start somewhere, right? The First Purge is a prequel to the franchise, allowing us to witness the first actual Purge that took place. Released in 2018, the film stars Y’lan Noel, Lex Scott Davis, Joivan Wade, and Marisa Tomei.

The prequel focuses on an experiment in Staten Island. Residents are offered $5000 to stay home on Purge Night and others are given incentive to actually participate. After the dismal results, The NFFA decides to send in some guns for hire to make it appear that Purge Night is more successful than it actually is, as a group of characters fight for survival throuhgout the night.

The film has a lot of set-up, which gives it a much slower feel. However, the main action sequence toward the end of the movie featuring a raid on the apartment is extremely well done and may be my favorite scene of the entire franchise.

Standout Purger:

First Purge 1

They really nailed the creepy vibe and then some with Skeletor. He is the first official Purger in history and let’s just say that he is having the time of his life…

So, what’s next for The Purge? Well, the television series has been canceled, but I highly recommend that you watch it. It was a lot of fun! Purge 5 is in the works so hopefully we will get a release date soon!

Where to watch The Purge films: As of June 2020, films 1-4 can be rented on Amazon Prime & Vudu. The television series is available to stream on Hulu.

Which films did YOU enjoy most?

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

Best,

Amy Koto, TV Fanatic Girl

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5 Guilty Pleasure Thrillers to Enjoy while Staying at Home

Happy Throwback Thursday! Staying at home has really allowed me to enjoy a lot of new television series and movies. However, there are some old favorites that I wanted to return to. Netflix has recently been releasing some guilty pleasure Lifetime-like thrillers such as Secret Obsession and Dangerous Lies, which really got me thinking about some of my own personal favorite guilty pleasure thrillers.

While nothing compares to watching these films for the very first time, there is this rush I get whenever I watch them. Sure, some of them are somewhat predictable and have outrageous plots, but that’s why I love them. They are the perfect films to binge-watch staying at home while enjoying a nice glass of wine and a snack…or two.

Either way, these films will certainly provide you with some edge of your seat tension to shake things up while staying at home. Please note spoilers have been left out for your convenience. Enjoy!

My top 5 Guilty Pleasure Thriller films of all time are:

5

Red Eye

Red Eye
Image courtesy of HBO

Released in 2005, Red Eye stars Rachel McAdams and Cillian Murphy and is directed by Wes Craven. A lot of people forget about this movie, but I actually saw it in theaters and loved it!

Synopsis: Hotel manager, Lisa boards a plane and sits next to a charming stranger. Things seem to be going well until the stranger reveals that he has an ulterior motive for sitting with her. The plane ride is filled with unexpected twists and turns.

I have probably seen this movie over twenty times and while I know the plot very well now, I just can’t stop watching it. It’s over the top sometimes and predictable in certain moments, but the film pulls you in and brings you back to those edge of your seat moments without skipping a beat.

Where to watch: HBO demand

4

Sleeping with the Enemy

Sleeping with the enemy
Image courtesy of STARZ

Released in 1991, this film stars Julia Roberts and Patrick Bergin. Before I had cable TV, this movie was always on as the Saturday night movie on The WB. I used to watch it all the time because I didn’t really have many other options, but I quickly became obsessed. It’s actually one of my mom’s favorite movies and I still think twice about keeping my towels in order. Watch out for that music…

Synopsis: An abused wife fakes her own death and tries to start her life over, but her husband attempts to track her down to make her life a living hell.

Where to watch: STARZ demand

3

A Perfect Getaway

Perfect Getaway
Image courtesy of STARZ

Released in 2009, A Perfect Getaway stars Milla Jovovich and Steve Zahn. This thriller has one of the best twists I have ever witnessed. Sure, I know the twist now, but I still love watching this movie. It has some really great stars in it, including Timothy Olyphant and Chris Hemsworth! Plus, the movie takes place in Hawaii! You can’t get much better than a vacation trip gone wrong when you’re stuck staying at home.

Synopsis: A newly married couple travel on their honeymoon in Hawaii, but quickly realize that they may be hiking with a dangerous threat. Secrets are revealed and their survival is put to the test.

Where to watch: STARZ demand

2

The Call

The Call Halle Berry
Image courtesy of Amazon Prime

Released in 2003, The Call stars Halle Berry and Abigail Breslin. I absolutely adore this movie! I have probably seen it more than all the others on this list and Halle Berry is beyond amazing as 911 operator, Jordan. This movie screams guilty pleasure thriller. It is fast paced and has a shocking ending that will leave you completely satisfied.

Synopsis: After a young woman meets her demise while on the phone with 911, Jordan is traumatized. She sticks to training new 911 operators, but when a similar call comes through from a young woman, she is forced to push her demons aside in order to try and save her before history repeats itself.

Where to watch: Amazon Prime with add on, VUDU, FANDANGONOW

1

Double Jeopardy

Double Jeopardy Movie
Image courtesy of STARZ

Released in 1999, Double Jeopardy stars Ashley Judd and Tommy Lee Jones. This is my go-to movie and probably the one that first got me interested in this guilty pleasure thriller genre. While there are certainly a lot of movies that fall into this category, there’s really nothing like Double Jeopardy. It stands in a class of its own and always will for me.

Synopsis: You can’t be convicted for the same crime twice. Ashley Judd’s character, Libby, eventually learns this when she is wrongfully convicted for the murder of her husband. After being released, she tries to track down her son and starts to learn that she may have been intentionally framed for her crime. Libby decides to get revenge while her parole officer tries to stop her.

Where to watch: STARZ demand

Which guilty pleasure thriller films do YOU enjoy most? 

I hope you enjoyed the list and feel free to post your own thoughts on these movies and your favorites in the comments section below. Thank you so much for reading and happy viewing!

Best,

Amy Koto, TV Fanatic Girl

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PLAY IF YOU DARE…

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Spoiler-Free Review of “Dispatches From Elsewhere” on AMC: Just the Right Amount of Strange

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

“Pay attention. Clues are all around you…”

Dispatches From Elsewhere premiered on AMC on March 1st 2020. The anthology series features 10 episodes that air weekly (approximately 56 minutes in length). It stars Jason Segel, Eve Lindley, André Benjamin, and Sally Field.

Based on the 2013 documentary film, The Institute, the series centers around four main characters who have lost a sense of meaning in their lives. They each stumble upon a game with many challenges and mysteries, as they unlock the secrets behind it and form unexpected connections with one another.

The show is definitely something different and unique, luring you in from the first opening minutes, which feature the narrator staring at you without saying anything. The show throws you right into the mysterious game, as you find yourself playing along, but it’s really more about the characters and their journey toward self-discovery.

While the show may hit you over the head with some of its underlying themes, it does provide us with a lot of reflective moments as well, but does it do enough to earn a watch? Let’s find out…

The Pros:

Dispatches AMC 2
Images courtesy of AMC

A mystery that grabs your full attention.

I may not know what’s going on for a lot of these tests and challenges, but they keep me coming back for more. The opening episode is from Peter’s (Segel) perspective, as he finds himself invited to some kind of elaborate test or game, but there are warnings as well about the mysterious Jejune Institute.

Are they friends or foes? I’m not sure, but the clues are fun and interesting, leading to more pieces of the main puzzle.

Dispatches AMC 1
Images courtesy of AMC

Electric character dynamics.

The cast is absolutely fantastic. Standout performance goes to Eve Lindley as Simone, who really elevates the rest of the characters that much more, while throwing in some humor as well.

The characters couldn’t be more different and yet the narrator asks us to think of them as us, connecting us to their stories. While each character deals with different obstacles, they somehow find true friendship and understanding in their group, suggesting that the strangers we pass by in the world every day have the potential to become so much more.

The Cons:

Dispatches AMC 4
Images courtesy of AMC

A lot going on…

While the show captures our attention, it does go off the rails several times. The show is supposed to be about more than the mysterious game, which we understand immediately, but the plot of the show branches out all over the place.

When you reach the later episodes, things that seemed important fade away and there is some unnecessary fluff that I could have done without. I think that the opening episodes really set the tone for the show and it started to lose steam once some of the reveals were presented.

That being said, it’s also part of the show’s charm, suggesting that our own journeys zigzag rather than travel down a straight path toward understanding.

So am I in or out?

Dispatches AMC 3
Images courtesy of AMC

I’m in! At first glance, I put this show on the back burner. However, once I gave the show a true chance, I quickly lost myself within it. It’s honestly the perfect show to binge-watch during your stay at home quarantine, as it really helps you reflect about what’s important in life and it also allows you to transport yourself somewhere else.

While you may see the reveals coming from a mile away, the show has a deeper meaning and as long as you embrace and understand that and expect to be confused a lot of the time, you’ll enjoy yourself.

This show was an unexpected surprise for me and I’m truly glad that I gave it the chance it deserves. While it may not be perfect, it is extremely unique and touching, blending mystery, sci-fi, and heartwarming moments with some glimpses of pure brilliance along the way.

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

Best,

Amy Koto, TV Fanatic Girl

Stay tuned!

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Ranking the “Final Destination” movies from Best to Worst

“In death there are no accidents, no coincidences, no mishaps, and no escapes…”

Since I’m running low on new programming for television, I thought it would be the perfect time to go back and binge-watch some movies as well. I don’t know about you, but I used to be obsessed with the Final Destination movies and still am. After spending some time re-watching all of the movies, I thought it would be the perfect time to rank the films from best to worst.

Whether it’s a cringe-worthy death scene, a mysterious song selection, a perfectly placed Easter egg, or the brilliant and chilling presence of Tony Todd’s William Bludworth, each film certainly has a lot to offer, but there are some that just stand the test of time a little bit better than the rest.

Please note spoilers are ahead.

Without any further delay, let’s find out exactly how I ranked the Final Destination films and why.

1

Final Destination

Final Destination Netflix
Images courtesy of Netflix

Most of us will agree that the first movie of a film franchise is usually the best and the same holds true for the first film of the Final Destination series. Final Destination was released in 2000 and stars Devon Sawa, Ali Larter, and Kerr Smith. Hello 90’s dream team!

After boarding Flight 180 with his classmates, Alex Browning (Sawa) has a disturbing vision and sees the plane explode. After detecting several more clues, Alex has a meltdown and asks to be let off the plane, causing several of his classmates to exit as well, as we soon discover that his vision comes true. To make matters worse, the survivors each begin dying in the order they were originally meant to.

I love the first movie because we are uncovering the mystery behind death’s plan right along with the characters. We don’t know what is happening exactly and we don’t know who will survive, which keeps us on the edge of our seats the entire time.

Standout death scene:

Final Destination Netflix 1
Images courtesy of Netflix

While Tod’s strangulation in the shower is still the most difficult one for me to watch, there has to be something said about Billy’s (Seann William Scott) decapitation in front of the train. This death is shocking because it happens right after Alex intervenes to save Carter, revealing that a death can be skipped.

At the end of the film, it looks like our three main characters have made it safely to Paris, but death circles back around to claim some more victims, leaving us with a gruesome and shocking ending.

William Bludworth did remind us that there were no escapes…

2

Final Destination 3

Final Destination 3 Netflix
Images courtesy of Netflix

I don’t know about you, but I have always been extremely afraid of roller coasters and that was before this film was released. Final Destination 3 was released in 2006. It stars Mary Elizabeth Winstead, Ryan Merriman, and Amanda Crew.

Wendy (Winstead) experiences a lifelike vision, which may be the most horrific one out of all of the films. She demands to get off of the roller coaster and some other passengers end up following her, but her boyfriend does not make it off the ride in time, suffering a cruel fate with the rest of the passengers.

The third movie really channeled the first film well and out of all of the films, I think that Alex (Sawa) from the first film and Wendy (Winstead) from the third are the most compelling characters. Their visions are well placed and they really pay attention to the clues without just stumbling around asking why this is happening to them.

Standout death scene:

Final Destination 3 Netflix 1
Images courtesy of Netflix

I’m not sure how one can ever forget the infamous tanning bed scene. Looking good does have its price, as Amber and Ashley suffer a toasty death while jamming out to “Love Rollercoaster.” These characters really need to pay attention to the song selections more…

Similar to the first film, Wendy and the other survivors realize that they can skip the order of death, but once they are all on the same train together, all bets are off as we witness a gruesome and violent end of the line…

3

Final Destination 2

Final Destination 2 Netflix
Images courtesy of Netflix

The sequel rarely holds up to the original, but I thought that Final Destination 2 gave us a valiant effort. Released in 2003, the film stars Ali Larter, A.J. Cook, and Michael Landes.

After Kimberly has a vision of a horrific car accident, she gets out of the car and avoids a tragic fate. After detecting the signs and doing some research on the original Flight 180 incident, she decides to track down the only survivor, Clear Rivers (Larter).

A newspaper clipping reveals that Alex did eventually die, which was disappointing, but I appreciated that we at least got one main character for the sequel. Only, Clear ends up in a padded room in a mental institution, but decides to risk it all to help Kimberly and the others.

Standout death scene:

Final Destination 2 Netflix 2
Images courtesy of Netflix

That elevator decapitation scene still has me taking the stairs whenever possible…

The sequel does a good job of continuing the mysterious plot while introducing some new elements. When Kimberly and Officer Burke meet Bludworth with an introduction from Clear, we discover a new twist in the design. New life can defeat death, which gives our main characters a way to actually live out the rest of their lives. Although, it doesn’t look like the ripple is done with everyone…

4

Final Destination 5

Final Destination 5 Cinemax
Images courtesy of Cinemax

After “The Final Destination,” we were lucky enough to receive a fifth film in the franchise, which was released in 2011. It stars Nicholas D’Agosto, Emma Bell, and Miles Fisher.

Final Destination 5 Cinemax 3
Images courtesy of Cinemax

When Sam goes on a work retreat, he has a gruesome vision of the bridge collapsing, leading to the familiar plot we know so well. Tony Todd is back and better than ever as Bludworth, revealing to our new group of characters that taking someone else’s life can somehow even the score with death.

We still don’t know why Bludworth knows so much about death’s plan and although theories have been shut down about his character actually representing death in human form, it’s unclear if he is a villain or an ally, but he is the face of these movies and I adore him! More please!

Standout death scene:

Final Destination 5 Cinemax 2
Images courtesy of Cinemax

Probably the standout death scene of the entire film franchise for me. I never do too well with anything involving eyes and this scene really made my skin crawl. Poor Olivia thinks she is about to finally see the world with new eyes, but ends up undergoing a beyond disturbing system failure during her surgery.

Even though the take a life strategy seems to be paying off, we get another fantastic twist at the end of the movie and discover that Sam and Molly are now on Flight 180, making this movie actually a prequel.

Final Destination 5 Cinemax 4
Images courtesy of Cinemax

We get a fun montage during the credits with some of our favorite death scenes and of course another look at the fabulous Tony Todd. While not my favorite film, I thought this one bounced back from the worst film of the series, which we are about to jump into.

5

The Final Destination (Final Destination 4)

Final Destination 4 Netflix 1
Images courtesy of Netflix

I guess the 3D aspect of this movie was somewhat cool, but there were a lot of things that went wrong in this movie. The Final Destination was released in 2009. It stars Bobby Campo, Shantel VanSanten, and Haley Webb.

After Nick has a vision of a race track accident gone wrong, we get some 3D clues thrown our way that hit us over the head a little bit too much. I personally really enjoyed the small hints along the way. The songs or the pieces of paper or shadows floating by added to the mystery of death’s plan. However, Nick had a vision every single time he had a clue with one of these obnoxious 3D bursts of images, which didn’t sit well with me.

The acting is also absolutely horrific in this particular film and it’s the only film without Tony Todd. I’m so glad that he returned for the fifth movie because that was a mistake that needed to be rectified.

Standout death scene:

Final Destination 4 Netflix
Images courtesy of Netflix

That escalator scene was pretty brutal along with the explosion during the 3D film.

Overall, this movie was very underwhelming for me although it had a few moments of potential thrown in.

So, what’s next for Final Destination? Well, there have been talks of a “Final Destination 6,” although it will probably be some time until we get an actual release date. Fingers crossed!

Where to watch the Final Destination films: As of April 2020, films 1-4 are streaming on Netflix and Final Destination 5 is available on Cinemax demand.

Which films did YOU enjoy most?

I hope you enjoyed the list and feel free to post your own thoughts and theories on Final Destination in the comments section below. Thank you so much for reading and happy viewing!

Best,

Amy Koto, TV Fanatic Girl

**Do you love television shows like Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Angel, Once Upon a Time, Lost, Charmed, The Vampire Diaries, and Supernatural? Do you enjoy dark fantasy, fairy-tale retellings, paranormal romance, horror, and mystery? Then you may like my book series, Dreaming of Wonderland…available on Amazon! Thank you for taking the time to check it out and I appreciate any feedback as well. I really hope you enjoy!

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Spoiler-Free Review of “Little Fires Everywhere” on Hulu: Deliciously Deadly Suburbia

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

“If they’re saying something untrue, then you should change the story…”

Little Fires Everywhere premiered on Hulu on March 17th 2020 with 3 new episodes (Approximately 50 minutes in length). The remaining 5 episodes of the limited series will air weekly on Wednesdays. It stars Reese Witherspoon, Kerry Washington, Joshua Jackson, Lexi Underwood, and Gavin Lewis.

The show is based on the best-selling novel written by Celeste Ng. It follows a 90’s family living in the picture perfect suburban town of Shaker Heights. They cross paths with a mother and daughter who have just arrived in town, as secrets, dark pasts, and mysteries are revealed. Each character’s story is intertwined with another, creating a vortex of drama along the way.

This plot and setting may seem familiar, as it definitely channels some aspects of Big Little Lies, The Affair, and Desperate Housewives.

However, the connections and story lure you in right away, making this binge-watch friendly option entertaining. But does it do enough to stand out from its predecessors? Let’s find out…

The Pros:

Little Fires Hulu 3
Images courtesy of Hulu

Witherspoon and Washington are electric on screen.

Their characters certainly have an interesting dynamic and we can absolutely feel the awkward tension between them, as each mother comes from a different socioeconomic background. However, the performances of these two incredible actresses transform these intriguing characters into something far greater. I can’t get enough of them!

The rest of the supporting characters are actually terrific as well and I would like to spotlight Lexi Underwood, who plays Mia’s (Washington) daughter, Pearl.

A mystery that leaves you wanting more.

The opening scene of the series immediately draws you in, as we discover that Elena Richardson’s (Witherspoon) beautiful home is on fire. We know that this is not an accident and it certainly makes you suspect everyone we meet, as we try to get to the bottom of this mystery, while other secrets are exposed along the way.

Little Fires Hulu 2
Images courtesy of Hulu

90’s nostalgia.

I don’t know about you, but I love a show that can transport me back to a time that I know very well. The show is set during the late 90’s and we get several mentions of this, but the pop culture references seamlessly mentioned really make you feel like you are turning back time.

The kids are seen watching Ricki Lake and The Real World. Elena’s daughter throws in some comments about Buffy the Vampire Slayer, and even compares her own high school relationship to Brenda and Dylan’s on Beverly Hills, 90210.

Once you get to the high school dance, the songs will absolutely make you smile. Seriously, one song after the next had me singing along from Chumbawamba’s Tubthumping to The Cardigans’s Lovefool to Savage Garden’s Truly Madly Deeply.

I was in 90’s music heaven and I still know all the words! Enjoy!

The Cons:

Little Fires Hulu 4
Images courtesy of Hulu

Same Reese. Different show.

I wouldn’t say that this is really a con, but I have seen Reese Witherspoon play this character before. Elena Richardson is very much a mix between Bree Van de Kamp from Desperate Housewives and Madeline Martha Mackenzie on Big Little Lies, played by Witherspoon. I’ve seen Reese play this character obsessed with perfection many times and I was hoping for a different role for her.

That being said, she plays the role brilliantly, but I guess I was looking for some more layers from her.

So am I in or out?

Little Fires Hulu 5
Images courtesy of Hulu

I’m in! This series is exactly what I need right now. The show keeps you on the edge of your seat and there are so many moments in-between the big ones that will take your breath away. Every character and plot point is important and Kerry Washington is out of this world. She’s truly incredible and she lights up the screen with Reese Witherspoon, as we unfold this mystery together.

While some of the suburban drama is predictable, the show has not let me down yet, surprising me with its reveals and twists. I can’t wait to watch the remaining episodes and I absolutely recommend this show.

It is the series to watch right now!

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

Best,

Amy Koto, TV Fanatic Girl

**Do you love television shows like Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Angel, Once Upon a Time, Lost, Charmed, The Vampire Diaries, and Supernatural?  Do you enjoy dark fantasy, fairy-tale retellings, paranormal romance, horror, and mystery?  Then you may like my book series, Dreaming of Wonderland…available on Amazon!  Thank you for taking the time to check it out and I appreciate any feedback as well.  I really hope you enjoy!

The Dreaming of Wonderland Book Series is available here!

Free Instant Preview of The Search for Alice is available here!

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Spoiler-Free Review of “You” Season 2 on Netflix: Lifetime Dexter Does It Again

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

Obsession looks good on Joe Goldberg, played brilliantly by Penn Badgley.  After season one became a streaming sensation on Netflix, I was slightly worried that season two would not be able to deliver, but starting over in a new town gave us plenty of opportunities to witness Joe’s dark narrative come alive once again.

You (season two) began streaming new episodes on December 26th 2019 on Netflix.  Season two features ten episodes (about 50 minutes in length).  It stars Penn Badgley, Victoria Pedretti, James Scully, Ambyr Childers, Carmela Zumbado, and Jenna Ortega.

In season two, Joe moves from New York to L.A. and is determined to get a fresh start as “Will,” but things get complicated when he falls in love with his new romantic interest, Love.  He quickly becomes entangled in her family drama, which mostly involves her twin brother, Forty.  Joe tries to be a better person, but the darkness within him continues to stir, as he starts to lose self-control once again.

If you loved season one, you are probably wondering if season two lives up to it?  Let’s find out!

The Pros:

You Netflix 6
Images courtesy of Netflix

Strong supporting characters that steal the show.

As much as I love listening to Joe’s moody narrative, it can get a bit stale if we don’t shake things up with some interesting characters.  My biggest issue with season one was that I actually really didn’t like Beck as a character.  In season two, I really thought that Love had a lot of potential, but I was also intrigued by her twin brother, Forty, who is absolutely hilarious.

Joe’s new neighbors, Delilah and Ellie, are also both fantastic.  You care about their stories and they really allowed us to see Joe/Will’s struggle to be a hero you can count on.  Being a serial killer can get in the way of this; however, but these characters spark a lot of goodness within him, which really helps him grow as a person despite all of his past inner demons.

Joe’s backstory is revealed and seamless connections to season one questions.

We get a lot of flashbacks sprinkled in during the episodes about Joe’s childhood, which help us understand him a bit more.  Even though we get a new setting and characters for season two, I thought the connections to season one worked perfectly.  They weren’t forced or excessive and they really answered a lot of questions that I had without hitting us over the head with unnecessary cameos.

Really great twists.

I did not see the ultimate twist coming and I was very impressed with it, bringing me in that much more.  This show is addicting and I tend to watch it all in one sitting because I don’t want anyone to spoil it for me.  Each reveal was well timed and I actually thought this season was even better than the first.

The Cons:

You Netflix 4
Images courtesy of Netflix

Less kills than season one.

I mean, I guess that shows growth in Joe’s character, but I kind of missed seeing all of the Dexter-like kills from season one, but the ones we do get are rewarding enough.  That being said, it’s hard to continue listening to Joe’s conflicted narrative when we don’t get some surprising kills thrown into the mix to balance that out.

Can’t escape that Lifetime feel.

The show actually did originally air on Lifetime and Netflix ended up picking it up, but there are a lot of scenes that just scream Lifetime with so many over dramatic moments.  But to be honest, that’s why we are watching this.  I can’t say that this surprised me and we witness so many real and honest performances to balance this out, but there were some scenes that were just a little bit too outrageous.

So am I in or out?

You Netflix 5
Images courtesy of Netflix

I’m in 100 percent!  I really enjoyed season one of the show, but I loved season two even more. “I wolf you season two!”

This show is beyond addicting.  It’s dark and obsessive, but it also has so many genuine moments of compassion and humor. 

Stand out character:  Forty, who basically stole the show for me. 

Season two was also not afraid to make fun of itself, even having one of the characters comparing Joe’s actions to Dexter, which I appreciated.

The twists were so great and the pacing worked so well, making this show the perfect one to binge-watch.  I hope that we get a season three because this show is fantastic!

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

Best,

Amy Koto, TV Fanatic Girl

**Do you love television shows like Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Angel, Once Upon a Time, Lost, Charmed, The Vampire Diaries, and Supernatural?  Do you enjoy dark fantasy, fairy-tale retellings, paranormal romance, horror, and mystery?  Then you may like my book series, Dreaming of Wonderland…available on Amazon!  Thank you for taking the time to check it out and I appreciate any feedback as well.  I really hope you enjoy!

The Dreaming of Wonderland Book Series is available here!

Free Instant Preview of The Search for Alice 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!

Ranking my Top 10 Television Shows of 2019: Which Shows Made The Cut?

Greetings TV Fans!  I hope you all had an amazing holiday and I wish you all the best for the upcoming New Year!  As we get closer and closer to approaching 2020, I thought it would be the perfect time to count down my Top 10 TV Shows of 2019. 

While some returning shows continued strong, others fell off slightly.  Meanwhile, some other new shows completely captivated my attention, paving their way into my top 10.

**Please note some spoilers are ahead.**

Without any further delay, let’s get to my list!

My Top 10 Television Shows of 2019 are:

10

American Horror Story:  1984

AHS 1984 FX 1
Image courtesy of FX Network

Who doesn’t love the 80’s?  The first half of the newest season of AHS was so much fun.  The music was to die for and it really gave us this campy comedy horror vibe that also presented us with some fun throwbacks to horror movies we all know and love.

Emma Roberts did a fantastic job leading the cast and we got plenty of twists and turns along the way.  While the second half of the season fell off for me, I still was entertained, rooting for my Final Girls to kick some ass!

9

The Punisher (Season 2)

The Punisher Netflix 1
Image courtesy of Netflix

So I am a huge Jon Bernthal fan and I really think that he plays this role to perfection.  Bernthal is always a little rough around the edges, but that’s part of his charm and he is so believable as Frank Castle.  I absolutely loved the first season of the show and while I anticipated that this show would be canceled after season 2, I knew that it would provide us with a lot of action and it did!

8

The Purge (Season 2)

The Purge USA 1
Image courtesy of USA Network

Last year, The Purge (season 1) was my absolute favorite show of the year.  I am a huge fan of the movies and I didn’t go into the series with very high expectations, but it was bloody fantastic!  It’s hard to live up to something so spectacular and while season 2 fell slightly short for me, it still was such an entertaining watch.

The new characters were great and I loved the inside look into the NFFA.  Fans got a chance to see a world outside of Purge Night, which was so interesting.  They presented us with so many new layers, while sprinkling in some super fun cameos and Easter eggs too!

7

Riverdale (Season 3)

Riverdale CW 1
Image courtesy of The CW

Riverdale is definitely one of my favorite shows, but after all of the Black Hood dark twists in season 2, season 3 got a little bit weird.  We entered the world of Gryphons and Gargoyles and learned about The Farm, which was really bizarre and confusing, but there were still so many moments that kept this show going strong for me.

The Midnight Club flashback episode was fantastic and Cheryl Blossom was pretty much born to star in the Heathers musical episode, reminding me why I love this show so much!

6

The Walking Dead (Season 10)

TWD AMC 1
Image courtesy of AMC

I have been watching TWD since it first started and I loved the earlier seasons so much.  The show fell off for me along the way and I often felt like I was watching out of obligation.  However, the second half of season 9 and the beginning of season 10 made me a true fan once again.

The Whisperers are fantastic villains and we are finally getting some screen time for some of our favorite characters.  I mean, who doesn’t love seeing Daryl and Carol making friendship bracelets for one another?  Keep it up, TWD!

5

Unbelievable

Unbelievable Netflix 1
Image courtesy of Netflix

Not the typical type of show that I usually watch, but I heard really great things about this show and decided to give it a try.  There were some parts that were difficult to watch, but the performances were so real and inspiring.  I could not stop watching this show and I thought it was so thought-provoking and important.

4

Killing Eve (Season 2)

Killing Eve AMC 1
Image courtesy of AMC/BBC

While season 1 allowed us to really focus on Eve’s quest to take down Villanelle, we got to really know Villanelle in season 2.  Jodie Comer’s performance was beyond fantastic and I was so excited for her Emmy win!  The dynamic between Eve and Villanelle took some unexpected turns in season 2 and we were left with a major cliffhanger at the end of the season, but this show is so addicting and I can’t get enough!  More please!

3

Stranger Things (Season 3)

Stranger Things Netflix 1
Image courtesy of Netflix

I am a huge fan of Stranger Things, but I was slightly underwhelmed by season 2.  However, season 3 came back with a bang, giving us so many fun 80’s moments. Some of our favorite characters truly got to shine and we also got some fantastic new characters that I welcomed with open arms.  I think season 3 may be my favorite now, but I was so entertained by the watch and I can’t wait to see how it all ends!

2

Game of Thrones (Season 8)

GOT HBO 1
Image courtesy of HBO

I thought that GOT would pretty much be a given as my favorite show of the year, but the final season took some interesting twists that I’m still debating over.  That being said, the performances were brilliant, the action was intense, and we also got some heart-warming moments in the midst of the heartbreaking ones.

I loved seeing Arya’s “Not Today” moment and Jon Snow’s reunion with Ghost was very special for me.  This show will always be one of my all time favorites and overall, I was thoroughly entertained.

Drum roll please…

1

The Witcher

The Witcher Netflix 1
Image courtesy of Netflix

This show was such an unexpected and pleasant surprise.  Even though the show started off a little slow, it kicked things up a notch and quickly became my favorite show of the year!  The characters and performances were beyond fantastic.  The action was out of this world and the dark magic was so intriguing.

This show was fast-paced, fun, and addicting.  I never thought that I would even like this show and it somehow blew all of the other shows out of the water for me.  Cheers to The Witcher!

The Witcher Netflix 2
Image courtesy of Netflix

I hope you enjoyed the list and feel free to post your own thoughts and comments about your favorite television shows of 2019.  Thanks so much for reading and happy viewing!

Best,

Amy Koto, TV Fanatic Girl

Dreaming of Wonderland Series Final Chapter Blog

The Dreaming of Wonderland Book Series is available here!

**Do you love television shows like Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Angel, Once Upon a Time, Lost, Charmed, The Vampire Diaries, and Supernatural?  Do you enjoy dark fantasy, fairy-tale retellings, paranormal romance, horror, and mystery?  Then you may like my book series, Dreaming of Wonderland…available on Amazon!  Thank you for taking the time to check it out and I appreciate any feedback as well.  I really hope you enjoy!

Free Instant Preview of The Search for Alice is available here!

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My performance of the week ending 10/5/19 on TV goes to…

Kaitlyn Dever as Marie Adler on Netflix’s Unbelievable.  So, I heard really great things about this limited series on Netflix, but it’s not something I would normally watch.  It deals with some difficult subject matter and I typically have to make sure that I am in the right state of mind to watch something like this.  That being said, I am really glad that I gave this show a chance because it was absolutely captivating and thought-provoking.  Please note major spoilers have been left out for your convenience.

The performances from the entire cast were beyond incredible, but I was mostly impressed with Kaitlyn Dever’s performance.  I could really believe her and there was something about her subtle indifference that really spoke to me, reminding me that we all handle trauma in different ways and sometimes we just need that one person fighting in our corner to bring out the spark within us that has dimmed so many times before.

It’s not always easy to believe in ourselves, but when someone else finally does, it reminds us that we do matter, helping us re-discover our own self-worth.

The show moves really quickly and I found myself addicted to binge-watching it right after the first episode.  It really draws you in and part of that is because of Dever’s portrayal of Marie.  Sometimes it’s more about the characters that don’t have that apparent strength you often see that truly resonate with you.

I actually prefer seeing characters who are broken and defeated, watching them grow and learn from their mistakes, while they try to pave their own path.  Maybe it’s the right path or maybe it isn’t, but that’s what makes these characters so real and interesting to me.

I really connected with Marie’s character and I was constantly rooting for her even when I was not sure if she was making the right call or telling the truth.  The other performances on the show are also really compelling and I really dove into the investigation as well, as you almost feel like you are along for the ride with the detectives because you want some kind of real and deserving justice for the victims.

There’s something to be truly said for a performance that can stay with you for quite some time and I really think that Dever achieved that in this role.  This role had to be incredibly difficult to play and I feel like another approach might not have struck the same chord with me.  Dever’s portrayal was so real and magnetic and she gave me chills.

I absolutely recommend this show, but please pay attention to the viewing warnings displayed because some parts are very difficult to watch.

Stay tuned for a recognized performance on TV each week!

Best,

Amy Koto, TV Fanatic Girl

Have a performance on TV that you think is simply outstanding? Feel free to contact me with your nomination for the week by Friday at midnight! 

**Do you love television shows like Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Angel, Once Upon a Time, Lost, Charmed, The Vampire Diaries, and Supernatural?  Do you enjoy dark fantasy, fairy-tale retellings, paranormal romance, horror, and mystery?  Then you may like my book series, Dreaming of Wonderland…available on Amazon!  Thank you for taking the time to check it out and I appreciate any feedback as well.  I really hope you enjoy!

The Dreaming of Wonderland Book Series is available here!

Dreaming of Wonderland Series Blog

Free Instant Preview of The Search for Alice 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!

Final Thoughts on the “BH90210” Reboot on Fox: Fun Nostalgia Served at the Peach Pit

So of course my favorite zip code will always be 90210, but I had some mixed feelings going into the premiere of the reboot.  After watching all six episodes, I am happy that I stuck it out because although the reboot was different than I had expected, it provided us with some fun nostalgia while giving us a different take on reboots.

Beverly Hills, 90210 is one of my favorite series of all time and I am a proud owner of the entire DVD set!

90210 dvd set

If you do attempt a re-watch of the original show (and why wouldn’t you), I do recommend to space it out because there are so many episodes.  Remember when this show actually gave us summer episodes? So much fun, but it’s a huge time investment!

When I heard about the reboot, I guess I was initially under the impression that it would follow our favorite characters in the future, so I was slightly disappointed when I discovered that it would actually be a sort of reality/drama/parody following the actors as they attempt to get a reboot of their show off the ground.

Sounds complicated?  It sort of was, but I’m glad that I continued watching because once I got over that initial shock, I was pleasantly surprised with what came next.  Please note some spoilers are ahead.

What I liked…

BH90210 Peach Pit Fox
Images courtesy of FOX

The flashbacks and dream sequences.

Each episode featured a fun take on a flashback, giving 90210 fans everywhere a lot of Easter eggs, throwing it back to some of our favorite episodes.  For example, I loved seeing Steve and Andrea meeting up at the Peach Pit and asking if they could exchange an egg (throwback to episode U4EA).

We also got to see Jennie dreaming about being Kelly Taylor in the hallways, the girls re-creating their “Addicted to Clothes” group, Steve mentioning the Legacy Key, and David Silver performing “Forever,” which I surprisingly still know all the words to.  Don’t judge!

These Easter eggs and flashback/dream sequences were genius and they kept me invested throughout the entire show.  I mean, that’s why we are watching, right?  Because we’re fans!  So this was very much appreciated!

The tasteful tribute to Luke Perry was perfect. 

It wasn’t over-the-top, but it was done seamlessly, as the cast made a toast to Luke in the series premiere.  At the end of the episode, Jennie and Tori watch Luke and Jason’s scene from the start of the show, which brought tears to my eyes.

Welcome to paradise 1

Fun guest-stars.

I won’t spoil them all, but let’s just say that I was pleasantly surprised with some of the guest stars and I was super excited to see them all back in action.  I personally would have liked to see a few other cast members join in on the fun, but I appreciate that we were able to get a few surprises and twists here and there!

What I didn’t like…

BH90210 Fox Jennie Tori
Images courtesy of FOX

Some of the real life drama just didn’t work.

Sure, it was kind of fun to see Brian Austin Green married to a pop singer and some unresolved chemistry between Jennie and Jason, but it also just sort of confused me since this drama is loosely based on their real lives.  I appreciate that the cast was willing to make fun of themselves, but sometimes I just wanted to leave that drama behind and focus more on the nostalgia and some of the twists.

For example, the stalker mystery and the creepy stuff with Brian’s assistant was entertaining enough, so I didn’t necessarily need the rest of the extra drama on top of it.  Perhaps that just comes down to personal preference, however.

So am I in or out? 

BH90210 Fox Cast
Images courtesy of FOX

The 90210 fan in me is in because I would pretty much watch anything with this cast.  Overall, I was thoroughly entertained with the reboot, but I also wanted a lot more.  I guess I just saw so much potential and I wanted to see other things explored more, but I am completely supportive of this show.

BH90210 was the perfect summer show to binge-watch, reminding me why I fell in love with Beverly Hills, 90210 in the first place!

I hope you enjoyed the review and feel free to post your own thoughts and theories on BH90210 in the comments section below.  Thanks so much for reading and happy viewing!

Best,

Amy Koto, TV Fanatic Girl

**Do you love television shows like Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Angel, Once Upon a Time, Lost, Charmed, The Vampire Diaries, and Supernatural?  Do you enjoy dark fantasy, fairy-tale retellings, paranormal romance, horror, and mystery?  Then you may like my book series, Dreaming of Wonderland…available on Amazon!  Thank you for taking the time to check it out and I appreciate any feedback as well.  I really hope you enjoy!

The Dreaming of Wonderland Book Series is available here!

Dreaming of Wonderland Series Blog

Free Instant Preview of The Search for Alice 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!